Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dare To Care


It's a new year... people are talking about industry trends and habits to debunk. Are we playing a commodity game? Having recently attended the Consumer Electronics Show, I couldn't help but realize that this product driven showcase failed miserably in differentiating. Every "vendor" had 3D TVs, Wearables, Robots and Drones. As a casual observer, I was unable to find an understanding of the subtle nuances that made one smart watch smarter than another (and no one was willing to teach me).

Sales people are competitive. The one job that is always available is that of a sales person. So, most people who are bold enough to attempt a life in sales have the ability to choose the company they wish to represent. Job qualification for sales people may come down to the widget and it's features. This career assessment has created a polarizing perception of sales people. I visited 20 different booths at CES and 20 different people told me the same thing. None of which intrigued me.

Features do not paint a sustainable picture. People want to engage with one inarguable element that is consistently overlooked.....

The Truth!

If the challenge of your sales job is convincing someone that your product is the best, you probably suck at what you do!

Customer service in America is at an all time low. I've never seen more people care less about what they do. With so many people caring so little about their profession there is an abundance of opportunity for those who possess one capability:

The Ability to Care!

The greatest people I know have a vision they are incapable of abandoning. It is easy to give up on our dreams to choose the safe bet. I want you to imagine yourself at the conclusion of your career and to ponder the following:

- Have you been bold enough to help someone change their life?
- Have you walked away from opportunities that did not call upon your unique skill?
- Will your retirement party be packed with teary eyed supporters or obligated observers?
- Will you know when the game is up?

In my life, I have misjudged many things. There may be one common element in my misgivings:

The Fear of Irrelevance!

We all want to help others... to solve problems.. to be trusted.... to make a difference.

If you believe that your duty to your organization is to memorize a product function.... you believe in nothing and your life has been reduced to a duty.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Is Policy The Enemy of Trust?


For several years, Human Resources has battled perceptions of administrative qualities characterizing skill sets. With all the developments in Employee Engagement, Performance Management, Succession Planning, The Navigation of Generation Diversity and Cultural Enhancement; how can less-than-strategic characterizations exist? Unfortunately, a few people can validate a stigma which fuels the fire of the opinionated. People like to be proven right and they will ignore 90% of the information to validate stereotypes. This way, we can disregard change and blame Executive motives when we fail to evolve.

Performance reviews will not go away, we need them as a receipt of failure in the event someone has to be fired. Allowing Executives to use their better judgement can be toxic and turning a blind eye to wrong doing could land us all in court. Regardless of the advancement of HR's pivotal role in change management, someone has to hold the fort down.

What does HR need to do less of?

We should stop using policy as a front-end strategy.

I conducted a seminar recently in which an attendee explained their organization's policy on work/life balance: Employees could work from home until their performance metrics were deemed unacceptable. At which point, they were forced to work from the office (every day).

The aforementioned policy sounds fair enough but it never works because performance metrics are not always the result of work environment. Even if employees needed the regiment of the office to keep them productive, they would fight an unwilling return to the office and move on to another company. People want to dictate their own terms.

You know what trumps policy?

Trust!

Our top performers are not concerned with minimum requirements and they only contact HR when they want to increase their stock options. Can we not agree that if all our employees ignored HR as the policy police then everyone would be more strategic. In actuality, our employees cry wolf when they fail...and then HR gets involved.

The above proving that the very people who characterize HR as administrative, force us to be.

If we hire the best people (and give them the tools to succeed) we develop transparency. In a transparent culture there are no office politics, no back stabbing and no one masking the behaviors that indoctrinated their failure.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could ALL be more strategic? Don't we all want to do what we do best?

Work can actually be fun if we are not forced disprove the stereotypes of our occupation.

Developing trust is a two way street.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Thursday, January 8, 2015

52 Open Letters



In 2015, the DFTR blog will be dedicated to the people who have influenced my life...

I often write about Human Resources in this blog. I am proud of all my friends who have taken that profession from policy writing... to strategic organizational partnership. It's simple: Human Resources is the most important aspect of any organization. With all due respect, most of you fuck it up!

In 2014, I had a health issue, it turned out to be insignificant. It made me ponder my existence. I can tell you this, there are 52,000 people who have influenced my life... unfortunately, I can only tell you about the best of the best.

It would be my divine intention that one day my children will read this blog and know about the people that made my life important. The reader is more important than the writer....


We've been together a long time. I owe  you better!

Here we go....

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Why Would 2015 Be Any Different....?


"I gather all the news I need on the weather report" - Paul Simon

I had heard somebody say recently that he got more insight from the songs he heard than in the daily news. That the revelations in music spoke to the larger issues and that the news was just noise. This is a premise I resolve to embrace in 2015: To read more and scan less. I've been blogging for a long time... we bloggers are a lazy bunch: we take a current issue, apply it to the business we are in, and highlight a few points. Most of us who read blogs spend two minutes scanning the headlines and move on (more informed). We live in a time when people buy singles not records. Our sources of information are quick to make a point. Our patience has waned because our bullshit meter is more acute than ever. While that is not a bad thing, it is the easy way out!

"I might as well resign myself to try and make a change" - Adam Duritz

We all hate to give in to our weaknesses. We want to come from a place of strength... to showcase our expertise and to hide our insecurities. Unfortunately, we cannot move forward if our only coach speaks from within. We have to try new things and get rid of bad habits!

We spend the Holidays buying things for our loved ones... is this an effort to apologize for our lack of availability during the rest of the year? We make New Year's Resolutions that we do not keep... flipping a calendar is not a compelling basis for behavior change. The challenge is not to smile while you are wearing a stupid sweater... the challenge is to be present when there are no presents under the tree.

What do YOU Believe in?
How will you spend your time preparing for the New Year? Will you learn about a product line, take a class in a subject that does not peak your interest, or try to forgive someone who will never love you? Stop wasting your precious time and do what you want to do... I'm not suggesting you quit your day job and join the circus, but you can navigate your motivation.

The song "empty cans" crescendos The Streets extraordinary concept record A Grand Don't Come For Free. It is simply the culmination of life's greatest lesson: Your Perception & Attitude Determine Your Fate!

Are you miserable? Do you even know if you are? 

I live in places where people talk but only interact with them when instigated. I overhear people complaining far more than I do individuals complimenting one another. This may be life's unfair lot: that love is assumed and not necessary to mention... which is OK.... but it's nice to be reminded that you are awesome as opposed to being told your hard work is useless. We tend to forget to celebrate our uniqueness and to focus on our inability to keep up (with the insignificant).

"Heartbreak hurts but you can dance it off" - Craig Finn

Recalling sleepless nights in 2014, I can give you a few pieces of advice:

  • If you prepare, you are far more likely to win.
  • If you are worried, you are probably chasing ghosts.
  • Only YOU know if you have done what you should at the conclusion of each day.

We can fake it and it might get us through the day, but it won't get us through the year. They know all of our secrets: they know if we are cheating, if we haven't done enough, and weather or not the cards we pretend to possess exist. Our secrets are written upon our face.

Don't waste a minute pretending to be someone you are not. Don't expect to win if you haven't prepared. Don't give people who disrespect you another beat of your heart. Don't think this year will be different from the last if you do not commit to release yourself from your bad habits. Don't neglect an opportunity to help someone by being polite. Don't be impolite because you feel your misery should be shared.

I Promise You: We Can Do This... Because We Can! 

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave    

Monday, December 22, 2014

Looking Back


On February 2nd of this year Philip Seymour Hoffman departed from our world. He left behind a body of work that one could spend a lifetime observing. Mr. Hoffman is simply one of the greatest artists we may have had the opportunity to watch on the silver screen. With each day in 2014, good men and women have lost their lives, they deserve our respect. The musing on the tragedies of the year behind conjure the opportunity to find grace among the madness. It is our life's virtue to find opportunity from that which is lost and to leave behind more than we take.

Extraordinary songs have been written, films acted, and games played; each of these moments encapsulated in time give us something to reflect upon. In these moments as the magic happens the embodiment of the achievement documented or otherwise is given a life of it's own. I will never forget winning (2) Little League Championships, the first girl I kissed or where I was when I heard a friend died. We put these moments in the attics of our lives and find a ladder to revisit them when necessary.

We tend to look back on times of embarrassment and/or loss under the critic's microscope. When was the last time you reflected upon all of the wonderful things you have achieved? It is not difficult to pull from the archives within your heart all of the beauty this world has to offer. It's just easier to pound yourself over the head with all the times you've fucked up.

Next time the inconvenience of the world keeps you up at night, take the opportunity to re-frame your mindset from worry to that which has gone well.

I'd like to think Mr. Hoffman's last thoughts were of those he loves. I'd also like to believe that the power of his spirit will carry itself into the lives of many... to help us remember what we've done well and to remind us that when we are at our most vulnerable we are indeed closer to God.



I've had more influence over people in various age brackets in 2014 than in any other year of my life. I get to teach young people the spirit of competition, I have the opportunity to help young men find jobs, I have communicated with people on every curve of the globe this year, and I have two little people under my roof who afford me teaching moments every day.

We have to invest heavily our time in changing the hearts of those with whom we engage. It is not what you take from any day but what you give to it.

Think through the moments that have crippled your heart: the person who fell out of love with you, the job you lost, the time you ventured to believe you knew everything. Did that which kept you up at night turn into tragedy? In most situations it did not... and you lost days of your life hurting people around you... because your fear of solving a problem created uncertainty.

When you believe in yourself others follow suit. If you allow negativity to run your mind, you will not only lose your focus but the respect of those around you.

As the sun sets on 2014, consider the following...

When the sun sets on your life do you even remotely believe that worry will enter your mind?

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Top 5 - 2014

There are those who say rock n roll is dead and others who say they don't make them like they used to. Some believe that in order to find a nickle in the couch, you have to do a little digging. Don't kid yourself, a plethora of amazing music was made in 2014! We are all witness if we choose to be.

Beck returned with the companion to Sea Change, Strand of Oaks emerged with a collection of Dinosaur Jr. meets Son Volt rock/folk explosion, Run the Jewels gave jabbing hip hop a right hook, Mimicking Birds reminded us of Sunny Day Real Estate, Real Estate put out an amazing record, and a contributor to Nada Surf delivered the most heart warming song of the year.

Here are the top 5 albums of 2014:


There are still bands that write albums not singles, The Hold Steady have had a concurrent theme running through 7 albums. Even more impressive is a 43 year old mans consistent ability to capture the youthful spirit and musics unavoidable impact on the colors in life's portrait. The Hold Steady encompass a sharks and jets mentality in loyalty to our undiscovered local music heroes (nowhere more prevalent than in Minneapolis). We also get the additional joy a the circus coming to town to change our lives with one hour of entertainment. The Hold Steady should forever be enshrined at the 7th Street Entry.


This is the saddest record ever written.....


If Grrr was a blip on the radar for Bishop Allen, Lights Out may be the end of their career. Lack of notoriety aside, this infectious little pop diddy will assuredly finds it's way into a few car commercials if not Where's Fluffy 2. Hooks aside, Bishop Allen is grounded in every note of their composition, in equal parts bouncy and confident. A wonderment of pop sensation under-toned with an introspective lyrical script. 


More deliciously cute pop.... We've been waiting for 3 albums to call TPC a one hit wonder. If you think these boys are incapable of depth try the 9 minute opener. Epic, thrilling and filled with relentless hooks.

Like Ben Gibbard and John Darnielle, Conor is one of those indie rock song writers that is continually taken for granted. The truth is, He is simply the finest song writer of our generation! This album is full of introspection and indecision which is a refreshing break from those who have it all figured out. Conor has released over a dozen albums since his teen age carnation of Bright Eyes ranging from country rock to eletronica, Upside Down Mountain brings him back to his roots. Easy to listen to but hard to hear.

Thank You for Listening!

Dave   

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

3 HR Trends in 2014

It's been an interesting year in the world of Human Resources: The certification debate rages on, talent management is evolving at whiplash pace, generational diversity has created a roller coaster of succession planning and the social space has never been more populated with educated HR advisors.

In truth, HR remains the organizational pipeline to employees, managers and executives. It is commonly overlooked that HR is the only organizational department with such an influence on company success.

We all know nothing happens quickly in HR, but here are a few ever-developing trends that inspired my heart in 2014.

Behavior Change Management
Now more than ever change is paramount to organizational success. We all know we need to adapt with the times and we are all too lazy to confront the issue head on. Here come the apps...

I'd specifically site the impact that FitBit and like-minded behavior change apps have had on the way we work in 2014. On any given day, I am getting up from my desk several times to ensure I am supplementing my 10,000 step goal. I've taken on the challenge because it is measurable and easy to access. I compete with my co-workers (and my wife) to top the leaderboard at the end of each day. Through a simple application (and a group of willing participants) we have created a cultural challenge that engages our employees in healthy competition.

Well-guided behavior change application works with wellness, performance management, and employee engagement alike.

Game Mechanics
Did somebody say the G word? No, I said two words that have been Behavioral Economics principles since we stamped loyalty cards at the super market. The truth is, game mechanics have made a distinct impact on the way we work (see above). Through game mechanics we can create a challenge, measure our progress daily and create metrics for elevated career development with each challenge we conquer.

There's an app for that too.... we do need stinking badges (badly)!

Soft Skill Enhancement
HR knows better than to play in management's sandbox when it comes to performance management. Who would have known that this adversarial battleground would have created the greatest opportunity for partnership from HR to our business units.

With staffing and training becoming exceedingly costly what would it mean to keep 25% of our exiting talent in-house? Turnover can be productive to idea generation and can combat motivational plateau but that doesn't mean we should allow superstar talent to leave for our competitors. Employees don't leave companies, they leave managers.

By making the elements of SCARF and Corporate Citizenship a faction of performance measurement we open up opportunities across our organization. Through multi-pronged performance enhancement programming we can help identify the soft skills that make a failing sales executive a leader in the project management function.

I know no idea is original and these revelations may seem like old hat to our smarty pants readers. I always appreciate the opportunity to point out how we are making a positive impact instead of sighting all the stigmas a fraction of our population continue to validate.

Here's to a powerful and productive 2015!

Dave  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Time Is All We Have


"I'm just replacing a man that came before me and one day the world is going to see another man replacing me that's just the way it's gotta be... It's always been that way"
- an excerpt from Dark Side of the Moon by Chris Staples

In the film American Beauty, Lester Burnham was taken aback when someone asked him how he was doing. He hadn't been asked that in a while. That's just the way it's gotta be; the older we get the less we need. It's great the way that works out. I cannot tell you how many hours of sleep I have lost fretting over senseless concerns. Getting old sucks because your body slows down, but your mind and your spirit accelerate. Many people have suggested that I would look back at my demeanor in a moment of stress and laugh about it, I always do.

My son performed in a theatrical production recently. His performance was celebrated. On the ride home he confessed to me that he knew his lines but he was still nervous. I told him that in anything he does for as long as he shall live he should hope to maintain that feeling. If we are not concerned with the implications of our actions we're probably living a carelessly. To be carefree is a sign of confidence... To be careless is a sign of submission. I would never want anyone to give up on their dream for fear they were incapable of achieving it.

"I want to love you, I want to pass it on. I want to give and give until it's all gone. I want to know you while we have the time because that is all we have to leave behind"
- an excerpt from Dark Side of the Moon by Chris Staples

How much time do we waste assuming we know one another? Isn't it wonderful when someone asks you a question that sets you aback... Even if the question is as simple as "how are you". We waste a lot of time being polite, we waste even more time being impolite. One begets the other.

There are people in all of our lives whom we have given up on. Some times with all the effort life takes we simply cannot dedicate our limited free time to someone who makes our existence more challenging. You may have had to tell your friend they were being an asshole to free them from their funk ....or maybe they just needed a hug...? Life is difficult and things pile upon us if someone doesn't show us a snap shot of the roller coaster we've chosen to ride. Fortunately, life is a movie not a collection of snap shots. Others only see fragments and cast judgement accordingly. Nod to the advice of those who are willing to provide it.... But if you only submit your photo album to a few observers your series will not be renewed.

People rely on people. Even if you think you have nothing to lend, there are those who want to hear what you have to say. Then you start making a difference and if you have influenced one person, you will want to influence another.

Like roots in the ground the things we teach are far reaching but seldom seen.

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pick A Fight!


We tend to segment our organizations: by generation, by department, by location, by tenure.

Our organizations have employees and managers and executives who are drawn together by the purpose of the companies we represent... We all want the same things: success and happiness. We are all far more similar than survey data tends to reveal.

We Can Do This.... because we can!

Stop: Fighting among yourselves!
We compete against the marketplace and our competitors, why do we feel it necessary to fight among ourselves? Friendly competition in the workplace fuels our success but prioritizing personal goals over organizational goals kills progress.

If you need help you should find people within your team to compliment the skills you do not possess. The causes we represent are built upon the collective energy of many personalities that together can do something they cannot do alone.

Life is difficult enough... don't make it harder by being unwilling to seek from others what you do not have.  

Start: Trusting!
Does it seem like everything is a negotiation? We have to convince people with whom we want to work that we are capable of helping them. The goal is not to self promote but to prove your worth through hard work, creativity and genuine intent!

There are people in companies across the world that are not sharing their knowledge for fear that when they release it, they will not longer be relevant. I'd like to think that the more people we are able to teach, the closer we get to immortality.

Plant the seed and let the roots extend!


Start: Fighting the Good Fight!  
That which you cannot avoid caring about should fuel your professional mission every day! It is OK to enter any given day with a bit of a chip on your shoulder, but you should use that edge for good! Anger is driven by energy and YOU choose how to use that energy. Regret breeds dishonesty which creates anger. Anger has never solved anything.

Remember all of the great things you have achieved: the big deal you closed, the championship you won, the spelling bee you won, the time you were student of the week.... whatever it might be, remind yourself of all your positive achievements and let that lead! 

Don't get caught up over-analyzing your mistakes. There are some things you simply are not good at... Concentrate on the areas in which you are uniquely skilled.

Engage your heart and let the unavoidable importance of your mission lead!

We Can Do This... because we can!

Don't Forget to Remember!  

Dave

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

FOCUS


"with great power comes great responsibility" - Spiderman's Uncle 

I teach six year old females how to play soccer. We have 3 rules:
1. Focus
2. Focus
3. Focus

The old adage is true, everything we need to know about business we learned in youth sports.

We sure have come to expect a lot from our employers in this day-and-age. We want extra vacation, more money, the ability to work from home, yoga, happy hour and an on-site guru. These luxuries have distracted us from the primary responsibility of our employment: Winning!

As I always tell the young people I coach: we are here to have fun and there is nothing more fun than winning. Our effort in our profession should feed our happiness. Nothing will make you more happy than achievement. 

To be given a thank you for showing up is nice, but are you OK with nice? To be told you have done a great job when you haven't is reassuring but you know if you actually deserve the accolade. 

The Holidays are a time when people let their guard down and say thanks for all they have. This season of distraction is also very difficult to navigate. 


Focus on Grander Goals
I once heard a CEO say that he would be much more successful if he didn't have to deal with people. No such luck! Our comrades are competitive and they take pride in their work... along with this comes condescension, the need to be validated and whole lot of emotion. If we invest too much in the little battles our character is revealed and our ego can get the best of us.

In any situation it is important to remember what the ultimate goal is and to give ground in the little battles. It is OK to allow people to win an argument for the sake of moving toward the ultimate goal. Over time, those who choose confrontation are revealed incapable of handling greater responsibility.

Be Flexible, Not Indecisive      
The best professional relationships I have are without nonsense. I would rather you tell me 'no' in the first minute of speaking with me than to pretend to be polite for a year only to come to the same conclusion. 

It is beneficial to be willing to listen more than you talk. It is even better to have a direct solution to a problem. If we are incapable of letting one another know where we stand, we will all sink into the quicksand together. 

Perform Above Expectations
In sales we are acutely aware that every suggestion made to management is followed by an audit of where we are on the ranking report. If you haven't sold anything, no one gives a shit about your earth shattering ideas to change the world. 

Regardless of your occupation, you have a goal to hit. Every goal is crowded by the emotion of co-workers, bad advice from management, and complaints from all angles. 

You have to hurdle all obstacles on your way to accomplishing the goals established for you. None of it is easy, but nothing worth doing is. 

Stop asking for entitled benefits and start producing. No one owes you anything. You will recognize this when you conquer expectations and take control of your own destiny. 

Don't Forget to Remember!

Dave