This article was originally posted on July 17, 2013.

My wife works in medical imaging, and her former company managed and sold imaging agents used in magnetic resonance (MR) diagnosic tests. Among MR technicians, a near-universal rule of safety is “The Magnet Is Always On.” In order words no one, ever, should bring ferrous (metal) materials into the room where the MR machine, containing VERY powerful magnets, resides. The safest, and smartest, thing to do is to always assume that the magnet is on.

The other day, she was on a teleconference with an external market research vendor. Her audio was cutting out due to troubles with the line at her office, and eventually the other callers on the line could not hear her. However, she was still on the line, could her them, and was surprised to hear:

  • that there had been a third, unannounced caller on the line in addiition to the two announced callers
  • one of the vendor representatives disparage her knowledge of her company and the market, saying that she didn’t know her company’s market share in this segment

She had to drop off the call, and called back in. When she did, she informed the vendor (who was pitching her to try to win her business) about what she had heard. She also corrected the vendor’s misunderstanding of her company’s market share: the vendor was incorrectly quoting numbers unrelated to radiopharmacies. Needless to say, the call ended quickly and awkwardly, and that vendor is a lot less likely to get any business from her company in the future.

The lesson learned here is a very, very basic one and needn’t even be spelled out for you in this day and age. The cost of disregarding the magnet (or the microphone) being on is pretty high.

Originally published at

Project management, financial management, and knowledge management. Microsoft 365 aficionado, proud Sympraxian. Opinions and Philly attytood are my own.