Thursday, December 31, 2020

Top 5 - 2020

Yea, we know, 2020.... worst year ever.... blah, blah, blah. No concerts outside of the drive-in but tons of great music was recorded/released. 

Clem Snide returned with a beautiful summer companion (with Scott Avett in tow) that'll make you laugh while you cry. American Aquarium released a monumental ode to 2020 America with bitter reflection that will leave the listener a little less-innocent. Mikel Jollett wrote a memoir with a musical companion that documents poverty, abuse and (ultimately) personal freedom. Pinegrove created a gem of a sophomore release. Christian Lee Hutson's debut (produced by Phoebe Bridgers) made for some wonderful easy listening over uneasy topics. AJJ were early to the game with their most-polished record accurately warning us that it's gonna be a bunch of bullshit too out in Sweet 2020!

Run the Jewels created the soundtrack to social unrest. Che' Noir revealed herself as the greatest rhyme smith of all time with the help of Apollo Brown.

Andy Shauf made an entire album about a night at a bar. Beach Bunny's "Honeymoon" offered a whole buncha sweetness. Bill Fay returned after a long hiatus with the beautifully constructed "Countless Branches". Bright Eyes reminded us that Lil' Conor is still one of our greatest storytellers. Ian MacKaye debuted Coriky. The ever-prolific Damien Jurado released yet-another collection of sad songs for old friends. Dan Deacon made a wonderful morning companion for your walks through the garden. The John Roderick powered Western State Hurricanes re-recorded some old favorites. Grandaddy recreated The Software Slump on upright piano. Wolf Parade offered another power movement (I saw them live in 2020 - remember live music?). Sylvan Esso nearly cracked the top 5 with the extraordinary "Free Love" (and an accompanying podcast). Waxahatchee made a love letter to rural America for people who will never visit. Sufjan Steven's long awaited new record is really long.  

The sisters HAIM dominated quarantine from home. Frances Quinlan and Hannah Georgas brought us songs for the long lament that was 2020. Adrianne Lenker released 2 albums in follow up to last year's 2 albums and they're all good.

We lost Justin Townes Earle and so many other song writing giants in this year of misery. From misery comes art.

"Yesterday I felt so much more than I feel now... standing in the window with my heart bleeding out.. they say the world keeps turning but still I have my doubts...

Will I be remembered for the love I made or everything I stole... the sun is going down and I'll be damned if it don't look like snow.... but the heavens on me hold no guarantee" 

- Justin Townes Earle  (1982 - 2020)

Here are the Top 5 albums of 2020.....

El Capitan by Will Johnson

"There's no healing like moonlight, I am accustomed to this battle every night"

Centro-Matic's "Love You Just The Same" welcomes the listener in with a thumping drum beat and what seems to be a one-string walk down; perfect for my guitar playing ability. The narrator's voice was reserved, the lyrics well-thought out. Said narrator, Will Johnson, went on to play with many of song writing's favorite children all the while maintaining his humility in the dark corner of the stage. Hearing Will on The Working Songwriter alerted me to El Capitan. This record is even more subtle than his past work. It takes a while to creep into one's soul and is a careful listen. Will crafts tales of loneliness with the comfort of a campfire. Laments from small town motel windows and stories of fallen heroes all draped under the moon in an empty sky.   

Folklore & Evermore by Taylor Swift

"Never be so polite you forget your power... Never wield such power you forget to be polite"

It's 2020, the world is on fire, and the last person who needs more recognition is Tay Tay Swift. The only thing that matters when evaluating music is good music. Tay Tay commissioned the production grace of The National's Aaron Dessner to build not one, but two, wonderful song books. With guest appearances from the Indie Rock elite, the subdued production highlights perfect pitch and thoughtful verse. Even the teenage balladry seems relevant while the songs build from sparse to anthemic. The pentameter of vocal flow creating hooks all it's own. No one teased Lebron James for dedicating his life to honing his craft. Here, Tay Tay puts away the over-production and auto-tune to bare what is a master of her craft creating perfection. If you are willing to put aside your bias, these records will bring the horizon a little closer (don't worry I won't tell any one). In short, if you don't like Folklore & Evermore, you don't like music.

In Sickness & In Flames by The Front Bottoms

"Good stuff is happening all around me, people are high fiving, people are freaking out"

The Front Bottoms are possibly my favorite band of all time so they are a mainstay in the top 5. If you enjoy a beverage and remember how to dance, this band is for you. TFB have the ability to make one laugh out loud and shed a tear all over the course of a two and half minute pop anthem. The youthful energy and fist-pumping debauchery veiled in a nod to learning from living make this, yet another, Front Bottoms masterpiece. We could all use some time on the floor of the concert hall right about now..... 

Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers

"I hate your mom, I hate it when she opens her mouth, it's amazing to me how much you can say when you don't know what you're talking about"

I love seeing an artist seize their moment. Safe to say, the expectations on Phoebe Bridger's sophomore release were monumental. She delivered with paramount fervor. Punisher is a thrill ride from song to song with perfect instrumentation complimenting Phoebe's angelic voice. The aforementioned grace hiding the soul-crushing lyrics that often make up the stories of love lost, resentment and betrayal. Singularly, you can pull twenty different verses from each song on Punisher to post on a tunnel wall. This is a simply outstanding effort from one of the best songwriters of our time.  

Notes On a Conditional Form by The 1975

"I've seen your friends at the birthday party, they were kinda fucked up before it even started, they were gonna go to the Pinegrove show, they didn't know about all the weird stuff so they just left it"

Notes On a Conditional Form isn't a record it's an odyssey. A companion to 2018's "A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships", the 1975 take us through 22 songs with a synchronized narrative. In a time when many bands only release singles, this work serves to visit every corner of the human psyche. Matt Healy bares his soul with inter-personal thoughts on abuse, recovery, love, failure and the missteps of his past. Each song drawn together through keyboard interludes serving as a lesson in humility the length of a Paul Thomas Anderson film. Any of these songs standing alone will serve as a dancehall banger; upbeat and celebratory. When strung together, this album serves as a love letter to youthful exuberance as well as a warning sign to the excesses our younger spirit presents us.

Thank You for Listening! See You in 2021!

~ Dave  

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

What We've Learned in 2020

It's that time of year when reflection and planning meet to flip the calendar. This year, it seems more important than ever to put the past away. At this time last year I predicted that 2020 could be the best year ever. I had also written a blog preparing for work-from-home workforce transitions predicting a 12 week office shut down. 

Boy, Was I Wrong!

There has been so much wrong with 2020, how can we make it right again?


Many of us spent the better part of the year in our pajamas. Zoom calls were interrupted by pets and little humans. The roads were always open, airplanes were grounded and restaurants/hotels attempted to operate at a fraction of capacity. No long commutes, business travel, after work events or long days in the office... how ever would the workforce function? Turns out, pretty well!

As we enter 2021 there is much to be learned from the transition to informal work. Wardrobe aside, isolation actually lent itself to more-intimate workplace relationships. Without a manager looking over one's shoulder, trust became a necessity. Customer relationships were deepened through long days in the zoom room. Where employee mental health met hurdles, organizational leaders were called upon to infuse empathy into workforce strategy. 

Whether we return to in-person work in one month or one year, exercising trust and empathy will be a way forward in the continued quest for maximized employee engagement

Learning as Currency   

Some might think 2021 may be the best year ever in contrast to the woes of 2020. Let's hope so. There is, however, a lot to rebuild. Many HR Technologies we transitioned to during the pandemic will remain the cornerstone for workforce productivity. Other technologies will be phased out for failing to meet the immediacy of the virtual work transition. Bonuses may not be available and companies may have to tighten budgets to maintain. The thing we have direct access to are learning opportunities. Many have spent the downtime of 2020 loading up their learning management systems with content. Other organizations have made the necessary pivot to taking instructor-lead training virtual. In an attempt to dissuade technical over-kill, MasterClass opportunities have created a reprieve to online cooking classes instead of team meetings. 

People may have been alerted of their lack of credentials in this time of global workforce transition. Organizations may have found their technology stack under-resourced. We have an immediate opportunity to meet our employees' goals for development with the now-necessary skill enhancement to serve as a win/win for career advancement.


For some organizations, 2020 was a very productive year. Those supplying the appropriate HR technology were available to help their customers save the day. The celebration of employee achievement also transitioned. There were many creative ways in which organizations found to celebrate the results of their top talent. But, without rewards banquets and the in-person fanfare of co-workers, the pageantry of success felt a lot different.

Employees were called upon to truly evaluate the purpose of their profession in 2020. No one feels comfortable celebrating while others suffer, so rewarding oneself in private became a process of self-reflection. 

We've made it through the year that was (or was not). Can we escalate ourselves into the future wiser, more-focused and more-willing to accept what the world presents us? 

I'd like to think that 2021 could be the best year ever. I hope I'm right this time around!

Happy New Year! Let's Change the World!

- Dave      

Friday, October 9, 2020

How COVID19 Jump Started Digital Transformation

The onset (and after-effects) of COVID19 sent shock waves through the workforce. Individuals (and the companies for whom they work) were literally forced to adopt technical transformation overnight. Most organizations with remote job functions (sales, consulting, training) had an existing inventory of technology (web conferencing, CRM, LMS & performance-based technology) installed. The question became how to utilize said technology more-effectively and how to reskill the formally reluctant in the workforce to embrace the new normal.

So as of March 2020, organizations have had to to embrace two new realities:

  • What technology do I have/need and how can it be utilized?
  • How can I help the workforce get up-to-speed with whiplash intensity?

Organizational Development Professionals have partnered with HRIS teams to execute a digital plan that (somewhat) replicates what was. Thus, creating a renewed focus on training, engagement and adaptation. Technical Roadmaps to 2022 suddenly sped up to Q1 2020. Organizations had to pivot to maintain operational grace (as did their employees).

Change can be difficult to embrace until you have to.....

Reskilling The Workforce

In the past, Training Professionals have left remote locations wondering if they had effected change. As of St Patrick's Day, those tables have drastically turned. Now, employees are seeing voluntary programs becoming mandatory. 

We've seen field staff professionals who thrived on charm now called upon to share subject matter expertise. Customers who were flattered by donut deliveries are now asking for value-added consulting and according product-development. Management teams can no longer allow tenured employees to maintain neutral comfort. 

Tough times call for budget management and tenure alone is not a skill set.

The New Roadmap

Our technical teams are now inventorying the technology stack to create a simple and engaging employee experience

(easier said than done)

Employees need an easy-to-access one-stop-shop to locate necessary technology and learn how to use it. Help desks are crashing with requests for information, learning management systems can no longer sit dormant and budgets for pizza parties are now being allocated to reward performance.

So how can you bring employees up-to-speed without having to reinvent your human capital management technology stack?

1. Create a Simplified Employee Profile

If you have an intranet landing page, you can create an employee profile. Then, create pathways to your essential employee technologies through single-source entry points. 

Here, employees have streamlined access to all essential systems. Creating this middleware is easier than you might think.

2. Integrate Systems 

Each day we all pull up 3 to 5 sites that consume our daily organizational habits. CRM, LMS, Recognition System, Performance Management..... 

By developing a strategy that combines the use of these systems, employees will create a self-imposed efficiency flow. 

But how do we keep employees systematically engaged?

3. Develop a Points System

Intrinsic motivation through badging and social feeds will keep employees on a path to success, but how do we measure results?

By integrating technologies per the above, you can create a connected points system to gage participation and reward success. Now, employees will have a lens into how their behavioral modeling (learning and recognition) ties into quantitative progress (performance management and metric results).

No one can connect a silver lining to the intense disappointment of 2020. However, those who have adapted have learned to endure. What's more, the adaptations made out of necessity during COVID will sustain success. 

Organizations can save money by downsizing physical offices. Employee mental health will be strengthened by limiting commute time. Organizational efficiencies adapted during work from home mandates will serve as long term techniques to measure individual success.

The sun will shine on us all again soon. While we're stuck inside, we might as well develop tools to make the future more manageable.

Thank You for Reading, 


Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Art of Getting Out of Your Own Way

I've never been shy to document my foibles. I guess helping others learn from my mistakes might help me feel like I've recovered something lost. 

Most of us begin our careers with a sense of competition. At some point, we learn compromise is one of the more important elements of success. We exchange winning at all cost for the opportunity to help everyone win. We learn that collaboration beats competition every time. 

I've found that those who are most competitive are often driven by insecurity. Leaders who exercise empathy post greater results than those who seek to succeed without lending merit to the process. 

Imperfection (and the willingness to punch above your weight) is more important than perfection through choosing results as the only predictor of greatness.

There comes a point when the game slows down and success becomes more than just a blur of effort.

Stop Self Promoting

There was a book written about how to make a first impression at a new job. I disagree with the premise. Too often, professionals get caught up looking for validation. Whether its a new hire seeking to show off their merit or a cagey veteran hoping to validate their existence, people are always trying to find a way into the headlines. 

The best way to gain popularity in an organization is to allow your work to precede your voice. 

Ask yourself: Is what I am sharing beneficial to others or simply a way of promoting my effort?

Being popular is fun. Being respected is far more impactful.

Don't Read Your Own Press

Another way people tarnish their own success is through complacency. There is a tip to every career trajectory. Everyone has their high point of production which starts with a thankless climb to the top. With hard work comes results and an ultimate recognition of greatness. 

It is lonely at the top.

When one makes the choice to get comfortable, the slide from the peak begins. Then starts the normative protection of hierarchy by tenure aka "this is how things are done around here".

Unfortunately, the sooner you believe that you have learned all you possibly can, the closer you get to extinction.

With every victory comes a little bit more responsibility. With every promotion comes a need for greater effort. The game is never finished and comfort is the enemy.    

Never Give Up  

Every profession has peaks and valleys. Sometimes you get lucky, other times you try and try without results. There are things that are out of your control. What you can control is the navigation of the path.

I went to college orientation when I was still a wee high schooler. A person asked if it was advised to take the tough classes and get C's or to take the easy classes and get A's. To which the counselor replied, "Take the tough classes and get A's". That's all you need to know about success.

If you set expectations higher for yourself than others, you never have to report to anybody!

Set goals for yourself... then double them!

Consider every detail of every task and master the process.

Take every shortcoming personally and fix it.

Win more than you lose and continually push yourself to do better.

Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Monday, July 27, 2020

D E & I are not just letters

I am proud to be part of SHRM's Together Forward at Work (TF@W) campaign. TF@W is a call for the HR Profession and broader business community to drive racism and social injustice out of America's workplaces through specific actions and measurable outcomes of human equity.

I have been in the Human business for nearly 13 years. I get to work with organizations to reward and recognize employees for a variety of achievements and contributions. There are so many different ways we can look at organizational impact and form initiatives to produce measurable results. Bringing attention to racism and social injustice will involve a much different approach. We cannot package human oppression as a module. We cannot change inequality through pizza parties. Our work moving forward will involve a far more complex approach to organizational change.

Organizations across the world are trying to discover their voice in this time of social injustice.... it might be better just to listen.

There is so much to be repaired. Let's get to work.

D, E & I are not just letters
A friend of mine prepared tirelessly and went through a 90 day interview process to be rewarded a prominent job at an established technology firm. She left her former employer and prepared for the first day of the rest of her life. On her first day she was introduced to an on-boarding program on the company's internal social software. There, she saw that her new manager had received a "Diversity Champion" badge for hiring her. She thought she earned the opportunity through her hard work and expertise. Needless to say her first day at the firm was her last.

Too often, organizations look to systematically deploy ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion only to further validate systemic prejudice.

I was intrigued to hear VMware is mirroring the NFL's Rooney Rule on a recent HR Famous podcast. The organization has committed to have minority candidates involved in all hiring opportunities. A foot forward in a long journey ahead.

It is time for organizations to commit, take action and prove results.

HR Tech and Inclusion     
Many people of diverse backgrounds are oppressed by their Managers. If one-to-one closed door meetings and confidential performance reviews are the only way individuals can advance in an organization, they will be continually held back by those who have assumed power.

Employee Recognition can be an organic act of inclusion. You might see a face different from yours on a profile accompanied by an accolade of achievement to present their greatness to the entire organization. Public Leaderboards may introduce less-vocal employees through their consistent achievements. Social community contributions can be tracked and measured outside of silos.

Individuals are not expecting favors for being different, they are simply seeking equal opportunity.

2020 will likely be regarded as a historical nightmare to the world economy. If nothing else, hopefully we can emerge from the slumber of this year with a collective approach to allow employee voices to form organizational change.

We are rebuilding together to be better forever.

Let's Get To Work!!!

- Dave   

Monday, July 6, 2020

A New Path to Employee Engagement

I was impressed to see statistics from Quantum Workplace that indicated Employee Engagement is actually UP in this time of isolation; impressed and somewhat bewildered. It seems a lot of the things we originally thought irreplaceable in formulating the Employee Experience can actually be replicated. Turns out, organizations have the tools to pivot in times of change, employees are really resilient and customer relationships can maintain their constructive viability without face-to-face contact.

Some might think that people are just happy to have a job in the parlance of our times. Others may look to the current state of things as a reckoning that many of the management objectives once assumed mandatory really are not that important. There seems to be an uptick in personal mental health for those who are able to balance work and life when they exist within the same four walls. The assumed perils of work from home structure (dogs barking, kids zoom bombing) are actually being celebrated. We're spending less time in traffic. Few are being called upon to board airplanes. Leaders are being lifted up in times of anguish by the very people they have been called upon to lead. Words like transparency, trust and vulnerability are working their way into professional values.

So, you are telling me, people when trusted to do their job actually do it?

Maybe it's time to take a hard look at workforce structure.... ?

What Really Motivates
People's motivation can be categorized by one of the following Intrinsic Motivators:
Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, Progress and/or Socialization

Six months ago, I would have told you that in-person interaction is necessary to tap into the aforementioned motivation characteristics. I would have been wrong.

Autonomy may not have been everyone's first choice for performance advancement but it has transitioned into a trait of necessity. Professional independence tends to come from experience. Companies would traditionally be more trusting of a 20 year workforce veteran to work from home more than they would a young person fresh out of college. Now, we're seeing a group of young people who are extremely proficient in e-learning making a simple transition to professional life in isolation.

Where mastery was once thought of as the ability to hone one's trade (see Gladwell's Outliers), now mastery and progress work hand-in-hand. As working from home becomes a new normal, employees will learn at a faster rate due to the proximity of information and learning opportunity.

Those who seek a social experience from work have found a way to navigate disappointment. Social feeds that drive ideation, collaboration and recognition are filling the dopamine fix many once found in company happy hours; these tools also help people get better at their job.     

There is a social justice movement in full swing across the world. In support, companies are opening employees to personal expression in the workplace in ways they never have. People are finding purpose-driven organizations to be desired places to work.

Give and Take
With savvy social media navigation comes a new approach to work. There is an #Unfollow culture emerging. In a time where every story has 75 angles, people have developed an acute awareness of propaganda. How does this relate to work? With Employee Empowerment comes the ability to stand for what you believe in and ignore what is not helpful. Busy work, micro-management, training for the sake of training and memorization to test out will take a back seat to meaningful advancement in the future of work.   

People We've Never Met
I've worked with people from all parts of the world, every day, for almost 10 years. Many of them I've never met face-to-face. There are "friends" that I have in social media circles who I have known for two decades and never seen in physical form. I consider many of these people dear friends. Why are we still of the impression that being within sneezing distance of someone is the only way to form a lifelong bond?

People are sheltering in place across the world. Office buildings are closed. Major conferences have been cancelled. Trips for achievement are on-hold. Training sessions at corporate HQ aren't likely to be happening any time soon......

..... and Employees are More Engaged than ever!

Remember the episode of The Office when the team finds themselves at their highest point of productivity without a boss?

Look for major shifts towards Holacracy in the future.... and be amazed by how incredibly great work can be when the water cooler is closed indefinitely.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, July 2, 2020

The New Social Media

My father told me a long time ago that the best way to break up a good time was to bring religion or politics into a conversation. His intent was always respected but that was a long long time ago.

Enter Social Media. I was an early adopter of LinkedIn and Twitter, I use these avenues in a manner that seldom requires commentary. Not all social sites (or the networks we have built upon them) observe rules of engagement. This "sharing" world has become a battle ground.... and it seems to be getting worse. If we all stopped arguing with empty profiles think of how our individual mental health would improve. Imagine if our mood for the day wasn't predicated by what Ward from Oklahoma thinks of your shirt.... ???

Pandemic has robbed us of physical human interaction so our focus on social media has intensified; good for good and bad for bad. What if we embraced a new life devoid of negativity in the wonderland of social media?

Re-Establish Your Network
This may seem like a crazy concept, but how about this: If a person in your network makes participating difficult, unfollow them.

Assess the time, effort and anguish you put into being "friends" with your high school buddy or Aunt Karen. If you are giving more than you get back at the behest of positivity in your network.... unfollow them.

Sure, the virtual Thanksgiving dinner might be weird for a few years, but screw it. If you have a network in harmony, your life will become immediately better.

The reason people challenge thought is because you've allowed them to.

Take control and move into a positive direction.

At the onset of the Lenten season in 2019, I stopped participating in Facebook. Seems like a silly thing to sacrifice, but I was spending a couple hours a day in debate with my friends. Just seemed like a waste of time and energy.

If you are on a social network that in confrontation driven. Stop using that application. 

We all have our moments of responding with vitriol. Maybe it's a political or human rights matter.... Far less important social media arguments have ended friendships. 100% of the time when people release their feeling from cyber-space into reality, the conversation is far less heated.

What if you vowed to participate a whole day in social media submitting only positive information? What if that day turned into.... FOREVER!

The world is in it's most fragile state. People are losing their jobs, businesses and lives. Are we really still fretting over conversations had with a screen about things that aren't that important?

Do you really think you are going to change someones mind with your feedback to one of their posts? If you never brought it up would it make any difference?

Did calling out someone's ideology make your life better?

Our lives are consumed with screen time at the moment. Try to eliminate everything that takes a percentage more energy than the likelihood of achieving a positive result.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Employee Empowerment

Human Resources has often had to straddle the recognition of employee personal brands vs their organizational engagement. In this day-and-age many individuals have larger follower bases than those of the organization they represent. Still to this day, individuals have lost employment opportunities due to their social media behaviors. While we see many companies using employee advocacy to boost their brand and celebrate individuality. Take into account employees participating in large gatherings for social justice while navigating a pandemic and enforcing policy outside of work becomes ever-complicated.

The elusive permanence of work from home policy paired with the wave of social justice will no doubt have a lasting impact on workforce culture. As employee engagement gave way to employee experience, its now time to give awareness to Employee Empowerment!

Without proximity to look over employee shoulders, managers who rule by control have lost a major component of their entitlement. Simply put, trust is the only path forward. Managers who cannot lead through positive direction will soon render themselves irrelevant. Employees have had a taste of working at their own pace and will seek to continue self-motivation (and we'll have data to prove efficiency). As the world evolves to empower individual brands, expect to see HR playing a key role in helping managers develop as true people leaders.

With transparency in the ether the transformation of employee empowerment will put an end to workplace bullying.  

Attention to Mental Health
It's difficult to work from home for three months straight without having good days and bad. The personal isolation resulting from the virtual office has brought hyper-focus on employee mental health. It is a shame that it took a global pandemic to bring peoples mental conditioning to the forefront but this revelation will ultimately serve a higher purpose. Much in the way intolerance of workplace bullying will improve manager/employee relationships, we will also see a vast improvement in recognizing employee burnout.

With freedom to express one's mental fatigue comes a workplace collective that is based in support of all people toward social evolution.

Encouraged Activism
There was a time when seeing an employee fighting for social justice on the front page might have been frowned upon. That time is gone. Politics overlapping with professional purpose can create workplace unrest but freedom of expression can no longer be regulated. Allowing employees time off to vote, the license to serve social causes and levity in personal expression is an unwritten right.

Employees who have the ability to do work that matters in service of a cause that is making a difference will stay forever. Even if your company serves a more mundane purpose, recognizing individual's personal passion will help invigorate their professional purpose.

2020 may very well be noted as the most confusing year in human history. With uncertainty comes a lack of control but we are starting to discover that this can be an avenue to progress.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, June 16, 2020


As we endure our 14th week in quarantine we are finding order without perfection. One thing is for sure:

Personal Strategy is as important as Collective Harmony.

Finding little wins helps and in every day we try to learn and evolve. We've gained hours once lost to commuting, we've learned to make silo-ed communication meaningful and it seems interpersonal disputes are no longer all-consuming.

Without in-person calamity, we are continually engaging with other human beings; some lift us up while others seek to project frustration. There are people who have always been better at working at their own pace where struggle has become commonplace in those who require more attention. Managers are losing the ability to look over employee shoulders so those who cannot trust will fail. Some things will never be fixed but we can focus on what we can control.

Mental Discipline
If you sit in your house for three months you are going to have good days and bad. The evolved attention to employee mental health will be amplified tenfold post-COVID. A lasting shift in how people are treated is coming like a tidal wave and employee empowerment will hit an all time high.

Is your company ready?

Are you ready?

Finding personal discipline will be the defining characteristic that separates highly successful people from those who struggle over the next 18 months. This will require an ability to take total personal accountability for your success while allowing others empathy. Individuals will be required to do twice as much with half the resources. Navigating fear of reduction will override any abundance of back patting. Those who are able to put the work in without expectation of reward will emerge with an enlightened approach to success.  

Activist Mindset
As we struggle through a time of unimaginable disappointment, compassion is the only vehicle for progress. Most humans possess an inherent desire to help others but support may be a passive exercise. Assembly and volume can put the boat into the water but part of acknowledging the strife of others means allowing them to drive.

You don't have to march to learn about other people. Make time every day to learn something about someone different from you.

Physical Commitment
As if evolving your personal ideology in isolation is not challenging enough, you'll also have to commit to your own physical health.

You will need to...

1. Exercise 7 days a week
2. Eat Right
3. Sleep (at least) 8 hours an evening
4. Lay off the booze
5. Manage your susceptibility to disease contraction

When you commit to physical health, EVERYTHING gets easier!
Spiritual Enhancement


Interact with people who uplift you

Find sources of inspiration

Things will continue to be less than ideal for a great while. The discipline of navigating this segment of history will be something that stays with you forever.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Shift in Behavioral Modeling

Dr. Michael Ahearne of the University of Houston shared research this week that pointed to a dynamic shift from transactional to trusting customer relationships through the emergence of the COVID19 pandemic. We've seen insight into how to work from home more efficiently. With theory becoming a sustained reality, it is now time for human beings to adapt and persevere.

Additionally, there has been a noticeable transition from quantitative to qualitative measurements of organizational success. This means keeping an acute focus on revenue while changing the measures by which to get there.

I've authored several articles on the importance of Behavioral Modeling in the past. Whether you create performance pillars based in intrinsic motivators or you subscribe to the SCARF methodology to guide manager/employee relationships, the time is now to shift focus.

To evolve workforce strategy, Total Rewards teams are presented an opportunity to marry compensation and benefit strategy. This new normal will be rooted in technology. With an already intense strain on HRIS teams, the deployment of Human Capital Management technology may be an additional unmet need. Here, the opportunity for field management to utilize existing platforms will bring historically fragmented parties together in partnership.

Work with What You've Got
With goals shifting from individual to team based, competition will give way to collaboration. This synergy will produce an avenue for engagement at higher levels than in the past. Collective achievement can have a more profound impact than individual employees taking all the credit. Those of greatest contribution can still be recognized while complemented by a grander strategy based in collaborative advancement.

We've seen this before. The retail banking scandal of last decade moved tellers from transaction-based selling goals to a more responsible customer support model. It may come as a surprise but customers added more products to their portfolio and the term of customer relationships were lengthened. 

Continued Leverage
So we are calling upon individuals to be a bigger part of the collective. How do we measure that?

1. Put qualitative performance pillars in place
a.     Teamwork
b.     System Population
c.     Training Completion

2. Measure the above systematically
a.     Manager Coaching
b.     Badging for Milestone Completion
c.     Leaderboards

You'll see how these formally assumed "fluff" programs become measurable and actionable.

With the carrot now affixed at the end of a longer stick, will employees continue to be motivated?

As budgets shift you'll have plenty of opportunity to reward employees for short term goal attainment through non-cash rewards and save compensation bonuses for overall measured production.  

The Jerry Maguire Rule      

"We are losing our battle with all that is personal and real about our business" - Jerry Maguire

The above excerpt is from Jerry Maguire's mission statement entitled "The Things We Think and Do Not Say". With the extraordinary financial strain of COVID19 related work adjustments, this mission statement is more relevant that ever. As Dr. Ahearne further exemplified in his research, bringing value to clients will be the only way to retain them. Similar to the unwritten agreement employers have with their employees, now more than ever, trust will drive client relationships.

What does this mean?

Robotic approaches to customer service will not sustain. Sales professionals will need to invest deeply in knowledge attainment of customer needs and how to solve business challenges. Organizational leaders will have to be realistic while creating inspiration at a level they may have shied away from in the past.

The road ahead will be rocky and no one can see the bridge to stability quite yet. It would be great to have simple answers but there are none.

Now is the time to invest in employee development and put customers first. Advocacy will win the day... One day at a time!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, May 15, 2020

Note to My Younger Self

A #NextChat question posed earlier this week (along with some virtual commencement speeches) got me thinking about the lessons I've learned in 20 years of corporate life. As seniors navigate the disappointment of proms and graduations lost and young professionals seek entry into an economically compromised corporate world, I figured I would reflect.

Early in my career I was all effort and no theory. I worked tirelessly for 12 hours daily. I took on any project offered me. I was the first to show up and the last to leave. I succeeded and failed. I experienced glory and disappointment. I networked and learned how to utilize technology and played the political game of moving up the ladder. I was uncompromisingly determined and insanely annoying. I wanted everyone to know how smart I was and I would stop at nothing to mention it (directly) to everyone. My heart was in the right place, but my "motivation" looked more like nervous energy.

Do Your Fighting In The Ring

I see it every day in the workplace. Employees who are new to the company that are hell bent on announcing their arrival. This is done through asking multiple leading questions in team meetings (to show off how smart you are), sharing articles you've found on topics of interest (to show how resourceful you are) and reply to all emails across the organization (so everyone knows that you have keen insight). Almost 100% of the people who are loudest in their on-boarding training class are searching for a new job within a year.

Be Patient

I've been in sales my entire career. The skill set of the sales professional is not synonymous with patience. We are extroverted and action oriented. Some of us were even taught that hearing "no" was a way to advancing the conversation (side note: most sales training sucks).

At a certain point in my career my emotional intelligence started to override my ego. I learned to have conversations with people at the level of their peers. People hate sales people, they also love to share with people they trust.

The greatest compliment I can receive from anyone is: you're not like most sales people I've met.   

Question Your Motives     

It is difficult to do, but bringing self analysis to everything you do is of massive importance. With every action you take, you have to ask yourself, "am I doing this because there is an authentic intent or am I just trying to impress others?" Far too often the answer tends toward the latter but we program ourselves to ignore it. We can't imagine not being seen, especially when others around us are being recognized with pageantry. If you are working for a trophy, you are in it for the wrong reasons.

Self confidence is an act of personal security based in divine introversion. Listening is more important than talking. Leadership is an act of servitude. It is far more important to recognize than to be recognized. We must learn to be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, April 24, 2020

Little Wins

As we enter another week in quarantine we've all figured out how to use zoom and have adapted the ability to wear shorts with a sport coat. We're tired of hearing strategies of how to work from home and we certainly aren't delighted when receiving cold calls from vendors "just checking up on us".  Many people have lost jobs, others their businesses and some their lives. There simply is no silver lining.

As we traverse another day in the bunker, unsure if it's Saturday or Monday, little wins are the thing that get us through each day: a puzzle completed, a milestone on the peloton, our homemade sourdough afloat.

With the new normal now fully operational and a sensitivity for employee well-being, it's time for companies to help secure some little wins.

We've seen a transition in workforce directives as many quantitative measures have been altered or put on hold. A shift to behavioral modeling to enhance qualitative skills seems to be happening. This, in an effort to help employees build a sustainable skill set while core function may be temporarily altered.

These qualitative models are driven by learning. Formulated correctly, a path can be created to help employees learn every day through a variety of skill building exercises.

At the end of a trying day fraught with financial challenges and bad news, knowledge-based achievement provides a much needed boost of dopamine. 

Problem Solving
We all navigate the precept of "what keeps us up at night". Knowing there are things we cannot control leaves us feeling uncertain (and at times helpless). While there is little that can be done to solve the world's problems between you and the ceiling at 2am, when you get out of bed and jump into the issue, pressure dissipates.

Problems may pass but inaction doesn't benefit our self-control. So, if we can dig into a situation at work that poses difficulty, we may find that we are making progress. There is a great sense of achievement in creating solutions where once problems seemed insurmountable. It is the achievement of problem solving that brings us all a little closer to control in these uncertain times.

Relationship Building   
Even the worst micro-managers have adapted to act in the best interest of employee well-being. Customers who may have been over-demanding in the past have developed an ability to express forgiveness. Strangers we pass on the street seem to have a longing for connection that relays empathy where otherwise there may have been apathy.

People we work with are starting to tell stories. We are learning about one another. We'll look back on these times with a fair amount of dread but we'll emerge from them with a better appreciation of one another.

Little Wins.... that's what matters right now!

To learn something, to help solve a problem, to make a new friend.

The Next Chapter
As days fold into one another, we do our best to live in the moment, but gathering perspective is extraordinarily important. So where do we go from here?

I'd like to think that the jobs, businesses and lives lost to COVID19 will not permit the luxury of returning to "business as usual". With respect to the greater human population it is incumbent upon businesses worldwide to tackle the future of work with compassion.

"That but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We'ld jump the life to come" - William Shakesphere

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, March 27, 2020

Moving Toward Certainty

We are 2 weeks into a 12 week (?) isolation. Times are uncertain but words like transparency and candor are becoming commonplace. It's been refreshing. When you dig into what is genuinely important, the difference between partnership and product transaction starts to emerge. When we stop pretending to be on opposite sides of the table, trust gets us closer to genuine human development.

In times when things are undetermined, leadership is of paramount importance. I don't mean this in terms of pulpit speeches from CEOs; Leadership right now comes from the trenches. The importance of transformation is being driven by those who do not have elevated titles.... these are the people who will save companies.

When bravado is no longer an option, learning becomes a priority. The question is whether we can adopt these practices into our long term strategy.

It is somewhat startling that it takes a tragedy to pull common sense into business relationships. Conversation over the last two weeks has been rooted in human compassion:

What are you using that you don't need?
What are we missing strategically that we may have overlooked in the past?
How can we help?

Seems simple to raise such questions, but we tend to forget what genuinely propels us forward. Strategy needs to be the sum of that which make people's jobs easier. We need to forget the concentration on line items to survey the larger picture.  

Technology has never been more important than it is in this very moment.....

We are pulling together virtually to measure critical project milestones. We are sharing information to help others get past hurdles that have held us up in the past. Our intranets are landing pads for everything that is essential to our organizational function at this moment in time.

THANK YOU are now the two most important words that can be texted, tweeted, emailed or shared in social technology. People everywhere are sharing stories of Human Success without being able to shake hands or hug those who have helped them triumph.  

This too shall pass.... we'll be able to talk through business challenges in a room together at some point in the future. Until then, there is a need for quick fixes that will keep production moving forward.

And it sucks....

We wish we could see our work families. We wish we could gather in conference halls. We wish we could catch a plane to a sunny island to celebrate our hard work. That time will come but until then we need to document, track, visualize, create, expand and reward ourselves in a place where avatars replace faces and high fives look more like badges.

Inventory every piece of technology available to your employees and find a way to maximize purpose. I'll bet the practical process of applied intelligence will outlast the pain of isolation.....

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Right Now Won't Last Forever

We are concluding day 3 of mandated social distancing here in Northern California but it seems like it's been 3 months. Its been made apparent that this new style of existence may last for 3 months.... thus feeling as though we've been in the bunker for 90 years (don't check my math on that).

Our staff in the incubator exists of a sixth grader and an eight grader (adapting to virtual learning), my wife, my dog, my mother-in-law and I.... so if you are alone and feeling lonely in this time, you might want to reconsider your good fortune.

With virtual work we're (almost forced) to consume a greater degree of Social Media and Television transmission. I'd suggest implementing some personal controls to limit interaction with the aforementioned channels of (mis)information.

It might be 3 weeks or 3 months (hopefully not longer than that) but we'll emerge from this with some new habits. I'd bet we'll appreciate our families more. We'll find a new appreciation for our ability to solve business problems without having to drive hours to crowded offices. We'll also miss going to offices and the hugs from co-workers that provide some levity between meetings about meetings to talk about meetings. We may get better about limiting unnecessary communication. There may come an ability to consider the circumstance of each decision we make and to prioritize our time accordingly. We might stop caring so much about things that are out of our control. Maybe we'll stop allowing hatred to guide our ego and give in to Love. But mostly, we'll miss the hugs.

I'd assume most reading this live in a capitalist society that allows you to control your own destiny should you be willing to put the work in. So naturally, frustration will wash over us multiple times a day while shut away in our bunkers. This might prompt one to go onto social media and condemn others for trying to make a living (albeit amid a lack of sensitivity for the moment at hand). We may want to curse politicians (in-office or awaiting election). We'll get into our cars and yell at other drivers. Maybe we'll find a bottle to release our frustration that will only fuel our anxiety. We might forget about our elderly parents while locked in debate with @bootyshaker2006. This too, I would advise against.

Indeed, our desire to control what we cannot may give way to a need to revisit that which we know to be universally true....     

In his remarkable 2013 South By Southwest keynote, Dave Grohl reflected on a time of sleeping on floors and on stages and on floors underneath stages. Recalling this venture through a slumdog existence with complete joy. He was dirty and uncomfortable and the future was uncertain but he was free.

Mr Bruce Springsteen recalled his family fleeing to the west coast leaving him a teenager alone in his home town. The page was completely blank, everything was uncertain, there was nothing but opportunity in front of him...... It was his to explore.

David Foster Wallace explained to Kenyon College's class of 1995 that the most important choice they had in-front of them was the choice of that which they chose to worship. Advice without entitlement left to ponder before he left the world.

The unlikely Icon, Rodney Mullen spent his life hell-bent in the pursuit of perfection (only to achieve it twice).

Coach Jim Valvano reminded us to laugh, think and cry.... every day.

Then there was the guy who climbed a 3,000 vertical surface without a rope.

We've heard world leaders make bold statements with promises of action in times like these that helped us pull up our boot straps. There are pre-game speeches from coaches leading their teams into what seemed certain defeat only to propel them to victory. There are scenes from movies that inspire our spirits to tears. There are songs that fill the air and set time into complete neutrality.

.... and you can access it all without having to leave the bunker.

Turn off the news. Shut down the lap top. Go find what really matters.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 16, 2020

Some Inspirational Educational Material

It's day one of social distancing and we're still getting used to tribal isolation. My children will be e-learning their curriculum over the next two weeks so to break up the monotony I advised my son to take a look at the video content below. You might like to check them out as well......... 

Greta Thunberg - TED talk -

Dave Grohl - SXSW Keynote -

David Foster Wallace - Commencement Speech -

Laird Hamilton - Greatest Ride Ever -

Inconoclasts - Sean Penn and John Krakaur -

Everybody's free to wear sunscreen -

Kate Tempest - Peoples Faces -

Until next time...
Don't Forget to Remember,