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.
 

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.

Kid Rock, Innovation and Resistance to Change...

Show love to those who come real with it
Life's a b**ch , but I deal with it
I'm in it to win it like Yzerman
Can drink about fifteen Heinekins
I'm not born again but if I was
I'd ask to come back with a little more love
Puffin the Winston, drinkin' a four-oh
Kid Rock and I'm a let you know...

Wasting Time --Kid Rock

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

We’re all a little bit scared of change, aren’t we?

The year is 1998.  I turn on the MTV music awards and a see a white guy with long hair, a funky hat and a red suede sweatsuit jumping around stage, rapping and screaming.  The scene around him is surreal – there’s Kid rock a midget bouncing around on stage with him, the music behind him is 90% provided by a rock band with a bassist and lead guitarist who look like bikers and a middle-age black woman on drums. 

My conclusion.  This sucks.  It will never last.  Why are they on the MTV music awards.  WTF?

Well, it turns out that dirty white hippie was Kid Rock.  The world had it right early, I had it wrong.  I became a fan over time.  I was late to the game.

Love him or hate him, Kid Rock arrived.  Some of you never liked him.  Most of the world eventually did. 

We see things that interrupt our pattern, and our first instinct is to protect what we know – even if the new thing is better.  Need another example?

Messaging.  If you’re Gen X like me, texting came online at a time when I didn’t need another way to communicate.  Like a lot of people in their 30’s at the time, I WAS KILLING IN IT CORPORATE AMERICA VIA EMAIL.  I didn’t want or need texting.  My kids were young and without phones – I didn’t see what the big deal was. DID I MENTION MY EMAIL GAME WAS SICK?

Turns out, I missed a channel of immediacy with those I most wanted to communicate with.  Now I can’t think of life without the immediacy of text – although that responsiveness will go down over time.

You’ve got your own stories about how you resisted change in your life and now look back and feel stupid, right?  Hit me with those stories in the comments.

The point?  We are resistant to change, so we often are slow to see the benefits of new innovations that appear before us.  To be sure, not all new things are going to break through like texting – or like Kid Rock.

But it really doesn't matter.  Most of us are resistant enough to all change that we’re slow on everything – including the ones that really matter. 

That has to spill over into your ability to innovate at work, right?

If we’re slow to adopt changes that obviously improve the status quo, how could we possibly be expected to innovate on our own at work?

Oh, I GET IT – YOU’RE QUICK ON PROVIDING INNOVATION AT WORK BUT JUST A LITTLE BIT SLOW IN YOUR RESPONSE TO ADOPTING QUALITY INNOVATIONS PROVIDED BY OTHERS.

Sure you are, Sparky.  Sure your are.

 


BOOM: Amazon Announces Intent to Build Second HQ in a City Outside of Seattle...

 

Damn!

Amazon announced on Thursday that it is planning to open another headquarters called Amazon HQ2 in US city TBD.

Amazon HQ2 will cost $5 billion and eventually house up to 50,000 Amazon staff, Amazon said in a press release.

Amazon said it wants HQ2 to be in a metropolitan area with a "stable and business friendly environment" and more than 1 million people. The company also wants HQ2 to be within 45 minutes of an international airport and in a location where there is potential to attract strong technical talent.

Amazon is inviting city representatives and those working for regional economic development organizations to submit a proposal if they want to host Amazon's second headquarters.

To me, the obvious choice is the ATL.  But I'm biased because that's my second home.  

I'll leave you with this - if you have any doubt of the economic impact of the Amazon HQ2, take a look at the numbers in the chart below related to their presence in Seattle.  This is a much/much/much bigger deal from an economic standpoint that a city landing a sports team.  It's probably the biggest economic development event that will happen in America in the next century.  (email subscribers click through if you don't see the chart below)

Let's go ATL.  Click on the chart below to blow it up and be amazed...

 

Amazon impact

 


Sleepy HR Pros Won't Spend More than 30 Seconds On This Post... (The Mary Meeker Slides)

Only the true players will spend 5 minutes or more with this post and it's referred content...It's deep, but pure gold...

Kleiner Perkins general partner Mary Meeker launched the 22nd edition of the Internet Trends Report at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on May 31, 2017. Dating back to 1995, when Mary was still an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, the annual report compiles and analyzes data from a wide range of sources, providing insights on the state of the Internet Economy. The deck covers a broad array of topics, including global internet user trends, advertising and e-commerce, gaming, online media, digital health, and much, much more. This guide is intended to highlight some of the key topics of discussion in this year’s edition – and to help media navigate the report.

It's deep.  I can guarantee if you spend 10 minutes with it, you'll find 4-5 things to share with you team and you'll look smart as hell.  A trend-spotter, if you will...

Highlights of the 300 slide deck from ReCode (full deck below from Slideshare, click through if you don't see the slides):

  • Global smartphone growth is slowing: Smartphone shipments grew 3 percent year over year last year, versus 10 percent the year before. This is in addition to continued slowing internet growth, which Meeker discussed last year. (editors note - what's next?  Apple needs a new product)
  • Voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries. Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016, while accuracy is now about 95 percent. (editor's note - holy ****)
  • In 10 years, Netflix went from 0 to more than 30 percent of home entertainment revenue in the U.S. This is happening while TV viewership continues to decline. (editor's note - holy ****, even with all those shared passwords?)
  • Entrepreneurs are often fans of gaming, Meeker said, quoting Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg. Global interactive gaming is becoming mainstream, with 2.6 billion gamers in 2017 versus 100 million in 1995. Global gaming revenue is estimated to be around $100 billion in 2016, and China is now the top market for interactive gaming.
  • China remains a fascinating market, with huge growth in mobile services and payments and services like on-demand bike sharing. (More here: The highlights of Meeker's China slides.)
  • While internet growth is slowing globally, that’s not the case in India, the fastest growing large economy. The number of internet users in India grew more than 28 percent in 2016. That’s only 27 percent online penetration, which means there’s lots of room for internet user-ship to grow. Mobile internet usage is growing as the cost of bandwidth declines. (More here: The highlights of Meeker's India slides.)
  • In the U.S. in 2016, 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies were founded by first- or second-generation Americans and are responsible for 1.5 million employees. Those companies include tech titans Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook.
  • Healthcare: Wearables are gaining adoption with about 25 percent of Americans owning one, up 12 percent from 2016. Leading tech brands are well-positioned in the digital health market, with 60 percent of consumers willing to share their health data with the likes of Google in 2016.

Daaaaamn.  There's a lot here.  This one's for the true players. Enjoy...


Amazon's Getting Ready to Crush Another Industry Near You (aka Call Center Services Killer)

When you think about how the business world is changing and how those changes affect the workforce and talent issues, a good place to look first is Amazon.

First, the great marketplace in the sky made shopping online easy.  Then, it made shopping online preferable for many to shopping locally in a store through it's bundle of value called Amazon Prime. Amazon_one1

In the background, it's a been a hub of innovation through it's rollout of corporate services (look up Amazon Web Services to see how it's crushing cloud competitors) and consumer products alike (Kindle, Alexa).  It's so into investing for the future and innovation that it basically keeps it's profitability at zero by reinvesting all earnings into forward-looking ventures (click that link to see the chart).

Sometimes we forget that the advances cause big shifts in the workforce.  The giant sucking sound you hear is the slow implosion of the retail sector, with a lot of jobs going with it.

Next up after retail?  How about Amazon rolling up the call center industry?  More from GeekWire:

"Amazon Web Services is developing a suite of cloud-based tools to sell to enterprises that would help them manage their call centers, based on technology the online commerce giant developed for its own retail call centers, according to a report from The Information. 

According to the report, citing a person briefed on the plans, the programs will incorporate Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa to answer some questions on the phone as well as via text message. The report claims the service will also employ Lex, a chatbot building service that uses the same deep-learning technology as Alexa, and text-to-speech program Polly. All these aspects together paint the picture of a suite of tools that allows customers to build their own customer service programs using bots and voice control with the ability to learn and adapt to specific industries.

The Information reports that the new products could be announced as soon as mid-March and could jolt the call center software industry. It’s a market that features many players such as Seattle-based Spoken, as well as other companies like Cisco Systems, Avaya and Genesys.

Amazon Web Services has been in the news a lot lately for new products that it has announced and others it is considering. Amazon’s cloud service arm is reportedly considering bundling its email, file storage, and video conferencing apps into a productivity suite that would compete with Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365."

If there's any good news in this for current call center outsourcers, it's that Amazon seems intent on owning the technology part of the call center business model rather than owning actual call centers.  Of course, at one time it didn't have any interest in the shipping business either, and it's now getting ready to ramp up it's own fleet of planes and hub.  

Thanks for the memories, Fed Ex and UPS.  I'm sure Amazon will name a conference room after you to commemorate what you meant to each other at one time.

The good news for HR?  Amazon doesn't seem to have any interest in rolling up the HR industry.

#yet

 


Here's 3 Things You Can Do With Talent Claiming "Disruptor" Status...

If you're in the business of thinking about management and leadership, you'll get this post.

We love to celebrate the disruptors, right?  Big ideas, crazy results, etc. Rainman

Of course, the dirty little secret is that we only love the disruptors that don't get capped at the knees by the cultures they are trying to change.  The disruptors who don't make it?  We hate them.

We only celebrate the disruptors who make it.  The ones who don't are freaks/abnormals/cancers.  To tell the difference, you probably need to focus on the ideas rather than the behavior.

On my mind today related to this great post on LinkedIn by Bob Lyons (read it all, but here's a snippet):

"The legend of Steve Jobs is immortal. There have been countless articles, books and movies made about him and the way he founded and ran Apple. He was such a hard ass, he got fired from his own company in 1985. The establishment people he personally hired and surrounded himself with said they wanted him out. These were not strangers he inherited. How bad did it have to be for that to happen? In 1997 , on the verge of bankruptcy, Apple acquired the company Jobs created and made him CEO once again. Shortly after, products like the iPod, and iPhone started to hit the market. Apple even created a phenomenal customer centric experience through its Apple Stores unlike any consumers had experienced before (and some say since). Jobs certainly goes down as one of the great disruptors of our time, but going through it during its formative years was considered "hell on earth."

Bob's got some other great examples in his post so go check it out.

I'll leave you with this from my notebook after thinking about Bob's post:

Shit stirrer + no good ideas = fire immediately.

Shit stirrer + good ideas = incubate from rest of company and find mentor to round the corners.  Fire later if experiment fails in epic fashion.

Shit stirrer + good ideas + ability to execute through others = execute employment contract and find handler similar to Tom Cruise handling Dustin Hoffman in Rainman.

KD out.


The Heisenberg Rules: What HR Can Learn from Breaking Bad (#2 - Affiliation Matters)

Capitalist Note - I finally got around to binge-watching the former AMC hit Breaking Bad on Netflix, which follows high school chemistry teacher Walter White's journey through a lung cancer diagnosis and his subsequent turn to becoming a world-class meth producer.  This series (The Heisenberg Rules) represents what I was reminded of as a HR leader by Breaking Bad.  If you haven't seen the series, you can view a synopsis by clicking here. Spoilers abound in this series.

Rule #2 in the Heisenberg Rules is AFFILIATION MATTERS:

One of the best things about Breaking Bad is the time it takes to develop the primary characters Pinkman in the series.  In my last post in this series, we talked about the emasculation of Walter White. Would he have turned into the monster he became if those around him could/would have acknowledged his high performance?  We'll never know.

Today we move away from Walter White and take a look at my favorite character in the series - Jessie Pinkman.  Here's a description of Jessie: 

Jesse Bruce Pinkman is the deuteragonist of Breaking Bad. He is the former partner of Walter White in the methamphetamine drug trade. Jesse was a small-time methamphetamine user, manufacturer, and dealer. He was also an inattentive student in Walter White's chemistry class, leading to his dropping out. In his mid-20s, Jesse became Walt's business partner in the meth trade. Before his partnership with Walt, he, operating under the pseudonym "Cap'n Cook", added a little Chili Powder to make his methamphetamine stand out in the market.

Walt insisted on making a pure product, however, and thus eschewed the chili powder altogether, patronizingly teaching Jesse how to make "proper" meth. Walt often treated Jesse like a foolish son in constant need of stern correction. Jesse's own family kicked him out because of his drug use. Despite the friction between them, he and Walt have a deep bond of loyalty. Like Walt, Jesse is horrified by the brutality at the higher levels of the drug trade, but does what he thinks is necessary. He wrestles with feelings of guilt about the deaths, all drug-related, of people he's been associated with, especially his girlfriend Jane Margolis. He often attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings to help deal with these feelings.

Jessie's my favorite character because he actually struggles to cope with all the things he sees in the drug trade.  Still, he's a simple kid making a load of cash with few other options available to him professionally.  

Walter White and Jessie are "partners" only in finance.  As the subject-matter expert, Walter has all the power in the relationship.  The green shading above accurately outlines how Walter patronizes Jessie throughout the series, only appealing to him as an equal when there's a murder to be completed to ensure their safety. 

As a result of that treatment, Jessie is what I call, "gettable" for anyone who wants to take the time to drive a wedge between him and Walter.  

Jessie knows that Walter doesn't consider him a true partner.  That means people willing to treat him better than Walter have a chance to turn him to their side. That ultimately happens when Gus, a drug load who Jessie and Walter work for, instructs his henchmen to take Jessie out of the meth lab to run various organized crime errands with them. They even go to the trouble of setting up a fake robbery that Jessie can save others from, which results in praise, deeper connection and - you guessed it - Walter going crazy that their bosses have Jessie doing work other than being his patronized assistant.

When Walter displays his paranoia to Jessie about the new relationship he can't control, it pushes Jessie to trust his new friends more, not less.

Of course, they're all criminals, so what's the point?

The point is that in any organization, AFFILIATION MATTERS. 

Walter's the best at what he does, but Jessie is treated as manual labor, not a partner.  When the drug lords involved need to make Walter feel unstable and at-risk, all they have to do is show Jessie Pinkman the love he doesn't get from Walter:

--come work with us.

--come hang with us.

--seems like you're doing well - nice work!

It's the same blueprint whether you're developing software, running a restaurant, or yes - cooking Crystal Meth.

If you're treating someone valuable on your team like a commodity, just know this - if there's a market for their skills, all it takes is for someone who needs them (or needs to hurt you) to show them love, affiliation and respect.

Once that happens, they're probably gone.  Or as Jessie Pinkman would say, "YO, MANAGING PEOPLE 101, B***H".


3 Ways to Brainstorm and Reserve The Right To Tell Someone Their Idea Sucks....

If you're responsible for leading a team through change, you ultimately need ideas about what you should do given challenges your company or team are going through.

That means you're going to ask for ideas - usually in the space most often described as brainstorming.

When we lead our teams through brainstorming, we like to say "there are no bad ideas". Ideas

Of course, that's wrong.  Often times, most of the ideas aren't great, and a few suck.

Which begs the question:

"How do you lead a team through brainstorming and keep your ability to tell people their idea IS NOT A GOOD ONE?"

That's hard, right?  Here's my list of 3 ways to do this:

  1. Do a better job of describing the problem/issue and providing a couple of key features the right solution will deliver. This one's on you. You not only need to define what the problem is, you need to define the pain that problem causes, which allows you to provide simple features any solution has to deliver.
  2. Put all ideas on a visual medium.  It's called peer pressure.  If you know your idea is a throwaway, you're less likely to give us a half-baked thought before you flesh it out a bit. Team members that go through a second and third level self-evaluation on any initial idea (often times in under 1 minute!) before sharing provide better ideas and don't hijack the groups.  Putting the ideas on a visual space creates the pressure you need for people to troubleshoot their own ideas for a minute before sharing.
  3. Use a form of Idea Evaluator to guide the team through an assessment of ideas.  I didn't create this, I've seen in multiple places.  Use a evaluation space to talk about the Cost vs. Value each idea provides.  Guide a process where the team - rather than you alone - evaluates each idea and places it on the right spot on the X vs Y of Cost vs Value.  Let the team do the work of evaluating the idea and putting it in the "unlikely to be implemented" category.

You don't have to be the bad guy/gal when it comes to telling someone their idea is average at best.  Define the problem deeper (most of us aren't good at this), make the brainstorming process visual (most of us do this part), then use a Cost/Value chart to guide the team in a conversation to identify the best ideas.

Brainstorming on problems is good. You being Darth Vader and killing the ideas/hope of someone on your team alone is bad.  Broaden your approach and make your stormtroopers evaluate the ideas of their peers.

May the force be with you, my dark prince/princess.