The Junk File

I am one of those odd ducks who enjoys writing for fun (and sometimes just to vent), so I should not have been surprised when my wife encouraged me to submit samples to a local newspaper when a columnist position opened in 1997. They declined but another opening occurred a few weeks later at Chico’s daily Enterprise-Record, a larger but apparently less discriminating newspaper. I got the gig.

My column eventually ran in a half dozen or so papers but by 2005 it was evident I wasn’t going to be the next Dave Barry and the consulting business was taking off, so I hung up the keyboard after eight years.

I wrote my first “Junk File” early in my column’s life, a Herb Caen-ish collection of short observations running a few sentences each. The paper liked it, the readers liked it, I had fun with it, so I’ve dusted it off here with a bit of a business twist.


I have come to enjoy not knowing everything. I don’t know where we get our office supplies. I don’t know where our coffee comes from. I don’t know where everyone is at every given moment. There was a time when I knew these things and more, such as who cleaned the bathrooms (me, until a few years ago). As we advise fast-growing clients, entrepreneurs who don’t know where to let go end up keeping their companies in a stranglehold. Be happy to just know who knows. Trust me, life’s a lot more productive that way.


There’s a lot to like about the administration’s proposed tax code overhaul – and a lot to dislike. In that sense it kind of reminds me of, well, every tax reform proposal written at least since my first job with a CPA firm over 35 years ago. I’ll save my joy and dismay until the Frankenstein’s laboratory that is Congress is done with it, and the President adds his autograph.


“Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” At least one historian disputes the “Orphans preferred” part, but this is purportedly an 1860 era ad for Pony Express riders. Good heavens, where was OSHA? And child labor laws? And PETA for Pete’s sake, this couldn’t have been easy on the ponies. No wonder it only operated for 18 months. We help rewrite a lot of job descriptions for our recruiting clients but I’m not sure where to begin with this one. Maybe “Exciting startup on the bleeding edge of communications technology seeks driven associates for a fast-paced career. Compensation package includes (live)stock options (Appaloosa or mustang).” Think I’ll just stick to email and texts.


While waiting for a flight to a conference a few weeks back, a boy of about 2 or 3 walked by, closely tailed by an older gentleman I assumed was his grandfather. “What would you like to do?” Grandpa asked. “I want to go too far,” answered the tot. My guess is he’d spent the afternoon being told “Now don’t go too far,” so naturally that’s exactly what he wanted to do. Pretty much sums up the human condition by my observation.


We recently renewed our fictitious business name statement only to have the application rejected, because it was deemed not to have an original signature. I called and was told that the signature appeared to be a copy, because they couldn’t smudge it. I was glad the county hasn’t sunk big bucks into sophisticated original signature detection technology so offered to re-sign it with a different pen. Did so and got their approval, complete with an official signature. Which I couldn’t smudge, but not going to complain.


I am always on the lookout for interesting marketing and promotional approaches, so appreciated a sign on the door adjacent to my favorite cookie shop stating the times and dates of Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Great product placement – for OA. I suspect the cookie shop will have a sense of humor about it given their own sign in the parking lot, which reads “Customer parking only. Violators will be frosted.”

About the Author
Brent Morrison is the founding principal at Morrison. To get in touch with Brent, please find contact information for Morrison here.


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