Thursday, January 2, 2020

From Beneath The Ice

When he was deemed old enough, his father allowed him to tag along on an ice fishing adventure. They woke in the dead of night to navigate the cold wind that kissed the black ice. Through the dead silence he heard a noise that sounded like car skidding to a halt. The ice split and he fell in. Instantly, he felt the piercing of his skin unaware of which way was up, the slightest current capable of putting him further under the ice. In the same moment a similar force pulled him.... his fathers huge hand on the hood of his jacket rescuing him to the safety of the solid ice rim. His jacket was peeled off and replaced by his father's warm coat. Within minutes he would be back in a heated truck. No fish pulled out of the water, no life lessons shared in the shanty, very few words spoken. He never ice fished again.

Through all his life's adventures and accomplishments, this event stuck with him, like images from a silent movie.

As the years went by he used this terrifying experience to explain a few of life's grand lessons:
  • Be willing to take risk
  • Always have a life vest
  • Accept failure as a course correction
  • Prepare for the worst, expect the best

Wolves Don't Cry
The most outstanding athletic achievement of the last decade was Alex Honnold's scale of El Capitan without a rope. He was thought insane but his decade of preparation tells a different story.

We fear risk taking because of the unknown (if unforeseen) consequence. No one wants to dive into the abyss. Most risk takers are extraordinary planners. Ever hear the one about the guy who told his crew to drill for oil in a spot by tasting the dirt? He'd done extensive environmental testing in the weeks prior but the "dirt test" inspired a far more profound effort from his crew.

The Hand of the Father
Some of us are able to divine the strength of our father as an unsinkable life raft. There is no fear of the storm with dad at the wheel. But protection gives way to personal freedom and new resources have to be sought.

Whether a gaggle of great friends, a board of trusted advisers or a surrounding team of those who thrive in areas we don't; our confidence is fed through the knowledge that there is someone there to catch us if we fall.   

Fruitless Fear of Failure
Rodney Mullen won every contest he competed in with the exception of his last. Oscar De La Hoya was undefeated for most of his career (supposedly only winning his father's love when he finally lost). Brian Wilson spent his life feeding a bully with love unaccepted. They all flew too close the the sun.

Setting goals for perfection is a tough prophesy. Those who learn to fail and course correct tend to embrace adversity with better-intended consequences. 

We Can Be Heroes
Entering a new year/decade will cause us to fixate on goal setting. We tend to put a big number on the virtual scoreboard and seek to dream it into reality. While belief will always propel us toward our goal, simply wanting something isn't enough.

We avoid risk taking because it requires a cross-balance of aspiration paired with strategic planning. Some want the trophy without having to put the work in, others work and work without a measurable plan. Is it better to move into each day with unwavering positivity or should we be aware of pitfalls before we face them?

Failure is an affect of planning too big without considering the process. You'll always be disappointed if your goals are out of reach. Learning from failure requires an ability to course correct at each short coming.

We are all fully capable of achieving any big goals that the new decade calls for us to propagate. Every mountain top has a million small steps in it's shadow.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Top 5 - 2019

Do you ever feel like you are forced to like certain bands... that some music is just assumed cool and therefore called upon to celebrate? Have you noticed a merging of pop and indie music with commercial groups topping indie lists?

The list I'm publishing this year might not have any real surprises but I think it is important for individuals to enjoy the music that speaks to them. If you love metal you don't have to try to pretend to like country music. Maybe you liked Springsteen in the 70's but you don't any more. Maybe you think Sonic Youth is just noise. Maybe you don't accept Lizzo or Billie Eillish as pleasing to the ear. You might think having Elton John headline an independent music festival works directly against the concept.

Don't be afraid to like the music you like and ignore what you don't.

We live is an extraordinary time. As the years go on, the choices of music are amplified every day. There is so much to choose from and so much to ignore.

This year, Kate Tempest returned with a triumphant love story to humanity while Mary Lambert pulled back the band aid on so many women's health issues.

The Tallest Man of Earth, Damien Jurado and Will Johnson brought us acoustic plucked brilliance. Joe Pug and Joe Henry broke our collective hearts all over again. E.B The Younger reproduced the mid-seventies groove of Midlake. Hand Habits made some quiet, loud music. Big Thief made two records.

Fontaines D.C. and Sleaford Mods brought hooliganism to the fore. Jeff Tweedy remained prolific. Strand of Oaks returned with amplified melancholy. Sufjan Stevens wrote a ballet. Sturgill Simpson made a cartoon. Thom Yorke haunted us while Tyler the Creator confused us. Some emo bands collaborated on an acoustic album to show us that they are actually great songwriters.

The National released their greatest work and Dave Monks brought back the Tokyo Police Club sound.

We lost David Berman and Daniel Johnston.

...and the records spin and the amps buzz and people still pretend to like music that they don't. The leaves fall down and songs make us cry. We are reminded that in all the time between rain drops and the morning dew, a few minutes of sound through a car speaker can completely change the course of our lives.

Here's some stuff I love:

6. Phoenix by Pedro the Lion

"once church emptied out we lobbied hard to look at track homes"

The first time I heard Pedro the Lion  I was in equal parts struck by the sullen tone of the narrative and the simplicity of the music. It made me feel OK to be an independent musician without a master's degree in music theory. David Bazan has released 20 records since then, all perfectly nested in the initial formula. The only thing that changes in the lyrical narrative. Bazan's film is a life altering experience revealing the personal struggle behind the music. Some artist you simply assume will make great music, this is a year to celebrate Pedro the Lion. Phoenix takes us through Bazan's early life; innocent in reflection without ignoring warning signs. The trivial events of childhood foreshadowing all of the triumphs and disappointments at every mile marker.

5. Morbid Stuff by Pup

"you're like a bad trip or a sick habit, I should have left you alone"

I cannot ignore the tastiness of pop punk (or whatever you want to call it). Pup reward their audience with triumphant choruses led in by thought provoking articulation of the moment at hand. There's the boredom of youth and the chaotic inventiveness that turns suburban kids into artists without apology. The bass line bumps, the drums thump and guitars clang.... what more do we need?

4. I Need A New War by Craig Finn

"you with the shoulder bag, the coffee and office job, you with the bicycle and her with the blues"

Craig Finn remains one of our greatest songwriters in the least accessible way. Where the Hold Steady's guitar noise had drown Finn's story telling, his solo work brings a greater accessibility to the words that hang like chandeliers. I Need a New War is the third installment (Faith in the Future and We All Want the Same Things preceding) that concludes the journey of youth-fueled action without fear of consequence. Here, Finn keeps the narrative strong in the uncertain joy of living day-to-day. He always knows how to tap into the mind frame of people who push the chips in only for them to fall on the floor (and the climb to repentance). Another masterpiece that can be contemplated over and over again with different results.  

3. Better Oblivion Community Center (self titled)

"I was standing for the anthem, banners all around him, the confetti made it hard to see"

Conor Oberst has held the mantle of the Bob Dylan of the new millennium since he was 12. While the exhaustion of bubble gum fame has worn on him, he always finds a way to re-create himself. Whether an electro-pop or country album, he's always kept an undertone rooted in the prodigal son coming of age. His unanticipated collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers is as perfect as a peanut butter cup. Every note, lyric, and harmony on this album is perfect.

2. i, i by Bon Iver  

"I won't lead no lie, with our hearts the only matter why"

Like Connor and Craig, Justin Vernon continues to carry an unrequested torch of musical brilliance by hugging fame through allowing others to hop on his opportunity train. How is it that the guy who created his first record in a cabin in the woods has become the godfather of auto-tune? What started as minimalist now spans infinite soundscapes. Beautiful multi-part harmonies wilt together like a rose in the rain, lyrics pull at heart strings and somehow these anthems hold the listener in humble silence. Another triumph from someone who has proven an ability to ignore the hype of his popularity by staying in the cabin.

1. Father of the Bride by Vampire Weekend

"I don't wanna live like this.... but I don't wanna die"

Rostam was the conductor on the sonic highway through which Vampire Weekend traveled in each of their extraordinary preceding records. His contributions on this record overshadowed by Ezra's duets with Danielle Haim that would make Johnny and June Cash blush. The aforementioned duets that touch base in each of the three acts of this record are interwoven with top down summer anthems, campfire tunes and heel pounding square dance anthems... this is a country record that sounds nothing like country music. The lyrics pummel the listener with a love so unavoidable that our skeptic minds seem to dismiss it as novelty. To the contrary, Father of the Bride will endure as the pivotal achievement of one of the greatest bands of our time.

I love it when bands I love exceed expectations. There are vocalists whose voices will bring us back to everything we love; unmistakable in untrained tone. There are harmonies that will make every Monday morning feel like a Friday night (but we know better than to abuse the privilege). There are records that will bring us back to the smell of the carpet in the room we lived in 20 years ago. There is a microphone and a guitar in your garage, you should dust them off.

Thank You for Listening!


Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Opportunity Economy

2020 seems like an ominous number......

I'm sure there are movies of lore that have characterized the year forthcoming with jet packs and laser beams. Much has changed through technology and there are trends emerging that will have an impact on the way we work in 2020.

People's personal mantras are more important than ever. Whether you are passionate about fitness, mental health or the environment; your personal passions come with you to work. With the evolution of the home office and the gig economy, the line between work and life is becoming ever-blurred. Companies are taking notice and are celebrating individuality.

Where does this leave us in 2020?  How can employers be part of the motivation revolution?

Take Inventory
We've scrambled for several years to fix performance reviews. Bolstering manager/employee relationships means eliminating silos (this ideology can be difficult for mistrusting leaders to accept). A performance plan is a legal document anything beyond that is goal setting. Goals can be written on a napkin or programmed into a system and accountability is easier to accept when it is self-administered.

Each employee is unique. Help employees understand what they do well and let that drive. 
Self-Selected Goals
Whether you use the SCARF methodology or ask employees to stack rank the importance of the 5 Intrinsic Motivators, allowing people to define their own path to success is the most-sustainable structure.

So many weekly performance review meetings are based in Manager critique of employee activity. No one in the history of life has been motivated by someone telling them what they are doing wrong. Allowing employees to determine their ascendance path helps them attain their goals by amplifying their strongest functional abilities.

A recent survey revealed that the current generation of workers would get a second job to afford an opportunity for travel. This proving that physical things are becoming less-desirable than experiences. Pictures in frames are being replaced by selfies on desktops. Trophies on desks are being replaced by badges on email signatures. The opportunity to win a flat screen TV is proving less awarding than a week away in a warm climate.

Every organization celebrates their year-end achievement event. The problem is that said event tends to celebrate a very narrow % of the workforce. While your support staff look through snow covered windows, emails arrive of sales reps in Maui. It's hardly motivating.

Incentives for service well-done do not have to be defined as meritocracy. Customer service efficiency is improved through training, course-correction and collaboration... and you can reward these behaviors incrementally.

With points built up for behavioral enhancement, employees of all disciplines can find their way to the beach in the dead of winter.  

Meet your employees where they sit, allow them to select their path to success and give them some time away to celebrate their achievements.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, November 14, 2019

I'll Take The Stairs

Early in my career I was obsessed with moving up the corporate ladder. I wanted to lead and effect change and create new avenues for organizational development. It was important to me. While my intentions were genuine, my process was flawed. I created what would have been viewed as a "work self". I was inauthentic to my genuine personality while at work. I put on a certain face, asked questions to show I knew the answer, volunteered for projects only for the sake of personal recognition and reveled in internal competition. At some point, I realized my ambition was causing me to act out of character. I'd been inelegant in representing my motivation. Instead of being a person others looked up to, I was the person others avoided. I had become the annoying guy in the office. The only choice I had was to leave a job I loved for the sake of cleaning the slate.

I started over by putting genuine intention into my work. I wanted to be sure any minute spent on the job was done so for a higher purpose; for something I believed in. I made sure my heart and mind drove my motivation. I let my work speak for me. I listened more than I talked. I was humble in victory and accountable in defeat. I did everything I could to make others look good. I used the term "we" instead of "me".

Then, a strange thing happened. I realized that I did not need to ascend the corporate ladder to evolve professionally.

People ask me all the time how they can climb the ladder. Here are a few thoughts:

Transcend Practicality
We start our careers with an intent of mastery. We want to put our 10,000 hours into our core job function to master a trade. There is a race to leveling up.

The problem is that the core skill set of programming may have nothing to do with leading people. People are predictably irrational and thus our quest for understanding is often met with an inability to see the forest through the trees. If you are rooted in a grid that makes progress a step by step process, you might be missing the key ingredient to progress.

While you master your trade you need to practice counter-intuitive thinking to meet others where they sit. You don't need to know anything about accounting to recognize an accountant's self-defined path to progress.   

Leadership is an Act of Servitude
He tend to associate leadership with force. He look to those in positions of power to be assertive, decisive and confident. The perception of force driving influence is the very problem with qualification for promotion. Think about it.... I'd guess the worst bosses you've had possess the aforementioned characteristics while those who genuinely made an impact on your success were trusting and transparent.

Too many individuals alter their personalities to showcase what they believe the organization is seeking from leadership. One leaves their propensity for connection to prove they are not "too nice for the job".

Great leaders are willing to perform every task they ask of their employees. You'll find the best managers shelf micro-management for trusting relationships. When one realizes that their only job as a leader is to teach people the necessary skills and trust them to perform, engagement is inevitable

How Thank You Works...
I've had conversations with people who have thanked me for something I did for them 10 years ago. There is a divine truth in the world in which we work:

Just Because People Don't Say Thank You Doesn't Mean They're Not Thankful   

... it is, however, difficult to realize this in the moment.

The way to master the patience of navigating recognition is not to expect it. If your actions are driven by a need to hear thank you, you are mislead. The journey in assisting others has many formless by-ways. If you only act to impress others, you will never be genuinely happy. When you learn that giving is more important than receiving, you stop expecting credit for your every action.

Don't Forget to Remember, 


Friday, November 1, 2019

Controlling Candidate Experience

Coming out of the HRTech Conference, there seem to be a thousand emerging technologies to improve the hiring process. Machines can organize data bases, create better user experience and track end-to-end process. Once we've conquered those things it's up to the humans to refine the courting process.

It's that time of year when people are job hunting: Q4 numbers not where they should be, tenure has not created opportunity for advancement and graduation is moving interns into professionals. All reasons to dip thy toe in new waters. It is exciting and incredibly uncertain.

Determining where to spend your life based in a few conversations is a daunting task. The company brings their most-engaged employees forward and the candidate makes sure to get a fresh haircut. While there is nothing more exciting than starting a new career, nothing is worse than realizing you made the wrong choice a month into the job.

Here are a few things I've found divinely important in making the right career choice.

People don't leave companies, they leave bosses. More so, people leave companies that silo their development to their direct manager. We hear endless stories of outstanding talent leaving companies because their boss is abusive. The great shame in it all is the shock the company feels when future superstars leave. People seldom blow the whistle on their under-qualified leader.

Performance reviews need to be opened to more than just a person's manager. Employees should have confidence in their ability to rate their bosses performance. Closed door one-to-one meetings should be eliminated.

Hiring managers need to be genuine when describing their leadership style during the interviewing process. Employees should feel comfortable asking their peers (including HR) about your future boss' leadership style. If he/she asks you why you asked others about them, their insecurity has already been revealed and you should not work for them.

Ignoring Reviews
I am of the opinion that crowd-sourced review sites are places where disgruntled former employees go to vent. Satisfaction surveys in general seem to be populated by those who either had a really good or a really bad experience.... neither of those benchmarks create action planning.

Go to Happy Hour with the team during the interviewing process. If people complain the minute their butts hit the stool it's probably a sign of misery to come.... or it could mean you are going to ascend quickly among the bad actors with whom you've been cast.

Great leaders can help you find a true life mission in picking up trash. In the absence of such vision, you'll need to find a company with SOMETHING that you would be proud to tell your children about.

Ask yourself a few simple questions:
In describing what you do for a living will people reply, "That's Interesting"?
Will the work you are doing on a daily basis make someones day better?

Find a person in the interviewing process for whom you would jump over a wall. If that person doesn't exist, finding long term inspiration might be difficult. There are CEO's who inspire from the pulpit, organizational leaders who prove their commitment by practicing what they preach and those without a leadership designation who simply make everyone around them better. Any of the aforementioned people can be the difference in making your career a meaningful journey. Find them and give them the power of your attention.

Every job has it's pros and cons. At a certain point, it is incumbent upon the employee to take ownership of their Employee Experience. Things will never be perfect, but if you can check the majority of qualifications we explored above, an engaged career is likely.

As virtual work becomes the new normal, virtual culture is driving inclusion. Creating a path to development is as much an employee practice as it is a management expectation. Acquiring talent based on fit is the only way to create mutual success. If you are chasing a candidate that is over-qualified, their ability to thrive may be diminished. If you pretend a company is a great place to work, you'll probably be spending your time trying to find a way out.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Motivational Mapping

The art of establishing Employee Engagement has been a Slow Train Coming.....

We've adopted buzzwords and put others to bed. We've seen technology impact frequency and pats on the back are now covered with a strategic glove. Things don't change with rapid pace but the more we investigate the more we tend to find one common denominator to organizational excellence:


Today, we will examine your employees personality types and design an all-encompassing engagement strategy. It may just be the last blog post on #EmployeeEngagement that you will ever have to read.

The Behavioral Science of Intrinsic Motivation will tell you that your employees inhabit one of the following Professional Personas:
  1. The Controller - one who seeks the autonomy to control their own success (without political interference).
  2.  The Test Taker - one who wishes to measure personal development through certification and/or training.
  3. The Difference Maker - one who seeks a greater purpose in their work.
  4. The Achiever - one who wishes to elevate through results.
  5. The Socialite - one who seeks a social connection at work.
Historically, an organization would cast an employee to fit one of the above behavioral characteristics through job description. But, things are not longer that simple. Many employees now view competition in tandem with collaboration. Climbing the ladder no longer happens at the expense of another. Everyone seeks knowledge for the sake of making the organization better, but reciprocity is a reality.

Providing a scale for talent development means you take a path to success and cut it in 5. Now, one's ability to accelerate within your organization takes on a multi-perspective landscape where there was once only a straight line.

The Questions Surface:
  • How can we measure cultural impact?
  • Does certification ensure development?
  • Does community development improve loyalty?
  • Is compensation more important than benefits?
  • Does socializing with co-workers actually improve workplace engagement?

Ask a priest to prove to you that there is a god and you'll likely hear:

When You Believe There Is No Need For Proof

Such a response does not satisfy the non-believer. In a similar vein, there are those who do not believe that rewarding someone for "doing their job" should be an extended benefit. Fortunately, we've arrived in a time where almost everything can be measured.

Be A Coffee Bean

Life is a boiling pot of water. Employees can be:
- a carrot
- an egg
- a coffee bean

The carrot gets soft when over-exposed to boiling water.

The egg hardens

But, the coffee bean resonates within the water and turns a bland liquid into a life-altering beverage.

Any person has the ability to completely transform their environment. Most, however, react to the very human workplace by allowing it to squash them or by rendering themselves indifferent to any and all opportunities for development.

A Learning Experience

"When you are willing to say you don't know the answer the only path is to learning"
- Laird Hamilton

Organizations tend to view training as a necessary means to disseminate content for the sake of appeasing a requirement. For this reason, many organizations archive content in learning management systems without a path for advancement or a higher purpose in the learning process. You can develop a thousand courses but if employees cannot access them or do not understand why they matter..... your archives will gather dust.

Have Your Cake.... and eat it too

Most organizations have a regimented Total Rewards model that informs an employee of the benefits of their job and how to maximize their income. Again, we create a checklist where there should be a graphic novel.

Insurance and a paycheck are an expectation, not a motivator.

Every one of your employees wants a path to engagement....

through controlling their own destiny with the opportunity to learn every day in a place where their efforts might just change the world.           

Don't Forget to Remember,


Monday, September 9, 2019


As one who has dedicated the better part of his life to finding the Holy Grail of Employee Engagement, I am consistently in the trenches trying to find what works and what needs to change. This requires 4am conference calls with other regions of the world, speaking at and attending conferences of various disciplines and driving technical deployments that are massively complex in scale. Every day presents new challenges, every organization wants something different and no concept seems impossible to bring to reality.

The studies that promote global employee dissatisfaction are flawed. The method for research is outdated and the means by which information is collected/benchmarked are disingenuous.

Those of us who have conversations with corporate business leaders and those who serve them every day have developed solutions for gaps in performance, but it all remains based in the Human condition:

People want to work for a cause they believe in
People want to believe that their effort makes a difference
People are no longer willing to be bullied into keeping a job

With the above in mind, I proposed a road map for building an organization's Employee Value Proposition to a group of Human Resource professionals earlier this week. To my shock, one workshop attendee stood up and said:

We are willing to train our employees but only to the extent of their job requirement. If they learn anything more, they will leave.

... This is an extremely misguided construct that (unfortunately) was not unanimously disputed.     

We live in a time when individual employee brands are stronger than those of the organizations for which they work. In the gig economy, employees of all ages are finding comfort in short term employment and are willing to adjust their lifestyles accordingly. Respect for tradition is rampant, obedience to authoritarianism will not be tolerated.

Seeing a member of a major technology company's sales enablement team emphasize the concept of Intrepreneurship to our workforce last week made all the sense in the world. She focused on the following as a means for employee development:
  1. Co-Creation
  2. Mastery
  3. Leadership
  4. Competition
This format for employee development hits the scale of intrinsic motivators. Is it disappointing that this came from a Sales Enablement Leader and not from HR?

The alpha-male constructed rules for advancement are dead. Micro-management is over. Competition has taken a backseat to collaboration. Idea generation is now social and no longer confined to silos.

In short, people who do great work, climb! Politics are no longer an excuse for promotion...and we have all-accessible data to validate the climb!

As organizations, we are called upon to provide learning and advancement opportunities for employees at all levels. Advancement applicable to core-job-function, and beyond that, soft skill enhancements for the sake of Culture Building and Leadership Development.

Employees now have the opportunity to:

  • Contribute to organizational development (regardless of their pecking order).
  • Master the core-function of their given position at their own pace.
  • The ability to develop as a professional beyond the control of their manager.
  • To be promoted by the pure virtue of their effort, creativity and degree of collaboration.

It's here. The time is now. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Lucky Ones

"The difference between a good poet and a bad one is luck" - Charles Bukowski

The climb to success has peaks and valleys. There are points when we over-exert ourselves only to run into walls, other times things just seem to fall into place. There are times when our faith is tested prompting us to take action as a means to control our fate. Some times we push too hard. Some times we lose sight of what is important.

I've been writing a personal motivation blog for over a decade, but I don't consider myself to have an insight specific to others. I've also been very lucky. Some of us are born with opportunities, others have to earn them.

Having faith is often a blind turn. Don't be afraid to allow room for luck. Faith is a process of submission and there are those who do not like to relinquish control. Somewhere between mastery and failure, a little bit of luck never hurts.

In each day our willingness to fail can be built as much by our ability to heal as it is our pure skill. Self-confidence is as much an affect of experiencing the worst as it is achieving our personal best.

We can train and prepare and anticipate and adjust. The ever-slight bounce in our direction should be cherished. If we acknowledge that there is luck in everything, it makes our failures more digestible. There will be days when someone is just better than you, but you will catch up to them. It might take 10 days or 10 years but the playing field always levels.

The greatest hits are a centimeter away from a strike. Some people barley catch passes and others nearly miss them. There is the big throw that was an inch too high and the shot that bounced twice and missed. Luck has it's place in everything.

You'll win some and lose some. There will be moments after you made the winning play when you find a corner to breath a sigh of relief. There will be times when you believe you have let everyone down, when in fact, you have lifted them up. Some times those who show heart win a thousand little wars without winning the battle. Some times the loser gains ground on the winner. If winning only brings you relief you may be playing the game for the wrong reasons.

Chasing luck is a fools game. Seizing the opportunity given you turns the lucky into the superior skilled.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Monday Funday

For years I've questioned research that reflects 3 of 4 people dislike their job. From the trenches in Silicon Valley, I'd say the majority of the people with whom I work enjoy what they do. Sure, we'd all prefer to be on the beach but sand between your toes gets annoying too. Most people when asked aren't going to jump for joy at the prospect of explaining "what they do (for a living)". Still, we all get up, get out and make it work.

I'd say disengagement doesn't necessarily spell complete disdain. I am of the opinion that human beings are reasonable enough to accept their working contract and make the most of it.

Call it Engagement or Happiness or Purpose: there are a few very simple steps in the ladder to finding a way to Love Mondays.......

Believe In The Buzz
I remember my first International Sales Meeting at my first real job. I was mesmerized! I held those up on stage presenting in the same light I did Iggy Pop or Jerry Garcia. They were Rock Stars with a mission they believed in and a whole lot of verbal confetti to go along with it. I recall being at the bar talking to a few of the more seasoned salesfolk who politely kept from rolling their eyes as I re-read my notes.

With experience tends to come apathy. But the more you allow yourself to believe the corporate speak, the closer you'll get to achieving your goals. At the very least, let the kids believe in it!  

Love Your Boss
I've had 3 bosses for whom I knew I couldn't work. They replaced people who hired me with all the grace of an alcoholic step-dad. Not only did these individuals not support my career path, they genuinely disliked me. People don't leave companies they leave managers who have replaced the managers who used to like them.

If you and your boss have a common mission, success is certain. If your boss hates you, QUIT!

There is nothing worse than going into a job you hate. If your boss was brought on to deter your success, enjoying your job will be difficult!

Don't Be Annoying
The aforementioned boss hatred was likely deserved. I used to be the guy in the room who opposed every point for the sake of doing so (turning a 30 minute meeting into a 2 hour meeting).

We all want to make an immediate impact on any organization we join. Here's how to do that:
  1. Hit your revenue goal
  2. Follow leadership direction
  3. Be a good teammate
  4. Shut your butt with a coconut
 In contrast, here are the ways to drive yourself directly to the doghouse:
  1. "Replay All" to emails with "ideas"
  2. Consistently share information that doesn't apply to the tactical line to production
  3. Ask a ton of questions or comment at length in team meetings
  4. Make your Manager's job harder   
Focus on You   
If you are failing at your job it is the direct responsibility of one individual:


Keep your head down and do work that benefits goal attainment. Don't gossip. Don't listen to workforce veterans about "the way things are done around here". Don't feel that you have to share to contribute. Do not compare yourself to others. If you are going to question the current state of things, you better have data and action planning to support your suggested re-direction. Separate yourself from negative people. Don't pretend to be smarter than you are. If you are wrong, own it. Get better every day.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, August 9, 2019

The Fast Lane to Failure

I have the rare privilege to observe organizational culture from the periphery. In essence, I am trusted to visit historical constructs and identify areas of concern.

It gets easier every day.

Whether it is my work with college students or global corporations, there are a few very certain red flags that assure broken culture:
  • The loudest voice is the negative voice
  • Any iteration of change is viewed as enemy
  • Tenure is automatically associated with influence
  • Excuses are given greater attention than performance

I had a ton of success very early in my career. I wasn't great at my job, I was simply unwilling to fail. Sooner or later, reality caught up with raw motivation and I had to learn to adapt. I struggled with the intensity of a baby having his toy taken away. I abused my social clout to shade my inability to perform. I don't lack sympathy for those in a rut, I've been there and it sucks. One usually works their way into a rut when they lose focus. 

As I abused my social influence to gain validation from my peers, one unspoken truth hung over every conversation like a chandelier:

I knew I wasn't evolving and I was unwilling to take action.  

Organizations with entitled cultures always fail. For some, the fall is more-gradual, but those who empower inadequacy only deter those willing to try.

There a million different ways to accomplish your goals. If there was a silver bullet to success, everyone would be successful. There is, however, a laser-tight way to fail....

If you allow negativity any audience, your odds for success grow less-certain.     
We can be guided by our lack of willingness to give in to the things that distract us.

I've never met anyone with a bad attitude who has been successful. The great news is that negativity is fixable.

People who present themselves as negative may just be having trouble framing their intensity. Their intentions may be good, they may just be allowing their drive to look like a car wreck.

You might choose to surround yourself with people who validate your negativity. But. here's a newsflash:

They are not laughing with you, they are laughing at you. 

The more your negativity fills the room, the easier it is to ignore. 

If every day you wake up with the intent of replacing challenges with action planning, you will win the day.

If you enter the day under the impression that the day is going to suck.... it will!

Don't Forget to Remember,