Wednesday, July 31, 2013


In a song called Delicate Cycle, Ms. Kimya Dawson discusses the necessity of community. She sights that increased wealth and/or fame create isolation. Furthering the point that money (nor fame) can buy happiness.

I lead a life of varied pursuits: I am a Sales professional, a Marketing professional, an HR professional, a student mentor, a youth soccer coach, a volunteer adult educator, a dad and a husband. The only synchronicity I have equated to the aforementioned hodge podge existence is...

Uncertain interaction fuels our existence!

Stability is boring. Knowledge attained but not shared is wasted. To ignore those who need help is as much a detriment to you as it is to them. Negativity is the result of inaction and inaction creates isolation.

One cannot achieve happiness alone!

I do not know if there is a better feeling than showing someone how to do something and witnessing their acquisition of a skill. Tom Chatfield proves in his book, Fun Inc, that human beings compete not to see others lose but to engage in a communal activity. It may then be said that those most competitive have the potential to be our strongest corporate citizens.

I have been a strong opposition to generational stereotyping. It is inelegant at best to characterize people's motivation based on when they were born. It is also the easy thing to do. Too often we look for logic in the way we proceed through life so that we can quantify our effort. Measuring every element of our being may be efficient but we have to be careful not to program the romance out of life.

The profound disconnect in human motivation exists in the belief that we have to be hyper-focused on one thing. My belief is that our lives are formed more fully by doing a lot of things well as opposed to doing just one thing really well.

You can be as fascinating as you wish if we are willing to be fascinated. Everyone has something to teach, we fear to do so because we are afraid of being misunderstood.

I have traveled many miles to see people I do not know. I have stood in front of thousands of people sharing what many are afraid to say. I have helped people of all ages become a little bolder. To discover the unknown...or at least to try.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Generational Field Study

This weekend again I read an article about about how to motivate Millennials written by a Baby Boomer. This article sited young people as entitled, stating that the "trophy kids" were unable to take on any task without being rewarded. The article also sited a sense of entitlement, remarking that young people were unwilling to follow direction.

One resounding thought crossed my mind when reading this piece:

Here we are again talking about generational stereotyping and it makes me want to puke!

Reality Restated: Organizations should evolve based on what will make their business more profitable & what helps maximize their human resources.

I remember being at an HR Conference 6 years ago where we were investigating the aforementioned stereotypical motivational strategy. It was based on a survey done somewhere, the evidence was inconclusive at best, and yet we've spent nearly a decade trying to validate this nonsense.

I have chosen to deny this trend! I will not read an article written about Generation Y written by anyone other than a member of said generation. Can you image the backlash if a Millennial had written a blog about the stereotypical habits of baby boomers....?

No, dear readers, I am a man of action. So, I will be participating in four different events this week in an effort to dispel the generational divide.

I will be speaking to two different groups of HR Professionals in Northern California. I will also be keynoting a Young Professionals Summit in San Francisco and speaking at a student leadership conference at Miami University.

Here is what I seek to discover:
1. Are young people labeled in an effort to marginalize them to the point that they believe the hype?
2. Why does HR seek to categorize everything?
3. Why are the stereotypical habits of the exiting side of the workforce not taken into account when succession planning?

None of us can help when we were born. None of us like to be stereotyped. Most of us seek to debunk preformed opinions (not validate them).

So why in God's name do we think it is beneficial to survey a group of people, formulate an outsider's opinion, and spend a bunch of money trying to pretend we understand...?

Being young (or old for that matter) is nothing more than a state of mind.

There are people who are flexible. There are people who are adventurous. There are people who are consistently searching to evolve themselves.

There are people who are grumpy. There are people who are set in their ways. There are people who are too stubborn to change.

...when or where we were born has nothing to do with this!

Grow Up!

My journey to get the facts from the trenches continues. Because surveys never tell the whole story and I never accept anything as the truth until I see it for myself.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Transforming Engagement

My friend Robin Schooling wrote a compelling piece a few days back. She conceptualized a 2 headed HR department:

Head 1: Transactional -  which handles benefits, employee relations, HRIS, new hires/terminations/transfers and compliance.

Head 2: Transformational -  which has responsibility for performance management, talent management, learning and performance, leadership development and business strategy.

Robin is a smart young lady who has been in HR for a good spell. Her notion of splitting the HR function is particularly relevant to the function formally known as Employee Recognition. Simply put, recognition is transactional while engagement is transformational. 

The HR department is split by those who simply want to recognize employees in a transactional way (service awards & performance reviews) and those who seek to actually engage their employees in a transformational way (by designing culturally-centric programs that produce measurable results).

This begs the question: Does your HR Certification amplify your ability to design programs that amplify your culture and produce a return on investment? Is escalation in the HR profession based on transactional skill sets? And if so, possibly the PHRs and SPHRs can lead HR Department #1 and a new set of transformational learning principles are formulated for HR Department #2...? 

We cannot be what we are not....and that's OK. I have a defined skill set like any other professional.

There are many HR Professionals who seek to be in category #1. They are incapable of many of the skills sets required to be in category #2. 

Employee Recognition is a necessary component of many organizations Total Rewards Strategy. There is a skill set to administering a transactional Service Anniversary Program. Said professional may lack the skills to amplify administrative skills into strategic skills....and they may be perfectly OK with that. I would, however, hate to see professionals with transformational skills marginalized by professionals with transactional skills. This is why HR as a department gets a bad rap. If we were to define a path for advancement according to varied skill sets, organizations may fall under one of 2 categories. So, a candidate may then be able to discern where he or she may "fit in". A candidate for any position. 

HR builds companies: Are you building a transactional or transformational company?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

3 Times I Quit!

I have had a ton of jobs since I was just a wee-lad. I've been a gas station attendant, a bartender, a pool man, I sold cigars, and was a professional musician. My time in the trenches tee-ed me up for my post-graduate life. Unlike a lot of today's professionals, I have held just 4 jobs in the corporate world.

I have dedicated the last 6 years to creating culture, engaging employees, and developing tomorrow's leaders. In the forums I conduct we calculate the extraordinary cost of voluntary employee exodus.

Here are the top 6 reasons why employees leave companies:
1. Excessive Workloads
2. Doubts About Leadership's Ability to Manage the Company Successfully
3. Anxiety Over Job Security
4. Boredom and a Lack of Challenge in their Work
5. Belief That They Have No Place to Go in the Company
6. Lack of Recognition

We examine these disengagement factors obsessively. We conduct surveys, facilitate focus groups, interview executives, and conduct in-work process analysis.

Putting aside the well-studied workforce management statistics. I figured I would examine the reasons I have left companies in the past. I have never had a job I disliked but sometimes we get so caught up in the statistics that we forget the simplicity of human interaction....

Slow Down Buddy
I remember my first high school wrestling practice. A vocal member of the team explained to me that I didn't have to over-exert myself and that I should take it easy. Later that practice, I took his spot on the Varsity squad. I knew right away that the person who advised me to slow down was a loser, I don't keep company with losers.

Too many companies have a guard at the gates that tells the new person "how it's done around here". Advice to young professionals: take aim at those who try to slow you down, and take their job!

Far too many companies protect mediocre talent. This only drives away exceptional talent.

You're Not Ready
See reason number 5. Some companies are still naive enough  to believe that they still hold the cards. Especially in times of recession, great employees have options. The companies who have held the "you're lucky to have a job" ethos are experiencing mass exodus.

It's pretty simple, great talent should be developed and promoted! If you hire managers from outside your organization because you have no faith in the leadership capabilities of your individual are failing in your primary objective as an employer.

You should identify those with potential and help them grow (instead of squashing their motivation).

A Title Does Not Come With Entitlement
See reason number 2. If you are a manager and you are spending the majority of your time talking at your team...they are rolling their eyes, not nodding their heads.

Empathy and Genuine Interest are the 2 strongest principles of leadership. Denial and Pseudo-Confidence are the signs of those in over-their-head. If you think you are faking it well, you are not!

'Tis better to search for answers than to pretend to have an answer to every question.

Companies spend billions upon billions replacing employees. The answers are far less expensive:
1. Replace incompetent middle-mangers
2. Promote from within
3. ...and managers will lead instead of managing

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Little Did He Know....

The story of "Stranger Than Fiction", is one that analyzes a man's life and sends him a warning sign. His life had become so predictable that hearing it's narrative was unsettling. So, he chose to live to the fullest, in the hope his life would be worth saving. 

What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Over the last few days I have heard Blake Mycoskie speak of how a booze-fueled trip to Argentina turned into a mission of philanthropy, I've helped my mother fight cancer (again), and saw a friend leave a job that he loved. 

What Does It All Mean?

Let's revisit a few lessons that our aforementioned hero learned in his quest to escape the calculated journey to his demise. 

Habits Are Meant To Be Broken
I know far too many people who live their lives through a structured plan...that is no way to live! People are not numbers and our motivation cannot be quantified. We want to believe that we can predetermine our way through every decision, but where is the fun in that? People are far more irrational than we care to believe and there is something kind of wonderful about that

It kills me to see people who have given up! Action without strategy is a waste of effort, it is far worse to have wonderment escape you. If you are not intrigued by the unknown, you cannot progress. Old habits die hard (and that is not a good thing).

Breaking Form
We are witnessing a workforce transition where the old guard is holding on by their finger nails and the new generation is charging the gates. Generation X quietly awaits in the wings with the work ethic of the Boomers and the flexibility of the Millennials. Soon the generational tug-o-war will be dispelled and we can all get back to work. 
Networking sucks because it is uncomfortable talking to strangers and those who talk most seem to have the least to say. Social Media participation only tee's you up to be criticized for being bold enough to speak up. Public speaking is the apex of subjecting one's self to crowd-sourced scrutiny. 

As we age we become wiser and take less chances....and then we die.

If You Knew, What Would You Do
Stranger Than Fiction is a story about a man who seeks to re-write his obituary. Don't wait until your immanent death to decide how to alter your process. If you've made your life a should do something stupid, right now!

The people you love will love you no matter what! Replacing the narration of your life story with a spreadsheet will send your daughter to college. She would trade said degree for some provocative insight.

Don't Forget to Remember!