Friday, May 22, 2015


"My hands miss you, my arms miss you...the stars sing I've got their song in my head" - John Roderick 

This is a glorious time of year. Winter's slumber has awaken to sunshine, the kids are out in the field and some will have their last glimpse of innocence.

I remember the day I graduated High School. I was two towns over at my girl friend's house (the rough side of town) attending a keg party. My friend and I darted home to put on our caps and gowns. I stumbled through the door (high as a kite) into a room full of relatives, friends and neighbors... all there to celebrate my life's transition from boyhood to manhood. They applauded thunderously, aware of my altered state of mind and seemingly OK with it. I had both feet out the door.

I love hearing commencement speeches. The optimism people are able to impart upon those less experienced as they turn the page unto another chapter in their lives. What a privilege to advise others based on your experience (good or bad). Just for a moment, on that day in the sunshine on the football field, I felt an enormous pride in what I had achieved and I was excited about the boundless possibility ahead.

I spent the summer between college and high school working construction to ensure I had plenty of money for beer and weed. I attended concerts, kissed girls, enjoyed real-life conversations with my friends and said good bye to Mother Michigan. It was truly a wonderful time.

Before you flip your tassel consider this....

I can tell you that my best friends from grade school are still great friends. We talk seldom and pick up the conversation where we left off. You will meet people who require too much of your energy or who suck your resources without reciprocation. It's important to recognize the difference between real friends and passengers.

In this life you will experience one true love. If you haven't found it, wait until you do. You'll never forgive yourself for letting go of the person this world has created for you. You'll break a hundred hearts making up for it. Between then and now, you will experience love from a few others... it is fleeting and while you think your life may end without them... you will survive! Years from now, you may see their picture on Facebook and wonder why in the world you thought you loved them.

You will meet people who refuse not to be your friend. That person who sticks with you when are being an asshole, gets you home safe when you drink too much and who feed your narcissism to make you feel better. These, too, are true friends!

There is nothing more important in this world than great teachers and great bosses. You will know when you sit in a classroom with that teacher who makes you shake your head in wonderment of how they understand you so well. You'll count on one hand the bosses who make you feel safe, trusted and empowered simply by resting a hand on your shoulder.

The things that keep you up at night will fuel your success. These are also things that are not worth worrying about.

"To find someone you love, you've gotta be someone you love" - Nada Surf

If Jesus came back upon the earth today people would outcast him as a dirty hippy. If Steve Jobs sat next to you in a bar, you would move down a stool due to his odor. If Albert Einstein presented at your company conference you would laugh him off the stage.

If you have reservations about the judgement of others, you will achieve nothing. You will always be judged until you prove your worth... 90% of that battle is simply getting up the courage to get on stage.

Missing people is the sign of a good heart. Worrying about failure is an inability to accept it.

You can assure yourself that everything will be OK. And maybe everything won't be OK, but the sentiment is what matters.

Take advice with a grain of salt but accept nothing as an undeniable truth.

Be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.

If you notice a girl has a new hair style... compliment her, compliment her shoes too!

... and call your parents, friends, and siblings on their birthday... call them!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Now Unavoidable Sea Change

2015 has presented opposition to the phraseology: Employee Engagement. This in backlash to the conglomeration of "vendors" who have taken a well-intended concept and turned it into a transaction. Nothing is sacred, especially when you are an HR services provider.

For this reason, Dr. Brad Shuck and Rodd Wagner are on a mission. Their goal is to present in rational fashion the Behavioral Economics and Statistical Relevance of engaging employees. Call it what you want to... but call it what is specific to YOUR organization. 

Employee Engagement cannot be a commodity because it means something different to every organization. Without properly identifying the holistic purpose of your employees collective existence, you will Kill The Meaning of employee engagement. 

Here's what we do know:
  • People wish to be lead not managed.
  • Trust is the most important benefit you can afford any employee.
  • There is an unwritten social contract in every organization that favors the individual contributor.

People drink too much, eat too little, cheat on their spouses and disown their children due to stress at work. This is not an emotional ploy to upset you into being more engaged... it's a fact. When life sucks at work, you take it home with you. 

Your wife may not know you hate your job through the words you say, but you wear it on your liver. Every time we attempt to scare our employees into productivity, a baby puppy dies.... and we all stand aside and let it happen.

Not any more!

The rules of engagement are changing. People care less about money and more about work/life balance. We've seen our parents suffer unnecessary stress enough to make better lives for ourselves. We'd rather our children know their parents than to guilt them into a charade of perfection. Save the big houses, fancy suits and gas guzzling muscle cars. We'd prefer to unplug on a Tuesday afternoon so as not to miss a baseball game with our kids. 

The great Steve Jobs himself commented that he would not hire an employee to tell them what to do.... much to the contrary! 

The Jesuits, Harvard Professors and the boys from Pied Piper share a common goal:

Don't accept yesterday's standards, create tomorrow's possibility!

The boomerang of reciprocity has never swung with swifter intent. Personal brands are stronger than company logos and there ARE more job opportunities than qualified candidates. If you are not creating a career path within your organization for your employees they will create their own.

LinkedIn can be used to promote ones organization or to promote ones self... and they work in tandem (regardless of intent). Every Rock Star candidate that you interview checks Glassdoor before they sit with you. Employers are on trial: micro-management and inhumane recruitment practices only hurt company brands. People have more options than you think, and if you don't realize that, your internal talent pool probably sucks!

If you trust your employees to promote your brand they are a 24/7 advocacy firm. The best marketing campaign is word of mouth from employees who love working for you. 

The Great Obi-Won Kenobi taught that the force is most powerful when you submit yourself to it

Your employees are not YOUR employees. They are not property or head count or human capital. 

Companies are no longer in control of the employee life cycle. The one way street is now a 16 lane highway. 

Human Beings Are Not Widgets!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Climbing The Bracket

A thrilling episode of Silicon Valley revealed a very real workforce trend:

Internal Competition

An engineer grew insecure when presuming that a new hire made more money than he did. His assumption was only a matter of perception but it affected his performance.

Friendly competition has been driving results in organizations for as long as Game Mechanics have existed. But what happens when internal competition becomes unfriendly?

Are you competing with your co-workers for the betterment of the team?

Do personal differences affect the way you view others in the workplace?

Is your effort trumped by the perceptual value of more popular workplace personalities?

Is your sense of competition driven by jealously?

The Behavioral Economics behind Game Theory stipulate that competition should exist for the betterment of everyone playing the game. The basis of the competition should be to produce better results and evolve innovation.

Even the Bible states: "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" - Proverbs 27:17

The Behavioral Economy nor the Words of the Prophet take into account that we humans are egotistical.

- We say we don't want to be recognized for our effort, but we do!
- We pretend not to care when we are passed up for promotion, then we go home and revise our resume.
- We pretend the words of our superior officers are ineffective, but we have to play the game to get ahead.
- We want to blow off that which is insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but the little things are what usually drive us away from companies.

You can be tweaked by the unfair nature of your workforce conundrum and still win every day!


1. Allow collaboration to drive your workforce strategy.
2. Use your competitive nature to build a safety net.

Give More Than You Take

What could be more simple than treating people with dignity? Yet, we allow our ego to cast us into desolation, unemployable and alone.

Does the heat of the moment get the best of you?
Are you incapable of controlling your emotions?
Are you focused on winning or do you just want to have it YOUR way?

Let go of the little battles. When it is time to put your sword in the ground be graceful.

Respect every opinion. Ask questions more than you instruct. Let logic lead.

People love coming to conclusions. They love it even more when they think they came up with the idea.

ALWAYS Have a Back Up Plan 
Loyalty is a lost art in today's workforce. You can differentiate yourself simply by following orders. Too much loyalty can also leave you without options.

The worst thing that could happen is that you lose your job. If you know exactly how long you can stand to be without a pay check, and build your back up plan according, you are invincible!

If your fear of unemployment was replaced with the knowledge that you can have 5 other jobs, you'll be less likely to curl up into a ball when your boss bullies you.

YOU are in control of whom you entrust to be part of your network. The Social Enterprise affords you the option to display your skills every day (and you can do it in promotion of your current company).

It's Your Time Now!

You are in control of your future. You should strive to protect it.... Every Day!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

What She Said

Those of us who have half a brain are often put off by the careless phrase turning that stupefies American popular culture these days. While I'm sure she hired a team of song writers to come up with such simplistic mind dribble, we cannot argue the words of Ta Ta Swift:

Few write blog posts because its easier to comment upon the words created by another. People seldom create because creation takes an ability to combat adversity. There are 5 people on the court and 30,000 in the stands. It's just easier to be negative! It's easier to complain about what you don't have instead of committing to earn what you want.

I am of the belief that everyone has something to contribute. We just seem to disguise our need to contribute in the voice of confrontation. Most who post negative comments usually revert to less offensive language when counter-punched with intelligence. We all want to be loved, some just mask it in anger's ugly cousin called sarcasm.

If You Could Of... You Would Of!
It is always disappointing to see people squash the enthusiasm of the those whom life has yet to defeat. "I tried it, it'll never work", are the words of someone who is incapable of re-engineering a solution to a problem.

What terrible dismay one must face when he/she no longer has anything to contribute to the world.

There's Room For Everyone!
There are those who find an untapped market and settle in nicely. When the market changes so must the players in the game. Those incapable of evolving with workforce trends probably just got lucky.

The world is full of passive networkers that pretend to be your advocates. It's easy to identify them... they have one hand out and the other behind their back.

I am a very competitive person. I also realize the art of competition is raising the level of everyone in the game to make the game better. Those who compete simply to watch others lose need to put their head on a couch in a cold room.

We all just want to be loved!

Let Go!
I've been faced with leaving a job I thought I loved. I put it off for a long time... then when I left I wondered what that hell I was doing wasting my precious time.

This happens with personal relationships and the companies for whom we work.

It becomes obvious who the real players are when the game changes. Those who pretend to be in control are often surprised when they are left behind. The insignificant are often too dumb to realize that their greatest power lies in those they entrust to carry the torch.

Is it better to burn out or to fade away?

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, May 1, 2015

3 Keys to Inspired Performance

The terminology Employee Engagement has been over-used to the point that the inspiration behind the phrase has become a commodity. All those stupid studies that say only 10% of the workforce are engaged are total bullshit!

Really.... 1 in 10 people enjoy their job?
Really.... 9 out of 10 people would rather work somewhere else?

Give me a break!

I've been a blogger (for better and for worse) in the Human space for 8 years. There are a lot of people I thoroughly respect as HR Bloggers because they ignore convention and reflect the reality of the work experience... for each of the aforementioned thought leaders there are a million hacks that pretend to be smart while simply trying to sell a product.

Here's how to become a HACK blogger in 3 simple steps:
1. Site a survey or study.
2. Correlate said study to the product you sell.
3. Provide a banner ad to your product at the entry's conclusion.


You Deserve Better!

In actuality, there are tons of people who love their jobs, these are the same people who complain about their jobs at happy hour. The thing surveys and focus groups do not take into account is contradiction. Across the scope of any given day all humans will love and hate their place of employment. Humans are predictably irrational.

But we want the data... we want to put you all in a bucket to confirm that the way we have always done it is still working. What we don't want to admit is that we are wrong and if we don't change soon, we'll be out of business.

So let's scrap the term Employee Engagement, talk about what inspires us and admit that we're cool with our current job!

Your Relationship With Your Manager!
The purpose of the Manager is to improve their employees chance for organizational advancement. If your Manager feels different, hang in there! He or She will be unemployed before you will.

~ Executives are looking past Managers into their workforce for trend development.
~ Social applications are denying incompetent Managers the ability to protect their talent.
~ There is far greater evaluation of Manager performance than there is Employee performance as I write this post.

The Value Of Your Work!
Less than rewards, opportunity for advancement or even money; we want to know that the work we are doing means something.

Here's What We Want to Hear:
1. I'm going to take a chance on you.... don't make me regret it!
2. I wish everyone cared as much as you do!
3. We've got another team that could really use you!
4. The new girl in sales thinks you're cute!

Here's What We Don't Want to Hear:
1, ...because that's the way we've always done it.
2. You need to stay in your lane and stop caring so much.
3. I'm concerned about your direction and mine is the only opinion that matters.
4. The new girl in sales thinks you're creepy!

Run On The Highway
You should be willing to interact with anyone, anywhere and your organization should support your motivation!

If your Manager tells you to stick to your core function, he/she is incompetent, not you!

If your Manager uses the word "I" more than "We", they are covering their irrelevant ass!

If you are discouraged to represent your brand, your company hates you, and you should part ways.

Don't Forget To Remember!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Problem with Thanks!

There seems to be a split in the mind frame of what motivates employees in this day-and-age... some think they want more dough, others believe it is more important to bond over cookie dough. Workers of various ages may find a plateau in their competitive drive, a drive they'll soon rediscover. It's a raging debate in the Total Rewards arena:

What's more important Compensation or Benefits?

I know, we've got to cover our health care costs and pay for our kid's college... that's a given... a baseline. Beyond that....

Should Employee Engagement be performance based or an all-inclusive, socialized participation trigger?

Before answering what you prefer, you might want to consider the difference between a benefit and the elements compensation. You are gonna get paid... that's how the world works. But, you don't come to work only for the pay check. You don't sit through a team meeting counting the minutes under the auspice of how much you got paid to endure such stupidity. You find parts of work that you enjoy and allow that to fuel your ascension.

If you measure the minutes in each day... you probably hate your job!

When your boss reads from a list of your achievements in front of a group of people, do you feel appreciated?

When you receive an apology masked as recognition, do you feel appreciated?

Wouldn't you rather know where you stand and have the respect to voice your opinion regarding your professional development?

Do You Feel Appreciated?

... and what's so big about feeling appreciated anyway?

If you get a mercy pat on the back because you tried and failed, the compassion of your leaders may actually serve to retain your loyalty in your organization. But, do you want the level of your engagement to be based in the way people react to your failures? Work is hard and we learn from our mistakes. Professionals become Artists when they create solutions to unanswered questions.

Engagement happens when you realize that you have done something no one else can do. The less-than-inventive fulfillment houses that pretend to be engagement agencies would want you to pretend that challenging yourself is less important than that which you are entitled to.

You are entitled to nothing. Your company could go tits up tomorrow and if your CEO invested a quarter of her deferred compensation into organizational development, she is going to walk away with a large check.

First place trophies are held high. Plaques for showing up are a consolation of all the time you wasted pretending to enjoy your job.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

While We're Young

It was early on a Friday morning and a fresh faced young lady sat next to me in the coffee shop pounding away on her Mac. She seemed to have a delighted spirit. Was she on Facebook? Had she been up all night popping Molly? Of course not! She was working, she was in the flow and she was loving it. Awesome!

Gradually another 5 young people trickled in to join her. They shared concepts, talked about their customers and gave each other pointers on how to navigate the organization. My heart swelled with pride. How wonderful to be in the presence of people who loved their work and were optimistic about their future.

Then one fair haired gentleman uttered: "Oh Shit"!

Across the yard stomped their boss. She bolted in and immediately instructed each of them what they "needed to do" for the day. What were smiles and salutations turned into slouched shoulders and uncertain expressions. They were sequestered to a table to take additional beatings. Instructions that came with finger pointing and accusations. Their motivation was destroyed......

What struck me was that despite the seemingly intolerable bravado of their "leader" these people still seemed to love their job....? Did they have no other options or was the company a pretty great place overall? Here we are with the leaders of tomorrow engaged as they could be, their only deterrent to success is the one person who should care about them more than any other.

What has become of our workforce journey? Is the power shift from one generation to another so obvious that Baby Boomers will do anything to keep their kids from succeeding? I see no validation in the stereotypes that Generation Y has had to carry since they were in high school. More so, I see middle managers of elder generations destroying motivation for the sake of their own preservation.

If you do not understand that it is better to give than receive you probably haven't achieved much. Those with hands out and ears shut will never achieve success. Success should be characterized by the influence you spawn... your personal accolades are secondary.

Maybe the grown ups need to grow up, maybe we all need to adjust to the times or maybe when we were born is meaningless in the grand motivational scheme of things. What IS important is that young people possess an optimism that is the groundwork for a brighter future... and yet we discourage it. We tell young people to lose their optimism and get real, we poo poo engagement for the sake of accountability and we tell those who are capable of achieving what we have not that life is unfair.

Your legacy, if not shared, is simply an untold story gathering dust!

Don't cover your ass! Protect the dream!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Lessons From a Coffee Table

I got a frantic call from a young entrepreneur I know.... he wanted to give up. I offered to meet him for coffee very early the following morning. He looked warn out, confused, and uninspired. For over two years he had been building a company based on his super human product development skill. He built an amazing product, got financing and opened a small operation. Along with his success came one BIG problem.... people.

This guy had a knack for programming with whiplash efficiency for extended periods of time. When he took off the headphones he was (by his own admission) "socially retarded". So, a few years back he came to me to ask for help in engaging humans.

Just when it seemed things were well on their way the ever-dynamic challenges of interacting with his employees had flattened his spirit. People wanted to be recognized for their effort, to know where they stood in the organizational hierarchy, their share of profits and the ability to take on new responsibilities. They did it all with "their hands out". He gave and gave and it never seemed to be enough.

Studies on employee engagement usually involve deep dives into large, complex, Global organizations. Turns out, a company with 5 employees faces similar challenges.... because complexity and human beings are evil running mates!

My advice to my friend with the ever-furrowed brow?

Inspire Trust
Most immature leaders still believe their titles entitle them to dictatorship. I've said it time and time again but employees just don't stand for order taking with an accountability clause any more. Contrary to fear mongering skewed studies, people have far too many options to take shit from someone who is not invested in their future.

People want someone to follow. People want to be lead and to be part of something they believe in. As leaders, we have to ask ourselves:
- What inspired people to join our organization in the first place?
- What unique power do we possess that cannot be found anywhere else?

No one ever motivated an employee by talking down or shouting orders. If you lead by example... they will follow.

Don't pretend to be a motivational speaker or hide your passion in politically correct executive speak. Wear your passion on your sleeve! If you are frustrated, share it and get help figuring it out! If you are inspired, share it and help others understand the way to elevate the cause!      

Find New Gears
The one thing I know is that every day presents frustration. No company is perfect, people will let you down, products will fail and you will feel as though you are helpless. Perseverance is so vitally important.

- If the night finds you tossing and turning, get up and get a head start on the day.
- When you've exhausted your mind and soul, take a break to decompress.
- Always look for people with new ideas to inspire you.

Stay Out of The Black Hole
One need not look far for that person who will validate your complaints. The world is full of people who have tried and failed and they love sharing their sob stories. Fuck em!

The worst thing you can do is give in to negativity. Each day you will have to remind yourself of the perils of success. With every achievement the world gets more complex, not easier, and this is why people give up.

You cannot pretend problems do not exist, you have to fix them. People will not allow interpersonal grievances to sit idle. It feels a lot better when you put your differences to rest.

This  is certain: there will always be discomfort in dealing with people and you cannot succeed without them. So you might as well accept the inevitable pain of human interaction and get good at getting through to people.

Our future Zuckerberg left unsettled in my advice but he had a clearer picture of what had to be done. I could have told him everything was going to be OK and to fire those who disrupted his vision, but that would have dispelled one problem to create another.

Progress cannot be made by ignoring the problems created before us.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, April 3, 2015


"...Lost in Fog and Love and Faithless Fear... I've Had Kisses That Make Judas Seem Sincere..."
- Craig Finn

The world of Big Data has made cynics of us all. We want validation for our every action. We search for proof before we act. How one spends his/her time makes all the difference in success. But, some times you have to throw logic to the wind and take action toward that which you believe in. The sure thing may provide validation, but is simply being validated actually winning?

There cannot be progress without innovation and no one ever created something inspiring by doing the safe thing.

Be A Person of Interest
The best conversationalists I know ask great questions and invest their interest in the responses. It is very easy to discern passion from bullshit by the degree in which a person collaborates.

Do you fear delegation because someone can do it better than you?
Are you so afraid to fail that you trust no one to assist you?
Would admitting a need for help make you appear weak?

Every day is an opportunity to learn: read, strike up a conversation, take a break and take a walk.

Beat Up The Bullies
When I say the word Faith what do you think of.....?

Religion? I believe Faith and Religion are separate concepts. You can dismiss God and still have faith. There are many religious types who have no faith at all.

If you believe in something with all of your heart and soul, you will achieve your goals. No One who has totally committed themselves to something ever fails. Lack of validation has simply become a very easy way to dismiss our ambition.

What Keeps You Up At Night?
Why do we toss and turn at night over life's uncertainties? Why does our worry control our mind frame? Why can't we spend our restless hours thinking about all of the magnificent things we can achieve in our lives.

If you are motivated by fear you allow your critics to succeed.

Stop doing the safe thing. Remember what you truly believe in and let that lead. At the very least... remember that only you control your place in this world. Stop trying to impress others! Stop playing by their rules and create your own!

Don't Forget to Remember!


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!