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Email Signatures and Sneakers: The Perfect Place for Employees to Wear Their Cause...

In case you missed it - and you probably did since Steve Boese, Lance Haun and Tim Sackett and I are probably the only freaks following the USA Men's Basketball team at the World Championships in Turkey - NBA rising Megastar Kevin Durant wrote "1972" on his sneakers before the quarterfinal with Russia this week.  

Not down with what that means? What's it got to do with HR? Check out the former via Yahoo Sports and I'll cover the HR angle after the jump:

"Really, anyone who has ever laced up his sneakers for an NBA game -- whatever their background, Durant shoes home country, rooting interest, or age -- should at least have a passing knowledge of the controversial finish to the gold-medal men's basketball game in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

But when you actually see the best player on the 2010 Team USA men's team reference a game that happened 16 years before he was born by writing "1972" on his sneakers -- in a game against Russia played 38 years ago to the day that then-USSR beat the USA on a disputed series of calls -- well, this is just beyond cool.

That's what Kevin Durant(notes) did Thursday. He wore "1972" on his shoes while dropping 33 points in his team's 89-79 victory over a game Russian squad. The fact that a 21-year-old superstar is referencing that medal-less (by choice) 1972 team in such an understated way? And not in a showy, jingoistic stance; but in (to use a term familiar to those who were around for the years leading up to the dissolution) a show of solidarity with that 1972 team?  Fantastic."

Let's cover what's important first.  Durant goes by the handle "KD", which I think is ultra-cool.  Sounds great doesn't it?  SB, TS, LH, KD - which one you are you going to migrate to?  The answer is obvious to me...

The fact that a kid is referencing the history of the game is cool and shows why Durant is likely to be the NBA's top star in 2 years.  Mad skills plus humility/respect for others ultimately will elevate him to that level.  How can you not have Durant at the top of your list?  Holding 1972 against the Ruskies?  His moms was probably 10 at the time. Priceless.

Now for the HR angle.  What's the equivalent of writing a message or cause on your sneakers in the workplace?  It's hard to write on dress shoes, so the most visible avenue becomes.. You guessed it - the email signature.

Why don't we see more employees trying to represent causes important to them via email signatures?  You can say it's against policy, but let's face it - it's the wild wild west out there, and someone has to complain before it would have to come down.

For added effect, consider the following:

1. If an employee has passion, it's likely to be a cause that many consider to be worthy.

2. The cause may have a connection with a polarizing topic - like lower taxes or the environment.  So if it's worthy, it might cause some division...

3. The employees most likely to be passionate are more likely to be your best employees (they've got passion to care).

4. If they're repping a cause and you make them take down the message, you risk a PR nightmare.  If they keep it up and you fire them, it's really a nightmare.

At the end of the day, you want employees like Kevin Durant.

I'm shocked more employees don't use their sneakers email signatures to send messages related to what they believe in.  Regardless of what our Darth Vader policies say.

They're Luke Skywalker, you're Vader.  If they forced you to fire them, they'd find another Death Star.

Go USA.  Go Kevin Durant.  Never, NEVER hold a press conference called the decision.  You've already shown you're better than that...


Michael Haberman SPHR

So KD, what is your email signature cause?


Love the '72 reference - very classy.

One piece of advice on e-mail causes: Be careful that your signature does not become something others can mock. I once had a colleague who had some crazy long quote about quality and efficiency and so on in her signature. The fact was that her department was known for being the exact opposite so the "behind computer screens" (i.e. back) mocking began. Don't give 'em ammunition when you don't have a Kevlar vest!

Eric Guess

Got me thinking, if LeBron had a message he'd remove the team name and number from his jersey and put it there. Nice move KD, goes nicely with the boldly understated twitter announcement that you're going to stay with the Thunder.
Related to HR, most messages I see in my work setting are about hard work and cooperation...a manager would have to be pretty dense to shoot that down!

Nba Live Online

Great story my friend, I'm a fans of Kevin Durant and loving the NBA games.

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