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October 2017

Can the Young Star Ever Earn Less Than the Employees They Manage?

Capitalist Note - Got an email about this from a young gunner over the weekend, and sent her this post.  Felt like I should share again.  Cliff notes - you play to win the game, not win today.

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In a word, yes.  It's rare, but it happens.

Here’s my take - most star managers on the upswing of their careers have usually faced the prospect of either managing someone who has either:

a) earned more than they have, or

b) earned close to what they have. 

It happens more often with rising stars who are relatively young in an organization, because they tend to aggregate additional responsibilities beyond their years.  You’re aggressive with the star within the definition of “aggressive” within your company, then the department of the star has to grow, you move people around internally to work for them and BAM!  You also experience the reality that in order to hire people with the skills to work for the young star in the growing department, those new hires need to come in at or around the salary you have the star at…

Is that a problem?  Many would say yes.  To anyone (this message is for you, young star) who finds themselves in that situation, I would say "have patience, young grasshopper".  If you are that star who finds themselves managing people who earn more or close to what you earn, you're right, there should be more of a divide.  However, note this - you got to where you are because you are viewed as a high, high potential asset to your company.  There's probably only one way you can mess that up if you continue to perform - by not handling the situation with class.

If you make it about the money, some people will chalk that up to maturity, and you might see theMo money upward arc of your career slow down a bit.  If you find a classy way to bring it to someone's attention without demanding any immediate action, I can guarantee you one thing: You're going to make a LOT more money than the people you're currently managing over the course of your career.
 
To the stars of the world who find themselves in this situation, I say: "Be the ball, Danny".  Don't let pride or some shortsighted advice from your Uncle Tommy drive your reaction to this situation.  You've managed to be different than everyone else to this point.  Keep being different. 

Play to win the game, not this possession.


Dumb Device/Rich Cloud: Talent Philosophy in Apple Vs. Google Product Terms...

I saw this on the web recently and thought it had a lot of application beyond the way Apple and Google ideate and develop products:

"I’ve said before that Apple’s approach is about a dumb cloud enabling rich apps while Google’s is about dumb devices are endpoints of cloud services. That’s going to lead to rather different experiences, and to ever more complex discussions within companies as to what sort of features they create across the two platforms and where they place their priorities. It also changes somewhat the character of the narrative that the generic shift of computing from local devices to the cloud is a structural problem for Apple, since what we mean, exactly, when we say ‘cloud’ on smartphones needs to be unpicked rather more."

So, there's a lot there, but it basically means that Apple envisions great products and a dumb cloud, and Google dreams about dumb/basic products and smart cloud.

For me, I automatically thought about how we acquire talent, and in a competitive marketplace having a strategy about how you view the world.

Think about it this way - the device is the employee, and the cloud is your philosophy on developing that employee - what's available for them to plug into to make them better once they join you.

From a talent perspective, if you buy experienced, top dollar talent and don't have to train, you're more like Apple.  If your strategy is to buy early career talent that's not as developed, but you're committed to plugging them into development resources, you're more like Google.

Both approaches can be killer.  The biggest mistake you can make is to not have a philosophy.  


Sit Down Old People - I'd Hire You, But You're Not "Digitally Native"....

Thoughts from the road.

Let's talk about old people.  No BS, no talking around it, let's just talk about old people in the workplace.
 
I'm coming off some leadership training with a client. Great people, and when I do that type of training I'm always reminded how most people who obtain any type of leadership position with a company (first-level managers and up) are talented and want to do great things.  
 
Here's another observation. The older managers in my group this week were great.  They were engaged, thoughtful, talented - and among the people I would trust the most to try and put the conversation techniques we we teaching in play at their company.
 
So why don't more companies want to employ older workers?  I'm convinced that this is probably THE undervalued sector in the employment marketplace right now. The-bucket-list
 
Why is this on my mind?  Mainly due to this article I spotted on the road from Inc, detailing the new codewords tech companies are putting into job descriptions to try and eliminate older workers from consideration.  Take a look at this bull#### (Inc reporting is solid, so I'm talking about the subjects of the reporting):

People would be rightly shocked if a job description for a high-tech position said: "whites and South Asians only" or "women need not apply." They'd be shocked not because racism and sexism aren't rampant in these firms, but because the company would be explicitly acknowledging that the racism and the sexism exists.

However, whilst they're sensitive about being outwardly racist and sexist, high tech firms are total fine with discriminating against one type of job candidate: anyone born before 1985. To express this, high-tech firms use the dog-whistle "digital native" which basically means "nobody older than 36 need apply." Here's an example from the Mountain View-based TapInfluence:

"As an Influencer Marketing Accounts Coordinator, you are an eager and ambitious can-do-er. You are bright, creative and won't stop until both you and your customers (marketers and influencers) are successful. You are a digital native who loves everything about social media and who keeps up with all the rising social trends." (Emphasis mine.)

The term "digital native" comes from a 2001 article suggesting that "children raised in a digital, media-saturated world require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention." Over time, this highly-questionable notion that millennials are particularly prone to ADD and ADHD has morphed into the even-more-questionable notion that millennials are better adapted to the digital world.

Digital native.  Nice. New buzzword for old.  It used to be "energy", but everybody's probably on to that, so we changed it. Everyone take a bite of the turd sandwich that phrase is. Also, the article points out that Facebook diversity statement includes consideration for every protected group under the sun except - you guessed it - old people:


High tech firms, though, have so thoroughly embraced this "digital native" junk science that many don't even feel it necessary mention age in their pro-forma diversity statements. Like Facebook, for instance:

"As part of our dedication to the diversity of our workforce, Facebook is committed to Equal Employment Opportunity without regard for race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, protected veteran status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion."

So that quote is the diversity footer on Facebook's posts on LinkedIn.  I'm not a big "let's be politically correct" person, so I really don't want to shame post on Facebook.
 
But **** it - shame on you Facebook.  You'll include every other protected class but the old folks?  Damn.
 
Old folks use tech products.  Old folks also trend more politically conservative, so If I was Fox News, I'd do a segment claiming that political leaning is the real reason you don't keep age top of mind as a protected class.  
 
But I'm not Fox News.  So I'll assume the reason you don't want old people is because you think they can't hang.  A lot of times, you might be right.
 
But older workers are a value play in the talent marketplace right now.  If you're looking for great talent, you might want to figure out a way to sort the player/non-player thing out across older workers.  I'd hire all of the older people I saw this week - without hesitation.  
 
Are they "digital native"?  I don't know.  But if you're discounting the whole class due to that factor, I've only got one thing to say:
 
Up yours. 
 
You're wrong.  Run a ####ing algorithm to figure out which of the older folks can hang.  That's what you do, right?  Use data to make smarter decisions?  Try that with older people and hire a few of them - the talented ones - and see what happens. 
 
I bet it's positive.
 

All Economic Development Related to Jobs Is Not Created Equal...

Let's talk economic development today.  We're trained to believe that in America, any economic development opportunity that brings thousands of jobs to a local community - especially in the rust belt or the rural midwest - would be welcomed by all in that community.

That's wrong.  Whether you understand that or not probably depends on whether you have smelled a big, corporate chicken/hog farm before.

Here's some background - On Sept. 5, executives from Tyson Foods Inc., the nation’s largest meat processor, traveled to the east Kansas town of Tonganoxie with what they figured would be welcome news for the locals. Joined by Governor Sam Brownback and other political leaders, Doug Ramsey, Tyson’s group president for poultry, unveiled plans to build a huge chicken complex outside of town. The $320 million project, Tyson’s first new plant in 20 years, would be home to a hatchery, feed mill, and processing plant—employing about 1,600 workers to package 1.25 million birds a week.

Great news, right?

Wrong.  The citizens didn't want anything to do with the plant.  All you have to do is look at the numbers to understand why, provided here by BusinessWeek:

Tyson’s foray serves as a blueprint for how not to build a new chicken plant. First, the company may have overestimated how badly the jobs were needed. Members of the opposition say most residents are employed in nearby Topeka, Kansas City, and Lawrence, leaving few locals who’d want meatpacking jobs. Median annual household income in Leavenworth County is $63,726, $11,521 more than for the state of Kansas and $9,837 greater than the national median. The median wage of workers who cut or trim poultry, meat, or fish is $11.77 an hour for an annual income of about $24,490, according to May 2016 government data.

A quick look at the map below tells you all you need to know.  That standard of living comes from the aforementioned proximity to Lawerence (rock chalk), Kansas City and Topeka.  Here's your map:

Kansas

To be sure, immigration and the prospect of a sudden influx of workers into a community -  to take the jobs others don't want - plays a part too.  

If you go read the story, it's a good case study of a company like Tyson AND the local government assuming the community would be in support of the economic development provided, only to be surprised.

From a workforce planning perspective, it's a good reminder for companies to find the sweet spot of a community that will embrace the flavor of jobs you're providing when launching a new plant.  That sweet spot can be defined as enough labor at the right price point to sustain the model.  Always harder than it looks, especially when the product is chicken processing plants.

While I'm talking about small town America, check out this BW article about small towns relying on Dollar General as their economic hub.  The town featured - Decatur, Arkansas - would LOVE to have that chicken plant. But alas, they're two small.   

The right place for economic development involving chicken processing plants?  Somewhere between Decatur and Tonganoxie, as it turns out.

 


Snoop Dogg, Lonzo Ball and Having a Favorite Direct Report on Your Team...

“His daddy put him in the lion’s den with porkchop drawers on.”

–Snoop Dogg on Lonzo Ball via Twitter

Let's start with that quote.  Most of you know who Snoop Dogg is (music industry), but you may not be familiar with Lonzo Ball or Lavar Ball, father of Lonzo.  To level set, Lonzo Ball is a professional basketball Beverlyrookie who made his debut at 19 years of age with the Los Angeles Lakers last night.  Lavar Ball is the father and professional promoter of his son(s), who has been very active in the media describing that his son is going to be the greatest of all time.

Read up more about Lavar Ball here if you so desire.

That means Lonzo came into the NBA with a bit of a target on his back - a rookie with a big promotional wave behind him, a wave that provokes veteran NBA players to test/challenge/abuse a rookie like Lonzo to a greater degree than they normally would.   Lonzo's first game with the Lakers presented that type of challenge from a veteran named Patrick Beverly (Clippers guard) who came out super physical with Lonzo and had this to say after limiting Lonzo to three (yes, 3) points in his first NBA game:

"I just had to set the tone," Beverley said. "I told him after the game, due to all the riff-raff his dad brings, he's going to get a lot of people coming at him. He has to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game. But what a better way to start him off. I was 94 feet guarding him tonight. Welcome his little young ass to the NBA."

The quotes from Snoop and Beverly got me thinking about the topic of favorites on your team.

Do you have favorites on your team?  Some of us do and some of us don't.  If you have a favorite or you've recruited a new hire that you think can do great things, the Lonzo Ball debut is reminder of the danger of over-promotion.

It's human nature to hear hype about someone and start gunning for them.  Here's some ways that can impact your team if you have a favorite or are overhyping a new person on your team:

1.  You have a favorite.  80% of your recognition verbally is about stuff they work on.  Your spend 80% of your time with the favorite.  

2.  The other direct reports - who may or may not be as good as the favorite-get tired of hearing that #### about the favorite.

3.  Your favorite needs help from the team to be successful.

4.  Depending on your culture and the personality of the "non-favorite" direct reports, the non-favorites either discretely withhold help or outwardly gun for the favorite in a negative way in their interactions with him/her.

5.  By over-promoting your favorite (or a new hire you have high hopes for), you've made it much harder for them to be successful if the other team members decide to play hardball and cut them down a notch, which is a very human reaction.

Favorites are an interesting case study.  Your team might have a opinion about who on the team is your favorite.  Whether they try to take that favorite down a notch or two is dependent on how you treat the rest of the team.

Lavar Ball (the dad) has a favorite (his son Lonzo). He treated the rest of the team (the world) like crap.  The rest of the world (every guard in the NBA) is going to do everything in their power to make life hard on that favorite.

Lonzo will have some good nights in his first year with the company (the NBA).  He'll also have some nights where Patrick Beverly will be waiting in the conference room, determined to make his life hell.

Good luck Lonzo.


Is Anonymous Feedback From Employees OK?

Who here is tired of seeing disgruntled employees rip your company on Glassdoor?  Wow..almost everyone.  I can't say I'm surprised.

Anonymous feedback is rapidly being recognized for what it is.  The newspaper industry entered the digital industry with the Trollthought that readers commenting on articles online would unlock a form of community unlike any other.  That happened, but in a negative way, with trolls and racists and every other type of creep posting whatever they wanted under anonymous accounts with zero chance of being outed.

It's so bad that responsible publications online have gone one of two ways - they've either eliminated comments altogether or moved to Facebook comments, where commenters have their thoughts tied to a primary Facebook account.  

Let's move back to the workplace.  A deep thinker, expert on employee opinion and a friend of mine - Jason Laurtisen - did a guest post over at Fistful of Talent last year and called for an end to anonymous employee feedback.  Here's a taste:

"When it comes to feedback, anonymity is less effective, and frankly, out of style in today’s workplace. We expect our leaders to be candid and transparent, particularly about the important stuff.  We expect them to tell us the whole story and to openly share their failures and missteps.  Yet, when it comes to asking employees for feedback about something as important as their work experience, we use completely different standards. Why? We’ve convinced ourselves that employees just aren’t up to the task."

I'd encourage everyone to go read Jason's post - because most of you do employee surveys and he's an expert in that area.

Me?  I'm here to give you some comfort in employees savagely ripping you - either internally in surveys or at company rip sites like Glassdoor.  Here's the dirty little secret that will make you feel better:

Employees and Candidates viewing anonymous feedback are increasingly immune to ultra-negative reviews. They're maturing and giving much greater weight to harsh comments that are found as a part of balanced feedback - outlining the good, the bad and the ugly.

I'm increasingly hearing that candidates viewing rip jobs by the disgruntled on Glassdoor don't take them seriously.  They're increasingly looking for the sane commenters on the rip sites, allowing themselves to only be influenced by the rare bird that gives insightful, balanced feedback on life at a company.

That makes sense.  When you see the rip jobs on reputation sites, take a deep breath. The more extreme, unfair and personal it is - the less likely it is to be taken seriously.

When it comes to employee surveys, here's what you can learn from this.  Instead of letting your employees rip away in the verbatim comments section - force them to be balanced and give you a good thing for every bad thing.  Then show the mixture of feedback as the entire verbatim - rather than splitting up good and bad feedback.  

While most of you don't share open ended employee feedback with the entire company, showing the totality of each employee's feedback will show your leadership team which feedback segments should be taken seriously - and which ones could possibly be ignored as a lunatic fringe.


Tesla: Now the Most Interesting Workplace Culture in The World...

Forget Google, Apple and if you're into pain, Uber.

Tesla is now the most interesting workplace culture in the world.  Here's 4 reasons why, my friends:

1--For starters, they've got a founder who is brilliant and unreasonable all at the same time. 

You've heard of Elon Musk, so he really doesn't need an introduction.  From a unauthorized biography I just read on him....

"When Musk came into the meeting room where I'd been waiting, I noted how impressive it was for so many people to be at work on a Saturday.  Must saw the sitaution in a different light, complaining that fewer and fewer people had been working weekends of late, 'We've grown f***ing soft", Musk replied, 
'I was just going to send out an email - we're f***ing soft'"

Founders.  Always a fun time.  There's 100 examples of this stuff in the book.

2--Tesla's under immense pressure to get production of it's newest car model, the Model 3, up to scale. And they are behind.  More from Bloomberg:

"Tesla said it built just 260 Model 3 sedans during the third quarter, less than a fifth of its 1,500-unit forecast. The company has offered scant detail about the problems it’s having producing the car. The vehicle’s entry price starts at $35,000, roughly half the cost of Tesla’s least-expensive Model S sedan.

A delayed ramp-up risks the ire of some of the almost half million reservation holders who started paying $1,000 deposits early last year." 

3--Tesla's at the intersection of manufacturing and automation with the ramp up of the Model 3 - here's an Instagram post shared by Musk late last week to respond to people reporting that there was limited automation at this point on the Model 3 line (email subscribers click through if you don't see the post below.  It's good):

4--Embedded in the founder driven culture is... wait for it.... people being fired after lackluster performance reviews!  And the company is saying that's the reason!  More from Bloomberg:

Tesla Inc. has fired an undetermined number of employees following a series of performance evaluations after the company significantly boosted its workforce with the purchase of solar panel maker SolarCity Corp.

 The departures are part of an annual review, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in an email, without providing a number of people affected. The maker of the Model S this week dismissed between 400 and 700 employees, including engineers, managers and factory workers, the San Jose Mercury News reported on Oct. 13, citing unidentified current and former workers.
 
“As with any company, especially one of over 33,000 employees, performance reviews also occasionally result in employee departures,” the company said in the statement. “Tesla is continuing to grow and hire new employees around the world.”
 
An interesting founder still running things.  Big innovation.  Production delays.  Saying you're trimming the bottom performers aka Jack Welch and stacked ranking.
 
Tesla is the most interesting workplace culture in America right now.  It's not even close.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach...

I saw this one last weekend.  I think you'll enjoy it.  Here's your set up.

Alabama's football team is coached by Nick Saban - did a post early this week after what a control freak he is.  The thing is, if your system gets great results, you have the ability to be a complete control freak.  If you're not a world class leader, you can't be a micromanaging control freak, because people you manage won't take it - they'll revolt.

Most of us aren't good enough at what we do to be complete control freaks.  Nike Saban, however, is good enough.

Here's a new thought to add to that post earlier this week:

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Video clip below (click through if you don't see the clip).  Talk about what to look for after the jump. 

Alabama is playing at Texas A&M.  The outcome was never in doubt, BUT... Texas A&M scores and is kicking off, and IF they recover an onside kick, they could throw a hail mary with 5 seconds left to tie it, etc.

So the onside kick is cleanly fielded by one of Alabama's best players - in a roster full of 5 star recruits - Minkah Fitzpatrick.  

Here's where it gets interesting.  Average players field that onside kick and collapse like they've been shot. Minkah Fitzpatrick. is not average, so he fields it cleanly and runs it back.  That's what stars do, right?

Ultimately, he gets pushed out of bounds, celebrates with his teammates and then at the :23 second mark of the video, puts his hands over this face like he's just seen a ghost.  

He saw Nick Saban.

Flash forward to the :27 mark of the video. Minkah Fitzpatrick. comes to the sidelines and takes a tongue lashing from Nick Saban before an assistant grabs him to explain things more calmly as Saban walks off.  The coaching is obviously that if you fumble as you run it back, there's a chance we lose this game.

What's interesting to me with this one is that Micah Fitzpatrick looked over at the sidelines after the celebration and thought, "oh no" - I screwed that up.

He's one of the best players on the best team in the country, and he just made a great play.  But the devil was in the details, and when it saw the sidelines, he realized the coaching that was coming.

The More Your Company Wins, the More Great Talent Will Allow You To Coach

Success brings a lot of positives to your organization.  One of the things we don't think about is how open talented people are to coaching.  But ff you're losing as a company, it's harder to coach the great ones.  If you're winning, it's easier.

The more you develop a culture of success, the more open all employees - even the great ones - are to coaching.


The HR Capitalist Playbook for Men Avoiding Workplace Harassment Claims...

Harassment claims have been in the news lately, and it's an interesting time for HR leaders.  Whether you're talking about the latest Harvey Weinstein reports or all the crazy stuff that went down at Uber, you've probably never had everyone's attention on the male side of the house like you do today.

What do you do with that attention? Well, it's probably not enough just to email Harvey Weinstein and Uber rundowns to your management team.  While that seems reasonable, a new Cavemanreport from The New York Times shows that all the well-intentioned promises may have resulted in some serious unintended consequences:

"A big chill came across Silicon Valley in the wake of all these stories, and people are hyper-aware and scared of behaving wrongly, so I think they’re drawing all kinds of parameters," an anonymous venture capitalist told the Times.

The anonymous VC told the Times that he's actually cancelled one-on-one meetings with female engineers and potential recruits to protect himself from any "reputational risk."

YEP - THESE ARE ARE MALE MANAGERS.  SIMPLE FOLK.  CAVEMEN.  "SOMEBODY GOT A HARASSMENT CLAIM, SO I'M NOT MEETING ALONE WITH LADIES".

WTF...

As much as I'd like to think this attitude doesn't touch companies like yours and mine, it does.  It's the "let's take our ball and go home" mentality.  Crazy but true.

Lucky for you, I'm here as a guy HR leader to give you my straight up Playbook for Men Avoiding Workplace Harassment Claims.  Here we go:

1--Don't have designs on sleeping with someone at work.  Whether you're single or married, don't do it.  I'm not the morality police, but if you target someone for romance at work, you get what you get.  It's just problematic.  Don't do it.  And for the ladies in my family life who read my blog, I should mention this (morality alert!), if you're a guy who's married, don't be a sleaze.  Honor the commitment.  But if you're incapable of that, stay out of the workplace, Jack.

2--When on the road, don't do stupid stuff.  I'm on the road a lot, and things like having a lady hold your bag in her room is just problematic.  Check your bag and handle small stuff on the road without treating a female co-worker like your wife/girlfriend.

3--Be personable in conversation without probing.  Look, it's OK to make small talk about life with your female co-workers, and every once in awhile, it goes to a place of personal information.  It's not uncommon for that to happen, what matters is what happens next.  Don't probe for more, get out and take the conversation back to something rivaling a mundane USA Today article.

4--Hold your one-on-one meetings with females in public or somewhat public places.  The more private the room is, the more you really don't need to be there.  If you meet on the road in a hotel room with a female, you're a moron.

BONUS - and I call this the Harvey Weinstein rule - don't answer the door on the road in a robe.  Who the #### uses a robe in hotel room?

That's what I got.  What do you have to add?


Nick Saban Is a Steve Jobs-Type Control Freak: Exhibit 63

The sports world follows the business world in a lot of ways.  There's talent considerations, managing performance and more.

Oh yeah - the best leaders in sports, just like in business, are a little bit crazy.  They are crazy control freaks with a detailed plan on how domination is going to be achieved.  Think Steve Jobs.  Think the Uber guy before he came crashing down.  

In sports, consider Alabama football coach Nick Saban. IMG_0202

For the uninitiated, Saban is the head football coach at the University of Alabama, who has built a dominating machine in college football. Click on the link to learn more if needed/interested.  Today, I'm here give you one example from the book of Saban:

The last three games, I've noticed a trend.  Check out the picture to the right in this post (click through it you don't see the photo).  Saban has a guy who has the sole job to have a cup of water ready for him when he's thirsty/ready.  The guy is always positioned behind Saban in the manner pictured to the right.

I used to be around college athletics as a player and a coach.  When a guy like Saban dictates that level of control, there's no doubt in my mind that the following happened:

1.  Saban works hard and wants a drink every once in a awhile.  At some point in the past, he got tired of finding said drink and instructed his operations team to have someone around with water for him.  He delegated that and allowed his staff to figure it out.

2.  It went OK for awhile, then one time Saban wanted a drink - in practice or in a game - and the solution that got put in place failed.  The person responsible for being in the general area got called away or lost attention to the task at hand, which was hydrating Saban.

3.  Saban went absolutely ####ing bananas.  To the point where he couldn't be reasoned with.  

4.  Being the control freak many great leaders are, he came up with his own solution.  From the that point forward, an entire FTE of the athletic department will have one job - to be behind Saban with an available cup of water at all times.  I don't know how long this has has been going on, but it's been there for the last 3 games.

TRANSLATION: Somebody f***ed this up, and Nick Saban f***ing fixed it.  Note that this only works if you're a leader who gets unbelievable results.  If you get average results as a leader and try and flex this level of control, you'll be on the way out, because the people you lead will revolt.  If you're Steve Jobs or Nick Saban, it's accepted because you're the best in the world at what you do.  And psycho-level control is a big part of how you built the machine.

BONUS - I know the guy holding the cup of water is black.  I don't think it matters in this case, because my bet is that Nick picked the person who was going to hold the cup of water for him, and he picked the person he trusted the most.  While it's poor optics for the politically correct crowd, my gut tells me whoever got selected from the ops staff - white or black - to hold Saban's cup of water treats as a compliment they were selected.  Hell, this might even be an associate/assistant AD at Alabama, because that's how much power Nick Saban has.

You're playing checkers. Nick Saban is playing chess. And on the Nick Saban chess board, there's no detail to small for control.  

Somebody f***ed this up, and Nick Saban f***ing fixed it.