5 Reasons I'm STILL Bullish On America: Election Day 2020...

Election day is here. So many voices shouting, so let me add my thoughts to the mix with a bi-partisan thought that's not said enough these days:

AMERICA: STILL THE BEST THING GOING. Yikes

Let's start with my favorite songs from Hamilton, which you can find on Disney+. If you're looking for a reason to feel good on election day, you could do much, much, much worse.

Yorktown

One Last Time

What Comes Next?

It's been a rough year in America. Pandemic, George Floyd, second phase of the first wave of the pandemic and now, one of the most disruptive elections in history. The economy is questionable and things have never felt more divisive - which obviously spills over into the workplace, thus the post on something you thought had nothing to do with HR... 

Note that I'm hardcore moderate that thinks both polar extremes politically in the states are 100% crazy.

Here's 5 reasons I'm still bullish on America, with some HR/management thoughts embedded within:

1--We live in a country where you can actually tell the leader to "F off" directly to him/her via his social account. He might even "@" you! I just think it's interesting and a complement that our society/constitution allows for that and people aren't afraid to do it.  Try that in Moscow, Wuhan, Istanbul or Cairo these days, friends.

I don't agree with the decision to tell a leader from any party to F-off publicly. But I'll support your right to do it until the day I die. Side note - be careful with this approach with a leader in your company. Like the Dixie Chicks in the early 2000's, you'll find out that your right to free speech is protected, but the free market can and will remove you from corporate consideration. Also note the Dixie Chicks are now The Chicks, because Dixie didn't survive the cut in 2020 but "chicks" is OK, but as FYI, I've issued an advisory for dudes not to get comfortable using that term. Got it? Cool.

2--We have a history in the USA of being getting fed up, then vocal and moving for change. It's a long history and I could list all the problems America has had through the years - but you're aware of the history. Instead, I'm going to focus on what actually happens over time in America. People are vocal, critical mass is formed and change happens. It's easy to say it takes too long  - it sure does  - but just grab a live look in at St. Petersburg, Tabriz or Shenzhen for perspective. Also noted that it remains very much a work in process - as the George Floyd events illustrate (see my posts on the aftermath of George Floyd here and here, as well as these posts by great writers at my other site (FOT) if you doubt my intent). It's a rough look for the USA right now, but I believe America is 100% going to get this right - both now and in the future.

3--America is still the premiere melting pot of the world.  When I look around at the world my sons live in, I'm happy and proud that their world is more defined by meritocracy via equal opportunity more than mine was growing up. They see race, national origin and gender less than our generation did, and are accepting of people who don't look like them totally kicking a## in various walks of life. Why? America. Also see this map from the Washington Post that is a visual representation of the most and least racially tolerant countries in the world. Spoiler alert: Racism is a problem around the world, and while the USA has so many miles to go, we have some common ground to work from. (Note: I ran this map by some of my liberal friends and they had a hard time processing it. But still, it's the Washington Post on the left and they haven't pulled it down, which to me means it's solid for me to quote).

When I see a Black, Asian or Indian kid/family achieving in America, I'm not threatened. I'm proud they are American. I love it when the melting pot kicks ass. 

4--There's still a role for moderates in America. If you're not feeling the polar extremes of either political party here, it's OK. While the polar extremes are less tolerant than ever of your lack of willingness to commit, you've become the swing voter block that drives both sides crazy. You're also probably uniquely qualified to manage people as you've learned to see different points of view and co-exist with the highest % of people. This just in - the best managers of people are the ones who can get as many people in the bus to where we are going in 2021, 2031 and 2041 as possible. It's hard to do that when you say - as both parties do - you're either with me or against me.

5 - AMERICA ALWAYS COURSE CORRECTS. We've had a lot of dark times in our country and we've made some questionable decisions. What I love about America is that WE ALWAYS THROW THE BUMS OUT. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of party. In addition, just when you think you know what the answer will be, America rises up and pleasantly surprises you. Who saw a 6-3 vote FOR LGBTQ+ rights in a Supreme Court loaded with Republicans? No one, and you'd be fair to be skeptical on why that wasn't celebrated more. So be active, shoot your shot and trust the process. If you don't like how things are going in the USA - all you have to do is wait - we are junkies for change and can't accept too much of a single point of view. (side note - the picture in this post is my 4th of July t-shirt. It says, "YIKES", with subscript that says "England 1776")

Let's dig into that "Yikes" reference to close this July 4th post. This recent article from The Atlantic called "The Decline of the American World" digs into the perception of America around the world, especially in Europe. I found the article to be incredibly balanced and why it certainly focused on some negative perceptions of our country, it also featured hot takes by many that the world needs America to be great.

The article is highly recommended. I can't let you go without sharing the close of the article with you, focused on what Charles Dickens found in America:

"Over America’s history, it has had any number of crises—and any number of detractors. Le Carré is just one of many who have delved into the conflicting well of emotions that the United States manages to stir in those who watch from outside, part horrified, part obsessed. In his travel book, American Notes, for instance, Charles Dickens recalls his loathing for much of what he saw on his adventures through the country. “The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough,” Professor Jerome Meckier, author of Dickens: An Innocent Abroad, told the BBC in 2012. “He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive, and above all acquisitive." In other words—it’s the aesthetic again. In a letter, Dickens summed up his feelings: “I am disappointed. This is not the republic of my imagination.”

Dickens, like le Carré, captured America’s unique hold on the world and the fundamental reality that it can never live up to people’s imagination of what it is, good or bad. As it watches today, it recoils but cannot stop looking. In the United States, the world sees itself, but in an extreme form: more violent and free, rich and repressed, beautiful and ugly. Like Dickens, the world expects more of America. But as le Carré observed, it is also, largely, an aesthetic thing—we don’t like what we see when we look hard, because we see ourselves."

Translation: The bumper sticker for America could easily be, "AMERICA: WE'RE MORE EVERYTHING THAN YOU ARE".

Which is why we'll be back. Happy election day, America. You are imperfect, dysfunctional, and at times, hard to look at.

But you're still the best thing going. Regardless of the outcome this time around, I believe you'll get this right, as you've gotten so many other things right.

See you at the cookout. 


How Buffer Approaches Salary Transparency (It's Kind of Cool)

Attention HR geeks who like to dabble in compensation...

Also, attention anyone who is interested in current events, which finds some highly compensated workers moving out of high priced areas (SF, NYC, LA) to work remote. As you're aware, companies have started communicating they'll be adjusting the salaries of some of this high priced talent to reflect the cost of living in their new locations. Buffer

For those of us used to formal compensation plans, this move is standard - it's called geographical grading, and most formal compensation plans set ranges for jobs, then adjust them upward or downward based on the area the talent lives in.  There are generally 5-6 geographical grades in a compensation plan.

Of course, it's the cancel culture and the "how dare you" culture that's SHOCKED a company would reduce compensation for someone moving from San Francisco to Iowa. 

Many of the same people who would rage against the audacity of a company reducing salaries for lower cost locations would also be huge proponents of salary transparency.

And this is the point where we merge both topics - salary transparency and geographical adjustments.

Consider the technology firm BUFFER.

Buffer does a nice job of describing it goals with salary transparency - you can read up on it here.

But what's super interesting about their view on transparency is how they set salaries within a range and how they adjust them up or down. More from Buffer's page that talks about their philosophy and even provides a <freaking> calculator

This multiplier is still applied by using a teammates’ location to determine one of three geographic bands, based on a high, average, or low cost of living area. We use data from Numbeo to figure out which band applies for each teammate. For high cost of living areas we pay 100% of the San Francisco 50th percentile, average is 85%, and low is 75%.

We figure out each teammate’s geographic band by comparing the cost of living index of a teammate’s location to the cost of living index in San Francisco.

So let's examine that a bit for what we know about formal compensation plans. The fact Buffer provides one salary they pay for each job (they don't adjust for who you are, that's how they keep it consistent and can do transparency) means that they have elected a single point to pay within a salary range recommended by salary surveys from a provider like Numbeo.  I'd assume they're likely paying at the midpoint in the range (ranges have minimums, midpoints and maximums) for anyone in the role to keep it real.  Then, as stated, they are adjusting through geographical grades or bands in the way described above.

So, if you're moving to Denver, you're taking a 15% cut, which by the way, is super consistent with the numbers reported related to VM Ware and Twitter adjustments (widely reported as 18% for a move from SF to Denver). If you're moving to Ames, Iowa - sad trombone - it's a 25% cut.

Geographical grades and band have been around forever. It's interesting to see a company committed to salary transparency be unapologetic for adjustments for geography.

How can they do it? Simple, when you pay everyone in the same job the same $$, the black box of comp mystery goes away. I'm not saying that's the way to do it, but it's a bit of a case study on how simple it could be, and it automatically addressed equity concerns. 

See the calculator online at Buffer by clicking here!!


Attempting to Build Consensus or Get Change? Watch this Helpful Seinfeld Video...

The older I get, the more I know absolutes rarely work. 

The HR Leader/Generalist motto is true - the clear path always lies somewhere in the middle. Case in point - 2020! What a year, and it's only going to get better!  An election coming up in a less than 2 months! #freakshow Seinfeld

Examples from 2020 that the truth is always somewhere in the middle (listing the extremes on each side below, and all of these things impact the workplace, which is why they're being discussed here):

-People who can work from home are never coming back to the office/WFH and isolation is crushing people

--We need to go on lockdown until Covid cases are at zero/The economy is the most important thing

--Masks and face shields are mandatory at all times/I should never be forced to wear a mask

--Big Ten Football/SEC Football (gotcha!)

This list goes on, plus it includes all the issues our country has dealt with in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.

2020 is hard. For everyone seeking to build consensus, get change and generally make things better, I present a group you'll need called "the middle":

The middle is an interesting group. They're watching and listening and agree with most or all of what you say, but many in this group are wary of extremes. The more your position is framed as non-negotiable and you refuse to include them in the dialog, the more they fade away. You'll never even know they're gone.

Conversation is key. For my visual friends, I offer up the following classic from Seinfeld called "The Ribbon Bully" (click on the link if you don't see the video below, it's a keeper). Let's stay together, have conversations, get meaningful change and figure this out. And for all my friends in the middle, when someone surprises you and wants to have dialog, it's non-negotiable to engage and try to listen more than you talk.


WORST BOSS EVER: Just Watch How They Treat Others When Off Camera...

It's a line as old as time itself. The wisest person in your family gave you the following advice when it comes to the true test of any individual:

"If you really want to know who someone is, watch how they treat others when they think no one is watching"

Without question, you've heard that saying or a variant of it. And it's 100% true. 

This wisdom was on full display last week on a virtual Senate hearing. Here's the rundown from New York Mag:

In the middle of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s testimony before (a video-chat version of) Congress on Friday morning, Delaware senator Tom Carper experienced the kind of tech hiccup so many of us have while working from home over the last few months. And Carper — not realizing his screen and audio were being recorded for everyone to see — didn’t hold back his frustration.

After being called on to speak and almost missing his window because of the technical difficulties, Carper suddenly appeared, directing his ire over the problems at a masked staffer to his left. The senator intoned “f**k, f**k, f**k,” after which the poor man fiddled with Carper’s setup — which had already been restored.

What's interesting about this is that the Twitter mob, quick to cancel almost anyone, played it off and said words to the effect of "that's so 2020" and "who has not faced this?" - which are both correct sentiments.

But you know me. I like to dig a little bit deeper. My folks did tell me to watch how someone treats others when they think no one is watching - because it matters. Let's run through what I saw.  First, watch the whole video multiple times below (email subscribers click through to view or click this link):

OK, got it? Here's what I saw:

1--Yes, this can happen to anyone. Which is why patience is valued in these circumstances.

2--It's not so much that he said the F word, it's how he said it. He turned directly to a staffer who was there to help him, and he didn't say words to the effect of "please help me" even with some cursing included, he basically turned to the staffer (turning away from the camera) and just started abruptly saying, “f**k, f**k, f**k"

3 - That whole deal - turning to a staffer and doing the whole grumpy, abrupt, “f**k, f**k, f**k" without actually asking for help basically puts you on the list of worst Bosses alive. It's a big list, but act like this and you're on the list.

4--Also notable is the fact that he couldn't handle the tech after being coached 100 times, and then clicks on something as he's turning to lambast his help and opens up the mic right before he turned to the staffer to drop f bombs - classic. It means he took responsibility for the tech, but then couldn't handle it, then kind of bullied someone under pressure.

The mob that usually cancels people was quick to play it off. To be clear, I'm not into the cancel thing, so I'm not interested in that angle. I'm not calling for anything.

But dig a little deeper on the mannerisms and call it for what it is. Powerful guy with awful habits related to how he treats people.

Worst Boss Ever - he's on the list.

 


The Real Question In 2020 Is This: What's YOUR Platform?

2020 - It's been a bit of a year. As John Whitaker pointed out at Fistful of Talent, we know at the very least a 3rd large scale event is coming - the 2020 election in the United States.

Translation - the fatigue you feel, while real, isn't going to get better. This world is going to keep coming after you in 2020. The more you read and watch the news (which Randall-woodfin_31259213_ver1.0you should), the more conflicted, confused and angry you're going to get.

Which brings me to the point of this note about 2020:

What's YOUR Platform?

Nope! I'm not talking about Democrat/Republican, left vs right, Washington Post vs The Wall Street Journal or anything that signifies sides.

Instead, I'm suggesting that if you feel fatigue, anger or hopelessness with how any major event or movement has left you feeling in 2020, turn off your phone (at least the data portion that powers your social apps and video), the news and everything else that's trying to get you to take a side (and potentially hate another side) and do the following:

Pull out a sheet of paper. Do 2 columns, one for COVID-19 (how we're doing the lockdown, RTW, etc) and one for George Floyd and everything that followed in the last three weeks.

Got your columns? Excellent. Now give me 5-10 bullet points on each and tell me how YOU feel about the issues. Really explore where you are at with those two issues.

I guarantee you that you're going to feel more at peace once you're done. Because instead of being manipulated by the various outlets that shoot opinion, point of views and at times, manipulation your way, you objectively listed where you were at on the issues.

And let's face it, establishing where YOU are at is the first step towards a better place, with any of the issues confronting us, and a better world. 

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

I'll give you one piece of my platform - I like leaders who understand how to navigate the complexity of where we are, and I'll cross party lines (I'm a moderate Republican) to vote for good people doing good work.

Example - Birmingham (AL) mayor Randall Woodfin. Late in the first weekend of protests and riots nationally, Birmingham had its first major protest. Woodfin was present and, of course, allowed a peaceful protest and even permitted the group to go to Linn Park in downtown Birmingham and attempt to take down a huge statue with Confederate ties. When it became apparent that 10+ people would be crushed if the statue came down on the protesters, he got on the bullhorn and asked for 24 hours to get the statue down (knowing that the city was under order from the state not to bring down the statue from past years litigation, etc.).

But wait, I'm not done.

The protesters OK'd Woodfin's request and started marching away. Then the group splintered, with rioters taking advantage and started tearing up downtown. Woodfin got on social media IN THE STREETS and said with perfect clarity, "last night of this - we're not tearing up our city."

But again, there's more. The next day, he got the statue down, and BTW, it was one of the first nationally to come down post-George Floyd, and certainly the first to be removed by a sitting mayor. PS- no more riots in Birmingham under the same mayor.

So a mayor in the party I don't automatically affiliate with had the following platform from my vantage point:

1--Allows Protest and actively supports cause.

2--Leads on public safety.

3--Doesn't allow destruction of property.

4--Proactively took confederate symbols down, at risk of lawsuit from the state level. Because it was time.

5--Took the statue to an undisclosed location so neither extreme could get to it, so the legal process could take its course.

Leadership is hard. Conservatives knocked Woodfin for allowing the initial riots. Liberals knocked him for being harder on organizing protests once riots happened. 

I watched and decided I had a lot of respect for how he handled a fluid situation and led as a result. Consequently, I'm more interested in everything else that is on his priority list in Birmingham, where I live.

It sounds like Randall Woodfin has his own platform.

Commenting and trolling on social media is easy. Leadership is hard.

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

I know this is a long post. But simply pulling out a figurative piece of paper and thinking about MY platform was helpful. It helped me cut out of the noise, and think about where I was at. Along the way, I became more open to the ideas of others, and found people like Randall Woodfin providing leadership during a difficult time.

I don't have a lot of answers in 2020. But I know most people in America (including you) are good.

If you're frustrated in 2020, turn off social and the news and take inventory of what your platform is on the big issues. When you do that, you'll find you have more in common with almost everyone around you, and we can build from there. 

Consuming extremes (without self evaluation) prevents conversation.

Good luck in the rest of 2020. I have to go, because apparently there's a huge saharan dust cloud coming to blanket where I live.

Of course, in 2020 we call that "Tuesday".


Wake Up

How long?
Not long
'Cause what you reap is what you sow.

--"Wake Up", Rage Against The Machine

Yes, I understand there's a higher authority than Rage Against The Machine to attribute this quote to, Ragebut when s**t's falling apart, you go with what you know best.

Let's start with the obvious. I'm white. My full name is Kristian Patrick Dunn, which on the white-o-meter lands somewhere between Jim from The Office and Conor McGregor. I'm becoming increasingly aware that my position is full of privilege and there's a bunch that I don't understand about what's going on and where we are at.

Although I wasn't born into wealth and come from hard working people, in relative terms I hit the birth lottery economically when and where I was born. 

But Kent and Deanna Dunn (RIP, I miss you) didn't raise me to think any of this was OK. But my upbringing is part of the issue with white people of my ilk. We were raised in homes without a lot of direct conversation about racism, raised by good people who taught us to keep our head down, work hard, treat all with respect and things would work out.

That means people like me are not naturally vocal about what's ***ked up in our nation. 

But enough of this b******t. When Minneapolis is burning, protests break out in dozens of cities and citizens are setting police cars on fire in front of the Atlanta HQ of CNN, it's time to have a take and look for change.

I can't add much to the conversation about race relations. I don't know enough, and I haven't experienced enough. It's better for me to listen and make sure we're talking about it in my house. But I know what evil looks like and that's probably the best way to start.

So what's next?

I'll start with the obvious. Can we please take bad people off the board in an expedited fashion?

One big change I'd like to see is expedited investigations and when necessary, expedited trials for specific types of lethal force used by our police forces. Simply put, it can't take months to figure out whether to charge someone and years to carry out the legal process when obviously wrongful deaths occur. We've got to fast track the entire process when outlandish (not all) deaths occur at the hands of the police. Make the penalties severe for cronyism that cause delays to put someone in the system. Make justice swift in these circumstances and make the penalties hard. Of course, police unions will be a barrier to reform.

Side note: Our police forces have impossible jobs and most are capable of great things. Need an example? The police force protecting the White House on Friday night held the line with little use of force, despite objects being thrown at them repeatedly and unspeakable things being shouted at them inches from their face.

No deaths. Very limited physical force. All the more reason to change the rules/laws and take bad cops off the board quickly. 

(Yes, I'm aware of the videos showing the physical force over the weekend by police forces around the country. Sorry - I believe most police officers are good. Riots are hard.)

But reform related to expedited investigations/trials for police forces doesn't do enough to make justice as swift as we need it to be. We need similar reform for hate crimes, where people like Ahmaud Arbery get systematically tracked down vigilante style by terrible people and murdered.

Of course, someone reading this will ask me if we'll provide the same expedited process/trials for white victims. To that I say, "sure," but the last time I checked, it's not a white guy who gets tracked down by non-whites in a pickup truck or crushed to death by a cop's knee. I'm sure someone will give me stats that counter that statement. Remember, I said, "sure."

When I ask for an expedited process, I'm not asking for 10,000 cases into the process a year. I'm asking that we move to take the obvious outliers off the board, quickly and unapologetically.

The world doesn't need another panel on CNN/FOX/MSNBC or a White House/Speaker of the House press conference. We need our senators and representatives to come together, to the middle of the aisle, and do their job to get real change. Or course, that will take courage from both sides of the aisle.

I know that the people I'm talking about the need to fast-track have rights. Let's give them their rights, but modify the legal system so it happens in 10% of the time. We should fund whatever resources are needed to make that happen.

I don't know enough to speak intelligently about a lot of issues of race, so I'm going to listen and learn.

But I know what evil looks like and I want it gone. Quickly. 


The HR Famous Podcast: E8 - Video Work Meetings: Winning On ZOOM

In Episode 8 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn (Jessica Lee on break) get together with Dawn Burke (Senior Writer at Fistful of Talent, Sr. Consultant at Recruiting Toolbox) to talk about video meeting etiquette, their virtual meeting pet peeves and their wildest video call stories.

The team shares their tips and tricks on tech, framing and lighting for your video calls. Talking about their pet peeves leads to the importance of connection, Zoom’s questionable feature on attention metrics, and how to be aware of nonverbal cues. KD closes by prompting the team to share some embarrassing video call moments that you won’t want to miss.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights: 

1:30 - Tim says Michigan isn’t shut down completely – YET and the team welcomes special guest, senior writer at FoT, Dawn Burke. Dawn explains she doesn’t eat cat food, and life’s good followed by Tim and KD talking COVID-19 toilet paper memes.

5:00- KD dives deep into best practices for video meetings. Kris gives a shout out to Craig Fisher and talk about how not to suck at video – thinking about your camera, mic and lighting… Tim talks tech with wifi vs. hardwire – and calls out KD on his bad internet, and KD blames his kids who are now home and “streaming”.

8:30- Dawn talks the importance of having the basics first, lighting second… but if you are looking for the right light, there are amazon purchases that makes video calls cleaner, neater and brighter. She highly recommends the selfie ring light.

10:45 -The team digs into the pet peeves. KD’s first: framing and shitty backgrounds. Tim and Dawn agree first on their list is learn how to MUTE.  

17:20 – KD asks “What is your dream video meeting background?” Dawn would be in a coffee shop with Jesus in the background. Tim goes 80’s arcade and KD wants a Wu-Tang jpeg. But what you really want, is something that starts conversation.

22:25- KD talks about how your company culture follows you into virtual meetings. “There’s attention metrics on tools like Zoom and the host of the meeting can get a notification if you aren’t paying close attention for 30 seconds” A hack for those with questionable manager techniques… keep Zoom as your active window and get your other windows set before the call is the recommendation.

27:45- The team discusses if it’s important to be looking into the camera. Tim mentions it’s one of his pet peeves – “eye contact is one of our physical ques that indicate if someone’s engaged”

33:30- KD says the best guidance for video meetings, is to show non-verbal ques and interaction because that will help you thrive over those who aren’t picking up those ques.Tim and Dawn go into more advice. Tim says headphones keep you locked in and Dawn says everyone working from home will make our work places better in the future.

37:45 Tim, KD and Dawn start sharing their video call horror stories. From spouses crawling across the floor in the background, embarrassing notifications on shared screens to Dawn’s cat cameos.

Show Resources:

Jessica Lee on LinkedIn

Tim Sackett on Linkedin

Kris Dunn on LinkedIn

HRU Tech

The Tim Sackett Project

The HR Capitalist

Fistful of Talent

Kinetix

Boss Leadership Training Series


THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E7 – COVID-19 + Work From Home (WFH) Advice from Dawn Burke...

In Episode 7 of The HR Famous Podcast, long-time HR leaders (and friends) Tim Sackett and Kris Dunn (Jessica Lee on break) get together to with Dawn Burke (Senior Writer at Fistful of Talent, Sr. Consultant at Recruiting Toolbox) to talk about Work From Home, as tens of millions of American workers have been told to stay home, keep working and figure it out on the fly.

Dawn shares her advice and background from a recent Fistful of Talent feature, focusing on the need to maintain work rituals (eating lunch in your car and watching Netflix rather than in the house) as well as thoughts on productivity expectations, print cartridges, PETS, kids, laundry, etc. Tim and Kris weigh in with stories about day drinking (not them, other people) and the psychology behind work from home productivity and the need to stop texting and emailing everyone ALL THE TIME from your bunker.

If you’re new to work from home or managing people who are, this is the podcast for you.

Listen below and be sure to subscribe, rate and review (iTunes) and follow (Spotify)!!! Listen on iTunesSpotify and Google Play.

Show Highlights:

1:30 – Tim discloses he’s not working from home since he owns his building at work, which is really just another form of working from home. Dawn Burke, longtime HR leader, Senior Writer at Fistful of Talent, Sr. Consultant for Recruiting Toolbox introduces herself.

4:25 – Dawn breaks down a post she wrote at Fistful of Talent entitled “Working from Home Can Be Awful! Unless You Do These Things”, in which she provides great advice on how to set yourself to work from home, especially if you haven’t done It before.  It’s harder than it looks, as she details her transition to work from home and where she struggled as a result. Dawn also talks about people around her – like her sister – struggling over the last few days as they transition from no WFH to full time WFH with zero planning and prep.

11:20 – Dawn, Kris and Tim get into Dawn’s advice for people transitioning to full-time work from home – focused on the needs to maintain “rituals”. Kris goes right to one of the sizzle parts of Dawn’s article/advice, which is the disclosure that just like when she used to try and get out of the corporate office mid-day, she also has a history of trying to get out of the home office mid-day – BY EATING LUNCH IN HER CAR AND WATCHING NETFLIX. Fascinating and scary all at the same time. The gang ends up loving the idea for new folks doing the WFH thing. It’s actually brilliant.  Other references – Magic Mike, etc.

17:23 – Speaking of work rituals, Tim and Kris share alcohol-related stories from their time as trench HR pros.

21:00 – Dawn breaks down her top advice for folks moving to 100% work from home. Making appearances in the discussion – print cartridges, PETS, kids, laundry, etc. Tim talks about the productivity bump/burnout function that’s coming for new WFH people.

27:00– The gang talks about the need to stop messaging via Text and Slack when you’re a new WFH person and pick up the phone and talk to people (or via video) – to get human interaction. Interaction is going to be important to prevent isolation.

28:50 – TOP ADVICE FROM THE GANG RELATED TO WORK FROM HOME – Tim and Dawn break down their biggest pieces of advice for folks who are new to work from home. Tim shares his view that things get lost in translation, and you have to pick up the phone, facetime or hop on a video call rather than try to resolve something through 23 emails.  Dawn talks about her background and lighting in her WFH set up, and points to exercise/wellness/mindfulness platforms as a huge help to mental and physical health. KD feels like the key to WTH is find a way to reconnect with someone who’s important in your life  – personal and/or professional – at least a couple of times a week.

NOTE – We’ll be back mid-week with a pod focused on nothing but ZOOM and the art of the video meeting!


myCorona: Let's Leave the #COVID19 Messages to the Experts...

You know what I'm talking about, my friends. COVID-19 messages from the companies you have some type of relationship with.

There's a set of organizations where messages on COVID-19 are either mission-critical or welcomed. Included in that group are hospitals and health care organizations, companies communicating with workforces, government entities, schools, places for food and a few others. Gotta hear from those mission critical folks, and for the most part, they are doing an outstanding job.

Then there's everyone else. Here's a running list of who I didn't need to hear from related to COVID-19:

--Any clothing retailer, either online or bricks and mortar. Shopping for your gear isn't at the top of my list. Just because I ordered an Alkaline Trio t-shirt from you in 2015 doesn't mean I need to know where you're at on all of this. Express is closing at the mall? Got it, thanks. 

--Any tech or information provider I pay. Last time I checked, your tech worked. Not super critical I hear from you. Ping me if it goes down and tell me what the plan is then. Note that I will be thinking that still having internet access is awesome at least 4 times a day. But, if you're offering additional services (New York Times dropping paywall for some content, energy and tech companies not cutting people off due to unpaid bills, etc.), you can email me as much as you want, even if I don't benefit or need it. Good job by you!

--Cole-Haan. I know, they're a retailer (shoes), but I had to list them here for special consideration, as they sent me a note last night that they "Are With Us". Check, good to know. Are the 11.5's still available in the grey ZeroGrand? Damn, never mind.

--Anyone selling something that's not mission critical. Of course, that's in the eye of the beholder, so if you have a solution that can help someone right now, do your thing. But that guilt ploy note (the 7th in a series) I got from the LinkedIn Learning guy late yesterday noting that "learning and development must not be at the top of my list right now" felt a bit off, right?  Probably stand down on the raw lead generation troops for a week as a best practice.

I get it, you feel the need to tell people you're connected and understand - but if you're on the outer ring of what really matters right now, just be responsive when we have a question. I guarantee your Net Promoter Score will be more impacted by that than the 5-paragraph email you just sent that says your company - a fine provider of mid-range men's shirts- is tracking the situation.

As for the hospitals, government entities and retailers of essentials (food, etc) - god bless you and thanks for all you're doing and everything to come!


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