Thursday, March 26, 2015

Happy Birthday Marley

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

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

I'm so proud to be your Dad!

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

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

I Love You Marmalade! Happy Birthday!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Human Advancement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world is changing! 

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Photo Albums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 9, 2015

When The Wave Breaks

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

When Will The Wave Break?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their time is up....

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

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

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

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

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Life In The Moment

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

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

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

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

Live In The Moment!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live In The Moment!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Underdog

My friend Charlie has donated some fantastic knowledge to the blogosphere as of late. I share his sentiment that the best professionals share a distinct common characteristic:

The Underdog Mentality

People who are great at what they do listen to every criticism and compliment. While we would like to tell ourselves the insults do not effect us, they do. While we would like to say we don't need recognition, we do. If success is in your DNA you work hard, have an inherent ability to learn from your mistakes and put your victories in a very small corner of your mental trophy case.

Doubt is Fuel
My dad hired thousands of people. The proudest professional achievements of his 50+ year career are supplanted in the times when he took a chance on the less-obvious choice. He will admit that those who were under-qualified were more motivated and possessed a greater sense of hubris. Which is why they exceeded expectations without entitlement.

If you are smart and you work hard at some point some one will give you a shot... then it's your turn to score!

An Inability To Stop Caring
The strange thing about possessing underdog mentality is that the input of the less-talented still gets under your skin. No matter the intent or credential... you take opposing viewpoints to heart and grow from them.

The underdog also has the ability to recognize other underdogs and as they hit their stride they will invite strays into the pack.

Act Like You've Been Here Before
Most people hire the candidate who is more qualified on paper. That way, if your hire fails, you can cover your ass....!

The moment you begin to settle, you lose the underdog mentality. Experts are often wrong, the safe choice is never the right choice and predictability is the kiss of death.

I have won more than I have lost in my life. I've earned every victory and I was seldom the favorite in any fight. I am very proud of that. I'd like to think that each time I defied the odds, I disqualified my opponent from a life of presumption.... and helped them rediscover their underdog mentality!

"Your playing small does not serve the world...There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you" - Marianne Williamson

"You've got no fear of the underdog that's why you will not survive" - Britt Daniel

"Be Humble in Victory and Accountable in Defeat" - Me

There is someone out there who cannot live without you. Don't compromise until you find them.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More Bad Advice

I had recently told a group of students that validation in life is not always vocalized so one cannot wait for applause. It seems those at the beginning and end of their careers might need confirmation of effort more than others. One will ponder if they are aligning themselves with the right people, if they are displaying their commitment through sacrifice and/or if their effort has been validated with results.

A person who I looked up to once gave 3 points of advice for career advancement:
1. Always Hit Your Number
2. Be Willing To Relocate
3. Align Yourself With People (who are climbing the ladder)

I'm here to tell you why the aforementioned 3 points are the WORST advice I have ever received!

Numbers Lie!
Any sales organization will tell you to call the #1 Sales Person to get advice on how to get to where he/she might be. Terrible Advice!

Top sales people are extremely busy, totally focused on their personal goals and unable to articulate the front end precision of the sales trade.

No matter what you do in life, hitting your number is the expectation. There will never be a time when you raise your hand to offer an idea that will not be dove tailed by a survey of where you are on the ranking report. The best sales people I know have never been the #1 sales rep in their organization...some of the worst people I know... have!

The best in any profession are those who you remember after one conversation (in a good way). They have an ability to convey their investment without knowing a ton about you. Unfortunately, most people are faking it.... which is why we all hate sales people.

Do You Really Think I Have No Options?
At this point in time in professional history, first year employees have far more opportunity than middle managers and executives!

Yes, your chances of advancement as a 23 year old are far better than those of your father!

Yet and still, middle managers and CEO's still think they can rule with an iron fist. It is as thrilling to see Millennials take power as it is to see a bully get punched in the face.

The Last 90 Days!
A long time ago it was brought to my attention that a guy wrote a book about how to act during the first 90 days on the job. The suggestions are in step with the 3 points above and equally as ineffective.

Do your fighting in the ring! NO ONE appreciates a new employee who speaks too soon, seeks to align themselves with leaders and/or asks questions in group settings (only to display that they know the answer to said question).

Ease your way in. Let your results speak for themselves.

People are remembered not by how they start the game but by how it is finished.

The best example of making a first impression was conveyed to a group by my friend Kevin Costello on his first day on the job....

"I am not naive enough to think I can succeed without the help of others. So I will be reaching out to you for advice."

Those who are remarkable professionals are remarkable people. They are vulnerable, receptive to advice and always willing to laugh at themselves.

Our legacy is determined by the times we've dried the eyes of our employees and the promotions we have passed up so our daughters could continue their soccer careers with their friends.

Technology has it's limits and advice from management is always mired in corporate neutering.

The bully will only believe that she is still in charge if you feed the ego that keeps her alive.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Fathers Fallibility & Divine Lessons in Forgiveness

"...Hello Mari, How You Doin'? I Think The Storm and All The Rainy Clouds are Movin'...."
~ Kanye West

I have been writing a blog before it was cool to do so, I've been a sales guy who advises the seemingly rival population or Human Resources professionals for nearly 10 years, but my proudest distinction is that of Husband and Father. There is not a title or a social ranking for the most important things we do in life and that's a good thing.

I'd like to think I'm a good father but I would be insane not to admit that I drive my sweetheart crazy! So, who am I to cast dispersions on anyone. It is a fact that the best men are so because of the women in their lives, I'm honored to have a cast of a amazing females in my corner! I'm a proud husband, an honored father, a coach of young women and a feminist. I've earned the aforementioned distinctions and I am thankful to be incapable of dishonoring them!

I also possess an uncontrollable creative spirit which makes me impossible to categorize and insanely difficult to be around on a daily basis.

As a father the only advice I can give to other soon-to-be fathers is:

If I can do it, you can!

.... I stand by those words! A life without a creative spirit is not a life at all and no one reserves the right to judge any one.

So many times in my life I have been unfairly categorized based on limited interactions... so, as Lebron James said in his forgiveness of Dan Gilbert....

Who Am I To Judge?

I know a man who writes like Kanye West has far more intelligence than he tends to display... it also seems he has a lot of sorrow in his heart. What good does judging the actions of another do for you? Are you happy that for once it is not you who did something stupid?

It may be time to reflect upon the things we bitch about.

Part of being a man is accepting greater responsibilities and limiting the behavioral traits more characteristic of boys than men. Dudes have trouble with that. We feel the need to hold on to our youth by acting immature. Sorry ladies, this is a bad habit that is hard to kick. There is no room to preach and forgiveness should be the first thing we think of when judgement crosses our mind.

We are here for a fun time not a long time. We've also got too little time to waste acting stupid by adding fuel to the fire of another man's missteps.

Perfection is a result of effort and intent, the results don't always add up! That's life. Frustration is most often avoided when you try your hardest doing something in which you believe in.

What do you need to more of? What do you need to do less of?

Before you judge another, get to work on yourself!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

All That Wasted Energy

I would be hypocritical to disregard the power of the inkless pen. It has, however, become increasingly clear that we are running out of ideas.

Social media is not a forum to attack others, karaoke performers should not call themselves artists and the inability to manage effectiveness at the peak of critical performance should be punishable by dismissal.

We are running out of ideas for a few reasons:

The above is the first rule pronounced by Dale Carnegie in his book, "How To Win Friends and Influence People". Good Ole Dale has been dead for a long time but his lessons in Human Relations are as true to life as ever.

I am mesmerized at the behavior of "respected authorities" in social media. Experience does not earn you the right to be arrogant and people refuse to evolve the craft of social interaction because bullies hold their amount of posts as a badge of achievement. Just because you have played guitar every day for 10 years doesn't make you a rock star.

The people probably remember Beck's song "loser"... that is the worst song he has ever written. If you have a moment to visit the albums "Sea Change" or it's recently rewarded companion "Morning Phase", you will understand the meaning a person feels pouring their heart into a microphone while strumming a guitar.... Nothing is more holy! 

Those who are truly committed to their craft do not require trophies or accolades. They are comfortable enough putting their heart in a box with the hope that someone might make the effort to open it.

I cannot imagine the frustration Seattle Seahawks fans must feel. In the biggest game, in the biggest sport, at the most critical moment.... they fucked up famously!!!! The sports talk rivals of common sense have tried to pontificate on what was the worst play call in the history of sports. 

There is simply no excuse!

The six year old girls soccer team I coach are more deserving of a Super Bowl ring. Without a dog in the fight I am appalled by the lack of execution in the biggest moment in sports... and startled by the lack of outrage.

If you participate in social media to denigrate others, you are going to hell. Kanye West is a bitch. Pete Carroll should be fired. 

But, we are too polite to avoid the elephant that is about to sit on our collective faces. 

If you strive for originality you should celebrate the ideas of amateurs. In my opinion, they are much better than the pros.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Before The Torch Burns Out

For at least 10 years we have been stereotyping generations in the workplace. There are those looking up at irrelevance and those looking down upon it. In reality, our need to categorize one another by our date of birth is intended to create a system of assigned relevance. We are given to believe that at certain milestones in our life certain goals should be accomplished. Life is messy so we seldom achieve all that we desire. Our natural reaction to time passed with our goals incomplete is to hold our seniority over the young. Which is why Baby Boomers created the term Millennial in the first place.

I'm fortunate enough to coach grade schoolers, to mentor high schoolers, to help College men find jobs and to provide career guidance to those new to the workforce. I cherish the act of helping young people because engaging their perspective helps me stay relevant. 

... In the end, we all just want to remain relevant!

Don't Let The Past Define You
We all want to make a great first impression so we practice hard, show up to work ready to take on any task and do what it takes to catch the herd. Our on-boarding process always includes a state of the union from the self-elected Mayor of Discontent. The aforementioned Mayor has been in the same position for 10+ years and is intent on telling you how things are done around your new company. This is a person who's torch has burnt out and because he/she has nothing to contribute they will do what it takes to diminish your flame. 

Ignore those who do not have your best interest in mind. No achievement is possible without besting what was.

Find Informal Advisors
So you get to your new company and your ambition becomes the envy of those who tried, failed and gave up. Take to social media, strike up a conversation at your kid's soccer game, find a bartender who is a good conversationalist, call an old friend, or search the company directory. Your next mentor does not need to be assigned by your company and he/she may not walk into your life with open arms. I've been mentored by people I've never met in person and some I've never talked to. 

Great advise is everywhere. If you wait to be inspired by your office mates, you might end up like Ron Swanson.

Don't Destroy The Magic By Worrying About The Color of the Rabbit in the Hat
People hate over-analysis. Keep your initial conversations high level. Ease your way in. Trust is built by earning one's comfort. Let them engage you instead of pretending to know everything and making sure everyone knows it.

One Certainty: Hard Work!
More than your level of education, the credentials you have amassed or the trophies on your desk; hard work matters most. 

If you show up first and leave last, success is immanent. Work ethic is the one skill that everyone can learn and is completely within the individuals control.

Be Humble In Victory & Accountable In Defeat
When you win, act like you've been there before. The only thing worse than showing off in the shadow of victory is complaining when you lose. Don't point fingers, those who have fucked up know it and they do not need to be reminded of their failures.

Find Your Beach
I've never had the patience to stop and watch the sunset. But, knowing that it is there keeps me moving toward it.

Don't Forget to Remember!