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December 2013

BUSINESS: This Paragraph From HBR Says Groupon Is Dead (But Trying to Stay Alive)

A lot of you use Groupon and similar discount/coupon services.  If you've never dug into the business model behind the service, you might be surprised to learn that business (mostly small businesses, btw) that use Groupon and similar services don't always fare well as a result of the campaigns they use Groupon to execute.  A study from Harvard Business Review recently caught my eye on the topic.

More from HBR:

"Academic research has consistently found that running a deal using Groupon (or one of its competitors) has two main implications for a business: more customers in the short term but lower favorability ratings. Hence, short-term gains in traffic come at the expense of a lower future traffic and the overall value proposition to the merchant remains unclear."

Translation: Using a Groupon-type service means that business owners can drive traffic, but the customers brought in by campaigns have no loyalty, will trash them on reviews and almost never come back to pay full price on a regular basis.

Think about paying candidates to come interview. Could you do that? Yes.  Would it be innovative? Without a doubt.

Would it end well?  Probably not.  They don't value your company, they value the pay they're receiving.

Groupon customers value the deal, not the product. If they had a long term need for the product, they'll already be loyal customers - of the company in question, or one of its competitors.Implication for the HR world - any thought about paying candidates or employees to do anything that's hard to get them to do otherwise is probably garbage.

Educate yourself up on the whole discounting world of Groupon-like services by clicking here.

The Transparent Salary Model at Buffer: Hey Comrade!

There's always been a lot of talk about pay transparency as a progressive step for companies to make.

Me? I'm a classically trained HR pro, so I'm against it.  But one company has gone big (Buffer) and not only made salaries available to all employees, but also to the outside world.  

The company size?  Of course, Buffer is very small - 10-15 employees.  If they grow to 300 employees, the exceptions they'll have to make will more than likely render the model useless.  But for now it's interesting.

See more on the model as well as the actual salaries of employees at Buffer by clicking here.  For now, here's the highlights:

The salary formula

Salary = job type X seniority X experience + location (+ $10K if salary choice)

  • job type = base
  • happiness hero = $45,000
  • content crafter = $50,000
  • engineer = $60,000
  • designer = $60,000
  • Operations officer base = $70,000
  • Executive officer base = $75,000
  • seniority = base multiplier
  • Senior + 5% base and 3k/$m revenue
  • Lead +7% base and 4k/$m revenue
  • VP + 10% and 6k/$m revenue
  • C-level +20% and 8k/$m revenue
  • COO +20% and 10k/$m revenue
  • CEO + 20% and 12k/$m revenue
  • experience = multiplier
  • Master: 1.3X
  • Advanced: 1.2X
  • Intermediate: 1.1X
  • Junior: 1X
  • location = additional
  • A: +$22K (e.g. San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sydney, London, Paris, New York)
  • B: +$12K (e.g. Nashville, Birmingham, Vienna, Austin, Vegas, Tel Aviv)
  • C: +$6K (e.g. Talinn, Warsaw, Bucharest, Santiago)
  • D: +$0K (e.g. Manila, Delhi, Hanoi)
  • equity / salary choice
  • you get a choice of more equity or more salary, if you choose salary, you get +$10K

See more on the model as well as the actual salaries of employees at Buffer by clicking here.

Additional Taxes On BCBS Bills Itemized and Attributed to Obamacare...

I've been a little late to jump on the Obamacare bashing bandwagon.  Not because I don't have anything to criticize, but because there has been so much unknown.

But last week, I got the first glimpse of true details that you can sink your teeth into - Namely, what additional taxes on medical insurance invoices are directly attributed to Obamacare?  Now we know, thanks to BCBS of Alabama.  More from AL.com:

"Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama wants its customers to know that taxes on health insurance have increased due to the Affordable Care Act.
To convey that message, BCBS of Alabama will list those federal tax increases as a separate line item on consumer bills, according to NPR, citing a Kaiser Health News report.
BCBS of Alabama spokesperson Koko Mackin told NPR that the tax breakout accounts for four new charges: a $2 fee for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute; a premium tax of about 2 percent; a user fee of 3.5 percent to help pay for healthcare.gov; and an additional charge to pay for reinsurance."
Add it all up, and it comes in somewhere between 5 and 10%.
But wait!  Someone has spoken to clear it all up.  It's not so much a tax as it is a pass-through:
"Mark Hall, a law professor at Wake Forest University, told NPR that the tax should be thought of as a pass-through, rather than extra money in the federal government's coffers.
"The government doesn't keep the fee," he said. "It's just a pass-through, from some insurers to other insurers."
That's rich.  What he means to say is that you're being charged (can't say tax!) for premiums that are unrelated to you.  Is that a tax?  Or a pass-through?  I'll let you decide.
I'm glad companies like BCBS of Alabama are muscling up and showing the fees and providing some visible form of accountability.  There's really been very little of that through this whole thing.

Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal...

That's a quote from Picasso via Steve Jobs...So I stold that #### twice.

Check out this TEDx talk from Austin Kleon on Stealing like an Artist in your career.. (email subscribers click through for video)...  Must see video on creativity and the fact that while no idea is orginal, what you do with the ideas you steal determines if you're a complete hack or something at a higher level.

Steal and make it better - and you're an artist.  Thanks for @misslujo for the link!


At the HR Capitalist: Would You Hire Beck? (Loser, Where It's At, etc..)

At Fistful of Talent: The Value of Stealing Other People’s Work—And Building On It… 

8 Things Candidates Can Do To Look Like Stars In Their Next Interview...

That's right. Mostly HR people read this, but I'm still doing a post on how to make sure your responses in interviews as a candidate don't suck.

After all, HR people interview too.  At least that's what I've heard. If someone sees you reading this, just tell them you're putting together a professional development course for the local SHRM chapter.  You'll get a glossy look in their eyes and they will cease to remember they say you looking at this, then try to get away from you as fast as possible.  This has been scientifically validated.

Anyway, my 8 Things to do if you want to look like a Star in your next interview post is up over at Halogen Software.  Click here to go to that post, and here's 3 of the 8 as a tease:

1. The length of response to any interview question is 2 minutes or 120 seconds, whichever comes first (that's a cognitive check for you).

2. The only exception to the 2-minute rule is the warm-up intro question, "Why don't you run me through your background/resume and hit the highlights for me?" Then there’s its close counterpart, "Tell me a little bit about yourself.” When you hear those questions, you should spend 3 to 5 minutes hitting the highlights of your resume/career, then close with the standard personal interests, like non-profit animal adoption and toys for tots.  

3. If your interviewer decides that s/he is going to talk for 90 percent of your time together, let them. They‘ll come out of the interview thinking it went great. Of course it did — they got to talk the whole time. That means you're brilliant to them. Counter intuitive? Yes, but just trust me on this one.

Like what you see?  Go to my post over at Halogen software to get the rest.  As Bluto once said, "Don't cost nothing".

Steal what you see over there and do a speaking gig for candidates somewhere in your local area.  Just give Halogen and KD a shout-out when you do that.  

Would You Hire Beck? (Loser, Where It's At, etc..)

I'm up over at Fistful of Talent talking about the best way for people to steal the ideas of others and make them their own - it's more ethical than you think, so check out that post here.

One of the pillars of that post is the fact that there really aren't a lot of new ideas available anymore in any industry - and HR is certainly included in that. 

But one example that I found of a guy who's pretty much an original innovator is the musician Beck.  Check out this story from cracked.com:

"The first and biggest hit of Beck's life would be the result of a bored Beck and his ability to make up random bullshit on the fly.

He had a lot of practice. Before he got famous, Beck played his music anywhere he could -- in clubs, in coffee houses and on the streets of L.A., usually to crowds who couldn't give less of a shit about him. Being the type of guy he is, he'd eventually break out of whatever song he was playing and start making up random lyrics instead, just to see who was paying attention.

This particular skill came into play later when Beck and Carl Stephenson, a producer for Rap-A-Lot Records, spontaneously decided to record a song in Stephenson's kitchen. Beck started rapping, and they both got a laugh out of how terrible he sounded. As they were playing it back, Beck just started sarcastically singing, "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me." Everything else is just random nonsense Beck made up whilestaring at things in Stephenson's kitchen.

The track took six and a half hours to record and produce from start to finish. Beck wasn't happy with the song, it being something he slapped together as a demonstration of how bad he was at rapping, and only agreed to release it under pressure from his label at the time, Bong Load. Because who wouldn't recognize the wisdom of every business decision made by an organization with such a name?

"Loser" got Beck the attention he needed, and he soon got picked up by a real label, Geffen Records, which reissued the song in 1994. It peaked at 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, made Beck a star and was ultimately ranked #203 in Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." Not bad for a bunch of gibberish made up in a kitchen."

Would you hire Beck for his innovation skills alone?  I think I would.  Video below (email subscribers click through for video): 

Corporate Christmas Gifts: The Human Fund

So it finally happened today, but it took until 12/17.  I got a card from someone in the corporate world that said my Christmas gift was a donation in my name to a charity.

Immediately, visions of Seinfeld and "The Human Fund" started running through my head.  See video below (email subscribers click through for video):

I'm a low gift guy when it comes to Christmas.  I really don't care if I get anything or not.  But a donation in my name?  What if I don't like the charity?

Is it better to give a physical gift (we're doing books again at Kinetix) or something like this?  Thoughts?

The Human Fund - Money For People.

Human fund

Our New Employee Handbook: THE KINETIX CODE...

My last post was a link to "The CYA Report", my podcast where I usually bring in my trusted friend and resident HR ****-stirrer Tim Sackett to help me wax poetic about an issue of note and interview someone from the wide world of HR.  Good times.

On the last podcast, we interviewed Tom O’Dea, co-founder of Rocket Whale and the employee handbook platform called Blissbook.  

If you want to see the latest version of our employee handbook at Kinetix, click on this link to see the handbook we call "The Kinetix Code".  It's an interesting take and while I wrote a good bit of the copy, we had a pretty good team of 3-4 people at Kinetix that really drove the look and the feel of the project.  I think they did a great job.

Click here to see "The Kinetix Code"... (picture appears below, but it doesn't do it justice since the handbook is interactive in nature)

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 12.47.44 PM

CAPITALIST PODCAST: The CYA Report (Digital Employee Handbooks)

Welcome to The CYA Report, my podcast brought to you by Workforce.com and Fistful of Talent. On today’s show we have Tom O’Dea, co-founder of Rocket Whale and the employee handbook platform called Blissbook, on Cool HR – The Handbook Edition.

Host: Kris Dunn & Tim Sackett

Producer: Cara Lucas


intro  - Awolnation “Guilty Filthy Soul”

close – Citizen Cope “Let The Drummer Kick”

Can’t see the player below? (click through email subscribers) or Click here to listen now

All episodes available on iTunes [click for archives]