Monday, February 1, 2016


I had a great revelation the other night.... I was sitting in bed and the greatest feeling came over me. As I soaked in the vibe, I totally forgot what provoked my fresh feeling, but I still felt wonderful!

How wonderful the joy of Positive Recall can be. How often it is overlooked. In fact, this usually works in counterpoint:

  • Ever catch yourself hung up in negativity without knowing exactly why your mood had been altered to such a defeated extent?

What keeps us up at night is terminology usually affiliated with worry. It is so much nicer to sit up reflecting on all the good things we have experienced in our lives.

Do you struggle to recall when life was simpler? Have you forgotten how to love yourself?

Remember the little league championship you won, the first girl you kissed, the first time you heard your favorite song, the time you walked in the park with your dad, when you were awaken by your dog licking your face.

Remember your mothers laughter, the concert that changed your life, the time you did drugs and thought you would never be normal again.

Remember the best teachers and coaches you have ever had, the guy at the record store who introduced you to Black Sabbath... the time you beat up the bully, won the contest, stuck up for your sister....

Remember the look you got from the most beautiful girl in the world from across the room... and the day you married her.

Remember the time your Dad cried in front of you, when you lost your job, when your friend died or the time the girl you loved stopped loving you.

There is glory in the little things and every silver lining has a touch of grey.

There will never be a time when everything is perfect and there is something absolutely perfect about that.

Would your younger self look up to you? What advice do you have for her? Have you listened to your own advice? Have you ignored your true goals because mustering the courage to conquer them took too much work?

  • There was a time you laughed.
  • You have been a winner.
  • There was a time you were so proud of yourself that you left your feet in joy. 

These are the things we should reflect upon.... EVERY DAY!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

At The Risk of Sounding Unpopular

2016 has begun with the passing of some of the world's finest entertainers. While the thought of death saddens me, it is incredibly pleasing to benefit from the legacy these titans of industry have left behind.

Indeed, one's life goal should be: 

To have lived, influenced and left your mark on the world!

For every man/woman who has touched the world with their bravery, there are millions of people who have lived without purpose.

Profoundly Sad!

Our degree of fame does not determine our degree of influence on the world because popular opinion differentiates nothing.

To establish influence one must be willing to risk being unpopular:
  • To cross arms in judgement is easy.
  • To stand before applause does not necessarily involve risk.
  • No one ever achieved the honor of influence by doing what everyone else does.

I am not a confrontational person. In fact, I strive to make everyone happy. That said, I have for a very long time been able to determine that popular opinion does not determine quality. 

Counter Intuitive Thinking
Caitlin Flanagan recently reminded me that journalists seek methods of counter-intuitive thinking to better provoke thought leadership. I don't believe that sensationalism should determine popularity but I do appreciate the willingness to consider all viewpoints before taking action.

If in each day you were able to temper your opinions by considering both sides.... how much more interesting would your life be? 

Moral Courage
I've never promoted myself as a person of high moral character but I do consider myself a good guy. 

I never used my values as a means to judge others. It's profoundly difficult to allow oneself the privilege of determining an elevated spot on the moral high ground. Who am I to judge? 

To be prideful is not to be aggressive.

To be opinionated is not to be judgmental.

To be a Gentleman is an act of feminism.

Leadership is an act of servitude.

No one ever got famous by following the crowd.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Disengagement Awakening

It's 2016 and we're still claiming a very small portion of the workforce cares about their job. Gallup has been banging the drum of global disengagement since 2011. The most recent claim that only 3 in 10 people can actually tolerate their job and 2 in 10 hate their job.

I'm still not buying it!

I don't know the questions that fuel Gallup's metric, who they ask or if they are simply positioning to sell their services, but 70% of the workforce ARE NOT disengaged.

The bigger question may revolve around what we perceive to be Disengagement and how we address it.

The A in the SCARF methodology stands for Autonomy. More and more employees are seeking some space and an ability to navigate their own success. With the proper tools, training and a little bit of trust; employees can thrive and managers can concentrate on coaching instead of baby sitting.

Yet and still, Managers are intent upon inserting themselves in their employees every action.... micro-managing where they should be allowing autonomy.

The Challenger Sale identifies a sales characteristic of The Lone Wolf. This person is regarded as disengaged. Yet, he/she is the person on the team that requires the least amount of attention.

Are we really so distrusting of the people we have hired that we feel a grown-ass-man/woman needs someone looking over their shoulder on a daily basis.

Why not put a microchip in each employees neck to track their every move.

A majority of the workforce may be viewed as disengaged because a majority of managers still believe that they need them under their thumb to keep them on task.

Our belief in clock punching as a means to success may be the very thing that is turning organizational advocates into employees of our competitors.

The Truth About Engagement
It is a fact that people will accept less money if their organization trusts them to manage by their own schedule.

It is a fact that employees who are allowed flex time work longer hours and are more productive.

"managers who manage by the clock are dangerously incompetent" - Rodd Wagner

So Then
The Gallup agency has been printing money on the basis of asking employees the same group of questions for 13 years (with very little change in the line of questioning). This benchmarks improvements/decline in engagement and serves the HR Community's greatest asset:

Validation of the past so as not to have to embrace change

  • We are asking the wrong questions.
  • We are over-managing where employees are seeking autonomy. 
  • We are attempting to combat disengagement by doing more of what has disengaged our employees in the first place. 

It's time to change the game. Seeking to control those perfectly capable only drives them away. Those who sit around and take it only do so because no one else will hire them.

Until we step away from the crutch of age-old surveys as our means to measure employee contentment, we will continue to over-spend in the shadow of a problem we are incapable of solving.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

There Is No Clean Slate

The new year is upon us and people will crawl to a gym, church or library after their hang over subsides.

New Year's Resolutions never work because they are rooted in the obligatory.

The flipping of a calendar cannot determine when you are going to change your life. You have to make that (often difficult) decision for yourself.

Behavior Change is what keeps our society evolving. There are 5 simple concepts that you can apply with a certain degree of discipline that will change your life forever.

Let's Go.....

Reflect Upon the Positive
Worry keeps us up at night. Such concern limits sleep over problems that seldom manifest themselves. Why do we spend our time reflecting upon our embarrassments or failures? When was the last time you sat up at night thinking about all of the wonderful things you have achieved in your life?

Recall the little league championship you and your friends won. Think about the talent show you participated in and the joy that it brought to you. Remember the walk in the park with your dad, when your dog licked your face or the time you put your life on hold to hear an old man's story.

Harness all that glory and take it with you into today.

Dismantle Convention
We live in a time when everyone has an opinion and the ability to broadcast it. This saturates the free idea market and makes it difficult to find authenticity.

Most people are not very inventive so they use social publication to regurgitate old ideas.

You have been granted to opportunity to participate.... what are you waiting for?

Think about what has not been done. Dismantle the traditional process.

Take Control of Your Life Within The Format for Success
There may come a point in your life when you decide to quit your job to work on a fishing boat in Alaska....

You might want to consider a way to lead a successful life on your own terms while still working within a system.

Consider what you are fighting for and if all the dragons have been slayed.

You can live a life of glory while carrying the bag for another.

Don't Chase the Paper, Chase the Dream!

Glory and Success are a state of mind. YOUR perception controls every day. Any job can be perfect or really bad..... the choice is yours.

Unzip Your Soul
People are going to mess up. The easiest thing in life is to wait arms folded in judgement of others. Every thing you do will involve people... and their ability to annoy is extraordinary!

Find a way to give people the benefit of the doubt, accept their short-comings and try to exercise some empathy.

Don't Forget to Remember!
Routine kills creativity. Doing the same thing day in and day out will bring comfort but not happiness. The easiest thing to do is copy the routine of another. It is far more difficult to assert your creative force and re-discover the possibilities life has to offer.

Life has one great certainty: If you are willing to work harder than anyone else, you will succeed.

To Recap:
1. Reflect
2. Dismantle
3. Maintain Your Mission
4. Exercise Empathy
5. Repeat the Process (every day)

Don't Forget to Remember,


Monday, December 21, 2015

Top 5 - 2015

2015 was a remarkable year in music! Lord HuronThe Tallest Man on Earth followed past successes with even better records. Legends like The Decemberists, Death Cab for Cutie, Built to SpillModest Mouse returned to the limelight. Josh RitterJason Isbell pulled hard on our heart strings. Even ELO put out a new album (and its really good).

If you are so inclined, check out 30 Trips Around the Sun by The Grateful Dead, It is the quintessential guide to their 50 year career.

Thanks to Frank Turner for releasing the recording of the most empathetic song ever written.

In the sacred space of the concert hall, a great many of our friends were taken from the world.

... all the more reason to create music and cherish every note.

Here are the Top 5 Albums of 2015......!

5. Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett

"If you've got a spare half a million you could knock it down and start re-building"

Courtney Barnett is a force to be reckoned with. No one had greater expectations going into 2015 and the little lady from Australia delivered in spades... blowing minds across South by Southwest and further the world. All with a smile on her face, a magnificent personal style and monster guitar riffs. Feminists and jocks alike can't help falling in love with her!

4. Faith In the Future by Craig Finn

The Heroic Hold Steady Frontman returns with another solo record of heart tangling youthful rock ballads. How does a middle aged dude capture the youthful spirit (often from a female perspective) so well? If any of us knew we would be Craig Finn. The opening track captures the terror of parenting to perfection. There is not a better songwriter who receives less popular fanfare for his craft... and I bet he's OK with that. 

3. Disasters by Carlos Forster

"... Brother, What's It Like To Be Free...?"

My friend Carlos has been one of my favorite song writers for nearly 20 years. After the untimely demise of his band For Stars, Carlos returned to the scene a few years back... where his solo debut might mirror the self titled For Stars record, Disasters picks up where It Falls Apart left off. Deep meditations from far beyond where the waves break. Heart breaking tributes to fallen loved ones and heartfelt assurances to those Carlos has brought into the world. A remarkable accomplishment!

2. Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens 

"...Did you get enough love, my little dove, why do you cry...?"

Prepare yourself before you listen to this one... Sufjan Stevens strips down to tell the story of the mother who abandoned him by her death bed recreating their kinship.  Last year, I called Benji by Sun Kil Moon the saddest record ever written... this album is 10 times more difficult to listen to.

... and through it all Sufjan Stevens seems to emerge stronger, forgiving and optimistic.

1. Back On Top by The Front Bottoms

In the midst of the doom and gloom of 2015.... the Front Bottoms emerge with the GREATEST PARTY ALBUM of all time! Amid the cautions of growing up is a youthful optimism that kids and their grandparents can in equal parts enjoy. 

Thanks For Listening!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wish You Were Here

I'm not a big fan of year end lists and I tend to be more Grinch than Santa Celebrator during the wonderful holiday season. That said, a question posed at a conclusion of a recent on-line chat got my wheels turning:

What Do You Wish For All Your Employees As We Approach The New Year?

Those of us who have been swimming through the HR Blogosphere can tend to get pretty intricate regarding our thoughts on Employee Engagement and the like. The above is a simple mission statement that I feel cuts to the core of what really engages people.

When creating workforce strategy that scales the globe it is very difficult to take into account the goals of each and every employee. Sometimes practicality has to eclipse the crystal ball.

What if engaging your employees was as simple as asking them the question above.

  • Performance Management is about Leadership Development not talent evaluation.
  • Transparency & Trust are the most important characteristics of any leader.
  • To manage one's career without understand their personal goals is a one way ticket to Resumeville.

What Do You Want? 
How often do we seek to understand our employees frame of mind before designing program initiatives.

~ Do you implement workforce incentives based on best practices?
~ How does that make your employee offering unique or intriguing?

Giving away cookie cutters makes you just another bakery.

The best performance management objectives I have seen lie within the metrics of the SCARF program. If you are not familiar with the technique, it allows employees to stack rank their personal objectives for organizational engagement.

Some people want a social life through work, others want to be left alone. Some people want to be promoted, others might want to work creative project team.

Knowing what people want (by their own direction) makes people much easier to manage.

Why Are Managers Afraid to Lead?
Leadership is an act of servitude. Some managers fail to recognize this. As a leader, one's obligation is to help people achieve their fullest potential.

People want to know on a daily basis the rung upon which they stand and how to ascend. Clarity breeds transparency which creates trust. With trust comes engagement!

Don't allow yourself to be an example of the "those you cannot do, teach" ethos.

Be Transparent, Build Trust & Help People Ascend!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Engagement Remastered

Thanksgiving has come and gone. That time of year when family is so extremely important....

We gather our brood, put on our worst sweater and head over to Grandma's for the world's finest home cooking.... we have a few too many classes of wine, say what's really on our mind and storm off before the pumpkin pie is served.

We don't need a designated day to love our family, a certain day to bargain shop or a time to be told it is appropriate to give.

The best Thanksgiving I had in my life was with my friends at a Ben Folds Five concert, an entirely different state from my family... that doesn't mean I love my family any less, I simply don't need to be told how to love.

Let's apply this to Employee Engagement.

Is the sales rep who is at 300% of her quota but never completes her TPS reports less-engaged than the new hire with no revenue who is the first to turn in said reports?

Is the manager who's failing team loves him more-engaged than the top manager in the company (who no one can bare to talk to after hours)?

Is the young lady who loves programming with her headphones on less-engaged than the guy who gets up from his work space every 15 minutes to socialize?

People who are good at their job may be naturally skilled, seasoned, hard working, super-smart, and/or manipulative. A flawed personality and a big pay check make you an asshole but that doesn't devalue your contributions.

Some of the most delightful people I know suck at their job. Some of the most successful people I know are not the world's best conversationalists.

Recognition Cannot Be a Crutch
I know a programmatic manager who spends her allotted recognition budget to the penny every month. Each Friday she makes a point to block off 30 minutes in her outlook calendar to submit rewards and notes of recognition to her team. She does this to make up for the other 49.5 hours of the week that she abuses her staff. Her notes are not heart-felt but the rewards are redeemed as quickly as any other group.

The awards she affords are spent in spite of her leadership not because of it. 

If you ran a report she might appear to have the most-engaged team in the organization.

Passion is a Real Thing
There are people who love their job because they are allowed to split the office in the afternoon to pick up their kids. There are people who love their job because their manager takes an hour a week to help them start their own company. There are people who love their job because they are not called upon to attend happy hour with their team.

Reciprocity determines Culture! We don't all have to meet on the lawn to play football after work. Some times working for a company that trusts you to leave is all the engagement you need.

STOP Pretending Systematic Management Produces Results
Top revenue producers are not always the most litigious in submitting their expense reports.

At some point in our CRM driven, Big Data world we agreed to pretend that if a deal was written on a bar napkin, it didn't exist.

NEWSFLASH: tracking appointments, contacts and opportunities does not produce revenue....

Relationships Do!

That which you cannot measure is the secret sauce of your success.

If we could measure it, package it and produce you... you would!

In the end, you will fire those who are the best at meaningless tasks while the Lone Wolf defies the system with her every step closer to the bank.

~ Some have mature skill and wish to be left alone.
~ You can teach it but your audience needs to be trusted enough to apply it.
~ No one ever became CEO because their manager gave a passive speech about their ability.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, November 16, 2015

This Is Not A Math Test!

The odds may be stacked against you but what the odds don't know is this is not a math test... this is a completely different kind of test; one where passion has a funny way of trumping logic...

Numbers can be fascinating in the way they expand and draw back together, the avenues they create. I'm just not willing to live my life by a formula. Fantasy Football has taken the glory from the competition and made it a stat driven leader board. People measure their every step and moment of sleep. We cannot fathom taking action without a stack of number to validate our decision (or indecision so it seems).

What happened to romance? What happened to leaping into the unknown? What happened to glory?

Winning against the odds destroys logic... It is a profound opportunity to know that with each day the less-courageous can be made to look foolish.

Does anybody remember courage? Impulse? The joy of uncertainty?

Indeed, our lives are not to be lived lived by simple standards. We are called upon to corrupt the system by disagreeing with logic. It's called innovation, transformation, disruption.

Popular opinion is often wrong, numbers lie and beurocracy has been created by those protecting their lack of ingenuity.

Some times you have to be willing to try in spite of the odds. Those who rely on logic hate speadsheet tampering.

I am not now, have never been and will never be willing to be predictable!

Counter Thinking
Herb Brooks had a calculated method for beating the Russians, Namath threw a ton of passes in his super bowl upset, Muhammad Ali knew exactly what he has doing when he leaned back on the ropes in Zaire. Upsets don't happen by accident, the assumed lesser wins when they decide to change the rules of the game.

The first step to beating a superior opponent is meeting them at mid-field letting them know you are not afraid of them.

Shine a Light
"... all these people around you saying, "we've got so much further to go, it's gonna get worse before it gets better", I don't know if that's true..."

The above excerpt from Plastic Flowers by The Front Bottoms reveals a consistently ignored truth:

Tony Robbins doesn't own the market on self-help!

The Great Jerry Garcia himself had noted ones ability to find light in the strangest of places.

If you go to church for inspiration and you feel nothing, stop going! If your job sucks the life from you, quit! If you hate your boyfriend, break up with him. At the very least, find a way to knock an elephant on their ass from time to time.

Don't wait around for the logical choice to change your life. Fix it on your own.... It is far more satisfying to win a game on the field than by forfeit.

They Won't Remember You for Being Regular  
When we were kids we would gather on the side of the football field at varsity games. Naturally kids from the other side of town would come over to our side of the field and a game of football would break out. There were no rules, it was kids with uncompromising pride, fighting for one another. We'd competed against each other in the neighborhood for years now we were venturing out.... together.

I would yell at the top of my lungs for the older boys from my block as they crushed the out-of-towners. Time went by and at a certain point I took offense to men in opposing jerseys walking our sidelines. I dropped the ball in front of them and a game ensued. We butted heads for a few drives when I looked up to see the younger kids from my block cheering me on.... It was my time to lead and I wasn't going to let them down.

You are remembered for the times you stuck up for your tribe. There is no valor in letting your little sister suffer because you were too cowardly to stand up for what you believed in.

Numbers lie, rules were meant to be broken, heroes are made when the impossible is conquered.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ms. Misery

There is a lady who goes to my gym and she stands waiting for occupied machines. She does not have a purpose in her workout regimen, she is simply waiting for the opportunity to remove another person from their routine.

I know a woman who walks the streets in the dark. Each day she complains of motorists not affording her the right of way on the street where she cannot be seen.

A man stomps into the coffee shop each day and darts over to the half and half container in the general servicing area. His purpose is to bring it up to the counter to complain about it not being sufficiently filled.

These three people share a commonality:

They wake up each day miserable and seek to find someone to blame it upon.

The miserable are usually so because of choices they have made, choices they did not make or unfortunate circumstance. They have not confronted the elements of their short-comings because they deflect the responsibility for their lack of happiness. They take great pride in their misery and seek to spread it where ever they may go.

I know the lot in life of the miserable because I was their bedfellow for so very long.

There was a time in my life where I sought validation for my every effort by complaining about my misunderstood lot in the professional world. I fancied myself a Larry David type, thinking my negativity had intellectual charm.

Visit any barroom at quitting time and you'll find a few hundred people complaining about their jobs through the lens of liquid courage. They bitch about their bosses and co-workers until one of them walks in (and then they cower in red-faced reality).

How To Survive Life on Mars  
Those who survive in space do so because of their uncompromising positivity. Giving in to death on any mission may be as simple as disarming your helmet, but failure is never an option. Think of yourself alone, with limited resources and nothing but time to destroy your confidence. Most of those bold enough to explore the next frontier have found a way to survive.

Mental, Physical and Spiritual discipline are essential to survival here on earth as well.

Those Who Do Not Seek Credit
On Veterans Day, you'll see those pretending themselves Heroes while others do their best to find peace; here presents a metaphorical overlap into the corporate world.

Those who are really good at what they do seek not a trophy or a trip to the Bahamas. They just want to do great work, solve problems, use their brain (and heart) and have a little time to live their life.

You cannot make someone truly great by praising their effort. They either have it or they don't!

The Seemingly Impossible Process of Finding The Positive
Every time I think the old (negative) me is gone, he rears his ugly head. People are hard to deal with, rules are hard to follow and the climb to success often seems dictated by outdated process.

It's Really Difficult to Stay Positive. I struggle with it every day.

The alternative is to be the woman who takes your machine without using it, the man who insults the effort of who he feels to be the easiest target or the woman who walks the wrong way in the dark simply to insult the precaution of others.

They chose the easy route. They will die miserable and alone!

There will be times when you simply cannot find grace.... walk your dog, grab a beer or find a way to laugh.

Above that, here's what you can control:

Every day you wake up with a choice to rule the world or get your ass kicked:

- Bounce out of bed early
- Be willing to be uncomfortable
- Try hard and keep trying
- Never give up

Become a morning person. Find a way to appreciate Mondays. Tell those who work hard that you appreciate them.

Be willing to fight for what you believe in.

Know that love is at the center of everything... and if you haven't found it, don't stop until you do.

...You will find it...

Be interested in other people. Be a person who is interesting to know. Share your ideas and your resources.


Keep your religious and political opinions quiet.

Pray when you need to. It can't hurt!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Harvey Dilemma

When two team are competing in a Championship, neither of which you care about, you look for intriguing story lines. On Monday, a nation of casual observers discovered Matt Harvey... the barrel-chested embodiment of determination who was destined to save New York from their far-superior opponent from the Mid-West.

For 8 innings Harvey threw strike outs, fist pumped and sat with half his ass on the bench chomping at the bit to get back out there and compete. As he was called upon to leave the game after the 8th inning, he refused to be removed. He charged the distance of the dugout to tell his Manager that he was not leaving the game to the behest of his pitching coach.

As Harvey emerged from the dugout to pitch the 9th inning, the crowd erupted. The man known as the Dark Knight was here to save Gotham... the greatest comeback in sports history was in motion.

Until he failed.....

Sports pundits will look upon The Dark Knight's failure in front of the world as an act of uninformed bravery. Those pumping their shoulders at the onset of the 9th inning, were shaking their heads mere moments later.

There are millions who will blame the foregone championship on Matt Harvey.

I think him a Hero!

... with every triumph there is the story of courage, resilience, self-confidence & risk taking....

Most people sit back and deflect the responsibility of their teams destiny to another. It is simple (in so many ways) to rely on statistics to validate decision making.

The world needs more people who are brave enough to risk being called stupid because they believe in themselves.

Dare to Try
I've had success in a variety of fields simply because I was willing to try. It's that simple, if you put yourself out there you are 80% of the way there. Then, all you have to do is work hard.

You can call Matt Harvey stupid for extending himself into the 9th inning, but at least he was bold enough to try.

Nobody can eat 50 eggs...!

Stick Up for Yourself
Our success relies on the support of others. We spend a good chunk of our time convincing others to follow our lead. Sure, data is important in defending our proposal, but passion matters just as much.

The romance has been lost.

We want to protect our spot in the pecking order by doing the safe thing.

If you know you are the best option, don't allow your passion to be delegated to another.

Take the reins... LEAD!

Hold Yourself Accountable
There cannot be results without a measurable plan. You'll need to track progress every day. If you know where you are going you can be far more confident in your ability to succeed.

Your future is more certain if you put yourself in control. Part of taking control is owning your results... as well as your failures.

I talked to a young person recently who told me young people don't like the word "accountability". The word, he felt, was based in a micro-management ethos that threatened people into results. Makes sense, but there is a downside to that line of thinking........

If you rescue a dog you still have to feed it.

Matt Harvey would have been heralded as a hero had he won that game (even if the Mets failed to beat the Royals in the 2 remaining games). Now, he has to live with the results of his decision.

He bet on himself and he lost!

That is life, a moment of blind optimism squashed by reality.

The Data Behind the Decision?
Maybe Harvey isn't crazy..... The Mets closer had blown 2 saves in the series already, the Royals bullpen was far superior, the Royals bats were far better in the late innings, the series would be heading back to Kansas City for 2 more games and he was pitching well.

Maybe Mr. Harvey just wanted to complete the game to give the people of New York, and believers in the power of sports, something to believe in (in this otherwise failure of a series).

Instead he fed the doubters and came out looking foolish.

Simply because he believed in himself enough to try.

Don't Forget to Remember!