VIDEO: How to Work with Facts —and, Opinions




Hello, I’m Tony Mayo, the Business Owner’s Executive Coach. One client told me that today’s distinction helped him make every business conversation more productive -and shorter. But first this… The doctor says to his patient, “I’m very sorry, “your condition is terminal. “You have less than a year to live.” The patient says, “I want a second opinion!” And the doctor says, “Alright, your tie is ugly, too.” We’ll come back to this. Most of what we say is opinion with the occasional fact mixed in. This is okay, that’s what humans do. The important thing is to know which is which. What philosophers call assertions versus assessments. But assertion and assessment sound too similar to each other so let’s stick with the words “fact” and “opinion” Facts are statements about the world. Statements that can be proven either true or false. For instance, if I were to say this pen was made of 304 stainless steel, you and I can very quickly agree on some method for determining whether or not it really is 304 stainless steel. On the other hand, if I told you this pen was beautiful, well, you’re free to disagree. You may think that it’s too shiny, too squishy, too anything to be beautiful. That’s the nature of opinions. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Like beauty, all opinions arise from an individual’s personal values, experiences, perceptions. It’s the world filtered through who they are. Opinions are not true or false, they’re either useful or not. They come from some grounded authority or not. For example, if Apple’s top designer, Jony Ive, told me this pen was ugly, well, I’m going to give a lot more weight to that opinion than the opinion of some random teenager about the beauty and aesthetics of this pen. Jony Ive is a world recognized authority on the design of consumer products. He can cite market experience, statistics, facts, sales numbers, to ground his opinion about the aesthetic value of this object much better than most people. So I grant him _authority_ -in the domain of consumer-product design- to give very useful opinions. Now, his opinion about my skills as a coach don’t really interest me because he has no particular authority in that domain. Here’s the gist, the way to use this distinction. Facts tell you about the world, and we can prove whether they’re true or false. Opinions tell you a lot about the person expressing the opinion, and that’s very useful when you’re working with people. It’s also useful when you’re expressing an opinion. So the key to all of this is to know when you’re expressing or hearing a fact. One set of tests in usage. When you’re saying or hearing an opinion it’s a different domain and a different set of information. You see, the patient didn’t want a second _opinion_ The patient wanted a second doctor to verify the _facts_ And _that_ is how you make every business conversation more productive -and shorter. Thanks for watching this video. I hope you enjoyed it, that you apply it, and share it.



Sample Chapter of Crimes of Cunning

Chapter One is below.
Read the Author’s Preface by clicking here.


Crimes of Cunning 3D on sale now

Book Sample

Chapter 1
Haunted Hallways

I reminded myself that we were in a well-lit office, not a dark alley. No need to get aggressive yet. I relaxed my jaw and tried to keep the fear out of my voice as I replied, “If you pull my people off your project, there’s no way you’ll meet the delivery date.”

My client looked at me blandly, as if he had delivered a weather forecast. In fact, he had devastated my sales forecast. Five fewer of my consultants billing their time to this client meant there was no way I would meet quota to earn my bonus. I needed him to engage with me. I forced a response with a direct question that was also a threat. “Did Juan approve this staffing cut?”

“Why would I check with Juan?” asked the Director of Information Systems Development (ISD) for Billing Systems. He ran his finger down a page of the MCI internal directory as he spoke, “Nobody (more…)

The Power of Progress Reports Of all the management tools I recommend, one of the most effective is both very simple and very unlikely to be consistently employed—if it is used at all: the written progress report, completed on a consistent schedule.

The power of progress reports to promote results and reduce anxiety is demonstrated daily, on matters titanic and trivial. The U. S. Constitution requires that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Public companies are required by law to present results to shareholders, at fixed intervals and in specific formats. Schools send regular reports to parents, our GPS tells where we are, and UPS sends a text when a package arrives.

Still, managers and employees resist implementing this simple process.


Who cares about why? Just grow up and start doing a progress report. Declare your goals. Confront your results. Adjust to living in reality. Enjoy the benefits of clarity while the less disciplined fail and fail in a fog of vague expectations and inchoate regrets.

Before I explain how to format and prepare a good progress report, let’s deal with some common excuses questions.

Q: I don’t have a boss.

A: If you have (more…)

Crimes of Cunning


On Sale Now!Crimes of Cunning now on Kindle

Crimes of Cunning

A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.

Click here to see it on

Or, here for Barnes & Noble

Fast-paced, funny, and smart. This novel puts you into the world of a young MBA striving to succeed at a famous high-tech company. Brash and confident yet comically inept, Tony clashes with colleagues, clients, and even his biggest supporters.

He fires his most loyal employee, derails the career of his only friend, and nearly destroys his young marriage before transforming from chilly corporate collaborator to empathetic executive coach. Laugh and learn as his clients turn criminal, corporations collapse, and compassion triumphs.

It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social-betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence.

–Theodore Roosevelt, 1901

A veteran executive coach draws on his years inside Arthur Andersen, Wall Street, and MCI to share a moving story that explains why your 401k shrank, your house is underwater, and your job stinks. The comedy and conflict illustrate management methods and personal practices that can improve your career and deepen your personal relationships.


Click here to read a free sample.


Click here to be notified when it is released as an Audible audiobook on iTunes.


Click here to learn the source and meaning of the book’s title.


Humanized Work with an Emphasis on Mastery of Craft



I was very pleased to see an international expert on software development express the following clear insights into the types of workplaces my executive coaching seeks to foster.

Visionaries are designing organizations for collaboration. These firms remove the bottlenecks imposed by the strict hierarchies of the past. [In hierarchical firms] no one was being rewarded for taking the kind of risks that lead to innovation or other breakthroughs in performance which thrive in a climate of collaboration.

Knowledge workers spend a large proportion of their time seeking information, much of the rest making sense of what they’ve found, and relatively little time in applying what they now know.

Transitioning from a hierarchical way of working … requires letting go of habitual behaviors that may have worked well in the hierarchy, but no longer serve anyone when collaboration becomes a critical part of the work process.

[The result is] … humanized work with an emphasis on mastery of our craft, a focus on rapid learning and feedback, delivery of business value (sooner not faster), and close connection to customer needs (even ones the customers’ haven’t noticed yet).


— Diana Larsen on Agile Fluency,
Barriers to Agility &
the value of Open Space Technology
in InfoQ



Misunderstood Jargon



No sooner did I post my article on the pitfalls of misusing jargon that I found myself in a conversation that was confused and distorted by the use of technical terms without a shared context.


A client mentioned his plan to delegate the task of staying in regular, informal contact with customers between transactions. We naturally agreed that these “keep warm” meetings were a valuable and often overlooked source of repeat business. Since the activity is so valuable for the business, I asked how he was going to track the sales representative’s performance on scheduling and conducting these visits. “I’m not worried about that. Her personality assessment is clearly very high ‘I,’ so I know she will happily do the meetings.”

I told him that puzzled me. The most popular assessment tool is (more…)

David Hume Conversation

The principles of meeting facilitation, as delineated three centuries ago.


Conversations with DavidHume


…a mutual deference is affected; contempt of others disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained, without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority. These attentions and regards are immediately agreeable to others, abstracted from any consideration of utility or beneficial tendencies: they conciliate affection, promote esteem, and extremely enhance the merit of the person who regulates his behaviour by them.

 –David Hume 1711-1776

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

Section VIII Of Qualities Immediately Agreeable To Others.




You can’t manage time, so manage your priorities



The most valuable time management skill is recognizing the important tasks and ignoring the rest. I first observed it early in my consulting career, at Arthur Andersen & Co in New York, after a meeting with my manager and our client, the Vice President of a large energy company. After the client left, my manager and I reviewed the meeting and planned our tasks. I mentioned one of the client’s requests from my notes and asked, “How are we going to do this?” I was shocked by his reply, “Don’t worry about that.”

“What do you mean?” I replied, “He specifically asked us to do that.”

“I know, but trust me, It’ll go away.” He was right. That task was never mentioned again and the client was entirely pleased with our work.

Not taking on everything you could do or want to do is the only way to reserve resources for the key activities.