The StickMonkey ponders the unpredictable nature of promises

Photo by Cajetan Barretto, CC BY 4.0
Photo by Cajetan Barretto, CC BY 4.0

We make them to the people we love, our friends, our coworkers – even ourselves. Companies make promises, too. “A promise is a promise,” we proclaim, meaning that we will keep them. Regardless.

What if they are broken?

The outcome can be minor or devastating, depending on the consequences of what might have been expected. A missed chance to catch a ballgame is easier to swallow than discovering you won’t grow old together with the one you love. Even so, it’s easy to place blame because, yes, it’s downright disappointing and your role was to simply agree to be the recipient. After all, you didn’t make the promise – the other person did. The company did. So it’s completely their fault.

This is true if you want to be the center of the universe.

Once your ego is finished making it all about you, however; and the particles of perspective begin to float down upon you like so many insightful fireflies, you are illuminated with an opportunity for enlightenment.

In that brightened state you realize that a promise accepted with unequivocable expectations of fulfillment is about as likely to occur as dining with a cannibal and being treated to fruits and vegetables.

Any promise exists in an environment with many independently moving parts – most of which are far beyond anyone’s control. A promise starts with the giver’s belief that they can fulfill it. They make it with intent, and intent is intrinsically truthful. But the person who extends a promise lives in the same world we do, and that world that does not run according to plans.

We know this. We just like to conveniently forget it when we are faced with a promise that cannot be fulfilled. If we are courageous enough to be truthful, we know there is no fault to find. Any blame is misplaced, unless we are audacious enough to blame the universe. In which case, we will need to go much further up the chain of command than holding the person who made a promise to us accountable.

That person who made the promise? They actually showed far more initiative than whoever – if there is someone – is in charge of conjugating the events of our world to meet our expectations.

Promises exist because it is human nature to believe they can be fulfilled. It’s the next step that’s crucial. We learn one of the most valuable lessons of all when we discover that the consequences of a broken promise is not blame. A promise can only be broken when it is incorrectly shaped only by our expectations.

So sayeth the StickMonkey

The StickMonkey contemplates φοῖνιξ

Photo by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE, CC BY 4.0.
Photo by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE, CC BY 4.0.

Greek mythology tells the story of the Phoenix, a long-lived bird that is cynically reborn by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular creature lately.

I recently thought a rare opportunity was consumed by flames.

What burned away, however, was only preventing success. The opportunity is lighter and more nimble now; primed for a quicker ascent. The flames are extinguished and it’s time to fete the whimsical engines of destiny for their combustible direction.

Although it seems contradictory that mistakes and misadventures can be mined as a source of gratitude, opportunity – like the legendary Phoenix – can arise from their ashes.

I know this to be true. I can still see the burn marks.

So sayeth the StickMonkey.

The StickMonkey wishes a happy belated anniversary to…




So Sayeth the StickMonkey made its first post on February 27, 2009. An old friend brought that to my attention today after she had visited my blog and scrolled all the way back to the beginning.

In celebration, I will make myself a Vesper martini this evening, which just happens to also be the subject of the most popular post I’ve written over the past six years. (So sayeth Google.)

A big mahalo goes out to my readers.

So sayeth the StickMonkey.

The StickMonkey asks, what does the transistor and the taco have in common?

Photo by SparkFun Electronics, CC BY 4.0
Photo by SparkFun Electronics, CC BY 4.0

In a Fortune magazine article by Derek Lidow, I read about how William Shockley co-invented one of the most important technologies shaping our world today – the transistor – and then failed to commercialize it because of poor interpersonal skills and the inability to be an entrepreneurial leader.

Ideas are like bellybuttons. Or opinions. Everybody’s got one. And the best ideas out there aren’t worth anything unless they’re transformed into something we desire. Oftentimes, that’s best accomplished by people who come from outside the industries they disrupt.

As Lidow writes, “Companies don’t innovate, only leaders do.”

Read the entire commentary by Lidow here to figure out how a the taco fits into this…and pass the hot sauce when you’re done.

So sayeth the StickMonkey

The StickMonkey wants you to get personal with me

Photo by Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, CC BY 4.0.
Photo by the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion, CC BY 4.0.

I don’t want to be treated equally. I want to be treated fairly.

And because it’s 2015, I want companies with which I do business to communicate directly to me with messages and offers that are based on the information they have collected (or which I have provided them) about me.

That messaging doesn’t make sense via social media. Nothing engages me more than a personal email containing information or an offer relevant to me. It doesn’t have to be exclusive.

I’m not alone in my preference. According to The E-Tailing Group,  41% of people surveyed indicated that actually do purchase more from retailers sending personalized emails based on past browsing and buying behavior.

Another survey shows that 58% of us are looking for a more compelling offering personal services and benefits. After all, that’s the reason we have a relationship with a brand. It’s as if we’re saying, “Hey, I’ve invested in you. Now it’s time you invest in me.” That investment goes way beyond the virtual lip service that most companies push out on social media.

Who’s really knocking this out of the ballpark? Amazon. And, sure, most people don’t pay that much attention to sales receipts – but why would a company not take the opportunity to deepen my relationship with them on those little slips of paper? Especially now that I’m opting to have more sales receipts emailed directly to me instead of snagging another piece of paper to get lost in my pocket or briefcase.

You’ve got all this data on me, right? I would encourage you mine it for actionable insights and help me purchase more of your products and services. Use the avenues and the permission I’ve given you to contact me directly, and then tell me something you know that I, in particular, will find interesting.

Go ahead. Make it personal.

So sayeth the StickMonkey.

The StickMonkey thinks it’s time to fasten your seat belts…

Or, at least get comfortable and prepare yourself for an amazing ride.

I’m a huge fan of  Shanghai-based filmmaker Rob Whitworth, who makes amazing time-lapse videos of places we all want to visit, and turns these destinations into places of pure magic. His latest effort is of the city of Dubai.

Enjoy the ride, and you might want to put down your beverage until your feet are back on the ground.

So sayeth the StickMonkey.