Mediocre People Don't Like High Achievers...and Vice Versa...

Saw this video clip below from Alabama coach Nick Saban and had to share. As an Auburn season-ticket holder, it's hard to post about Saban, but - no one's had more success, seems more demanding or non-tolerant of sloppiness.

The video below is pure Saban - after a disappointing year by his standards - talking about his goals for spring practice. The gems include:

--"Mediocre people don't like High Achievers"

--and "High Achievers don't like mediocre people"

Don't let other coach-speak like "on the bus". "off the bus" and "do your job" distract you. The real message here is that Alabama Football, led by Saban - which never takes a recruit who isn't elite, period - is headhunting the players and people in his organization that are net negative to the cause.  

At Alabama, being net negative to the cause as a player doesn't mean a thing about ability - it's mindset, ability to work with others, play a role, etc.

Saban goes on to tell his players that one day, they're going to be in the world of work, and someone like him is going to be on mission to get mediocre people out of their company as an agent of change.

"Which one do you want to be?", says Saban.

Saban is telling them they could lose their jobs, scholarships, etc. He's also channeling Good to Great from Jim Collins with the reference to mediocre people.

I'll allow it - Saban is a maniac, and bonus points to the work reference to his players, all of whom believe "work" is the NFL, which is assuredly not for everyone in this meeting. Topgrading is alive and well and if Saban is doing it, we should be thinking about it as well. 

Video below (email subscribers click through for post to view) and at link above.


Framing As A Working Professional: What It Is and Why You Should Do It...

“The most talented successful people in the workplace consistently “frame” their goals, work and outcomes via varied communication strategies.”

-Kris Dunn, aka “KD

When someone quotes themselves, hold on tight!  Buckle up! Framing

What is framing? It's not being a victim. It's being proactive. It's getting your story out there as a professional, "framing" the dialog about who you are, what you're working on and most importantly to you - how you're doing.

It's using of a variety of communication techniques to ensure all know what you are working on - including face to face, email, reporting and more.

Framing includes:

--Communicating what your goals are for a specific period.

--Communicating your challenges and progress.

--Communicating your wins and finished work product.

--Communicating your opinions and takes on what's going on around you in your area of subject matter expertise.

How's not bothering people with your goals, progress and outcomes going?  Not great, right?

You should frame more.  Don't let others build the narrative about who you are or how you are doing - take responsibility for the story. 

Framing is necessary for your career. Framing, for lack of a better word, is good.

Framing works. Do it - stop being shy.


Ask The HR Capitalist: I Work at Tesla, and I'm Tired of the S**t...

From the mailbag:
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KD -

I first ran into the HR Capitalist based on you writing on Tesla and our founder Elon Musk.  I work in The_doctor_is_in a professional grade position managing people in our Fremont location. I've been at Tesla for a little under 8 months, and I'm exhausted. While I expected the pace to be fast, the blurred line between work and life is tough for even me - a long time believer that people who work hard get the most done and deserve the rewards.  While I love the Tesla mission and product, the grind is too much.  Based on what I've described about myself, what advice can you give me for the best way to leave?  I almost quit before the holidays, because the end of year at Tesla is a big bag of coal for most employees.  I've never been at a job less than 3 years, but there's no way in hell I can make it that long here.

--Name Withheld by KD

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Hey My Friend- 

It's a tough spot for sure, but I've got a couple of things for you to consider:

--Don't quit before you have another job. It's always easier to get a job when you already have a job, and if you quit, there's always people who will hold it against you that you didn't stick it out.  

--Don't quit or take another job before you get to the 1-year mark in your current role at Tesla. Based on what I hear from people like you, 1 year at Tesla is like 7 years everywhere else.  If you can get to the 1-year mark and then accept another position at another company, it automatically crosses a threshold of acceptability in the marketplace, and you'll carry that premium for the rest of your career on your resume.

--Since you're a manager of people, don't forget others are facing the same struggle. The more you help them and listen, the more you'll be providing therapy for yourself as well.

In short, start your job search in earnest at 11 months and leave after you cross the one-year mark. It's cool that you did the Tesla thing, but if it's eating you up, find someone who values that experience (many will in the marketplace) and make your move. But you need to survive until you get to the year mark at Tesla.  #optics

--KD


2019 Employer Brand Song of the Year Winner - Amazon!

It's the end of 2019 and reflection time. One reflection I've had this year is how much Amazon is dominating my life.

As a consumer, it's obvious and great. I can get anything I want without leaving my house, and it generally comes no later than 2 days after I ordered it.

But as a citizen, you have to be a bit wary of what Amazon has become, both as a partner and an employer. The Bezos creation has so much market power and smartly reinvests most profits back into the business to build for the future.  That was really cool to write about in the past. No profits, all reinvestments. Then something happened and it went from being smart to also having some pretty remarkable societal impact. Consider the following:

--Amazon has long been written about as a hard place to work - both in professional grade positions and in warehouses. My favorite related piece of this was the trademark application that had humans in cages while the machines zipped around.

--Amazon's also having a well-documented impact on retail. We spent a decade complaining about WalMart putting small stores out of business. That seems cute now.

Being a hard place to work and representing the Grim Reaper of Retail still holds true for Amazon. But there are other trends that are newer, but just as troubling:

--Amazon's a tough partner. Their recent decision to build their own delivery fleet of transport jets is the right business decision, but looks pretty hard towards UPS and FedEx. That's life in the show. Read this great post on this impact on FedEx here.

--Amazon's also putting together it's own network of local delivery, but they're pushing the responsibility to aspiring entrepreneurs to invest in fleets with the promise that Amazon will always have work/volume for them. In this way, they're also deferring the tough responsibility of running fleets of drivers to anyone that can finance a few 100K to ramp a franchise up.  Is there any doubt the cautionary tale from UPS/FedEx will hold true here as well?

--There are lots of tax issues with Amazon (meaning they don't pay a lot of them).

At the end of the day, things evolve. Change happens. Jobs and companies are destroyed and new ones emerge - I get that. And I'm certainly addicted to Amazon as a consumer. Their ability to create a marketplace and invest in money-losing free shipping as a means to put other people out of business is genius. You and I would do the same thing if given a chance.

But a couple of months ago (before the Christmas rush) I had the moment. I had ordered a pair of slacks from Amazon, and I got the notice they were being delivered - on Sunday. An hour later, there he was. A delivery person employed by a third party, looking like he had been in the van for 12 hours already.

Do I really need a pair of ####ing slacks on Sunday?  That's what Amazon has taught us to expect.

I got my slacks on Sunday, but a whole bunch of people got used in the marketplace and supply chain to make that happen.  That's why my 2019 Employer Brand Song of the Year award goes to Amazon and is - wait for it - "Use Me" by Bill Withers.

As Amazon continues to grow, everyone's getting used a little bit.  Song embedded below - click through for the post if you don't see it.  Worth a listen.

My friends feel it's their appointed duty
They keep trying to tell me all you want to do is use me
But my answer yeah to all that use me stuff
Is I want to spread the news that if it feels this good getting used
Oh you just keep on using me until you use me up
Until you use me up

I returned the slacks to the Amazon return center at Kohl's 29 days later.  Damn.


AWAY BAGS: When Your Horrible People Practices Turbocharge Sales...

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. That might be true.

For proof, look to Away Travel, which is the maker of the ultra-hip and ultra-cool Away Suitcase.  It's a Away trendy product, but one that I had an only passing awareness of.

Of course, that's before the shit hit the fan. My awareness is incredible now - more on that later.

Many of your are aware of a scathing article about Away that published on The Verge, detailing a bullying culture based on the communication tool of Slack. The gist is this - Away promoted radical transparency and attempted to force all communication on the public tool that is Slack, and as a result, there was little to no privacy in communications. When a diverse set of employees tried to set up their own private Slack channel, a high ranking exec popped in to monitor/participate in the group, even though she didn't fit the diversity the group was based on.

A few days later, members of the group started being fired. The Verge article hit, and it was an internet sensation for a couple of days. If you want more detail about what's being called a toxic culture at Away, go read the Verge article now.

But I'm here to talk about what happened AFTER that article hit.  Here's the chain of events that I saw:

1.  Within days, CEO Steph Korey stepped down amid criticism of the ruthless internal culture at the luggage startup she co-founded.

2.  Away named a new CEO.

3.  I listen to a pretty ruthless podcast called Pivot with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway. They had Away on their list of things to talk about during the week it all broke. That wasn't going to go well for Away, because these two are ruthless with bad stuff at companies.

4.  Away didn't run. Instead, they leaned in and sponsored the podcast. I've never heard Away as a sponsor of this podcast, so I'm assuming they bought the ad rights to the episode that aired with their news.

5. Scott Galloway, one of the hosts, did a live read as a result - in his usual personality, having fun with it.  They had already made the call with the CEO, so the talk was more about the action the company took rather than the bad cultural stuff.

The lesson here? If you act quick enough (fire the people in question) and lean in to the coverage, you can actually create buzz around a product and turn the negative talk into a business opportunity.

Here's what I did after hearing the podcast - 

  1. I went and checked out the product.
  2. I'm at least 50/50 to buy an Away bag as a result.
  3. I never would have gotten that close to purchase without the hard lead in on the podcast and controversy by Away.

The lesson?  Act fast when bad stuff happens and don't hide.

If you run the right type of business, you might just end up with a boost to your business. While that's not a recommendation to bully people on Slack, it's a case study on how to react when bad stuff happens.

BONUS READING: A Guide to Away Bag Knockoffs on Amazon


Sheryl Sandberg and the Balancing Act of Personal Mission vs Company Mission...

Personal values in the business world are tricky. While we all have the code we live by, we also have to go out and make a living for ourselves and are families.

Generally speaking, the average professional doesn't have huge conflicts between their Gallowaypersonal code of ethics and who they work for. Of course, from time to time their might be a meaningful "situation" that causes us to take a personal inventory of what's most important, but for the most part the biggest struggle we have is having to eat large amounts of **** to stay employed, because that's just the way world is.

Work is hard. Business is harder. Put on a helmet.

BUT - the most lofty among us have choices. I'm talking about people who have truly made it, creating wealth throughout their careers that helps them arrive at the point where they no longer have to eat large amounts of ****.  People who have arrived have choices - but do they have an obligation to make things better for the rest of us or take a stand against disconnects between their code and the company they work for?

This is on my mind as I read, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway. In the book, Galloway fires off this gem regarding Sheryl Sandberg:

“Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg told women to “lean in” because she meant it, but she also had to register the irony of her message of female empowerment set against a company that emerged from a site originally designed to rank the attractiveness of Harvard undergraduates, much less a firm destroying tens of thousands of jobs in an industry that hires a relatively high number of female employees: media and communications.”

---"The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway

Shots. Fired.

I don't believe that Sandberg has any requirement to leave Facebook due to the origin/mission disconnect referenced between Facebook and someone who would author a powerful book like Lean In. I could easily make the argument that Sandberg can do more good for women at Facebook than she can anywhere else in the world.

But the stronger your push related to mission, the more disconnects matter. Especially when you have acquired the means, which automatically reminds me of this Ferris quote.

Is Sandberg a hypocrite as Galloway seems to be alluding to? I say no. But it's an interesting case study related to this reality - the more you go on record and define your professional brand by mission, the more people will identify the inconsistencies and attempt to hold you accountable.


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!


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.


LEADERSHIP SIGNALS WEEK: Elizabeth Warren Sends a Signal on Values...

Capitalist Note: It's "Leadership Signals Week" here at the HR Capitalist, where I talk about things I've seen leaders communicate over the last couple of weeks that speak volumes about what they want their followers to think.

Communication matters if you're a leader. It's the most visible sign of what you believe, and it drives the intensity and beliefs of those that choose to follow you. Don't be fooled into thinking all communication is part of a formal plan. Some leadership signals are purposeful, others just happen organically.

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

First up for Leadership Signals Week, I present democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren

This isn's a political post (I'm a moderate Republican for the record, in many ways an independent), but an analysis of a recent leadership signal by Warren.

So what leadership signal did Elizabeth Warren send to the world recently? She signaled that anyone that doesn't share her values will be ejected from her Warrenorganization and the reason will be openly discussed. Before you cheer or jeer, let's analyze the signal and we'll discuss it length after this excerpt from Politico:

"Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign has fired its national organizing director, Rich McDaniel, after an investigation into allegations of what it called “inappropriate behavior.”

“Over the past two weeks, senior campaign leadership received multiple complaints regarding inappropriate behavior by Rich McDaniel,” campaign spokesperson Kristen Orthman said in a statement after an inquiry from POLITICO Friday morning. “Over the same time period, the campaign retained outside counsel to conduct an investigation. Based on the results of the investigation, the campaign determined that his reported conduct was inconsistent with its values and that he could not be a part of the campaign moving forward.”

In a statement, McDaniel said, "I have separated from the campaign and am no longer serving as National Organizing Director. I have tremendous respect for my colleagues despite any disagreements we may have had and believe departing at this time is in the best interest of both parties.

"I would never intentionally engage in any behavior inconsistent with the campaign or my own values. If others feel that I have, I understand it is important to listen even when you disagree. I wish the campaign and my colleagues well."

So what's the leadership signal sent here?  The real signal isn't a termination due to something that certainly seems harassment-related (most of us get that and would likely do the same if evidence warranted)- the real signal is the fact that Warren put the reason for the term openly and aggressively on display for the outside world.

I've written before about your options related to communicating reasons for terms to the rest of your organization.  Most of us aren't presidential candidates, but we still term people from time to time, and if we communicate that someone is no longer with the company, we generally just throw out a note of "separation" indicating that John Doe is no longer with the company, etc.

Under normal circumstances, the lack of detail that the employee is leaving for another opportunity signals the fact that the term was for some type of cause. But, if you fired the person for a good reason and the company is better off without them, communicating in this type of fashion is a bit of a missed opportunity.

By putting the detail for the term out to the media, Elizabeth Warren sending an extreme signal.  The signal here is not just that "those who don't match my values won't be allowed to work in this organization", but that "I will aggressive eject and tell the team why I made this call in clear terms".

Of course, the cynics will say that this termination/ejection is good for her campaign. Maybe. You never want to term someone for the reasons stated, but doing so and communicating the reason with such clarity does send signals to her voter base.

But we all have a decision to make when terming folks who fall short (in a variety of ways) of our value structure. How do we communicate? Making the decision to fire fast when you see a values gap is a good leadership signal. Many in your organization will understand without you saying more.

Communicating the reason for the term in more specific fashion to your base (for most of us, that's not voters, it's employees) is going hard in the paint.

It's either genius or incredible tone deaf - I waffle. But it's a clear leadership signal, and that's what this series is about.

"Results may vary".