Thursday, December 31, 2009

What We Learned in 2009

Dear Readers -
Thank you all for supporting this blog in 2009.

There has been so much to fret over in the last 365 days:
* Economy in the worst state of decline since the great depression
* Jobless rate @ 10%+
* H1N1 paranoia
* War
* Misallocation of tax payer funding
* Scandal; everywhere there is scandal

At the inception of 2009, we knew the worst was to come: We worked harder, got more creative, spent less and became more educated in our decision making. So, how can we use the disaster in the rear view mirror to learn and grow?

Be Informed
For far too long we used pre-supposed discovery methods to formulate organizational strategies.
a. The CEO solely decides the direction of the company
b. Let's present a survey to our employees.

These methods, while strategic in their predictability are broken. A man or women in an ivory tower can predict the financial well being of the company and keep pay checks coming but strategy is ever evolving and no single person can track development in the trenches on a day-to-day basis. Surveys are often administered to say 'we asked and only 10% responded, they all said the same thing' - this is called Lip Service and it is the primary failing element of entitlement as a means of people management.

Engage your workforce by empowering line managers. Take the regulatory checklist out of the job description and allow your leaders to lead. No politics, no policy - Trust and Empowerment!

Be Creative
"In 2009, I worked twice as hard with half the results" - the salespersons creed of the last year.

Dear Readers, you can walk into a wall or fun into it.....remember what Einstein said, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".

Those who succeed saw a tiny door in dead ends and escaped through it by:
* Forming informal partnerships
* Developing new approaches
* Leading with Methodology; not products
* Inviting a Mentorship from an objective third party
* Finding additional skill enhancement through social media

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy
If you are uncomfortable with the canned phrasing, call it something else. But know this, if you do not understand the larger intent of your business practices you are a replaceable paper pusher. Every action within your job description needs to be a spoke in a strategic wheel. What does filling out that form mean to arming you with additional skills for evolving you as a professional and elevating the organizational cause? Search your mind, white board it....if you come up with no answers, you have two choices:
* Stop doing it!
* Make something up!

My advice to you is simple. Every day in 2010, take one minute at day's end to assess how your incremental tasks are pertinent to the Organizational Mission. At the conclusion of this daily assessment further your strategy by doing the following:
* STOP DOING NEEDLESS TASKS...and be willing to explain why.
* DEVELOP A STRATEGY...that brings greater relevance to every task you perform.

We are alive & it cannot get any worse! Knowing this, why not step away from what is comfortable, get some balls and try new things!

" bold and mighty forces will come to your aid..."
- Frances McDormand from the decade's best motion picture Almost Famous

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Decade of Music

Friends -
The first 10 years of the Century sure did bring us some amazing music. For those naysayers who still believe 'they don't make them like they used to'.....make them a mix tape including a song from the following:

1. We Are All Beautiful People by For Stars
2. A Grand Don’t Come for Free by The Streets
3. Songs for Silverman by Ben Folds
4. Reunion Tour by The Weakerthans
5. Welcome Interstate Managers by Fountains of Wayne
6. Putting the Days to Bed by The Long Winters
7. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco
8. Tallassee by The Mountain Goats
9. The Con by Tegan and Sara
10. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning by Bright Eyes
11. The Beginning Stages of The Polyphonic Spree
12. Boys and Girls is America by The Hold Steady
13. Old Ramon by Red House Painters
14. Return to Cookie Mountain by TV on the Radio
15. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver
16. Come On Feel The Illinoise By Sufjan Stevens
17. Give Up by The Postal Service
18. Our Endless Numbered Days by Iron & Wine
19. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips
20. () by Sigur Ros

Thank You for Listening!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2009 - The Year in Music

Friends -

We often hearken back to old favorites when we want to hear great music. But, did you know that there is a slew of awesomeness being created across the musical landscape as we speak. Yes, 2009 was a great year for the creation of music.

My friend Laurie hates lists. But like the crew at All Songs Considered, I cannot help but display my favorite records of 2009:

(Drum roll....)

1. Vs. Children by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
2. Aim and Ignite by fun.
3. Sainthood by Tegan and Sara
4. I & Love & You by The Avett Brothers
5. Summer of Fear by Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
6. Hospice by The Antlers
7. The First Days of Spring by Noah and the Whale
8. Keep in Mind Frankenstein by Grand Archives
9. Ben Folds presents University A Cappella
10. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix
11. To Willie by Phosphorescent
12. Ocean Eyes by Owl City
13. Eskimo Snow by Why?
14. Yours Truly, The Commuter by Jason Lytle
15. Dear John by Loney, Dear
16. The Life of the World to Come by The Mountain Goats
17. Far by Regina Spektor
18. One Fast Move or I’m Gone Benjamin Gibbard & Jay Farrar
19. Grrr… by Bishop Allen
20. Middle Cyclone by Neko Case

Thank you for Listening!



Monday, December 21, 2009

Best of 2009

Well Friends -
2009 has been a rough year. In times of struggle the arts and related outlets become of paramount importance. For years, I have been posting my Top 5 Albums of the Year....In response to a dear friend's request to write something 'people actually care about' here's a low down on everything cool and not-so-cool from 2009.

1. Vs. Children by Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
2. Aim and Ignite by fun.
3. Sainthood by Tegan & Sara
4. I and Love and You by The Avett Brothers
5. Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella

Best Film:
(500) Days of Summer

Best TV Series:

Best Book:
Who's Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi -

Best Publication:
Inc Magazine -

Best Value Product:
Tabasco Sauce

HR Person of the Year:
Laurie Ruettimann -

Mom of the Year:
Valerie Ann Cabrera-Kovacovich -

Funniest People:
Sarah Silverman -
Zach Galifianakis -

Best Trend of 2009:

Sportsperson of the Year:
Melaine Oudin -

Best Political Movement:
Appreciating the President -

Best Blog:
This One

Person of the Year:
Blake MyCoskie -

Best Militant Protest Group:

WORST OF 2009:

Worst Trend:
Advice on Parenting

Worst Parenting Trend:

Worst Person:
Richard Heene

'Thank You' for a successful year. I hope this Blog may have provided an escape for you!

Here's To 2010!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave

References: listed herein

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the Elevator

In these trying times, companies are making adjustments to maximize output. As such, some people are losing their jobs while others are afforded greater opportunities.

For those of you who have found yourself a promotion (for better or for worse) in the 'more with less' era, here are a few tips:
* Lead By Example
* Don't try to be a Sheriff without earning the Badge
* Listen, Empathize and Redirect
* Let them know it will be OK
* Be Confident

I have too commonly seen people who excel as individual contributors miscast as Leaders. Traditionally, they fall back on force fed (proven..?) management structure to implement systems of efficiency and micro-mange to a process. Most commonly, the once teammate turned corporate 'yes (wo)man' loses the respect of his or her team and thus is unable to make an impact. It is better to get creative, try something new that is not transparent in the intent to be 'new for the sake of new', and to be able to differentiate the intent.

You do not need to prove yourself! Your team worked at your same level yesterday, was passed up for the promotion and now begrudgingly report to you. If you assume a 'new sheriff in town' style of management; your transparency will back you into a corner....and the 'told you so' ropes will be your only escape.

While you cannot please everyone on your team, pleasing members of management will be even more difficult. You are stepping into a world of advice....many of those advising have been in the position for many years (and that's not a good thing). Accept advice, take a few points from each uncommissioned advisor and appeal to nobler motives.

Go Outside: Now more than ever, you can learn how to be a manager in one day through the Internet. Fresh Ideas with Applicable Intent are the easily accessible toolbox for success to any new leader. Social networking tools, case studies and a plethora of books are at your disposal. Understand the format of ideas in every philosophy, apply them to your organizational cause and empower your team to perform through trusted fueled education.

Introducing the Middle 80. In every organization there will be 10% of people who love every concept you (or anyone else) throw their way. In contrast, there will be 10% of the people who never had the opportunity you do, now hate their job and work against all new organizational directives (in this case: you). The group of influence is the 80% in between that can go either way based on your approach, your ability to convey it and the empowerment to follow it.

The Middle 80 Hierarchy of Needs:
1. Stay Employed
2. Perform without Someone looking over your shoulder
3. Achieve Results
4. Develop a Path
5. Live a Bigger Organizational Intent

People mostly want some levity in their process, a cause they can believe in and some light at the end of the tunnel. Lead Accordingly.

All eyes will be on you. There is a reason why there are 10 people on the diamond and 60,000 in the stands. It is much easier to sit back with arms crossed and judge than to step forward and lead. You are in your position because you are of a high skill set, are level headed in your approach and strategic in your business management style. Lead Accordingly.

Take advice, be firm when data does not support emotion, but more than anything: Create Your Leadership Persona based on a genuinely motivated intent......if you don't have to fake it you don't have to remember who to be.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Danger of Framed Language

In stand up comedy there is a technique called a segway - a phrase to transition from one topic to another. Segways are a huge part of personal and professional interaction as well. Segways in professional conversation are an art form and those who execute them well have the ability to provoke immediate trust through capability display. This is certainly a difficult skill set to master but my challenge to the readers of this blog is to eliminate framed language.

New Year's Resolution: Eliminate the following phrases from your Personal and Professional conversation:
* ...It is what it is
* At the end of the day...
*...throw him/her under the bus
* But...

When you throw pre-supposed, under thought, catch phrases into your conversation your audience immediately glazes over. The aforementioned phrases prevent the maximum impact of your message. Be authentic, be relevant, use language that is pertinent to each phrase in which you are living.

It is commonplace for us to frame an insult with a back handed compliment:
"That is was a really great point, but...."
- You just crushed all positive intent in your statement

Try: "That is a great point and it might further benefit you to...."

I struggle every day with these principles of conversation. I pause for 15 seconds at time trying not to mutter phrases that have been embedded in my psyche for years. We know when people are pre-programmed in their language and as smooth as their message may flow too many framed segway determine one certainty: this person is full of shit!

Try to eliminate catch phrases from your conversation with your friends and significant others....use a pause if necessary. Sooner or later you will find that the pre-supposed segways you lean on do not compliment the flow of your conversation but rather distract it.

Push yourself to be more authentic in your conversation and it will serve to benefit your life approach. If we try harder in our communication, the human barriers will break down and we will open ourselves to others with Genuine Intent.

Unzip Your Soul!

- Dave


Friday, December 4, 2009

The Unseen Divide

It's 5:00 - punch out and run to the bar, gym or to your daughter's recital. Take off your tie, untie your boots and put the day behind you. Work for the weekend, TGIF, work to live.

The paradigm between ones personality and the work he or she does has often been more like a great divide. The phrase "work hard, play hard" is often used to explain a way to make money through vigorous effort and then to use a similar motivation to blow it all on the fruits of the night. Essentially, when you have hit the peak of your motivation go out and knock yourself down several pegs so you can spend Monday and Tuesday rebuilding your confidence. We wouldn't want you to get too focused and apply your energy directly.

These days we spend less time in an office, yet our hours of work are extended...9 to 5 is certainly a thing of the past while a mid day motivational recharge has become essential.

My Continued Proposal: Use the Energy Behind that which you Love to Motivate you at Work!

No more dividing your hobbies and interests from professional task management and careers; they do not have to be separate.

People love you at the Happy Hour because you are honest in your direction, supportive of others aspirations and expressive in your motivational intent. Why are you less honest, supportive or verbose when the loud mouth soup is no longer in your hand.

You dedicate yourself to your favorite sport of rowing. Out on the water every Saturday morning displaying leadership, courage and teamwork. Yet on Monday, your hand sits at your side when project volunteers are requested.

The Violin is the key to your soul; your outlet.....why can't symphony be part of your professional development....why must you escape to it?

We do not have to live this way!!! Love what you do and you will thrive every day!!!!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Never Stop Working

Generations X & Y have been characterized and often criticized for redefining the scope of the Global Business World. In the dawn of the 90's, suits turned to jeans and casual sweaters, punching the clock turned to lap top logging and cutting out of the office for a lunch time martini turned to cutting out for a mid-day work out.....oh, and smoking in the office is pretty much foe paw everywhere.

The one thing more mature generations cling to is a tireless work ethic and motivation without benefits. "In my day....", is a term that was heard by every Thanksgiving fire from Granddad's and Gramma's alike. There was a time when people walked to the office uphill both ways in the snow, punched a clock without breaks, wore uniforms and were not permitted to leave said office until their checklist was complete.

At some point, working hard was replaced with working smart. But in these seemingly unending times of economic challenge the new buzz phrase is "more with less". Strangely enough, a new generation of workers seems to be accepting the challenges of the modern economy not by reverting to presupposed professionalism but by simply working hard. No longer does looking busy seem to be popular so much as holing up in one's apartment over a lap top until the project is complete.

Technology has created three distinctions:
* Endless virtual office hours
* Comfort of work environment
* A free landscape for mind expanding idea generation

This Holiday Season, when your grandfather mutters under his breath as you walk in with full Bon Iver beard, pose three questions to him:
1. Did you ever work a 20 hour day?
2. Was that suit comfortable?
3. How many of your 10,950 days at Widgets Inc did you actually enjoy?

After which he will tell you to pound and send you off for another pint of Old Grandad.

Sure, the Holidays would be no fun without stories of the old glory days. But let's agree on a few points:
* True motivation has nothing to do with ones wardrobe
* Long hours seem shorter when you are genuinely engaged in your organizational cause
* Grandpa and Gramma Rule!

Happy Holidays!

- Dave


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Redefining Innovation

i-phones, touch screens, the latest in social networking tools, handheld personal identifiers. What comes next and how do we keep up? How can we gain knowledge to endure, adapt and stay on the cutting edge...?

It is a simple fact that we all enjoy knowing things others don't. So the quest to have the new thing before anyone else and the empowerment of fresh product knowledge has come to define innovation. I, however, define innovation with a fresh perspective and a meaningful way of sharing it. It really is not contingent on a widget so much as a perspective.

How fresh is your perspective?

A few things to ponder:
* People are more important than products
* A widget means nothing if you fail to understand it's differentiating capacity
* To find new perspectives one must stretch his/her mind beyond systematic function

So here are a few tips that might help gain a fresh perspective:

* Conceptualize a new idea and gather input from others to better qualify your vision

* Speak to people in a humanly empathetic manner

* Be Nice

7 Steps to Innovation Sensation:
1. Think of something new; every day
2. Ask people what they think about it
3. Formulate a Vision
4. Be Empathetic in your Communication
5. Be Nice
6. Learn
7. Start Over Tomorrow

* Note: There is no device, machine, copy write or certification that is perfectly necessary to achieve the aforementioned.

Might it be said that innovation is not so much about moving forward with blinders on but finding new ways to engage this case the cutting edge (or long forgotten) methodology of being friendly in your human interactions.

Go now and change the world by making it a better place!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Friday, November 20, 2009

The Bridge - Personal Branding & Company Loyalty

I attended a seminar yesterday that introduced Social Media to a group of HR Professionals. I must admit, most were skeptical.
The concerns:
* Lack of Policy Compliance
* Fear of Navigating HR Guidelines
* Misunderstanding of Brand Development vs. Tarnishment

In short, why would we open this can of worms? Many attendees were over 40 and served in administrative roles. They were there to understand how to regulate Social Media participation.

Guess What? There is no such thing as Social Media Compliance!

If you want to manage INDIVIDUALS that work for your organization only one thing matters:


As personal brands rival company loyalty, your company can be elevated or tarnished based on your approach to Social Media.

Choice 1: Try to regulate and watch your brand fizzle...

Choice 2: Empower and Escalate Company Loyalty!

Rules and Regulations are easy. Draw a line in the sand and allow no one to cross without a demerit. That time is gone. Organizations now have to invest in their people beyond standards, best practices, rules and regulations.

Yes. The time has come to take down your guard and truly invest in HUMAN RESOURCES.

Here's a few ideas to build the trust tree:
* Allow Social Media to be part of your work day in promotion of your organizational initiatives.
* Formulate an empowering Social Media Strategy not Social Media Standards

I know it seems impossible to put your company name in the hands of the people who work for you but it has been happening as long as you have existed. If people love your company they wear your logo to stadiums on Saturday, speak your name at Mom's Groups and promote your cause in their every human interaction.

Take away the trust and your company brand will be disparaged on bar stools across the land, in social media networks where one comment can reach 600,000 people globally in a second, at trade shows and industry events.

Is your Alumni Club a Group of Advocates or an Army of Detractors?

Second Most Popular Question in any Social Interaction:
What do you do? (professionally)

Trust is the bridge from Personal Branding to Company Loyalty!

Formulate a strategy for human empowerment and watch your company grow!

Unzip Your Soul!



Monday, November 16, 2009

Inventing Your Method

Rules, Objectives, Goals, Quotas, much say do you have in that which serves as your daily motivation?

Wouldn't it be great if you made the rules?

We all have to work within certain parameters. There are rules of engagement and mundane tasks along the way. However, there is one thing we are in charge of OUR METHOD!

Your attitude and perception formulate your METHOD:

* If you wake up side tracked by what tasks await you when you fire up your lap top - your day will suck.

* If you know when you hit the office that you are going to be forced to do things you don't want to - your day will suck.

* If you let little disruptions side track your motivation - your day will suck.

On the Contrary:

- If you wake up, pump out a few push ups, look yourself in the mirror and say: "Today is the Day" - your day is within your control (yes, this works).

- If you fill your mind with thoughts of what you can achieve today when you are prepping - you will race out the door.

- If you take the elements of what you love most and find a way to apply them to your job - you will move through the day with greater intent.

It all sounds hokey and it is easy to be pessimistic. But the other way works better. You don't have to be a cheese ball to have a great attitude and once you embrace that you never stop moving forward.

Think about it.....

When you change lanes to get through traffic how much time do you really save?

When you yell at the Barista because she got your order wrong do you feel bad about it when you exit?

When you shoot a seething email to your support team and read it back later, do you wish you would have worded it differently?

Anyone can be an asshole! It is exceedingly difficult to find the positive in things, embrace it and use it as fuel to help others....but once you get it right, you want to do it again and again.

I make a living of helping people and there are days when I hate everyone. But, I have to remind myself that we all need to help one another to get through our struggles, endure and succeed:
- Yes, it is very hard.
- No, we do not often receive thanks for our efforts.
- But, if you understand you have done the right thing it makes everything easier.

Tomorrow, wake up with determination: Do a few push ups, talk to yourself in the mirror, develop ideas for improvement as your first thoughts, dress sharply, move out the door with determination and try to be positive in all your human transactions.

If you can do it for ONE DAY, you can do it for the Rest Of Your Life!

Invent YOUR Method!

Unzip Your Soul,

- Dave


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Navigating the +/- tightrope

We recently had a forum discussion regarding the similarities between Love and Hate. We did not find either extreme of the emotional tightrope but one glaring fact became obvious:

We become defensive when that which we do not possess becomes evident to us

It's pretty simple, really: We work hard, develop knowledge and apply it for the sake of elevating ourselves professionally. So, you put in 60 hours, developed a great new program and presented it to Senior Management....only to receive a plethora of ideas for enhancement and a fair share of criticism.

What do those in the ivory tower know that you don't and when was the last time they did something to better the company?

Your answer to the aforementioned question falls into two distinct categories:

1. There are those who are resistant to change because they have no new ideas

2. There are those who know how to get an idea adopted and are genuinely interested in helping channel your motivation.

How do you know who to trust in such a situation?

Welcome to the +/- tightrope

The Great Dale Carnegie told us: "Remember that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment"! What a difficult idea to adopt. How can you tell me that those who wish to destroy me are actually looking out for me.....the only real answer that matters is your perception of this feedback and how you use it.

So we've put our time in, generated new ideas and have the data to prove our case. Yet we are challenged.....our first reaction is always a warm feeling in the head - pulsating until it is released with an angry you've just put yourself in the shoes of the naysayer instead of the change agent.

Here are a few tips for keeping your footing on the +/- tightrope:

* Accept criticism with two words: "Thank You"

* Take a second to digest feedback before you react.

* Know that anyone who offers illegitimate feedback has been identified as an asshole long before you would call them one.

* Like Dale Carnegie said - "Remember that unjust criticism is often a disguised compliment".

* Gather in all your gum balls - chew on them for a while - and spit out those that don't taste right.

Unzip Your Soul!

- Dave


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Eliminate Self Imposed Bravado

In a recent interview I indicated that I had vowed to keep my mouth shut during the first year of my employment at my new company:

The host was pleasantly enthused but sighted the need of many professionals to establish themselves within the first 90 days of their employment.

I have two observations from my time in silence that may dispel one's need to knock the door down on their first day:
1. The unapologetic self promoters seem to instantly rub most people the wrong way.
2. Without proven results your musings of the past are nothing more than 'glory day' stories.

I would never encourage one to be a recluse or to keep themselves from engaging in organizational directives. What I am suggesting, however, is that you let your results speak for themselves without touting your achievements.

People admire a person who is humble in their success!

If you are always bragging about your success...when the results dip (and they will) you will turn your bravado into excuses and will be an intolerable person to be around.

I was a voluntary leader in my former organization. I consistently threw my hand up to speak on behalf of the team, I challenged Senior Management and I thought I was admired for doing so...I was not! In fact, there may have been a lot more heads shaking than nodding when I got up on my apple box to preach the team's discontent.

Let's Cut the Crap:
It is insecurity (not confidence) that causes one to think he or she needs to prove themselves to others.
* In allowing yourself to be vulnerable you will open your network to a team of admirers.

Who are you more willing to help:
Someone who asks a question and then retorts that they 'already tried that'...
Someone who genuinely appreciates your advice and applies it!

Dear Readers,
It is imperative that we get to a point of eliminating our bravado. You do not need to prove yourself beyond the results you produce in your daily conquering of your workload.
- If you excel and tout your achievements you cheapen your victories.
- If you fail and try to make up for it with office politics...the crack in the dam opens the flood gates to unemployment.

All of the lessons I am conveying in the UNZIP YOUR SOUL blogcast are a result of my own failures. I urge you to learn from them, try something different and let me know how it works out for you. I do not want you to have to pretend to be a success as I thought I did.


- Dave


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Know Who You DON'T Want to Be....

In the first three chapters of this Blog Series I have asked you to do some self analysis, discover your true motivation and submerge yourself in a divine professional purpose. A critical step is finding out who you want to be when you grow up is first understanding who you DON'T want to be.

Eliminate the Self Imposed Bravado of Professional Politics !

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Are there tasks in my workload that will cause my to act out of character?
2. What personal strain will I face without a higher professional purpose?
3. How can I interpret the tasks I have been given to better MY genuine professional intent?

When you have the answer to the above mentioned questions it is vital to consider the following before acting:

1. Consider your audience
2. Redirect in a pro-active, non-confrontational way
3. Have a suggestion for something better, the business critical data to back it up and a genuine conviction to execute YOUR plan

Dear Reader,
I speak with the anguish and regret of self-imposed professional detriment when I tell you: Fighting the power worked for Chuck D. and Flava Flav, but I assure you it will not work in the workplace. The way to change the course of your organizational directives is by having a more innovative plan, easing it into existence and making sure to promote it in congress with leadership.


Corporate Directive: Producing Revenue
Task: Cold Calling
Intent: More meetings = more revenue
Your Malcontent: "I hate cold calling"

Personal Re-directive: Producing Revenue
Task: Prospecting via Email and Social Networking Tools
Intent: Meaningful connections take time to develop. Put credibility first through well fashioned emails, blog entries and forum participation.
Your Contentment: Rock your I-pod while on your lap top, avoid awkward conversation and book meaningful appointments

See how easy that was!

* Every company has to produce revenue to survive...simple fact.
* Your boss has directives just like you...simple fact.
* He/she will use metrics that have assisted the company's best performers in the past with which you might not identity.
* If you can RE-DIRECT the process while still producing results, I assure you all will be cool at the local Circle K!


1. You can make the worst job great by recreating a process to meet YOUR skill set!

2. You can make the best job shitty by allowing self-imposed stress to stray your motivation to the disingenuous!

3. Many times we think we hate our company because we misinterpret rules 1 & 2!

Disclaimer: You do not have to be self-centered to know what you want out of your profession!

Unzip Your Soul,


Friday, October 23, 2009


In chapters 1 & 2 we examined the often misguided intent of many organizations and encouraged you to find a more personal professional purpose. Now it's time to put the dream into action.

Here's what we know:
1. That which you have been force fed as corporate leadership may just be pandering for middle management preservation
2. The things you love outside of work can be that which propels you professionally

Now what.....?
What do you think about when you wake up each day?
- Was that my Blackberry I heard buzzing at 4am?
- When I trudge into the office today what disaster will be awaiting me?
- Is it Friday Happy Hour yet?

If this is the way you feel you have two choices:
1. Quit your job
2. Find a way to redefine your goals within the context of your current job description

The first option is a last resort. Let's try to find a way to make Chicken Salad out of what may currently be perceived as Chicken Shit!

Disclaimer - Any job can be really great or really bad based on the following:
1. Love for your Boss
2. Identification with Senior Management
3. Your Belief in the Company Vision (and it's relevance in your day to day job)
4. The Scalability of Your Job Description

If you have the mutual respect of your boss, understand organizational metrics for success, believe the company vision elevates a higher purpose and have some wiggle room in your ability to apply solutions to needs; then proceed to stage 2.


Our Suspect:
Jim loves skateboarding. He is 35 years old but he still enjoys bombing hills, ripping back kick flips out of the skatepark bowl and hitting the occasional 6 step handrail.

The problem:
Jim has kids, a car and a mortgage to pay for and the Bones Brigade have taken all the well paying corporate action sports jobs.

What is the energy behind skateboarding that makes Jim love it:
* Physical exercise
* Creativity
* Rebellious nature (unapologetic innovation)
* The wind is his hair (free spirit)

Dream Job:
Action and Adventure Corporate Team Building

See how easy that it's your turn.

Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What do I love most in the world?
2. What is the energy behind that which I love?
3. How can I apply it to my professional life?
4. What job title best fits that which I love most and what applicable skills do I have?
5. Which company is in line with the aforementioned and who do I know there?
7. What education, certification or job experience do I need to redefine my career path?
8. How long will a career overhaul take?
Apply the following principles:
9. Create a long term strategic game plan and remind yourself of it weekly!
10. Remind yourself of your dream job; every day!
11. Ask yourself: Do I have the balls to be genuinely happy??? or do I relish my misery???

Guess what? You just Unzipped Your Soul - the rest is a matter of intent driven action.

" bold and mighty forces will come to your aid..."
- Frances McDormand (from Almost Famous)

- Dave


Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The formula is simple:
That which interets you outside of work > can motivate you at work > and will drive a professional passion that will enhance your career and personal life:

***Thus, creating a non-distinct synergy between your personal and professional passion that will help you LIVE WORK!

It started with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and evolved into the World at Work Compensation model.....I now challenge you to take it a step further.

It is time for some personal exploration:
What do you love?
Why do you love it?
How can you apply that passion to your professional life?

I had spent ten years of my life climbing the corporate ladder. At a certain point, two things became glaringly obvious:
1. Everything I did was to fulfill the expectations of others
2. There was no light at the end of the tunnel

In my personal exploration, I asked myself the above mentioned questions and decided that I needed to stop living for others because my bravado was consistently causing me to act out of character. I also realized that I was intolerable to be around because the personal blockades I had erected were causing me to deflect blame for my lack of success. I bitched and did disingenuous work and put another check on this list and asked for more responsibility and bitched some more when given what I asked for.....a shameful and meaningless existence; created by me...the emptiness of misdirection sharply condemned with contempt for reality. At a certain point, I realized I was living a distinctly different life at work than at home. Exciting and Interesting on the barroom floor - intolerable and inauthentic in the cubicle.

It was amazingly difficult for me to come to this self-realization. To give up on the company I spent most of my young career in complete loyalty to, to re-direct my motivation, to channel my competitive nature in a collaborative manner and to realize that people I thought I hated were right about me.

So now, I present this challenge to you. It is time to figure out who you want to be and go be it.

I can suggest the following in your search for your Genuine Intent:
* Be willing to accept that you might not have the perfect job
* Assess what you really want out of life and how the work you are doing relates to that
* Be willing to redefine your job description
* Find a way to make YOUR goals your driving motivation
* Be genuine in your expectations of yourself
* Above all, be what you want and how you pursue it

You can have your cake and eat it fact, there is no other way to live!

Unzip Your Soul

- Dave

How are you progressing -

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Are you a different person at work?
Do you feel pressure to fulfill expectations that cause you to act out of character?
Is your professional purpose driven by genuine intent?


The Theory of Misunderstood Business Intent: process = production = revenue = increased stock = improved lifestyle

Anyone with 1,200 hours of free time can pick up an MBA and build a business based on metrics....

Question: Did you start your own business based on a cause you believe in...or were you just sick of making money for someone else..?


Business growth through production driven revenue is a far too simple concept. Without passion behind your vision the entrepreneurial dream becomes slow moving, distorted machine.

Two Things Matter In Business:
* Genuine Intent
* People Who Are Passionate To Make That Intent Reality!

I will again reiterate: Human Compassion is not only relevant to business productivity, it is essential! We need to get to a point where we understand that our interests outside of work fuel our passion at work and can be the intent that makes us professionally relevant.

You do not have to be selfish to understand YOUR personal mission within the format of your job description. We have seen the decline of the economic foundation of our country and there is a blurry fault line. This is, nonetheless, an opportunity to question what was and to have evidence to support a case for change.

* an opportunity to help those in need
* an opportunity to challenge the system
* an opportunity to redefine our motivation
.........THE TIME IS NOW!

NO MORE....managing to the number without care for people!
NO MORE....action for the sake of action!
NO process without intent!
NO MORE....disingenuous business pandering!
NO MORE....middle management indecision!

The Mission Statement and Core Values are coming off the wall and will be alive in our hallways...We will walk away from work with them in our heart and LIVE OUR GENUINE INTENT!


- Dave

Support the Mission:

Monday, October 5, 2009


Professional advancement often comes by way of personal reflection. So a few years back I did some soul searching hoping the redefine my professional intent. I came to author the following mission statement:

It’s been a myth for far too long that the professional accolades we seek should be of a separate energy from our personal interests. It is supposed that if companies manage by numbers, managers implement systems of efficiency and stocks grow…business will prosper. But, we have come to a point in business where big ideas drive innovation and the race for the prize has never been more competitive. It is no longer enough to follow a model and track presumed success accordingly. The inspiration to excel is driven by our passion and our passion can only be revealed if we are truly honest in our pursuit of success. No more punching a clock, looking over your shoulder and doing just enough to keep from getting fired……..It’s Time to Unzip Your Soul!

So dear reader, I invite you to join me for another 10 week blog series. This time around it is incumbent upon you to ask yourself - "who do I want to be when I grow up"....I hope I can help you figure it out.

Open your heart and mind, put away your baggage, unzip your soul.

Don't Forget to Remember -

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 10


We all know that taking care of our employees is of the utmost importance. Through the recent economic downturn, companies seem to have kept focus on that. While we are tasked with doing more with less those who have accepted the challenge of multi-hat business contribution are seeing rewards now that our collective heads are above water.

Oprah sent her employees on a million dollar cruise, but this seems to be an exception to the rule in 2009. In fact, a recurring trend has developed in our time of economic conservation:

Businesses have become humble in their success
- Rolex's are being replaced with Live Strong wristbands
- Mercedes are parked to jump into fuel efficient vehicles
- Dynamic office structures are being downsized to conserve energy

Less expendable capital has made businesses more aware of their expenses and thus more aware of the world around them:
- Green initiatives save the environment and a significant amount of money
- Community service raises awareness and re-directs emerging profits
- Safety initiatives are now a measure of dedicated process efficiency, instead of a banner on the wall; with the genuine intent of saving lives

We have seen the misfortune of the last few years and we understand that we do not need what we thought we did

So how does this effect the way we reward our work force:
* Professional intent is guided by larger 'time off' is less important
* Bonuses are willingly delegated to charity
* Simple mementos mean more than the flaunting of professional dominance

Dale Carnegie's 2nd Rule for Becoming a Friendlier Person is:
Give Honest, Sincere Appreciation
* The operative words being Honest & Sincere
- This means: know your audience and reward accordingly!

It is not the value of the gift that matters but the effort put forth to achieve it & the intent behind rewarding it!

So allow me to wrap a beautiful bow around this blog series:
* Appreciate Early and Often
* Deliver a Meaningful and Heartfelt presentation to award winners
* Allow a Diversity of Reward Options
* Present an Equal Opportunity for Recognition
* Globalize Your Recognition Strategy
* It is better to personally invest in your people than to throw money at them

People are accepting what they have and maximizing it!

We are getting back to work with genuine intent...For the first time in a while we are invested in our company mission, living our core values, and putting our own profit aside to help turn this thing around.....TOGETHER!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Saturday, September 19, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 9


Corporate America sure does get it's fair share of press when unethical practices come to light. What is seldom reported are the extraordinary efforts companies are making to improve the world we live in.

Community Service

Green Initiatives

Safety Administration, Control and Recognition

Responsible Business Globalization

What do these elements of corporate responsibility have in effort to save lives.

Every organization has it's charity of choice:
Michael C Fina supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
The California Highway Patrol supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Safeway supports City of Hope

People are often content to live their lives outside of charitable causes...until something effects them directly and they can no longer sit back and let others experience their pain. So, on Saturdays in late summer, we gather to walk for multiple charitable causes: our tennis shoes pounding the pavement some times for 3 days and several miles, on other days a few laps around the Capitol Building. We take off our ties, put on themed t-shirts and open our hearts and minds together.

A funny thing happens when we leave the office to remember a company founder or a co-workers wife....the mundane details of office politics vanish. That person who under performs from time to time might help you understand why. The Unflappable Corporate Leader may just let her guard down. The human side of professionalism comes to light and it shines bright.

My contention is that when we leave the cubicle battle field for a softball game, a post work beer or a walk to cure cancer....we grow toward a larger understanding of one another. An understanding that is greater than the frustration of a report that was developed in an untimely manner. Thus, validating this Blog Series' original premise:


Professionals are printing less paper, co-workers are protecting one another from harm and occasionally we allow ourselves to cry together!

We can strategize together, squeeze more out of our budgets and promote dynamic new product launches...but if we genuinely know one another our ability to cut through the minutia and get to the genuine elements of success is expedited.

In Employee Recognition we often put a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
* Raffle Prize at a Diversity Training

* Points for attending a Charity Function

* All Hands Party for a Year of Safe Work

The prizes will draw them in...winning a door prize is always great...but the experience is what has a lasting effect. In truth, Rewarding participation in Corporate Responsibility can be a catalyst for improving peoples lives. If the prize is an excuse to improve lives, I would guess it would be the ultimate investment.

Don't Forget to Remember

- Dave



Friday, September 11, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 8


Employee appreciation has been the recurring theme of this Blog Series....the premise: Great People Make Great Companies!


There are a few ways you can win business:
* Cost Savings
* Better Widgets
* Trusting Relationships

"...Anyone can drop prices or improve product quality...trusting relationships are irreplaceable..."

Consultants and courses can help your staff improve human relation skills, well formulated efficiency metrics can improve customer service, but remember this:


In this Blog Series we have driven a primary principle: creating a corporate culture of appreciation means helping your employees discover their Genuine Intent.

...the same can be said for your customers.

So, build relationships with your customers as you would your employees:
1. Be a Trusted Business Advisor
2. Take Accountability
3. Be Proactive
4. Extend Relationships beyond the Transactional


2009 has been a tough year. Customers have left long term partners for the wrong reasons, trusted business foundations have shut their doors and community icons have been let go!

At the conclusion of this year a subtle 'Thank You' is in order.

Here are few nice mementos you can extend to those who have stuck with you through the economic downturn:
1. Gift Card and a Hand Written Note
2. Expression Gift
3. Discount

* Thanks for your business, here's a treat - I know what you are saying, what would $100 gift card mean to someone who spent 100,000 on our services. Answer: A LOT! The smallest tokens of appreciation can be the most meaningful when presented properly. Buy a program administrator a gift card that accesses a variety of gifts and deliver it personally with a hand written a 'thank you' card....use a few specific personal and business relevant examples.

* An engraved memento - a lamp with your company's logo would come off as shameless promotion. But, a nice engraved writing pen, for professional use, can sometimes be a nice touch.

* In appreciation of your business...January shipping is waived - managing cost is critical, especially at the end of the year. Give yourself some wiggle room at the inception of 2010 and cut your Super Star Customers a break.

Every great business has key customers that make their business great...what if every customer made your business great...?

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Questions -

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 7


Some organizations call them SPOT awards because they recognize business critical contributions 'on the spot'.

These programs are generally intended as a fun way to start some buzz around the office.

The fundamental dysfunction with SPOT awards:
* Recognizing random events without a defendable process or direct intent does not formulate a strategic approach to recognizing contributions in a consistent manner!

- Some people achieve as a daily mission but if they happen to be in the bathroom when the CEO walks the halls they are SOL when the SPOT awards are passed out.

- In contrast to the aforementioned, there are those who are very good at acting productive when they hear the CEO's heels in the halls (we call them suck ups).

It is tough to defend a program that randomly recognizes contributions without intent, purpose or metrics for program success.

So how do we make it work...?

I can advise three rules for SPOT awards that might assist in making the program more genuine in it's intent:
1. Make the prize of low denomination
2. Make sure there is public recognition from a Senior Leader 'on the spot'
3. Focus on organizational founding principles not departmental goals

Low cost, High impact
SPOT awards programs can not be driven by the value of the gift. A low denomination gift card or a note card branded to your core values will do the trick. Hang the note from your cubicle and you know you have performed in the presence of Senior Management. There are those who will baulk at the low cost prize and for that reason they miss the intent of the enhance your corporate culture.

Appropriately convey the program's intent! When a Senior Leader overhears a call that is proactive in saving an account he or she stops the customer service team."If any of you overheard Jane's call I want to tell you that is the way we take care of our customers". This then presents an avenue to make Jane feel special in front of her peers and to emphasize your commitment to living your core values in the trenches. A CEO who actually shows genuine interest in the little people's efforts is a means for motivation beyond money or organizational opportunity. Jane will remember this event forever.

Living Core Values
How many employees read your conveyed core values when they walk through the office doors and say....I am going to act with candor and integrity today. Your core business purpose has much greater impact when it comes from the lips of the visionary who created it. Brand your core values internally: explain them, recognize them and use your SPOT program to emphasize them. Ra Ra is radical when it conveys passion and purpose.

Unfortunately many leaders create standards to measure success. Create a goal, manage to it and report production accordingly. That is called LIP SERVICE!

Of course we need consistent and business relevant goals to aspire to.....reserve them for team/individual goals setting sessions. Don't be TRANSPARENT in your intent!

Dare to make business personal. Celebrate the individual attributes of your people and help them understand how their inspiration and motivation ties to the company's purpose (thus, conveying that they are in the right place).

CEO's rally their troops every year at the company's annual event by explaining their climb to success because they wanted to be part of something works! But when we get back home, poor middle management has a way of letting their paranoia drive them back to standardized CYA management initiatives. A quality SPOT awards program can be the thread that takes the CEO's vision into the team members live founding principles; every day!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Contact -

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 6


Our organization recently enhanced a client relationship by using an Employee Engagement Survey to understand a new generation of worker's program preferences.

The Results: We found out that 91% of the employee population did not want lapel pins in their service anniversary program.

The Lesson: Senior Management's best intention's can be out of touch with that which motivates Workforce Engagement.

Action Items: We need More Data from Varying Teams to formulate a more well rounded Company Culture.

In this blog series we have learned the following:
* Personal Branding is more important to today's talent than Company Loyalty
* Corporate Vision, Values and Mission have replaced Logos
* Innovation has trumped Tradition

The results of our ability to assess what matters to tomorrow's talent have all come at the expense of Senior Leaders swallowing a jagged pill:
* What got us here will not keep us here
* The times they are a-changin'

If you are asking the torch to be passed and for new ideas to be accepted there is one sharp edged tool you better have:


There are three prevalent ways to gather actionable data:
* Employee Engagement Surveys
* Trial by Committee

* Testimonials through personal case studies

Surveys are traditionally not answered with the slightest of confidence for two reasons:
* Fear of confidentiality
* Unengagining questions

Your Challenge:
1. Present an Employee Engagement survey that is assured anonymous (should come from HR or a confidential source - not direct managers)
2. Customize a Survey that speaks directly to the Business Critical Behaviors you wish to influence.

When you have the critical data it is time to turn this information into an Actionable Strategy:
* Drive an Employee Engagement Strategy
* Understand Trends and Take Action accordingly
* Present results in Business Critical fashion to your CEO
* Allow the organization to be VULNERABLE - it is OK to admit the past is behind us

In formulating an action committee it is vitally important to invite a diverse group:
* Multiple levels of authority (no senior managers to limit intimidation)
* Multiple departments
* Employees who are succeeding
* Employees who are struggling (YES!)

It is also vitally important to check your stripes at the door and encourage open will not come to those who hold back actionable strategy for the sake of being cordial.

If you are a Trusted Business Partner to Senior Management then your job may be less formal. Take to the break rooms, yoga classes, bars and back alleys. Dig in with unexpecting employees to get their opinions on organizational efficiency and the future of the company. You may be surprised what you hear.

In his book "Perspectives on Managing Employees", Mike Fina gives a Senior Management
Perspective on a variety of topics. This book is also courageous enough to invite the Employee Perspective on said topics. Again, the results are often varied and the lesson validated: To know the future of your organization you have to ask the people who will be running it when you are on the beach.

Don't Forget to Remember!
- Dave



Thursday, August 20, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 5

Let the Battle for Talent Begin.....
Financial experts predict October 2009 to be the bottom point of this recession. Many companies have taken this in confidence and have lifted their hiring freeze. This means you will have an opportunity to interview a plethora of top talent and said talent will have several options for employment. Your companies Outstanding Leadership, Product Innovation and Commitment to Employee Appreciation will win the hiring battle....then what?

Many companies focus on training to ramp up new hire expertise. Training is usually accompanied by some sort of On-Boarding: fruit basket, 30 day reviews....The issue with most on-boarding programs:
* One Touch - Thanks for joining're on your own now.
* Employee Performance Analysis without focus on how the Company Can Improve.
* Programs that silo Line Managers from Corporate Vision.
* Welcome gifts that have no Long Term Value.

Studies show that Generation Y will have 13 different jobs by the age of 40. They have been held down for a while and are ready to start hopping again.

You need an On-Boarding program that will:
* Engage the new employee as a Valued and Critical Asset from Day One.
* Extend 'welcome basket appreciation' for their entire first year of employment.
* Reward Employee Feedback as opposed to continually analyzing their progress against your training plan.
* Provide a Source of Interaction above and beyond an employee handbook.
* Hold Middle Managers Accountable for keeping employees on track. Leadership is the primary influencer of Early Performance.

A few suggestions:
* Give new employees a gift every 90 days
* Ask for Employee Feedback every 90 days (corporate to employee)
* Manage Performance Expectations through Line Managers (not the new employee)
* Reward a gift at their First Year Anniversary

The great news: it's time to expand our workforce again!

The challenge: to be better by being different!

This recession has taught employees to be do more with less. Employees have done self reflection and returned to the simple things. The need for monumental salaries has been replaced by an enhanced work/life balance. Tomorrow's talent is focused on Giving Back to the Community, Persevering Mother Earth & Working Together (not in internal competition). They are looking for an Organized Professional Community not a Corporation. It is time to live your core values and bring them into the trenches. We are all in this together and the power is soon to be dispersed.

The best way to avoid obscurity is to utilize downtime by planning for the future.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 4

Points for Participation

The recent economic recession and the rise of Generation Y in the work place have produced a glaring truth:

Micro-Management to produce a results driven corporate structure is no longer an option!

As the economy improves the 'lucky to have a job' excuse to abuse employees will be a contributing factor in losing the 'battle for talent'. A Gen Y-er recently told me, "The word Accountability intimidates people and people do not want to be motivated by intimidation".

It is time to re-tool our business culture to address a few note worthy practices:

* Reward the process do not micro-manage the results
* Collaboration not Competition
* Reward and Encourage Social Change and Responsibility as part of your Corporate Philosophy
* Make extra curricular activities voluntary
* Present Equal Opportunities for advancement
* Tenure alone no longer comes with extra privileges

Yes, today's evolving workforce wants to work at their own pace with equal recognition. They want CEO's to be green friendly and community service savvy. They want to be part of something bigger: a company vision that means more that punching a clock and improving stock value. They want to join the team today and have the same opportunities as 20 year veterans. The Baby Boomers who are running organization's often see this empowerment without a proven track record as immature and unrealistic. Be stubborn to corporate adaptation and you will find the talent of tomorrow will find greener pastures. The natives are soon to take over the village.

There is a simple, yet structured, way to to fulfill the worker of tomorrow's need for pro-active recognition of 'above and beyond' effort:

Develop a Points Program that banks points for participation and rewards accordingly!

* Employees attend a walk to benefit breast cancer research - they get points
* Employees submit a qualified nomination to reward a peer's effort - they get points
* Employees get points each year on their service anniversary
* Employees get points on their birthday
* Employees have a qualified 'big idea' - they get points
* Employees hit their quota for the month - they get points

A couple of things to consider to ensure the programs success:

Everybody WinsBold
* Make sure entry level prizes are attainable

* Do not make it a competition
- The majority of employees do not respond well to the race for the carrot
- Your core group of influence will choose not to participate
- The same person will win every time
- The others will give up
- Your 'cool new program' will be perceived as 'lip service'

Ease of Administration
* Develop an easy to use, effectively branded, points portal
* Make it voluntary
* Give Senior Management exposure to program results

The Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow
* The goal of this program is to increase collaboration:
- They will come for the gifts but stay for the community
* Develop a points scale that rewards high end gifts for high point totals
- Fulfills the competitive drive in those who 'have to win'
* Fun gifts at entry levels
- Create a deal or no deal 'cash out' scenario

When we were kids afternoon activities were voluntary. When the teacher pulled out the colorful parachute to bounce a ball on - everyone joined in the fun.

If you are too mature to participate in fun time activities- you are actually immature! Vulnerability is a trait of courage not weakness. If you mask your weaknesses and constantly pretend to be a consummate professional - you are masking your ability to continuously improve. It's true.

You do not have to be a jerk to produce results, you can be a friend and a leader to your employees, when people start realizing that the competition is with other companies in your industry and not within your own - results improve! That is a fact!

If you develop a company culture where 'everyone wins' the top performers will still fulfill their need to be 'the best'. You will be surprised to see those who usually shy away from the race join in because they understand that individual accolades are trumped by a common vision for success.

I have always been a competitor: I have little league trophies and corporate certificates to prove it. However, when I learned to eliminate the unnecessary internal need to prove my worth (sometimes called sucking up), I began to concentrate on what is important: Customers who cherish something they simply can not get anywhere else, innovative products driven by a mutual respect for EVERYONE'S contributions and irreplaceable friendships that are fostered through winning together!

Anyone can put a carrot on a stick and ask a group to run to it. Competition does not create real creates short term validation not long term skills. Teach them the skills and let them win together!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Employee Engagement; Part 3

Nominate, Collaborate and Enhance your Corporate Culture

I was a top performer in a Fortune 500 company. Always hit my numbers, was a leader to my team, won every contest that was initiated and was well respected throughout the organization. There was one problem: The company's track record for promoting from within was abysmal.

To be frank, I had hit the wall...or so I thought.

A special meeting was called at the end of the year. My entire team showed up at Headquarters and our VP walked in, "We have a special recognition award like this comes just once in a lifetime". She proceeded to give me a award that only 20 of 20,000 employees would receive. This award named me an Iconoclast of Innovation in the organization. We all enjoy recognition for our efforts, but I was immediately humbled by this paramount act of appreciation.

When our VP was done speaking the 10 people on my team each gave me a piece of paper displaying their justification for my nomination to Senior Management. It was a true 'Rudy' moment. I will never forget the men and women that validated my contributions to the organizations on that day!

Today, nomination programs are more easily accessible, allow a more structured appreciation on a more consistent basis and are usually driven through an online portal that is highly visible to Senior Management.

Mutual appreciation is the key to teamwork and teamwork drives results!

Every organization has diverse departments with diverse job functions and diverse styles of business productivity. This can create turmoil in the heat of battle:
* A Sales Rep that needs an order placed by Customer Service (right away).
* IT Director that pulls her team in @ 3am to complete a project by deadline.
* Union Professionals that battle safety standards to go 'above and beyond' to assist their company.

Some times we yell at one another in the heat of battle, occasionally a 'thank you' or 'sorry' is not enough, and often the extra effort goes completely unnoticed.

Consider this: The task is completed, customers are overjoyed by the extra effort and the business doors are locked for the day. As the under appreciated Customer Service Representative sits back at his cubicle an email pops up: "you have been nominated for a special achievement award"...this person follows a link to find a note from the Sales Rep who often makes his life hell: "Bill is a consummate professional, he takes on every task with pride and never fails to keep our customers elated. In Sales the pressure is great as we are the face to the customer, if Bill fails to deliver, I am in the customer's board room explaining.....Bill never fails...we always win....and our customers know they cannot get this type of attention anywhere else. Thank You Bill! Your efforts mean more than I could ever explain to you!"

Bill's manager sees the nomination and approves it (as does the Sales Reps).

In Human Resources we are required to remain level headed and unemotional. It is my contention, however, that human compassion is not only relevant in today's workplace; it is essential.

PEOPLE are what make our organizations great, and while they are always forthright in their determination to succeed, they all enjoy a pat on the back.

Through implementing a well manged nomination program your organization will:
* Enhance Collaboration
* Provide Validation for seemingly Unrecognized Effort
* Create a Drive to Succeed through the need for Continual Recognition
* Brand a Culture of Appreciation
* Bridge interdepartmental gaps
* Reduce Turnover (see above)
* Improve Revenue efficiency by encouraging extra effort!

Want to know how to synchronize nominations with service awards and corporate responsibility...visit this blog next week.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Employee Engagement 2010: Part 2

Why Not Gift Cards?

Low denomination gift cards work well for 'on the spot' recognition of above and beyond organizational contributions.

However, It is important to consider the following issues with gift cards for employee rewards:
* Upfront process costs
* Taxation
* Breakage

As a manager at a former company I bought 25 gift cards for my team. These $20 gift cards came with a $2 processing fee each. Employee were taxed back through payroll processing compliance, they paid tax every time they used the card and they ALL left the cards on their desks because the remaining .78 did not buy anything at Starbucks.

You do the math:
* Card cost - $22
* Tax charged to employee pay check - 10%
* Tax charged to every transaction (average 4 per card) - additional 10%
* Breakage (money left on card) - average $1
* Paying $2 in advance, $2 pay check charge back, and $2 at the counter tax while leaving $1 on the card for 4 cups of coffee - PRICEY!

I once got a Walmart gift card for winning a company contest. I bought diapers with the card. Unfortunately, I was not able to hang the dirty diapers on my desk to celebrate my achievement.

Employees need a memento of achievement!
It's always nice have a few extra dollars in your pocket, a week's worth of free coffee or complimentary diapers for a week...but supplemental cost control does not enhance Employee Engagement!

A simple gift transcends it's dollar value. Think about your most cherished possessions...chances are they are not of high retail value but hold sentimental significance. It is not the MP3 player that matters but the blood, sweat and tears it took to achieve it.

My proudest memento of professional achievement is a crappy watch that I was afforded through my team's gratitude for my efforts. I was not promoted, given extra compensation or honored by our CEO that year. But, the extension of my teammates genuine appreciation for my effort (not formally recognized) kept me at that company for an additional 2 years.

How to make Gift Cards Work....
You need to maximize the value of gift cards. If you buy a $25 gift card, you should pay $25 for it and there should be a memento of achievement rewarded in connection. These cards need to be:
* Redeemable online
* Tax/Shipping Inclusive (avoids charge backs to employees)
* Accessible to a wide variety of gifts
* Supported by a meaningful recognition process

Want to know why Peer recognition can mean more than a note from the CEO? Visit this blog next week for a overview of Meaningful Nomination Programs.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave



Employee Engagement 2010: Part 1

Rewards for Quality Service
...every organization has a service awards program. These programs have historically used a tiered lapel pin club to reflect years of service: silver pin at 10 years, gold pin at 20 years and a platinum pin at 25 years.

There are a few professional developments that need to be considered in revamping the way we reward quality service (presented as 'quality service' it becomes evident that this IS a performance based reward):
* Roughly 80% of tenure awards are given at the 5 and 10 year milestones.
* Internally grown employees approaching their 10 year milestone were born in 1975.
* One third of the workforce plans to change jobs when the recession ends. (referenced below)
* By 2014 there will be 63 million Millennials in the workforce. (referenced below)
* The aforementioned Millennials will change jobs 10 times by the age of 40. (referenced below)

Here are a few extended realities:
* Waiting 10 years to recognize an employee is now obsolete.
* With Generation X and Generation Y (Millennials) now the dominating professional population lapel pins and logo-ed gifts will not be received favorably.

Recognize Early:
If you plan to spend $50 per year of service on an employee; use it every year. Don't wait 5 years. When people make a choice to join an organization the best way you can validate their choice is with a welcome gift and reception. Annual reviews are not the way to congratulate employee loyalty; couple your performance review with a token of your appreciation.

Mementos of Achievement without Emblems: My dad has a guest room full of logo-ed clocks, picture frames, certificates of achievement and globes to commemorate his 30+ years with his organization. This an expression of his brand loyalty to his company. In the advent of professional networking tools, personal branding is now more relevant to today's workforce than loyalty to their company. Sad but true!

You may want to reward your employee with access to an online catalogue of diverse gifts that is relevant to his or her lifestyle. This way an employee is afforded something they will actually use instead of hiding it in their parents study. You should also consider that non-cash service awards programs are tax exempt. Conclusion: Keep the gifts but make them lifestyle relevant to today's workforce...and reward them sooner!

The Process Before the Prize!

There are three driving factors in meaningful recognition of service achievement:
* Communication
* Presentation
* Inclusion

A well crafted message from the CEO can be a keepsake greater than any gift.

What would it mean to an operational employee if the VP were to enter the warehouse and gather his team around! To then put her arm around him and to promote his professional achievements and the way his experience at the company has evolved his personal life.?

You wouldn't recognize service in just one department nor would you recognize service of only Headquartered employees. So why would you have separate anniversary programs in your international locations. Sure, the gift selection will be different in Asia Pac, the EU, etc. but the program branding and communication needs to be globally consistent. Most international business affiliates come from acquisition. The best way to make them feel welcome is to recognize them in the same manner you would your Home Office Manager.

Why don't gift cards work for service awards? Find out next week in the second installation of this Blog Series!

Don't Forget to Remember

- Dave


Monday, July 27, 2009

Recognizing Professional Talent in 2009

Any business leaders who tell you that they have not been effected by the slumping economy are in denial (for better or for worse). EVERY business is faced with sustaining productivity with fewer resources. Many companies have downsized, others have merged to survive, and some are closely managing margins to stay afloat. Business Leaders have made the case to investors for additional funding while profits are down. As a result, demands on those lucky enough to be employed have been intensified.

With added pressure on all organizational facets one trend rings universal: THOSE WHO PRODUCE NEED TO BE RECOGNIZED AND REWARDED!

* Every company has an anniversary milestone program. With reallocated budgets many of these programs have been reduced to certificates and lapel such mementos encourage employee engagement?

* Every sales organization works on incentives, but how are you rewarding the more 'task oriented' departments?

* Employees are extending their efforts above and beyond their general job description....what are you doing to recognize this extra effort?

* As margins are managed more closely tensions are elevated. What avenue is presented for inter-departmental collaboration? How do employees extend a thoughtful 'thank you' to one another off the battlefield?

* As roles in Talent Management programming are redefined how are HR Professionals extending their business relevance to Senior Management?

Three things to consider in ponderance of the above mentioned questions:
1. This recession will not last forever. The "Luck to Have a Job" era will end soon...when it does the mistreated will find greener pastures!

2. NOW is the time to reassess your Total Rewards Strategy (even if you do not have the budget or plan to make program adjustments)!

3. There is a way to bring Business Critical Return on Investment to programs that are perceived as 'fluff'!

In a 10 part Blog Series over the next 10 weeks these issues will be addressed to assist you in formulating a Total Recognition Strategy. Please subscribe to this blog and fasten your change navigation helmet!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The new members of the workforce (Generation Y) have been criticised by their sense of entitlement and need for validation. These characteristics exist in the elder business strategist as well (baby boomers).

I overheard an interview with a young lady yesterday who spouted misnomers with mislead confidence. She had distinct opinions about everything. I was intrigued by her confidence but alarmed by how the elder interviewer did not help her navigate her opinions. There is no way that young lady would learn from the interview because the interviewer was too politically correct to deliver candid feedback. There is a way to help young professionals understand their need to adjust their strategy without shattering their confidence and aspirations.

In a similar vein, there are a group of retired gentlemen who gather at the coffee shop every morning to complain: the country is going to hell, these youngster don't even wear suits....! The common thread between Grandpa and his Daughter's Daughter? Motivation by discontent.

Why wake up everyday to prove your critics wrong? Why formulate a basis of motivation in insult of another's efforts? When was the last time you engaged in conversation with someone who spouted negativity and walked away enlightened?

The easy thing to do is stand back with arms crossed and criticize the efforts of others. The easy thing to do is wake up every day and formulate excuses for why we cannot be better for our failures. The blame game requires no genuine effort.

The ivory towers are crumbling and the new regime might not quite to ready for the world's extremes. One thing is certain: the more you let your lack of effort become an excuse, the closer you get to obscurity; whether your 21 or 72.

I have been that young person with distinct and mislead opinions and I came to learn that the opinions I expressed really were not my own. I think I have learned enough in my life not to become the bitter old man who lets his past guide his future. At some point, I stopped talking and started listening. I witnessed that those who I thought I was impressing with my bravado were smiling politely in hopes of ushering me away (not in validation of my opinions). I have made countless mistakes thinking I was doing the right thing, self-validating through tireless effort. The greatest lesson learned: if you are climbing the wrong mountain it matters not how hard you climb.

So as you ponder the dynamics of generational diversity in the workplace you may be better served pondering human similarities. If you are not receptive to candid self analysis you may be sliding down the mountain instead of climbing it. Seek sage like wisdom and take it with an appreciative grain of may realize that those dispensing advice are speaking to their own validation more than driving your motivation. Let your energy drive you through the day but be sure your intent is genuine. Sometimes we have to break our climb to catch the sunset and survey our footprints.

The world will be a better place if we can give and accept advice with the understanding that there are no certainties. It is, however, certain that all conclusions are easier to accept when we ponder potential based on our own actions. The best way to control your destiny is by understanding only you can control it. Excuses are unnecessary when you don't need them. It is more rewarding to climb the mountain with focus on the summit not fear of what is behind you.

Don't forget to remember!

- Dave

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The All Star Game

Last night's Major League Baseball All Star Game was thrilling! I will always love this game because I had a chance to experience the festivities a few years back in San Francisco.

The MLB All Star Game is preceded by the home run derby. If you get a thrill from mosh pits you must take in this event. My wife and I stood in the left field bleachers as Vladamir Guerrero launched hit after hit into our section. People spilled beer on one another, stood arm and arm on their seats, and eventually fell head first into concrete to grab a souvenir. After our section had stumbled over each other three or four homers in a row I stood on my seat and yelled freedom because the experience was so invigorating. I looked down at my wife and she was sitting in her seat crying (she stands 5ft and weighs 100 pounds). I grabbed her up on the seat with me and made her enjoy the some point I think she understood the chaos.

The day of the All Star Game I woke up, threw on my causal game going gear and boarded a train to my friend Frank Wolf's funeral. The excitement of the game mired in the tragic and untimely death of my true friend and a lover of life. Ryder Kuhl mad dogged me from his car seat as his dad picked me up from the train and we headed to the church. The harsh looks continued through the day as my Fred Perry and Vans were not in keeping with the exquisite dress of the occasion....Frank would have understood. As the pall bearers put Frank's body into the car that would take him to his final resting place, my friend Chris Clinch temporarily lost it. He was overcome by emotion and a feeling of loneliness having lost another close friend. My friend's unadulterated fear and sadness made me cry and I too felt completely alone...I wish I could have hugged him in that moment. Just as my fear grew Dave Lincoln appeared out of nowhere, put his hand on my shoulder and gave me a humble smile. I respected him tremendously for being kind enough to offer me his hand and for being respectful enough not the say anything in that moment. He guided me back to the car and I boarded the train back into San Francisco.

As I got off the train I wondered how I could bring myself celebrate after such a somber event. Immediately my wife rushed up to me and grabbed my hand as if we were headed into Disneyland. She escorted me to a private party where Counting Crows were playing by the Bay, bought a beer that was bigger than her head and trotted to the front row to dance the afternoon away. This effort was not in disrespect of her friend Frank but in tribute to him. The wise young lady helped me once again understand that as we transcend this place our memories are carried in celebration not pity. As I watched the love of my life dance I thought how fortunate I am to have the love of the family I have created, how much I regretted that Frank would not get the chance to experience such a thing and how grateful I was that he did not leave a wife or children behind. The music carried into the sunset, "these lines of lightening mean we're never alone."

The great Steve Fanelli got us perfect seats behind home plate. We heard applause for the misunderstood Barry Bonds and watched Ichiro Suzuki hit an inside the park home run. I looked into heaven to my friend Frank Wolf.

We walked back to our hotel to put our heads down before returning to the reality of parenting, work and life in the hustle.

I will never forget the cheers and songs I heard. Baseball gives us all hope. We see the strength in the mighty men on the field and it helps us feel strong: when the market slumps, when our relationships are challenged and when we lose a friend!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave