I wasn’t close to my dad but he made me who I am today. And he revealed to me the greatest management secret you could ever know.
My dad was smart, smarter than I am but people would say he was less successful. He got a scholarship to Cooper Union, a really tough respected college that’s most famous as the site where Abraham Lincoln gave an important speech. But dad didn’t go there. He had to work. It was the Depression and his family needed food, not education.
Murray Katz later got a degree in night school. He learned engineering. He was very good. He fixed up and saved failed apparel factories. Then he ran them until he got bored and went somewhere else to fix another one.
While I was going for my MBA, I learned about what was then called “quality management.” It’s forgotten or, at best, misremembered today. But it was an approach that a guy named Dr. W. Edwards Deming used to help revive the economy of post-war Japan. Simplifying, it’s largely about analyzing and improving business processes and treating people really, really well.
Quality management was a way to do well by doing good. I met Deming, learning quality management really, really well and used it (surreptitiously) at work to improve the lives of the people I supervised and enable them to do amazing work.
I told my dad about it. He was retired by then, and still alternately struggling for money and retreating into books. But this is what he said:
“It’s all a bunch of crap. Just be a good person.”
He was raining on my parade which wasn’t unusual for him. At first I was annoyed but later it hit me: he was right. I have an MBA and a zillion skills but whatever success I enjoy is due to being a good person. Treat people well and they feel respected and they are inspired and they do great things. Yeah, the management and tech skills help but really they’re secondary. Look at Frederick Taylor. He discovered that, in an age when workers were abused, just paying attention to them improves performance. So much more happens, I discovered, when you actually love employees and customers and even strangers, and care for them as people.
That’s my management secret. Thanks, dad.
Executive with marketing, operations and technical expertise. Holds an MBA. Co-founded and co-managed Internet marketing and development company that served Fortune 500 clients. Currently consulting.
management, marketing, operations, digital media, website development, social media, messaging, content strategy, content development, blogging, supervision.
Technical skills include:
Wordpress, server management, Genesis Framework, MAMP, CSS, CDNs, Dynamik Web Builder, WP Multisite, Hootsuite, Buffer, Dreamweaver, FileMaker Pro, MailChimp, website migration, Google Analytics.
Ray was a pleasure to work for. He was always open to new ideas, but still able to keep the client’s needs first. He remains an enjoyable person to interact with both as an employee and as a friend; as kind in giving counsel as he is willing to receive. Ray has the tech savvy to stay ahead of the curve, and the common sense to not get bogged down in the details… in short, he was a great manager of creative and technical teams.R. Quinn Hall
Ray is a smart guy, a clear thinker and a strong writer. He champions clients’ business goals, and he supports creative approaches, especially novel but business-minded uses of technology. I learned a lot from Ray. You will, too.Emily Culbertson
Ray was my business partner at I-SITE for 10 years. He’s smart, driven, has a great sense of humor and knows how to grow and manage a successful operation.Ian Cross
© • Ray Katz