Monday, August 29, 2011

3 Ways to Love Your Job

Last week's post on Employer Branding ended with 3 vital questions.

I have been in sales for 15 years. My roles, markets, and client emphasis have evolved rapidly over that time. I got into Sales after spending the better part of the 90's at Arizona State University. I figured my leadership experience in student affairs coupled with my love for socializing would serve me well. It has. 

I came out of school doing tele-sales for a cigar company. I played the law of averages. If I call 100 people 2 of them will say yes. It worked....but my skill set never evolved. Two things are inelegant in this process:
- 2% is not a good ratio
- Hearing a bunch of NO's to get to YES does not foster any type of customer loyalty

Over time, my sales career has gone from transactional to consultative. It is no longer about the widget and now about the essential place I have in my customer's company culture. The law of averages no longer exists, the gift of gab has been dispelled, and the product/service/price is not enough.

In order to aid my professional development I have had to be aware of the 3 questions we pondered at the conclusion of last week's post:
•Which companies do you want to partner with because you know they cannot function without your partnership?
•What is your dream job and how can you get hired in 5 years?
•Are you willing to tell your CEO that from where you are sitting things are not working?

Gotta Have It!
There are companies out there whose products you might really love. There are other companies that might have a sexy culture that really intrigues you. But if you are not selling a sexy service said company probably does not have room for you on their 'vendor roster'. Just because a company has great product development and/or marketing does not mean they are a fun company to work with.

I go back to Simon Sinek's book, "Start With Why". In this book, Simon addresses the issues in this blog by dispelling what we seem to have convinced ourselves. You cannot pretend to be who you are not as a company. Your valuable time and effort will be wasted in chasing rabbits if they have no reason to stop and meet you eye to eye.

You need to find companies, prospects and new hires who match your WHY. The core values of your company need to match those of your desired prospects. You need to hire team players with common personal missions. You, as a job hunter, need to find that company whose business purpose matches your personal intent.

Where Is Your Rushmore?
Max Fisher had convinced himself that he wanted to be in high school forever. He had a school rich in opportunities that allowed him to form several student groups while developing himself as a leader. But, he neglected his grades and got kicked out of school. It wasn't the school that mattered. He just needed an organization that supported his ambition, trusted his intuition, and allowed him to experiment.

Too often, we think in direct extremes:
"My job sucks but it's work"
"That company is super cool but they would never hire me"

So we pass the time punching the clock and pretend that work is work.

In the movie Cool Hand Luke, our hero challenged the biggest guy on the lot to a boxing match and got his ass royally kicked. On his way back to the barracks as his constituents looked over him with shame he said, "at least I tried". Damn Right!

It's easy to hate your job because you settled for a company that would hire you. It is easy to have a job that does not challenge you but pays the bills well enough. It is easy to sit back and watch others shake your head and tell them they should have stayed off the radar. At some point, you owe it to yourself to go fight the bully!

Open Door
I bet you see things on the job every week that could be improved upon. I bet you either keep it to yourself or throw your hand up in a team meeting and bitch about it.

In a seminar I did earlier this year I asked attendees "how do you know what your employees prefer and how do you convey that to your CEO?"
The responses:
A. We take a survey (but never show the results to the CEO)
B. We do a focus group (without considering the participants)
C. We value our Executive directives and do not allow input from employees to effect our planning

Most CEOs do not know the nuances of their company culture. Does that mean it is incumbent upon line managers and employees to hide problems from their executives? If you happen upon the CEO at the water cooler and he/she asks how things are going, you will tell him/her "exceptionally well" and dart off in the other direction.

There has to be a way to inform the CEO of the issues that are causing turnover. There needs to be a way to eliminate the things that are not working and develop initiatives that make sense to the employee. When jobs are performed well employees should be rewarded, when employees stay late on a Friday they should be thanked, and if a middle manager protects employee feedback from the CEO...that person should be fired.

There are no easy answers but we need to keep in mind where our energy is best utilized.

If a company is a bad prospective customer they will be a terrible customer. This will waste valuable time and resources without producing sufficient revenue. This is an affect of pretending to be someone you are not. You cannot fit a whole donut in a coffee cup (take one bite at a time).

If you hate your job consider WHY. Are you paying attention to the right things? If someone is an around them. You don't have to freak out every time said a-hole attacks you....let them drown themselves. Focus on where your talent is best appreciated and make your current job, your dream job.

Executive leaders appreciate confidence, concise language and solution oriented thinking. You can tell the CEO of a issue in the workplace if you have the above mentioned 3 traits in mind.

Your job will be awesome if you love your customers and co-workers (and they love you). Your job will be awesome if you ignore the a-holes and focus on the good stuff. Your job will be awesome if your well-educated opinion is respected in the board room.

Don't Forget to Remember!

~ Dave

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just Pretend

In a former life I was a lyricist and singer in a Rock Band. I never felt right singing songs that other people had written. I wasn't able to understand the journey behind the words. I didn't feel authentic delivering the message.

My friend Mike Robbins introduced me to his concept of Authenticity in business a few years back. A seemingly simple concept but continuously over-looked. Mike's concept has spread to the masses in the last few years. Every company is adamant in promoting their commitment to transparency.

Last night the HR Happy Hour gang had a lively back channel Twitter Chat regarding Employer Branding. Authenticity, Transparency and Executive Awareness were the predominate agenda items. My passion for the aforementioned subject matter prompting a community member to call me a Bolshevik. Every company wants to admit that they are perfectly in tune with barstool banter. There are great HR Professionals (Oracle) that will tell you straight away that if you want to have fun you are in the wrong place. But if I were a CEO I would visit and take the feedback seriously.

I am a Salesman and I love winning but at this stage in my career I am equally pleased with people who flat out tell me "we will never do business with you". Fair enough, now I can spend time with someone who appreciates my effort! Unfortunately, interviewers cannot look you in the eye and tell you that you are not a good fit for their company. Nor can a potential client tell you that your organizations don't mesh. Most CEO's have more to worry about than public perception but millions of dollars ride on barstool conversation and reviews. Believe it!

At some point it became necessary to differentiate yourself by wearing a suit and tie. Dress has nothing to do with on-the-job performance and that's a fact. When we talk to the CEO, we hold our hands in front of us and speak in polite terms, instantly putting ourselves in the unremarkable category. We meet with a client and politely talk about what we do. Why would they give a shit?

There are 3 questions to ponder:
  • Which companies do you want to partner with because you know they cannot function without your partnership?
  • What is your dream job and how can you get hired in 5 years?
  • Are you willing to tell your CEO that from where you are sitting things are not working?
We will attack this subject matter in great detail next week!

"After all, in the end, just pretend"
- Ben Folds, Ben Kweller & Ben Lee (in unison)

Don't Forget to Remember


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Many years ago a young man walked into an art exhibit. Curious of his environment and the motives of the attendees he looked around with eyebrow raised. He came upon a ladder that lead to the portal of sorts. He wondered what might be at the other end of the portal. Before taking action he weighted the potential of putting effort into the climb if only to witness something unfulfilling. Sure of frustration, he climbed the ladder. A microscope hung from the ceiling, he grabbed it, and discovered one perfect word:

He found himself caught up in emotion. Validated and empowered by what he saw. Ashamed that he nearly allowed his judgement to deny him the experience. The young man's name was John Lennon. The power of the artistic exercise the means for introduction to his future wife. He could have considered the reward unworthy of his effort before experiencing it and walked away.

We may have missed our other in this world simply because our intuition told us our time was better spent. Then walked off to spend time doing something far less productive. This is an unfortunate aside to our existence. We want proof before we act. Our faith has been replaced by the need for factual assessment. By these measures many of us never try new things and remain unfulfilled.

Everyone wants to be great! We want a job promotion, we want to experience lands far away, we want to ask the girl to dance...but we avoid taking the chance for fear of rejection, embarrassment, or the potential frustration of time wasted. We allow NO to regulate us instead of saying YES and taking control of our immeasurable power.

It's time to take the power back. Turn that corner to see what's on the other side. If nothing else, we could try a little optimism.

When you open the door to tomorrow, think of what's possible...don't allow your fear of the worst to restrict your actions. Seek opportunity. Meet new people, volunteer, apply for a promotion.

Climb the Ladder....because you can!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Weight

Not much is certain in this day and age but one thing that has revealed itself as undeniably true.... If You Think Today Will Suck....It Will!

I have made many personal transitions in life that have helped me avoid a less than optimistic viewpoint. Shamefully, I still revert to old behaviors from time to time. The sunset then met with disappointment of a day wasted. I see this discontent in others: the unnecessary attention to detail, the disappointment of life's current stage and way too much Fox News! I see recent graduates frustrated with the job market and their grandparents upset with their 401K's. Last week the S & P down-graded the US economy, jobs are scarce, homes are underwater.......and all of this puts strain on our personal relationships.

The easy thing to do is cringe when the alarm clock opens the day's door. It is much more difficult to seize the day.

"Can't is the cancer of happening" - Charlie Sheen

We all witnessed the demise of the man quoted above. But in the midst of a meteoric fall from grace, Charlie Sheen's sense purpose was laser focused. As his life crumbled around him, Sheen maintained an almost Tony Robbins like life purpose. There were those who shook their head at Charlie Sheen's squandering of his fortune. There are far more who took delight is seeing a member of the elite fall from grace.

"Lord, what fools these mortals be" - Puck via William Shakespeare

You called your old friend when you lost your job simply to receive validation that they were wrong. When your stock flipping scheme disabled your ability to blamed President Obama.

We all fall short of our ability to empower our full potential. Anything left is the opportunity of a new day.

We hate the word accountability because it makes us uneasy. But we live in a place where you can carry 100 rocks up a hill or you can carry 10 rocks up a hill. While, you got used to doing enough, enough became far too little.

Empower your possibility instead of questioning your limitations. Doubt is only a difference of perspective.

Be strong and carry the weight.

We Can Do This!

Don't Forget to Remember!

- Dave  

Friday, August 12, 2011

Personal Public Persona

Earlier this week I authored a piece about social media in potential hire profiling. The responses have been varied but one point has become certain:

Without your boss sitting on your lap at all times, the choices you make are your own!

This sentiment is not specific to social media but it may be the area in which it is most prevalent. Tony Bruno was suspended this week for his choices and many others have suffered an even worse fate. As Erica Albright stated, "the Internet is written in ink". So unavoidably true. Your company cannot police your every thought, your opinions may fall into the wrong inbox, and interpreting the mood of the written word is very difficult. We are not governed by the platform or the organization with which we are affiliated. We can only monitor ourselves. This is a massive responsibility!

I don't believe that Tony Bruno is a racist, he just got caught up in the moment. This week I saw that a person trying to help another revealed confidential mental health information about that person. The intention was good but the after effect served to further limit the person she was trying to help. I saw another post asking sorority women to disable their facebook pages during their recruitment period..? That's a super secret society.

I don't know about you but I'm not willing to give up that easily. I strongly believe that every company should be aligned with their core values (from CEO to Intern). The most prominent core value of any company is: TRUST! If you want a productive and empowered is essential. Everyone appreciates being given the club with the power to swing it as they wish. No one likes rules, restrictions and/or regulations (necessary as they may be).

This social media thing is not going away. In fact, more people communicate through facebook than email these days. We have an opportunity to use the power of our personal influence for good...why ignore it or attempt to regulate it. Like anything else, we learn from our mistakes in social media. We stop putting down others in blog chats, we stop voicing our opinions after 4 beers, and we refrain from jokes that may be conceived as bullying.

For the first time in my professional lifetime the villagers have more influence than the king. The voice of the people has never been stronger. Twitter is the voice of the NFL players union, blogs speak louder than the New York Times and Facebook has more citizens than most countries. We must understand that with great power comes great responsibility. We need to be aware that our words have consequences and that they cannot be erased. Accept the privilege and proceed with riotous intent!

It is certain that social media will improve our communication. We will learn what to say and when to say it. We will stop protecting our words and share them. We will grow, in honesty, together!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Social Profiling

Do you use social media to profile your job candidates? Is it even legal to do that? (these are not leading questions, I am actually curious).

It seems Social Media is here to stay. These multiple interactive platforms are an extension of one's personality that cannot be conveyed through a resume or interview. Unfortunately, people can also misrepresent themselves in these forums. People are still getting fired for saying things on Twitter or posting pictures on Facebook. There might be fringe subject matter that can be held against you in the workplace. If people know your political affiliations these things may be frowned upon at the water cooler (without you knowing it).

Do we still need resumes if we have LinkedIn?
Do we still need personality screening if we have Facebook?

Could social media participation actually benefit your job prospects? Maybe you have made meaningful professional introductions or have created a forum to share relevant industry information via social media. It  might be hard to imagine but your blog might actually give you a leg up in the hiring process?

Still many professionals are completing ruling out Social Media in their career development. There are still people who tip a few beers with the I-phone in hand and "tell us what they really think".

Is not a professional organization a collective of personalities? Do we not differentiate our company by the people who work for us. Can we not get to a point where we celebrate personalities and trust our employees to promote our brand?

Will we ever get to the point where it will be completely OK to be a person in the workplace? If you didn't always have to police yourself and those around you would you be a more productive professional?

I have a dream today....that every person in every company can wear what they want, to understand (or disagree with) one another, share their personality, kiss a co-worker and even shed a tear if they need to. Is that so hard to imagine?

Don't Forget to Remember!

~ Dave    

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We Shall Overcome

No one can ignore that times are tough. The economy is struggling, the job market is dry, and many companies are in survival mode. I was recently asked by an undergrad what differentiates great professionals from general contributors....

My answer: The Ability to Overcome Adversity!

The morning news is full of doom and gloom and our bar stool buddies don't always speak with optimism. Those who have endured our economic decline have something in common: they have figured out how to take what is coming and make it work. There is no schooling or certification that will help you understand the best way to handle adversity. It comes down to challenging yourself to see the forest through the trees.

Here are 3 ways to endure troubled times:
Pick Your Battles
Find the Silver Lining
Don't Ignore The Elephant 

...the forest through the trees
We are a prideful herd. We want to win. We put a lot of effort into things and when our work is challenged, it offends us. I once spent 30 minutes on the phone with a person who took that time to explain to me that she did not have 30 minutes to complete her portion of a project. Our pride often overwhelms our ability to get things done. We often do not wish to participate if we feel there is not a gold star in it for us. We want our work and our ideas validated and rewarded. We want to follow an intent that matches our personal desire.

Simple fix: with everything you do, understand what it means to your personal purpose. Sometimes you just have to take action to cross an item off the list. Standing your ground is essential to your personal integrity but don't waste your personal stand on report processing. Choose your battles wisely.

To Nod without Agreeing
People will get upset and will wish to be herd. Sometimes if you listen and let them get it off their chest it helps them move on with their day. You don't have to agree with people to hear them out. Nor do you need to oppose people's viewpoint...they seek empathy to help overcome their personal strife.

It is much easier to be negative than positive. It is much easier to sit on the sidelines than to be in the game. This is why certain people complain at happy hour but dare not voice a concern in a team meeting. It's work, there are a lot of stupid tasks that confront us....complaining about the 'to do' list only makes it longer.

Cutting Corners Around in Circles
Integrity is a core value of every organization. We roll our eyes and say - "yea right"! But every person is faced with decision making. These decisions are critical to our lasting impression on this earth. Sometimes you have to acknowledge oversights and short comings. Sometimes you have to admit you are wrong.

Great leaders make hard decisions and deliver bad news. Challenges only get more difficult if you choose to ignore them.

I'm sure the aforementioned advice seems almost infantile. But, we cannot allow the mundane to distract our mission.

Frustration is a choice made in reaction to a challenge. Always seek a solution instead of finding a way to pass blame. We can meet each day with a smile or a furrowed brow. If you allow others to determine your goals you will always be miserable. Get out in front of it and determine your own destiny.

Don't Forget to Remember!