The cost of ‘the customer is always right’

I came across an article today entitled ‘Fake it ’til you make it’ is psychologically damaging, it’s an interesting read (I like learning about human behavior, i’m weird like that). One statement stood out to me (2nd excerpt below), mostly because this is the first time i’ve seen the topic of the cost (meaning money, for losing good employees, lack of employee engagement in their job, etc…) of requiring staff, such as those in the hospitality business, to act as if the customer is always right even though we ALL know this is bullshit.

Hotel staff, for instance, might wield tight-lipped smiles and impeccable manners during exchanges with even the most disagreeable travelers. Kouchaki calls this “surface acting”—common behavior for those whose jobs depend on politeness and constant restraint. “This type of emotional labor has consequences,”


It seems to be true that to act in accordance with one’s own self, emotions, and values is a fundamental aspect of well-being,” Kouchaki says. “Leaders might want to factor that in. The knowledge that inauthentic behavior has costs and that prosocial behavior”—like assisting or mentoring a colleague—“increases moral self-regard—this is something leaders might consider when designing their organizations.

When things go horribly wrong, and your brother dies as a result

This is a technical blog for the most part. I usually talk about all kinds of geek programmer stuff, but today is different. Today I feel that I have to take a moment and discuss the death of my brother and friend Christopher Allen Knopf.

My brothers mission in life was to change his world, he did just that, he changed countless lives for the better. You can read about one of them at

Chris had the classic case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which eventually led to his suicide. Here are the words that I spoke during his eulogy:

It is difficult to understand what led Chris to this decision. As I’ve tried to put together the pieces so I can gain some kind of understanding I’ve come to realize that in many ways my brother was two people.

Chris was a witty, loving, fun filled, extremely intelligent, and caring person. He was also an angry, depressed, and trapped individual. That dark side got the best of him after years of struggle. My brother was a man who wanted to be in control. In the end, he simply wasn’t.

Chris made a lot of choices in life that caused him real grief. I believe that he just couldn’t come to grips with all of this, I think he felt like he had no way to resolve these problems, and escape was his only option.

I also feel that Chris never really realized the impact his death would have on those who loved him. If he had foreseen how this decision would shatter his family he would have made different choices.

When my sister called and told me what Chris had done I was so incredibly angry. I walked my neighborhood in the middle of the night, my mind consumed with emotion: Anger, sadness, frustration, a seemingly endless array of memories of what was and what could have been.

I feel that I am finally moving past the anger and toward forgiveness. I don’t know how Chris felt that day. I can’t put my mind into the place where he must have been in order to do this to himself. I am glad that he didn’t hurt anyone else, I feel like he was capable of hurting others when he would let his anger get the best of him.

Chris left a note, it was addressed to “all”. Not just you, not just me, but everyone. The first sentence consisted of two words and two words only, those words were “Forgive me”. I will do what you have asked of me my brother, I will forgive you.

It is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know the best who elude us…but we can still love them. We can love completely…without complete understanding.

I wanted to take the time to say thank you to the countless people who have reached out to us and shown that they care; it means more than you could ever know.

Getting More Out of Life: Just Smile

Life is a complex thing, we all are busy doing “stuff” that makes us happy, sad, exhausted, and everything in between. Most of us want “more out of life”, Ron Gutman explains how achieving this is just a smile away.

Where Do Good Ideas Come From: Just Ask Steven Johnson

We all have good idea’s, at least we would like to think so. But have you ever really thought of “how” you get a good idea? I mean really really thought about it?

Maybe “good” ideas are cultivated over time as each of our unique experiences, both past and present, come together in a connected manner to bring meaning to things we care about and are interested in.

In this intriguing and insightful talk, given by Steven Johnson at TED 2010 in England, this exact question is raised. It’s well worth the 18 minutes of your life you will spent watching his talk.

There is never only “one right way” to develop something

A great statement from Scott Guthrie in his article entitled About Technical Debates

There is never only “one right way” to develop something. As an opening interview question I sometimes ask people to sort an array of numbers in the most efficient way they can. Most people don’t do well with it.

This is usually not because they don’t know sort algorithms, but rather because they never think to ask the scenarios and requirements behind it – which is critical to understanding the most efficient way to do it. How big is the sequence of numbers? How random is the typical number sequence (is it sometimes already mostly sorted, how big is the spread of numbers, are the numbers all unique, do duplicates cluster together)? How parallel is the computer architecture? Can you allocate memory as part of the sort or must it be constant? Etc.

These are important questions to ask because the most efficient and optimal way to sort an array of numbers depends on understanding the answers