Castrating Competitiveness

everyone-winsA couple of decades ago, our society began to do something that I believe has reshaped our kids and caused unintended consequences in the way they interact with others, evaluate their own self-worth, and engage themselves in business. It’s when we started making sure every child received a trophy, or a medal, or a certificate at the end of a season – regardless of that child’s participation level, skill, or impact on the game. Some even went so far that they quit keeping score altogether. All of this was done to try to spare the feelings of those kids that maybe weren’t as gifted in athletics, or played on teams that always lost. I get why they did it, but I don’t think anyone realized at the time how that would impact business 10-15-20 years later.

Companies are now having to reshape their operations and management styles specifically for that generation of kids who are now grown and in the workforce. It is imperative that they receive constant feedback and reassurance that they are doing well and that they really matter. It’s Stuart Smalley on steroids – “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And dog-gone it, people like me.” I’m all for giving someone recognition for a job well done, a pat on the back, encouragement when they might be frustrated, but what we are talking about here goes far beyond that in many cases. We have a generation of workers now that crave and need that fix multiple times a day in some cases.

Now we have a youth football league in California that has decided to fine coaches if they win by 35 points or more.  Again, I believe the intention here was good – but what happens to the child 10-15-20 years from now when we say that it’s maybe okay to win, but be sure and keep it close. Are we taking away from our society drive, motivation, competitiveness, and the will the succeed? Ten years from now, we will think success is being average?

Where does this lead to from here? If a student routinely gets 50’s on their tests, will be instruct other students that they can’t score above a 75 because we don’t want to make that other student feel inferior? When they graduate from high school, and some choose to serve in the military, will we tell our soldiers to win the war, but be sure and keep it close? Will we even have heroes 15 years from now? Will there be no need for record books any longer?

This castration of competitiveness from our personalities, our society, it leads to mediocrity. Long term, this cannot be good.

What is wrong with teaching our children, if you want to be better – work harder? I’v spent the past 8 months with my daughter working with her, pushing her, and helping her because she wants to make her high school basketball team – but some will get cut. She worked out 4-5 hours a day every day – when she felt like it and when she didn’t. I still don’t know if she’ll make the team, but I do know that the bigger lesson is how to work hard and reach for your dreams and goals. It has been my experience that people tend to live up to the standards that are set for them. When we lower the standards, we get less effort, drive, and motivation. Conversely, when we set high goals – we see people work hard and make stronger efforts.

It stinks to lose a football game. It stinks to lose at anything. It really stinks to get blown out – but lessons can be taught and learned in those moments as well. Put away the surgical tools and trying cut this and snip that – let’s dream big and work hard and see where we stand at the end of it all.

Daily Checklist to Contentment

checklistContentment is a funny thing. Some may see it as reaching a point where you don’t push yourself any further and accepting the status quo. Others see it as the ultimate objective of their life. We all, at some level, have that whole “grass is greener over there” thought cross our minds, or “if I only had this, then I’d be happy.” Some spend their entire lives trying everything imaginable to find contentment or happiness. Inventors create gadgets, authors write books, musicians sing songs, and motivational speakers make big money to convince you that where you are and what you have are not enough, and that you need something else. Shoot, it’s even the first sin of mankind listed in the Bible. God gave Adam and Eve this beautiful and perfect garden and tells them that they can have the run of the place, but to just stay away from this one tree. The devil approaches them and says to Eve – you can be even better! Just eat the fruit from that one tree and you can know and understand even more!!! And she bought into it.

If you have ever had a life-threatening encounter, it has a way of reshaping your thoughts and ambitions. Mine happened a couple of years ago, and I am not the same man today that I was with then. I now have four priorities in my life:

  1. Faith
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Fortune

They all work together to bring contentment to my life. I’m very driven. I am extremely competitive. I like to win. For me, contentment is not a “I’ve done enough” mindset. It’s a temporary abbreviation where I can feel good about picking it up from there tomorrow.  There are a few things that I try to do each day, not always successfully, that help me get to that place though. Here are a few that might be helpful to you as well:

  1. Schedule time to accomplish the most important, time-critical issues.  I live by my calendar. During a business day, I put everything on my calendar and make sure to address those things that absolutely must get done that day. The only way that thing gets bumped is if there is a severe emergency.
  2. Build relationships with those around me. For the most part, this impacts my co-workers because I spend a lot of time with them throughout a normal day, but it carries over to friends, family, and new people that I meet outside of work as well. Just a few minutes of meaningful conversation with someone can go a long way! Do it every day – even multiple times per day.
  3. Do something unexpectedly nice for someone each day. Let me warn you – you may not get a thank you. The other person may completely blow it off. You may not get any credit from anyone else. I do this one a lot and it brings me joy to give a gift, or surprise someone, or sacrifice of myself to help another person. But, I’ll also admit that sometimes I question why I’m doing it because people will take me for granted or even complain that they would have preferred something else. Understand that this one is to benefit YOU and create a mindset in you of always considering others above yourself, then it helps to make it tolerable when the reaction is not what you hoped for.
  4. Tell someone else that you care about them. Again, I went through a life threatening time in my life, and I now make it a priority to always tell my family, friends, and people who matter greatly to me that I love them. I don’t want there to be any doubt where they stand in my mind. Maybe it’s weird, but I sometimes consider that this conversation might be the last that I ever have with them.
  5. In your work, do more than what is expected. I actually consider what I think most people will do in most business situations, and then I bump it up a level. I’ve found that it usually doesn’t take that much more time or effort to take that additional step – but the payoffs can be huge!
  6. Laugh. Have some fun. Play a joke. Tell a story. But make it a point to laugh every single day – no matter what your circumstance. The day I was diagnosed with cancer, I still joked with other people and helped them (and myself) to relax a bit in the moment and not bathe in desperation or despair.
  7. Exercise. Do what you can and then a step more. I’ve had many days when I have worked 20 hours. Those can be stressful times for sure. But by taking a little while and going for a walk or a run or playing some basketball or golf, it helps to reduce stress and anxiety from me. There were days a couple of years ago when I physically could not walk from my bedroom to my living room, so I do not take my health for granted now. Enjoy life and go experience it fully! I’ll be running my 3rd 5K in the past year next weekend.
  8. Be thankful. Think of the ways that you are blessed. I have found that no matter where I am or what condition I’m in, someone else has it tougher. Think of people who have invested in your life or taught you something. be thankful for where you are at that very moment.

Those work for me. I have big plans and lots of things that I want to accomplish in life. I am rarely satisfied, but I can be content with where I am today so that I can pick up my higher pursuits again tomorrow.

The Secret Sauce – Influence

Controlled businessmanInfluence is the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviors, opinions, etc. of others.

It’s a very powerful thing, and the driving factor between success and failure, not just in business, but also in life. Klout seems to think they have a way of measuring someone’s influence by the number of connects and interactions you have on social media. Phooey! Influence isn’t a score, it’s an ability – maybe even a gift. There is no systematic and universal way that people must invite or accept friend requests to make their data even remotely useful. It’s a gimmick that has lots of people scurrying to try to raise their Klout score so they will feel important.

I’ve had teachers, coaches, ministers, friends, relatives that have influenced me in major ways, and none of them – at the time – even knew what a Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter was. They influenced me because of the human touch and the investment that they made into my life. I felt as though they had wisdom, and that they cared enough about me that they wouldn’t steer me wrong.

As a recruiter, as a sales guy, as an executive – a big portion of my job is to influence others. I influence potential new customers to deal with me because they find me to be a man of integrity, someone who keeps his word, and has a solution that solves a problem. I influence candidates to trust their careers to me as I introduce them to key leaders at organizations and guide them through a hiring process. I influence my team by letting them see that I care more about them as a person than I do about the bottom line. In each case, I invest myself in them, and in return, it gives me some layer of influence.

As the generational workforces shift, and Gen Y becomes an even larger focus, influence will be the key. The days of the typical recruiter will be done. Instead, we will hire influencers. The crowd we will be trying to reach demands human touch, collaboration, relationships. At the heart of it all – it demands HONEST influence.

It would be very cool if there was a way to just rank people with a score to see just what kind of influence they really have. Shoot, I was sucked into the Klout game myself when it first came out. But no longer. Influence can be seen in a very tangible way…the lives impacted and by those who seek you out at critical moments in their life.  If no one is coming to you, I would suggest that maybe you lack the investment in others.

Thoughts? (I’m just waiting for someone from Klout to come on here and blast away at me…hahaha!)

Twerking with Obama

stephen-harper-kitten1In a lesson to be careful what you say and understand the meaning of what you say, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was at a luncheon with a few hundred non-profit volunteers when he expressed how much he enjoys “twerking but only does it with close friends and ‘every now and then with President Obama.'”

Oh, it doesn’t end there. Not even close! He further explained that he “has a lot of fun twerking but doesn’t get to do it often. A quick twerk is a great way to express what I’m thinking.” And finally, as the everyone sat there silently pondering this admission, he states, “What? Don’t I look like I twerk?”  No sir, you don’t. However, if you were the mayor of San Diego, everyone would readily accept that you probably do twerk.

The Prime Minister thought he was talking about tweeting, and mistakenly referred to it as twerking. His office later issued a release stating that the Prime Minister has never and will never twerk.

Look, we live in a fast-paced ever-changing world where we have new words and phrases added to our vocabulary each day. Everyone likes to appear to up to date with the latest and greatest rage, maybe thinking it makes them cooler or more approachable. But do yourself a favor – don’t try to too hard. Be yourself. And certainly don’t use a word that you aren’t confident is appropriate!

I Own You

i-own-you-In the recruiting world, you commonly find two recruiting structure models…recruiters own the requisitions, or recruiters own the candidates. Although it won’t be hard for you to identify which side of the equation I fall on, let me go ahead and take the suspense out of it for you. I prefer the recruiters own the requisition side.  Perhaps it’s because that is how I was trained early on in my recruiting career, but for me – I think it goes deeper.

I currently work with a handful of people who have come up in their recruiting careers by owning candidates. They emphasized building relationships with the best of the best and keeping them “warm” until the perfect position came along and then they would submit that rock star candidate. Sometimes that was a quick process, but sometimes they would stay in contact with that candidate for more than a year trying to wait for just the right moment to submit them.  These recruiters have done really well for themselves, and I can appreciate the commitment to finding the best of the best and winning their trust.

But here’s where I see weaknesses in that strategy…

I believe you serve your clients in the most effective and efficient way possible. They have hired me to do a job – to fill open positions within their company. So, as a company, I want to do that as accurately and as timely as possible. My opinion is that a recruiting firm with shared information and resources makes it more powerful than one where some candidates are kept from the public view and only exposed when and if a recruiter decides they want to share that candidate with another team member so they can get a split of the fee collected. How frustrating would it be to work in a firm where you have an open job – you work hard on it for weeks – and eventually the company fills the job with someone else outside of your firm. Little did you know that the recruiter seated next to you had the perfect candidate for the job all along, but they didn’t say a word about it because they were expecting another job to open soon where they were hoping to place this candidate.

Let me just ask….have you, as a company, serviced your customer in the best manner possible?

The problem with recruiters owning candidates is that it tends to put the recruiter’s interest above that of the client and the candidate. The candidate certainly would prefer to have multiple looking for opportunities to place them, rather than just the efforts of one person. When you are unemployed and that mortgage is coming due…it’s a stressful time!

Look, I get it. Recruiters – especially those who are commission only or contract recruiters – they want to know exactly who to call the moment they have a new opening. They have their hot list of rock stars from across the spectrum of skill sets. And this, no doubt, makes them a valued resource for companies who need their help. They have to make a living too. For someone working as a contract recruiter or a headhunter – I don’t begrudge them at all for trying to own candidates. I would likely do the same. But when you work for a recruitment firm, the firm and its clients should be the priority.

We are transitioning as a firm. We have a mix of people from both ends of those strategies. The best path forward for us – as we continue to grow – is to have recruiters own requisitions and to have shared resources. It’s an adjustment for some. But we are starting to see the value, and the potential, in making this our structure.

I’m interested in hearing other points of view on this topic. Feel free to drop me a note!