Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Marley

Hi Mar Mar -
I can't believe you are 7 years old...? The days sometimes seem long but the years go by quickly. It's been a lot of fun being your Dad, we've achieved so much together. You are a superb soccer and softball player, more importantly, you are a thoughtful little person. I like your hair and your eyes and the way you talk. I know at some point your little foot will get too big to hold in my hand, you may not want to play catch with me any more, and you may even think I'm weird. That's OK. I look forward to seeing you develop as a person, so far so good!

Years from now you might read this and it will remind you of how simple life used to be. I'd like for you to know that sometimes we over-complicate things and that the things we stress over seldom manifest themselves. I'm sure you will be a great person because of the foundation we have built together. You try hard, you care a lot and your good-hearted nature is transparent.

I'm so proud to be your Dad!

By now, you've heard my advice a thousand times but I'd like to remind you of a few things:

Don't allow the details to distract you from your greater goals. The flies always fly away but elephants are difficult to move. Be a person that has a variety of friends. Be willing to meet new people every day and don't judge people by the clothes they wear. Be nice to your Brother and your Mom. Know that if I seem mean it's only because I don't want you to turn out to be a person who is not thoughtful. Don't attempt to win over anyone who doesn't respect you. Always be willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Know that people will let you down and there will always be someone available to talk to when you are having a difficult day.... Me! Be weird but not crazy. Be funny but not at the expense of others. It's OK to cry but you will be astonished how little you care about the things that bring you tears even one year from now. Respect your elders but don't take their word as gospel. Be Creative.... that is the most important thing! Devise seemingly impossible goals and achieve them. Take the hard classes and get A's. Play in the toughest league and win. Be willing to fail for the benefit of improving your skills. Never lose on purpose even if it's to make someone feel better. Be graceful in victory and accountable in defeat. Have Fun! Laugh every day. Ignore people who are negative. Embrace people who are positive. Never Give Up!

I Love You Marmalade! Happy Birthday!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Human Advancement

A particularly lively Next Chat discussion erupted this week when we arrived at the simple conclusion that Employee Engagement resides in opportunity and transparency. Can we not discard the rewards for showing up, training that distracts us from production and uncomfortable company parties...? We cannot compliment people who suck at what they do into productivity. We can't conceptualize results. We probably would not choose to hang out with our co-workers after hours if we were given the choice.

In the same way, we've created terms and manufactured rewards to engage employees, we've come up with titles to commodify our employees.

Recognizing your employees is acknowledging their existence. Engaging your employees is getting their attention. Now that they are engaged, we've got to help them climb the ladder.

Think about how happy you would be at your job if you knew where you stood every day:

  • Uncertainty Diffused
  • Tools in Place to Succeed
  • Your Progress Unprotected

Be Boldly Transparent
With the shift in organizational dynamics, managers are now more under the microscope than the employees they lead. There is no longer an opportunity to hide your people from the organization.

Allow your best people access to other organizational leaders to retain their excellence and challenge their desire to diversify their skill set. Give your worst people access to others so they may find other avenues to rekindle their flame.

Everyone Knows Now
The days of annual performance reviews from Manager to Employee are over. No longer can we pretend to admonish people who are more skilled than we are.

Technology has created social applications, leaderboards and badges to display talent in a snap shot... do these bells and whistles tell the whole story? No, but if a member of your team is at the top of a leaderboard based in their skill set and has badges to prove their need to be challenged, you better have the skills to challenge them! There is a difference between challenging with success in mind and challenging to demoralize.

The Tables Have Turned
A fraternal organization was recently broadcast to the world for their ignorance. This seems to be the only time these organizations are recognized.

In reality, the youth of today are far more educated in race relations, sensitive to the bully mentality and forthright in their efforts to expand awareness. 

Tradition is great when it is grounded in values that govern appropriate decision making. Thought technology cannot be crowded by stubborn inability to evolve.

The world is changing! 

People want the opportunity to help others, to win by besting their opponent in fair competition and to provide services that mean something to other human beings.

The popularity contests are over. We are embarrassed to be recognized for achievements not rooted in measurement of progress. We want to compete with others to better their skills as we expand ours.

"We've always done it this way" is dead language. Inability to change is no longer voluntary.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Photo Albums

Ever notice how people can create a life for themselves in social media that may not exactly be the genuine article? Most facebook posts are composed of smiles and glad tidings. When you pick up an old photo album you seldom see a frown. Keeping a time capsule of only the good things is perfectly OK.

We want to look back and remember the good stuff. So, why do we seem to reflect only upon the regrets, missteps and failures? The attics of our lives should be filled with roses.

There are those who say we may be through with the past but the past isn't through with us. I'd like to think that when we leave the world our regrets will be released like balloons.

"You keep scratching at the old paint but the wood is still there and the room is still there" - John Roderick

Why concentrate on what is not working? We over-use the term accountability. We look for a stump upon which to stand simply to look down on others.

We cannot use the virtues of progress as the rights of indignity. One's achievements do not make them more important than a person with an empty trophy case. Most people I know who have achieved the seemingly impossible can't wait to share their experiences.

If I were to do it over again, I might advise my younger self accordingly:

Never assume anything you achieve puts you in a position to judge others. If you use religion to judge others, you don't believe in God. Your mistakes are revealed the moment you pretend you've never made a mistake. There are 2 sides to every story and popular opinion is often wrong. Your reaction to a loss is more important than your reaction to a victory. When you win, act like you've been there before. When you lose, allow yourself to be upset. Learn from your mistakes but ensure the virtues of your victories become the fuel for your existence. Girls like it when you buy them a coffee far more than when you buy them a beer. Men love it when you forgive them. The rain on your back can be as refreshing as the sun on your face. The only judge and jury to which you are beholden are those that stare back at you in the mirror. When you have fallen short, and have reset your strategy, find a way to laugh again. 

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 9, 2015

When The Wave Breaks

It seems as though we have been atop the crest of a wave in workforce planning for quite some time now. Today, we question the inevitable....

When Will The Wave Break?

Baby Boomers have long since reached the legal retirement age but are not retiring, Gen X-ers remain in the the wings seemingly content in doing so and Millennials can't go anywhere without being stereotyped out of even submitting an opinion. We remain in our generational silos, waiting to phase each other out, ignoring the opportunity to collaborate. Do our insecurities keep us from helping one another? Would admitting the need for help mark the end of our relevance?

One thing is sure: at some point the wave will break and everything will change.

Bureaucracy will vanish, no scandal will go unnoticed, women will earn as much as men, those motivated will climb the ladder and those who don't care will find a way to get by. Life goes on and in the middle of it all is a thing called......... work!

My friend Brian hammered this point home in a recent post that blamed lack of Employee Engagement on stifled organizational adaptation. "we've always done it this way" need not be passed along... We have to consider if the legacies built are worth protecting...?

Unconventional Visionaries
Mark Gonzales is a vandal and a criminal... he is also the most creative athlete of all time. Rachel Ray did not go to a French Culinary Institute... she cooked at a New York Pub. Ben Folds was a drummer who became a piano player.

The little boxes through which we seek life's answers are empty. You have to define for yourself who you are before you decide who you want to be.

Progress Eats Confrontation for Lunch
There are a thousand aging managers who still think they can bully their employees.

Their time is up....

The Danger of Protecting Incompetence
Early is my career I was devastated by my company's lack of faith in my leadership ability. I did everything right... I was the first to complete every initiative, nailed every core competency and had a network of admirers. I was also a disaster of a person, full of entitlement, under the impression I was responsible enough to lead.

In corporate America there are rules. Companies keep their doors open by avoiding lawsuits. If you prop up leaders too soon, you may compromise your future. If you are protecting corporate bullies, promotion of such incompetence can be equally destructive.

Transparent social networking, creative design and consultative business development win the day. Stuffy meetings in boardrooms are replaced by whiteboarding sessions, margin-built business models have been trumped by one-of-a-kind solutions and overcoming objections are replaced by validating concerns (and fixing them).

The end of an Era is fast approaching... and no one will even notice. To make an impact you have to care for people. No one ever got to heaven through following the orders of the less than well intended.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Life In The Moment

The extraordinary Richard Linklater had a vision... to spend 12 years making a film that would navigate the trials and tribulations of growing up. His vision has been realized with phenomenal success. With each new scene we progress through the lives of children and parents alike all within a seamless progression.

The most impressive development of this project is how well-adjusted the films subject seems to emerge. We start with a child and end up with a man, so much time caught in a snap shot.

What are you going to be doing 12 years from now? doesn't matter....

The encapsulation of a life in a few hours time highlights one ultimate truth:

Live In The Moment!

How much time do we spend beating up on ourselves? Are your regrets an albatross around your neck? Do you agonize over failures? Do you miss the one who got away? Do you wish you could have tried harder? Have your regrettable actions kept you from acting?

Forget all of that. You have to learn to give people who hurt you the benefit of the doubt (including yourself). Most of the actions we regret are not intended... that's why we regret them. Don't let your regrets turn into desperation by not learning from your mistakes.

Life is full of romance... you can find it in the glow of the jukebox, on a mountain top or on the sidelines of a sporting event. When you find someone to spend your life with they will remind you that romance exists, they will also provide a rudder for your ship. He/She with whom you share your life may not always tell you things are going to be OK. One might say it is the obligation of your significant other to hold you accountable instead of enabling your self-destruction.

As we progress through life we find the moments of elation come with greater magnitude. You'll cry in the movies, at sporting events and in the arms of your friends. The unexpected moments in time that catch us off guard are those that remind us we don't have it all figured out... and that there is something kinda wonderful about that.

There will be mornings under regrets that hang like chandeliers. There will be evenings with only your self pity. There will be afternoons when you are reminded that the sun exists.

You will fail. You will hurt people you love. You will come to understand that there is nothing that cannot be forgiven. People want to forgive you, you just have to admit you were wrong.

Don't allow your ego to keep you from your life's truest friend. Don't forget to tell those you love that you love them. Don't ever pass up an opportunity to laugh at yourself.

Live In The Moment!

Don't Forget to Remember!