Would you take action to save a life if company rules prohibit it?

Today I heard the story about a nursing home worker in California who called 911 to request help for a patient who was unconscious. When the 911 operator urged the caller to administer CPR and offered guidance on how to do it, she refused on the grounds that her employer’s rule prohibit it. The patient later died and the employer went on record saying she did the right thing.

This case reminded me of a moral dilemma I found myself in in 2012. Without giving too many details, I was reprimanded for calling someone who expressed the need for help on Facebook. The corporate line was that if something bad had happened to the poster after my contact with him, our corporation might be held liable.

Well, excuse me for being human! As it turned out, the man was very grateful for my call and I suffered no consequences other than a verbal warning from my superior. However, I really began to question the mission of my (former) employer that appeared to have put profits before people.

So, I open the dilemma up to you for consideration: Would you deliberately break a rule of your employer if it potentially meant saving another person’s life?

Update: It turns out the nurse who refuse to perform CPR did so because the patient had a ‘Do not resuscitate’ order on file with the facility. Would that change how you would respond?

Five keys to writing Craigslist ads that sell

by @PaulFiarkoski

If you have you been thinking about trying to post something for sale on craiglist.com but have been hesitant because you don’t know how to go about it, read on.

In 2012 I sold no less than two dozen items using Craigslist. To date, I have a 100% success rate. I also have a bachelors degree in advertising, but my advice here comes more from my actual experience using Craigslist.

craigslist selling tips
Craigslist is a free website you can use to sell items around your house.

1) Write to an audience of one  Knowing and writing to your audience is key to success for any ad. Since you likely only have one item for each ad, you don’t need the type of door buster ad that we see around Thanksgiving. In most cases your target audience is just one person out of a hundred or so that will see your ad. What does that one person need to know about the item you’re selling?

2) Keep it simple  Use simple language. Keep your sentences short; a bullet pointed list is more effective than sentences. Tell as much as you can in the title: brand, color, model, year, etc. This helps people find your ad when they perform a search.

3) List the price  In the world of Craigslist, price is a big motivator. Unless you’re selling something so unique that it can’t be found elsewhere, your ad will likely flop if you don’t offer the item(s) at a bargain price. If you don’t tell them your price, potential buyers are more likely to skip on to the next seller’s ad. Based on my experience, Craigslist buyers aren’t as likely to haggle as garage sale or old-school classified ad shoppers. So you don’t need to price it higher than you really want to sell it for in order to give yourself wiggle room.

Tip: my 100% success rate with Craigslist ads is due in part to my willingness to drop my price (if necessary) over a number of weeks until the item was attractive enough to a buyer.

4) Post pictures Many Craigslist shoppers won’t even open your ad if they don’t see the image icon next to your title.  Craigslist now allows you to upload as many as six pictures per post. Use that to your advantage by showing the item(s) from many different angles. Since the first image you upload is the one that shoppers will see first, make sure it’s the most representative picture. Don’t hide the flaws though. Showing imperfections up front will make the transaction go much smoother when the buyer shows up at your house with the cash.

5) Give your phone number  This is critical. Craigslist buyers tend to be spontaneous. They feel like they need to strike quickly in order to get a good deal and won’t take the time to send and manage a number of emails. Be prepared to delete your ad as soon as it sells so you can eliminate unnecessary calls or text messages.

Tip: It’s best if you give a cell phone number and mention that they can call or text you. This works better for you too, because you can answer or respond to calls if you’re away from home.

Follow the five tips above and you’ll be selling your stuff on Craigslist with the best of ’em in no time. It’s a great way to turn unwanted items around your house into cash.

For examples of what not to do when you write a Craigslist ad, see these OMG Craiglist ads (intended to be humorous).

Ever wonder what happened to waterbeds? This explanation may surprise you.

By @PaulFiarkoski

Vintage 1990s waterbed
Vintage 1990s waterbed

Shortly after relocating from Denver to Phoenix in the summer of 2012 my wife and I were in the market for a new bed. In the process, we met a furniture store owner who has been in the business for over 30 years. Saying he knows his stuff would be a gross understatement. This guy can school anyone in the business, regardless of their experience level.

Needless to say, he earned utmost credibility with me in just a few minutes. He also knows a lot about backs, especially bad backs. After all, he has helped many people over the years who had come to him because they just can’t get a good night’s sleep with their back/mattress combination. He even has a bad back himself.

Since my wife has back issues, I found it natural to ask the question: What kind of mattress do you sleep on? A waterbed was his answer, followed by a quick dissertation on flotation being the most natural fit for any body.

My look surely went from convert to disbeliever as I scanned the showroom looking for a waterbed.

“I don’t sell them. They don’t make waterbeds anymore,” he said.

The explanation
He went on to tell me that back in the 90s, the three S’s of the mattress industry (Simmons, Sealy & Serta) pooled together to buy out all the remaining waterbed manufacturing plants under the stated intention of modernizing the facilities. They ended up shutting them down altogether and in effect killed off an entire industry, leaving consumers with only their high margin spring-loaded and new age foam models to choose from.

Sounds like a far-fetched conspiracy theory, I know. But it’s not the first time I’ve heard of companies playing hardball to eliminate threats to their profits.

Makes me wonder if the three S’s are buying up landfills too. Have you tried to dispose of a mattress lately? The cost is outrageous.

Incidentally, we had to exchange the high-end memory foam mattress we initially bought for a moderately priced coil and pillow top model. That’s just what feels best on my wife’s back.

The moral? Higher cost doesn’t always equal better. And you can’t trust companies that start with the letter ‘S’.