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October 2012

What Career Advice Would You Give The Kid Version of Yourself If You Traveled Through Time?

The new Kia commerical with Blake Griffin is out and it's understated, but smart at the same time.  Take a look below and let's talk after the jump (email subscribers click through for the video):

Practice your free throws.  A lot.  If you know anything about pro hoops and the dunk machine that is Blake Griffin, you know that he's not a very good free throw shooter.

But it begs a bigger question.  If you travelled through time and visited the kid version of yourself, what sage advice would you give him/her from a career perspective?

Me?  I'd tell the young version of KD to get entrepreneurial as early as possible - not necessary starting a business, but being involved in multiple things (rather than a single job) that would allow him to experiment with anything he became passionate about from a career perspective.  And I'd tell him to do that while he was working for a big firm.

I'd also tell him not to grow his hair out - ever - because it would stand straight up no matter what the length was.  The monchichi look never works.

What about you?  What career advice would you give the kid version of yourself if you travelled through time in a Kia?

HR Metrics of Note: Revenue Per Employee VS. Profit Per Employee

Ok kids... I've talked in the past about the wisdom of Revenue Per Employee being a pretty damn good metric for HR leaders.  See what I've written here and here.

So I like Revenue per Employee for a lot of good reasons.  BUT - 20 of you will send me an email today saying, "Yeah, I get what you're saying Kris, but I like Profit per employee.  You should look at that...." 6a00d8345275cf69e2017c3232e689970b-800wi

I don't want to go off on a rant here, but... hell, I'm going to anyway...

Revenue per employee is a act of fractions, people.  And the denominator in the Revenue per Employee calculation is... wait for it... Employees!  Which is almost every company's biggest expense.  Load more people/expense into the revenue per employee calculation and guess what you get?  Less revenue per employee for sure, but also reduced profitability if your revenue line doesn't go up as you add people.

Which is a long way of saying the following: Revenue per Employee already includes a calculation that is every HR leader's biggest profitability lever - headcount.  Or freaking headcount, if you're into intensifiers.

Still don't buy it?  Check out this analysis of Revenue per Employee at Amazon from Seeking Alpha hat tip to @steveboese):

"Operating without stores is a huge bonus to a modern retailer, and you see it right there in the sales-per-employee figures: It was $855,463 at Amazon (AMZN) last year, while each Wal-Mart (WMT) worker generated $201,752. That's a heck of an advantage and is just one reason why Amazon shares trade at such a stunning premium to those of Wal-Mart, based on PE ratio.

But the Amazon productivity machine has sputtered of late. It either reflects CEO Jeff Bezos wisely sinking money into added workers and facilities - the company recently agreed to lay out $1.2 billion for part of its headquarters compound in Seattle - or desperate efforts to keep the revenue gains coming and thus keep the stock aloft. Bezos's stake is worth more than $20 billion, and stock options have been a major draw in attracting and keeping talent at Amazon.

The revenue-per-employee figure listed above for Amazon, $855,463, is a steep drop from the prior year, 2010, when each Amazon worker generated $1,014,955. That's a 16% decline, and helps explain why net income has been plunging at Amazon and why its guidance for the third quarter of 2012 calls for an operating loss of between $50 million and $350 million. The profit margin ain't what it was.

The culprit is a huge increase in employment at Amazon, up 67% last year to 56,200. That, while sales rose just 41%. And while many companies keep you waiting for the 10-K to see the total employee number, Amazon kindly provides on its website an end-of-second quarter figure, of 65,600. So Bezos welcomed aboard another 9,400 workers during the first six months of this year. If he adds another 9,400 during the second half of 2012, Amazon would employ 75,000. And if sales rise 31% this year - that's how much they rose during the first six months, and Amazon's 3Q guidance calls for an increase of between 19% and 31% -- sales per employee would drop, slightly, again to $839,745, if our calculations are correct."

Which is someone else saying that you don't need profit per employee.  It's already embeded in the Revenue Per Employee metric.

Now go out and use the headcount lever wisely.  You don't need no stinking profit metric.  You control the biggest hammer to profit there is.

Stuff the Capitalist (aka KD) Likes: The Goldfinger Channel on Pandora...

Who am I?  Who cares?  Good questions.  It's my site, so I'm going to tap into a Friday once in a awhile by telling you more about who I am - via a "Stuff I Like" series.  Nothing too serious, just exploring the micro-niche that resides at the base of all of our lives.  Potshots encouraged in the comments.

I like Pandora. Big deal.  So do all of you with an iPhone.

More specifically, I like the GoldFinger channel on Pandora.  Not specifically because of Goldfinger, although I like them a lot.  Who can forget their classic cover of 99 Red Ballons?  See the video below (email subscribers, click through):

Nice.  But the real power of Pandora is that it doesn't let you just listen to what you want.  It's stretches Album-ruin-jonnys-bar-mitzvah your horizons a bit by making recommendations on what you might like if you like Goldfinger.

I added Goldfinger to my Pandora stream after eating dinner with some smart HR folks in the South/South-Midwest this week.  One of them told me to add the Neon Trees.  Good advice.  (shout out - hi team!)

So I start listening to the Goldfinger channel, and I get introduced to about 5 bands like them, including a classic cover band called "Me First and the Gimme Gimmes".

You don't get that from a service that sucks.  Pandora gives me what I want, then diversifies me.  

BTW, the CD cover that I saw from the Gimme Gimmes was "Ruin Jonny's Bar Mitzvah".  Sold.  And yes, that's one of the Foo Fighter's guitarists that contributes to the Gimme Gimmes.

I'm KD, and I like the Goldfinger channel on Pandora.

Tell me what I should add on Pandora in the comments...

If Creating a Corporate Jet Handbook for An Overstimulated Retail CEO is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right...

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  You got crazy people you support in your client group.  I get it.

When's the last time you had to create a handbook so male flight attendants on a company jet could parade around in boxers and a popped polo collar?

That's what I thought.  Stop complaining, stat.  Here's some crazy stuff too good not to share from a recent age discrimation lawsuit filed against Abercrombie & Fitch and CEO Mike Jeffries.  Let the freak flags fly, courtesy of what appeared on Gawker late last week:

"The 40+ page "Aircraft Standards" manual used by employees working aboard the company's corporate jet was introduced as evidence in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by one of Jeffries former pilots (now 55) who claimed he was fired on the basis of age discrimination and replaced by a younger man.

The environment described in the manual is the stuff of micromanaging urban legend. Here are some of its finer points:

Model Employees

    • Flight attendants are hired by a New York-based company called Cosmopolitan Management that provides models and actors "with just the right look and personality [because] appearances do make a difference," to work as event staff, trade show hosts, and personal assistants. The same company also provides staff for Jeffries' home.
    • While flying the frantic skies, flight attendants are instructed not to use the phrases "sure" or "just a minute" when addressing either Jeffries or his partner Matthew Smith. Instead, they are instructed to respond to requests by saying "no problem." Problems are not permitted.

Dressing for Excess

    • Crew members are provided with the standard uniform of the guy with rage issues questioning his sexuality on every season of The Real World: boxer briefs, jeans, polo shirts, flip flops (to be worn in flight and when greeting passengers), a belt, a winter coat, a hat, gloves, sunglasses, and sweatshirts.
    • They are instructed to spritz these items with Abercrombie & Fitch 41 cologne "throughout the duration" of their shifts.
    • Winter is when things get complicated. Staff members are only permitted to wear their coats when it is 50 degrees or colder, and collar popping is mandatory (come correct). Buttons and zippers might as well have their own manual:
    • "Zip the jacket up to the fourth button from the bottom. The lowest button should be left undone, but the next three buttons up should be fastened."
    • Hats and gloves are permitted when the temperature is below 40 degrees. Hat brims should be two inches thick and pulled "so that it is approximately in the middle of the forehead," which is to say EXACTLY in the middle of the forehead.
    • "All staff must coordinate wearing the sunglasses."

Soundtrack of Adventure

    • Crew are required to play Phil Collins' "Take Me Home" over the jets intercom whenever the jet takes off on return flights home.
    • Before guests go to sleep, flight attendants are instructed to "spray the bedding with sleep spray."

Middle Fingerprints

    • The Abercrombie & Fitch jet, like the headquarters of Men in Black, is a 100% fingerprint-free zone. Finger prints must not be visible on seat belts, "the credenza, cabin door, galley door, [or] the cabinet doors in the lavatory."

You want to work for me at Kinetix?  The good news is that I don't use Cosmopolitan Management to provide candidates with the right look and personality.

The bad news is that you'll be pressing play on Phil Collins ALL DAY LONG.  Bad mood?  I can feel it in the air tonight.  I-9 problems?  Spotify Illegal Alien for me.  

Actually, you'll be Pandora-ing RATM and Paramore more than anything else.  But I don't tell you that until your first day.

Good Candidates Age Faster Than Homemade Bread....

It's true - the clock is always ticking with good candidates.

With bad or average candidates, you can really do what you want.  Take your time, be indecisive, lose focus - whatever - bad to average candidates will be there whenever you get your act together and actually want to make a hire.

Good to great candidates are different.  They've got a lot of reasons not to switch, or if they're an active candidate, they've got good to great options on the table.  They don't have to wait, and in most circumstances, they'll be gone in 14-21 days.  That sounds like a lot of time, but it's not... mainly because you have 3 to 4 points in your interview process where things usually stall out.

With bad candidates, you can stall at all of those points and have limited risk of losing them as candidates.  That's why they're bad candidates, right?

Good to great candidates age faster than homemade bread with no preservatives/chemicals in it.  

Stall at your own risk.  Forward this post to a hiring manager if needed to emphasize the best candidates in the candidate pool will be gone by the time they get back to the hiring process.  Or they won't trust you after that and simply stop returning your calls - mainly becuase the heavy courtship present early stalled out.  

You've got 14 days from the time of the first call - max.

WEBINAR: Becoming an Employer of Choice Through Your Interview Process (HRCI Credit)

Let's face it - candidates become fans of your company if you hire them.  But there's a bigger question....

Do candidates become fans of your company when they apply for an open spot, maybe even get to the HireVue-Registration-Badge-Roses phone or live intereview stage, then are told, "no"?

When thinking about becoming an employer of choice, companies tend to think about pay, benefits, workspace, etc.  All good choices, but we think there’s something missing – we think your interview process alone should make people want to come to work for your company.  What would happen if your interview process was actually so engaging and cool that it made candidates refer others, even when they didn’t get the job?

Is that even possible?  We think it is.

Join FOT (my other blog) this Thursday (1pm ET) for our October webinar (sponsored by the good folks at HireVue) – “Before the Rose Ceremony: How to Become an Employer of Choice Through Your Interview Process”, where we’ll explore the following and compare it to the meat show on the Bachelor/Bachelorette:

  1. <Bring Flowers> What pre-interview, pre-phone screen features subconsciously tell a candidate that you’re different from your competitors and help you plant the initial “why you want to work here” seed.
  2. <Sincerity, Please?> The 3 things that need to be present in your initial outreach to a candidate to prevent their BS meter from exploding (aka momentum killers).
  3. <Places Everyone!> 5 Key Features of the live interview process at your company that sell your culture as a Great Place to Work – regardless if you hire the candidate or not.
  4. <Interrogation with a Smile> FOT’s Top 7 Interview Questions for uncovering great info andselling the candidate on your company as an employer of choice – they won’t even realize you’re doing it (and you’ll get great info as a result).
  5. SEND IN YOUR LESS ATTRACTIVE FRIENDS TO GIVE APPROVAL! (That’s FOT in this case.)  We’ll end with a simple audit process that you can use to determine if your interview process is contributing as much as it should toward your company being viewed as a destination of choice for candidates.

Join us for “Before the Rose Ceremony” and install a couple of the interview process features we discuss, and candidates will start to view you less as the Motel 6 and more like the Ritz.  Or wherever it is that feels like an upgrade from the Motel 6.  Maybe the LaQuinta?  The W?  You tell us.  The point is when you say no to people and they still love you, you’ve arrived – just like the bachelor or the bachelorette.  We think the way you interview candidates can help you accomplish that in the recruiting process.

**This program,ORG-PROGRAM-124798, has been approved for 1.00 (General ) recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

Register Now!



Moore's Law and Social Sharing: Why You Might Want to Figure Out Social As It Relates to Your Career...

Social's probably something you need to figure out for your career.  Do it for you - don't do it because it's cool or any other reason.

Need a compelling reason beyond the usual "everyone is doing it?"  How about Mark Zuckerberg telling a biz accelerator group that he believes social sharing is governed by the same growth dynamics as computer Moore4 processors?  More from Gizmodo:

"If you thought people were already sharing way too much on social networks, you're in for a rough future. At least, that's what your buddy Mark Zuckerberg thinks, and it's probably safe to say he's might know what he's talking about.

Zuck dropped the knowledge in a talk at Y Combinator's startup school today. He put it this way to Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham:

"It's sort of social networking version of Moore's Law. We expect this rate [of sharing] will double every 10 years. So in 10 years from now, people will be sharing about 1,000 times as many things as they do today."

For those of you that need a little refresher in Moore's Law, here it is via Wikipedia:

"Moore's law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The period often quoted as "18 months" is due to Intel executive David House, who predicted that period for a doubling in chip performance (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and their being faster).[1]

The law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, who described the trend in his 1965 paper.[2][3][4] The paper noted that the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year from the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 until 1965 and predicted that the trend would continue "for at least ten years".[5] His prediction has proven to be uncannily accurate, in part because the law is now used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development."

Let's assume for a second that you think Moore's Law is absolute BS related to social sharing.  First up, Zuckerberg probably has access to information about the habits of a Billion Facebook subscribers, where your reaction is based on  - well, you.  

Then think for a second - let's say social sharing moves at a pace 2-3 times slower than Moore's law.  It's still a big tidal wave.  And there's you, saying you don't get it.  You don't have time.  You don't see the value.

Good luck with that, my friend.  People who can't aggregate networks of interest through sharing and other social activity are going to get phased out, put in non-thinking jobs, etc.  The move's really already started, and it's not about people like me with a blog.  It's really about everyone, and the trend is coming for you, king of like the grim reaper.

Be ready when the trend arrives at your doorstep.

HR People Who Want to Blow Up HR Miss The Point...

What?  Why would someone like me say that HR people who want to blow up HR are wrong?

Because of the following statement, which is the best compliment I've ever received.  I wish I heard this one more:

"You're not like other HR people I've known."

Boom.  That's the standard we're looking for.  Take all the normal low expectations people have for HR, and deliver something different.   Make them notice.  Make them see that HR can be something upscale, positive and progressive.  Whatever that is to you, make them see that, then influence them into saying the words above.

The answer isn't to cease to be HR.  It's to redefine what HR can and should be.

Why the rant today?  I've heard some people wax poetic recently that the answer for HR is to stop being HR.  To be embedded in the business.  To know the business.  

So far, so good.  Then trouble happens as they continue:

We need to be strategic.  Stop talking like an HR person.  Be known as a business person, not HR.

That's where they lose me.  There's a body of knowledge that only a talented HR pro can deliver, and that's the reason I can't agree with those that say the best way to deal with the perception of HR is to leave the profession.

Instead of thinking you can't be affiliated with all the weak people in HR, stand up for the profession.  

Make people say, "You're not like other HR people I've known."

That's the way to fix the perception problem in the HR industry.  If you're not willing to take that on, who will?

SWEET CAREER ADVICE: How to Start a Professional Blog Without Losing Your Mind...

Career development day at the Capitalist - TOPIC: How to Start a Professional Blog Without Losing Your Mind.  

I'm 6 years in and I can reduce your pain levels - I've made every mistake known to man when it comes to blogging.  Whatever your speciality or niche, a blog is a great idea.  Only 1% of the population has what it takes to be a content creator.  Are you a 1%er?  The good kind?  Actually, 1%ers are good all the way around.

Here's my game plan for helping you start a blog - slide deck from a recent preso below.  (email subscribers click through to see the slides).  Reach out if you have questions.  I only charge $3,000 an hour.  

Actually, it's much less than that and I've been known to trade for Diet Mt Dew and/or NBA tickets.

The Top 100 Movie Quotes for HR Pros: #83 is "What The Heck Have You Done Lately?" (Wanted)

Continuing series at the Capitalist: The Top 100 Movie Quotes of all time for HR Pros.  In no special order, I break down the 100 movie quotes that resonate most for me as a career HR pro.  Some will be funny, some will be serious... Some will tug at your heart like when the Fox voice-over guy said, "Tonight - a very special episode of 90210"... You get the vibe... I'll do it countdown-style like they're ranked, but let's face it - they're ALL special..

#84: "What the $#$* Have You Done Lately?""...

--Wesley Gibson, Former Office Drone, now Assassin at Large from the Movie "Wanted"

Haven't seen the movie "Wanted"?  Check it out my friends.  Office drone gets recruited to be an assassin.  Cuts through a bunch of BS to get to what's real.  Morgan Freeman.  Angelina Jolie.  A bunch of organizational-related culture stuff.  Sound like you?  That's what I thought.

One of the best quotes from Wanted is the last line of the film.  At the end of Wanted, Wesley lists off everything he accomplished and then turns to the camera and delivers the quote listed above.  Having Wesley break the fourth wall by directly asking the audience is a perfect ending to the movie.  

Here's the entire quote at the end, video appears below that (email subscribers click through for the video).  It's a great line to come back to when you're feeling sorry for yourself and in a bit of a rut.  And let's face it, we've all been there.  Most of us will be there sometime this month.  PS - stop reading and don't watch the video if language bothers you.

"This is not me following my destiny. This is not me following in my father's footsteps. This is definitely not me saving the world. ...This is not me. This is just a mother-#$#ing decoy.

This is me taking control — from Sloan, from the Fraternity, from Janice, from billing reports, from ergonomic keyboards, from cheating girlfriends and sack-of-shit best-friends. This is me taking back control — of my life. [Breaks the fourth wall, turning to gaze at the audience] What the #$#% have you done lately?"