Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There Are No Experts

Do you ever see a profile of someone that proclaims them a "social media expert"?

Hmmm....can they really know everything there is to know about their craft, are they able to apply it to any customer situation and articulate a strategic solution in any conundrum...Maybe? Outliers says 10,000 hours of experience is a prerequisite to expertise. So, if I work 8 hour days (like that exists anymore) at any job for five years, I am technically an expert?

My question then becomes:
At what point do I lose my expertise badge?

Is not the world of business changing at a rapid pace. If a software suite is upgraded to 2.0, do I then have to put another 10,000 hours into learning the upgrade? If I get to the point where a particular situation stumps me, is my expert badge revoked? Is there an Outliers police that drops down from the sky and changes my Linked In profile to former expert?

Allow me to advise the experts out there:
People like to be heard before they are instructed!

If you march into their office and start preaching; you will offend them. This regardless of your education, how many books you have written or how many followers you have.

Get off your soap box, loosen up that tie and listen.

'Tis better to become an expert communicator than to pretend to know everything about everything. Here is a simple guide to doing just that:
* Listen
* Diagnose before you prescribe
* Empower your audience to be part of problem solving
* Don't be a pompous ass!

I quote the Great Benjamin Folds: "It's OK if you don't know everything"

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, July 23, 2010


Is there any better sociological study than that of dance. More so, the cumulative reaction to dancing. In past blog entries we have talked about The Ripple Effect and the Creation of Culture. Both of these elements so relevant in the practice of dance.

Dancing takes two things:
* A Leader
* A Vibe
(rhythm would be nice but is not mandatory)

Every great dance sequence starts with our story's hero, possibly inebriated, throwing an old favorite into the stereo. This is followed by he/she busting out a few pre-choreographed moves and the phrase: come on people!

The initial reaction to such behavior are furrowed brows, raised eye brows and under breath chuckles. Inevitably a person or two joins the fun, then a few more and before you know it we have 50 people expressing themselves in mutual celebration.

Is there anything better than to let yourself let others know everything is going to be let smiles and hip shakes define us for a put judgement aside, to put our differences aside and to get down to the business of 'fun'!

In this world there are performers and observers...which one are you? Of course, it is easier to cross arms, stand on the wall and mock he/she who is brave enough to display their emotion for all to see. Yes, it may be damaging to your reputation to make a 'fool' of yourself on the dance floor at a company gig. But, if you love to dance, why can't you. Why not be who you are, embrace that and let others share it...for all it is worth.

Leaders don't hide or wait for others to set the rules. They crank up the stereo, grab a friend and let us know it's OK to celebrate...for whatever reason we can think up. Yes, life is a all times. We need to learn to focus on what we are good at, display it genuinely and share it with others.

Culture is driven by a Leader's willingness to put their guard down. Formality interrupts growth by ignoring genuine value sharing. We live in a time when dress, tenure and status matter less than ever. We live in a time when you can be at work who you are at a company party and there need not be a divide. Our profession is a celebration of our products, services, company and team.

Celebrate...Be Yourself...Dance!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010


We go through phases in our lives when we are genuinely engaged or completely despondent; on each side of the spectrum. We get incredibly excited, fail and then throw up our hands. Then we are re-inspired by a person, job or environment that reminds us to Believe again.

Just yesterday after a long strategy session I was hit by a realization:
I wish I didn't Care so much...I wish I could let go...

The thought being that I am continually furrowing my brow, looking down at the ground, while the answers are flying over my head. I have to put myself in check at times and ask how much certain professional hurdles will matter a year from now? How much I am appreciating all the good fortune that I have? That sooner rather than later all of the beautiful things around me will have passed.

There are those who find God at the low point in their lives
There are those who find Divine purpose in a cause
There are those whose belief in humanity is revived in the movie house
There are those who remember they can do anything by watching their favorite team

What do you need to get back to the point of belief?

Some of my favorite times were spent at a bar on a random afternoon. All of our friends happened upon the place. This before cell phones - so we got together by word of mouth and celebrated life! Smiling faces, jokes, stories told, hugs and good tiding for where the night (and our lives) might take us. A fleeting moment in the afternoon sun...when all was right with the world.

These things sometimes fall into place but somebody spread the word, somebody started the conversation and someone bought the drinks. This revealing that the true meaning of leadership can often exist in bringing people together and creating a welcoming environment. That the ambiance can come before the brass tact conversation. That you can give people something to believe in and they will do more than expected to be a part of it.

Find something to believe in, make it your mission and carry it out!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Finding Peace

I find myself getting in my own way lately. I don't mean tripping over my own feet but creating hurdles that really don't need to be there. In essence, the time and effort I put into unnecessary frustration seems to be increasing. These things have a way of snow balling.

How about you?
* Do you find yourself sidetracked by mundane detail?
* Do you say to yourself "it's not a big deal, it's the principle of the matter"?
* Do you cast stupidity upon others without knowing their plight?

Our days are a series of events that formulate our motivation (or lack thereof). If you wake up, look at your email and delineate worst case scenario....odds are your commute will be filled with 'this week is gonna suck' thoughts of distraction.

I once asked a trusted advisor how he dealt with incompetence and he said: "I choose to ignore it". At the time it seemed like a cop can we help people improve if we do not hold them accountable? Answer: it's not a competition, it's a collaboration & people would rather help than to be held accountable. Indeed frustration builds up like a tornado that never leaves our own state of being. We let our emotions get the best of us, act out of character and cast ourselves into no-fun-to-be-around-ville!

Some times the best thing to do is take a breath, assess all angles and find a solution (instead of passing blame). Here are a few tips:
1. Wait before you reply.
2. Propose a solution instead of pointing a finger and passing blame.
3. Ask yourself what the ultimate conclusion might be.
4. Put something good in front of each frustration.
5. Don't cast yourself into un-fun-ville!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Speak for Yourself

I just attended another seminar where a Baby Boomer explained the work dynamics of Generation Y. I just read another book authored by a Baby Boomer advising how to manage Generation Y.

Generation Y and their emerging place in the workforce has been a continual hot topic in Human Resources. What is lacking is the direct voice of the Millennials. The speeches given by Moms and Dads of the emerging workforce are filled with stereotypes. The articles written advise entitlement and the liability of Millennial communication methods but seldom mention their thought leadership.

It's Getting Old!

Here's a thought: If we really care about the Generation Y perspective in the workplace why don't we ask them what they think:
* A panel discussion...?
* Presentation by a Young Professional...?
* Seminar on the benefits that Gen Y brings to the workplace...?

The control of content and the unqualified perspective of those who author and speak to it is a smoke screen not a compliment. The red flag management perspective is defeating not empowering. The transparency of the Baby Boomer grasping the conch is masking control not liberating ideas.

Where do we get our facts? Why is it fair to present assumptions as facts?

How about not defining metrics of employee behaviors by generation, gender or race and putting a less categorical bend on organizational strategy.

I have personality traits that are 'girly' and I share the professional ambition of 'Old People' & 'Young People'. It is ever confusing that the most politically correct department in any organization relies on pre-supposed metrics to define behavior.

Here's What Matters:
* Big Ideas
* The Strategy to Support our Organizational Culture
* How we carry our Organizational Philosophy to our Customers

Let's Move On....

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The passing of George Steinbrenner has provoked glowing tributes for a man who dedicated himself to winning at all costs. There is no question that George Steinbrenner was one of the most influential owners in professional sports history. Mr. Stenbrenner revolutionized sports marketing and talent acquisition. The New York Yankees are now worth 100 times what he bought the franchise for and they won 7 World Championships under George Steinbrenner's leadership. The stats don't lie, this is one of the most successful professionals in sports history. My question with Mr. Steinbrenner's legacy is not in the stats but the process by which to get there and if such a professional approach will ever exist again.

I am equal parts competitor and collaborator. My greatest achievements have come from competing with unparallelled effort and winning as a result. Some of the most influential people in my life pushed me hard, seldom applauded my effort but showed me how to achieve without asking for anything in return. There are others who have influenced me by helping me believe in myself through positive reinforcement.

So I ask my readers to ponder the following point:
Is it better to succeed by fulfilling your competitive drive or to find your path, follow it and be confident in the results by your own accord.

I have won Baseball Championships, Wrestling Tournaments, Skateboarding Competitions, Elections, Popularity Contests, Sales Awards, Committee Nominations, etc. My Resume is you care? I have competed and won at the highest level. I revel in competition and when the whistle blows I thrive on digging in, trying hard and getting to the finish line you?

A while back I introduced the metaphor of excelling to the finish line and breaking the tape alone....while everyone else walked together and enjoyed each other's company...In winning some times we beat our chest alone while others look on in confusion.

My competitive life in sports spilled over into my professional life. However, there are many games within the game of professional development. With a team of various talents and diverse responsibilities; is competition always the way to results? Some times we have to bear in mind that not everyone has a ladder to achievement that promotes stepping on another's hands to get to the top. Some times results are better shared than celebrating on our own.

The worst bosses I have had yelled at me and expected me to respond to their inelegant personal attacks. To overcome their crass personal disinterest by producing results in spite of them.

The best bosses I have had helped me get out of my own way. To focus less on running people over and more on lifting them up.

There is so much said about today's workforce and our need for continual encouragement at every turn. Our need to be recognized and our unwillingness to be 'instructed'. From the aforementioned points it might be concluded that people like working with people who they like....

I would not have enjoyed working for George Steinbrenner! That does not mean I would not have accepted his challenges and grown from them. We walk such a fine line in the organizational culture we create (or destroy).

My final observation: If you have options you are less willing to put up with a bully as a boss. If you have confidence you are less willing to respond to insults with results. Knowing this, we might formulate our leadership approach based not on the results we wish to create but the people we want to inspire.

Rest in Peace Georage Steinbrenner (1930 - 2010)

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, July 9, 2010

The All Star Game - Revisited

I composed this a year ago in tribute to my friend Frank Wolf, my lovely wife and to all the people I am happy to call my pals. Enjoy!

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

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The 2nd Half

We are looking down the backside of the mountain that is 2010. We must plan well, execute and reap the rewards! I work as an organizational strategist. Together with my clients, we often discover that the more we entrench ourselves in detail, the more distant our goals appear. Sometimes we have to pull back and slow it down. As we will learn in my forthcoming book Awesomeness.....simplicity can be the pathway to success!

In setting goals for the second half of 2010, may I suggest a 3 step process:
1. Prepare and Predict
2. Give More Than You Take
3. Own the Results!

Prepare and Predict:
This social media craze has a million detractors. One thing twitter and the like does for us is create exposure. Use it to your advantage. To be sure, if you enter any conversation without having done your research, you are a dum dum! Along with the information you have gained on an individual and their organization you need to differentiate your product or service to their goals. Going in 'blind' is unacceptable. Find your target market, design a plan to differentiate yourself as the logical partner, and articulate a story that ties it all together. Spend your time wisely through research and put a bullet proof plan together that eliminates the guess work.

1. If someone tells you they are too busy, they are usually wasting their time on needless tasks.
2. If you throw a blanket over any relationship do not expect respect in return.

Give More than You Take:
It seems simple enough. For better or for worse, the Internet has educated people very well. If there is the slightest bit of fraudulence in your relationship strategy you will be exposed, untrusted, and cast into insignificance. You may win on the premise of price or best widget but if that is all you have going for you get used to being treated as an abused commodity....we reap what we sew!

You have to put yourself in a position of generosity. To give more than you take. To be kind, generous and elegant; and to mean it. If you don't believe in the people you work for, those who support you or the product you represent - quit!

1. They will always see you sweat.
2. When money comes second you will make more of it than you ever have.

Own the results:
You will lose a deal due to consequences beyond your control. If you tried your best and made the right moves, you lost the commodity battle, that is a battle no one wants to fight anyway...your competition just sold themselves into suckerhood!

You cannot blame others when you lose, you need not beat your chest when you win. Class is the greatest characteristic in the human psyche. It means carrying yourself with confidence....know that you have always done the right thing by being true to your genuine intent.

1. Liars are always exposed.
2. Hard work and generosity are the only elements of success.

Put your plan in place, execute it well, learn from your mistakes, be generous and accountable!

The goal line is closer than you think: CLOSE HARD!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Social Media @ SHRM10

Ponder with me...

  • Have you ever tried to register your content as a speaker at a major conference?
  • Do you ever wonder if anyone reads the post session survey cards that you fill out?
  • Do you think the whole concept of the Exhibitor Hall has lost it's intended purpose?
  • Are you offended by speakers who work sales pitches into their educational content?
  • Do you find attendee objectives to be against the intended conference purpose?

    Now you have an avenue....SOCIAL MEDIA!

    The 2010 Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference was inundated with real time reviews of the sessions, the speakers, the event culture and tips on the hottest swagville give-aways. Those who missed certain sessions, were working a booth or didn't attend the conference were able to get real time reviews from our favorite Social Media Opinionists via the #SHRM10 Twitter conference board. Not only did I find the influence of the hash tag culture informative, I was impressed by SHRM's willingness to embrace this inevitable movement of people empowerment.

    It is assumed that vendors could give two shits about session content and are simply there to hand out logo-ed head bands - not so in my case. As such, it was great to track the insight of:
    Mark Stelzner, Laurie Ruettimann, Michael VanDervort, Jennifer McClure and Matthew Stollak during sessions.

    It was also encouraging to see SHRM giving Curtis Midkiff a forum to reign in the 'reviewers board' in an attempt to encourage healthy conversation.

    Jessica Merrell and Robin Schooling gave me a full overview of their climb to influence, the power of the unconference and the undeniable influence that is being recognized to the power of the pen (keystroke). For the record, I have seldom met a group of people more willing to educate...I must say the formal education process is not always as forthcoming.

    My challenge to SHRM is to continue to evolve content by presenting an alternative track where the unconference thought leaders can facilitate round table discussions. In doing this, those attending can challenge views of the content and present the objectives that make best sense to their organizational culture. Content without interpretation is just notes on a page; never to be revisited.

    I applaud SHRM for opening the can of Social Media worms. HR is understandably the last to adopt personality driven directives...but, the Blogger Bus has arrived at the conference center!

  • Do you want those with a voice to millions to be a promoter or a detractor?
  • If we pay $1,200 to attend/exhibit at a conference shouldn't we get more out of it than a bag full of swag and a hangover?

Baby Steps.....

Don't Forget to Remember!