Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top 5 - 2017

Friends -
Another year has come and gone; a painful year in many ways. When times are challenging the influence of art becomes of paramount importance. So, it is with great pleasure that I review with you the year in music.

St Vincent and Weezer returned with albums that may have not been perfectly in their idiom yet pleasing to the ear. Cloud Nothings and Japandriods started the year off with a BOOM! John Darnielle released his first ever non-guitar record with humorous story telling about depressed people... he also created a great podcast.

All the guys from Vampire Weekend released solo records (and they were all good). Iron & Wine had a record as did Josh Ritter. Bleachers introduced a year of great electronic pop. Billy Corgan made a great record of piano ballads (unfortunately he also did a bunch of interviews).

Vancouver Sleep Clinic relinquished wonderful sunrise music. Rural Alberta Advantage brought us back to the snow. Julien Baker made gigantic music from her tiny little self. Tim Heidecker's political album was well-versed and surprising well performed. Eminem also hates donald trump.

Dave Bazan and Partner made the 6th & 7th best records of the year.  :)

We laid to rest Lil Peep, Gord Downie and a bunch of others. :(  

Here are the Top 5 Albums of 2017!



5. Birdie by Slaughter Beach, Dog
Best not to give this album too much context other than to say that Jake Ewald has put aside the youthful exuberance of Modern Baseball for a more thoughtful lament. This album reminds of John K. Samson in the way the landscapes visited guide a path for the human spirit (this time in America). Thoughtful lyrics and simple cord progression. A great Sunday morning record.



4. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
A friend mentioned to me that this record is pure blasphemy (all the more reason to listen). Josh Tillman does not just pose questions regarding worship; he demolishes pop culture, questions love/lust and raises a predetermined eye brow at the political landscape. All these topics force fed with discomforting reality over soothing soundscapes. There has never been a more-relevant time for Pure Comedy to be produced, if only it would embarrass us all into acting more human.



3. Tremendous Sea of Love by Passion Pit
Michael Angelakos suffers from Bi-Polar disorder.... his music seems only to reveal his lighter side. Passion Pit has been producing bouncy, vibrant electronica with soaring choruses for a decade. "Sea of Love" takes the light into the sunset on the water. Angelakos' songs emerge as a salute to the power of the female in perfect time. The heart pours in rhythm with the smooth beats and synth that make this album a joyous lament.



2. We All Want the Same Things by Craig Finn
Hold Steady fans know the transient power of Craig Finn's song craft. The middle-aged Brooklyn resident writes frequently from the spirit of the twenty somethings in his hometown of Minneapolis. The intricacy of Finn's character development, geographical references and his ability to narrate from a million different voices give the listener a different experience with each spin of the record. Addiction, the indecision of youth, drug distribution, love and death remain provoking themes; all from the reflection of a snow dirtied windshield.



1. Going Grey by The Front Bottoms
It's no secret that The Front Bottoms have been my favorite band of the last decade so the anticipation of this album was a roller coaster. Critics are indecisive about the long-term relevance Going Grey will hold in The Front Bottoms extremely impressive record collection. While the production hints at major label ting where once there was the open space of a 4 track recorder, the spirit of the Front Bottoms remains ever-present. Going Grey delivers instantly anthemic chorus, detailed verses and mixed metaphor in a way only the boys from New Jersey can. Brian Sella and his mates are older but hardly any more mature (in a very, very good way). I, too, miss the way things used to be.      

Thank You for Listening!

- Dave

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Million Oysters


One of the world's finest chefs crashed and burned. He was at the absolute apex of one of the world's mostly subjective and challenging professions serving transformational cuisine in Paris. With his success came the pressure to be original, creative and relevant.... every evening. With that pressure came substance abuse and the manipulation of those around him. When his vices disabled him, his restaurant (an art gallery for the palate).... closed. His friends were left unemployed and those who yearned for the art he produced depraved.

Chef did not seek rehab, the company of family or the comfort of friends. He sentenced himself to shucking 1,000,000 oysters. He moved from being the finest chef at the finest restaurant in Paris to the most painful form preparing meals in the french quarter (back on US turf).

I believe each milestone in life starts by eliminating the things in your life that are distracting you. Be it alcohol or the people who serve it.... sometimes, you have to drop everything that makes you feel good in order to check your privilege.

What have you eliminated?

Have you checked your privilege?

There are people whose lives are inescapably terrible. If you are not one of those people, let's start from there.

A Back Pack
If you had to leave the planet today with only a back pack, what would you bring with you?

Those who have children, spouses and mortgages have their anchor sunk deep. With every inch the anchor sinks, one's heart fills with a little more love. With every person dependent upon you, the privilege of leadership becomes greater and the rewards for service more profound.

Are you a leader?

Very few will accept the responsibility of supporting others if someone else is willing to do it. The other who took the job simply proclaimed that he would.... and so it was.....

... and that's not OK

The first way of distinguishing what is genuinely important to you is by identifying what is not, then determining where your time will be spent.


Have you done your job as well as you possibly can?

Are the most important people in your life those you assume are consistently aware of your affection?

Without sharing affection have you depraved the very people who deserve the majority of your attention?

I bet you remember where you were when you made the best decision of your life... ? You may have forgotten where you were when you made the worst decision of your life. Losing focus is not an abrupt process, it's a slow burn.

Do you need to shuck a million oysters to find out who you really are?

The problem with human beings is that we are rarely self-aware enough to monitor the slow burn that is making us complacent. Then we look up and we are 65 years old and no one finds us useful anymore.

"Make me something somebody can use" - John K. Samson

The people I know who have experienced genuine success did so by always being willing to do the least glamorous work. Maintaining an underdog mentality without forgetting where you came from will keep you sharp. When you forget what got you here, you may no longer have it.   

Protect the Dream
Being a parent requires an extraordinary amount of realism which also can serve to suck the optimism out of an individual. I enjoy hanging out with kids more than adults because they've not yet been jaded by the world's cruel reality (which makes them more mature). We all forget our innocence, get desperate and do things out of spite. When spite is the impetus of success you have truly lost your way.

The best moments of your life are still ahead of you. Where will you be when they happen?

Don't destroy your potential to the point that you have to shuck a million oysters. Don't let anyone mock your potential if you've been slotted into a category that you hate.

Categories suck and so does hate.... don't waste your time on either!

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

So Much Wasted Time


As a 70's pop singer departed the earth his final words were, "so much wasted time".

After 67 years it would be a shame to discover your precious time had been wasted. Or would it?

When your time is up, how will your legacy present itself?

Having spent only half the time on earth as aforementioned man with great hair, I am willing to add a few thoughts to his final words.....

Assessment of The Moment
In my 20's I had the motivation of a thousand armies. Time on my side but my every action was a reaction. I waited for instruction, cleaned my plate and asked for more. I was motivated but I had no idea where to put my energy.

I eventually discovered that it is better to get there second with a better plan than to show up first without an idea why you are there.

Assessing a situation means understanding who you are talking to, what problem they may have and how you can assist in solving said problem. It's as easy (and as difficult) as that.

People tend to talk too much and listen too little.

I could have the most innovative dog food on the market but it you have a cat I'd be barking up the wrong proverbial tree.

Problem Solving comes down to: Who, What, Where & Why.... but mostly WHY.

If all you have is dog food it's probably best to avoid the cat lady's apartment.
 
Passion Can Get The Best of Us
I used to pound my fists on the table because I was so fired up by the potential of our team... my actions were deemed reprehensible. I wanted people to understand my motivation but I was channeling my energy in a disastrous manner. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting promoted.

I recently witnessed a man 6 months from retirement throw a fit in front of a room full of customers. He was 65 years old and had spent 2/3rds of his life working his tail off... but his influence had waned.

We all get fired up!! Those who succeed have learned to encompass their passion into a few wise words.


The Edges Get Rounder  
I'll never forget the image of Laird Hamilton after he conquered Peahi. He had spent his entire life searching for the perfect wave and 30 seconds defined his pursuit of perfection in poetic imagery. He had perfected his craft. After he thanked God for the opportunity, he probably questioned what he would do with his life going forward.

What do you do when there are no more dragons to slay?

Professional athletes get too old to play the game.

Even you will get to the point where the job you love will have passed you by.

Now What?

The determination of success can be a tricky thing.

At some point you come to realize:
1. Only you can determine the things that will make you happy.
2. What you will need to do to achieve what you feel to be meaningful.
3. How to eliminate all of the other things that are are getting in your way.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Don't Lend Your Hand



In the midst of these fatiguing times, the above excerpt from a song written in 1974 entered my mind, the prose somehow timely.

When does the state of things wear upon us to the point of submission?

What would be the appropriate reaction:

To take action?

To drop out?

We need a clean slate, an avenue for thought that isn't lined by riflemen on both sides of the street.

 

Are Your Fists Up?
.... or are you raising your hands in forfeit?

What is worth fighting for and what is easier to ignore?


I know more than a few people who are bullies. They force their opinions upon others and dismiss counter-thought with a snide chuckle. They sit in the social media waiting room ready to attack those who haven't prepared to argue.

A strong-willed woman I know (and genuinely had come to dislike) engaged me in conversation the other day. She came home from another business trip ready to complain to her husband only to discover that he was gone.... for good. She explained a long note left on the table through which it was explained that her husband had grown tired of apologizing for her behavior. The house remained empty for a week. When her husband finally resurfaced, she wanted an explanation. His refrain ended with the divine truth that everything she put energy toward was in criticism of the effort of others. A tear came to her eye for a second before she darted to the coffee counter to yell at the Barista for fucking up her order.

Those fists in front of you are merely a shield.

The Head & The Heart
A young man who I've been coaching for half his life came up to me with his usual zeal. He's a good player who has already figured out that this silly game we are playing is not nearly as important as we pretend for it to be.

When the aforementioned young fella mentioned to be that he was nervous to face a pitcher from the other team, I had a recommendation for him:

This game is played from here (I pointed to his heart) not here (I pointed to his head).

He looked at me dissatisfied with the lack of defensive logic in my response but he accepted the sentiment.

It all comes down to what genuinely matters and how much time you spend pursuing it!

If you dislike your job, you are probably not a ton of fun to be around.

If you hate your boss, you probably spend your post-work time complaining.

Have you forgotten that the majority of your time should be spent doing things you enjoy?

You may not jump out of bed every day. There may be parts of your day that suck. You may even have entire days that don't go as planned. But, the majority of your time should be spent doing things you enjoy.

What do you believe in....? Pursue It!

Who do you love....? Spend More Time with Them!

Live where you want to live. Love who you want to love. Work where you want to work.

..... And Revel In The Moments In-Between!

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave 

Monday, October 23, 2017

10 Years After


Today marks my 10th year in the human capital management industry. I was prepared to write a post about all the things done well and the opportunities missed, but you've read 500 such posts on this blog.

What does it really mean for a man nearing his mid 40's to have 2 decades of work experience?

I've never taken anything for granted. I've always appreciated my employer's willingness to write me a check every other week. I've also earned every penny I've ever made!

People are successful because: 
1. They work hard
2. They are creative
3. They understand how to design solutions to ever-evolving business problems

....I'd like to think I possess a combination of all these skills.

I've made hundreds of friends in the business world. To do right by the people who have helped me succeed is important to me. Results come and go, but the friendships you make are an awesome reminder of a skill that cannot be tracked or quantified:

The ability (in the midst of an ever-stressful workplace) to be a Good Person!

I never want to get to a point in my life where I no longer have something meaningful to contribute to my employer. When I finally hit the wall, I hope I'm not too proud to realize it. I've seen amazing young people leave great companies because no one helped them channel their youthful exuberance into professional excellence. I've seen heartless people produce results because they were willing to minimize the efforts of others to protect their own success.

I've seen people's career's ruined by their own selfishness. I believe in the long run nice guys/girls finish first. Integrity may not increase your commission check but it may be the VERY thing that gets you into heaven. He/she who dies with the most toys does not win.

I've always thought myself smart enough to talk business with any CEO. Most every CEO I've talked to just wanted to know about my kids and how I've been spending my free time (because they never have time for the little things). I hope I always have time for the little things!

I've been really fortunate to have worked for 4 great companies in 20 years. I've never felt as though I didn't have an opportunity to be successful.

I've had 3 bosses who I have disliked. Not because they were bad bosses but because they were bad people.

I've had 7 bosses who I have absolutely loved. They appreciated my hard work, helped me fix the things I sucked at, and always reminded me to celebrate my success.

Some people choose to manage instead of lead because they feel trusting relinquishes control.

I've had co-workers lose loved ones, get divorced or struggle to find true happiness. It is in these times that I'd like to think my employment has been valued more than ever.

If I was to tell my children what mattered most in business, it would probably be a combination of these things:

1. Nothing is more important than hard work.
2. Creativity is an irreplaceable skill set that is uncommon in business.
3. The same people you see on the way up, you will see on the way down.
4. Be Likeable!
5. Do your fighting in the ring.

Never Give Up!

Celebrate Everything!

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave   

Monday, October 2, 2017

All The Little Pieces

The winter of our discontent is seemingly upon us. The news is bad, tragedy seems all around us, our country is in unrest.... people are divided.

It is in these times that people who do not pray, turn to prayer. When things get rough, people look for answers. When bad things are happening all around, some people hide out and others tie their boots on.

Beyond the broadcast, we deal with personal finance, professional challenges and the responsibility of family. The crippling world challenges are replicated in microcosm in our neighborhoods. There are good days and bad days. Each day brings it's fair share of challenges and a few subtle joys.

SO... WHAT SHALL WE DO?

 


I think myself a smart man. I'm not always brave or perfectly saintly, but I'd like to think that when people really need help, I can be someone to turn to. So, we take all the bad news and life challenges and we recall one undeniable truth....

AS LONG AS WE'RE STILL BREATHING, WE MIGHT AS WELL LIVE!

Time goes quickly, the future is uncertain and there are things that are beyond our control.

What we can control are the moments in-between.

There will be the grandiose life events: weddings, births, funerals, celebrations, sporting events, concerts and trips across the world.

The real living gets done in the park on a Tuesday. A simple evening walking to ice cream with your daughter. A meal with an old friend. That song you haven't heard since high school. A beer. A Burger. A kiss from your dog. A phone call from an old pal. An apology. Hearing, "I Love You". The glory of victory. The lessons learned through defeat. The smirk that comes upon your face when you are right. The embarrassment that washes over when you are wrong. A walk in the woods. A walk on the beach. Holding your sweet heart's hand. Holding your sweet heart's foot. A laugh. A Cry.

Before the impact of all the bad news was something you were unaware of, you probably spent a lot of time in the moments in-between.



Quit beating up on yourself. Don't blame others for your failures. Find somebody to love (and Love them well). Listen to The Grateful Dead (trust me on that one). Talk Less, Listen More. Take a drive for no reason. Leave your cell phone at home when you take a walk. Take a walk. Call your mom. Call your daughter. Write someone a note. Do a cross word puzzle. Forgive.... Forget.... Live!

There is no harm in thinking about God.

Kids are as smart as adults and far better conversationalist. Young people are not naive because they believe in a better place. Old people who have lives filled with hatred and regret can still be saved.

People who give parenting advice are usually not very good parents. People who are consumed by politics have nothing interesting to contribute so they memorize facts to help them win arguments. Sinners are more fun than false prophets.

I'd like to choose to believe there is a lot of time left to do a lot of great things. I'll choose to live as tough my time is limited.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Dream Different

Before our less-than-imaginative media made dreaming a commodity, the concept meant more than just a right to work. It seems even in addressing the most important Human Rights, we look for labels and fence-sides. This way, everything is black and white.

To dream means to innovate... to disrupt.... to challenge the norm.... to put a dent in the universe!

Being bold enough to dream can be met with disdain; the result of an envy prompted by one's own lack of ambition. Once an unproven concept produces success, the doubters become adopters.

...because that's what most people do.....

Laugh at those bold enough to try until following them takes no courage.

There is a difference between being risk-adverse and bold. If you are going to live an inspired life, you are going to have to stop relying on statistics to make decisions for you.


Your mom probably thought your dad was annoying before he worked up the courage to exemplify his true being. That time you and your friends from the neighborhood beat the first place team would have never happened if you let the bullies intimidate you. So many great songs are written in response to somebody who positioned our humble narrator as lesser. There is a romance in being the underdog.... when you lose the underdog mentality, you become just like everyone else.

Plain

Safe

Boring.......

What's the use of strapping on your shoes if you aren't going to use them to kick some ass?

I hate the macho mentality and the hate it breeds. Parents who play placate gossip usually raise their kids to be assholes. If you've never stuck up for yourself, dared to dream, challenged authority or risked being unpopular; you have not lived a day.

You have the rest of your life to change your life, why not start now?

Here's The Thing.....

From the first time you compromise your personal integrity to be part of something you do not believe in, you begin the war of looking yourself in the mirror.

Would your son be proud to know that you spent every day of your life prostrate to people who are less intelligent than you?      

Would your wife love you more if you had done the safe thing? (or would she see in your action that you hate your job)

Every time you say it's just a job and do what you gotta do..... the younger you gets his ass kicked on the playground.

The Exception is Becoming an Expectation.....

And then that guy who tried 55 times and failed, became a millionaire. He donated every cent he made to charity because proving that the underdog had a fighting chance was the only thing that was keeping him alive.

And then the guy who had everything lost everything. He stood on the shoulders of those greater than he and manipulated those lesser, until it caught up with him.

Far worse is the person who never tried anything and died without ever knowing the extreme romance of walking the tight rope without a net underneath him/her.

If you didn't know what would happen tomorrow, would you be stressed out or enthralled?

Quit Pretending

Your suit will not make you more intelligent. You will seldom find interesting people in a room of assigned seats. If you think you are smarter than your boss, you probably are... do something about it!

Anyone can play in a cover band.

Anyone can plagiarize.

The only thing worth giving up on is that which you do not believe in. You (and everyone around you) will be dramatically surprised how freeing it can be to drop the anchor.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Fruits Of Our Labor


I don't know who makes the schedule but I must commend him/her on their placement of Labor Day!

Labor Day comes at a perfect time: The weather is changing, the kids are getting back to school, the tarp is pulled over the pool and beach chairs are put away. With the distractions of summer put aside, it's time to buckle down and get laser focused on professional success!

In my 20 years of professional existence, I've found that our success can suffer unnecessary diversions. The key is to allow oneself enough space to breath while keeping your eye on the prize.

When you sucked down the final poolside Corona, what questions came to mind:
1. Do You Like Your Job?
2. How Are You Spending Your Free Time?
3. Are You A Person of Value?
4. If You Could Do Anything, What Would That Be?

 

Would The Younger You Like You?
What did you want to be when you were in 4th grade: A Fireman? A Professional Athlete? An Astronaut? I bet the aforementioned prospects didn't come with any trepidation. You most likely looked at any profession with a sense of ambition and creative desire.

We all have points in our young lives when we learn tough life lessons; those times when infinite possibility is met with probability and statistical reality.

If a fourth grader asked you if she could become President of the United States what would you tell her?

Are you a person who fuels ambition or who uses probability to deter dreams. 

When Did You Give Up on Your Dream?
Do you remember the first time you compromised? Maybe it was a class you elected not to take.... or a sport you stopped playing.... or the girl you thought not to talk to for fear that she might be out of your league.

The inertia of motivation swings like a boomerang.

When you experience victory, you yearn for more.

When you give up, you forever open yourself up to that option.

  
What Would It Take to Change Everything? 
Are you completely fulfilling your potential? Do you work as hard as you can? Are you challenged to think differently every day? Do you listen to people who are less-experienced than you? Does your life have a direction beyond the work you do?

Don't wait until 2018 to make a resolution. Resolve every day to:
a. Work Harder
b. Be Creative
c. Try New Things
d. Find Alternative Resources

Wake up an hour earlier, exercise, take on new projects, look up available jobs in your field, ask about open positions in your organization, get to the office a little earlier, leave early to find a place to do your work in a different head space.

Create something every day.... even if it doesn't apply directly to your workload.

Strike up a conversation with a stranger, dump your deadbeat boyfriend, find a new hobby, buy a new book, listen to some new music, start exercising, get up from your desk, ask the girl at the coffee shop about her life (but only if there is not a line behind you).

The way companies control effort is by convincing you that you have no other options then use consequence to keep you in line.

Have options.

Find alternatives to help you consider whether or not you are willing to be controlled.

Life is profoundly easier when you don't have all your eggs in one basket. Decisions are easier to make when you don't have to compromise. Your possibilities are limitless when you don't put limits on yourself.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave     

Friday, August 25, 2017

Shelter from the Storm


Times are uncertain. The corporate world gets more competitive every day, our personal lives are never simple and the world at large isn't hurling any compliments our way.

You ever feel like the harder you fight, the further you grow away from contentment?

Maybe you should consider what you are fighting for?

People are angry in the midst of the American political climate. Social Media is drowning in negativity. There are those who have strong opinions that they refuse to change and others who have decided to stick up for themselves.

Then, there are those who live by an ethos:

You're Not Going to Tell Me What to Do!!!!!!

If you wake up every day searching for information to help you win an argument... your day is going to suck!

If you are still mad about something that happened a year ago... you won't be happy until you let it go.

We all want to stand up for what we believe in. But, we have to consider our opponent and their degree of willingness to accept information from alternative angles.

Sometimes you have to give up on people.

Start Something That Matters
Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS) had a vision. Give away half of his profit. Well, not exactly, but for every pair of shoes he sold, a child in need was given a pair. People thought he was crazy!

Blake lived on a boat and sold shoes from his small warehouse. Over time, the movement caught on. His shoes are now distributed worldwide. With each shipment to a privileged poolside, another pair goes to a child who has never owned shoes.

The shoes aren't great...... but Blake's commitment, passion, hard work and unflappable mission made the company a cultural phenomenon.

When you care for something deeply, you'll do anything to make it work.

If you hate your job, you probably wouldn't be willing to give away half of your paycheck.
  
The Thing Worth More Than Money
I've never been driven by money because I always had some. Not an elegant statement but it is the truth. I always felt like I had a back up plan so I was always willing to try new things. I was no stranger to risk and pursuing new things was always a thrill.

I came to discover the willingness to try was half the battle.

When I was young, I was driven to succeed by reasons that were disingenuous. I wanted to succeed to move up the ladder, acquire a title, prove my worth, have something to brag about, have more to complain about, to be in the spot light.

I didn't know what I was fighting for.

I was swinging at ghosts.

As I've progressed through this life I have come to understand that there is something far more valuable than money:

Time

I talk to Executives who care not to chat about their business. They want to know about my kids, my life, the things that consume the time of a person in their forties.

If we live 80 years, we'll have 29,200 days on this earth. Might seem like a lot of time at first blush, but it rips past you.

You'll create lives, your friends will die and you'll come to understand that the subtle joy the sun on your face on a Tuesday Afternoon is about as good as it gets.

If you lost your job, you wouldn't make money and that would suck.... but, you'd figure out a new thing.

We Always Do..........


Time to Start Listening  
A lightening storm landed in the hills of Northern California with such rage that rugby practice was discontinued. I saw it coming so I showed up to find my son and his friends under a tree with their coaches.

"Dad.... Thank God" - that's what he said when he saw me. The little guy was scared and the only person who made him feel safe was me.... That's Pretty Fucking Awesome!

The thing that is on your mind right now that is bending you from your true motivation is likely curable and certainly less-important than giving your child shelter from the storm.

The loud mouths come and go. They boast and take up space and then you never see them again. They are not missed.

What if you vowed to become a person who people would miss when you are not around?

The privilege of people depending upon you is the greatest testament to a life well-lead.

There is still plenty of time.

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Better (For Now)


Each summer, I have the opportunity to teach a class to college students. After coaching baseball among 10 years old boys and days spent with professionals of various generations, being on campus is a pleasant change of pace.

Being a teacher, a coach and a consultant have their distinct challenges. All of the aforementioned encompass a certainty:

With each day you'll feel in equal parts empowered and helpless

 

It's difficult stepping out onto the ledge with the intention of helping others (which is why most don't dare try). Those who are leaders may make it look natural but they prepare, practice and learn from their mistakes.

Every day brings it's fair share of frustrations and subtle advancements. It takes a steady demeanor to deal with life's peaks and valleys. The older you get the more you grow to navigate disappointment while recognizing the small advancements that result from bold effort.

Politics, social media and the entitlement of the arrogant have a way of distracting us from our true mission:

To understand that the moments in-between are those that are ear-folded in life's memory book

 

So, you try to keep 10 year old boys from thinking about video games. You do your best to plant seeds in the minds of the college-aged. You deal with people of all ages, every day, who sometimes need help getting out of their own way.

With every valley a climb to another peak.

With every failure an experience from which to learn.

With every victory a chance to remember (for a fleeting moment) that everything is going to be OK.

 

Everything Is Going To Be OK


There is a brilliance in frustration that is driven by one's inability to tolerate incompetence. Successful people use frustration to format their action plan for change. Those who replicate failure do so on the lips of their complaints.      

There are days when you feel as though your volunteer effort is all for not. Then a subtle reminder lays down your burden.


.... and in these fleeting moments, you remember life's purpose


Don't Forget to Remember,


Dave

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

At The Risk of Sounding Unpopular

I've been suffering social media fatigue of late. Taking a little time off has allowed for some personal introspection:
  • The amount of content made available to us can be overwhelming.
  • Is there a way to find only the information that we deem meaningful?
  • Is it healthy to avoid the opinions of those with whom you may disagree?
  • If you miss out on breaking news how much are you really missing?

The Tripping Point
When do bad people become bad? Do they wake up one day and decide to break the rules? Does the disappointment of trying and failing cause them to look for short cuts? Do they simply live a life free of value?

Life has it's points of frustration and there are times when we feel the need to rally against the system. At some point, we grow to accept the standards through which we need to succeed and do what needs to be done. The aforementioned, does not necessarily involve the compromise of one's individuality for the sake of a grander cause. When we achieve all we need to for ourselves, we seek methods of sharing our recipe for success.

You'll struggle to find answers and grind away, then at some point, you win. You appreciate the treasure of your effort until you get to the point that you've had enough for yourself.

Then You Seek to Share....



Lay Back in the Cut
Back when Americans would collude in smoky basements to play out the musical experiment know as Jazz, the greats would show up late while the new performers worked through their skill. When one of the youngsters earned their place on the main stage they would join the OG's (late, late at night). Most of them (in an effort to prove their brilliance) would jump on their first opportunity to take a lead.... One of the OG's would follow with a pummeling solo that would crush the youngsters confidence.

There were a few youngsters during this time in American Music who understood their purpose.

To make others look good.

To pass instead of shoot.

To fill up space enough to be part of the overall movement.... without regard for their personal advancement.

Therein lies to all-encompassing formula for success.

Servant Leadership
There are a variety of things that I do in my life for free. If I find something I believe in, the experience of participating is worth more than the payment for my labor.

What would you do for free?

- Teach Children
- Teach Adults
- Play A Sport for Recreation
- Learn to Play Guitar

There has seldom been a person who did what everyone else did and ended up making a difference in the world.

Anyone can learn a system and do it well enough to make some dough. While on paper that may seem boring, it's the moments in between that matter most.

Those who take chances live a life of peril. There are towering peaks and low, low valleys.

More people go into finance than sales because the tumult of instability requires a personality that one must be mentally imbalanced to embrace.

If you are going to put a dent in the universe, you're going to have to risk being categorized as imbalanced.

The amount of people who mutually agree upon something do not make that thing a certainty.

When you are on your maker's doorstep, I doubt you will recall with any degree of pride the things you did with safety and certainty. You'll likely look back on the times you surprised yourself by displaying your true potential.....

.... and you'll wish you had done that more often!

Don't Forget to Remember,

Dave    

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Workforce Report - 2017

Moments after stepping off the plane from New Orleans I headed into San Francisco to present at the Northern California Human Resources Association's Compensation Conference.

After a week of interacting with 10's of thousands of HR Professionals, a few questions remained:
1. Why aren't things changing at a more expedient rate?
2. What is something new we can do that will actually work?

I left SHRM17 with a mission to help organization find their Utopian Employee Experience.

... The concept was immediately applied at NCHRA's Compensation Conference. 

What is Your Employee Value Proposition?
We asked attendees to answer this question... answered varied.

In essence, your Employee Value Proposition addresses a single and all-important question:
Why would I want to work at your company more than anywhere else?
  • Do you have a better compensation package?
    • Is optimal pay enough to create an irreplaceable Employee Experience?
  • Is there a clearly defined opportunity for advancement?
  • How is working at your company like no other professional experience?

How Do You Know?
After reviewing an extensive research project, I heard a couple of attendees express their distaste with surveys.

Nobody cares about having a best friend at work, but it is a far better experience working with people who you like.

People will not answer questions honestly if they know their answers will be analyzed and held against them.

If a survey comes from HR, one will not express candor if it will only get them in hot water.

Why are you asking the same questions over and over and only on an annual basis?

You can gather employee insight through:
  • Idea sharing portals (or even a suggestion box)
  • Light touch, frequently administered, pulse surveys
  • Conversation.... (this is the ability to leave your office and engage Employees in face-to-face communication :()

What Are You Gonna Do About It?
Anyone can ask questions and/or gather opinion. Action Planning is a strategic necessity that commonly remains unmet.

A company I worked for once decided to alter their performance management process by having employees evaluate their managers. HR gave the results to said manager and asked that person to take action to improve their approach. Several managers embraced the concept and used the feedback to fuel their development. A few, however, tried to find out who said what about them.... their ego and tenured entitlement fueling their mission to keep their incompetence private (which was the intent of the process restructuring in the first place).
  • Managers who failed to comply scared all their employees from submitting candid feedback going forward.
  • HR did not follow up with employees to understand the managers method for benefiting from workforce feedback.
  • Many quit.... except the managers in denial who continue to drive great talent away to this day.
This is a prime example of a good idea having an adverse effect:

~ You can spend a million dollars on tie tacks, but if nobody wears ties this "reward" will do more harm than good.

~ If you ask for opinion but do not take action, employees will fail to trust.

~ Without HR Intervention in workforce planning, incompetent middle managers will continue to drive away the leaders of tomorrow. 

Opportunity Missed
I was emailed an annual survey by our VP of HR accompanied by a diatribe of all the great programs our company offered. Authenticity was impossible, results would not be a cause for action planning and a workforce conduit positioned himself as a shill for upper management's lack of workforce understanding.

Collection of information should present a GAP analysis to understand areas of improvement.

If you are only asking for employee opinion to put a "best place to work" trophy on your receptionists desk, you are missing an opportunity to evolve.

Micro-Management has given way to Purpose-Driven Leadership!

For planning purposes, the opinion from the trenches matters more than those of the C-Suite.

Innovation is a human practice with a defined, strategic path.

Employees would rather have opportunity for advancement than pats on the back.

It is imperative that we are crystal clear in reforming our company purpose, that we validate through feedback and action plan for the future with transparency at the forefront.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Friday, June 23, 2017

SHRM17 Take Aways

The Society for Human Resource Management have concluded our 69th Annual Conference. Ideas were shared, people spoke and exhibitors exhibited while HR Pros braved the rain and well-functioning air conditioning.

This having been my 10th SHRM Annual Conference, finding new and intriguing information was a bit of a challenge.

Points of Intrigue:
Vivek Patel's Guide to Vendor Selection
Laszlo Bock's Theory of Compensation: Pay Unfairly
The awe inspiring Ryan Estis, Steve Browne & Jason Lauritsen
Nextgen People's Exploration of Performance Management
Zen Workplace's exploration of Mindfulness in the workplace

Question:
What's the difference between attending SHRM17 & going All In?

This, we are called upon to explore.

Converting Employee Engagement into Employee Experience

We've been beating the Employee Engagement horse for a decade. She has taken us places we never thought possible, but it's time to put her our to pasture.

Where Employee Engagement was the employee's obligation to recognize and utilize organizational resources, Employee Experience focuses on the moments in-between.

What is your organization's Employee Value Proposition? In essence, what do you have to offer to ensure someone would rather work at your organization more than anywhere else?

More specifically, how can you ensure your employee's would be willing to pour their discretionary effort back into your organization?

If I've completed my tasks for the day with an hour remaining on the clock, what will I do with that time?

Snap My Chat?
Binge watch Silicon Valley on my lap top?

... or ....

Might I get more work done?
Help someone else complete their project?
Ask for a new project?

Herein lie the elements that accentuate the Employee Experience.

What am I ALL IN for?

My mission is to help organizations and individuals find their Utopian Employee Experience.

... So Here We Go ....

See you in Chicago for #SHRM18 !

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Live From SHRM17 - Day Three

The rain has come to New Orleans and it may be possible to hold #SHRM18 before the end of the week with the amount of HR rock stars who may be stranded in the airport... :(

Day 3 had a very direct theme: Performance Management (and the need to improve upon the process)

Here's What We Know:
1. Annual Reviews are too infrequent
2. Rating by Number does not motivate
3. Suggestions for Behavior Change will drive better performance
4. We need a system to streamline the process in a simple, lightweight fashion
5. This problem is still not solved
















.... And Then Things Got Human ....

My friend Jason Lauritsen knows how to engage a crowd. He enchanted those around the Smart Stage on Tuesday by taking us off the Grid and into a place of Human Interaction.




Simple Fact: Steve Browne is the greatest Human Resource in Human Resources!

We laughed, We Cried, We Vowed to be Troll Hunters!










There are No Easy Answers
I came to SHRM17 with a wish list. I must admit I haven't been dazzled by a system or an organizational strategy. The PEOPLE have, as always, dazzled me!

PEOPLE

Do we reflect upon how lucky we are to be in the people business? Probably not enough.

Do we allow "the stuff" to get between us and the PEOPLE? Yes, we do.

Are people difficult? Is life difficult? Is HR difficult? Yes, Yes & Yes!

With some questions still unanswered, this I do know:

There are more than 20,000 Human Beings in a conference hall who are willing to be better people so the people they represent can grow into better people.

Our hearts get a system upgrade every time someone bold enough holds us obligated to understand our true potential... and that it is lost if we do not share it!

See you tomorrow,

... Kovacovich: Out ... 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Live From SHRM17 - Day Two

It was a wildly informative and highly engaged day here in New Orleans as the Convention Center was buzzing early and stayed open late!

HR Pros had the opportunity to take in speaking engagements from the industry's best and check out the latest in HR Products/Services while rubbing elbows with the World Leaders in Human Resources.

Here are just a few things we learned:

Pay Unfairly
Laszlo Bock has no shortage of Fans in HR and for good reason. He shared his experience growing Google into a People Company as their CPO while adding stories from his personal network.




Yup.... Sometimes you have to smack people in the face with the truth. While HR Pros are consistently fighting for equal pay, when it comes to performance the ground is uneven.

Laszlo Bock suggested that top performers should be getting paid up to 200% more than sub-standard performers. If pay scales do not afford room for continual growth, your all star performers will plateau and ultimately have no choice but to leave.


Don't Kill The Meaning
Ryan Estis is among the most engaging speakers in the HR Profession. Part HR Pro, Part Tech Advocate, All Human Being; Ryan delivered content that was compelling and relevant while relentlessly pulling on our heart strings!




Ryan performed a pretty simple exercise:
Who can remember their companies Core Values?
- Several Volunteered

It is so true. Ask anyone to think back on a past employer and I'm sure they will not remember their stretch goal or the coding sequence for their platform population.... odds are they will remember at least a few of that companies core values.

We need to consistently reinforce the values that formulate our organization's core existence.


 

It is 2017 and there a still HR Professionals who are afraid of Social Media....

Ryan did an excellent job explaining the purpose of the SHRM Blog Squad and the infinite knowledge that awaits HR Pros in the blogosphere.




In addition to a bunch of statistics from the Employee Engagement Network, Bob Kelleher mirrored a simple truth that Ryan Estis touched upon:

If your work life sucks, so will your personal life. If your personal life is great, your work will thrive!

So swings the boomerang of Reciprocity!


You can put systems in place, survey your employees and reward them with all the cash under the sun; but if their spouse is dying they are incapable of engagement.

We've learned that money does not buy engagement.

We know that meaningful work, opportunity for advancement and a thriving workplace culture is what truly engages employees!

A Challenge from Pat Wadors



Pat Wadors is an #HRPitBull who has been tackling the best talent in Silicon Valley since 1986. She has remained relevant through her self-assigned inability to hit neutral. It is no small coincidence that Pat is of the most respected in the HR profession, her courage and intensity speak volumes.

See you all in the Conference Hall tomorrow!

... Kovacovich: Out...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About HR Tech from Vivek Patel

I don’t believe there is a more-progressive suite in the tech space than that of Human Resource related technology. Call it HCM or HRIS or HRIT, so much has happened so fast and there is a technical solution for every employee support function.

The questions can be daunting for an HR Professional seemingly forced to turn IT expert:
  • Cloud or not to Cloud?
  • SSO or SAML?
  • Which system integrates with what?
  • Is there are element of gamification to jazz up the user experience?

Who better to address these questions than the non-partisan Society for Human Resource Management Director of Technical Solutions, Mr. Vivek Patel?

Vivek will be conducting a session for SHRM17 attendees on Sunday (6.18 ) from 8am – 12pm. SHRM17 attendees eager to implement new HR Tech will leave this session ready to tackle the Exhibitor Hall with all the knowledge of a Human Capital Management Maverick.

We caught up with Vivek as he was packing his bags for New Orleans.

1.       Tell us a little bit about the pre-conference workshop you are facilitating? Can anyone attend?
a.       Over the last few years we have heard a lot from our members express their need to understand and participate in their respective organizations’ technology processes – be it the selection of the platform or operationalizing the technology for optimum benefit. This session presents such individuals an opportunity to participate in discussions with their peers and learn from their experience. Aliah Wright and I will share insights and specific information which can aide them in being more involved from a technical perspective to collaboratively work with their technology departments.

2.       How has the relationship between IT & HR evolved? What can HR Pros do to better assist their colleagues in IT?
a.       I have seen this relationship grow stronger and evolve over the last few years. Over the last decade rapid changes in technology have had a huge impact on businesses. Specifically within HR, major adjustments have presented huge demand around flexible work arrangements, fluid leave policies, comprehensive performance reviews etc. HR departments have realized the need to be closely tied with their IT staff in bringing in newer platforms and systems while at the same time getting more technology savvy themselves. In my opinion HR pros should make their IT department part of projects from the very beginning, bring them in early and let them help you fit the needs within the overall technology strategy from an organizational perspective. Also with advent of Cloud, Analytics, Big Data etc., there are huge concerns around privacy and security – having your IT teams as your equal partners may help you avoid some obvious pitfalls.

3.       What trends have you see developing in Human Capital Management software space?
a.       The biggest trend that I see in HCM software (and one that is going to be vital) is the idea of ‘self-service’. The concept of self-service becomes a bit tricky in the field of HR but all software generally is moving towards users managing their own ‘profiles’ and need within the system. I am excited to see how this aspect and demand is balanced within HCM.
b.      The other trend that I am excited to see evolve is the idea of collaboration. With a geographically displaced workforce on the rise and social media bringing a whole new sophistication to ‘collaboration’, I want to see how the HR software evolves to balance this need.

4.       When choosing a vendor, what are the key components HR Pros can use as evaluation criteria?
a.       This would be true for anyone who is evaluating vendors or systems but more so for an HR Pro. While other technology selections and vendor relationships mostly deal with business processes, HR related vendors/technologies deal with actual ‘people’ within an organization. Some key things to keep in mind while evaluating vendors would be:
                                                               i.      Integration – how will the new system interact and integrate with your existing technology?
                                                             ii.      Consolidation – if the goal is to consolidate systems and/or processes how well does the new system achieve that goal?
                                                            iii.      Automation – how far does the new system go in terms of eliminating manual work?
                                                           iv.      Security – is the new system secure from a data privacy and privilege perspective?
                                                             v.      Data – this is one is of the utmost importance! Do you own all your data that you will ‘upload’ into the system? How flexible is the system in letting you pull your data out of it on-demand? This is often overlooked and a major ‘money drain’ once the system is in operation.

5.       Any advice for HR Pros courting new vendors at SHRM17?
a.       I would suggest 2 things
                                                               i.      Do your MoSCoW matrix – in others words prioritize your base requirements. To the extent possible, know things/features that are critical ‘Must Haves’ vs. features that you ‘Should Have’. Additionally, there are features that are desirable and ‘Could Have’ and things that you are willing to live without and ‘Wont Have’. This will help you not to chase every shiny new thing out there
                                                             ii.      Also if possible, have a discussion with your IT teams to understand the current systems landscape within your organization. This will help you ask intelligent questions of the vendors in terms of system integration, automation etc.

I feel better already!

Check out Vivek Patel’s Preconference Workshop:


Can’t attend this session? Need help evaluating your next HC Tech upgrade or installation? Feel free to submit your questions for Vivek in the comments section.

See you in New Orleans!

Dave Kovacovich