The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Getting Positive About Being Negative

Do you know what’s wrong with the world today? People who think there’s something wrong with the world today. Am I right, or am I right? What we need is a lot less doom and gloom and a lot more boom and zoom. And you can quote me on that.

One person who understands positivity is Dale Carnegie. The famous author of best-selling books such as “How To Win Friends and Influence People,” and “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” is a widely respected master of motivation, even though he happens to be dead. Now that’s positive.

Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc. is the name of the firm that carries on the great man’s good work, and I feel positive about being on their email list. Positive and proud, because every time I am feeling a little low, in pops an e-poke in the ribs, reminding me that total happiness and sweet success is only a seminar away.


The latest email that I hauled out of my inbox perfectly proves the point. Like all sensitive souls, I’ve been engulfed in a huge cloud of despair ever since “Spartacus: Vengeance” ended its season, and I realized that the only bloody battles I’d see on a regular basis would occur when scavengers from IT attacked the remains of executive lunch platters left in the break room. But that cloud gave way to sunny skies when I learned about a three-hour, live online program — “Overcoming Workplace Negativity with Enthusiasm.”

According to my personal email invitation, this program “will show you how to use Dale Carnegie’s proven ways to prevent the naysayers, whiners and downers from robbing you and your group of the energy to succeed.”

Of course, if you are the kind of sicko who thinks that the naysayers, whiners and downers are the only honest and interesting people in your company, you may need a second, more intense seminar — one that can turn you into a workplace automaton who never questions authority, never has a negative thought, and lives to follow the directives of upper management. In other words, a person very much like your supervisor.

Such is the power of positive thinking that it can also teach you “specific techniques for dealing with that burned-out feeling so you can lead with confidence and enthusiasm.”

This portion of the program might be useful for some insane workaholic types, who never don’t come in late, don’t take three-hour lunches, and refuse to slip out the back stairs well before the closing whistle, but it is probably of limited benefit to you. Let’s face it — the only way you’ll get “that burned-out feeling” about your work is if you actually did some work, and as we both know, that ain’t gonna happen.

Carnegie kindly provides an outline for the program, and I’m sure you’ll find the syllabus irresistible, starting with topic No. 1, in which participants “assess their own attitudes in relation to the workplace around them.” This is a very valuable exercise. If your time at work has left you numb and dumb, this is an excellent opportunity to discover all sorts of new reasons to hate your job.

Once you learn to “identify sources of negativity,” which is topic No. 2, you will be more than ready for topic No. 3 — “Use principles to gain cooperation from negative people.”

I’m not exactly sure what principle will work at your work, but you might try the first law of thermodynamics, which deals with energy consumption and explains why it is that even though you accomplish almost nothing in the morning, you still require a two-hour nap in the coat closet every afternoon. (Also applicable is the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the disorder in the universe always increases. This explains why when one awful manager leaves the company, the person who comes in to replace them is always much worse.)

You can safely skip topic No. 4, which covers how to “use a process to disagree agreeably.” What process could be more agreeable than one of your workplace tantrums, where you hold your breath until you turn red while you kick your feet and beat your desk with your tiny fists?

The fifth and final topic is “Identify solutions for specific workplace negativity problems,” but that doesn’t really require a three-hour online seminar.

All that has to happen to solve the negativity problem in your company is that you have to quit.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at


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