Google Ends Weekly "All-Hands" Meetings: Here's Why...

In case you missed it, Google has decided to stop holding a weekly "all-hands" meeting they call TGIF in response to leaks and the meetings being dominated by issues considered non-core to the business (my words, not theirs).  I grabbed the email announcing the change from Sundar Pichai, the Google CEO, but before I show you that email, I rewrote it for clarity and impact. Here's my version of his email to announce the weekly "all hands" meetings are gone. Enjoy:

We wanted to talk about strategy. You wanted to talk about politics. TGIF

That was OK, because we wanted to talk about what you wanted to talk about.

Then you started leaking everything we said that didn't live up to your political standards.

Then we realized that the people who only wanted to talk about politics where actually the ones doing the leaking.

Then we realized that the people who wanted to talk about politics and leaked info don't reflect the views of the majority of our employees, which was reflected in the reality that only 25% of our employees now attend the all-hands, an all-time low.

So we said, "Screw this" and decided to shut down the TGIF weekly town halls.

Along the way and before this, we realized that our infamous "20% time" that allowed you to work on your own projects wasn't actually contributing to business results. We also had to restrict political conversations on Google message boards because some of you weren't respecting other people.

In summary: You hijacked this whole thing, and we're shutting it down and finding another path.

This is why we can't have nice things.

That was mine. Here's Google CEO Sundar Pichai's email announcing the same change, let me know which version you like better.

More from The Verge:

From: Sundar

Subject: TGIF and internal forums

[TL;DR - We’re going to make changes to TGIF and offer a new mix of internal forums in 2020. We’ll solicit your feedback along the way.]

Hi Googlers,

The last month has made me proud to be a Googler in so many ways: we’ve substantially improved our core Search product thanks to our advances in ML. And we’ve made an incredible breakthrough in quantum computing that will give us an entirely new way of solving computational problems in the years ahead. Both of these milestones show how our scale allows us to invest in long-term technology problems to drive significant improvements.

But in other places -- like TGIF -- our scale is challenging us to evolve. TGIF has traditionally provided a place to come together, share progress, and ask questions, but it’s not working in its current form. Here are some of the biggest challenges:

First, people come to TGIF with different expectations. Some people come to hear more about Google’s product launches and business strategies, others come to hear answers on other topics. By splitting the difference every week, we’re not serving either purpose very well.

Second, we’re unfortunately seeing a coordinated effort to share our conversations outside of the company after every TGIF. I know this is new information to many of you, and it has affected our ability to use TGIF as a forum for candid conversations on important topics.

Third, as the company has scaled up and spread out geographically, the audience has steadily declined. Only about 25% of us watch TGIF any given week, compared to 80% a decade ago. In contrast, Googlers are more engaged in local and PA all-hands.

This engagement in product and functional area meetings is a natural and positive evolution for us. When we know the people in a discussion and understand their context, we can have more substantive and richer conversations focused around the work we do for our users. We’re going to keep investing in our PA and functional all-hands and make sure that Google leaders (including me) make more regular appearances there. Of course, we still need some company-wide moments to share product and business strategy, celebrate great work, learn from our failures, and ask tough questions. So we’re going to try something different for 2020:

TGIF will become a monthly meeting focused on product and business strategy, with Q&A on the topics being discussed.

We’ll keep holding regular Social TGIFs in offices around the world (this is really important, and is how the original concept of TGIF began).

We’ll continue to hold town halls on important workplace issues.

And, we’ll keep exploring new ways to communicate at scale to a global company of 100,000+ people across multiple timezones. One specific thing we’d like to do is share more videos (like this one on quantum computing) to give insight into the work our teams are doing.

We’re hoping this mix of forums will provide a better experience for Googlers. We know you have only so much time to attend meetings and we want to spend it well. We also have to account for how we spend our time as a company. In fact, we owe it to our users to be relentlessly focused on our mission and our goal to build a more helpful Google for everyone.

Since we’re trying something new, we’ll get your feedback as we roll these forums out. The TGIF team will set up some small group discussions to hear from Googlers across the company. If you want to share input, visit go/internal-forums.

We have become the company we are today by creatively tackling important problems head on -- it’s how we evolve. We now have the opportunity to shape the kind of company we want to be in the future by investing in better ways to communicate at scale. Look forward to working with you all to do this.

--Sundar

So much fun doing "what he said" vs "what he wanted to say."  I'm glad Google is making a change for things that no longer work. Evolve or die.


Video Interviewing: It's OK to Love It, Just Know S**t Will Probably Get Real...

It's hard not to like video interviewing solutions as an HR Pro or Hiring Leader. After all, what's better than seeing how someone communicates on a basic level with some simple questions before you invest your time to bring them in and commit a minimum of an hour to interview them live?

We've all been to the bad place - you phone screen someone and it goes fine, then bring them in live and within 5 minutes, you know it's not going to happen. Video interivewingVideo interviewing can prevent that.

To be clear, I'm not talking about Skype or similar solutions when it comes to video interviewing - I'm talking about robust situations designed for the top of the funnel - when the candidate applies, they are getting a chance to answer 5-7 questions, the audio of which is designed to really replace the phone screen, and the video of which is to make sure they have the command and presence necessary to do well with your hiring manager if you bring them in live.

Of course, there are some issues with video interviewing. The first one is obvious - even in 2020 (I'm rounding up, folks), most people in the world today aren't comfortable firing up the smartphone or laptop camera for an on-the-fly, taped 1-way interview. It freaks them the F out, which means you're losing good talent because they can't deal with this digital test.

The second issue is one related to bias. There's been a lot of discourse lately about the presence of unconscious bias, and if that topic continues to trend and cause us to do things like redact certain portions of resumes, then showing all identifiers via a video interview can't really happen. In a world concerned with unconscious bias, a solution with risk of straight up, old-school bias seems destined for the scrap heap.

The third issue? The video interviewing solutions really stretching the boundary claim to have AI in mix that can measure items like "personal stability".  If that seems like more than our legally challenged world can bear, you're right. The FTC is being asked to investigate HireVue (a leader in the video interviewing industry) for their use of AI in the hiring process. It’s probably one of the first of a series of challenges to the use of AI in HR. More from TechCrunch:  

"The Electronic Privacy Information Center, known as EPIC, on Wednesday filed an official complaint calling on the FTC to investigate HireVue’s business practices, saying the company’s use of unproven artificial intelligence systems that scan people’s faces and voices constituted a wide-scale threat to American workers.

HireVue’s “AI-driven assessments,” which more than 100 employers have used on a million-plus job candidates, use video interviews to analyze hundreds of thousands of data points related to a person’s speaking voice, word selection and facial movements. The system then creates a computer-generated estimate of the candidates’ skills and behaviors, including their “willingness to learn” and “personal stability.”

Video interviewing solutions have long listed bias concerns and generally non-progressive, non-rationale hiring managers who make flippant decisions as threats to their future.

It will be interesting to see where the privacy world's issues with video interviewing go in the future and how those concerns stack with unconscious bias to impact this industry.


New Research Show Income Gaps Are (at least partly) Due to Working More Than 40 Hours Per Week...

Hat tip to my homeboy Tim Sackett on the research cite below. Sacks must have crazy email subscriptions and Google alerts to mine this gold.

Cut and paste from Marginal Revolution appears below. Littlefinger

That is a new paper by J. Rodrigo Fuentes and Edward E. Leamer:

This paper provides theory and evidence that worker effort has played an important role in the increase in income inequality in the United States between 1980 and 2016. The theory suggests that a worker needs to exert effort enough to pay the rental value of the physical and human capital, thus high effort and high pay for jobs operating expensive capital. With that as a foundation, we use data from the ACS surveys in 1980 and 2016 to estimate Mincer equations for six different education levels that explain wage incomes as a function of weekly hours worked and other worker features. One finding is a decline in annual income for high school graduates for all hours worked per week. We argue that the sharp decline in manufacturing jobs forces down wages of those with high school degrees who have precious few high-effort opportunities outside of manufacturing. Another finding is that incomes rose only for those with advanced degrees and with weekly hours in excess of 40. We attribute this to the natural talent needed to make a computer deliver exceptional value and to the relative ease with which long hours can be chosen when working over the Internet.

Our good friend Kathy Rapp will be back later this week with analysis of the Microsoft 4-day work week pilot in Japan. While we can all agree that 4-day work weeks are awesome, can we also agree on the following points?

1--There's always going to be some maniacs who are incredibly talented and will work 6-7 days a week for decades.

2--Those maniacs will generally climb the corporate ladder and assume more wealth than similarly talented individuals who worked 40-45 hours a week.

3--There's always going to be some absolute grinders who don't have the natural talent cited in #1, but due to the fact they'll work themselves just shy of having a stroke, will achieve as much or more than the individuals with more talent that those cited in #2.

I'll leave you with this cite from the research above:

"Another finding is that incomes rose only for those with advanced degrees and with weekly hours in excess of 40. We attribute this to the natural talent needed to make a computer deliver exceptional value and to the relative ease with which long hours can be chosen when working over the Internet"

Work-life balance is cool.

But work-life choices are everywhere.

My advice to my sons is to rack up the hours and advance as much as you can in the first 10 years of your career, then make some choices on work-life balance after you've kicked a little ass of the people listed in #2. You might be able to downshift by the time you're 35 and have a family if you do it right.

Don't assume because everyone agrees that work-life balance is good that everyone will opt in,
 or that everyone is limited to 40 hours as productivity and performance is measured.

Littlefinger: "Chaos is a ladder."

The crazy talented/driven people described in #1: "The fascination with work-life balance makes me ever more special."

Good luck with the balance, folks.


The Tyranny of Accent Walls In Corporate America...

True story for a Monday morning.

My wife said the following over the weekend:

"I'm painting an accent wall in the bedroom." Accent wall

My response:

"Are you ###ing kidding me?"

She was kind of taken aback by the velocity of my response.

Now, for the record, my wife has much better taste of all things design than I do. She has not, however, been slung around by corporate America to the same extent as I have.

It's not that accent walls are wrong. If that's the new trend in home design, so be it. But if you've spent the amount of time I have in office parks and mid-tier hotels across America as I have, you understand the following truth:

Accent walls in corporate America are the opiate of the masses. A design element to trick you into thinking the vibe in a company is upbeat, the sky is the limit and the culture is engaging.

It's not that the presence of an accent wall means those things aren't true - we have some at Kinetix. It's just that the correlation of those positive cultural items and an accent wall is "zero", which is to say there's no relationship at all.

The dirty little secret is that your culture comes down to the quality of your managers of people, and the platform you give them to understand your expectations about how they deal and talk with their employees. I did a whole training series on that being the reality of your culture.

Need some other things that are as cool as your accent wall, but have a zero correlation to great culture? I thought you'd never ask. Here you go:

1--Cool furniture not related to the actual workspace people work at.  Love this one - there's nothing easier to dress up an office than slinging some furniture in corners while Tammy still has gum stuck under her cube desk that's 7 years old.

2--Foosball. Seems cool. Feels cool. I'm undefeated. Zero correlation with culture.

3--Open floor plans that ditched the cubes (even low lying ones) and forced you to work at tables. Man, if you work like that, I'm sorry. Hit me on Slack and tell me about it. I blame farm to table.

4--A proclamation that you are reducing email and putting quick hitting updates and comms on Slack or another similar tool. See what I did there? I presumed if you were working at tables with your brethren that you also work on Slack. So predictable. Sorry homeslice - just because you do less email than your competitors doesn't make you better culturally. Trendy? Yes. More productive? Show me the data.

The quality of your culture really all comes down to the quality of the conversations your managers have with their people. Are they two-way conversations? Does the employee get to come of with some of the ideas?  I could go on, but you get the drift.

As for that accent wall, I'll probably leave it up to Mrs. Capitalist. But if she starts naming the rooms in the house like we do conference rooms, that's where I'm drawing the line. And no, I don't need your recommendations for what a bedroom would be named. That's why the comments are "off" on this post.

KD out.


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. 


Today at the Michigan Recruiters Conference: Influence and Negotiation in Recruiting...

I'm hitting both coasts of Michigan this week to share a stage with some of the best at the Michigan Recruiter's Conference.  Crazy lineup of speakers - how's the saying go? If you're wondering who the weak one is, it's probably you?

Make sure you come up and say hi if you're up north this week.

My topic is as follows:

For those liking formality: How to Increase Your Ability to Influence and Negotiate

For those liking honesty: How to Raise Your Recruiting Game By Thinking Like a Money Hungry VP of Sales 

It's all about playing offense.  Here's your title slide (email subscribers click through for art):

MI Recruiters Conf

I have 7 strategies ripped from Sales to help recruiters manage things like hard to handle hiring managers.  Along the way, we'll play games like "Dude(ette), Does It Suck?", which is designed to show how badly you might need these strategies.

Tim Sackett does a great job with this conference and I can't think of anywhere I'd rather be than in Michigan in the winter. His speaker swag bag WAS OFF THE CHART though.  Coach bag, Pistons gear and a Shinola journal.  Simply the best.

Say "What Up, KD" if you're at the conference today.


The Removal of McDonald's CHRO Underscores Increased Expectations of HR...

In case you missed it, I shared some thoughts on company romance for managers of people yesterday, with the firing of the CEO of McDonald's as the backdrop.

On a related note, it was reported on Monday that the company's CHRO - David Fairhurst - had opted Wiredinto leave the company. Here's a quick rundown from the Wall Street Journal, then let's discuss:

"McDonald's said its top human-resources executive has left the company, days after the burger giant fired its chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, because of his relationship with an employee.

McDonald’s said Chief People Officer David Fairhurst left the company on Monday, without providing any details of the reasoning behind his departure. A McDonald’s representative said Mr. Fairhurst’s exit wasn’t related to the firing of Mr. Easterbrook.

New CEO Chris Kempczinski said in an email to employees Monday that Mr. Fairhurst was moving on from McDonald’s after 15 years of service, and had helped enhance the company’s brand. Mason Smoot, a McDonald’s senior vice president and company employee since 1994, was elevated to Mr. Fairhurst’s role on an interim basis, Mr. Kempczinski said.

Mr. Fairhurst didn’t respond to requests for comment. He had worked with Mr. Easterbrook for McDonald’s in the U.K. and was promoted to the top human-resources job soon after Mr. Easterbrook became CEO in 2015."

Did Fairhurst leave for reasons unrelated to the firing of the CEO for an inappropriate relationship? While that's possible, it's also unlikely.

Here's the top possible reasons for the departure of Fairhurst:

  1. He knew about the relationship and didn't escalate it appropriately.
  2. He didn't know about the relationship, but should have based on the circumstances.
  3. The board didn't evaluate whether he knew or not, they just decided he couldn't stay based on his long-term relationship with the CEO and the sensitivity of the issue related to the responsibility of the HR Function.

Regardless of the reason, the separation of McDonald's CHRO Fairhurst is a visible reminder of a shifting landscape for HR leaders. When it comes to issues of professional conduct in the C-Suite, we're increasingly being held accountable for the actions of the leaders we support. If we know of an issue, it's our responsibility to bring it up.  But more importantly, it's our job to be wired in to what's going on. At the end of the day, if we're not connected enough to have the information we need, we're going to be held accountable when bad stuff happens.

Fair? Maybe, maybe not. But it's the reality in the new world, and the removal of the McDonald's CHRO underscores the need to be wired in and take action swiftly.


The 4 Rules of Office/Company Romance If You're a Manager of People (McDonalds CEO Version)...

Quick story from the Capitalist.

It's early in my career, and there I am one night - trying to outwork what I don't know as a young professional. I'm in the office about 930pm (no one else there, humblebrag), doing work for a VP level partner who had taken me under his wing. I'm heading back from the restroom, where I have to go the edge of the elevator corridor to hit the main doors of our office and there it was.

The president of our division (mid 50's) getting into the elevator with a mid-20's administrative assistant from a department managed by one of his Romance direct reports. Meh. Like a pro, I kept moving and acted like I saw nothing. It never came up. 

Of course, it doesn't mean they were heading to a Holiday Inn Express or had just treated his office as the same. But c'mon, he was kind of a sleeze towards women and they didn't really have any reason to be connected for work.

In case you missed it, McDonald's has fired CEO Steve Easterbrook over his relationship with another employee, according to a press release from the company over the weekend. McDonald’s shares sank 2.3% in premarket at 10 a.m. in London, or 5 a.m. ET, which could wipe about $3.4 billion off the company’s value.

McDonald's had been in a period of success under the leadership of Easterbrook.  Now, it's thrown into a period of turmoil and 3.4B is gone.  Crazy.

Seems like a good time to set up some rules for office romance. Note that these rules don't apply to everyone - if you're a rank and file employee, you do you.  No, these rules of office romance are for managers of people only - let's face it - you're different, the stakes are higher and there are special rules for you.

Here's your 4 Rules of Office/Company Romance If You're a Manager of People:

1--Never date someone who reports to you. This seems obvious, and they'll be some who email stories of lifelong romances that started this way. I hear you. I'm glad you found love in all the wrong places. For everyone else, especially in the time of #metoo, it's a bet - your job/career vs your rationalization that your "in-team" romance is going to lead to Mr./Mrs. Right.

2--Don't date someone in the company (on someone's else's team) if you're a manager of people inside a company with less than 250 employees.  That number is a bit random, but it feels right. The standard line will be don't have a relationship with someone on your team, but people on other teams might be OK.  Key word is "might".  The bigger the company, the more conflicts with people on other teams won't be a problem.  Get below 250 people in your company (and certainly in companies with 100 or less employees), and you might as well be dating someone on your team.

3--The bigger your job, the less latitude you have to date people in your company. It's called leadership, and your decision to reach down 2-3 levels in your division to find love and companionship looks weak and sleazy. We thought you were the one to lead this (business unit, division, location, company), now we've got people talking about how much time Jan is speaking time in your office. Unfair? Maybe. That's burden is what the money is for.

4--Report any relationship to HR and consider getting acknowledgements and waivers signed. So here we are - you're in a relationship in the company, and you've had the wisdom to drop by HR and let them know. Without knowing what policies you have on this, I can tell you you've done the right thing.  As a manager of people, you need to transfer the ticking time bomb of office romance to the HR team. What will they do?  Probably nothing - but disclosing the relationship means you were above-board and sought counsel on the right way to proceed. 

5--(Bonus) - Don't be sleazy or give people the creepers as you consider office romances.  Or just don't even consider it as a leader/manager of people, maybe?

Welcome to the show, kid. You're a manager of people, and when it comes to office romance, managers of people get treated differently. You have more power than you think you do, and with that in mind, there are rules.

It's not show friends, it's show business.


9 Faces of HR Book Update: Is Salesforce Making Progress on Diversity Since Hiring a Chief Equality Officer?

One of the cool things about writing a book that does at least reasonably well is you start to get questions flowing in about the content you included. When I wrote The 9 Faces of HR, I alternated for a good bit of the book between serious chapter and a more pithy, fun "bonus chapter" (but let's face it, I had a lot of fun and took plenty of liberties in the "serious" chapters as well).

I'm going to start sharing my responses to some of the questions I get in my inbox and on LinkedIn. Here's one about my references to Salesforce in one of the bonus chapters of The 9 Faces of HR.

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

Hi Kris -

I just finished reading your book and I do believe it will help me raise my awareness of my own profile and my peers. Since 2016, are you aware if Salesforce actually improved in terms of diversity in the aftermaths of naming a "Chief Equality Officer"?

Thanks, Jenny

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

(Note - if you don't have my book, there's a bonus chapter on Salesforce naming a "Chief Equality Officer" as a strategy to take credit for what they do well, in an effort to take the focus off of broad diversity reporting in Silicon Valley that always looks horrid).

Hi Jenny -

Thanks for dropping the note and reading my book. The year by year numbers are hard to find - but you can find the Salesforce and Google diversity numbers in the links below for the last reporting period.  See the links below (email subscribers click through for charts/images if you don't see them below) and go about halfway down ("see where we are today" for SF, "workforce representation" for Google) to compare.  Salesforce remains whiter and heavier in male representation than Google, with the increased diversity at Google being all from the Asian/Indian category.  Shows how hard it is to make progress in the talent pools in tech and in the bay area, I think.  Links and graphics below:

For Salesforce:

https://www.salesforce.com/company/equality/#eq-sf-data

SF


Budget Season: Do You Have Any Ideal on Labor Costs By Project/Service?

It's budget season for a lot of us, and in addition to revenue projections, one American pastime is alive and well in the budget process, even in 2020.

Sandbagging!

You know it's true. If you're a leader in the field, you're attempting to load up the expense side of your budget as much as possible, often times because you may have no control F35of the revenue targets that are handed to you.  You NEED that expense side to be as high as possible so you can slash it as needed in an effort to meet your EBITDA or Net Income number, even if you miss the crazy revenue target.

Games people play. Right or wrong, you just can't stop them.

If expense loading is a game in budget season, guess what the favorite parlor game of all is during this time?

Sandbagging the headcount budget!

In most businesses, headcount is the biggest fixed (or is it unfixed) cost. The bigger the headcount budget, the bigger the pile of sand that can be used to make earnings if you miss revenue.

Which begs the following question:

Do You Have Any Ideal on Labor Costs By Project/Service at your Company?

While most of would say yes, that's a yes that we "kind of know" but can't give you "actual math".

I'm reminded of this fact by a conversation I had over the weekend. My son's a freshman in college and a Aerospace Engineering student. He started going down a rabbit hole of what it took to build an American Combat Aircraft.  As you might expect, numbers release are limited, but then he found this gem of an article on the production of America's latest generation fighter jet, the F-35:

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, better known as the GAO, has released a new report on the status of the F-35 program overall. One of the most interesting tidbits in the report was metrics on how many man hours of labor it takes to manufacture each type of F-35 and how those numbers have changed over time.

The chart below shows exactly how many labor hours are poured into constructing each F-35 variant on average. With the A model unsurprisingly being the lowest at 41,541 hours in 2017, the more complex B model taking 57,152 hours, and the carrier-capable C model coming in at 60,121 hours. 

Then, they shared this chart, which shows how production labor costs have dropped over time with the F-35:

F35

Using the standard 2,000 hours in a work year, that shows the highest value version of the F-35(c) actually takes 30 man years - just to deliver the airframe.  And it used to 50+ years!  Using either number, you can safely say it takes the equivalent of a worker's entire career/prime of career to deliver a F-35c.  Crazy.

With those numbers in mind, you don't have labor and headcount problems, you have labor and headcount concerns.

The bigger point here for the budget season?  It's the fact that the smart finance pro in front of you - the one who is going to make the final decision on whether to cut the fat out of your headcount budget - is not only evaluating the sand in your numbers, he or she is asking for the numbers behind the numbers. The smart Finance pro asks questions about your assumptions and wants to know that you're a good steward of the headcount received.

All things being equal, they'll cut someone else's headcount numbers instead of yours - IF you can articulate how responsible you've been with the resources provided and how you're doing more with the same headcount.

Showing improvement in production costs over time like the F-35 program (you can do this even if you're delivering service rather than product) is good backup to have during budget season.

Good luck with the final budget meetings with Finance. May your sand continue to flow.

 


Is What I'm About To Say Going To Blow Up In My Face? A Simple Guide...

I know.

You're a straight shooter. A truth teller. A no-BS kind of guy or gal.

We love that about you. You do you. But based on your position in the middle of the political machine in which you operate, that truth teller vibe can blow up in your face.

Saying what needs to be said is admirable. But so is staying alive in the game and living to fight another day. Stakes vary based on the issue at hand and the power of those involved. 

Here's a few questions that need to answered before you shoot the bastards straight on the issue in question. Enjoy:

Does it need to be said?

Does it need to be said by me?

Does it need to be said by me right now?

If the answer to any of those questions is no, don’t say it.

Additionally, answer this question:

Who is present (or will get word of my truth telling) that has a different position than me and do they have power? Will they react in a negative way and perhaps try to stop the form of direct deposit I've been receiving and enjoying as a result? (either now on in the future, because they have a memory like an elephant)

I could write 10 more questions in this guide about whether to blown them up with your crazy accurate and disruptive thoughts. I'll stop at 4.

Sometimes you gotta pull out the Bazooka and shoot 'em straight and be the sole voice of dissent. Sometimes you gotta fold and live to fight another day.

Knowing what to say is science, based on your subject matter expertise and the fact you're always right.

Knowing whether to say it is art, based on your accurate read of 107 factors, none of them reasonable or rationale.

Good luck players. The game needs you.


What We Can Learn From the Kohl's Response to the Amazon Crack Pipe...

Hi Capitalist Readers - 

I'm up at Fistful of Talent with some notes on what we can learn from the recent decision by retailer Kohl's to become a return center for Amazon. Here's a taste, hit this link to get to whole article at Fistful of Talent:

"In case you missed it, Retail – at least of the normal variety – is on life support.

We’re all to blame. That big sucking sound you hear? It’s the gravitational pull of Amazon, giving you two-day one-day delivery you didn’t even know you needed, but now expect. Amazon has a history of innovating, taking the long view of changing your behavior completely, reinvesting profits in the business to keep you coming back to the crack pipe of unlimited choice and immediacy and yes, paying almost no corporate taxes.

What could go wrong?

But I digress. I’m as guilty as anyone, seeing how I recently ordered two sizes of the same jacket from Amazon because I couldn’t be bothered with a single one not fitting and having to repeat the process. So I ordered two, then got the jacket and decided like an impatient aristocrat of the KG3 variety to send both of them back because I didn’t like it. The humanity!

I was an Amazon Aristocrat until I returned the jackets. You know how I returned them?

I went to ****** ******* Kohl’s."

Get the whole post at Fistful of Talent by clicking here!


The Movie "JOKER" is a Story about You, Me and Our Complete Lack of Empathy...

With all the workplace and school violence in our world over the last decade, I've picked up on a theme from a few deep thinkers - from students and employees alike.  The chilling wisdom goes something like this:

"I go out of my way to talk to Ricky. When he comes to the school with a bag of guns, I want him to look at me and keep walking."

"I always talk to Nick. He's going to get fired and there's a 50/50 chance he's coming back to take some people out. If that happens, I think he'll let me go."

Crazy, but real. The probability players among us are treating individuals they think are prone to violence differently, planning for a day we all hope will never come to our Arthur fleckneighborhood.

They see someone struggling, and perhaps left behind or given up on by most. They aren't giving real engagement/friendship, but instead performing some type of risk management by acknowledging them by saying hello, sharing a laugh or pretending to be interested.

Is that empathy for those on the outside looking in?  No. But it's a start that might actually result in a conversation or two that leads to real empathy.

These quotes are the first thing I thought of as I watched JOKER starring Joaquin Phoenix last weekend. It's clear that the character played by Phoenix (Arthur Fleck) suffers from mental health issues. The origin story of the Joker, future nemesis of Batman, tracks Fleck through hardship after hardship in the early 1980s.  It's a hard watch as he struggles with mental illness, his treatment by others and ultimately turns to the dark side.

The villain doesn't come out until the movie is almost over.

Let that sink in for a second. A movie - even one as committed to telling a deep story like Joker - can only show you 15-16 meaningful interactions, which generally lead to a good place or a bad place.

In real life, that's more like five thousand negative interactions that a struggling individual has before he turns to violence, goes in cave of depression/addiction or take his own life.

I'm pretty good at holding doors open for people. Like most of you, I kind of suck when it comes to people who don't fit in. I don't do enough to make people who are struggling feel better about themselves.

When you see someone on the outside looking in, empathy and connection is really the only answer. We can have the usual conversations after negative events about drugs, guns, etc. - or we could slow down, reduce our anxiety and try and connect long before those things occur.

I recommend Joker as a movie, but not because the story is a great tale of how a super villain came to be.

The story is about you and me, and the lost opportunities that are everywhere around us.  

We gotta do better.


Here's What Job Security/Being Untouchable/Arrogance as a Leader Looks Like...

If you've lucky, you've felt it at some point in your career. The swagger and incredible self-confidence that allows you to throw caution to the wind, confident you have the ability to provide for yourself and your family. 

"If you don't like they way I do it, find someone else to do the job."

To be sure, we've all thought that. But how many of us have actually said it? That's rare air for any working professional, and it usually means one of four things:

1--You're incredibly confident in your ability to find another job. In fact, you may already be on the market and have turned down a few offers Dantonio recently.

2--You at the tail end of your career and you've stored up enough acorns for a long winter (i.e., retirement).  You're daring someone to take you out.

3--You're an incredible ****, full of arrogance, disagreeable with all and really a negative force within your organization.

4--You're tired. You have to work, but you're at the end of your rope. You won't quit, so you're daring someone to make you go find another job.

I'm reminded of some leaders feeling untouchable by this report from last weekend's college football slate. Michigan State was at Wisconsin and just got drilled.  Here's how the post-game presser with Mike Dantonio went via ESPN:

"The Michigan State head coach drew even more attention to his inept offense in the aftermath of a 38-0 loss at Wisconsin, if that was even possible.

In his postgame news conference, Dantonio was asked if his offseason staff changes — he shuffled his offensive staffers’ responsibilities but did not fire any existing coaches or bring in anyone new — might have been a mistake.

“I think that’s sort of a dumb-a** question,” Dantonio replied."

That's taking "it you don't like it, find someone else" to a whole new level.

Let's put in context what 38-0 feels like in the corporate world.

--38-0 is being the incumbent provider in a renewal process and not making it to the final four and presenting live.

--38-0 is opening up a new call center and not taking a single call your first day - but you're not sure where the calls went instead - nobody got the calls.

--38-0 is agreeing to ship the new software release and when your CEO hits the site to test it, it crashes his Microsoft Surface.

Now imagine you're the manager in the call center scenario. Someone from corporate fixed the problem routing calls that your team couldn't fix. You go a meeting on the second day to revisit what happened.  Someone from corporate asks you, "Do you think you have the right people on your team moving forward?"

You don't miss a beat.  “I think that’s sort of a dumb-a** question,” you reply.

That's next level Job Security/Feeling Untouchable/Arrogance as a Leader.

"Next Question"

May you reach the level of success in your career when you can play offense and be belligerent rather than answer questions/concerns after failure.


Amp Up Your Employment Brand Like Domino's...Or Maybe Not...

When it comes to attracting candidates to your employment brand, purpose matters.

Candidates are increasingly seeking a sense of purpose in their work, so it makes sense to embed purpose in your values through connection to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) themes.  Companies like Unilever have gone all in on this approach and even mandated executives assign a purpose to every product in the company's portfolio. An examination of how Uber's company values changed after a period of turmoil show a transition from focusing on winning to working with others, serving community and valuing differences. Intent of your messaging matters.

BUT.... and there is a but....It's dangerous to reach when it comes to the purpose you assign to your business. If you're simply a nice business/company with a good product, don't suggest that you're trying to save the world.

I was reminded of this danger when Domino's used footage of employees as they marketed their Delivery Insurance/guarantee, which says that if your order isn't right, they'll make it right quickly and free of charge.

That's good business, but not a 8.3 on the Richter Scale of CSR and corporate purpose. Watch the following video (email subscribers click through if you don't see the player below) and we'll break it down afterwords:

Amp up your employment brand like Domino's... or maybe not.

“we're going to be expediting this order, people”

If I close my eyes on that audio, it feels like I'm in an emergency room and someone's life is at risk.

Then I remember, "no, Jenny just called to complain and she didn't get the cheesed stuffed crust".

Flash forward from the pizza oven room to drivers running up steps to help get Jenny's calorie count up. What really happens when that complaint comes in? I'd imagine it involves talking about who screwed it up. But someone's Netflix night is in peril, so let's expedite the order and send the fastest sprinter in the room, but let's make sure we obey all relevant traffic laws.

Somebody's going to blow out an ACL if we're not careful.

You get the vibe. Mission and purpose for your company is important. But don't chase world-defining purpose when showing your employees if it doesn't exist. But showing pride and the love of the craft for the people who make the product?  That never goes out of style.

Don't chase world defining purpose with your employment brand if it doesn't exist.  Just be you.