FROZEN Out of Talent? Let It Go!

The following is the transcript of a webcast I did on 8/26/14 for SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management).  This should not be copied or used without my permission.

Frozen - Title Slide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello everyone. My name is Doug Douglas. I’m speaking with you from Austin, Texas today where I live and have my business. Let me just say a couple of things before we dig into our topic today:

  • I love to have people connect with me at the end of these sessions, so if you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – please feel free to send me an invitation. I’ll put my contact info up at the end of today’s session.
  • The biggest challenge for me in doing these webcasts is the diversity of the audience and the types of information that might be specifically useful to you. We have some on the call today from major global brands that all of us would recognize, and we have some on here who are from very small companies. Some have big budgets, and some have no budget. Some have a team of people working on recruiting, and others are a single person trying to do recruiting along with other responsibilities. So, in planning the information to share with you today – I really do try to consider all of those factors and try to make sure there is something for everyone.

In 2013, the movie “Frozen” was released by Walt Disney. This was based on the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen.” The movie was wildly popular, but there is a song that came from the movie that has been sung by just about everyone imaginable now…

  • Demi Lovato
  • Idina Menzel
  • Pearl Jam
  • Boxer Manny Pacquiao
  • And countless parents singing it at the top of their lungs as they drive with their kids

The song is “Let It Go.” And the chorus says…

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.

Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door.

I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.”

As you face recruitment issues and executive expectations and reduced bandwidth among your team, it requires a leader to stand up and say, “We are going to fix this and not just keep doing things the way and expecting different results. I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage one…the cold never bothered me anyway.”

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES THAT ARE OF CONCERN?

As you consider the current state of your recruitment efforts, you might find that you are getting frozen out from the best talent.

  • In a recent CareerBuilder survey, 30% of employers say that recruiting qualified candidates is their biggest concern.

Maybe you are seeing that your employees aren’t content and you fear a mass exodus at any moment.

  • Did you know that in a recent poll, 78% of people currently employed say that they would leave their current job if someone would offer them another?

Or possibly you just see your recruitment costs rising and putting a strain on your budget.

  • 18% say that recruitment costs are the most critical concern they face

If you work in an industry that employs skilled trades, you are undoubtedly getting hit hard in your recruitment efforts.

  • Over 10 million skilled labor jobs went unfilled last year.

You live in this world. You see these very real concerns. You are tasked with trying to find solutions. Yet sometimes your bosses don’t see and understand the challenges that you face, the shifts that have taken in the workforce, and the demands for specific types of talent.  In order to face these challenges, it takes someone who is confident, sure, and steadfast – committed to the big picture – and when the storms rage on, they just say – “Let it go, the cold never bothered me anyway!”

Recruitment Optimization. That might be a new term for you. I have been involved in this for years, but I finally named my process that a couple of years ago. At the time, you could go online and Google “Recruitment Optimization” and you would get less than 5 returns – mine being a couple of them. But today, you can search for it, and you get pages of returns. The trouble with bringing to market a fresh idea or term is that others quickly latch onto it and run with it. It is beginning to take on the same kind of feel as SEO did several years ago. Initially, SEO was a luxury for a rare few, but as it has become more complex and algorithms are changing moment by moment, then it is now seen as a mandatory aspect of a company’s marketing initiatives.

BIG BUSINESS

The days of posting an open job and waiting for people to apply so you can sort through them and pick one are over. A modern day recruiter must have a wide variety of skills, or the company must outsource this aspect of their business to an agency that has the tools, technology, and talent to compete for the best talent on your behalf. Consider what a modern day recruitment model looks like, according to Josh Bersin of Forbes Magazine:

  • Development of an employment brand
  • Developing creative advertisements and promotional materials
  • Developing job requisitions (working with hiring managers)
  • Placing and managing recruitment advertising and promotion
  • Managing university and college recruiting
  • Developing candidate relationship management and “farming” programs
  • Sourcing key candidates for critical roles
  • Screening and reference checking
  • Use of pre-hire assessments
  • Creating an interview process and using video and other interview tools
  • Training and engaging hiring managers in the recruiting process
  • Creating a career website
  • Selecting and implementing an applicant tracking system
  • Creating a mobile career website and experience
  • Supporting candidates through the process and creating a positive candidate experience
  • Globalizing each part of the process and localizing many steps
  • Understanding local labor markets to localize programs and promotions
  • Hiring and training recruiters
  • Accessing third party agencies and executive recruiters
  • Measuring and managing the process and focusing on speed, quality of hire, and efficiency
  • Onboarding new people
  • … and staying up to date on hundreds of new tools and technologies.

That’s a lot of responsibility, probably far more than you anticipated. If you asked your current recruitment team to write out their responsibilities – do you think they would hit on all of those areas? Most of them? Some? Or would they name just a few of those? Do they understand the strategic end of their efforts, or do they just smile, dial, and repeat?

Because some organizations understand the complexity involved in today’s recruiting efforts, rather than try to do it all themselves, they have made the decision to outsource this function to a 3rd part firm. Apple uses recruitment firms to assist them in their efforts, especially when starting up a new location. Very well-known Fortune 50 companies use firms because internally they haven’t figured out how to attract young talent or create a work environment that is appealing to Gen X or Millennials.

And for those who remain steadfast in doing everything in-house, they are often forced to deal with low performance, high turnover, and poor customer service if they do not have a well defined and appropriate recruitment model in place. Places like Google believe that hiring great HR and Recruiting people make a big difference, so they spend 4-5 times as much as other large companies.

REASONS FOR OPTIMIZATION

Like so many businesses, families, and even our government – when we see that we are behind on our metrics, we tend to assume that if we add more people or money to it, that we can “fix” whatever the cause is. But when it comes to recruiting, that isn’t necessarily true. If your strategy, processes, and metrics are bad – then putting more money and more people into the machine that executes bad strategies, processes, and metrics won’t fix anything. You might get a temporary boost, but the problems will overtake them at some point.

Other companies go to the extreme the other direction and decide that things are so far behind that they just need to quit trying to do it themselves and outsource everything to someone else to do, or maybe they do a hybrid approach and keep a small internal team and supplement it with outsourcing other searches to a firm.

But there is another option that often gets overlooked or ignored. In most cases, current strategies, processes, technologies, metrics, social media efforts, etc. can be optimized to increase effectiveness and efficiencies, while also reducing costs and turnover. This shouldn’t be the last resort – it should be the first option! By making these adjustments, a team can increase bandwidth within their existing team, reducing or even eliminating the need to hire more people or to further outsource some of the workload.

A comprehensive optimization program should be one that addresses all of the following:

  • Recruitment Strategies
  • Recruitment Processes
  • Recruitment Technologies
  • Social Media Efforts
  • Metrics
  • Team Structure
  • Recruitment Costs
  • Team Performance

Many companies continue to use strategies and processes that were set in place 10-15-20 years prior. The six most dangerous words that a business can say is, “We’ve always done it that way.”

In my opinion, strategies and processes should be evaluated and optimized every 2-3 years now. There are two main drivers behind my opinion:

  • Technology changes quickly. Tools change quickly. “Go-to” places change quickly. If you have had your same strategies and processes for the past 10 years, Twitter wasn’t even created until 8 years ago. Pintrest came along 5 years ago. LinkedIn Recruiter came about 2 years ago. How do you not include things as widely used as Twitter, Pintrest, or LinkedIn Recruiter in your recruitment efforts, or at least consider them? Mobile recruitment is a huge part of the current landscape, yet a vast majority of corporate websites are not friendly to mobile browsers.
  • Generational changes. Think with me of how the internet has changed the way business is done today. Things are radically different!
  • The way we communicate with each other
  • The way we solve problems
  • The way we research
  • Our customer base is no longer local but global
  • Expectations for speed and efficiency are higher

So, if the internet has changed the way that business is done today, wouldn’t it stand to reason that it has also changed the way the first generation to have the internet every day of their lives would go about living their lives and addressing their careers?

When we consider those two things alone, the use of technology in our recruitment efforts, and the generational shift in expectations – I have to make a big point on this…

We have shifted too far to the technology end of things when you consider the modern day and next generation candidate.

There was something else that we have done that has also reshaped this modern day candidate. When they were kids, we decided that it was important that every child think things are equal and fair. There are no winners. There are no losers. Regardless of their contribution, they will be treated just like the one who contributes the most. So, we gave every player a trophy, ribbon or certificate.

As they continued to grow and go throughout their middle school and high school days, teachers would consistently provide a curve to the grades, so those that under-performed wouldn’t be punished as severely and gave them higher grades – many times allowing someone to pass a class that really hadn’t earned it.

Well now, little Tommy and Susie aren’t on the soccer fields, baseball field, volleyball or basketball courts – they are now in your offices and applying for your jobs. And what do you think their expectations are for the way they will be treated? They have a deep need for human interaction, assurance, collaboration, and recognition.

The technologies being used today remove the human element from the process almost entirely. A person can spend two hours applying for a job online, only to have an answer on their candidacy within 30 seconds of them hitting “submit” on your career page. Don’t get me wrong, it would be impossible today to have an effective recruitment model without numerous technologies involved, but the important factors are their balance and in the motivation behind them.

The key to the modern day and next generation candidate is influence, engagement, and personal value. These things are so far removed from what companies are doing currently that it is having a huge impact on the quality and quantity of qualified candidates for their open positions. Any changes to your current strategies and processes need to be centered around these things. Companies like Zappo’s have gone to the extreme in this direction and placed all of the eggs in the engagement basket. We don’t have time to go and take a deep look at what they’re doing, but there are plenty of articles online that point out the positives and negatives to their approach that you can learn on your own.

There is a definite need for optimization when it comes to recruitment strategies, processes, and technologies. However, there are a few OBSTACLES that come into play when considering optimization:

  • To get the best optimization recommendations possible, it requires someone who is unbiased to evaluate current strategies, processes, technologies, spending, social media efforts, team structure, performance, metrics, etc. When an internal person does this evaluation, there are personalities to be mindful of, there are existing ties for a current process to a current employee who developed that process, and obvious general preferences would be in play. The idea here is to get the most effective and efficient recruitment effort possible. PERSPECTIVE MATTERS!
  • HR/Recruitment leadership worry about their own personal reputations. To bring in an outside evaluator, the HR/Recruitment leadership worry that they will be seen by their own bosses as not capable of handling their function or not being knowledgeable enough to optimize it themselves. When you look at this from the standpoint of #1, this removes all personalities from it. When you look at it from an executive’s standpoint, the issue is establishing a world-class recruitment structure that will be beneficial to the company through reduced turnover, faster turn-around times to fill open positions, and saving money on the recruitment efforts across the board. It still requires an ongoing person there to manage and drive that new process, which the HR/Recruitment leader would continue to do.
  • Time. Time is always a factor. I began doing recruitment optimization several years ago, and now I do it exclusively. The biggest misconception that people have is that for me to come in an lead a full evaluation of the their current efforts in order to make recommendations for optimization, that I would require a month, or a couple of weeks, or even a full week of everyone’s time. While I’m sure there are consultants out there who make that their model because they are charging by the hour, this is not true of me. I have a comprehensive document that I created that walks me through every element of the recruitment function and I can almost always complete this in a single day. The most that I need any one person to sit with me and go through information is 3-4 hours. This allows each person to go about their normal responsibilities without a huge time commitment from them to support this process. When considering a consultant to do this type of evaluation – find someone who charges a flat fee for the service, and not charging you by the hour.
  • Cost. Again, if you bring in a consultant that is charging you hourly, they will likely want that process to take as long as possible so they can bill for as many hours as possible. By going with a consultant who charges a flat fee for the consultancy, they want to wrap things up as quickly as possible, but also want to make sure they do a great job for you so referrals will potentially come. The cost – at least in my world – is not substantial, but the benefits of the optimization efforts will provide a very significant ROI quickly to your organization.
  • Lack of options. Surprisingly, there aren’t many consultants out there who focus specifically on Recruiting, and those that do typically work for a recruiting firm and their finding will always include recommendations that you outsource some or all of your recruiting to them. You have many consultants out there who are HR consultants, but recruiting was just a piece of what they have done in the past. When it comes to evaluating technologies used and the various capabilities of those technologies, or knowing the modern day and next generation recruiting models, they have some exposure to it but maybe not much. Also, many HR consultants were at the executive levels prior to transitioning to a consultancy role – so it may have been several years since they were involved in transactional recruitment efforts. As someone who is exclusively involved in Recruitment Optimization, I only know of 2 or 3 others in the country that I am aware of who are focused on this much needed area.

Optimization can provide a significant ROI for you. It should be included in any evaluation of current strategies, processes, technology and so on so you can measure the overall return on your optimized plan. Typically, you should see a positive ROI in the following ways:

  • Reducing turnover costs by hiring better. Many companies, even when unemployment is high, are facing a limited number of reasonable candidates for their open positions and they end up settling on someone out of desperation instead of making sure to fill the position with someone who is functionally capable and culturally non-threatening.
  • Transitioning to a pipeline approach and away from a just in time approach. Several factors go into this, but the idea is that through engagement, you have prequalified candidates who are interested in your company and just waiting for an opportunity to become available. When it does, then you can move quickly to plug in the correct person in a much shorter time frame and minimize any lost revenue potential.
  • Minimizing lost opportunity costs. Many companies deal with this, but don’t even factor it into their recruitment costs. It’s when a company has to turn away potential business because they are understaffed and do not have the capability to ramp up quickly enough to gain that new business.
  • Strategically planning the best path forward. So many companies just post jobs here and there and then never track to see where the bulk of their candidates are coming from. Or maybe focusing on an internship program would be a better route. Maybe reducing the money spent on advertising and increasing referral bonuses makes more sense. Depending on your company and the specific issues that you face, a deep strategic look could provide an overwhelming ROI.
  • The use of technology. Technologies must be used in recruiting – there is no way around that. But they should be used to speed up efficiency and convenience for the candidate and the recruiter alike…not just the recruiter. That’s how we have gotten into the mess we are in now. The average time a recruiter spends on a resume today is 6 seconds. A solid recruitment optimization consultant should have a great understanding of the tools available today and how they can be plugged into the overall processes to give it a balance of high tech and high touch.

Bottlenecks in your current process also impact not only the speed and efficiency of your efforts, but your recruitment costs and ability to close those great candidates. The problem here is that many companies do not have the correct metrics in place to measure the data needed to realize these bottlenecks. They certainly aren’t included in the default reports that come with your Applicant Tracking System. Specialized adhoc reporting is required. By doing so, you can uncover where the process is consistently slowing down and potentially losing candidates or costing the company more money as delays occur. Here are a few areas that I like to measure because it tells me where I can make improvements:

  • Total days open – goal should be under 30 days
  • Total days before candidate submitted – no bandwidth or tight market or neglected
  • Number of candidates submitted (the recruiter doesn’t understand or the hiring manager doesn’t know what he/she is looking for or there was a misunderstanding between the two)
  • Total days from candidate presented to hiring manager feedback – a search may be open for 45 days, but many times it was because it took the hiring manager 2 weeks to get back to the recruiter on each candidate submitted – hold managers accountable too
  • Percentage of candidates presented who were interviewed by hiring manager – is the recruiter finding acceptable candidates or does the manager just interview everyone sent over
  • Total days from hiring manager feedback to interview – are we scheduling interviews too far out and losing candidates / are we cancelling and rescheduling interviews
  • Total days from interview to offer/decline – Are we constantly in an undecided mindset and thinking the next one might be a little better

CONCLUSION

I hope you have begun to see the importance of optimization efforts. It’s far more than just advertising in the right places, asking the right screening questions, or getting people in empty seats…it carries with it the profitability and stability of the company.

Most, if not all, of us drive cars. On a day to day basis, most of us think about how much gas is left in the tank. You can’t just put gas in the tank once and expect it to run forever. You have to continue to monitor where you are and every so often, you have to stop what you’re doing to fill that tank so you can continue to move forward. But solely focusing on how much gas in the tank doesn’t solve your problems if the car is out of oil, the engine overheats, the tires are flat, and the car won’t stop because the brakes have been worn away. You have to consider the whole car and make sure that everything is running as it should for the car to do its job.

Optimization – if done correctly – can help you to be effective and efficient in your overall recruitment and retention efforts. For some companies, you may only need some gas in the tank, but in others – you may need a complete overhaul. But for most, it falls somewhere in between those two extremes. I encourage you – have an unbiased person come in who understands modern day and next generation recruiting strategies, technologies, and processes and have them see where you are today and provide the road map to get you where you want to be.

On a topic that is this big, and so many unique and diverse companies listening in – I was only able to give you some basics to think about when optimizing your efforts. I’m hopeful that you were able to get something useful from our discussion today, but knowing that I wouldn’t be able to give you great detail – that is why I offer to have you contact me afterward with specific questions.

I have seen optimization work time and time again – reducing recruitment costs, increasing bandwidth, lowering turnover rates, and providing big ROIs. The point of today was to let you know that this should be your first option and not your last resort.

Integrity – More Than Living Your Beliefs

office theft 2There are a lot of things in this world that people can take from you or damage, but the one that you should guard and protect more than any other should be your integrity or character. It starts with honesty, decency and trustworthiness. Following through with your word and being impeccable and honorable with your actions creates respect and professionalism.

Integrity does NOT mean living your life according to your beliefs. Hitler did that, and none of us would refer to someone of integrity. Integrity would need to include an understanding and adherence to right and wrong. An example of such standards would be stealing. We can all agree that this is wrong and employees should never be involved in it. However, check out these statistics…

  • Employee theft is one of the primary reasons of many small business failures
  • 10 – 30% of all bankruptcies are due to employee theft
  • Employee theft is rising by 15% per year
  • Over 40% of retail and manufacturing businesses admit to employee theft

Employee theft is higher in industries in which there are frequent opportunities or strong inducements to steal, such as retail sales, medicine (especially theft of drugs) and banking.

So, knowing that something is wrong vs right isn’t enough. It requires us to be intolerable to wrong and not condoning it in small things so that it never escalates to the bigger things.  The small things? This would include sitting in your office and surfing Facebook or tweeting all day instead of focusing on your work. This is a form of theft – unless you work for Facebook or Twitter. Your employer has hired you to do a job and your focus should be on completing that job each and every day to the very best of your ability…anything short of that is robbing your employer.

Have you ever noticed that teams take on the personality of their coach? It’s true. If you have fiery coach who is big on being physical, those on the team seem to morph into that even if they haven’t really been that way before. Well, the same is true in work environments. Your team will take their cues from you. The way you act. The way you talk. Your tolerance for right or wrong. Your work ethic. They will begin to morph into the example that you set for them. Likewise, if they see that you are relaxed when it comes to working hard, cutting corners, compromising on policies – they’ll follow your lead on that as well.

There are three particular areas where you should focus on having strong integrity:

  • Be a person of your word. If you say that you are going to do something, then do it, on time, every time. You’ll find that those on your team will respect you and have confidence in you when they see you are consistent in this area.
  • Guarding yourself and others. Again, making sure that there can be no accusation made against you because of your zero tolerance of unethical practices. Have the sort of reputation and history that if someone lies about you and makes an accusation, that no one would believe it anyway.
  • Money. This one is the downfall of many people. Make sure that when it comes to money and resources that you are transparent and honest. Keep receipts that can verify where every penny is spent. If you are traveling alone and stop for dinner, don’t just go to the most expensive place you can find, find something is affordable. Search for hotel rooms that are discounted instead of paying full price. Make sure your employer and your team knows that you do your best to save the company as much money as possible.

Unfortunately, we live in a Gotcha World now. People are looking to catch you in a moment that is unhonorable, embarrassing, or compromising. We have to be on guard in ways that we never would have considered 5-10-15 years ago. Make yourself accountable to someone and them to you. Check in on each other and make sure that you’re doing the right things and guarding against any type of moral attack.

office theft

Hi! I’m a Recruiter and I Work for Free!

work for freeCan you imagine a world where professional athletes only get paid if they win? In 1960, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t win a game. In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t win one. And as recently as 2009, the Detroit Lions didn’t win a single game. In the NBA, the Charlotte Bobcats won just 7 games in 2012…and Michael Jordan was the guy running the team. He certainly knows basketball! Should those players on the NFL teams not receive any compensation when they couldn’t win a game? They prepared. They worked hard. It took a big toll on them physically and emotionally. They went to work every day and they did what they were asked to do…except win.

The world of contingency recruiting is highly competitive. It has a 90% turnover rate in the first year…meaning most just can’t make it. The biggest issue is the constant and high probability of failure. It’s tough to win a game. In the contingency world, a recruiter gets a company to agree to let them work on an open search for them and they agree to only pay them if they fill the search successfully. But the companies who agree to this deal usually have deals with other contingency recruiters as well, meaning they could have 4,5,10 different recruiters working on the same open search. At that point, recruiters are tripping over the same potential candidates and contacting the same people over and over again – and by the 3rd call from a recruiter, the candidate hates all recruiters and the company who enlisted them to bombard them with calls all day.

Even more frustrating is when the recruiter is the first one to contact THE candidate – the one who is most likely to get the job. They get all of the information and get the candidate to agree not to speak with any other recruiters who may call regarding the same job. The recruiter submits the candidate only to hear from the company, “Well, we’ve put that search on hold for a while. We’re re-evaluating if we really need that person or someone with a different skill set.” Or, “You know, the timing is just a bit off. The person who needs to make this decision just went on maternity leave and won’t be back for 90 days, so we are going to hold off until then.” Or, “Wow! That’s a great looking candidate, but we were just hit with a hiring freeze so we’ll call you next year and see if that person is still available then.”

The recruiter has invested time, money, and resources into working on a search that they will not get paid on. They have worked for free. They do this in the hopes that they will fill a handful of open positions every year and survive to the next year. Contingency recruiters understand that they likely will not get paid for the work that they do. So, they want easy to fill searches with quick turnarounds and as few competitors as possible when they take on a new search…this strengthens their odds of winning.

In most cases, a contingency recruiter will work hard on a search for no more than 2-3 days and if they don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, they are off to focus on something else. This leaves their “clients” feeling frustrated because they didn’t get any solid leads out of it – making all recruiters look bad and making it tougher for all of us.

So, a note to Contingency Recruiters…

Stop working for free! Get paid for your efforts.

I have worked on both sides – contingency and retained. Here are three observations that I’ve made personally:

  1. When companies have invested in the success of a search, the searches they give you are real. There are those companies out there who have no intention of hiring anyone unless you give them Superman or Wonder Woman. They are good with their current situation, but they would consider making a change to their staff if you make it impossible to say no. They don’t have to invest anything into the effort – you do that for them – so they get to see what the market is looking like and have no obligation to make a hire.
  2. When companies have invested in the success of a search, they want you to win. When that company has paid something for your efforts, they work with you and help you to get the information needed to target the right people, the feedback required to make adjustments, and make themselves available to conduct interviews and make a hiring decision. Contingency recruiters, good luck getting a call with the hiring manager to answer all of your questions or to get feedback on anyone that you send over.
  3. When companies have invested in the success of a search, everyone achieves more. The recruiter is focused on filling the search and can be dedicated to it through completion. The company knows that it has someone short-listed only qualified people for them to consider (making it far more time friendly for the company). There is a mutual respect that comes into play that is totally absent when a company works with a contingency recruiter. The goal should be partnership and trust and neither can be built on a contingent basis.

As long as people are willing to work for free, some companies will take them up on it. Not all though. The ones who are serious about getting the search filled with the right person, and not just having resumes thrown at them, will use a retained recruiter. Consider which type of recruiter you really want to be.

The Blurred Lines Coming to HR

Blurred Lines - AmericaIn 2013, Robin Thicke, T.I., and Pharrell Williams brought us a song called “Blurred Lines” that  reached #1 on the charts for 12 consecutive weeks and sold 14.8 million copies. If you aren’t familiar with the song itself, you probably are familiar with the stir it caused when Thicke performed it at an awards show and Miley Cyrus came out and started twerking.

As I look at the happenings around us, whether it be economic, political, personal, professional – there seems to be a blurring of the lines that is beginning to take place that I believe will dramatically impact the way companies recruit and retain employees over the next 2-3 years. In most cases, forecasting changes on the landscape excites me, but what I see coming actually disturbs me and causes great concern. I am seeing, and I bet you are too, that an individual’s point of view on social or political matters can now put them at great risk of losing their current employment and making it very difficult for them to find new employment.

In recent months, news broke of the CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, having to step down from his position because of the outcry of those who were offended that 6 years prior, he donated $1000 to a California Proposition 8 cause aimed to defeat those who wanted to legalize gay marriage. The effort to make Eich pay for his financial support was led by OKCupid – a dating website. They instructed their subscribers to make Mozilla aware of their outrage at promoting him to be CEO. Keep in mind here, Eich has never been accused of any type of discrimination of gay employees or anything along those lines, he just wrote a check 6 years earlier to support a cause that another group was opposed to. Now he’s unemployed after 13 years of employment with Mozilla.

We are rapidly losing our sense of civility, kindness, and tolerance. We no longer debate, persuade, or influence. Instead, we target, attack, mock and label. I’m curious, if we are only allowed to have a single opinion on the various issues of our lives – who gets to decide what is acceptable? If there can be no debate, if you cannot express altering opinions, then how will the best course of action for a group collectively or for an individual singularly be decided? What if there could be no debate or dissenting opinions in our past? We would still have slavery. Women wouldn’t be allowed to vote. Schools would still be segregated. Abortion would be illegal. Alcohol would be illegal. Prayer would still be allowed in schools.

Where are we headed? I’m afraid that if things continue as they are, our government, lobbyist,  and those with a platform will begin to dictate to us all what is acceptable and anything beyond that will be a crime. You may think that’s a good thing, but you likely won’t when they tell you that you must believe, support and verbally praise something that you vehemently oppose internally or risk losing your job.

Yes, the blurring of the lines has started. Will laws need to be altered so companies can now ask about financial contributions to causes or charities that each applicant has made? Will recruiters start coming up with clever ways to find out which political side of the aisle someone is on under the banner of “cultural fit?” Will this cause further divisions in our society as all left leaning people work at companies A, B and C, and all right leaning people work at companies D, E, and F? Oh, and if you work at or do business with one of those sets of companies and the political party in power at the moment disagrees with your stance, get ready to be audited, regulations to increase on your business, and other ways to make it impossible for you to survive.

You may think all of this is far-fetched and ludicrous. You may be right – quite honestly, I hope you’re right and things don’t continue to move in that direction. But go ask Brendan Eich if it seems far-fetched to him. Ask Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. Ask the people from Hobby Lobby. Ask the people at Chik-fil-A. Ask those who claim to have been targeted by the IRS in the last election. I hope I’m wrong, but I would love to hear your civil and respectable opinions on this topic.

 

The Revised and Balanced Bucket List

bucket-listBucket Lists. They used to just be referred to as “goals.” A few years ago, I went through cancer and I created a short Bucket List of things that I wanted to accomplish in the near future. I’ve done all but one to this point. I guess my teenage daughter liked the concept and she created her own Bucket List…and as a dad, I have been trying to find ways to help her accomplish the things that are important enough to her for her to add to her list. About a month ago, we crossed off the #2 item on her list (go to an 80’s concert). I took her to see Journey when they came to our area – great show by the way! As of this past weekend, we have crossed off the #1 item on her list (to meet Dirk Nowitzki). Dirk plays basketball for the Dallas Mavericks and is in the top 10 in NBA history in scoring, and he’s an all around great guy and role model.

I mentioned to my daughter that now she can dream even bigger and set new goals to achieve as we have completed the top items on her Bucket List. I need to do the same as most of my items are completed. I think we, as people in general, get to a point in our lives when we accomplish a few things – maybe even big things – and then we get stuck not knowing what to do next. I see many businesses who are the same way. We put our goals out there and day-in and day-out we work to accomplish those things. When we set the goal initially, we thought it was big and maybe unattainable – but slowly as we worked our way towards it, it started to be achievable! Then, it happens…we accomplished what we set out to do and it leaves us not knowing what we’re supposed to do next.

I’m assuming that when McDonald’s started, they had one burger joint and they wanted to just survive the first year or two. Excuse me if this is untrue because I am not a McDonald’s historian. But like most businesses, we just want to make enough money to survive and continue to exist early on. Then we want to grow our market share. Maybe next we want to expand into new geographic regions. We set sales goals. And eventually, if you are one of the rare companies that pulls it off – you’ve become a massive global brand that everyone knows. But then what? What do you do next? What is the big dream that you set out there as your target to work towards?

The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

If that’s true, and I believe that it is, we must always have a revised Bucket List, regardless of who we are, what we do, big or small, well-known or not. It gives us a target, a direction, and a purpose. In a poll that I read a few months ago, 78% of employees say that they would leave their current job if someone would offer them something else. That amazes me! 78% is a huge number of dissatisfied workers, and I have to believe that a good portion of them feel this way because they either lack direction or feel as though they serve no importance in the life of that company.

I have no idea what types of things my daughter will add to her Bucket List now. She’s going to be a Junior in high school next year, so I’m sure I’ll start to see things about colleges that she wants to attend, fields of study and degrees, but I’m certain I’ll also see a few things on there that just put a smile on her face because they’re fun and quirky. I think we need those too. A balanced Bucket List that holds personal, professional, and family/friend goals. I’ll get started on my revisions today…will you?

1982 Relived

JourneyTime travel is possible! How do I know? Because last night, I was transported back to 1982 as I went to see Journey in concert.

Back in 1982, just a freshman in high school at the time, I went to see Journey. They were my favorite band and Steve Perry was my favorite singer. Now, at the time, my aspirations were to be a professional singer and things were going well for that to be a reasonable expectation. So, I probably immersed myself in these concerts in a different way than others might have. I was, of course, enjoying the music and the show, but I was also studying and imagining myself doing the same thing one day.

As I sat in the audience last night, this time with my daughter who was attending her first rock concert, and my wife, I was having flashbacks to 1982. It was crazy! I could remember exactly where I was sitting and the angle of the stage to me. I remember exactly what I wore – green and grey parachute pants and a sleeveless grey t-shirt with high tops. I was once again singing the songs to the top of my lungs and no one in the place could hear all of my failures on hitting those incredibly high notes that only 2-3 people in the world can hit. This time it was extra special though because I was both reliving the past and making new memories with my daughter.

On the long trip home last night, I began think about how we hold onto the past – I know, I get all philosophical after a long night of rock n roll, and this time I didn’t even see or smell any pot in the crowd (unlike 1982). Were those better days? Would I want to go back to those days and relive my life from that point? I certainly made a lot of mistakes along the way and wish I had some do-overs, but all in all those mistakes and those positive and negative experiences shaped me and have gotten me to where I am today. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s my life. My current life allowed me to have a very cool experience last night with my daughter and my wife that easily rated as one of the top nights of my life. Do-overs come with a pricetag and that do-over might have changed things in a way where last night wouldn’t have occurred at all.

In business, this is also true. We experience some success in some way or another, and then we latch onto that strategy or that process and we make that our go-to weapon of choice. Soon, many years have passed and we are still holding onto the glory days. I speak with HR and Recruiting leaders all of the time and they readily admit that the way they recruit now is very much like the way they were taught many years before – some of the tools are different and new, but the strategy and process is very much the same. By allowing honest evaluation, optimization, and change to occur – better things could be waiting for you that will take you to greater places professionally and personally.

The world is far different now than it was a couple of decades ago. Think of just the way that the internet has reshaped how business is done. It’s also reshaped an entire generation of people who have grown up with it every day of their lives. Attracting, recruiting, managing and retaining them is far different now than when we worked with their parents and grandparents. It’s not all about optimizing through technologies, it’s finding the right balance between high tech and high tough to effectively reach modern day and next generation candidates and employees.

It was fun to relive 1982 last night. But I’m not that skinny, curly haired, zit faced freshman anymore. There is very little in my life now that was present in 1982. I’m an adult. I’m married for 25 years. I have a teenage daughter. I have big responsibilities that impact many other people. I’ve had to adapt, change, optimize along the way in order to get to where I am. 1982 rocked…but so did last night!

A Reflection on Cancer

Fight Cancer 2Tomorrow is a day of celebration for me…I was declared “cancer free” on May 1, 2012. My battle with cancer has had a profound impact on me personally and has changed me in many ways. Some in my behaviors, but mostly in my motivations and drivers.

To give you a brief history, I was diagnosed with Atypical Carcinoid Cancer. This is a pretty rare but fast growing cancer usually found in people much older than me. Altogether, I had 16 tumors removed from my small intestine over the course of two surgeries. I also had an emergency third surgery that repaired an issue from my second surgery that was slowly killing me. I lost 80 pounds – 50 of that in a single month. For several months, I had trouble moving from my bedroom to my living room. A full day’s worth of food for me was one cracker with some peanut butter on it. I was in pretty bad shape as cancer had beaten me down physically.

Notice that I said that it had beaten me down physically. Emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, I stayed pretty confident and strong. I tried to keep my sense of humor. No matter how I was feeling, I could always find someone who was worse than me, so I tried to reach out to them and be an encouragement to them. I am a man of faith as well, and surprisingly it never wavered. I think all of these things were keys to my defeat of this awful disease.

I mentioned that my battle changed me in many ways. As a result of facing this disease, I have a few deep desires that I find myself continually drawn to:

Desire 1: I work so that I can enjoy life. This wasn’t how I previously approached my career. I worked to get ahead and to gain more work. I worked for recognition and rewards. I worked for money and nice things. I worked because my work defined me. Now, in my approach to work, I still want to do a good job, be very good at what I do, and I want to be comfortable in my finances, but I do those things so that I can enjoy life in spontaneous and unique ways. Work doesn’t consume my every moment now. I can disengage and relax and separate myself from my work. My family matters to me greatly. My daughter is 16 and I know that my days are numbered where she will be at home and such a big part of my life. Eventually it will come back to just my wife and I, and I look forward to those days too.

Desire 2: Meaningful conversations are key. I believe that once you have felt like death is a real possibility for yourself, relationships matter much more. We live in a world of chatter and small talk. The whole premise of Twitter is that we express our thoughts, but not too deeply. We only get a few characters to do so. I find myself now desperately wanting others to talk to, to engage with, and to do so at a deeper level than what most people are accustomed to. I want to talk about things that matter. I want emotions in those conversations – and the more of them over the course of a single conversation, the better! I want people to know where they stand with me and how I feel about them. One thing that started while I was in the hospital, and unsure how things were going to play out, is that I told people around me what I appreciated most about them and that I loved them. For some, they just didn’t know how to take this and were caught off guard. I’ve continued with that to some degree. I hug. I compliment. I encourage. And I share how I feel with others. This isn’t always comfortable to do, but you never know if this might be the last conversation that you’ll have with that person.

Desire 3: No regrets. I think we all have things that run through our minds that we think would be really cool to do.  I know I always have those thoughts. But now, I find myself acting on them. I started my own company. I bought a convertible. I auditioned for The Voice and America’s Got Talent. I’ve run three 5K’s. I speak at events and on webcasts routinely. I started a basketball skills academy for my daughter and her teammates. Now, I don’t anticipate that I will ever have the desire to go jump out of a perfectly good plane, or to strap a bungee around my ankles and hurl myself off of a bridge. There are some things that I just have no desire to do and I won’t regret not trying them at all. But there are others that I am focused on and hope to do in the future.

There are so many negative things that come as a result of cancer, but good can come from any situation if you are seeking it. I certainly have daily reminders of my battle – the scars, the memories, the fears, and my body will never function “normally” again as a result. Few people know, but I am sick, on average, 20-25 times a day. With over 3 feet of my small intestine removed, it impacts the way that I respond to food and drinks. Now, I have become very good at hiding how I feel. I know how to overcome these challenges. Quite honestly, it wears me out sometimes. But even on the worst of my days, when I feel horrible, I am thankful for my life, for my family, for friends, and for the opportunity to experience more of life!

Don’t wait until something tragic occurs to make these changes in your own life. Do them now!