What Was the First Day of the Rest of Your Professional Life?

Not going to lie - I'm underwater with work today.  Enjoy this blast from the past and be sure to read the comments...

I'm on a little bit of a Dave Grohl kick - as evidenced by this post I did with a money quote from Grohl that really nails how people become world-class at anything (get your first instruments, start practicing your craft and suck, but keep coming back because you're having fun, etc.)

Grohl is basically a proponent of the 10,000 hour rule.  With that in mind, I've got a question for you today: First day rest of your life

"What Was the First Day of the Rest of Your Professional Life?"

Not following me?  Check out the following clip from Grohl at SXSW where he did a keynote (thanks to multiple readers who sent me the link to this) - I've set it to the point where he talks about the first day of the rest of his life.  Click here to listen to the story - it involves a punk rock relative and a trip to Chicago.  I start it at 14:05, listen to at least 16:40 to hear the reference.

The first day of the rest of your life.  What does that mean?  It means what was the inflexion point in your life where you found purpose and challenge that would define who you are for the rest of your life?

What was the first day of the rest of my professional life?  I think there are two:

1.  I was a sophomore in high school and took a roadtrip with some juniors and seniors from our small town to the University of Missouri to play basketball for a weekend - pickup, ragtag hoops in the on-campus rec center.  Figured out I could hang at a young age, and that cemented a work ethic that would allow me to chase hoops in a way that resulted in playing college baskeball on full scholarship, but more importantly gave me the abilty to chase things I really believe in with a singular, dogged focus.  Almost OC in some ways. It's served me well as a transferable skill, but that's the first time I found it - after that day.

2. I was living in St. Louis as a 29-year old and trying to get back to the Southeast and in networking with some BellSouth Executives they said the following: "Kris, we don't have anything we can put you in within Marketing, but we've got this HR Manager spot.  You used to be a college basketball coach, right?  Why don't you try that?"

DING.  It was the first day of the rest of my professional life.  I have to say the ride has been fun, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

What was the first day of the rest of the your professional life?  Hit me in the comments (or in email as many do) and tell me when it all changed for you.


HR CAPITALIST DEFINITIONS: "Edge City" (with notes on Amazon Moving to ATL)...

With all the competition for Amazon's second headquarters (dubbed HQ2) and with Atlanta (home of Kinetix, the company I own part of) being in the mix, I thought I'd share one of my favorite books of all time and give you a Capitalist definition while we are at it.

Edge City is the term.  I picked up the book by the same name over 20 years ago at a bookstore when heading to the beach for a vacation.  The book became one of my all time ATLfavorites, and the definition changed how I viewed the business world forever.  Here's a description of the term, as well as details about the concept.  Take a look and we'll talk about Atlanta/Amazon after the jump.

"Edge city" is an American term for a concentration of business, shopping, and entertainment outside a traditional downtown (or central business district) in what had previously been a residential or rural area. The term was popularized by the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established its current meaning while working as a reporter for the Washington Post. Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20th-century urban form unlike that of the 19th-century central downtown. Other terms for these areas include suburban activity centers, megacenters, and suburban business districts.

In 1991, Garreau established five rules for a place to be considered an edge city:

  • Has five million or more square feet (465,000 m²) of leasable office space.
  • Has 600,000 square feet (56,000 m²) or more of leasable retail space.
  • Has more jobs than bedrooms.
  • Is perceived by the population as one place.
  • Was nothing like a "city" as recently as 30 years ago. Then it was just bedrooms, if not cow pastures."

Most edge cities develop at or near existing or planned freeway intersections, and are especially likely to develop near major airports. They rarely include heavy industry. They often are not separate legal entities but are governed as part of surrounding counties (this is more often the case in the East than in the Midwest, South, or West). They are numerous—almost 200 in the United States, compared to 45 downtowns of comparable size—and are large geographically because they are built at automobile scale.

The book is organized by chapters that dig into various Edge Cities in America, including Tyson's Corner, Houston's Galleria area and more.  Because the book came out in 1991 - you can preview the whole book on Amazon (irony) without buying.

What's the big deal about Edge Cities for HR?  The biggest impact they have is what I call "recruiting center of gravity" - my term, not in the book.

Commute preferences change in metro areas as Edge Cities come online and continue to grow.  In Atlanta - home of Kinetix - Edge Cities like Buckhead, Perimeter and Galleria have pushed the employment center of gravity north, to the point where a study I did in 2009 showed that the location preferred by the greatest number of candidates across Atlanta was the Perimeter, located at 12 o'clock on I-285, the perimeter loop that surrounds downtown Atlanta.

But back to Amazon.  You might expect that given the northbound trend of Edge Cities in Atlanta, Amazon would be looking for a location in the north suburbs.  You'd be wrong, primarily because the airport is south of downtown.  As a result, the patch of land proposed for Amazon is connected to downtown near the old Georgia Dome location in an area called The Gulch.

Edge Cities apply to everyone but Amazon - because 50,000 jobs has its own gravity that transcends the Edge City formula.

Quick math - if the average office space formula calls for 170 feet of office space per employee/worker, the HQ2 project would stand at 8.5 million feet of leasable/owned real estate to support 50,000 employees.

You know - the equivalent of 14 Edge Cities described by Garreau.

As they said in Jaws - we're going to need a bigger boat.


How To Show Creatives In Your Workforce That Planning/Communication Is Necessary...

For non-creatives, managing creatives can be tricky business.

I mean, really - you're not creative and you're going to try and tell them how they should run their creative desk?  How dare you!

My experience is that creatives, while organized in their own mind, often don't see a gap related to how others view them and the services they provide.  Creatives are a valuable, rare commodity, so many managers will avoid engaging them to deliver services in a way that the team/company/client can more easily understand - out of fear of losing the resource.

A lot of that gap comes down to planning and/or communication.  What can I expect, when can I expect it?  Many who rely on creative services treat it as a mystical resource.  

Creativity takes time.  Creativity can't be rushed.  It will be done when it's done, but you want high quality, right?

All of which is true.  However, I recently ran across this example of how one creative mind works when it comes to planning and organization.  take a look at the spreadsheet below - it's a planning doc from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.  Take a look at the picture (email subscribers may have to click through to view, and all can click on the picture below to blow it up) and we'll talk about it after the jump.

Jk-rowlings-phoenix-plot-outline_1457414808

More on this doc from Open Culture:

At the height of the Harry Potter novels' popularity, I asked a number of people why those books in particular enjoyed such a devoted readership. Everyone gave almost the same answer: that author J.K. Rowling "tells a good story." The response at once clarified everything and nothing; of course a "good story" can draw a large, enthusiastic (and, at that time, impatient) readership, but what does it take to actually tell a good story? People have probably made more money attempting, questionably, to pin down, define, and teach the best practices of storytelling, but at the top of this post, we have a revealing scrap of Rowling's own process. And I do, almost literally, mean a scrap: this piece of lined paper contains part of the handwritten plot spreadsheet she used to write the fifth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

One of the most economically successful creatives (in this case, an author) relies on a spreadsheet to plan and execute story arcs and plots.

A lot of your creatives don't plan like this.  I think it's worth sharing to show the level of detail one famous creative mind includes when planning work product.

In addition, the doc serves to make an additional point.  If J.K. Rowling goes to this extreme to keep her own head straight, might more planning and communication from your creatives to those who are waiting for creative product from make sense within your company and on your team?

It's one thing to have it in your head.  To truly reach the highest level of creative service inside a company, your creatives need to be organized - and then tell the world what their work funnel looks like and when they can expect delivery.   

 


VENDORSPLAINING: Here's a Tone-Deaf Business Conversation...

If you're like me in the world of HR, you get hit by a lot of vendors.  Vendors you currently use get priority to your time.  That's what makes this conversation so damn fun.

The Scene: I'm on a call with an Account Manager for a CRM we use.  It should be noted that the company I work for (as well as serve as a partner and co-owner) is a RECRUITING COMPANY - Kinetix!  Stay tuned for why that is relevant.

Me: So Tom, thanks for the call today and the rundown of the opportunities you see for us to get the most out of your system.  When it comes to the next step, I'm currently in the process of hiring for the vacant role I described, so it Pleasemakes sense not to do any follow up until that person is in the seat, which I think will be early February.

Tom: That sounds great.  Keep in mind that if you need a person with a deep understanding of our CRM, we have some recruiting partners who can help you out.  Just let me know if you need that introduction.

<awkward silence. Bubble over my head would be captioned, "What the #@**!">

Me: Tom, you realize we are a recruiting company, right?  I just wanted to check on your understanding of that since I swore you just offered to put me in touch with an external recruiter.  That sounds like you don't have a lot of confidence in the mission of our company.

Tom: Um. Well. Um. Er.  You know, I had a momentary lapse there. Um. Well. Um. Er...

Me: OK, that's interesting.

<nervous laughter from other CRM reps on call. Secretly they are cheering the combative spirit displayed.  Evident they are not worried about hurting Tom's feelings - or mine, for that matter>

<call goes on - we pick up the call 4 minutes later>

Tom: OK Kris, we'll plan on following up with you late in the first week of February to see if you've got the new person aboard.

Me: That sounds great, Tom.  By the way, if you need a reliable CRM to place that reminder, I know a good one.  Not sure if you've heard of it, it's called Microsoft Outlook.

<more nervous laughter and virtual backslapping.  Apparently, we are all on the same team. That team's name is #ShameOnTom>

--Vendorsplaining!  I'll be here all week - don't forget to tip your server, and please, try the veal.

And yeah, Kinetix! is a vendor as well.  Do business with us and I'll never tell you where you can find a good <insert your company's product or service> even though that's your business!!

 


Why "Get Focused/Do Better/Play Harder" is a Horrible Coaching Strategy...

In the business and sports world, there's a huge coaching crutch that's often said, but rarely means anything.

"Get Focused...Do Better...Play Harder" Screaming-coach

You hear the first two (and versions of those two) often in the business world.  Someone is struggling and everyone is frustrated - the manager, the employee in question, the skip level folks watching the show, the teammates impacted by the individual's struggle - everyone.  

When it comes time to coach the person in question - and perhaps help them - only general advice is given.

Get focused. Please.

The same story exists in the sports world.  I have a saying when it comes to coaching in the sports world - "When you hear a coach constantly telling a struggling player or team to play harder, just accept the following fact - he/she doesn't know how to fix the problem."

To be sure, getting focused in business and playing harder in sports is required.  But when performance issues are apparent, the thing that's generally missing is technical advice and coaching on both fronts.

You're overwhelmed by what is in front of you on the job.  Let's break down what you should do first.  You're struggling with a specific part of the job - let me help you find a path to improve in that area since I'm your coach.

You can't stop anyone from scoring in a team sport.  I could scream at you to play harder, but that's probably not going to result in better results.  Instead, I have to dig into your defensive technique and find a way to make you better individually and then show how that fits into the team philosophy.

After I coach you technically, of course I have to hold you accountable to delivering on what we covered, as well as continuing to coach the technique and make you better.

When you hear a manager or coach telling a struggling individual to get focused or play harder, it means they don't know how to fix the problem.

If you want to be a better coach in the business world, focus less on glittering generalities and start coaching technique/approach.

 

 


VIDEO: Using BHAGs as a Goal Setting Technique for High Performers...

Big, hairy, audacious goals, or BHAGs, are visionary, strategy statements designed to focus a group of people around a common initiative. They traditional differ from our other goal setting techniques because BHAGS are usually positioned toward by a large group (rather than individuals) and they typically span a large amount of time than any of our other goals. They’re huge.

Even though BHAGs are generally goals for companies and collective groups, smart managers are increasingly using them for individuals as well. I explain the merits of using BHAGs in this fashion in the following episode of TalentTalks from Saba Software.

Take a listen (email subscribers click through for video below) and hit me in the comments with a BHAG that's been useful in your career or managing a talented direct report!!! 


Let's Hangout and Talk - Google Jobs and Recruitment Marketing Spend...

What's up, fellow HR Capitalists?  I had the chance to speak this fall for Jobvite at something called the Recruiter Nation Live Roadshow.  Had a great time and met some great Talent Acquisition leaders, HR pros and Recruiters as a result.  

The energy was so good, we decided to do a hangout series monthly with Jobvite at my other site (Fistful of Talent).  It's going to be an informal 20-30 minute thing, and I'm joined this month by Tim Sackett, topic is how to figure out Google for Jobs, what's up with your recruitment marketing spend as a result, etc.

Stay ahead of the curve and join us - click the link below.  It won't be too formal and if you're interested in coming on and asking a question, let me know that as well.

It all goes down next Tuesday, 11/14 at 1pm EST.  Click below, register and join us!!!

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The Recruiter Nation Live Hangout Series - With Jobvite and Fistful of Talent!

Our first hangout is at 1pm ET on Tuesday, November 14th 

Google for Jobs/ROI of Recruitment Marketing Spend! What You Need to Know to Look Smart!!
 
REGISTER FOR THE HANGOUT BY CLICKING THIS LINK!!!

If you’re a client or follower of Jobvite, you know the Recruiter Nation Live series.  It started with the Recruiter Nation Live Conference in San Francisco last June, and continued with the Recruiter Nation Live Roadshow that brought real recruiter talk to 9 cities in North America over the last three months. 
 
The feedback was great – you loved it, so we’re back with the latest in the series – the Recruiter Nation Live Hangout Series.  Once a month, we’ll be hosting a Google Hangout designed to keep the conversation among recruiters going – focused on things you can use, like the best-kept secrets of today’s smartest and most efficient recruiters, Jedi-mind tricks proven to make you more persuasive/ get great candidate response and strategies to hold your hiring managers accountable for their choices–so everyone wins.
 
Our first hangout is at 1pm ET on Tuesday, November 14th and will be hosted by Kris Dunn and Tim Sackett, focused on the following juicy topic:
 
Google for Jobs/ROI of Recruitment Marketing Spend! What You Need to Know to Look Smart!!
 
REGISTER FOR THE HANGOUT BY CLICKING THIS LINK!!!

Let’s have some fun and learn from each other at the same time.  See you at 1pm ET on November 14th!!!


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.

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

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.