Unvarnished business advice for the needy

   Itís time once again for that wildly popular feature, "Ask Dr. Business", where I answer tough, sometimes controversial questions about the business world with sincerity and simplicity.
   Dear Dr. Business: I own a retail gift store with no lease restrictions as to what I can sell. A hot new line of merchandise has come out that has heavy sexual overtones. Iím very offended by the items, but I think theyĎll sell well to the sleazy customers that come in my store. Should I buy the new line? -- Prissy in Philly
   Dear Prissy: We all have our limits. As a fellow retailer, I understand your dilemma. For instance, should a salesperson offer Dr. Business a fantastic deal on nuclear warheads, I would probably say I wasnít interested. Probably. 
   This is a decision you have to make for yourself. But remember one thing Ė you canít pay the bills with your virtue. Life is a compromise, but can you compromise your virtue? Dr. Business would need more information on the profit margin of the sleazy sex items before answering that question.
   Dear Dr. Business: I am a top executive in a mid-sized biotechnology firm. Two of my key management people, whom Iíll call Ken and Barbie, have apparently fallen in love. What should I do? - Confused in Dallas
   Dear Confused: Find another job, quickly. Your company is about to go down the tubes. Please understand Ė Dr. Business is a big fan of love. But thereís a place for it, and it is not at work.
   Mark my words, Ken and Barbie will destroy your company. Their love will either end in heartbreak, marriage or both. Whatever happens, your office will be the third wheel in a mťnage a trios. It will be a roller coaster and you will be forced to ride with them into the messy world of the lovelorn. Sadly, Ken and Barbie, those productive workaholics, will never be the same.
   Dr. Business, however, would never suggest impeding the freight train (roller coaster sounds like too much fun) of love. Simply confirm that Ken and Barbie are presently happy with their situation and, if so, damn your bad luck and start printing your resume.
   Dear Dr. Business: I am a middle-aged male who recently began work as a major decision maker for the biggest company in the world. Iím a pretty powerful guy, and I get hit on by lots of gals who work in my office. Itís affecting my work. Iíve tried talking to my colleagues about the problem, but they canít seem to agree on anything. What should I do? Ė Clarence T., Washington, D.C.
   Dear Clarence: Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very serious matter. Dr. Business is very sensitive to the thousands of women who are victimized each year by lecherous goats, young and old, who manipulate their business associations to ply their libido. On the other hand, Dr. Business has personally never been the victim of sexual harassment and, frankly, Iím a little upset about that, too.
   Sorry. Please donít get the wrong impression. Dr. Business does not condone sexual harassment in any way, shape or form. I suggest, Clarence (and I know who you are), that you deter your admirers by talking about porno films or the source of stray hairs on your Coke can. It has obviously worked very well for you in the past.
   Dear Dr. Business: I also write an advice column, but I am not nearly as popular as you. What is your secret? How can I expand my little column to the dizzying heights you have achieved? You are my master. Tell me what to do. Ė Ann Landers, Chicago
   Dear Ann: Thank you for your kind words. Dr. Business certainly understands the frustrations of his competition. Unfortunately for you, I am not about to divulge my secrets, so stop pestering me.
    Dr. Business welcomes letters from readers. Unlike Ann Landers and other pretenders to his throne, the scope of his knowledge goes beyond life to the magical world of business. Send your questions to Dr. Business, 211 Jefferson St., San Francisco, 94133.


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