Category Archives: Communications

Viewing Primaries as a Sale

It’s an interesting primary season in the USA. There’s nothing unique about it if you have a decent education in our history, or world history. But people want their own lives to be momentous and unique, and they will cling to that illusion in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary. That’s the problem with logic. It doesn’t provide as much adrenaline as emotion does. Trade, the process of buying and selling, is what emotionally engages most people.

I’m an odd duck, by my nature, training, and experience. When I complete an exam and end up with superior diagnostic views of a difficult patient, the doctor and I trade “high fives”. I get the same rush as if my home team won the Super Bowl. But before and during the actual exam, I’m in a logical headspace, calculating radiation dosage, distance, part thickness, tissue composition and photographic factors needed to produce the best images. Because I’m hyper-focused on the math and science, things like a wounded patient’s cries, or the wiggliness of a five year old with pneumonia don’t distract me. I do the job. It’s a kind of meditation exercise.

I tend to employ similar methods when I vote. I do research, read and watch interviews, carefully go over candidate web sites, trying to extract facts from the sales pitches. I’m not immune to appeals to my emotions, but they had better be smart, backed by facts, and honest. When candidates employ half-truths, I hold the behavior against them, like a grudge. I don’t like feeling like I got “sold” a candidate. I want it to be my unfettered choice to support or oppose them. But I think I’m atypical. I believe most people enjoy it when candidates give them attention. And it affects their vote choices.

Political campaigns are not run like scientific professions. They try to employ some science, internal polling, demographic strategies and such, but most of the money and effort go into persuasion, marketing, branding and affirmations of allegiance – all ways to appeal to emotion. In sales, this is the IQPC Model: Intro, Qualify, Pitch and Close. These are “Four Steps to a Sale” practiced by millions each day. There are other versions of this concept, but this is the one I learned working in retail sales many years ago:

1.) INTRO – You manage and control the first impression, greet the customer (voter) warmly with a word or two about yourself, establishing your desire to be helpful while inviting them to engage further.

2.) QUALIFY – Through questions, you (the seller) gain a quick understanding of the customer’s (voter’s) desires, needs and their budget. This allows the seller to separate those most likely to buy from “looky-loos” (uncommitted browsers).

3.) PITCH – The seller presents the product in a way that most closely matches the goals of the prospective buyer (determined by the qualifying questions).

4.) CLOSE – The seller asks the prospective customer to commit to the sale. Closing is the most important step, and there are different styles and methods for closes.

There are lots of ways to derail a successful sale. The seller may offer a poor INTRO, after which all efforts will be more difficult. The QUALIFY may be mismanaged by asking questions that do not provide enough information about what the customer needs, wants, and if they are willing and able to buy. The PITCH will not be persuasive if it ignores the customer’s goals, or can’t fulfill them. More sellers fail when CLOSING than at any other point in the process, because asking for the sale is harder than chatting and getting to know each other.

There are lots of ways to analyze political candidates. You can view them through the IQPC lens too, since voting is a type of transaction, a sale. Here are my short performance reviews of some recent and current presidential candidates, according to the Four Steps model:

Carly Fiorina, businessperson, former candidate for Senate

INTRO = 50/50. Good backstory that was partly deceptive.

QUALIFY = Poor. Failure to judge customer needs.

PITCH = Poor. Misjudged voters interests based on poor Q.

CLOSE = Could not close after two previous missteps


Ben Carson, retired Neurosurgeon

INTRO = 70/30 Excellent backstory marred by probable deception.

QUALIFY = Poor estimation of customer goals and desires

PITCH = Worst of entire field of candidates

CLOSE = Unable to close due to previous mistakes


Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey

I = Poor. Entered transaction with reputation as a bully/RINO

Q = 50/50 Misjudgment of customer interest in aggressive policy approach

P = 50/50 Adept in debates but off-putting behavior soured the sale

C = Passed customer off to another salesperson


Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas

I = 70/30 Good resume impacted by co-worker dislike

Q = 70/30 Good rapport, but over-focus on select clientele

P = 70/30 Good pitch for target clients, bad for general custom

C = Making the sale is possible, but not probable

Donald Trump, Real Estate tycoon, TV performer

I = 50/50 A mix of obvious virtues and obvious flaws

Q = 70/30 Good customer evaluation, mistreatment of browsers

P = 50/50 Oversimplification, only convincing to some

C = Best closer of any GOP candidate. Sale (nomination) likely.

Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont

I = Good intro. Consistent

Q = Good qualifying questions

P = 70/30 Overly narrow focus on some customer needs, not all

C = Possible sale, if able to broaden appeal of product.


Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State, former Senator

I = 50/50 Lots of positives and negatives (see Trump).

Q = Encyclopedic understanding of customer needs and desires

P = 80/20 Tendency to oversell, diminishing effectiveness of message

C = Probable sale, definite if able to refine pitch

These are my perceptions, but my readers are “above average”. I know you don’t see everything exactly as I do, and I celebrate those differences. Nothing would please me more than if you offer your own opinions of how these or other candidates have done, according to the Four Steps model. (That was a quick pitch and close.)



Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality, Television, Thinking about thinking, Uncategorized

The Butterfly Rebellion

I’m fascinated by revolutions, new idea movements, paradigm shifts and innovative attempts to alter the course of history.


Filed under Communications, Ethics and Morality

Goodbye, Puppy Boy

Finn in grass

Next week our latest service dog trainee Finnegan will be returned for his final phase of intensive instructions. We will be finishing up the socialization of another dog for about five months. This puppy was raised with a very different regimen than Spice, our guide dog for the blind trainee. Spice, the yellow Lab, was strong and steady, with muscles like a gladiator. She’s been navigating for her new owner over a year now, and they are both doing extremely well. Having Spice made it possible for Jeremy to go to college, to fulfill his ambition of becoming a music professor.

Finn big smile

Finnegan is strong too, but he’s a bundle of potential energy, like a coiled spring. He’s highly reactive, curious about any kind of novel stimulus, and whip-smart. Finn was originally considered to become a mobility assistance dog for a wounded veteran, but he didn’t grow big enough for that job. Now he’s going to be trained to be a therapeutic companion for a young autistic boy.

soft curly

I can see how much better an alternative this will be for the dog and the boy. Finnegan has an expressive face and a wide array of verbalizations. It can help model correct behavioral responses for an autistic child. Though this pup is cheerful by default, you can tell right away if he isn’t. For the most part, the only thing that gives him the blues is not getting a new challenge every day. Autism provides new challenges. Finnegan is hypoallergenic, and his soft, curly coat makes petting him more inviting for a hypersensitive child. Having him will be a social advantage for the boy, because others want to approach if you have a cute dog.  It can also make walking easier.

Finn loves to solve puzzles to get food, play with any toy that makes noise, and he will retrieve anything you care to throw. It took him a few months to understand our old lady cat is NOT a toy that makes noise, and that she’s not interested in playing tag, even though she will greet him nose-to-nose. He has taken that lesson (go gently with little beings) and applied it to infants and toddlers, with hardly any encouragement from us. He accepts kisses, hugs and petting from small children very well, and doesn’t jump on them.

Gentle Leader

Ever since we took him to Seattle and gave him a successful big city experience, Finn has been more confident, calmer and easier to work with. His biggest challenge is a tendency to pull ahead if he gets excited, but using a “gentle leader”, which fits over his nose, prevents this behavior. If you put a kibble inside your hand, he stays glued to your hip, matching your speed even without a leash. He relieves easily on grass, gravel or dirt using the command “hurry”. In the year we’ve been raising him, he never once had an accident inside the house. Don’t you wish your child was that easy to toilet train?

Lab and WheatonLongshot Mutt StrutMary at Table

Last week’s big activity was a visit to the local Rotary Club’s “Mutt Strut”. It’s an annual fundraiser to support their charitable projects, with products, lectures and assorted activities available for dogs and owners. There are many breeds I have no direct experience with, and I want to keep learning. They offered a long walk and informal contests including “cutest dog”, “most obedient” and “most unusual trick”.

Dogs greetingFinn watching

The Rotarians provided water in buckets, and policed the area keeping the encounters positive and well controlled. Though dozens of dogs were present, I heard very little in the way of distressed or confrontational barking. Finnegan was there to practice self-control, and he enjoyed observing the contests. We made sure he had as many experiences with small children as possible.

Hairy and AlanGrand Marshall Hairy Putter, and his dad, Alan Ahtow.


I’ve become attuned to a different balance in the four years since we moved from El Lay, vortex of cinematic fabulosity, to this picturesque Victorian seaport of 9,000. Where we used to live, animals (aside from humans) were perceived as lesser beings, as property, or as a food source. But deer roam the streets and yards here, eagles swoop above the trees, and songbirds, squirrels and rabbits share our grounds. In this town, there is less of a hard boundary between domesticated animals, wild animals, and people. And residents are advocating to make more places pet-friendly. It comes from a motivation to live harmoniously in nature, instead of competing and trying to control it.

Seeing the different dogs and owners made me remember why we raise these dogs. It’s part of our “fix what you can” philosophy. I can’t solve the wars of the world, or make politics more civil. I can’t control humankind wasting Earth’s bounty, or find a vaccine for Ebola. But I can take good radiographs, making it easier for the doctors to diagnose and treat. And Mary and I can help train the right kind of dog to assist others in need.  Our next pup in training will be a little Havanese, like this one.



Filed under animal communication, Communications, Ethics and Morality, photos

The Miraculous Power of the Beatles

(This clip will probably disappear when Apple discovers it.)

I was working as a children’s photographer at a Sears store. It was unfulfilling work. I had a pal I met in high school whose name was Terra. She was very pretty, was one of the prom queens, and had been in “swim timers”. She was also interested in service work. In high school I took photos of all the clubs. That’s how Terra and I became friends. Continue reading


Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality

Part-Time Einstein


You’ve probably noticed there’s more than one way to think. When I train dogs or encounter wildlife, I try to think like the other animal. It improves communication. When I’m taking X-rays at the Urgent Care sometimes I am thinking like a psychotherapist, sometimes like a nurse, and to improve empathy I try to think like the patient and focus on their difficulties. Continue reading


Filed under Communications, Thinking about thinking

I Am 60 Today

In the 1950s:

We had a 19” Black & White TV.  I watched this and laughed.

Continue reading


Filed under Communications, humor, Metaphysics, Thinking about thinking


SORRY FOLKS! I’m too busy in re-certification classes to write, but I can still read at study breaks. I found this simple statement breathtaking.


A few days ago, Eric L Wattree, a regular on dagblog, posted about why he thought Barack Obama will be remembered as a great president. In the comments there ensued a discussion of who were the greatest presidents, whether Obama, Clinton, Reagan, or Carter will be remembered as great or ordinary, and what determines greatness in office.

With the death of Nelson Mandela, I couldn’t help wondering what an American president would have had to endure and accomplish to be considered in the same breath with Mandela.

Suppose Frederick Douglass, after escaping torture by the slavebreaker at Mt Misery, didn’t safely escape to the North in 1838. Suppose he had non-violently protested against the slavery condoned by the US government, then later organized attacks on US government targets. Suppose instead of being executed he had been imprisoned for almost three decades. Suppose he had led the antislavery movement from within…

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Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality