Founder's Rules: Marriott to Put Copies of Bible and Book of Morman in Starwood/Westin/Sheraton Hotels...

There's a lot of pros and cons about working for a company that's still controlled by a founder.  For me, I think the pros dramatically outweigh the cons.  Every once in awhile, a little company grows into a giant that's still controlled by the founder and because they still call the shots, things get interesting related to what's important to them.

Case in point - Chick-fil-A - while the founder has passed away, the company is still run by the son - Don Cathy, who's conservative Christian views have been front and center in recent years.  There was past drama related to the Cathy's views on same-sex marriage, etc.   Since the company is still thriving, you have to guess that the service and food is still so stellar that the controversy didn't make an impact.

Here's another founder-controlled company with some new ripples - Marriott International plans to place copies of the Bible and the Book of Mormon in 300,000 rooms of its Marriott newly acquired Starwood, Westin, and Sheraton hotels, the Associated Press reports:

The big picture: The number of hotels that offer those kinds of religious materials fell 16% over 10 years, per the AP. Starwood-owned hotels haven't offered religious materials at all until being acquired by Marriott. But Marriott requires "its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room."

Marriott told the AP in a statement: "There are many guests who are not digitally connected who appreciate having one or both of these books available. It’s a tradition appreciated by many, objected to by few." Gideons International provides the Bibles, and the Books of Mormon are purchased with the help of the Marriott Foundation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Other major hotel chains like Hilton and IHG, owner of Holiday Inn, let hotel managers decide whether or not to provide Bibles in their rooms.

Marriott, whose namesake founding family is active in the Mormon church, has been putting both the Bible and the Book of Mormon in its rooms since opening its first hotel in the late 1950s. Like most major chains, Marriott doesn't own the majority of its hotels. However, it stands out from the other companies by requiring — in franchise or licensing agreements — its 6,500 properties to have the books in each room.

There are some other Starwood properties acquired by Marriott that won't be get the book - the W and Moxy brands won't, for example. Turns out that condom packs in the rooms, etc - is inconsistent with the messages in the books.

A quick scan/text stream of 4-5 Marriott employees I know at decent levels in the company - and having a variety of political views - found my Marriott friends to be comfortable with the decision. They see all the progressive moves that go unnoticed by the company and are happy to shrug off the power play of 300K Bibles and Books of Morman going into rooms.

Founder-driven companies that scale are always an anomaly.  Good enough operationally to get big, small enough via the founder vibe (even at Marriott's size) to do whatever they want - damn the critics.

Long live the American entrepreneur. See you at the Westin, my home away from home, now with new books. 


Elon Musk Knows How to Embarrass/Frame Talent Leaving for a Competitor..

It's been a tough couple of weeks for an iconic leader in America - Elon Musk.

First, he tweeted/floated an idea for taking Tesla public and may face securities fraud charges as a result.  Then he had a rapper over to the house that started live tweeting a bunch of stuff that was unflattering and the beef continues.

But you know what's going well for Musk?  Embarrassing employees who are jumping to Apple (the companies are infamous Musk2 for training development and design talent) by tagging them all a certain way.  Consider this:

"We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.' If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding," Musk told German newspaper Handelsblatt in 2015.

CNBC reports that Apple is on a current hiring spree, poaching "scores" of ex-Tesla employees for a variety of projects, citing better pay at the iPhone giant.

If Tesla was doing an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) study, two of the themes would undoubtedly be "we work on the bleeding edge" and "everyone here is all in".

Then culturally, Musk and his direct reports do what they do - framing defections to a world class company/competitor for talent as the "lazy people" or "not good enough to work here".

Love it or hate it, it's an aggressive approach you can learn from.  Our body language and framing when people leave our companies tends to be too passive.

Play offense when talking about turnover.


Saying "No" Helps Train the Recipient What "Yes" Looks Like...

If there's a big problem in corporate America, it's that we say "Yes" too much at times.

Yes to that request..

Yes, I can help you..

Yes, I'd be happy to be part of your project team...

Yes, your response to my request is fine...

There's a whole lot of yes going around.  The problem?  Only about 1/2 of the "yes" responses are followed up with action that is representative of all of us living up to the commitment we made.

That's why you need to say "no" more.

Of course, simply saying no with nothing behind the no positions you as jerk.  So the "no" has to have qualifiers behind it:

Say "no" more to peers asking you for things, but then qualify it with how the request could be modified to move you to say "yes".

Say "no" more to your boss, and qualify your response to her by asking for help de-prioritizing things on your plate - which might allow you to say "yes" to the new request.

We say "yes" in the workplace when we want to say "no". We do it because we don't like to say no, and because we are horrible at negotiation.

Say "no" and tell people how the request could be modified to get to "yes".

Or just say "no" and walk away.  Either way, you've helped the organization's overall performance by providing more clarity. 


EMAIL + WORK: We Need Tags Like "Facts", "Opinions" and "Danger"

Most of us have been overwhelmed by email at work.  Even though the advent of the smart phone has made it easier to keep up, it's been pointed out that the digital leash this provides is of questionable value.

When you really think about it, the contrast of traditional Outlook Exchange and Gmail provides a pretty good backdrop for what's possible.  Outlook is clunky, hard to personalize and not very flexible, but it wins a lot of users because it's the defacto choice for the enterprise.  Gmail, on the other hand, has become the defacto choice for everyone else who doesn't have an email choice forced on them by the company.

Gmail features like enhanced search and tagging provide flexibility Outlook can't match.  A recent product annoucement for Google News got me thinking about what else is possible with email.  More from TechCrunch on advanced tagging:

"Today Google added a new “fact-check” tag to its popular Google News service. The site aggregates popular timely news from multiple sources and has traditionally grouped them with tags like “opinion,” “local source” and “highly cited.” Now readers can see highlighted fact-checks right next to trending stories.

The company cites the growing prominence of fact-checking sites as one of the reasons for creating the tag. Content creators will be able to add the new fact-check tag to posts themselves using a finite set of pre-defined source labels.  

ClaimReview from Schema.org will be used to compile and organize stories offering factual background. The Schema community builds markups for structured data on the internet. The group is sponsored by Google but also has support from Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex."

The fact that tags are in play everywhere got me thinking.  Why can't email be smarter related to the type of email that's flowing into our work inbox hundreds of times per week?  Gmail already has transcended what's possible in Outlook by sorting emails into tags that include "primary/social/promotions" and delivering those types of emails into separate inboxes.

What would help us for work-related to emails?  I'm thinking tags that would separate our non-junk emails into three primary groups:

--Facts - Similar in some aspects to the Google News feature, this would use smart technology to determine an email is an attempt to educate with facts of some type with limited opinion added to it.  We all get emails that are fact-based and designed to be consumed when we have time.  This would be the tag for those data dumps.

--Opinions - This email tag would tell us that an email contains primarily opinion about something in the workplace.  There might be facts in the background, but this email type would tell us that someone or a group is providing their opinion about a topic.  Let's face it, these are the most interesting to us.

--Danger - The most valuable of all my proposed tags, I'd love to see smart technology sift through the emails and tag the ones that cross a danger threshold, telling me I really need to consider the way I respond.  This would sniff out email chains related to my work, a boss or skip level exec who's emotional about something in my wheelhouse, or people I've responded to a in less than optimal way in the past.

It's probably time that email becomes smart and helps us figure out what to prioritize and when more caution/rigor is necessary.

What did I miss?  A "hot take" tag?  A "crazy" tag?  You tell me.


Mindfulness and Meditation Might Be Bad For Your Company...

There's a great scene in the movie The Matrix i'll use as the intro to talking about mindfulness.  It goes something like this - one of the machines (Agent Smith) has captured the leader of the human resistance, and he can't help but taunt his prisoner (Morpheus) about how stupid the human race is.  The quote is as follows:

"Did you know that the first Matrix (editors note - this is the software program the human minds are plugged into as prisoners) was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that as a species that human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this, the peak of your civilization. I say "your civilization" because as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization which is, of course what this is all about."

Translation - there can be a lot of unintended consequences to what seems like the right thing to do. Smith

So let's talk about mindfulness and meditation. I haven't been bitten by the bug, but I've actually been at conferences where someone asked the question if they could force people to use the meditation rooms at her company.

I'm not joking. 

Mindfulness and meditation are hot topics/trends in the cutting edge of corporate America.  There are a lot of people experimenting with this.  We accept through research that this is good for our employees (I'm assuming, I don't have research to quote), but we've never really asked if it's good for the company or even the employee's career.  Hmm.

A new study digs into that question. More from the BBC:

"Meditation has long shed its Buddhist roots to become a secular answer to all of our ills in the West, with numerous studies finding benefits like reduced stress and better concentration.

Some of the world’s biggest firms, including Google and Nike, have embraced the practice, using meditation programmes as a way of tackling stress, staff turnover and absenteeism.

Meditation is also used as a tool to motivate workers, partly thanks to research on the relationship between wellbeing and productivity. But a new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work."

That's the level set for the research.  Here's what the study found about mindfulness meditation, which is a flavor you''ll encounter on your journey if you explore the sector of meditation:

“Meditation is about accepting the present, which is the opposite to being motivated to do something, where the present moment isn’t acceptable, so meditation is inconsistent with being motivated to achieving a goal,” argues Kathleen Vohs, professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota and co-author of the study.  

Vohs enlisted hundreds of participants to test her theory across five studies. In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach. A comparison group were asked to simply let their minds wander.

After one 15-minute session, all participants were asked to tackle some simple tasks including doing an anagram puzzle and editing a cover letter. They were then asked how motivated they felt to carry on with the task.

Vohs, and her co-author Andrew Hafenbrack from the Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, found that the self-reported motivation levels of those who had meditated were lower than the control group, though their performance of the task wasn’t affected. The meditators also had fewer thoughts about the future, which the researchers said could interrupt the behavioural processes that contribute to achieving goals.

“The Western world, Americans in particular, love a panacea,” she says. “If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”

Meditation is a fast-growing industry – in 2018 meditation services are expected to generate $1.15bn for the US economy, according to IBISWorld’s Alternative Healthcare Providers in the US industry report – and Vohs’ message is an unusual one amid a generally positive tide.

Another study from Germany and the Netherlands that looked at mindfulness in the workplace, meanwhile, found participants reported improved wellbeing and lower stress levels, but didn’t look at motivation. 

So, the picture is mixed and, according to Desbordes, compounded by confusion over what mindfulness actually is. Some mindfulness teachers, she says, teach the importance of putting your daily suffering aside to achieve a new level of consciousness, whereas others advocate gaining insight into these challenges and how to improve them; two very conflicting approaches."

Look, I'm just a kid from the Midwest who lived in a blue collar household growing up.  

Am I skeptical of meditation and mindfulness?  Yes.  Am I open to learning more? Yes - and I have an app on my phone as proof I know I should be exploring this more.

But the article referenced above is a cautionary tale to me.  Agent Smith had to make the Matrix less than perfect to get the results the machines wanted.  Mindfulness Meditation might put your employees so much as ease that they're more mellow than you'd like them to be about goals.

The truth and the right solution is out there somewhere - but you're going to have to invest a lot of time to find it - and to ensure you don't get unintended consequences from your meditation program.

(h/t to Jenny Briggs for the article referenced, she's one of the best Human Capital pros I know!!)

 


When Employees Challenge Others to Step Up or Get Out...

The Cleveland Browns (pro football) are bad.  HBO has a show called "Hard Knocks", which embeds cameras at a training camp of one team each year.  This year, they are on campus with the Browns.

The hope, of course, is that the organizational dumpster fire that is the Cleveland Browns will provide notable moments.

Look, kids!  The Browns are doing it to themselves!  Those lovable losers!! Jarvis

Good news - Hard Knocks at the Browns started us off with a notable human capital moment.  More from the Ringer:

"After a particularly disappointing practice where Jarvis Landry and Hue Jackson were visibly frustrated with the effort of Cleveland’s pass catchers, Jarvis Landry asked whether he could address the receivers room.

“Fellas, I don’t know what the f**k is going on here, and I don’t know why it’s been going on here,” Landry says, “But if you not hurt, like your hamstring ain’t falling off the f**king bone, or your leg ain’t broke, I don’t even know, you should be f**king practicing. Straight up. That sh*t is weakness, and that shit is contagious as f**k. And that sh*t ain’t gonna be in this room, bruh. That sh*t been here in the past and that’s why the past has been like it is. That sh*t is over with here.”

The words land because Landry, who the team acquired in a trade this offseason and signed to a five-year extension with $47 million guaranteed, spends the episode walking the walk. His workouts include catching medicine balls one-handed while balancing on a Bosu ball with one foot, which explains why his dazzling one-handed catches look so effortless. In practice, Landry’s aggressive work ethic routinely rises above the other players on the field. Every catch he makes is inevitably punctuated by “bless you,” which he delivers with a sincerity that is more effective than actual trash-talking."

Sorry about the language.  But it's notable in that Landry is coming into an organization as an employee, knows what he's walking into isn't world class, and is trying to change the culture.

If my career managing people has taught me anything, it's that change agents are needed.  Some thoughts about change agents who come into organizations with statements and challenges like Landry - and what has to be present for them to be successful:

1--Change Agents who are highly verbal and challenging must perform at a high level.

2--The same change agents must mentor others, rather than simply dressing people down verbally.

3--In order for the change agent to be successful, managers and the company must support those efforts and embrace the cause, removing people who don't get on the bus of change.

In short, Jarvis better perform, should use the development of others in positive terms as a leader for an equally powerful statement as a change agent, and the organization (the Browns) should be ready to move people out - if they believe that Jarvis Landry represents their view of what the future is.

The same thing applies to your company - except your change agents can't get that many F-bombs in.

 


Administrative Leave Means You're Already Gone - Urban Meyer Edition...

Well, I heard some people talkin' just the other day
And they said you were gonna put me on a shelf
But let me tell you I got some news for you
And you'll soon find out it's true...

-"Already Gone" by the Eagles

------------------------------------

I think I've written about people being put on administrative leave before - but I'm reminded of it on the news that Ohio State put football coach Urban Meyer on Paid Administrative Leave this week.  Meyer is currently looking at the kitchen walls at home as his phone blows up, based the school announcing it is investigating Courtney Smith's claims that several people close to Meyer knew of a 2015 allegation of domestic violence against her ex-husband, former Ohio State assistant football coach Zach Smith, who was fired in July.

This post isn't about college football.  It's about the use of Administrative Leave, usually of the paid variety.

Paid Administrative Leave means the following things:

1--Whatever you're accused of is too damn hot to allow you to remain in the workplace.

2--Your employer believes that you likely did enough (or didn't do enough for leadership positions) on the issue in question to warrant your eventual termination.

3--Administrative Leave is a form of action your employer can point to as taking action while they actually investigate what happened on the issue in question.

4--YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO COME BACK FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

Got it? Great.  Let's dig into #4 above a bit.  It's a tough pill to swallow for some.

YOU ARE UNLIKELY TO COME BACK FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.

Your employer put you out because they believed there was a high probability your investigation would end in a termination.

But for every day you are out, your career expertise and power, as well as your ability to return to your job, decreases in a dramatic way.  That stinks. It's like a game of Fortnite where you have a power level for an individual.  You're getting whacked hard every day you are out, and the players in the game all see your power level after a week of being out and determine it's only a matter of time before you're out of the game.  This perception makes it hard for you to survive and come back off of paid administrative leave.

That stinks because sometimes you're innocent.  The good news for most people who will read this is that their process would be nowhere near as public as Urban Meyer.

If you're confronted with an allegation, do what you can to avoid being placed on leave.  Offer to take vacation, personal days and generally get out of the way.  Avoid the tag of Administrative Leave if you can.

Oh yeah, be sure to take action on people who do bad things and shouldn't be part of the company.  Don't protect people you like who do stupid things.  Don't do stupid things.  These are all viable options to avoid administrative leave.


More College Recruiting: Natty Light Knows Their Target Audience Better Than Your Company...

Yesterday, I posted my observations after leading a college recruiting roundtable - which led me to recommend you zig when others are zagging if you're starting to ponder an investment in campus recruiting.

Another observation - if you're a consumer product company, you might have an easier "in" to gather attention from the kids on campus than non-product companies.  No one has done it better recently than Natural Light (that's right, the beer).  Natural Light, better known as "Natty Light," the cheap beer of choice for college students across the country, has done multiple things to garner the attention of the college kid.  Earlier this year, they announced they would be giving away $1,000,000 to help 25 lucky drinkers pay off their student debt. In order to compete for one of these prizes, participants had to submit a short video showcasing a green tab from a can of Natty Light and share what made their college experience special.

Nice. Effective, right?

Well, they're back.  Natural Light has just announced a contest to put a student's resume on a NASCAR ride.  More details below and we'll talk after the jump.

------------------------

Natural Light is about to hook it up yet again for a recent grad that’s deep in the job search.

The beer brand is going to turn your resume into a NASCAR paint scheme that will appear on Chris Buescher’s #37 racecar at the South Point 400 in Las Vegas on September 16. Work experience, skills, contact info, head shot and all, will be painted on the car.

Natural Light and Censuswide surveyed 1,000+ employers across America and 4-in-5 agreed applicants need to find new ways to stand out when applying for jobs.

Is there a better way to get your resume noticed than have it plastered all over a car for a nationally televised race? Guaranteed your inbox and voicemail will be full after catching the eye of millions of recruiters while racing 200 mph around the track.

To be considered for the paint scheme, any person over the age of 21 can:

Here's a full mock up of where the resume details are going to go on the car (email subscribers, please click through if you don't see the image below)

Natty

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The interesting thing about these contests is that they really aren't related to college recruiting.  Natural Light is marketing to people who buy the iconic beer, in this case, college kids.  They want them to drink more Natty Light, which is why they're running the contest. 

Still, the creativity is key.  If you're thinking about starting college recruiting or want to make a bigger splash with what you're already doing on campus, think about how your product/service ties in with the lives of those you are trying to recruit.

Contests and awards that meet college kids where they live are key.

Good luck out there.  And if you're drinking Natty Light on campus, please drink Natty Light responsibly...

 


When Great Places to Work Outsource Jobs That Are... You Guessed It, Not Great...

Part of the game of building a great place to work is that you never let down your guard.

--Never admit that things are less than perfect...

--Never agree with someone that suggests things are less than perfect...

--Keep adding benefits or features of your culture that are cool but few people will actually use...

And today, I'm adding one.  Here's how it goes:

--When faced with a job that is so objectionable it will burn people out in 7 months, deem it "non-core", outsource it to another company and transfer the cultural liability. Social network

That's what Facebook has traditional done with the people they need to review flagged posts.  A job reviewing flagged posts exposes the worker responsible to all types of objectionable humanity, and let's face it, after a year in that job, you hate life and hate people.  That doesn't transfer well to the employee survey scores or other ways to measure cultural health, so high-end companies make the obvious choice to outsource it.

Problem is, the job is still ruining someone's life and you're still responsible.  More on the "reviewing flagged posts" job at Facebook:

"A former Facebook moderator said the pressure to churn through a never-ending pile of disturbing material eventually made her desensitized to child pornography and bestiality.

Sarah Katz, 27, worked as a content reviewer at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, through a third-party contractor, Vertisystem, for eight months in 2016. Her job was simple: figure out whether posts reported to Facebook violated the company's detailed community standards.

Practically, this meant eyeballing new and potentially horrific material every 10 seconds and making a snap decision about whether it needed to be ditched. Posts that needed reviewing were called "tickets," and there were about 8,000 every day.

To deal with this onslaught, Facebook had 4,500 moderators like Katz on its books last year, and in May 2017 it announced plans to hire another 3,000 to help it in the fight against the darkest corners of its user output. Facebook is also investing in artificial intelligence to help police posts that break its rules."

Any guesses whether those 3000 additional hires will be contractors or full-time employees?

They're going to be contractors.  To be fair to Facebook, you can't hire that many people in this type of role without help.  BUT - you can bet a lot of them - if not all - will stay contractors because Facebook will consider this to be a non-core part of their people business.  

The dirty side of maintaining a great place to work is how you define a Great Place to Work.  But contracting in the toughest, lowest level jobs, you're playing with definitions - to your benefit.

I'm not saying I wouldn't do the same thing.  But related to the culture you have, when you outside dirty/shitty jobs, people are getting an incomplete view of happiness and engagement at your company.

The real win for Facebook is when AI can do it all and humans don't have to touch this stuff.  That will be awesome - until the machines take over, off course.

 


CAPITALIST DEFINITIONS: "Renegade Demo"

From a meeting with a client last week:

Renegade Demo (ˈrenəˌɡād/ˈdemō) - The time when you walk by an office or your cube as a leader in your company and realized your growth has outpaced your ability to properly train new hires at your company, especially those charged with evangelizing your product.

In use: "Damn, it happened again.  I popped into a call the new guy Bill was having with a prospect and his positioning of what we do was all ####ed up. It was another renegade demo. He has no clue and it's probably not his fault. We've got to get our arms around this quick."

There are worse things than growth - like going out of business.  But most companies who go through a growth spurt experience an inflection point when renegade demos are alive and well.  It doesn't have to be a sales position - it can be anyone who interfaces with the customer or prospects. What you used to communicate through small office conversations and personal onboarding is now left unsaid/undone.  You've reached the point in your growth where you can no longer do things the way you did when you were a team of <insert FTE count here> people, and as a result, there's a gap in knowledge and ability to pitch.

Enter the Renegade Demo.

The solution? Stop what you're doing and figure out how you're going to institutionalize the knowledge in your head via an increased commitment to positioning, documentation and yes, training.  You probably need to block out a couple of days this week and get your game together.

You know - like the grown up companies and leaders do.