Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Generation Now

We've all grown tired of generational stereotypes in the workplace. Baby Boomers are giving presentations on how to manage Millennials, Millennials are sick of being picked on, and Generation X has all but vanished. I recently read an article sighting the behavioral traits of Generation Z (now the Millennials have someone to pick on). It's all a stupid attempt to simplify human beings into manageable categories to limit our desire to transcend simplicity. People are not simple!

It cannot be ignored that we are on the crest of a major sea change in the working world. With this shift comes a massive opportunity for change that has created a great deal of uncertainty. Regardless of when we were born into this beautiful world we all share insecurity when it comes to our uncertain future. Those who find opportunity in the wake of change will win the day.

Will You Be My Peer...?
Those joining the workforce have a desire to be accepted, not as the children of executives, but as established professionals.

The one thing new workers get a ton of is advice. A great deal of said advice is mislead. More often than not the "this is how its done around here" cautionary tales are mired in the failures of those who squandered their early work years accepting bad advice. Don't follow suit.

Can I Lead Now...?
Generation X has been lost in the shuffle. We watched reality bites, shrugged, and got on with our lives avoiding the generational stereotypes that have been piled upon the Millennials. With a new group of workers charging the workforce gates and an aging group of executives unwilling to give up their post, will Generation X get lost in the shuffle? Will they even care?

Loyalty is not what it used to be. Those who thought they would follow their parents legacy by being with one company their entire career have faced unanticipated disappointment. Companies have been critical of "job hoppers" but those who have given their lives to a company (only to receive a pink slip) have learned to know better. You can wait for your company to develop you or you can develop yourself.

Your Not Going To Tell Me What To Do...!
It seems as the sun sets on the extraordinary careers of so many Baby Boomers that they would be willing to share their knowledge. I've seen many examples that prove otherwise. Far too many senior staff members are protecting their knowledge base in an effort to maintain their careers. While it has been deemed a best practice for Baby Boomers to stereotype Millennials, the avenue to reciprocate has been identified as a road to nowhere. The road is shifting. What purpose does it serve to be alone with all you have learned?

We should exist in the workforce with the intent to collaborate in an effort to challenge one another. Titles, tenure, or years on this earth should be secondary. We love the new girl with big ideas and the confidence to share them. We love the middle manager who listens more than he talks. We love the old guy who still acts like a 25 year old. We're really not all that different....

We all have insecurities, we all want to be validated, we all want to be relevant... we all just want to be loved.

"It's OK if you don't know everything" - Ben Folds

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Chasing Paper

"Don't Chase The Paper, Chase The Dream" ~ Sean Combs 

LeBron James, the world's most recognized sports star is leaving the glitz and glamour of Miami to return home to Cleveland. It is a tale of humility that has given many a renewed faith in humanity. James left his home team to form an all star team in the sunshine state a few years back, they won 2 championships. Today many are applauding the superstars decision to get back to his roots while other are questioning his motives.

I believe LeBron James had three reasons for his career transition:

More Time To Make Things Right...
Most anyone will tell you that they regret making decisions that were motivated by money. Being broke sucks! Having a little extra dough levitates stress. But, what price do we pay for money? Do unrealistic expectations come with a larger paycheck? Is purpose lost in the pursuit of success at any cost? In accepting more money do we give away our ability to oppose organizational expectations? Google is the greatest place to work in the world and their managers remind their employees of that every day.

Many of us look back with anguish on the times we stepped on others to get ahead, took short cuts, or lost our direction. I know I do... and I bet LeBron James has as well.

Making a ton of money is awesome, making amends is priceless.
He's The Boss
Basketball Legend Pat Riley is known for his hard-edged motivational tactics. His coaching of the Lakers in the 80's will forever be enshrined in basketball lore. But its not the 80's anymore. When I heard Pat Riley give a fist pounding rant at the expense of his players, I knew his reign of greatness was over. It may be said that after a long year of trying his ass off only to fall short of an NBA title, LeBron James did not want to hear an out-of-touch Executive call him a coward.

Today's workforce will not be managed by fear and intimidation. Employees (especially Super Star employees) will take six months off, work for less money, or start their own company if their work conditions are adversarial. Managers who still think they can push their employees around with the option to find a replacement (who respects authority) are high. The "my way or the highway" ethos is done. It may still be working for you right now, but the sand is hitting the bottom of the hour glass.

Winning (the right way) Is Everything! 
Any of us could make backroom negotiations to build a winning team. Offer certain people more money, steal top performers from competitors, or slick talk people into empty promises. Personally, I'd rather coach my son and his friends from the block to a championship than to offer the dad's of superstars perks to join our team.

Anyone can buy a championship. Earning one is something completely different.

Leaders are people who recognize potential and help individual contributors seize their greatness.

We all come to a point in our lives when we can no longer fool ourselves. We would rather walk hand in hand with our children than to board a plane in an uncomfortable suit. Time is far more precious than money. We can always pay back a loan but we do not get the hours back.

I would venture to guess that the greatest basketball player of our time got tired of the madness. Like the rest of us, he faced the reality of dying with more dollars than people around him, and saw no wealth in that manufactured future. Destiny is created by those who choose to take control of their lives and to live on their own terms. Because they know they are far more capable than others and are willing to do something about it.

The heart is stronger than the head. Always leave the door open on your way out.

Don't Forget To Remember!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014


I'm a morning person. Each day I get up slightly before 5am to get a head start on the day. My first few hours are usually spent among a few others whose occupation call for their early awakening. Occasionally, the guys who manage the shop across the street will drop in. They sit at a table with their eyes on their workers making sure they make no mistakes nor reveal their humanity. They complain relentlessly about their shitty lives masked in the criticism of those who work for them and those who they work for. These guys have to be in their late 60's and they hate every second of their waking life. Only one question visits me when I see their rotten faces:

When Did They Give Up?

Were these guys always miserable or was there a happy time in their lives? How did the good times vanish? Did they make bad decisions? Have they come to realize the err of their ways? Surely, all 24,820 days they have spent on earth couldn't have been bad. Do they take comfort in criticizing others because they have tried and failed so many times? Have they even tried at all?

It seems to me that a person after doing so much living should be filled with joy. We should look back on life with wonderment and know that everything we do creates a legacy for others.

But then again, if we have compromised our existence to the lowest extreme, maybe looking back only brings us pain.

The next thought that visits me:

How Can I Avoid Turning Out Like Those Guys?

Dream Big!
Do you ever awake from a dream feeling completely energized? Something empowering happened in your unconscious state that reminded you anything is possible. Maybe you caught inspiration from a movie or song. Maybe you had a few beers and your imagination created a new beginning in your minds eye.

And then you wake from your trance, forget your potential, and get back  to reality.

No chance! If you can imagine it, you can dare to put your dream into action. Hold on to one part of the story in your mind. Too often we are scared to take chances. Very seldom does our fear manifest itself into failure. With every inaction failure is inevitable.

Cowards ignore their dreams and spend their lives with arms folded in judgement of those who dare to dream.

Prove Them Wrong!
I'm always one to do my talking on the field so I am not a big fan of post-game interviews. One of my favorite moments in sports history was when reporters asked Tiger Woods what he would consider a decent result in his first professional golf tournament... without a moment's delay he said,

"A Victory"

Some laughed, others shook their heads, and there were those who sought to talk some sense into him on the spot. He listened to none of it and went out to become the greatest golfer of all time. Because he did not allow the limitations of others to dictate his path in life.

If you allow the naysayers to crush your spirit, things will forever remain in the realm of the uninspired existence that they were too cowardly to change.

Keep Fighting
Coward is the most offensive word that can enter our ears. I think of times I have wimped out and done the safe thing. I will never get those moments back. We have to live every day with the understanding that if we are not willing to prove others wrong, their version of right will forever exist.

Dream...dream big....fear not the consequence and do what is necessary to make it happen.

If you are measuring the ROI of your actions a slanted scale glares you in the face: there is a 0% chance of achieving what you do not attempt. And yet we choose to do the safe thing, again and again. I don't like those odds.

We have to try harder. We have to be creative and to surround ourselves with people who will amplify our ambitions. At the very least I can encourage this:
  • Dispel negativity by eliminating people who hold you back from your social circles.
  • Ignore those who say you can't.
  • Believe in yourself so strongly that no one's voice is louder than your own.
  • Try harder than everyone else (its not as hard as you think).
One day, I may ask those bitter old men at what point in their lives they gave up. But then again, without their ugly existence, I would not know who not to be on any given day. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Your Turn

The debate has raged on....

Is cultivating Employee Engagement the duty of Executives or Middle Managers?

What if the answer is: neither!

If we are being honest with ourselves, we can genuinely determine our own level of engagement.

Your success each day is driven by your perception and your attitude. You determine what you pay attention to and how that shapes your day. Each day you find yourself in your current job is the result of the choices you have made. You have the power to ignore the insignificant, to focus on the good stuff, and ultimately to quit your job.

So while there is an expectation of a fair salary and ample benefits... the rest is up to you!

Step One: Ignore What Doesn't Matter!
I used to get bent around the axle when an exercise was proposed by my manager. I'd ask the significance of the exercise and he seldom had an answer. I shouted at the mountain top, enraged by stupidity of this fruitless waste of time and effort. I called a hundred people, talked to senior managers and wrote letters to executives. I spent hours complaining about an exercise I could have completed in a half hour.

If you wake up with the perception that today is going to suck.... it will!

Step Two: Push Yourself Harder Than Anyone Else!
I remember being in a college orientation class when a recruiter was asked:
"Should I take the hard classes and get C's or should I take the easy classes and get A's"

...to which he replied.

"Take the hard classes and get A's"

Why not? Any logical person knows their limitations. The stronger people use their limitations to set their baseline (and then exceed it). A little skepticism is healthy, too much is crippling.

You should set the expectations higher for yourself than any else... and over-perform. Expectations are merely a collection of limits previously established. There are no limits.

Step Three: Smile!
I've never felt bad about being over optimistic. My regrets in life revolve around alienating people through my negativity.

Positive thinking is not a sign of weakness but an ultimate strength. It's easy to fold your arms, do nothing, and criticize those who dare to try.... and then you die with a meaningless existence.

Final Credits
Each day you face yourself in the mirror. You interact with several people but ONLY YOU live inside your head every second. You know if you've done enough, you know if you took short cuts, you know if you cheated. Achievements are trophies on a shelf and regrets hang like chandeliers.

Don't Forget to Remember!