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!