Tag Archives: Terry Gross

Would you lie on your Resume? – Reflections prompted by Timothy Olyphant (Justified)

News Item:  Justified (the program on FX) just won a Peabody Award

The entertainment programs selected included The Good Wife, a CBS dramatic series about a political spouse’s life after her husband’s scandalous downfall, and Justified, FX’s modern-day Western set in the wild, wild hills and hollows of Appalachia.

People distort reality.  (Out of 1,000 resumés, there were substantial misstatements on more than 40 percent).
Jeffrey Pfeffer:  Power:  Why Some People Have it – and Others Don’t


So here’s the ethical question of the day.  Would you lie on your resume?  4 out of 10 do.  Would you?

My answer is, “of course not.”  I think it would totally undermine all credibility – and until we get that number down to about 1 out of 1,000, our society is going to continue to have scandals and crises like the 2008 financial meltdown.

But, then again… maybe…  it’s not that simple.

Deputy U. S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant)

I am a big fan of Justified.  I record every episode, and miss none of them.  There is something about the earthiness of the Harlan, Kentucky modern-day Western feel that just sweeps me in.  I have liked Timothy Olyphant in Live Free or Die Hard, and Hitman.  (I’ve never seen Deadwood, his other hit show).  So I was excited to hear Timothy Olyphant interviewed by Terry Gross.  (Who is better than Terry Gross? – audio and transcript, here).  So – here is a lengthy excerpt…  Read it carefully, and I’ll get back to you with my question at the end.

From the transcript:

Mr. OLYPHANT: No, this was my first job of any kind outside of lifeguarding. You know, I moved to New York, I studied acting. My resume had a bunch of things I made up. You know, scenes I did in class and said that I’ve done in some regional theaters or something. And I went in a read for the late Phyllis Huffman, who cast all of Clint Eastwood’s movies and I got the job. It was for the WB network – their first season. Warner Brothers was starting this new network. Clint had – as I understood the story – Clint, you know, his relationship with Warner Brothers is legendary, so he was going to produce this show and I was going to be the kind of the Edd “Kookie” Byrnes-type character.

It was a tribute to the show. It wasn’t a remake. Some guy – Jim Caviezal was the star. He was the guy who moved out to L.A. and started a detective agency and named it after his father’s favorite television show, “77 Sunset Strip.”

GROSS: Oh, I get it.

Mr. OLYPHANT: Maria Bello was in it.

GROSS: Uh-huh.

Mr. OLYPHANT: So, I flew out to L.A. to shoot. We sat down at the table read. I was looking for Clint everywhere. He’s nowhere to be seen. So when we finished the reading I asked, where’s Clint, you know. They said he quit. Apparently, you know, about three-four days of television network executives he pretty much decided, ah, you guys go ahead without me. And so, that was it. But the pilot -the show didn’t get picked up.

GROSS: Let me back up a couple of steps here. You said you made up things on your resume.

(Soundbite of laughter)


GROSS: You took things you did in your acting class and made class and made it seem like you’ve did them on stage in regional theater. Was there a little voice in your head thinking, maybe that’s unethical, but maybe it’ll get me a job?

Mr. OLYPHANT: Are you kidding? Where am I supposed to – hand in a resume that just says, Timothy Olyphant, actor. Experience, none. I mean, I was like, come on. I was 20-something years old, I’m looking for work. People aren’t – you know, you got to make them feel a little comfortable. I’ve done something.

GROSS: Were you afraid that someone would know, like, the New York theater scene and the regional theater scene so well, and they’d look at your resume and say, no, you didn’t?

Mr. OLYPHANT: If I’m not mistaken, I have a – now I know I’m not mistaken, ’cause I have the book at home. My first play of any kind was an off-Broadway production of a play called “The Monogamist,” and every year this Theater World magazine in New York gives awards for outstanding debut performances, for Off-Broadway and Broadway. And I was given an award for my performance in “The Monogamist.” And in the book – they issue a book every year with the people who won the awards that year and all the previous years for on and on and on. The names are amazing. I mean it’s I’ve gone, I’ve looked at them. It’s just incredible company of people that have been given these awards. And in there is – it says a bunch of plays that I had been in previously that I’ve never been in in my life, in the book.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. OLYPHANT: But you know, that’s – I mean, I don’t know what they’re doing these days, but that’s what people did, you just, you know, you’ve got to put something on there.

So, you are an aspiring young actor, and you get no auditions if you have no experience, and you have no experience except drama classes.

Now, would you lie on you resume?

{and, for those who wonder is there ever a time for “situation ethics” – do you remember the stories of the brave young men ready to fight in World War II who lied about their age to go to war?  Were they right or wrong?}

I think it is wrong to lie on your resume.  Don’t you?  And in practically every instance, it is truly inexcusable.

But… maybe… there are times when it is a little more understandable than other times.

Life can be complicated.

“Finish with Power” -The Presentation Tip of the Day (from the Great Bill Monroe)

Here is the presentation tip of the day.  When you speak to a live audience, in any setting, the first and most simple rule is this:  speak so that your audience can hear, and understand, your words.

I teach speech at the community college level.  I can’t tell you how many students will “trail off” at the end of their sentences.  I can hear and understand them as they begin a thought, but not as they complete the thought.

(Robert Hakalski via Compass Records) Peter Rowan (center) and members of his bluegrass band, Jody Stecher (mandolin); Keith Little (banjo) and Paul Knight (bass).

So, yesterday, I was listening to Terry Gross (Fresh Air), and heard this wonderful interview with Peter Rowan of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band (listen to the interview, which includes quite a bit of live music, here).  Early in his career he played with the great Bill Monroe.  Here’s an excerpt (from the transcript):

GROSS: What did he (Monroe) teach you about singing or about harmony or guitar?

Mr. ROWAN: Well, on the guitar he taught me to make the rhythm stroke a full stroke…to really bring the tone out of a guitar. And as far as vocalization, you know, he would insist that you virtually rub shoulders with him around the microphone and like rub your voices together like two pieces of wood and make a spark fly out of it, you know, that was -it was friction. And he always would say that bluegrass is about one person doing something really great then you’ve got to step in behind that person and then do something that you can do better. In other words, there was always a sense of competition and friction. He did say when to sing – to sing with a full breath and when you finish the line you should give the last syllable of the last word the same power that you gave the first syllable of the first word. (emphasis added).

when you finish the line you should give the last syllable of the last word the same power that you gave the first syllable of the first word.” Finish strong.  Finish your thought, your sentence, your paragraph, in strong voice – as strong as the voice you used to begin your thought.  This is the presentation tip of the day!

A Quote for the Day from C.J. Chivers, author of The Gun – “The Junior Varsity’s all dead”

Terry Gross interviewed C.J. Chivers earlier this week, The AK-47: ‘The Gun’ That Changed The Battlefield (transcript, and audio, here).  Chivers is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times, a former Marine, and the author of The Gun, a book about the AK47.  In the interview, Mr. Chivers said this:

Well, you know, one of the first rules of war is that its a very good teacher. The survivors learn. I remember when I was in Iraq in 2006, a Marine captain pulled me aside and said, you know why its tough here now – we were out in the Anbar Province – he says because the junior varsity’s all dead. We’re fighting the varsity. These are the guys who survived. They know a few things.

This is quite an insight.  The war is tough because the ones who have survived are the best of the best.  The junior varsity’s all dead.

I suspect this might have implications for arenas other than war…  Just thinking…


“You Cannot Do More Than One Thing At A Time” – Science Comfirms The Advantage Of “Single-Tasking”

This is from a recent interview by Terry Gross on Fresh Air.  (Listen, and read transcript, here).  I did not hear it live, and my wife “encouraged” me to listen to it.  (I wonder why?!)

The interview is with NY Times technology journalist Matt Richtel, who writes the series Your Brain on Computers, and his latest column is Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime (some of these ideas are discussed in this interview).

One key problem – multitasking.  His blunt conclusion: It’s pretty clear to scientists you cannot do more than one thing at a time.

Here is the key excerpt from the interview:

Well, that’s very ironic because we think when we’re multi-tasking that we’re really doing great, we’re getting two things done for the price of one or three things done in the amount of time it should take to do one thing. But what are scientists learning about how efficiently we’re doing any of those two or three things when we do them at the same time?

Yeah, this is another place where I don’t have to equivocate. It’s pretty clear to scientists you cannot do more than one thing at a time (emphasis added). This research goes back years, and it is having like its new day in the sun, its new applicability.

Your brain effectively processes one stream of information at a time. I’ve heard this very basic test from a Stanford scientist that has stuck with me. It’s a kind of cocktail party test that researchers have known about for years, where if you sit at a cocktail party and you’re listening to the person in front of you, you can’t really listen to the person behind you.

In fact, you may pick up very basic things like your name being said, if someone says it behind you, but beyond that, you’re not processing both those streams of information.

So apply that to the person sitting at a desk, fiddling with a device or trying to read an IM while surfing a website or talking on the phone to a boss or colleague or subordinate. What you are basically doing is switching rapidly among those tasks, not doing them at the same time.

And all the research says when you switch among those tasks, you cut your effectiveness at each one of them by a significant degree.

Listen to the full interview here.  It is worth your full, undivided, undistracted attention.

Accentuate the Positive — Johnny Mercer’s Anthem for Difficult Days

Johnny Mercer

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

— Johnny Mercer

On the Wednesday, November 18 broadcast of NPR’s Fresh Air, Terry Gross had a wonderful concert of Johnny Mercer music.  This would have been Mercer’s 100th birthday. Lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer — born Nov. 18, 1909, in Savannah, Ga. — wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs, including American Songbook standards like “Skylark,” “That Old Black Magic” and “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and “Moon River.”  You can read about and listen to this particular program, here.  I promise you, it’s worth it.  (This program was worth my entire year’s membership to KERA)

Johnny Mercer died in 1976. Fresh Air marks the 100th anniversary of his birth with an in-studio concert starring Rebecca Kilgore and Dave Frishberg.

During the opening medley of Mercer music, they performed a portion of this terrific song:

Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
– Words and Music by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer

Gather ’round me, everybody
Gather ’round me while I’m preachin’
Feel a sermon comin’ on me
The topic will be sin and that’s what I’m ag’in’
If you wanna hear my story
The settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewin’
The attitude of doin’ right

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do just when everything looked so dark?

(Man, they said “We’d better accentuate the positive”)
(“Eliminate the negative”)
(“And latch on to the affirmative”)
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between (No!)
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

(Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum)
(Bring gloom down to the minimum)
(Have faith or pandemonium’s)
(Liable to walk upon the scene)

You got to ac (yes, yes) -cent-tchu-ate the positive
Eliminate (yes, yes) the negative
And latch (yes, yes) on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
No, don’t mess with Mister In-Between

I have been reading books, and reviews of books, and posting about books (for example, this post from just this morning), that talk about what went wrong, and how deep a hole we’ve dug for ourselves.

And, I admit that just looking on the bright side of life does not fix the problems.

But I found myself captivated by this set of lyrics, thinking what a great message for us all in these difficult days.  Maybe we do need to “Accentuate the Positive” at least a little.  No, I am not recommending blind optimism — or blind anything.  But I do think that if we see some solutions to pursue, we ought to believe that they have a chance to work as we pursue them.

By the way, this Mercer song was written in 1944 – a pretty tough time for this country, and our world, as we were in the midst of World War II, and we really did not know how it was going to turn out.

Last night, I spoke for a group of sharp and connected women.  Two months ago, to the same group, I presented my synopsis of the book The Coming Generational Storm.  One woman said “I hope tonight’s book is more hopeful – more optimistic.”

Well, I agree.  I think I need to remind myself that I should, pretty regularly, ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE…

Thanks, Terry Gross, for a terrific hour of radio – and to Johnny Mercer, for this wonderful reminder of the power of hope and optimism.