Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Story to Tell

I spent the better part of the weekend watching Wes Anderson films with my kids. Mr. Anderson has written films about an unrequited school boy crush, adventures by sea and rail, and a family who has discovered their humility. What would these seemingly unrelated tales have in common...well written characters. You see, Wes Anderson's films are not so much about the story but the people these stories envelope.

As an HR Consultant, I preach the develop of organizational culture and employee engagement. One thing Wes Anderson has taught me is that people are infinitely too complex to categorize.

So I ask you, Dear Reader, What is Your Story?

I attend countless networking events. Many people jump up to introduce themselves with an elevator pitch; usually involving the number of employees in his/her company and their profit margin over the last year.....Booooooring!

What makes people compelling to work with is their story: Who they are as a person, the conquests they choose to accept every day, the inspiration behind their professional mission and the place they want to end up when they make their first billion. It is not simple, but those who can 'tell a story' will be forever be entrenched in our minds. To the contrary, statistics are commonly forgotten as soon as they leave our lips.

Stories are lost through swinging lobby doors, elevator stops, waiting on the bus or for coffee and in face to face meetings that ignore humanity. Meaningful connections are more commonly formed over a concert performance that moved us to tears or a baseball game that caused us to hug a stranger. Are you bold enough to share these stories at first encounter?

The untimely death of Buckley the Dog caused Chaz Tenebaum to take down his guard and admit, "It's been a tough year, Dad"! Like so many others, Chaz did not allow himself to be human because he feared his vulnerability would expose him as a weakling. We must remember the advising of the Great Keith Ferrazzi - Those who choose not be be Vulnerable are, in fact, the cowards.

Tell Your Story!

Maybe if we ALL worried less about proving our professional merit and admitted that we were human we might eliminate the very thing that keeps us apart.

Don't Forget to Remember,



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

6 Social Media Tips

This could be referred to as 'the idiots guide to social media'. But I would not dare to refer to anyone brave enough to try something new as an 'idiot'.

By the time I write this entry my advice will be outdated. I am certainly not an expert in social media. But, for all my friends who are brave enough to embrace this new world of communication, here are a few simple tips:
1. Never use negativity in any group forum, post or blog entry
2. Post less than 20 times a day
3. Update your status daily
4. Be a Resource not a Sales Person
5. Share your charitable cause
6. Don't be afraid to share your personal interests

(1) We post something in a group discussion, someone misunderstands it, insults us and our natural reaction is to 'crack back'. Don't! There are people with too much free time who patrol the Internet looking to project their self dissatisfaction. By responding to their bullying nature you empower their discontent and enter their world of self pitty.

People go to Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, escape the stress of their current worklife for a few minutes. They are looking for opinions (not expertise). Give them something that inspires them and they will look for you again.

(2) If I am following you on Twitter and you post more than 20 times a day I will unfollow you (with the rare exception of Laurie Ruettimann & Guy Kawasaki). There is no way there is that much to say. Be concise and informative. Don't waste your followers time with 'dribble'. Learn to use the 'Direct Message' one wants to read personal comments between you and your podiatrist.

(3) Linked-In users: Update your status daily. Use this feature to let your professional network know the slightest strategy improvement you made today......David is finalizing organizational strategy with a major financial organization. My way of saying I am presenting a proposal to Charles Schwab.

(4) Pushing products is death in the social media forum. There are tons of people with large networks that can discredit you as a 'hack' with one post. Help people with strategy rather than dumping product. It will enhance your sales approach and build trust among your network.

(5) We all have a charitable foundation that we support. Show people you are human by promoting your cause and use your network to promote their efforts. People feel less obligated when not contacted directly and will support to said charity if the cause effects them personally. This may also build additional personal attachment.

(6) You love Brett Favre - let your network know on a Sunday. In any meeting you can convey your expertise. Your personality can be a key determinant in building a mutually beneficial long term partnership. Don't be afraid to put the consulting aside and let people know you have a life. What if the person is a Green Bay Fan you ask. Ask yourself, do you really want to partner with a Green Bay Fan??? Sometimes disqualifying partnerships before they begin can save you years worth of stress.

Social Media is about bravery. You may let your temper get the best of you, post something that your company frowns upon or 'friend' someone who annoys you. The key is to try. Your confidence will be boosted when you enter a community, share an idea and have it adopted by a stranger across the world. In sharing we grow and in growing we influence. Be brave enough to put yourself out there and develop a Rock Star fan base. There is more to professional development than the four walls of your office. Is there someone you want to be professionally but your job title or company prohibits you from being that person?

You can be a Superhero in the virtual world and no one will ever know you wear a pocket protector.

Go Bravely and Fear Not the Mistakes you Might Make!

Don't Forget to Remember,



Monday, January 18, 2010

Exploration not Expertise

It is documented somewhere that 10,000 hours of work make you an 'expert' in any given field. I have also heard it said that if you read 5 books on any topic you become an 'expert' in your researched topical landscape. The problem I have with expertise is the seeming finality to the title. In a constantly developing world how can your proficiency in any given profession assure a timeline of 'end all, be all' knowledge. As if to insinuate there is a cap on knowledge acquisition.

In the world of Employee Rewards, tenure celebration has become synonymous with 'entitlement'. While I cannot envision a time when loyalty to an organization would not be celebrated, I do understand the sensitivity of human boundaries.

We All Want to Share!

Having spent nearly 10 years at a company I elected myself a voluntary mentor to every new recruit that walked through the door. I told him/her the unwritten rules of the company, industry and our operation....guess what? Nobody asked me. I thought because I had endured a highly competitive position for a long time that I knew the 'secret sauce' to success. However, by touting my tenure I came across two realizations:

* The Newbies saw my advice as regulation and no one likes to be tied down.
* Having been in the same position for 10 years without vertical movement was not exactly looked upon favorably.

In Unzip Your Soul, I have proposed to keep your head down in your first 6 months of employment at any given company. This advice has been met with a fair amount of criticism by the 'kick down the door' impact players. I understand the need to make a steady first impression but Bravado diminishes your accomplishments. Get in, be pleasant, take advice and let your results speak for themselves.

This entry level advise can also be conveyed to the elder statesmen (and women) in any given organization. A few things to consider:

* New Hires have a set of personal goals that may include surpassing your achievements.
* When you convey limitations you simply set the bar for New Hires to surpass.
* New Hires share your sentiment to ease into a relationship...
* If you know everything, they will respect that and reach out in due time.
* Wait to be consulted!

I don't believe there is such thing as 'entitlement' nor do I believe in the need to make a lasting first impression. The key to successful professional partnerships is ease of navigation. If you are receptive to new opinions without opposition you will be admired...whether it's your first day or your 10,000th hour on the job.

Be Graceful in your Interaction and people will come knocking for Advice.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Without Category

In Human Resources we are research heavy: white papers, surveys, references....."show me what other organizations are doing". While 'proof' is always great to defend your decisions it also detracts from your need to be original in your design process. How would 'what works across the street', work in your halls of sacred organizational interaction?

Dare to Know Your People!....and design something completely unique to your company culture.

We live in a time where insecurity has created a need for metrics. New hires must have certification, qualified experience and the test results to prove it. New vendors will require 28 references and a 20 year business prospectus. It is understandable that the need to protect one's position would require some hard facts.

How does hiring safe differentiate you as a thought leader?
What critical organizational differentiator does fact checking serve?

What if we lived in a place where there were no presupposed metrics for success...if the organizational function we performed was completely unique...if every company had their own identity? What if every CEO knew what her people wanted and was able to create a culture around the aspirations of those in the trenches?

Further, what if we lived in a world where gender, race, professional position were not preconceived fuel for our insecurities? Hard to Imagine? It's not so hard if you TRY!

Creativity is killed by standards and can companies celebrate the unique people in their cubicles without cultivating an organizational culture.

Create and Differentiate don't Copy and Check the Box!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Joy of the Unpredictable

My best buddy Bob Cohen has earned this distinction by being completely interesting; all the time. His goal: as soon as things get comfortable, move on. Bob grew up a metal guitar player in Long Island, then moved to Arizona to join a Fraternity, had a successful career as a Creative Director in advertising, then pursued a life as a cage fighter and is now in Vietnam pursing a combination of the aforementioned.

In my advanced years predictability has become a safe port in the storm. Wife + kids + mortgage = need for stability. But let's not confuse the can have stability without being predictable.

I work as a Consultant and have an ever-evolving list of goals. In essence, there is never a time to rest on one's laurels - not because I'm tied to the whipping post but because I have a little bit of Bob in me......The Inevitable Truth: Compromise is the end of the road, keep moving and enjoy the ride!

So, how can we continue to progress and endure change while still knowing we are hitting the critical pillars to achievement along the way? Here are a few thoughts:

* Who Cares - the need for validation from others only means a lack of trust in your effort and/or ability.
* Allow yourself to make mistakes - if you 'play it safe', you will not acquire the skills you may need to move forward down the road. Don't confuse this year's success for the tools that will endure your success in 2015.
* You will never know everything - when you get to the spot where you think you are an expert in your field, you are headed down the wrong side of the mountain.
* Learn something new every day!
* Don't rely on the past - those who tout their skill set based on past achievements, have only the past to rely upon.
* Be a Creator not a Destroyer - Know that critics sit in their chair because they are too tired to keep running with the pack.
* Uncertainty will be part of every day of the rest of your life. Embrace it and allow it to drive your motivation.

"Believe in yourself without compromise and you are f*#*ing bulletproof"
- Craig Ferguson

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Friday, January 8, 2010

The LED Process

It is within the context of a very annoying cartoon that my kids love that I heard the triumphant phrase, "what's gonna work?..Teamwork"! When sung by rodents the this sentiment stings the ears, but the concept in it's simple nature makes sense.

In the past I was the victim of self imposed criticism based on my inability to fulfill the expectations of others. Since then I have learned that the only expectations that matter are my own, projection is often a habit of self preservation and that everybody really just wants to be loved.

We all want to be understood, have our opinions validated and to be part of something bigger. So I ask you dear readers.....what's gonna work?


The phrase has become overused and is commonly affiliated with negotiation exercises, ropes courses and uncomfortably framed roll playing. My approach to teamwork is a little simpler:

You have gathered your team in the conference room: The VP wants to see the ROI, the Director wants to ensure your process meets company branded strategy, the Manager makes every effort to protect his/her team, operations blames sales, sales blames operations and customer service is stuck in the middle.

Amid this battle of attrition is one thing: Everyone just wants to have their opinions heard, understood and adopted. As such, it would make sense to hear everyone out. It is vitally important to know your strategy and to be able to channel the opinions of others within said strategy. This is the key to Dale Carnegie's 16th Principle: Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.

1. Accept Input
2. Repeat their intent
3. Make a suggestion based on the greater strategy you wish to channel

They got the words out and the emotions off their chest - take the input and run with it.

Every team has the well intentioned individual contributor that has been around for several years and knows the ins and outs of the organization. Let's call him Phil. The reason Phil has been in the same position for 12 years is because he has trouble conveying his good intentions to the point that his outspoken suggestions for organizational improvement are perceived as complaints. No one ever took a chance on Phil and as a result he is alone in a tunnel with no light on the West end. Take a chance on Phil!

You have 3 choices with those who distract progress:
* Ask probing questions to discover the true intent of their message (if any)
* Re-direct their negativity to a productive goal
* Have a heart to heart and tell them how they are perceived

In Unzip Your Soul we concentrate on Re-direction. This is the key element to dispelling arguments, empowering input and creating positive synergy.

How to Re-direct?

Find out what moves people forward and what holds them to the former.

Example: If I tell you that administrative work is drowning me from achieving my sales numbers schedule a one to one 'time management meeting' with me:
- In this meeting identify all the elements of administrative work
- Understand the time dedicated to each area
- Develop a process of delegation
- Use the remaining time to better develop a strategy to dedicate time to the important stuff

100% of the time you will discover that it is not a matter of 'too much paperwork' but a misdirected strategy!

The Benefits of the LED Process:
* Allow individuals to get their thoughts out there
* Let them know they are being listened to
* Create forward moving synergy

Final Thought: It is vitally important to know the greater organizational intent of every task. If you ask your team to do things without explaining have lost their respect!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just (Don't) Do It!

I have had a few conversations with people of late who simply hate their job. It is always interesting to hear the responses I get when I ask them to drill down to the cause of their discontent:
* Ordered to do things that don't make sense to my job description!
* Too much paperwork!
* Too little time to perform my job because of mundane tasks!
* I don't believe in the product I am selling!
* Ownership does not support my initiative!

In order to understand Employee Engagement we must first get to Job Satisfaction. The way to find satisfaction in any job is to follow this two step process:
1. Identify the elements that will propel you to success and perform them with great intensity
2. Identify the mundane tasks that are keeping you from achieving your goals and give them as little attention as possible

I know it seems impossible to scrap your TPS reports, but know if you are paid to sell and you are filling out paper work there is a fundamental disconnect in your is not your fault. So better to accept what you can't change, avoid fighting the powers that be and prioritize accordingly.

Are you really as busy as you pretend to be?
* Stop doing the things that are distracting your success and then blaming that time drain on 'paperwork'

Golden Rule: Voicing your discontent aloud in meetings puts you on the back side of the hill to firesville!

One thing you are in control of is your perception:
1. If someone is a thorn in your side...let them speak their mind without retort they will go away quietly.
2. If you stop letting the little things get you worked up and concentrate on your genuine intent... you will always have a positive attitude.

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year Evolution

My goals for 2010 are designed. I don't have a whole lot of bad habits to resolve to quit and overall 2009 was a pretty successful year for your humble narrator.

I have one over-arching goal for 2010: To allow myself to enjoy things!

Historically, I have become a jaded, less-than-elated, snob. I work hard, am a great parent and take care of my responsibilities on a consistent basis. So, I unjustly take for granted the license to judge others who enjoy the gravity of any given movement. What a dum dum I have become.

So in 2010, my pledge reads as follows:
* Smile when smiled upon!
* Allow yourself to enjoy an exercise regardless of your perception of the perception of others!
* Be OK with giving up control and give in to the moment!
* Dance without regard for your the judgement that may beset upon you!
* Stay positive because it is the hardest thing to do!
* Understand that fun can be celebrated for the sake of fun without negative consequence!

Accept, Practice, Learn & Grow!

Don't Forget to Remember!