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July 2016

The Time You Wanted To Be Blink 182, But Sold Out To The Man...

We've all got guilty pleasures that wouldn't stand up to the world's judgement.

Some of us watch shows on TV that we wouldn't want the world to know about. Others have browsing histories in Chrome that are California-5728de26c873f damning at best.

Me? I like Blink 182.  A lot, probably too much.

Blink 182 is out with a new album and a new tour.  Of course, the hard core Blink fans out there in my readership question whether this is really Blink 182 - since they did it without founding singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge, who is apparently off researching UFOs. Blink subbed in Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio, which is kind of like Mark Wahlberg subbing for a Steel Dragon legend in the movie Rock Star.

My point?  We've all got brands, and over time, those professional brands evolve. Every one of us has something that made us special, and for the most part, we had to hide some of what made us unique to conform to the cultures we had to live in at work.

Blink 182 is back to to their roots of what made them special with their new album. How do I know this?  Consider the first track on the record, which is 17 seconds long (email subscribers click through for video below):

That's right - here's the lyrics:

Woo, woo
I wanna see some naked duuuuuuudes
That's why I built this poooooool

If there's one thing that has defined the Blink 182 brand, it was being hopelessly juvenile. My guess here after a bit of research is that the Blink 182 crew aren't gay but they're also not bigots.  They're just on brand of making fun of everything they can.  That's the case as California ends with another microsong, “Brohemian Rhapsody” (sure), whose lyrics, in full, are as follows: “There’s something about you / That I can’t quite put my finger in.”

Geesh. Those guys.

This the same band that brought you the album title Enema of the State and broke onto the scene at the MTV music awards by performing "All The Small Things", complete with dozens of little people running around the stage.

These men will be boys.  You're judging me right now for writing this post.

As you do that, reflect on this: Whatever makes you special professional - the thing you've had to push to the background to get paid and make a living - would you be better off by bringing it back?  By letting your freak flag fly?

The reality is by doing that, you're limiting where you can earn a living - because most of the world wouldn't understand. But some of the world would get it, and it would probably make you much more valuable to those people.

It's OK to judge me for writing this post.  Just email me your Chrome browsing history and we're even.

Flat Results + Doing the Same Thing = More Flat Results.

If there's one thing I've learned in a career of being a manager/coach (both in corporate America and in sports), it's that when I'm not satisfied with the results I'm getting, I almost always should have changed what I was doing earlier.

Flat results + Doing the same thing = more flat results.

Why do we keep doing the same things even though we see diminishing results?  That's easy to answer - because the way we are doing it has a history of being successful.  You got great results doing it the way you've been doing it.  You go through a rough patch and you're sure that it will turn around.  Except it doesn't.  

What changed?  You've got a changing environment around you - the situation is different, the competition is different, people with influence showed up and are changing the way people listen to you, etc.

But you keep doing it the way you've done it before.  Damn them all to hell - it worked before, it can work again.

Except sometimes it can't.  And if you're like me and do an ex-post facto review of "what happened", you'll look at yourself be critical that you didn't react to the circumstances better.

You should have changed what you were doing earlier.  As soon as you felt the flat results, you should have started tweaking.

Do yourself a favor today.  Don't try and power through bad results doing things the same way.

Change it up and see what happens.  You'll be glad you did.

ASK THE CAPITALIST: When Should I Mention The Vacation I'm Planning In The Interview Process?

A reader asks...

KD -

My current company is a mess - I'm currently interviewing and have great traction, but I'm concerned about a vacation I've planned Doctor
for late August.  When should I tell a prospective employer that I've got a Disney trip planned?

--Pritesh from Charlotte


Hi Pritesh -

First, let me say "wow" - Orlando in August?  It will only be 120 degrees, down from 124 in July.

On the vacation front, here's some fodder for you to consider.

  1. I followed up with you to learn that you're a marketing guy who expects to make 90K in your next job.  There's never been a 90K person that couldn't figure out a way to still take that vacation when they switched jobs.  If you're in a process with a company that can't help you figure that out (wants to force you to give it up), walk away.
  2. You don't tell any prospective employer too early that you've got a vacation on the books.  Doing so makes it seem like you have the wrong priorities.
  3. The right time to tell them about your vacation is before you come back for what you understand will be the final round of interviews, which for most companies who employ people at your pay level is going to be round #3.  It's sad that 3 rounds of interviews is the norm, but it's true.
  4. Once you confirm that the next round of interviews is probably going to be the last round, you say something like, "Hey - before you put me in front of anyone else, I should let you know that I already have money down for a vacation in late August.  I hope that won't be an issue, but figured I needed to let you know before we go to the next step."
  5. Time it like that, and you maximize your chances that the vacation will be covered by company policies.
  6. There's some game-playing that can happen on behalf of the company - they might ask you to take it as unpaid time according to their "accrued leave" policy.  Don't even hesitate - if they go that direction during the interview process, ask them to let you go in arrears according to their leave policy or simply ask the manager to work it out with you without involving payroll.

Take that advice, and odds are you'll be taking your vacation, on the new company's leave policy.

Or you could go senior level and time your job change until after your PTO account is empty at your current company.  Your call!

There's a Little Bit of Kevin Durant In All Of Us...

By now, most of you have heard that Kevin Durant, one of the top 5 professional basketball players in the world, made the decision over the 4th of July to leave his current team (Oklahoma City) and join what's widely regarded to be the most talented team in the NBA (the Golden State Warriors).

Reactions to the Durant news on the 4th were quick - and at times harsh.  At issue is whether Durant is running from a challenge (getting OKC to its first title) or simply exercising his collectively Backpack bargained right to take his talents elsewhere - something the rest of us take for granted.  What you believe is directly related to your world view on talent and what you think athletes owe the franchises they play for and the cities those franchises represent.

When we're critical of these types of sports moves, we forget how much freedom we have as normal employees to switch companies.  In fact, Durant's a lot like us.  Consider the following truths related to the Durant move:

--He had spent 9 years with the same organization.  I'm a big believer that type of tenure can cause talent to wonder what's on the other side of the fence.  Durant clearly wondered that, and now he's gone - taking less money in the process.

--Durant reached for the cool brand that exists today.  The Warriors are the equivalent of the company in your city that built a slide in its lobby that you hate to recruit against.  Damn - who can compete against a slide?  You know it's not real, yet you bleed as the second and third employee chooses to go there.  The Warriors are the cool brand, and Durant's 54M dollar contract means he can even get a nice studio apartment near work in the Bay area.  That's nice.

--Durant was working with a crazy person.  You've lost employees for the same reason.  Management couldn't confront the crazy person, so you left the employees to figure it out on their own.  And you lost some peeps because of that.  OKC made the same choice, and Durant left with that at least a contributing factor.  BTW, I'm ALL IN on the crazy kid who remains at OKC.

--Durant, like any employees that choose to leave you, doesn't have perfect clarity on the team he's walking into.  What's his role? He's not sure. The organization that signed him up has less room to put talent around him as a result of the cost of signing him. But the slide was in the lobby, they didn't seem to have crazy people around (surprise, KD!), so he went for it.

For the employees that leave you, the grass is always greener.  Karma has a way of figuring it out.  For KD, that means he has to win a title next year.  For the average employee, that means they're still at the new company 2-3 years from now.

We are all Kevin Durant. We're just don't look like the Grim Reaper with the ability to knock down a three.  


The 3 Ways Candidates Get Beheaded Expecting Counter Offers...

My friend RJ Morris had a great post up at Fistful of Talent a couple of years ago related to the deep psychology of the Counter Offer - the moment when you tell your employer you're leaving and they start scrambling to keep you.  Here's a taste of RJ's post, you should go read the whole thing:

"Wow, Sally…that really catches me by surprise. Look, you’re way too valuable to us to have you Dont leave. You have to know that, right? I mean, we’ve been really busy, so maybe I have not given you the right recognition or been able to bring you up to speed on the conversations we had last month at the leadership retreat. You’re very important to us. We had even talked about expanding your role. You’re that important.

And me, I’m probably moving up in the next 6-12 months, and you’re the lady on the succession plan. Let me talk to the CEO and get you some time on her calendar next week, when she gets back from Asia. I know we can accelerate the raise we had already planned for you, plus another bump when you get promoted into my role. Just hang in there, Sally. Things are right around the corner. Big things. Don’t make any firm decisions yet."

RJ's basic premise is that counter offers come across as fake and forced when provided by a boss or employer who's been ignoring the employee in question for months if not years.  RJ's on the money with his take on the issue, but there's an important qualifier that the candidate side needs to understand:

You never take an offer to your employer as a conditional resignation expecting that they're going to counter.  As soon as you do that, you're screwed.  You've overplayed your hand.

Translation: If you take a counter offer to your boss, be prepared that she's going to say, "OK - hate to lose you, but you have to take that offer.  Can I get three weeks instead of two for your notice period?  I'd really like to see if we can get this filed and get your help in training your replacement during your last couple of days".  Whoops! As soon as you start taking an offer to your boss expecting them to counter, you probably fit into one of three categories:

1.  You're an average performer.  You think you deserve more money, but you're actually fairly comped in your employer's eyes for what you do.  I'll accept your resignation, good luck out there!

2.  You're over-comped for the market.  You may be an above average performer, but due to a variety of factors, your company already pays you more than you're worth vs. the market.  No one cares that you want/need more money.  They'd rather hire your backfill and spread the other 1/2 of the FTE across others to solidify them than pay you more to keep you.

3.  You're clueless about your importance versus the political scene at your company.  You think you deserve more money, and maybe you do.  But the way your company handles increases, you need 2 levels of approvals plus HR to get out of the way before a proper counter is to be issued - all unlikely in an environment where CYA is a way of life.  The fact that you brought an offer forward expecting someone to counter you shows your lack of situational awareness.

Real players don't take offers to employers expecting that they'll provide a big counter offer.  Real players go to resign and rarely accept a counter offer due to all the factors that RJ outlined in his post. Unfortunately, there are a lot of candidate types who use the offer to attempt to generate a counter. Those folks usually end up in a world of hurt, and they've only got themselves to blame.

Don't play games with offers if you fit one of the three categories above.  You'll end up without your head.