Category Archives: Business

What Causes Theft in the Workplace?

Theft in the workplace is one of the most perplexing issues for business owners and managers. What causes it?

After thinking, reading, and agonizing over this issue for a decade, the answer finally seems to be quite simple.

Our hunter-gatherer past entailed a need to continually scan our environments for all sorts of useful items.  Finding such an item, being able to pick it up and take it home to use for ourselves gives us a feeling of extreme joy and pleasure–akin to finding a small treasure.

Modern humans go to their workplaces, still with their hunter-gatherer brains, and find a plethora of useful items which they may not have in their own homes (or, in order to get these items, would have to expend some of their own resources–usually money–to obtain).  Taking even small useful items–a pen, a folder, toilet paper, other useful items, or secretly making telephone calls at the employer’s cost–feels like finding a small treasure in the environment.

How do workplace thieves feel?    Most people face temptations to steal/use workplace resources for personal use.  However, they can be divided into four categories.

Category One:  Many people are tempted to make small thefts, occasionally take very small items, and DO feel guilty about it afterward.

Category Two:  People who take small items and feel no guilt whatsoever. Some managers also steal services from the workplace, such as having company workers coming over to work for free in their private homes. Generally, these managers justify their thefts with either perceived poverty, or revenge-like motives:

“It’s just something small, and not worth a lot, so it’s meaningless to them.”

“They have more than they should, and I have less than I should, so I am ENTITLED to take these items, or the items I want.”

“They don’t pay me enough money, so I deserve to take the items I want to make up for it.”

“This is my prerogative, just for being a manager.”

Category Three:  People with personality disorders (sociopaths, narcissists; predators without any conscience).  These people take jobs in order to be able to steal resources, whether embezzling funds, or just stealing physical items for personal use.  Some employees sometimes even steal company products and resources in order to sell them privately or on the black market.

Category Four:  People who take pride in their honesty, and resist stealing even the smallest item.  These people guard company resources and use them carefully, as if they were diligently caring for their own resources.

This post is only about understanding motivation for workplace theft; what to do about it will be dealt with in a future post.

–Lynne Diligent


Maintaining Personal Libraries: “Is It Possible to Buy Too Many Books?”

Sorting through books


Most successful business people are regular readers.  When I stumbled across a question on Quora asking, “Is it possible to buy too many books?” I realized that quite a few people are dealing with this problem.

Speaking as a book lover with a massive personal library, I would say yes, it is possible to buy too many books under the following circumstances:

I.) If you are going into debt through your book purchases.

II.)  If your book purchases cause problems in your relationships, such as taking away needed money for other family expenses which are lacking.

III.) You are accumulating so many books that you are not able to take care of them (have space and facilities such as shelves to store them), such as dusting them at least once or twice a year (or hire help for such).  If you have too many for the number of shelves you have, and they are  just piled around, they can become a health hazard in several ways.  Mice can get in the house and eat them, and leave droppings around, and dust and dirt can accumulate.  Lack of storage space can become dangerous when they “take over” the home.  All these things are health hazards and fire hazards.  They can also cause rooms in your house to collapse if the weight is too much for the floor to support.

IV.)  People who love books and accumulate to the point of never giving a book away (we all go through this stage when first building our libraries) need to take care to consider whether you might have borderline (or full-blown) hoarding disorder…one of the first few episodes of hoarders actually dealt with people who accumulated books to the point that their entire living spaces were filled with books from floor-to-ceiling in every room, leaving only tiny, walk-through spaces.

V.  Those of us who are expats have special reasons for keeping EVERY BOOK.  Anyone who lives outside their home country and who loves books tends to accumulate a library in their own language, which is very hard to come by in the country where they may be living.  Many of us started our libraries in the days before the internet, and when we purchase books, we generally have to purchase them new from overseas as well as pay mailing and postage costs.  This can make the cost of a single book triple the price what someone back home pays.  This makes the books even more valuable, and even harder to give away.

In spite of this, even expats can become overwhelmed with books taking over their house.  Expats also need to sort through and give away books, with some special suggestions given below.


Get several laundry baskets (a convenient maximal size for moving groups of books around the house, or loading into the car), and sort through some books using the following criteria.  I used these, and suggest them to others:

laundry basket

a.) Will I really read this book again, or use it again?  KEEP.

b.) Did I LOVE this book (which I why I kept it)–but do I HONESTLY think I will ever read (or refer to it) again? (Our interests move on and evolve as the years go by. Books we enjoyed at a younger age, often are not so interesting one or two decades later. Sometimes we keep every book by a favorite author, too.)  IF you think YOU WILL NEVER READ IT AGAIN, put it into a give-away basket.

If you are keeping all the books by a favorite author (particularly fiction), pare down by keeping your FAVORITE two or three by that author.  Think about friends who may enjoy these books, to whom you could pass them along as gifts.

c. UNREAD BOOKS, which are NOW UNWANTED: Sometimes we buy books with the intention of reading them, only to find that our interests change over a few years and we now have NO INTEREST in that subject. Sometimes we may have accepted books as gifts or even picked them up at garage sales, or purchased them new. Again, ask yourself, “Do I really think I will read or want to read this book in the future, with my current interests?” If no, put in the give-away basket.

woman sorting books


If UNSURE, put the books in the ONE-YEAR basket, or make a special shelf or even two, and call them the ONE-YEAR shelf.  In my case, these were books I thought I might read some time, but they weren’t my favorites.  They were generally books given to me, or picked up somewhere, but not as first choices. Generally, I find the whole year goes by and I haven’t touched ONE of them, and STILL have no desire to read them, so then they become MUCH easier to put in the give-away basket.


I.)  Call your friends who are readers and tell them you need to give some of your favorite books away, and ask them to come by and see if they would like to have any of them. Many of my friends took favorite fiction, or child care books if their children were young (while mine are grown). This accomplishes two things. First, you know it is going someplace where it will be appreciated and enjoyed. Second, some of those books, if you later really wanted to read it again, you could borrow it back from that friend.

You will feel REALLY GOOD if/when your favorite books are taken by friends because you will feel they are being APPRECIATED and you can make specific recommendations to friends as they look through the books.

II.)  QUICK SOLUTIONS.  If you need to pare back your library, I suggest finding a fairly QUICK solution, or else it becomes an exercise in futility.  These might include a “book garage sale” or calling a used book dealer and seeing if they might be interested in taking some.

Usually, the BEST books will be taken by friends, book sales, or book dealers.  The problem is what to do with the left-over books.  Here are some suggestions:

a.)  Library donations (sometimes libraries receive too many donations).

However, if you are an expat with English-language books, most libraries (or school libraries anywhere) would be happy to have donations of books in English (and in many other languages, if they are in a major world language).

If you are a foreign expat (or immigrant) in the United States, or in an English-speaking country, and have books in a more obscure language, the MAJOR libraries in big cities actually do have sections of foreign-language books and WOULD appreciate books to add to their small sections.  Many times immigrants can’t read English, but appreciate the few books in their own languages in large public libraries (even cook books).

b.)  Many school libraries (especially in poor school districts in America, and especially in countries outside the United States) are DESPERATE for books (check private schools).

c.)  Consider battered women’s shelters, old folks’ homes, even homeless shelters.  (A homeless person has no money for entertainment, and is not clean enough to go into a public library.  But they might very much appreciate a good book to read, if they are a reader.  Even children’s books might be helpful for homeless families.)  If unsure, call the place you are thinking of in advance and ask if they would like to have donations.

d.)  If you can’t find a place, in the United States, there are always Good Will  and Disabled Veterans.  Both of these groups will pick up your items, if you have enough.  In foreign countries, there are often “Used-Item” sellers who will come to your house, look at all items, give you a price (not a lot, but something) and take the items away for you.


You should pare down until you actually have about TEN PERCENT EMPTY SPACE on your book shelves. Why? Because it LEAVES SPACE for you to buy the new books you really want, of course! Now you will not feel guilty buying those books!

bookshelves with some empty space

Is it necessary to say that you’ve read every book in your library? OF COURSE NOT! Who wants to walk into their own library, only to find nothing fresh to read? At any given time, I’ve read about 70% of what’s in my library, and 20-30 percent are books which I haven’t yet read.


Keep in mind, that unless you have shelves with glass fronts, that books need to be dusted two-to-four times a year.  This is another reason for not keeping more books than you can handle.

Books can be kept vertically, or horizontally (useful as a stacked bookend), but in no case should they be allowed to be LEANING on shelves, as the spines will break over time.  If you have someone in to help you dust or care for the books, this is what they REALLY need to understand!

I currently have about 3,000 books in my personal library, and they are organized by subjects, on shelves now split between several rooms. If I want to find a particular book I can usually find it within 1-2 minutes maximum, and that includes the time walking to that room. If your bookshelves are well-organized and clean, they can be used as decorations for the room, as well. My living room and dining room are just two of the rooms filled with book shelves, but I feel proud to display them when my friends come over, or when we have dinner parties or book club meetings in rooms with well-organized book shelves. Of course I have friends who appreciate books, too!


The BEST benefit of paring down your home library to the books that:



is that when you go into your library, IT WILL FEEL TEN TIMES AS AMAZING AS IT EVER FELT BEFORE.

Why Certain Jobs Are Not Designed to Pay a “Living Wage”

Executive Secretary

When I was an executive secretary, I thought I could stay in that job, if only people were willing to pay more.  I was an excellent secretary.  Only now, many years later, and with far more experience under my belt, do I realize why that job will never pay a living wage.

Fast food workers find themselves in a similar situation.  They think they could stay permanently in their jobs and make a living, if only the owners would pay them a living wage.

Unfortunately, many workers, if not most, are mistaken about why different jobs pay what they do.  All of these jobs are minimal service jobs, which do not give ADDED VALUE to the business.  In fact, most employees at most levels of business have it backward.  Jobs are NOT designed around employees’ needs, or what they need to live on.

Salaries and wages are designed for what value they provide to the business, and are driven upward and downward from that level by the shortage of workers, or oversupply of workers. It’s not about “the business owner sharing his profits.” it’s about what value the employees are providing to the business.  Yet, there is a maximal level of value that each worker provides.  Pushed above that level, either by a labor shortage, or by labor demands that don’t provide added value, technological innovation will replace those jobs.

The average employee, at every level, is thinking in the wrong way, if he wants to get ahead in life.  He is only trading his labor for a wage.  For that wage, he is expected to perform certain tasks competently and to achieve certain goals, or meet certain minimal targets. Doing one’s job competently is not enough to earn any more than a cost-of-living increase in wagenow.  It doesn’t get anyone ahead.  Like many others, I did not realize this when I was young.

To get promoted, or to be raised into a higher salary classification, one must become indispensable to one’s employer.  One must render service over and above what is required of them to earn their normal salary.  Those with this sort of mental attitude are able to raise their incomes.  For anyone who watches Suits, think of Donna; think of Mike; think of Harvey Specter.

Donna  Mike Ross on Suits  Harvey Specter on Suits

Most employees are not willing to assume the extra risk and responsibilities a higher salary entails.  Instead, they want to get a higher salary for performing ordinary tasks, without regard to the result in terms of profitability.  Employers pay ordinary salaries for competence; they pay extraordinary salaries for new visions combined with implementation.  And if they don’t, or can’t, this is when the entrepreneur with vision and drive strikes out on his own, where all the profits and all the risk accrue to him.  This is why those who are highly successful are rewarded with reaping the profits and becoming rich.

For those without great vision, the next best avenue is sales.  Sales pays well for those who add actual value to the company; it quickly separates the wheat from the chaff.  Those who perform the right tasks with the right people are able to give themselves an immediate raise through commissions earned.  Those who go through the motions of tasks without the right vision don’t get very far.  Often, they do have the ability, but are not willing to invest the same time, take the same risks, or invest the same effort, because succeeding in sales is not truly their dream.

–Lynne Diligent