Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Consider The Alternative

I take my profession seriously. This, because, I am in the business of Human Relations. Somehow, some way, I lucked out and found the best job in the world. I am able to help people do their job better, to assist them in finding what is genuinely important, to help share their success, and to attach business results to all of it. Pats on the back with a purpose. It's a pretty great life!

I get to interact with people of all ages at every rung of the organizational chart. A young person with whom I recently conversed told me she was distraught by her place in the world. She wasn't having any fun at work and it was affecting her personal life. She had read a blog I had written regarding the fact that we are all individually accountable for our lot in life. She felt helpless.

We all want to be happy and if we spend most of our waking hours at work, our professional lives become personal. Telling people they are great is great, helping them prove it is better.

No one reserves the right to put a finger in the face of another human being, our jobs are far less important than we pretend, and those who abuse their authority will never be happy.

For the benefit of those who love what they do and those who have lost their way alike... let us ponder the following:

You Should Hate People Who Hate Their Jobs
The profound misunderstanding in our workforce is that bad apples spoil the bunch... you underestimate your workforce! People are always willing to be empathetic to their peers but bitching has a shelf life. After a while the bad apple falls off the tree and there are no branches left to break the fall.

Money Doesn't Matter
I don't remember the amount of the largest commission check I have ever received. My best work can be characterized by giving a co-worker a hug when they really needed it.

You may make a lot of money but at what expense? You can always make more money but it won't be worth it.

Practice Your Retirement Speech
You should start building your legacy the moment you start your career. There is nothing more important than developing the capabilities of those who have come after you. If you guard your knowledge it will catch up with you. It is in the process of teaching that we learn the most.

Picture yourself in a room at the conclusion of your professional life:
How many people are in attendance?
Who would you mention to carry your legacy?
Will they be cheering when you go or crying for what you have left with them?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

NCAA Basketball & Business: A Relative Paradox

Here goes Dave again, using a current event to draw up a business comparison. I am so predictable!

At the conclusion of each College Basketball season, teams enter a single-elimination tournament. The goal: win six straight games and be crowned champion. After a long season the scoreboard is reset and any of the 68 teams in the bracket have an opportunity to raise the trophy. Winning the aforementioned tournament is one of the more difficult tasks in sports.

I won't wax poetic like a talk show host or quote statistics like a nerd. What I would like to do is point out a few critical elements of the NCAA tournament that parallel winning in business.

Good Guard Play
Every play is driven and developed by the smaller more agile dudes on the floor: the guards. Guards mirror sales people. Love them or hate them, your business cannot exist without your sales folk. Great guards are strategic in their aggression, uncompromising in their drive, and have the ability to read their competition.

Are your sales people knowledgeable of what your customers need?
Do your sales people talk about what they need or achieve based on what they have?
Do your sales people know how to read the defense?

Sales is no longer a slick talkers game...buyers are too smart for that. No one is impressed by fancy dress and well-groomed hair. People have unmet needs and/or business problems that require solutions. If your sales people are able to articulate what you have and why people need it (without a smoke screen), your business will thrive!

Make Free Throws
Dr. James Naismith created the game of basketball as a skill sport. The initial object of basketball was to shoot a ball from a substantial distance into a wicker basket. The easiest way to lose a basketball game is to neglect it's foundation. Teams who cannot make free throws... lose!

Do you understand the fundamentals of what differentiates your business from any other?
Are your employees aligned by a genuine purpose?

You cannot compete in business by playing into your competitors strengths. You have to be better by being different. Ingenuity has never been more important! There is a need to create something totally original, to exemplify why it matters, and to re-create it... every day.

Fundamentals matter: core strategy, a functional game plan, and the ability to predict the results you will produce. Mission, Vision and Values matter as well. A company whose every employee is unflappable in their commitment to their purpose will always win admiration.

One Man Does Not a Team Make
A man I used to work for once told me, "everyone is important, no one is irreplaceable". At the time, I resented the quote but he was right. No individual is bigger than the collective. One cannot implement ideas without support. Opinions must be challenged to become better formed. People are often astonished how quickly their organization forgets them when they leave.

If you have a defensible strategy, impassioned employees, great leaders and amazing products/services; every day will be a step into the future. It takes a village!

How do you cut down the nets?
1. Hire elite sales people.
2. Develop and instill a meaningful mission and supporting values.
3. Ensure the collective is bigger than the sum of it's parts.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Coach Dave    

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's Your Fault

You dislike your job, your boss is disconnected, your spouse is a pain in the ass, your children misbehave, you have that friend who is a hot mess, your customers are too demanding, you and Jesus don't talk no more, people get in the way... it's all pretty messy. There are plenty of things about which to complain.

You have to pick your battles wisely and certain things are out of your control.

Beware: the things that you complain about are a result of your own choices. You chose the job you have, you chose your spouse, you chose to live where you do and the friends who you keep. There are things that have been put upon you... the boss you hate who took over for the boss you loved, the spouse who you used to love who became miserable to be around, the kids who used to think you were Superman who now think you are The Joker.

We complain because life is unfair. We humans are complex little things and we cannot avoid one another.

Are there really certain things we cannot control? Do we have to avoid confronting that which we feel to be a waste of our precious time?

Our life's conclusions are the result of the choices we make.

While I always encourage people not to be too hard on themselves, it is only YOU who can be blamed or rewarded for your current lot in life.

It's Your Fault
There was a time in my life when I was a miserable person. I complained all day long. I thought I was a charming narcissist, but I was a hopeless defeatist. Somehow I became self-aware enough to make a change.

Still to this day, I have a tendency to become that miserable person I used to be. Often, people will tell me I'm being an ass. Mostly, these are people who love me. There are thousands of people who do not voice their discontent with our negativity... they walk off in the other direction and we never see them again. We lose opportunities for business partnerships, professional advancement, and even love. Lost opportunities are the result of our self-defeating actions.

Do Something About It
A common practice I implement in training courses is to list all of the things that suck about our work. We build a list and then determine what we can do about it. I have never found a complaint that could not be turned into an action item (and ultimately fixed).

Complaining is an act of cowardice. We look at our poor choices in hindsight, regret them, and look for someone upon whom to pass the blame.

Stop Putting Off Change
You hate your job...quit! You hate your husband...divorce him! You hate your friends...unfriend them! How much time and opportunity do we waste putting off taking ownership of our lives? Change takes energy and may not yield results. Change is also a voluntary act.

I can provide this reassurance: If something is keeping you up at night, wake up and take action. Even if you do not come up with a solution, trying to fix things is an astoundingly reassuring act of building self confidence.

...I can also assure you that complaining has never solved a problem...

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Art of Employee Engagement

I was asking a friend what made his company so remarkable. He replied:

"we all like each other so much that we wouldn't want to let anyone down"

How about that? We view employee engagement as a catch phrase or a transaction or platform or a collection of rewards; does not the concept of engagement speak to the attraction of one person to another? We are afraid to use the word accountability because we acquaint it with rule by consequence. What if we were driven by obligation; not because we had to but because we wanted to.

How about that? A drive that is motivated by a belief that trumps a presupposed agenda for success... 

You wouldn't let your friend down simply because you wouldn't have the heart to face the consequences. This doesn't make you a coward it makes you courageous. Somewhere along the line we decided to pretend that caring is a sign of weakness. This makes it easy for people who don't care to systematically navigate success. Caring is the hard part, it's far easier to create a system to mandate effort. 

Indeed, in this world of Big Data we have predictive analytics to determine the viability of our every action. This way, no one has to take chances and we can waste our lives doing the safe thing.

There are those who remember Steve Jobs as a detail obsessed lunatic who was uncompromising in his vision to build a better thinking process. Mr. Jobs lead with his heart. His frustration has been documented because he did not guard it. It's hard to lead with your heart. When you care about something more than your brain can comprehend, your heart creates what the less-evolved are unable to engage.

:( Anyone can memorize a formula and pass a test. 
:( Anyone can plug into a system and mandate its navigation.
:( Anyone can pretend the creation of others are their own.

The engagement of human beings starts in the heart of a single person. Leadership has become a lost has employee engagement.

If you don't care... they will know. If you are unable to create... they will not follow.

To look back and realize those who you lead were working around you is only less-depressing than to be unable to do anything about it.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Marley

Hey Marmalade -
I hope you are having a great day celebrating your birthday with all your friends. I saw this thing on TV where a person shared moments of growing up with their child in the hopes they would one day have a time capsule to reflect upon. My dad didn't have the opportunity to document his every thought. I'm happy to share my life with you and all of the wonderful people who read my blog.

You were born on Grandpa Bob's 70th birthday. That's why your middle name is Bobbie. Many think you are named after Bob Marley but that is not the case. In fact, I wanted to name you after Margo Tenenbaum. Your mom loves me so much that she figured Marley would be a nice combination of Margo and the name that she had in mind for you. I sure do love her very much, you are lucky to have such a wonderful Mother.

I was the first person to hold you, you had a full head of hair and big blue eyes. You stopped crying when you hit my hands. I hope my presence in your life has been continually comforting.

I used to hold your little foot in my hand but you are growing up every day. Some people would be sad to see that progression, but not me! I am so proud of you! As your coach, I expect a lot of you but I'll let you in on a secret: I've never been as good at anything as you are at soccer. I remember the first game you played, I had no expectations, you jumped out there and scored a goal right away. You haven't stopped since. (in case you are reading this years from now, in our current indoor soccer session you have scored 12 goals in 7 games). 

You are funny and talented and you have a desire to win like no one I have ever met. Most people only hold one of these qualities.

So now that you are 6, I guess I should share a few more points of advice with you:

Two years ago I told you to be nice to everyone but not to take shit from anyone. I stand by that statement! Life is way too short to be unappreciative but you should never devote attention to anyone who does not respect you.

The sports you play will benefit you for the rest of your life. You should want to achieve the highest honors in everything you do but please know that the process is more important than the score. At some point, you will realize that people value the way you treat them more than the amount of toys you possess.

Our lives are carried on by those for whom we have provided tools. In essence, we can live forever if that which we have to teach continues to be practiced. Thanks for accepting the things I have had to teach and you have my permission not to apply what I instruct. One day, you will go to college and you will have an opportunity to create a life free of my then my best-laid-plans will be embedded within you.

One request: Please be nice to your Mom! She works really, really hard and has the extended obligation of administering the things I forget (for which there are a lot). Please also know that your brother loves you more than he will ever admit, he lights up when he sees you.

Every day is a joy to be your Dad!

There will come a time when posting a birthday blog for you will become embarrassing. I promise to hand write these notes once your friends are on Facebook.

Happy Birthday Mar Mar! I Love You So Much!

- Dad

Friday, March 21, 2014

10 Ways to Annoy Your Co-Workers

I facilitate round table discussions with Human Resource professionals on a consistent basis. It's a great way for people to get out of their silos, present common workforce issues, and to develop solutions rooted in peer feedback.

A recent discussion digressed from strategic to frivolous... it was the most fun the group has had together. While discussing conflict resolution we found ourselves immersed in a cause and effect tug-of-war. This lead us to develop a list of things that create friction in the workplace.

Here are 10 sure-proof ways to alienate yourself from your co-workers:

1. Reply to All - Sending an email to an entire team working on a project is a transparent necessity. You should never "reply to all" on an email sent to the entire organization. Even worse are the group emails that emphasize your individual accomplishments masked as a team congratulation.

2. Raise Your Hand - Team meetings (more often than not) hold us back from doing real work. We want to get them over with and get back to the task at hand. Don't stifle progress by asking question after question simply to prove your intelligence.

3. Touting Your Own Accomplishments - Never send an email to your team displaying your success. If you have done something extraordinary someone else will point it out.

4. Give Backhanded Compliments - 'Tis better to say nothing than to tell someone they did a great job followed by a "but".

5. Empower Wimps - People only suck at their jobs because they don't try hard enough and blame others for their failures. If you empathize with excuses you empower disengagement and ruin the team dynamic.

6. Compliment the Boss - Don't Kiss Ass! Even if you love your boss it never plays well to compliment greatness that has already been validated by a title and a bigger paycheck.

7. Beat Dead Horses - The topic came up, it was a bad idea, let it go! Don't argue with an organizational leader about an objective that is not going to be retracted.

8. Brag About Your Kids - We get it, you love your kids. Your co-workers may not be blessed with such wonderfulness (or maybe they hate kids). Tell your kids how much you love them... and leave it at that!

9. Talk About Past Accomplishments - That which you achieved last year, at a former company, or in another department means nothing to us today.

10. Share Your Religious and/or Political Beliefs - There is no quicker way to polarize yourself to your compadres than by forcing your belief system upon them. Deeply personal beliefs have heavy emotional baggage. Keep it to yourself!

Admittedly, I am an offender of 9 out of 10 of these personality traits. Guilty as charged!

We compete against the marketplace, other companies, and in some cases our co-workers; there is no need to make your job more difficult by getting in your own way.

There are things about the job you cannot control. Learn to control yourself.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, March 14, 2014

The Compensation of Validation

The battle for talent marches on:
Who are these new kids entering the workforce?
What can we provide our superstars to keep them engaged?
What are the most important functions of our business model?
How do we retain the aforementioned functions?

Companies exist to create revenue, so hiring/retaining quality salespeople is vitally important. Salespeople will always have options.

We consistently pontificate upon that which attracts salespeople to companies. Let me guess, money...? All salespeople watch The Wolf of Wall Street and seek a life of integrity-free excess. They want cars, coke and hookers. They will continue to work hard because they spend their weekly 5 figure checks over the weekend. It is a life of high highs and low lows.... each with their place in that salesperson's motivation.

Let's diffuse these stereotypes created by HR professionals that serve to marginalize poor salespeople.

Times Are-A-Changin'
Of course the duty of any good HR Blogger is to stereotype Millennials. I am part of a volunteer organization that helps college students find jobs. They are far less assholish than their fathers.

Fuel efficient cars are all the rave, non-profit organizations are more attractive than ever, and community service is a right more than a chore. Today's workforce puts the collective first.

Money is not sustainable!
There are several theories in Behavioral Economics that disprove the motivational value of cash. Money is only important to those who are not doing their job as well as they can. The disengaged will always complain about money while they should be doing what is important to earn it. People who are doing their job well make more money and complain less.

So let's assume everyone is doing their job well. Shouldn't that be the expectation? We don't hire people to fail, yet we cater every workforce initiative to the disengaged.

Example: Those who are our top performers seldom complain in meetings or on surveys. We don't celebrate the areas within the survey in which we are doing well. We look at the negative feedback from those at 50% of their quota and spend days trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.

Do you validate?
More than money or opportunities to climb the ladder; salespeople need validation. We think of salespeople as the most arrogant of the flock. In fact, our salespeople are our least confident employees... salespeople need perks, trips and thank yous more than anyone.

How do you validate?

Paying someone enough money is only enough to motivate until more money comes along. Money is the ultimate transaction. How can we turn transactional work into transformational motivation?

1. Reward the business critical behaviors that lead to success (not just results).
2. Present challenges, create new ones, and track progress.
3. Don't prop up top performers as your best corporate citizens (they never are).
4. Partner with HR to discover non-revenue driving capabilities that turn individual contributors into great leaders.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Chase

I remember my best pal and I sitting on our 7th Street couch in Tempe, Arizona. We witnessed Matthew McConaughey accept an MTV Movie Award. His speech was unforgettable because he was the first "adult" who went out of his way to express his pride in the youth. At a time in our lives when we were no longer kids but not yet adults, we appreciated that someone would be humble enough to congratulate others during his moment.

More recently, Matt spoke of the continuum of self-confidence. That one must consistently recreate themselves and seek only to keep up with self-appointed standards. Not a cop-out but a well thought out way to boldly address one's public.

Why is this important?

In each time I feel as though I've got it figured out...I get thrown for a loop. I act out of character, I let myself down, I take things too personally, I engage people who I should not, I do not put enough effort into engaging people who I should, and I mistreat the people who love me. Life is too short to waste precious hours yet I do. Over and over again.....

The great John Roderick had noted that his addiction was driven by his need to challenge himself. He would, essentially, build himself up to knock himself down... over and over again. Sometimes we create challenges that we know we can conquer to create false reassurance. When things seem perfect we mess them all up so we can rebuild the Lego's that make up our silly little castles.

We often point at others as the source of our misery when it is only ourselves who have created the mess.

Be Your Own Hero
Ole' Matt said his mother demanded that he respect himself and it allowed him to respect others. People will frown upon things like caring too much, acting with self assurance, and possibly trying too hard. Those who frown and cross arms do so because they do not possess the ability to assert themselves in the writing of their own life story. Yet, we try to win them over. Over and over again.....

84 Problems
In a Buddhist parable it is written that a man going through a tough spell went to see the Buddha. He laid out all the challenges he was facing. The Buddha told him that everyone faces 83 problems at any given time. He continued to say that the man was now facing 84 problems...the additional problem being that he was under the impression that his 83 problems were the fault of another.

Reward Your Critics
Let's say those who judge us do so because they see our greatness but are disappointed in our inability to see it in ourselves. It is difficult to stand up and try, it is harder to fail, but the worst we can do is to judge those who have tried and failed.

We can only win people over through our actions. If we surprise someone through our genuine intent we earn the ability to diffuse the stupid things we say.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, February 24, 2014

The Innovation Myth

The Olympics have come and gone (seemingly with little fanfare). The popularity of the pinnacle of amateur sports may be waning because the events are not shown live in prime time. The "get there first" amateur journalists that flood social media make it impossible to enjoy anything that has already happened. No need to DVR the game or your favorite show... your unemployed uncle live tweeted it with a bong in his lap at 4am.

I, for one, was massively inspired by the 2014 Winter Olympic games. There are a millions lessons in humility and validation that result from training 4 years for a 4 minute event. There can be no glory without sacrifice. I found it all thrilling, even if the stories I watched were 12 hours old.

"You're all carpal tunnel and ADD" - Roger Greenberg, in reference to the technology generation

I love technology as much as Kip Dynamite but too much of anything becomes exhausting. We equate innovation with technology yet those existing off-the-grind are propelling forward with great efficiency. Any system can be gamed, with structure comes the ability to adapt (and pretend), and there is nothing revolutionary about representing another person's idea as your own.

The Art of Interaction
Our skill development concentrates too much on memorization (without application). Schools are too hung up on test scores while avoiding human interaction. Every individual performer who was promoted to a management position based only on the merit of their performance results has failed.

The turning point to innovation comes upon us when we realize we are asking the wrong questions. Its not about being better, its about being different.

Be Moved to Tears
The great Jimmy Valvano had the rare opportunity to deliver his own eulogy in 1993. One of his strongest recommendations was to be moved to tears every day. We get caught up in the day-to-day details that ignite our stress: reports, schedules, personal differences, one slide in a presentation, a line on a proposal. We get so head down in the nonsense that we forget the love that surrounds us. We pace the backyard porch while our children sit inside with their faces against the window waiting to be part of our lives.

There is inspiration everywhere: You Tube, sporting events, the cinema, the theater, a bar stool conversation. We tend to neglect stepping outside of our complex little insignificant worlds to breath the air that keeps us alive.

Cut Through the Static
We put so much strategy into guessing. What will our customers say? What will the market dictate? What's the next great product? Guessing is a fools game. Pick up the phone, get to the source, and figure it out!

There is so much technology to automate humanity. This takes the chance out of things. Chance creates opportunity and is ultimately the gateway to new things. Innovation is not a technical process, it's the ability to discover a new frontier. Today, the forgotten frontier is one to one conversation.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Removing The Clutter

It is astonishing to me what sparks intrigue in social media. It seems you can write the world's most inspiring piece...and 7 people will read it. If you attack another person, or submit blanket insults, thousands will chime in.

Could it be that the attraction to social media is the ability to say from behind a keyboard what you would not otherwise say in-person?

In the professional world there are two types of people:
1. Those who have an opinion
2. Those who play the game

The oldest trick in the bitter worker's playbook is to complain relentlessly from the bar stool then tuck their tale between their legs when entering the office. It is difficult to balance the line between productive disruption and complaining. We who possess courage can often be our own worst enemy.

How do we remove the clutter?

The Value of Validation
People just want to be loved. We've all got ideas (or at least most of us do) and we want them to be heard. The reason we get up and go to work is to make a difference.

If we start feeling we are insignificant we get desperate...then we act out of character....and we cannot return to the valued version of ourselves.

It is sad to think in terms of a life without meaning. Those tackling this conundrum may be masking their insecurity with a false sense of authority.

Kill Them With Kindness
It can be detrimental to one's character to accept that which you don't believe in. Compromise can be painful. There is more than one way to fight the machine.

Progress is seldom made if your opinions precede you. Action is far more important than talk. No matter how relevant your ideas, how you present them determines their level of adoption.

Learn to pick your battles and put your energy into solutions not discrepancies.

Don't Give Them An Excuse
Emotion is necessary. Control is paramount. You validate your critics when you allow your emotion to disrupt your character.

There are those who will tell you they did not experience success until they started breaking the rules. There is a science to breaking the rules without chastising yourself.

Take Action
* Do not voice a complaint without promising a better alternative.
* Promote positive change.
* Get to know your critics, they are all bark and no bite.
* Invest in people before you try to influence them.
* Keep your stripes well-hidden.
* Research every relationship.
* Choose your battles wisely.
* Choose your friends wisely.
* Don't fight what you cannot change.
* Don't engage people who wish to destroy you!
* Don't give up on people who are crying for help!

Ask yourself what you want out of life and pursue it with divine intent. Our time here is fleeting and we always remember our victories more than our losses.

We Can Do This.

Don't Forget to Remember!