Are Opioids the Problem or a Symptom?

Are doctors over prescribing opioids?  Probably. Non-refillable Percocet or Lortab are prescribed where an aspirin would suffice.  However, no one becomes an addict because a doctor prescribed ten or even twenty Percocet following a dental procedure—not unless they really wanted to become an addict from the get go.

USA Today reported that when you peel back the onion on this “opioid crisis,” adults with mental health disorders are consuming more than half of all painkillers prescribed in the United States.  Researchers at the University of Michigan and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center found that almost 52% of opioid prescriptions are going to people with mental health conditions. If Psychiatrist and other doctors stopped prescribing opioids to those with mental health issues, most of the overdoses and at least half of opioid prescriptions would stop.

Take away the mental health aspect and the remaining “crisis” problem relates to the illegal diversion of pain medications to the streets for recreational purposes.  Among the youth, drugs are cool.  But so were cigarettes and we made those uncool. 

As it sometimes happens, a “so called” crisis may just be the symptom rather than the cause. I am a user—that is, I rely on opioids for pain management. The pain being a by-product gift of cancer survival. My use of opioids is closely monitored by the prescribing doctor and that includes a periodic urine test, face-to-face interviews, and a standard medical check of vitals every month. People like me are not the ones overdosing or using drugs for recreational purposes. We are the same people who take advantage of an array of non-narcotic alternatives for pain management including epidurals, ablation, physical therapy, acupuncture, exercise, chiropractic manipulation, supplements and vitamins, stress-reduction techniques, etc.  In short, we are not problem!

We need to stop drugging those with mental problems, and we need to crack down on illegal diversion including criminals in the medical profession who write prescriptions for cash without a bona fide medical justification.  Unfortunately, now that the “Opioid Crisis is a National Emergency” the government is likely to reduce access to these medications limiting legal production and prescriptions.  Those who really need the opioids for pain management will be the losers. And, the reduction in access will lead to more illegal production, more black-market activity, and more unsafe street drugs.

Having said all the above, there is dark side to opioid use.  Diversion activities put millions of dollars in the pockets of criminals willing to put these powerful drugs in the hands of the mentally ill and those who just want to get high. With big money involved the full array of criminal activity follows.  My new book, tells that dark side story. Diversion, the fifth book in the Mark Rollins adventure series, will be released later this year. It is a shocking reveal of big-city drug problems moving into the country side—sex trafficking, terrorist and murder!  The gripping action takes place in and around the small towns of Manchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, near Nashville.  Watch for Diversion to be released later this year. 

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Power of "And" verses "Or" Thinking

I written about “The Genius of the AND” and “The Tyranny of the OR,” previously.  In fact, my last post on the subject still comes up on page one of a Google search.  Nevertheless, their importance in business and life warrant a continuing discussion.

To refresh your memory, In the book Built to Last by Jim Collins and Scott Porras, the authors noted that the common decision process is merely choosing between two or more choices—it is an “either/or” process. For example, shall we minimize cost or maximize quality. It is an approach that “…pushes people to believe things must be either A OR B, but not both.” That dampens the imagination, limiting the possible.

On the other hand, what distinguishes the truly remarkable leader and organization is, in the words of the authors, “The Genius of the AND.” Groundbreaking individuals and organizations have replaced the traditional OR approach to decision making with an AND approach—for example, rather than choose between low cost or high quality, they ask, “Why not both?” “Why not give our customers both the highest quality at the lowest cost?”

An interesting exercise is to consider the “Or verse And” issue as it relates to Peter Drucker’s concept of Management Judo. Peter Drucker identified five weaknesses that the larger competitor is likely to develop.

MANAGEMENT.JUDO.jpg

  A "not invented here" attitude is likely to make the competitor slow to take advantage of new ideas or lower cost methods. The "Creamer" concentrates too long on the higher profit, upper end of the market, leaving the door open to enter the market through the lower end.  The “Premium Pricier” begins to believe that their size entitles them to over price the services they provide. Failure to stay in touch is likely to result in the company emphasizing its idea of quality or features ("Wrong Quality") leaving the customer’s real wants unsatisfied or the product price too high.  The "Maximizer" keeps adding features to satisfy added market elements, leaving the door open for the Niche Company that will provide a simpler or lower cost product or service that just addresses the needs of a particular market segment. Understanding Drucker’s weaknesses means that you can use your larger competitor’s size against them to your advantage.  Or, looking inward you can reduce the occurrence of these weaknesses within your firm.

In addition, it is useful to look at these five weakness as the byproduct of “OR” decision making and strategic thinking. Contrast the single-track, “Or”, mindset that leads to each weakness to the dual tract, “And”, approach of Steve Jobs at Apple.  Given the choice between robust complexity and simplicity—Steve Jobs insisted on both, complexity and simplicity. Given the choice between utility and beauty, Steve Jobs chose both.

###

"Almost 60,000 Overdose Deaths in 2016; Largest Annual Increase in American History"—Department of Justice 

Coming Later This year.

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Business Etiquette

Etiquette not only sells, it is an essential building block in the pursue of business excellence.  Only through people who truly care about customers can you achieve excellence in the eyes of those who judge you. 

model for excellence

Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette speaker and trainer and the founder of Lydia Ramsey, Inc. a firm offering keynotes, seminars, and workshops to corporations, professional associations, government agencies, and colleges and universities. She is also the author of Manners That Sell.  As Lydia explains it, “My business etiquette presentations are designed for organizations that want their people to be at ease in any business situation and to represent them well in the marketplace.” She explains that etiquette is not just about introductions and table manners. Manners sell. People want to do business with people they like, and people like nice people. Etiquette is about being nice and, we might even say, kind.

There is that word again, “kind or kindness.” Look up kind or kindness and you will discover that four words are always closely linked—kindness, courtesy, polite, and etiquette. Each is an aspect of the other and they all represent behavior that shows respect for other people. You cannot achieve them without a genuine concern or “care” about others. The best salesperson delivers value; the best conversationalist is a good listener; the best king desires to put subjects at ease.

It is a standard of behavior. You cannot compartmentalize it or limit it to just one category of people. That is why we say that Common Courtesy is a job requirement. Customer care first requires caring about people in general. It is the leader’s job to insist that nothing short of common courtesy is acceptable. Kindness, politeness, and etiquette (putting others at ease) are job requirements of the excellence company.

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

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Look for “Diversion!”
DOJ: Almost 60,000 overdose Deaths in 2016; 'Largest Annual Increase in American History'
Coming Later This year.

Cover Diversion Small

Family News

After 35 years the Collins and Davis Families are leaving beautiful Deerfield.  Since we can’t take everything with us, we are having a big moving sale!  The event is on Saturday July 29th and Sunday July 30 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm each day.

Many beautiful items: Furniture, Antiques, Art Work, Oriental Rugs, Lamps, Books, Small Appliances, Kitchenware, and more.

For the best opportunity to take home a treasure, come on the first day, July 29th, and come early. We look forward to seeing you.

For more information contact Katherine Collins Davis at kcdavis@i65n.com or
Martha Collins at martha.collins@i65n.com

Get All Five Books FREE!

From now through the end of July, digital editions of all five of my published books are FREE on Smashwords.  The Smashwords digital editions include all four currently published Mark Rollins adventure mysteries listed below, and my book on leadership, The Language of Excellence.

Mark Rollins’ New Career & the Women’s Health Club
Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker
Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer
The Claret Murders
The Language of Excellence

Don’t forget to look for my new Mark Rollins adventure, Diversion.  This new mystery will be available later this year. The problem of opioid/drug abuse in the U. S. is very serious.  I see something in the news about it almost every day.  Nevertheless, there are legitimate needs for opioids to treat chronic pain.  I for one benefit from prescribed opioid pain relievers.  However, there is a dark side and it is called DiversionIt occurs when drugs that are legal when properly prescribed are diverted to the streets and recreational use.  

Diversion—illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, and a plot to shut down American military drones.  Look for it later this year!

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Addiction Process

Coming soon--a new Mark Rollins Adventure

Coming soon--a new Mark Rollins Adventure

It is not pleasure that drives the drug addict, but pain. The road that leads to addiction, however, does begin with pleasure. The first few times, the user gets a feeling of euphoria from consuming opiate drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine and Hydrocodone. The desire to repeat that wonderful feeling leads to taking more of the drug. Each time the drugs are taken the desired feeling of euphoria becomes less achievable and is replaced by “the black dog”, (depression, pain, a feeling of un-wellness) when the individual is not under the influence of a sufficient dose of their drug. This is the point of addiction. The point where the individual “just wants to feel good again”.

The addiction process occurs as opiates rewire the brain to shut off the body’s natural production of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals produced by the brain that transmit electrical signals within the nervous system to regulate feelings of pain. More endorphins lead to feelings of wellness, warmth, even euphoria and they modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones and enhance our immune response.

The good feeling is the result of opiates flooding the body with endorphins, many times more that the body produces naturally. That excess of endorphins, tricks the brain into shutting down its own endorphin production. When the brain throws that switch to the off position, seeking pleasure through drugs turns instead to avoiding pain. Taking more and more of the drug is the only way to make up for the lost endorphins. Without the drug, the individual suffers.

 # # #
Look for “Diversion!”
Illegal drugs, murder, a missing girl, a plot to shut down American military drones.
  It all points to one place and to the twins.

Coming Later This year.

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

What Employers Look For

An area university recently ask me for my input regarding their MBA program.  They were trying to answer the question what do employers want when hiring a graduating MBA.

They had already done an excellent job identifying and building into the curriculum the tool box of skills that will be expected of the MBA graduate.  That means every single graduate will have the tools to do the job.

Does he or she have the tools to do the job?  It is first question and easiest question an employer will want to answer before hiring.  Unfortunately, it is the other questions that are harder to answer that will determine success or failure on the job.  Those questions are:

Will he or she do the job?
In this environment?
With these people?

In the end, the individual tool box of skills only qualifies an individual as candidate for the job. It is his or her apparent traits that will get them the job and their traits on the job will determine his or her success in that environment with those people.  Successful people tend to be those whose behavior reflects a commitment to the following qualities (traits):

Integrity
Common Curtesy
Responsibility
Emphasis on Quality
Discipline
Sense of Teamwork

The all women blog, Literally, Darling, has an insightful post: “How to be Human 101: Basic Common Courtesy.”  Go to www.literallydarling.com/blog/2017/07/17/how-to-human-101-basic-common-courtesy/.  Also another blog you might want to check out is the post by Erin Schreiner,  “Five Characteristics of a Good Work Ethic.” Go to http://smallbusiness.chron.com/five-characteristics-good-work-ethic-10382.html.

# # #
Look for “Diversion!”
A new Mark Rollins Adventure Mystery
Coming Later This year.

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Best Advice I Ever Received

money sques.jpg

The best advice I ever received came from my father-in-law. He was a typical southern business owner of his time. He always wore a suite, tie and usually a hat. 

Working in his garden on a hot summer evening, he made a concession. The suit coat was left in the house, but hoe in his hand he still wore a white shirt and tie. I was had just started by career and confessed how difficult it was to live on a budget. Without looking up Mr. Reed said, “Yes, I know. I tried it once and decided the only thing to do was to make more money than I was spending.”

Mr. Reed was the founder of the Tennessee Book Company, which in his mid-sixties he sold to the Ingram Corporation. Ingram went on to build an empire as a software distributor. On another occasion, I recall my father-in-law remarking that he was lucky not to have gone into business for himself before age forty because if he had he likely would have failed. Looking back on my own career, I understand now what he meant by that. When it comes to business, you are a lot smarter at forty.

Best post series-- originally posted 2013

# # #

DIVERSION!
Coming Later This Year
A New Mark Rollins Adventure

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

The Addiction Process

percocet.jpg

Later this year, a new Mark Rollins adventure mystery will be available for readers. The new book, Diversion, delves into the world of the addict—including the user who takes otherwise legal drugs, opiates or pain medication, illegally for recreational purposes and the pill mills that write prescriptions for cash. The diversion of these drugs to recreational use has a devastating impact on the user and those who love him or her. So why do they do it, and how does experimentation lead to addiction?

It is not pleasure that drives the drug addict, but pain. The road that leads to addiction, however, does begin with pleasure. The first few times, the user gets a feeling of euphoria from consuming opiate drugs like heroin, morphine, codeine and Hydrocodone. The desire to repeat that wonderful feeling leads to taking more of the drug. With each dose, the drugs become less effective, and when the individual is not under the influence of a sufficient dose of the drug, euphoria is replaced by the “black dog” (depression, pain, and a feeling of unwellness). This is the point of addiction. The point when the individual “just wants to feel good again.”

The addiction process occurs as opiates rewire the brain to shut off the body’s natural production of endorphins. Endorphins are the chemicals produced by the brain that transmit electrical signals within the nervous system to regulate feelings of pain. More endorphins lead to feelings of wellness, warmth, even euphoria, and they modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhance our immune response.

The good feeling is the result of opiates flooding the body with endorphins, many times more that the body produces naturally. That excess of endorphins, tricks the brain into shutting down its own endorphin production. When the brain throws that switch to the off position, seeking pleasure through drugs turns instead to avoiding pain. Taking more and more of the drug is the only way to make up for the lost endorphins. Without the drug, the individual suffers.

 

# # #

DIVERSION!
Coming Later This Year
A New Mark Rollins Adventure

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Leadership Styles

Success in any organization will depend on how well you match your approach and style to your organization’s environment and people. One leadership style doesn’t fit all. In fact, a study by Harvard and GE confirmed that negative things can happen due to a mismatch in style.
Appropriate leadership style and tools will depend on where your organization’s team fits in relation to the four quatrains of the Agreement Matrix:

Leadership

When a consensus on objectives exists, the organization needs someone out front leading the charge. The key here is pushing activity— “Let’s get done!”

In those situations where no consensus exists, various factions within the organization are often pulling in very different (sometimes opposite) directions. It takes power, command, and enforcement to realign the organization behind common objectives. This is the classic call for a leader who can say and back up the statement: “I don’t care if you agree or not, get on board, get out, or suffer the consequences.”

For those organizations where a consensus exists on both objective and the strategy for achieving it, management’s job is to reinforce the vision through the organization’s culture—folklore, rituals, tradition, planning, etc.

However, when there is agreement on the objective but weak or little consensus on how to achieve that goal, leadership must focus on training, standard procedures, measurement and rewards.

For more on “The Tools of Cooperation and Change” published in the Harvard Business Review, go to https://hbr.org/2006/10/the-tools-of-cooperation-and-change.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

DIVERSION!
Coming Later This Year
A New Mark Rollins Adventure by Author
Tom Collins

 

How do you create something out of nothing?

When the Dot-Com industry erupted on the world economy, entrepreneurs like Kevin O’Connor did just that.  And they made a fortune doing it.  What sets O’Connor apart is that he tells us how he did it in his book, “The Map of Innovation.”  His book is about how to generate ideas and select the right one (or ones) to pursue for success and wealth.  He calls his process BPT or Brainstorming Prioritization Technique.

Here is Kevin’s BPT checklist: 

Get the right people in the room.
Define the problem (question or issue) carefully.
Spend up to twenty minutes brainstorming, no discussion.
Explain and talk about the ideas until everyone is clear on what they are.
Combine similar ideas.
Number the ideas.
Divide the total number of ideas by three.  This is the number of votes each person gets.
Only one vote per idea.
Circle the top three to six ideas.
Ignore everything else.

While the above process may sound rather mechanical, it produced fortune building ideas for he people Keven got in the room.  When you put smart people in a room they are going to have great, perhaps even ground breaking, ideas—too many of them in fact.  Perhaps the most important part of Keven’s BPT process is the part about Ignoring everything other than the best three to six ideas.  It that everything else that gets in the way, and keeps most people from succeeding “big”.

He writes something very profound in one of his early chapters; yet, it sounds so elementary:

All businesses, no matter what business you are in, really boil down to answering three questions:
1.Who are your customers?
2 What are their needs?
3. How can you solve those needs most efficiently?

O’Connor’s book is available in print and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.   

Map of Innovation.jpg

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Look for DIVERSION! 
a new Mark Rollins Adventure by author
Tom Collins
coming later in 2017. 

Idiocracy, More Science Fiction or …?

As our march into the future continues, our future increasingly looks like the dystopic world depicted in the black comedy, Idiocracy. Who can forget the “Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505.”. Well as sad as it is, the NBC and Reuters headline for April 17, 2017 read, “Sri Lanka Garbage Dump Disaster: 100 Feared Dead After Trash Pile Collapse.”

NBC reported that “Hopes were fading …for the survival of some 100-people trapped under the mud and debris of a landslide at a giant garbage dump in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.”

Reuters Africa reported “The 300-foot-high dump in the Meethotamulla area on the border of the commercial heart of Colombo collapsed …… burying many homes.”

So, the controversy continues. Is Idiocracy just another science fiction movie, or as some suggest, did the writers actually time travel to the future and simply create a documentary? In an article by Cory Dudak, she identifies ten Idiocracy occurrences that have already taken place since the release of the film in 2013.

The “Great Garbage Avalanche of 2505” gets closer every day!

Idiocracy.jpg

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Download One of My Books for Free

Smashwords' free book promotion, March 5-March 11, is over. While most of the Smashwords digital editions of my books have returned to their regular price, I have continued to offer the first book in the Mark Rollins mystery series for free. To download a free copy go to https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/470351.

The promotion added 36 new people to my reader base.  Most of the new downloads were for my adventure mysteries featuring Mark Rollins. The Language of Excellence gained some new readers as well. While I am happy to offer that leadership handbook in digital form, it really deserves paper and is available in both paperback and hardback on amazon. You can also purchase signed copies or buy multiple copies of the guide book at a discount by going to  http://www.tomcollinsauthor.com/language-of-excellence/. 

The Language of Excellence is a powerful training tool, one that makes doing and saying the right things a habit. It is also the perfect gift for business clients or prospects. Some companies use the book as a door opener—a gift, for the very important decision maker, that has the capacity to increase his or her profits and growth. 

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Smashwords' Promotion--Free and Discounted Books Through March 11, 2017

Download Free Smashword editions
of my books through March 11, 2017

https://www.smashwords.com/

Mark Rollins' New Career and the Women's Health Club by Tom Collins

Against the backdrop of daily life in his fitness club for socially elite, wealthy women of Nashville, Tennessee, Mark Rollins investigates the disappearance of a club member's investment banker husband. The mystery reaches far beyond Nashville's city limits and puts Rollins and team in the gun sites of an organized criminal enterprise.

Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker by Tom Collins

It’s Nashville and someone wants to kill Bunny’s much older husband, a prominent attorney, the law firm’s public face—its rainmaker.

Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer by Tom Collins

It’s Nashville and If you are looking for booze, women, song, or anything else, you go to Printers Alley. And that is where they found Mark Rollins's friend—a lawyer and rising political star—with a bullet through his head!

The Claret Murders by Tom Collins

It's Nashville... with a devastating flood, a beautiful lawyer, a deadly secret, and wine to kill for!

The Language of Excellence by Tom Collins

This book is simple. It is about the pursuit of excellence through leadership. It will give you the tools to empower others with the confidence to take the right action while they are on the front line.

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tomcollins

Get Ready for The Wild Ride Ahead-i.e.-Trump!

This nation is in great peril. How can we expect the great and talented to step forward and offer to shoulder the burden of leadership when the price we ask them to pay becomes so great?  Even those who despise Trump must marvel at the price he and his family are being ask to pay. As a collective population, we are our own enemy engaged in the destruction of the institutions and the fibers that have long held us together. If we succeed in our destructive efforts, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Yet, in spite of the pain inflicted on him and his family, I’m on the side of those who expect “huge” things to happen under the Trump umbrella. I don’t, however, expect the ride to be a smooth one. There will be no soaring to new heights without some brutally damaging, downward bumps especially in the early days of his administration. We are about to experience BIG changes and that doesn’t happen without initial and painful downward spikes in virtually every aspect of government’s impact on us. If you are a proponent of the book, The Language of Excellence, you understand the change curve.


We change to make things better -- to move to a higher level of benefit or performance. That is why Trump won the Presidency. Unfortunately, we know that progress toward those goals is never achieved in a straight-line fashion. Change, especially big change, results in an immediate decline in performance or delivered benefit counter to our expectation of improvement. It is only over time that that the change curve can be turn upward and the goal eventually reached.

changecurve

For the downward spike in performance to be reversed, incoming members of the new administration must reacquire the job knowledge “that walked out the door” with the change in the administration. Knowledge alone, however, is not enough. Like an athlete building muscle memory, the newcomers have to become fully competent incumbents for whom making sound decisions becomes almost habit.

In business, we explain the change curve’s performance this way. To reverse the downward spike and reach the goal of higher performance requires KASH—new knowledge which combined with the right attitude leads to building new skills which over time become habit.

During favorable circumstances, we benefit from push and pull forces that shorten the downward spike. Today, we don’t have many forces encouraging success. Rather than a favorable press for example, it is pushing down—a negative force deepening the likely downward plunge in an almost “I told you so” effort to prove that the voters made the wrong choice. Luckily, we do have an incoming president, who like the god Atlas, is trying to push up on the curve with all his might. But he does so without a lot of help. His fellow Republicans are not carrying an honest share of the load. For them, it is his burden. They “put in an appearance” but only to share the glory of success, and they act with enough caution to avoid blame if Atlas falters. It has been said a thousand ways —victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone

I’m pulling for Atlas. I want “huge” changes. I only hope his (Trump’s) shoulders are strong enough to keep this shaky nation aloft. 

Competitive Cyclists take to the Virtual Road.

It was raining on Christmas Eve in Franklin, Tennessee. My son (50- year-old son) is a committed competitive cyclist and recovering from a detached retina. You would think it is a good time to put another log on the fire and just enjoy the season.  But noooooo!

I’m reminded of the motivation difference between a hen and a pig. The hen is motivated and involved producing her egg on cue without complaint. But the pig—now providing you with the bacon to go with that egg requires real commitment. A true cyclist is a commitment, and rain, sleet, snow, or injury is not going to keep them off the road.

Just to prove it, unable to ride in the inclement weather and with one bad eye—son, Stephen, and his pal, Dave, have gone virtual.  They are in my garage in Franklin running a real race against real people but in a virtual world.  Believe me the grunts, the sweat, and the pain are all real.

Not only are the people they are racing real, they are racing in real time – they are really there on the bike run, yet they could be doing so from locations in France, Germany, Austin, Napa Valley, Austria, England, etc. Technology has collected them and deposited them in a competitive race in a virtual world where each is out to outdo the other or conspiring with a partner to beat the other by forming friendly teams. Some of the places they race are fictitious, but others are places they have raced before and know well including familiar routes of the Tour de France.

# # #

For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the

TomCollinsAuthor.com

. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of

The Claret Murders

go to

http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI

. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.

2016 Christmas Wine—Tasting or Science? Maybe Both!

Christmas isn’t over, but we decided to open our Christmas bottles early. We actually opened two bottles. The first was a 1982 Chateau Cheval Blanc, a widely hailed great vintage from the Saint-Emilion 1st Grand Cru Classe house of the white horse. This bottle has been in my loving care since its release. There can be no issue of cellar abuse. I had wanted to save this great vintage for a very special occasion, but I could no longer ignore reports of its seeming decline. It was open it now or never experience it’s greatness. Alas, I was a bit too late. The 1982 was a wonderful drinkable wine that went superbly well with the fat rich rare prime New York strip streaks. But Cheval Blanc needed the food! It lacked the stand alone character that would make you just want to enjoy the wine—maybe with a little cheese or pâté.  Its fruits had faded when opened but rebounded after about an hour in the decanter; nevertheless, the 1982 bottle could have been any really good drinkable wine, maybe even a pinot or ,of course it’s true colors, a merlot.  “If you have them, smoke them.” There no reason to keep this any longer. It is not going to get any better.




The next bottle was an antique—a fifty year old Chateau Lafite Rothschild that had lived a questionable cellar life, at least from its outward appearance. Now this was interesting.  There is no question than the wine is well past its prime, but it still had a character all its own.  Unlike the 1982 that you just wanted to enjoy with the steak. You kept wanting to go back to the Lafite for another sip—another taste. What is the wine telling me now?  Some time old wine is more like a science experiment and maybe the Lafite was near that edge.  When first opened, you questioned its drinkability. Then things started to happen—but it was not the fruit, color, or nose of a young wine.  It was dried flowers. It was the taste of and nose of autumn.  Where the 1982 needed the food, the 1966 added something else to it but didn’t really need the food. It wasn’t part of the menu; the wine stood alone.  It was not a wine to drink—it was a wine to sip. The ‘66 Lafite was a wine to be taken in small doses with amble resting time between those taste. You wanted to observe its evolution once freed from its fifty-year imprisonment.
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It is the next day and as you would expect there is nothing left of the 1982 Cheval Blanc, but there is still a little of the Lafite in the carafe, and I just repeated the experiment—another sip. The color was and still is very light-darker than a Rose but bourbon like. The point being that it’s color  has faded with age.  The taste is old but no tannins; it is leather and dried flowers—a walk in the woods.  But you know I still want another sip.  As for the 1982, I have done that and checked it off the list. However, I would love to try another ‘66 Lafite, just to see if that other bottle, maybe treated with better care, is any different. I’ll remember the ’66, and that is the difference character makes. It is unique. It is memorable. Where the 1982 gave you all its answers; left you with no questions. The ‘66 just may still be hiding something that another bottle might answer. 

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.

Published by I-65 North, Inc.



An Antique Wine for Christmas 2016

Soon we’ll celebrate another Christmas. And as our new tradition continues, we will enjoy another antique wine during the holidays. One I will tell you about when the season is over and that last drinkable sip has been drained leaving behind a little residue from the bottle’s years of resting in its cellar.

If you recall, it was an antique 1947 vintage of Chateau Cheval Blanc that was a central character in my book The Claret Murders. The ‘47 Cheval Blanc is considered by many to be the greatest wine every made.  I did have the great fortune of tasting a small share of this extraordinary wine at a tasting dinner several years ago.

In the animated hit Ratatouille, feared critic Anton Ego visits Gusteau's, the restaurant in which the movie is set, and orders a bottle of 1947 Château Cheval Blanc to go with his meal. The wine critic, Mike Steinberger, noted that the film which is full of delicious insider moments for foodies did so as wink to the wine lovers. He explained,
 “That's because the '47 Cheval is probably the most celebrated wine of the 20th century. It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies.”


Today, seventy years later, a single surviving bottle of the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc purchased, rather than retrieved from one’s cellar, can cost as much or more than $12,000.

Last year’s antique treasure got close but miss this greatest of all wine by just one year. We celebrated that Christmas with a 1948 Cheval Blanc.

Our 1948 bottle was very much alive—wonderful, but no longer a characteristic Claret. It smelled of plums and raisins with the taste of an exceptionally smooth port. We paired the wine with cheese and rich fat hamburgers that brought back the richness of the wine and showed its nobility as a great Claret from the house of the white horse.

What makes the experience of an antique wine so exceptional is the realization that you are one of the last people on earth to have the opportunity to taste the wine—through the experience you time travel back in to its birth. It is the product of soil, weather, and the light hand of the wine maker at that precise place and time in history. Like a snowflake—it is unique and can never be repeated.



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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.



EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!

Qualifying for a Tennessee carry permit requires mandatory training and being tested on the firing range. In spite of the sustainable personal investment in time and expense, many Tennesseans have gone through the process becoming responsible gun owners. One of the things they learn during training is that firing a deadly weapon exposes them to civil and criminal prosecution regardless of the reason for doing so. The only justification for aiming a weapon at another human is that you believe you or someone else is at risk of being killed or suffering grave bodily harm. Their judgment as to that circumstance will be questioned. They will surely have to defend their decision in court. Responsible gun owners have a lot to lose and thus take their responsibility seriously. Based on experience, we have much to fear from criminals with guns and almost nothing to fear from the licensed individual. In fact, those licensed for conceal carry provide an additional level of security—security that could one day save your life or the life of someone close to you.

In spite of the potential benefit the licensed individual provides, fear of guns in anyone’s hand has led some businesses to adopt a no guns on the premises policy. However, a company’s right to bar guns has limits as Steve Collins humorously explains below:

“Hey, Harlan, I heard Louise has got a shiny Colt Detective 38 Special locked up in her trunk.  She's always pushing the rules.  There are no guns allowed on company property.  I've had it with Louise.  This is it.  I'm firing her."
Wait, wait don't do it.  In 2014 Tennessee passed Tennessee Code Annotated 39 17 1313, commonly referred to as the "guns in trunks law."
Since Louise has a proper Tennessee carry permit and since her Colt Detective 38 Special is locked up in her trunk, she is protected by the law.  The law allows Louise to transport and store her gun in her vehicle.  That law applies to the company parking lot.   All Louise has to do is be on the property legally, be parked legally, and her have her gun and ammunition 'kept from ordinary observation'.  A gun locked in the trunk is 'kept from ordinary observation'.
Also if Harlan does fire Louise she can bring a lawsuit against the company charging that her statutory right to have her gun locked in her trunk has been violated and she can in turn seek and receive damages from the employer including her attorney fees and litigation costs and she can get an injunction prohibiting her employer from violating that law and taking an adverse employment action against her.  These remedies for Louise are provided for in Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. The result is that an employer of any size is now prohibited from discharging or taking an adverse employment action against its employee in Tennessee 'solely' for being in compliance with 'guns in trunks'.
Be aware and wait, wait don't do it.  Tennessee Code Annotated 50-1-312. Became effective July 1, 2015.

For more WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT advice to employers check other Steve Collins post at http"//spicefirm.com/news.html.

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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Time Off to Vote—It is a Right!

With the election of our next President only days away, employees and employers need to start thinking about voting plans.  Imagine the following conversation between employee and employer:
“I need to take off to go vote today."
“Wait a minute Joe, you do that on your own time.”
“I’ve got to vote!”
“Well, if you leave work, no need to come back."
Steve Collins with the Knoxville law firm Spicer Rudstrom, PLLC says, “EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!” Tennessee Code Annotated 2-1-106 provides that the employee on the day of an election must be given "a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.” The law also provides, however, that Joe has to make application for the time off at least before 12:00 noon on the day before the election. Further, the law provides that if the employee's work begins three or more hours after the polls have opened or ends three or more hours before the polls close in the county where the employee is a resident, then the employee is not entitled to the time off. The employee “may not be subjected to any penalty or reduction in pay for such absence.”




"Termination of an employee for a protected right, protected by a statute or regulation, can give rise to a retaliatory discharge lawsuit.  If Joe makes an application before lunchtime the day before the election and if Joe's work does not start three or more hours after the polls in his county open or his work does not end three or more hours before the polls close in his county, you better let him off to go vote."

"In the case of Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d 896 (Tenn. 1992) a Tennessee jury returned a verdict of $575,000 for a plaintiff found to have been wrongfully discharged  for engaging in a protected activity (jury duty).  So, wait, wait don't do it!"

For more "Wait, wait don't do it!" advice from Steve Collins go to http"//spicefirm.com/news.html


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For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to the TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio edition of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. Ebook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBooks Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.