Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For Your Consideration

We've made it through the Holidays and the "best of" lists of the year passed. Now it's time to be inundated with lists that include the Top 10 trends of the year to come. In most cases these clairvoyant editorials are merely positioning to sell something. Everyone has now adopted social media which means they are seeking to commoditize it. The innuendo goes, "if I'm going to invest in this, I need to be able to predict the ROI". Most are looking to consume, regurgitate, and get paid. There in something far more important to consider:

The ROI of Generosity is Living a Purpose Driven Life.

With the influx of information at our disposal how do we find that with which we truly identify?


My passion can be mistaken for negativity. Nothing is gained from negativity. With that said, we owe it to ourselves to call BS on time-sucking, systematic exercises of futility. So how can you stay positive without getting run over?

We seem to believe it is impossible to provoke change without being "disruptive". If your goal is only to disrupt without a means to restructure, you are part of the problem.

Things are not cohesive with the way you would do things if you were the leader...but you're not the leader...and there is a reason for that. Every time you present a counterpoint it sounds like you're bitching. No one will follow someone whose only drive is vengeance. If you don't frame your objective properly, you will come off as a purposeless complainer.

Stay Positive
When you find yourself at Happy Hour with your co-workers do you find yourselves complaining? It can be said that your co-workers can be a vessel for your venom. Empathy requires company and sometimes people just need a little validation. It's time to stop that trend! When your co-worker starts complaining about organizational directives hand her a bar napkin and a pen and ask...

How Would You Do It Better?

People are where they are because of themselves. We can blame leadership or the economy or our lifestyle (or lack thereof). Or we can do something about it.

The most interesting people with whom I have spoken this last year are unflappable in their positivity. Their determination is fueled not by what isn't but by what can be. They have no time for complaints.

What would it take to get you there?

Dear Readers, we live in a world of followers. There are very few inventors and a whole bunch of copy cats. The first step in being special is having the audacity to try. If we are to teach we have to be courageous.

The world has two groups: Heroes & Cowards. Who are you going to be?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 5 - 2013

I guess I'm a sentimental guy because this time of year is always a time of reflection for me. I look back on my success and failures of the past year and resolve to do better in the year to come. The most essential component in the process of reflection is music. I have spent many years as a performer, was the founder of a small record label, and continue to absorb new music every day. There are those who may believe music ain't what it used to be...hopefully the information to follow will disprove your predisposition.

Here are the Top 5 Records of 2013:

5. Heart of Nowhere by Noah and the Whale

Noah and the Whale continue to create contemplative concept albums. 2009's heart breaking, The First Days of Spring, introduced a sorrowful cry for new beginnings. Since then, Charlie Fink and his cast of musical savants have produced two bouncy delights that have clearly put the past away. Heart of Nowhere (and its accompanying short film) is a celebration of youthful exuberance, the joy to dream, and the awareness of the moment. A triumph of the human spirit set to music that could have been a soundtrack for The Breakfast Club. Where have all the years gone....?

4. Make Good Choices by Sean Nelson

"There is nothing more charming than a narcissist with whom you've just agreed"

The above lyric is Sean Nelson in a nutshell: Charmingly Narcissistic. Anyone who has had the pleasure of witnessing the between song banter he and John Roderick have shared over the years would indisputably agree. The former Harvey Danger front man has progressed a million years in two decades. This record has hints of Simon and Garfunkel, a collection of endearing waltzes, and a few nods to the decade that brought this taller version of the aforementioned duo's songbird to our attention. A subtle return from a man who creates music within his own conscious, not mandatory but complimentary. I dare you not to chuckle under your breath.

3. Perils From The Sea by Mark Kozelek & Jimmy LaValle

Mark Kozelek recently founded Calo Verde Records. The label has launched records from The Autumn Leaf, Advance Base, and Sun Kil Moon. In essence, the world's greatest bands on one little label. What a pleasure then to have the instrumental grace of Jimmy LaValle (autumn leaf) accompany the story telling of Mark
Kozelek (sun kil moon). A 2 man super-group. This album offers a series of long tales that would warm any winter window. The usual fables of cats, boxing and love-lorn wandering; coupled with personal reflections told in intricate detail. This collaboration is a master series in words & music.

2. Repave by Volcano Choir   

"Wake up".....begins the introduction of the record's opening track, Tiderays. The lyric, song title and album cover; perfectly introducing Volcano Choir to the world. This is Justin Vernon's (Bon Iver) second effort under this moniker...the first scraps of experiments. Repave serves as much a Bon Iver record as a side project continued. The soundscapes are magnificent and perfectly blend with the stoic vocal delivery of one of the song writing legends of our time. A title wave of sound accompanied by a million beautiful ripples of emotion.


1. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend    

How incredibly uninventive of me to nominate the same album Rolling Stone, NPR and a thousand other publications have given record of the year. I will not, however, be swayed by public opinion. This record is a profoundly unexpected masterpiece that will live in infamy for many years to come. The Oxford boys who have created dub step records that mirrored Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel have completely rewritten the script on their 3rd effort. The production is multi-layered and spacious with increasingly engaging lyrical content. The tempo has slowed but the energy remains. I thought this would be a summer delight but this record has remained in consistent rotation since May. I find more in every listen. I am always one to argue popular opinion but there is an exception to every rule. 

Thank You For Listening!


Monday, December 16, 2013

Putting The Year to Rest

 My son and I were watching Steve Jobs present at Apple Town Hall in 2001. Actually, it was Ashton Kutcher in the opening scene of "Jobs", the year's most remarkable film. At the conclusion of his brief Keynote introduction, Steve Jobs pulled from his pocket a device that he introduced as "the I-pod". I was startled by applause from the 8 year old sitting next to me. He nodded his head and looked over at me with a pride most children would reserve for Santa Claus. How truly amazing, that a group of people could create something so complex and make it easy enough for a child to engage.

Mission Accomplished!

This time of year produces lists of best efforts. We are then bombarded with what to expect in the new year. With egg nog in lap, we reflect on the year past and set resolutions for the year to come. Then we nod off to the glow of the television and forget the lessons we've learned.

Steve Jobs lived an extraordinary life because he was uncompromising in his pursuit of innovation, able to risk past accomplishments to make the future better, and willing to be hated to be great. Seeing what he accomplished dwarfed what I have achieved this year and it inspired me to do more.

What Did You Accomplish This Year That is Truly Remarkable?
Maybe you landed a great new position, perhaps you sold a large deal, maybe you met your sweetheart or brought a child into the world. All positive achievements are important but what would it take to put a dent in the universe?

What did you do this year that changed the world? Is there something you have done that no one else can can do? Is there something you are pursuing that everyone else doubted? Did you take a chance on someone that others did not believe in? Are you willing to keep fighting?

Setting moderate goals would certainly be a means for accumulation of something bigger....but why not Think Big...?

Give People Something to Believe In
I see organizational leaders who have achieved nothing in their lives. They were in the right place at the right time and have ridden it out. They have aligned and protected themselves. There is only one likely conclusion...a retirement party with no one in attendance.

You have to be willing to take chances and to be confident enough in what you believe in to bring others along with you. You have to inspire people to try new things. You have to be willing to disrupt the mundane flow to create a Title Wave.

People want something new. They want someone with the courage to stand up for that which they genuinely believe in.

What are you waiting for?

Resolve To Change The World!!!!
Maybe you want to get more exercise. Maybe you want to learn a foreign language or go back to school. That's all fine and good, but why not shoot for the stars...?

Do Twice as Much
Give Away What You Can Live Without
Hire an Employee With No Experience (and a whole lotta heart)
If You Hate Your Job...Quit!
Create Something Totally Unique
Kiss The Girl in Accounting
Allow No One To Put a Finger In Your Face
Raise Your Hand (and Your Voice)
Believe in the Dreamers
Give People a Project
Find a Dream Worth Pursuing (and dedicate yourself to it)

You've got 29,200 days on earth. Today is as good a day as any other to change your life and change the world!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

BIG IDEA 2014: HR as a Business Partner

In 2013, I conducted several seminars on behalf of NCHRA as a part of the HR as a Business Partner series. Admittedly, the "seat at the table" discussion can be disenchanting, but in 2013 we made this catch phrase a reality.

A few things for Human Resources to consider in 2014:
1. Executive Motives are Not as Complex as We've Been Lead to Believe!
2. Unit Managers actually want to Partner with you!
3. You are the Pipeline from Employees to Executives....

A Challenge to HR
HR wants to partner with Unit Managers. If we are being honest, Unit Managers do not want partner with HR.

Don't Believe Me?

Tell a Sales Manager that you want to assist in their performance assessments and they will probably give you one (or all three) of the following responses:
a. Get Bent
b. I'll Handle My Team's Performance
c. I"ll Contact You When We Are Facing a Lawsuit (so you can clean up my mess)

The Opportunity for Partnership
We have never hired an employee assuming they would fail. Success in an expectation. HR is not trying to manage any team's performance metrics.

Simple Math

Allow the unit managers to manage performance metrics....(but do not allow them to protect silos)!!!

How much does it cost companies who prop up their top performers as keepers of the organizational flame?

A lot!

- Just because someone is a top performer doesn't make them an admirable employee.
- Our best individual contributors should remain individual performers.
- The only way to discover the leaders of tomorrow is by involving HR.

In a perfect world, managers would manage performance metrics and HR would measure corporate citizenship.

What Do We Stand to Gain?
Manager's deflect partnership with HR because they are afraid their process will be revealed. They don't want the performance review turned around on them.

Managers are far too busy to keep people honest to their goal and still celebrate their effort. Here's where our partnership is born....

If HR handles Core Values in the hiring, performance management, and succession planning....while Managers control performance....everybody wins:

HR (core values) + Manager (performance metrics) = Organizational Perfection!

Reality Check
Employees don't leave companies, they leave managers. Protecting one's flock only marginalizes talent and detracts revenue. A great percentage of employees succeed in-spite of their Managers, not because of them.

Those who can't do, teach! 

HR is not a group of secretaries, paper pushers, legal advisers, or narcs...

A great shift is coming to the professional world over the next 5 years. It's called Succession Planning and it involves a whole lotta Human Resources. If Unit Managers think they can continue to ignore HR, they are mistaken.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


"In life there are creators and destroyers, which one are you?"
- George Lucas

Whoever developed the phrase, "ignorance is bliss", may have missed the point entirely. It seems the more knowledge we gain, the more jaded we become. If someone smiles upon us on the street we look at them sideways. It is, indeed, easier to be negative than to brave a life of positivity. With life's pressures enveloping us, we may look upon those with love in their heart as naive. Then, we grow weary and choose to invite others into our perfect world....and things get messy...

"I was thinking about how everyone is dying...and maybe it's time to live"
- Mark Oliver Everett

There are people who walk through the world waiting for others to fail. They live for the "I told you so" moment. They fear doing anything of value to others and choose only to sit in judgement. It is far easier criticise than to take action.

When Did You Give Up?
There is a man who sits on the corner stool at the local watering hole. He arrives a few minutes after quitting time each day, drinks several beers, and seeks arguments with transient patrons. He has spent years perfecting his ability to defend his lack of effort in life. He derives pleasure from making others feel less intelligent than he. If he would have spent each evening at the library he may have found a way to conquer his worst enemy....himself.

Do you have the ability to get hit and get back up? Does getting back in the ring make you a dum dum? You'll never know if you don't try.

Here's How Possible Happens....
I love being around my children because they have yet to understand the word impossible. We all rush into our careers full of motivation and new ideas. Over time, we run into people who have tried and failed too many times to keep trying. They will do everything in their power to maintain the realm of possibility in your professional world. You should exist to prove them wrong.

Start asking "what if" and never let a conversation end until you've pondered other options.

Find Something Worth Fighting For!
Completing tasks for the sake of getting them done is a waste of effort. Winning for the sake of keeping one's job is not motivating. We need to thrive personally and professionally.

What do you genuinely love? Would you pursue a career as a musician with the same lack of ingenuity that has come to characterize your professional existence? Would you be proud to bring your child into a team meeting? Is your boss someone you admire? Do you believe in what your company represents?

The same blood that pumps love into your heart, pumps energy into your brain. Your motivation is an extension of what you believe is worth fighting for.

What are you fighting for?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thank You!

It seems these days my apologies and Thank You's are bed mates. I have a pedigree about me that is in equal parts inspiring and puzzling (from what I gather). Much of my time is met with furrowed brows but most all of my conversations conclude with a faithful nod. Indeed, to love me is to deal with me....so thanks to everyone who has been bold enough to try.

"we're too much a lot alike while all we do is try....carefully" - Tim Delaughter

I will shamefully admit that my greatest moments are spent in a coffee shop at 5am: coffee by my side, head phones on, lap top fired up. It may seem a sad & lonely existence, but it is merely the 2 hours a day that I escape from my perfect life. It is so very hard to welcome people into one's world...and I am responsible for so many of them.

"so let's dim the daylights for the sweethearts that we are...some times I find myself, still lying in your arms" - Ryan Adams  

I've got the greatest wife in the world: as the scoreboard goes, she may have seen the worst of me more often than she's seen me at my best. My father is simply the world's kindest man. My mother has been sick since I was in High School, I'm certain I've seen her at her worst more than either of us would like to admit. My daughter has her mother's skin and my eyes, she has more determination than anyone I have ever met. My son, like his Grandfather, genuinely cares for people in a way I could never fathom. More than anyone, my sister has taught me to become the person I am today, she gets no credit and expects none.

"comes a time when the blind man takes your hand and says, don't you see...?" - Jerry Garcia

I've been a champion, a captain, a president, a king, and so much more....forgive me for ignoring humility, but I consider none of it luck! You see, I've never been afraid to lose nor have I been afraid to be embarrassed and as a result neither has happened very often.

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

In my mind there is a rolling credit...the humble ending to a wonderful movie...with the names of all those who have put up with me over the years. The sunset illuminates the beach, the leaves shimmer like tambourines, and we live the story of our lives.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Heart of Motivation

Are you striving to get closer to success or further from failure?

In the world of workforce motivation there seem to be 2 extreme camps:
1. Those who measure success only by performance metrics
2. Those who believe value contributing behaviors are equally essential success

Year of arrival on earth, organizational department, gender and/or title may play into which of the above mentioned groups one may fall under. There are those who think a job is a job; they get their work done and go home. Are they actively disengaged or simply content to work in their bubble? If we are competing only against ourselves does that make us any less competitive? Do performance results correlate to engagement? If you are a top performer but a terrible workplace citizen does that make you an asset or a liability? Should we look up to star performers based only on their performance metrics? If I am at 80% of my quota (but consistently willing to step outside the realm of my job responsibilities to help others) am I really under-performing?

What if I told you that you could crush your number and still be an admirable co-worker.

Why You Need Positive Reinforcement!
In years past, we've seen rewards and core values dismissed as "fluff". Still today, leaders are posturing that the new generation of workers shouldn't be rewarded for just showing up. However, the rise of corporate citizenship cannot be overlooked. Companies like Zappos and Toms have built their corporate mission on active value-driven participation. Community service is personifying collaborative corporate energy. Charitable contributions are now being given by employees in place of personal accolades. We've discovered that others don't need to lose for us to win. Internal competition is now being looked down upon as fuel for the entitled. Badges of goal attainment are certificates of learning more than trophies.

The premise is simple: you cannot wish to see repeated what you do not recognize!

We now know that our workforce is best served when we are humble in victory and accountable in defeat. We should reward in public and discipline behind closed doors. Rule by intimidation drives away top talent and kills company revenue. Empowering micro-manager's heavy handed tactics only entitles mediocrity.

Results Through Behavior Enhancement!
If we only reward based on statistics, two things happen:
1. The culture is built only on tactical efficiency.
2. Those who we prop up as leaders may not be the best influence on our rising stars.

Performing your job well is your first obligation to your organization. We seem to assume that if we recognize individuals for business critical behaviors they will stop accelerating. Wrong!

That which we do not recognize will not be repeated!

The top performers in most organizations are self-centered. They have to be laser focused on their personal track to success. This tends to make them disengaged co-workers. Too often, those who express the greatest self-focus do a poor job promoting the organization's collective mission.

Sustainable Success
If money is all you have to offer your employees they will leave when a better offer comes along. If your organization promotes something bigger than the individual; employees develop a belief system. You cannot measure belief: it is not a commodity that can be boxed or sold. Belief is a sustainable organic lifeblood that is hard to contract but highly contagious.

If I'm arriving only for a pay check, I will punch-in and punch-out.

If I believe in the cause, my office is everywhere!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, November 11, 2013

The End of the Good Ol' Boys Club

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!"
- an excerpt from Aesop's Fable: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

A recent incident of harassment within an NFL organization has brought about consideration of age-old traditions in the workplace. There are those who consider certain rituals a right of passage and others who see no value in maintaining the way things have always been.

The world is changing. People are no longer comfortable with authority for the sake of authority and what has always been is being challenged. Tradition is giving way to innovation. This does not mean loyalty is dead, it means content is king. Information is now so readily available that it can no longer be protected. The silos are burning.

Rule #5 of the New Rules of Engagement: Be Boldly Transparent!

In this day-and-age of social media, privacy is at a premium. Why not act accordingly?

I sat in church last week while the Priest confronted the men in the audience. He posed questions to us to analyze our character. I was able to look him in the eye with great certainty. I'm far from perfect but I'm not hiding anything.

At least 2 NFL players have had a criminal past exposed this season. People have lost their jobs for protecting the entitled behavior of outstanding performers. To allow people special treatment because they possess a divine skill is no longer an option. Performance reviews in organizations are in equal part considering corporate citizenship alongside core skill metrics. Organizations are valuing collaboration over competition. Arrogance is being trumped by humility.

In 2013, I have been part of a speaking series called "HR as a Business Partner". We have discussed strategic organizational initiatives and HR's critical participation in change management. I want to believe that designing strategic programs, innovation strategy, culture building, and social citizenship are key HR directives; but I might be wrong.

Half of the workforce may now be viewed as irrelevant. Will they expose themselves by clinging to tradition? Will the explanation of its always been this way become an excuse for lack of inventive thinking?

While we strive to be a strategic business partner, HR may be spending a great deal of the next decade pondering the legalities of off-boarding workforce veterans. There may be an abundance of organizational psychology needed from Human Resources to battle the swift tide of this workforce succession.

If you are afraid to collaborate, you've never had a good idea!
Have you ever heard the saying, "its not what you know, it's who you know". I hate that saying! We cannot dismiss people's lack of ability simply because we love them.

I had to re-evaluate my professional life when I realized that I could not climb the corporate ladder. The people who were deemed "leaders" looked down upon this because they had backed their way into their titles by doing the safe thing. I lost faith in everything I always wanted......

Stop Protecting Mediocrity!
It does not matter when you were born, what cost center you fall under, or the distinction of your title.

There is 1 simple rule:
Let Your Awesomeness Shine!

There is no intricate performance management system necessary. It is not about who you know. If you are great at what you do you should have greater influence. If your content has no merit you can pretend for the sake of preservation but is that really how you want to represent yourself?

Success is a collective action. There are no winners when spite is the motivator.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Disengagement: I'm Not Buying It!

Gallup released it's "State of the Global Business" report for 2013. The results are unbelievable.

According to Gallup:
    1. Worldwide, only 13% of Employees are Engaged at work. 
2. The Actively Disengaged outnumber the Engaged 2 to 1 in the workplace.

So, if 2 of every 10 of your employees are engaged you are an above average organization?
More people hate their job than those who love it?

Are you willing to accept that? 

...because I'm not!

How Do You Define Engagement?
The concept of Employee Engagement has been tied to Employee Recognition. They are not one-in-the-same. For instance, a plaque in recognition of 20 years of service may loosely be viewed as a benefit but it certainly isn't a strategic engagement tool. In the classes I have facilitated in the HR space this year, Baby Boomers are consistently pushing back on offering programs that afford the "trophy generation" a trophy for just showing up....but, then....isn't a service award the same thing? 

Gallup measures absenteeism (or lack there of) as an engagement metric. Really? Talk about rewarding people for just showing up. There is no such thing as being absent from work. We are working all the time. The problem is that certain organizations are choosing to measure engagement by the wrong metrics.
What's Your Currency?  
Rule #3 of the New Rules of Engagement is: Make Money a Non-Issue. What? We shall not work pro bono....what's in it for me? Guess what, fewer people are asking that question in today's workplace. 

In 2013, more people have used their recognition currency to support charities. More people in this day-and-age attend company sponsored community development events than ever before. A company's competitive advantage is now measured by how collaborative they are. 

Susan Andrews recently explained Citi's Innovation Strategy. This is a person who left the world's most innovative company to work for a bank. Why? Because it's easy to move forward at a forward-thinking company. Those who really want to make a difference take on seemingly insurmountable organizational roadblocks with a sledge hammer and a lot of conviction. 

We cannot create engagement by duplicating best practices. We have to explore and re-align to what will only work at our company. A vendor cannot sell us engagement, we have to create what is genuinely ours and use that as a strategic cultural advantage.
I Like Our Odds!
Engagement is the act of catapulting every employee to Self-Actualization. We don't believe that is possible because we lend too much credence to surveys, pay attention only to the squeaky wheels, buy one-size-fits-all programs from uninventive vendors, and think technology can solve human problems.

I'm not willing to accept 20% engagement as a standard for efficiency! We should all seek to be excellent not average. We should invest in our people by listening to and rewarding their ideas. We should kick down the boardroom door and put our plan on the table.

The professional world is shifting. If we don't change the way we design organizational initiatives (and promote those initiatives to tomorrows rock stars) we will drown on the ship called "Efficiency". Being average is not good enough. We need to stop relying on the turn-key stop gaps and seek to change the world.

We can change the world....one employee at a time!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creating the Essentials

None of us enjoy Monday Mornings. My Monday this week was especially challenging. Despite the transition from weekend wonder to work mode, our neighborhood experienced a power outage. I was awaken by my i-pod and showered in the dark. I navigated the halls by i-pod light, woke the kids up early, and we drove through the dark to find breakfast. Many of our neighborhood establishments were closed. Monday Dread: no light, no food, and 2 kids in-tow unsure why the Apocalypse was upon us.

With a character building morning behind me, the rest of the week seemed easy to conquer. It made me think: what do I really need and what have I been taking for granted? Indeed, our success is determined by a disciplined loyalty to a few simple actions.

Unconventional Approach
People are now more connected than ever. We no longer have to rely on publications for filtered information. There are people who speak with our own voice who we can interact with every day...people who we may never meet in-person. Consumerism is search-based, advertising is visual, and selling is no longer a matter of convincing but connecting.

If you do not speak with a unique voice, your time here will be ending soon.

The Ability to Differentiate
If consumers spend half of their time researching and there are millions of options; you better be doing something different. Likewise, if you come to meet with me you better know as much about my company as I do.

No one wants to be sold to anymore. People want you to paint a picture of the future with their brush...to inspire, to personify a future of infinite possibility.

What do you create that no one else can and why does it matter to me?

Genuine Purpose
Are you interesting? When you sit across from me will you bore me to sleep with corporate speak or will you grab my attention?

Think about the people who you remember meeting. Not so much friends or colleagues, but that person who caught your attention in the coffee shop by challenging your interest.

If you don't believe in what you are doing, no one will buy from you. If you don't have the ability to create something completely unique, no one will need it. If you can change my life in one conversation, I will follow you.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Set My People Free

Our developments in life are often predicated by tough love. Some times people tell us what we want to hear and some times people tell us what we have to hear. It is the metaphorical slap in the face by someone we respect telling us to stop acting like a baby and get our shit together.

People who risk alienating us may indeed be brave enough to save us. It might be a performance review, advice on the state of our start-up venture, or a friend telling us to dump the person we have been pretending to love.

We would rather hear that we are great than to hear we suck. This validates our behavior and keeps us on our path....which is awesome if we are moving forward. However, if the path we are strolling is a downward spiral to mediocrity, someone might need to grab us by our collar and slap us.

We all want to be loved by our peers, but if we love the people with whom we work, we owe them the favor of honesty.

When is it time to ring up the proverbial wake up call?

It's Time For You To Quit!
There are studies that measure one's level of engagement. Most of these studies tell us that half the people in the workforce hate their job. There is no merit to a survey that uses canned questions to tell a detached CEO that the company is doomed. You can, however, tell if someone is actively disengaged just by sitting next to them.

If a morning salutation is met with 17 different complaints (involving deeply personal insults at one's boss and co-workers) that person is beyond help. Some times the best advice you can give someone is that it is time for them to leave. I consistently preach the value of organizational culture and how engagement can improve retention. With that said, a certain degree of autonomy can be healthy. Some times people need a clean slate simply for the sake of losing their baggage.

Disengaged employees are poison! They turn Super Stars into skeptics, destroy optimism, and deflate every room they enter. They give the well-intentioned a reason to hate life because misery loves company. Over time, we tire of these grumps and they end up in the break room talking to themselves.

I'm Going To Tell You Something You Don't Want to Hear!
The majority of our peer conversations could be categorized as verbal complaint files. When we are frustrated we want to hear that our side of the story is the truth. We want validation that our frustration is not a result of our failure but the fault of others to understand our brilliance. In reality, when we fail to recognize our faults, we default to neutral.

People will nod their head, pat you on the back, and buy you a beer. Shortly after, they will call everyone of your co-workers and tell them to stay away from you. We often think that we are influencing others to join the resistance when they are actually marking us to be quarantined.

The Power of Giving Up
Are you motivated by the need to prove others wrong? There is no achievement in that game. Are you trying to motivate your employees by telling them they can keep their job if they perform well? If so, they will do just enough to stay employed.

Some times you need to pack up your baggage and leave the past behind. There is always reflection in change and an ability to re-create ourselves. There is no shame in quitting something you hate doing.

The best way to help someone understand that they are ruining your company culture is to ask them to validate their complaints with action items. If they have no answers, they will cast themselves upon the island of the malcontent.

Let them go. They will thank you later!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, October 18, 2013

Assumed Authority: A Cautionary Tale

Last week, I wrote a piece about my journey to finding the perfect job. I know many are not so lucky. Some studies even indicate that most people hate their job. I found Dave Kerpen's latest contribution to the LinkedIn blog famously entertaining. The post highlighted the worst job candidate traits uncovered by a myriad of hiring professionals. Some examples were laughable, others were simply human. As I read Dave's post I found myself slightly put off by the assumed self-importance of these so-called hiring experts.

I investigated the marketplace for a solid year before joining my current company. I took any interview I could get to sharpen my skills and understand my options. I must say that the habits of interviewers can be as ludicrous as those of the worst job candidates.

Hiring professionals are the first line of promotion for any company. Make no mistake about it, the hiring process is a two-way street. I understand the notion that beggars cannot be choosers, but I would assume that any company would want to hire the best people and retain them for as long as possible. Many of the experiences I had speak to the contrary.

Don't Even Interview Over-Qualified Candidates
I was shocked by how unprepared many hiring professionals were. In many cases, I was called the wrong name and several neglected to research my qualifications.

If your job requires 3 years experience and I have 15, do you really think I want to go through the process of validating my skills to your commission only, fresh out of Jr. College, recruiter?

Don't Assume The Candidate Is Desperate For A Job
I received unsolicited advice from hiring professionals about how to format my resume and how to position myself in an interview. In some cases, I was never even extended the common courtesy of a "thanks but no thanks" email.

It is dangerous to assume a candidate is desperate for a job or to underestimate any given candidate. In fact, I would venture to guess that those who are most polished in the interviewing process are most used to interviewing.... so hire them, watch them leave in a year, and count your losses. At least your recruitment firm will have a solid spot in your budgeting plan.

Be Aware That Any Given Candidate Could Be Interviewing You Some Day
Whether you are interviewing potential hires, evaluating vendors, or managing employees; you should put yourself in the seat across the desk. Assuming you hold the seat of authority in any of the aforementioned processes is nothing more than a crutch of formality.

Have a little empathy...

I understand we become a slave to our process. I know that we all have directives and standards by which to achieve our objectives. I know our time for nonsense is limited and those asking for employment cannot determine hiring standards.

The greatest companies find the greatest employees. Long term employees come naturally to organizations. The process is effortless; not strained. It's called a natural fit: we've got a great job, you have extraordinary talent, let's have a conversation to see if there is a fit.

It's that simple.....

How much money is lost in the vicious cycle of filling spots for the sake of filling them and then back-filling them again?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One Year Later

Unlike a lot of my friends, I have only had a few jobs in my 16 year professional career. Some in the Silicon Valley see this stability as a red flag, I see it as a badge of honor! This blog (and several seminars that I conduct) impassion the need for companies to foster culture. The premise of the economy stifling the hiring process may help control HR budgets, but truly talented people always have options. So, this week I figured I would flip the script and advise the employee. It is true that HR needs to create engaging programs, but at some point, employees need to carry the torch.

Making a career change is one of the most difficult processes anyone has to navigate. I had the good fortune to make an educated choice a year ago. Here is what I have learned in my first year of employment at the world's most awesome company.

Hard Work Still Works
We can look back at our professional failures and pin point areas where we could have done more. While it is never wise to confuse effort with results, those who work hard (and smart) always find a way to win. Indeed, if you are the first one at the office and the last to leave; success is immanent.

Learn to Read People
Every company has the can-do, super-energized, bastions of empowerment: Believe in them, follow them, and help them grow the company in their likeness. Every company has the excuse-making, self-important, spoilers of motivation: Ignore them and they will go away. We have to accept the good and the bad in every company and learn to navigate accordingly. While I am not one to posture, it is important to know where to spend your energy.

Study Your Audience
In this day-and-age of the educated consumer; traditional selling is dead. People don't want to be cold-called, they don't want to hear slick talk, and they don't need you re-iterating what they just read on-line. Sales people should not go to seminars to sit among other sales people. You should go where your audience is, sit by their side, and learn their issues.

Trust me, it is far more important to be seen as a peer than someone who is selling something!

Believe in What You Do!
The blogosphere is run amok with smart asses. I know because I am one of them. We challenge convention, insult the uninventive and call out stifled creativity. This cannot be the way we conduct ourselves in the workplace.

My friend Steve Browne is a breath of fresh air because he combats the skeptics with unwavering positivity. He simply refuses to let the bastards grind him down. People like Steve are proof that one person can make a difference.

If you do not empower those who complain, they will stop complaining.
If you transform complaints into action items, you will make progress.
If you believe in what you are doing, people will jump on your back and take the journey with you.

Some people will run out of professional options. This will cause compromise which will lead to the hating of one's life. Don't let that happen!

Move forward every day. Pay attention to the people who are doing extraordinary things. Ignore those who seek to destroy progress.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 7, 2013

The Fault Line

I have no problem admitting my faults, I just need you to forgive them

It is interesting how little we focus on vulnerability in the workplace. It seems we are consistently promoting what we are doing well without recognition of our faults. Specifically in middle management, it seems absolutely forbidden to show your hand to your subordinates.
Hundreds of thousands of workers are reaching the legal retirement age. Positions will need to be filled by others who may have never managed and those people will be managing people who don't want to be managed.
Are those exiting the workforce still trying to prove themselves?
I don't get it..... If you have 30 years of workforce excellence behind you, you should be proud of your experiences and willing to share them. I try to give insight to young professionals
to help them avoid making the same mistakes that I have. While we all want to prove we still matter, shouldn't we be grooming the leaders of tomorrow to ensure our legacy remains in-tact?
Are those entering Leadership roles ready to lead?
As a Generation X-er, I feel we have been a forgotten generation (and I am fine with that). Studies have focused on the stereotypical workforce habits of Generation Y and the Baby Boomers with very little mention of those in the middle of their careers. If the Baby Boomers are clinging to their titles and the Gen Y-ers are changing the way we lead, how will Generation X lead?
My contention is that by leaving Generation X out of the workforce motivational argument, you have allowed (us) to focus on our work.... Imagine that: a workforce driven to succeed on the basis of their merit.
Are those entering the workforce ready to be lead?
A young man recently asked me what I thought about the current hiring landscape. I told him that his talents would land him a job. He was instantly relieved by the advice. Everyone had been telling him how difficult it would be to transition from College into the workforce, no one told him to trust his ability. Do we warn young people of the perils of the professional world because we want them to be prepared or because we are envious of their youth?
As we discussed last week, a title wave of Succession Planning is roaring toward shore! With the above mentioned scenarios in mind, we should ask ourselves the following question:

Why is it so important to label employees with a motivational score based on when they were born?
No Generation Y-er has ever agreed with the articles written about their generational habits. Baby Boomers are tired of hearing that the corporate world is changing. Generation X.....who are they?
What if the title wave gave way to common sense? What if we were willing to admit that we don't know everything? What if we were ourselves in interviews instead of memorizing bullet points and pretending we possess skills we do not? What if we focused on collective progress instead of protecting our titles?
Save the drama for your Mama and get to work!
Don't Forget to Remember!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Discovering Irreplaceable Excellence

Sir Ricahrd Branson wrote a LinkedIn editorial about the traits he identifies in preferred job candidates. He noted the importance of personality fit more than resume bullets. We all know that a candidate can customize their resume to fit a job description and speak to said points in an array of interviews. The sad thing is that our hiring processes have become so predictable that the aforementioned process usually lands someone in a job they may not be qualified to fill. Much like the process of memorizing and passing a test, the hiring process is usually a search for "the safe choice". What we fail to recognize is that the job's incumbent left because safe practices were stifling innovation.....and then someone with a fresh perspective came along.

I was further intrigued by Vijay Govindarajan & Jatin Desari's piece for the Harvard Business Review on employees they call "Intraprenuers". Intraprenuers are your employees with a unique ability to transform your organization. They are not rule breakers or loud mouths but those who seek to challenge the safe path....usually under their own breath. Their actions speak louder than their words and if your organization is reluctant to support forward thinking, they will leave.

We often fail to recognize true talent: in the hiring process, through our organizational development and in performance management. This is because the organizational function is fragmented in each of the aforementioned Human Resource areas. He/She doing the hiring may have different standards for excellence than he/she who designs performance initiatives. The managers who are in charge of developing talent may hold back in doing so to keep star performers on their team.

As we enter 2014, HR will begin a 5 years journey in Succession Planning like never before. Baby Boomers are retiring, the forgotten heroes of Generation X are progressing into senior management positions, and the millennials are looking for progressive organizational standards.

Are you ready?  

Who's Fault?
Why do we wait for exit interviews to find out why we cannot retain top talent? What do we do with the information gained from exit interviews? Why are managers not held accountable when extraordinary talent departs? What came first the system or the manager?

If our performance management curriculum is based in outdated performance standards we cannot blame the managers when people leave.

Value Driven Interviews
How can you stifle those who seek jobs by memorizing job descriptions? Ask them about your company's Core Values. You may by surprised how very candidates will take the time to review your organization's mission, vision and values before deciding if the company is a fit for them.

Core Values should be given metric qualification in both the hiring and performance management process.

Take Chances
Every great leader has stories of failure. They were passed up for promotions, fired, or a venture they started had gone under. Then someone took a chance on them....

We always remember those people who saw our true talent through our nervous eyes across the interview table. Our success is driven by those who have enough confidence in their leadership ability to develop our talent into skill. Are these leaders a dying breed? As the economy controls "head count", people become numbers, and managers hire based on the "safe bet". This is no different than buying based on price. As soon as a better deal comes along the candidate will chase it. They worked you over in the hiring process and they can do it anywhere else.

Finding an organizational fit is difficult! You have to take time to get to know people, to assess their contribution to your culture, to have the intuition to see their true talents and the ability to develop them into organizational advocates.

It seems we prefer to hire safe and re-hire often. A number filled cog with no recognition of the genuine human traits that would transform journeymen into loyal advocates.

We are human beings not FTE's!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Get The Poison Out

I spend a lot of time advising Human Resources professionals regarding the calculation of the return on investment of their Strategic People Programs. There are a variety of ways to assess if the money you are paying vendors is contributing to revenue producing behaviors. Much of our conversation analyzes the value of retaining top talent.

How much does it cost to hire and train new talent?
How much production is lost when tenured employees depart?

It would be a perfect world if Succession Planning started on our date of hire. Essentially, streamlining the Human Resource functions of hiring, on-boarding and exit strategy (for lack of a better term) into Performance Management. But, that's about as likely as eliminating performance reviews.

Performance Reviews are a necessary legal document that are in place in the event you need to fire someone. They do not motivate, but they are not going away.

Succession Planning should not be predicated on the average retirement date of Baby Boomers. Nor should we pretend the preferred style of leadership as applicable to Generation Y matters more than developing Generation X leaders.    

With all the focus on retention one interesting question has come up:

How much attrition is healthy?

People who hate their job ruin company cultures. Some of them are top performers who others look up to. Others are highly-tenured employees who have deemed themselves the keepers of the flame.

Would it be insane to have a member of your staffing department assigned to help actively disengaged employees find another job?

There is never an easy way to off-board an employee. Forcible exit may cause a lawsuit and managing out can sour an employee to your organization for life. None of us want bad Glassdoor reviews.

So what if your culture was so strong that your employees simply wouldn't stand for negativity? Would the actively disengaged be crowd sourced to the exits?

Sometimes our greatest talent are the least vocal because they have been over-shadowed by those who have assumed the conch through tenure. If our employees believe so strongly in the organizational cause, the complainers will eventually fire themselves.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


There are people everywhere who are struggling. The middle class is getting closer to penny poor and the rich are keeping up with the Joneses. Money cannot buy happiness but lack-there-of certainly can ruin everything. There is a lot of pressure that goes along with making a buck and hoping the fruits of our labor will bring us something sweet. It's not the money, its what the money says.

"When money talks, I hate to listen, but lately its been screaming in my ear"
- Ben Folds

I see young couples arguing over money (some get divorced because of it). A man and woman work really hard for a month and once the bills are paid there is barely enough to buy your sweetie flowers. That really isn't fair.

Let's Assume Life Is Not Fair!
I used to be a miserable person. I bitched so much about what wasn't working that I forgot how lucky I was. There have been a few people in my life who have caught me in my self-absorbed moments and have told me I was acting like an asshole. I remember these interactions because they served as a wake up call. Show me a complainer and I will show you someone who is not maximizing their potential.

Our plight is to look upon what isn't working and to make it better. Because we can.

Have You Forgotten?
As we advance through this world we tend to get comfortable. When we stop moving forward, we start moving backward, and then it all catches up with us. We may fail at our job because we have lost the willingness to fail. We tend to forget that we have been here before. We have faced challenges and conquered them. We have looked upon the impossible and made it possible. It is not our duty to tell tails of the past, it is our duty to repeat our success.

If you forget how to love yourself, no one else will.

The Turning Point
15 years from now will you look up from a bar stool and try to remember where it all went wrong or will you smile from your porch swing at what you have made possible?

Everybody faces disappointment. You will work hard and it won't be good enough. People less-deserving will get promoted. The man with everything will throw it all away. People will misunderstand your effort. You can choose to let life's unfair swings control you or you can take control of your life.

Be brave and conquer your challenges. Remember to be patient with those who do not understand you.

Keep your head strong and your heart soft....We can do this.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Practical Application

It seems I live among people who are incredibly smart and astronomically stupid. Please allow me to explain...

Last week, we spoke of the fractured learning development process in the American education system that has spilled over into the corporate world (or vice versa). As Dan Pink brought to light a few years back, we are focusing far too much on memorization and testing. This seems to be the preferred method for educational advancement, certification, performance development, career escalation.... It is also a broken system. Process doesn't always ensure results, memorization for the sake of receiving a certificate has nothing to do with skill development, and management by metrics deters talent (it doesn't develop talent).

I see far too many people walking through the streets with their heads up their asses. They are smart, successful, wealthy, genuinely caring people....they just suck at articulating themselves.

Knowledge Attainment and Practical Application are two very different things.

We all know how to read and pass a test. Very few of us know how to bring in the knowledge, process it, and then tell others not only what it means to us but how it will help them. Simplicity has been trumped by an over-indulgence of knowledge attainment with no intent of application. Anyone can hole-up in their cubicle and read. No one volunteers to stand up and prove what they know: for fear of rejection, for fear of being tested and being unable to defend our attained knowledge, for fear that if we have learned but are unable to articulate we have not learned at all.

Stand Up
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Ask me to financial plan, run a report, or populate a spreadsheet and I will instantly fall asleep. We need to either adapt the skills to amend our weaknesses or to find a supporting cast with skills contrary to our own. What we cannot do is ignore what we are not good at and expect the job to get done. What we can do is amplify what we are good at....!

Be Uncomfortable
I do a number of speaking engagements, go to networking events, conduct focus groups, volunteer for the local HR Leadership Organization, and coach girls under 6 soccer. None of it is easy, all of it takes time away from my more pressing priorities, and each of the aforementioned activities comes with a great degree of discomfort.

There is still an element of discomfort speaking in front of crowds. Meeting new people is never simple. Putting personal challenges aside to perform one's job requires some agility. There is a degree of difficulty in accepting a challenge.

Get Over It 
It is easy to focus on what you are not doing well. There are a whole bunch of people who will take every opportunity to remind you where you could be doing better.

Ignore the insults and build your own truth!

No one has earned the right to tell you what is important to you more than yourself. You've got to keep your heart soft and your head strong. You have to accept what is going to suck about each day and conquer it. Nothing is determined indefinitely at the onset of any day.

The future is yours to create!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, September 9, 2013


My occupation allows me to swim in many waters. I work with Marketing, Sales and HR Leaders across the Globe. While we want to believe we live in a time of organizational alignment, we simply do not!! Marketing wants Big Data, Sales wants to see the ROI and HR wants to be accepted for their Leadership contributions. We say our mission, vision and values align us; but far too often they are swept under the rug in difference to our more immediate goals. With the recession concluding, employees have taken the power back: Jobs are more readily available and our personal brands are now stronger than our company logos.

What can bring us together?

The understanding that results are not produced by managing metrics. Results are produced by empowering people.

Regardless of your title or role you would rather be told you are awesome than you suck. Your manager may believe differently.

Indeed, there is still a large contingency of "leaders" who believe that only numbers matter. You can choose to adapt or spend half your time hiring replacements for your extraordinary producers.

Numbers Lie
No one would advise you that production is not the most important function of any given job. Let's assume that everyone on your team is at their quota (this goes along with receiving your ID badge).

Now what?

Many Managers are far too consumed with under-performance. They spend their time disciplining the least of their talent. They look at their broken system of micro management and intensify it when their producers fall short. As if to say, I have failed to help you because I rely on a system that focuses on results, not the learning process (much like cramming for a test). Yet, I ask of you to do more memorizing and to prospect by numbers....this will ultimately produce a 10% production ratio that we have come to call success.


Let me remind you that you can motivate by the bench of the basket. If I tell you I will bench you if you do not play well, you will do just enough to stay in the game. If I provide you with the skills and the trust to manage the game, you will score....and win!

Wake Up Call
We are experiencing a New Economic Order. Buyers are far more educated because information on every product/service is readily available. The recession has taught us to live with only the things that intrigue and inspire us. Slick talk that is merely a re-iteration of what your buyer has already read in researching your company will get you no where.

Differentiation is the new American Way! The one thing that cannot be re-produced or outsourced, is the ability to understand what your customer needs. Your creativity and understanding of how to solve business problems cannot be packaged or sold.

Under Your Nose
The Managers greatest gift are the employees that serve him/her. It is incumbent upon both parties to understand where strengths lie and to formulate a holistic strategy that blends your skills.

~ Managers are good at certain things - forecasting, strategy, market knowledge - stick to that!
~ Employees are good at certain things - presenting, researching, relationship building - stick to that!

Let's not denigrate one another by trying to do aspects of each other's jobs. Let's not try to motivate our employees through consequence. Let's try to bridge generational gaps. Let the old guard know that their legacy is outside their office door. We should be willing to teach to keep our legacy in-tact.

We should bounce out of bed every day, invigorated by purpose. We should be willing to be uncomfortable all the time. We should seek to solve problems and to take on new adventures.

While hate doesn't motivate, it should be noted that the company picnic is not a year long event!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Price of Confidence

Johnny Manziel did the improbable last football season....he won a Heisman trophy as an undersized underclassman. Since achieving this great feat against all odds he has received nothing but criticism. That's how things work in this day-and-age of published opinion. He's too small, he's too reckless, he's immature, he's cocky.

People will state: If I had his talent, I would be in my dorm room studying.

How do you think he got his talent?

You don't have his talent because you were unwilling to work hard enough to earn it: when people said you were too small, you believed them. When people got up in your grill, you backed down. You didn't have the unflappable self-confidence to fight back!

Mark May the self-appointed guard of the flame of football tradition was incensed by Johnny Football's antics on Saturday. The little man was talking smack and scoring touchdowns at will. No, he can't do that....Mark May never could...and we wonder why there is a generational divide.

Admittedly, I would bench my son or daughter if they taunted another player. They are 5 and 8. When they are twenty being chased on the world's largest stage by people three times their size, I would be relieved to see them standing up-right. At that point, the right to celebrate is theirs.

We all grow up at our own pace. Very few of us have to do it on television amid millions of skeptics with arms folder. What we share with Johnny Manziel is the fact that we face our doubters every day. Far more people will line up to criticise your effort than those who will celebrate your achievement.

Be honest: it feels good to prove people wrong.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

- Luke 14:7-11

Don't Forget to Remember!