mocknewsletI may have mentioned it before and it’s certainly not an original concept, but I thank Charlie Macatee for teaching it to me.  What is “it?”  Well, “it” is a management concept that Charlie used to regularly embed in our brains and thank goodness mine was receptive.  Charlie was a general manager of a radio station I worked for in Washington, D.C. back in the 70’s.  I was among his group of sub-managers who met in his office once weekly to review what was going on in each department.  There was hardly a week when someone didn’t offer Charlie the opportunity to enhance our managerial skills by following his philosophy:

Manage well that which you control, and if you don’t control it, then stop trying to manage it.

I don’t know the whereabouts of Charlie these days, or even if he is still about, but if I had the opportunity to meet with him I would thank him for his teaching me that simple concept that many times over has saved me a lot of frustration.  Too bad some others I know of haven’t been so blessed.  Case in point:  John Flabbergaster.  No, that’s not his real name, but I best keep that private.

I live in a community that has an association that takes care of the common grounds, landscaping and maintenance–stuff like that.  The association is run by a board made up of elected residents.  These are dedicated people who are easily elected because only they want the job…few other residents do.  It is a thankless job and susceptible to chronic criticism and insults from the residents.  I know that because I once served on a condominium board and never will again.

John Flabbergaster serves on the association board where I currently live.  Over the past several years he has taken it upon himself to produce a quarterly newsletter for the community.  Since anything the board does is on a volunteer basis, this is a nice gesture on John’s part.  The problem is, John doesn’t have much understanding of exactly what a newsletter is.  Instead, John uses the guise of a newsletter to mount his quarterly soapbox and tell all us residents about the terrible things we do in his community.

A newsletter is for NEWS!  It should contain worthy pieces of information useful to the community and maybe even some items of social interest that relate to the residents.  The newsletter we get is several pages long, single spaced margin-to-margin and seldom features an illustration.  It repetitively covers association rules that are being broken.  Parking is nit-picked regularly as is the audacity some of us have of putting our trash out the night before pickup instead in the morning.  One highlight appearing in each newsletter is John telling us about his personal power walks through the neighborhood.  As he walks he’ll begin his ever-tiring rants about the unsavory state of dog poop, the numerous unkempt houses, sleazy renters and anything else of a negative nature he can pick up on along the way.  If you go by what John says, you would think our community is an infested eyesore that should be swept under the lawn where it cannot be seen.   In reality it is anything but.  If nothing else, John is definitely state-of-art curmudgeon—not quite condo-commando, but darn close.

John just doesn’t get it.  He cannot grasp the concept that most people DO care about the community but their emphasis is on things other than trash collection and dog poop, unless they get out of hand, which they aren’t.  As for serving on the board, those who do are a unique breed.  Most people simply don’t have the time or motivation to come home from work and take on the property needs of several hundred neighbors.  They have others things to do. They want to live in a nice neighborhood and be left alone.  If necessary, they will pay someone or some organization to take care of the property and common items of interest.  It really is that simple.  But John, by the  nature of his personality, is compelled to make it more than that.

He has a need to express himself, especially about things that bug him and the perpetraters responsible.  He frets over why he must discuss the same violations over and over again in every newsletter.  Little does he know we feel the same way, well sort of.  He regularly says he cannot understand why people behave like they do.  Well, John, people behave that way because that IS the way people behave.  You need to realize two things.  First, people don’t necessarily think the same way you do.  And, second, you will never change them.  Hey, that reminds of something one of my bosses used to say…

 Manage well that which you control, and if you don’t control it, then stop trying to manage it.



About Marc Kuhn

I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!
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