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    Watching LinkedIn Connections on a Sunday Night

    Do you have any remaining doubt that the always on, 24/7, connected at all time via iPhone or iPad life has almost completely taken over your professional network?

    Well if you do, then I recommend taking a look at your LinkedIn feed this Sunday night. I am drafting up this post at just after 10PM ET on Sunday, July 15th, and just a few moments ago I took a scan of my LinkedIn network update feed.

    Quick observation - my LinkedIn feed is littered with 'Person A is now connected to Person B' updates. More than one or two, probably about two dozen or so connections being made after 10PM on a Sunday night in the middle of the summer.

    Sunday night, which used to be the time you were crashed out from a big weekend of fun and family, maybe catching something on TV before turning in, maybe, for the younger crowd, trying to wring the last bit of fun out of the weekend before the work week hits in full force on Monday. But now, at least in part due to smart phone apps and iPads, Sunday nights are now a time where we can simultaneously be with the family sitting on the sofa watching whatever it is that is popular on TV, (I have on an NBA Summer League game on, so forgive me for not knowing what normal people are digging right now), and making sure the care and feeding of our networks doesn't need to stop for whatever passes for our real lives.

    There's nothing really novel in this observation I admit, the always-on social network is old news at this point. 

    But what is changing, at least a little, at least by implication from what you'll see on your LinkedIn feed late on a Sunday night, is the subtle expectation that if you really want to get ahead, or at least stay even with the pack, (the pack that even if they are your 'friends' on Facebook all will be quite happy to see you fail), is that you too better be grinding away on Sunday night yourself. 

    Your mortal enemies are out there at 10:31PM, making connections with people you're dying to meet.

    They're out there sending little private messages thanking each other for the connection and arranging phone calls, or worse, meetings over coffee or a beer.

    They're beating you at 10:35 on Sunday night, and what's worse is all you really want to do is turn on Bravo, have an ice cream and shut down your mind for a while.

    The game hasn't really changed. It just never seems to take a break, and the score keeps flashing in front of you as the LinkedIn connection updates scroll by.


    Hank Aaron and the right way to succeed

    Last weekend I made my (usually) annual trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in lovely Cooperstown, NY. If you are a baseball fan, or just an American History fan, you owe it to yourself to make the trip sometime. It is a small village, and not the easiest to reach by air, (Syracuse would be the closest thing to a 'real' airport, and that is about 90 miles away), but you won't spend a better summer weekend anywhere else.

    One of the newer museum exhibits, dedicated in 2009, is titled Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream, which chronicles the career and life of baseball legend, and former career home run champion Hank Aaron

    Here's Hank's official bio from the Hall of Fame site:

    Exhibiting an understated style that became his trademark, Hank Aaron became the all-time home-run champion via one of the most consistent offensive careers in baseball history, with 3,771 hits. In addition to his 755 home runs, he also set Major League records for total bases, extra-base hits and RBIs. Aaron was the 1957 National League MVP, won three Gold Gloves for his play in right field and was named to a record 25 All-Star squads.

    Even the official bio is understated. It is almost impossible to grasp the amazing baseball achievements of Hank Aaron, particularly in the modern age where accomplishments less than a quarter of Aaron's are rewarded with hundred million dollar contracts, endless product endorsement deals, and off the field time spent chasing models and actresses.

    Aaron's baseball standards for home runs, (surpassed only by a guy who certainly used performance enhancing drugs, and spent his spare time being a jerk to anyone that came into contact with him), runs batted in, and total bases place him at the absolute pinnacle of success in what was America's most popular sport. And his success, particularly when considering the barrage of racist harassment, hate mail, and even death threats that Aaron had to endure in 1973 and 1974 as he pursued and eventually surpassed baseball icon Babe Ruth's then home run record, has to be thought of as on par with Ruth, Gehrig, Mays, and maybe one or two more, as the greatest in the history of the game.

    But oddly, we don't really talk about Aaron all that much. We still talk about Ruth and a few other heroes of the early age of baseball who are still recalled almost reverently. Jackie Robinson, the major league's first African-American player is remembered, rightly, as a courageous leader and legend whose importance to not only baseball but race relations in the USA can't possibly be diminished. And the recent set of players, some of whom have broken Aaron's and other records, well so many of them left and will leave the game tainted by the notion that steroid and other performance enhancing drug use contributed to their success as much as natural talent and hard work. Those stories have dominated baseball coverage for the last five years or so, and this focus will likely only intensify as many of these so called steroid-era players become eligible for Hall of Fame consideration themselves.

    But above and despite all this, Aaron remains, like he was in his days as a player, classy, reserved, composed, and a champion. But not just a champion and a model for success in sports, a model for how to succeed in life, and, more interestingly, how to carry oneself once success has been achieved.

    Aaron provides a lesson for all of us. That we can still play and win the right way. We can be both humble, respectful, and proud at the same time. That our achievements don't have to come at the expense of others, in fact, they often arise in spite of others.

    That in the end, baseball, like all games, is really just a game, and all games come to an end.

    But class, that lives forever.


    WEBINAR: Bootstrap your employment brand the FOT Way

    Here’s the short and sweet version of the information you need:

    Register here, for the next Fistful of Talent Webinar on Thursday July 19th at 1:00PM ET.

    If you need more convincing than that, well here you go....

    It’s July, it’s hot, (at least in most of the Western Hemisphere), and you’re possibly feeling a little less-than-inspired. You look around the office and see a bunch of empty cubes, left unattended as your colleagues with more seniority and better ability to plan, (and schmooze the boss), are taking a nice, long summer holiday, leaving you to pick up the slack.  Yep, nothing like commuting to work at 7:45AM and seeing the temperature gauge on the minivan read 86 and the annoyingly perky morning radio guy letting you know today’s forecast high is 102.

    You know how you can turn this around and exact a little revenge on those who conspire against you? (and trust me, that’s everyone).

    By getting smarter while the other guy is lounging on the beach, by sharpening up the tools in your arsenal while the dude you’ll be up against for the next promotion is squeezing himself down the water slide, and maybe most importantly, having a little bit of fun with your pals at FOT while you’re at it, by joining us for the latest episode in the ever-popular, sure to excite, FOT Webinar, this time on the hot (Get it? Hot? It’s summer.), topic of Employment Branding.

    Here’s the ‘official’ sounding pitch for the webinar, but you know as well as I do that in the new world no big brand, even cats as sharp as us kids here at FOT, can truly control the message.

    Fistful of Talent is back this week with the July installment of the FOT webinar on Thursday, July 19th at 1:00PM ET,  brought to you by our innovative friends at TweetMyJobs. Join hosts Kris Dunn and Steve Boese, (hey that’s me),  as they deliver: Bootstrap Your Employment Brand the FOT Way, and serve up the following:

    - A Quick-Hitting Approach to Building Your EVP. Forget what you think your employment brand is. FOT's going to break down a low cost way for you to determine your EVP and get some fresh ammo for your recruiting brand.

    - How to Create Cool Content to Support Your EVP. The FOT team will walk you through how to develop a low-cost, low-pain way to develop quick hitting content that supports your EVP.

    - How to Deliver Your Cool EVP Content via Social Media, with the Usual Suspects and TweetMyJobs. Now that you’ve identified your culture via an employment brand-supporting EVP, it’s time to package your message and ship it out to the public via mobile, photos, video, social apps, etc.

    - What You Should Focus on When Gauging Your ROI, Ignoring Clicks and Other Measurement Gibberish. FOT will bring in TweetMyJobs Co- Founder, Gary Zukowski, to tell you what really matters when it comes to measuring your return on investment in relation to your employment brand – it’s more than click deep.

    - 2-Way Conversations or How to Eat the Dog Food and Ease it Down with a Kool-Aid chaser. We’ll wrap up the webinar by walking you through how smart companies get team members fully engaged with the EVP and on the front lines of building a talent pool that wants to work for you.

    Don’t call it a comeback – your EVP has been there for years. You’ve just never asked the right questions to figure out what people think is in it for them to work at your company.  Join FOT and Tweet My Jobs for this webinar and we’ll show you how to determine your real employment brand via the EVP and share it with the world.

    So there you go - while your competition is making smores or shooting off fireworks, you’ll be getting the latest on building and communicating all the awesome in your organization, while plotting the decor in the big corner office that is reserved for people like you who soldier on instead of slacking off.

    Make some plans to join the FOT crew on Thursday, July 19th at 1:00PM ET, 10:00 AM PT, (the rest of the world sort out the time yourselves).

    And as always, the FOT Webinar comes to you guaranteed - 60% of the time it works every time.


    On crazy ideas and taking action

    Check the image on the right side of this post. That's me, or at least my hand holding a genuine, original, (sadly without the original packaging), Pet Rock, circa 1975.Pet Rock, unnamed, B. 1975

    In case you're not familiar with the story of the Pet Rock, (read - younger than 35, you have some sort of life), allow our friends at Wikipedia to get you caught up:  

    Pet Rocks were a 1970s fad conceived in Los Gatos, California by advertising executive Gary Dahl.

    In April 1975, Dahl was in a bar listening to his friends complain about their pets. This gave him the idea for the perfect "pet": a rock.

    A rock would not need to be fed, walked, bathed, groomed and would not die, become sick, or be disobedient. He said they were to be the perfect pets, and joked about it with his friends. However, he eventually took the idea seriously, and drafted an "instruction manual" for a pet rock. It was full of puns, gags and plays on words that referred to the rock as an actual pet.

    The first Pet Rocks were ordinary gray stones bought at a builder's supply store. They were marketed like live pets, in custom cardboard boxes, complete with straw and breathing holes for the "animal."The fad lasted about six months, ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975. Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks and became a millionaire.

    Awesome, right? I mean I still have my Pet Rock as you can see in the picture.

    But the most important part of the story isn't how ridiculous the idea was/is, or the amazing gullibility or boredom of the American public who snatched up one and a half million of these 'pets', (in our collective defense it was a time before Cable TV and the internet, there was not all that much to do).

    The key to the tale is in this sentence from the founder's story:

    He said they were to be the perfect pets, and joked about it with his friends. However, he eventually took the idea seriously

    Four buddies, kidding around at a bar, where they hatch pretty much the entire idea for the toy in one beer session. Three of them head home, forget the entire night, and go about their lives, (seemingly their names forgotten to history).

    One guy, takes the idea, however silly/crazy/stupid and runs with it, sells a million rocks and gets rich.

    And more that 30 years later here I am wirting about that guy. And I still have my rock.

    What wild idea have you heard lately that you just laughed at, and swore would never work?


    Off Topic - Schrodinger's Cat

    Last weekend while enjoying one of my favorite pastimes studying particle physics watching a loop of replays of Big Bang Theory, I ran across a reference to the famous (in scientific circles anyway), illustration of an aspect fo quantum theory called Schrodinger's Cat. Ed. Notethe 'o' in the name Schrodinger should have the two tiny little dots over it, but I don't know how to render that in this text editor. Which is also another indication I probably should not be attempting to post on particle physics or quantum mechanics. But let's press on anyway.SCIENCE!

    So here's the basic idea of the Schrodinger's Cat illustration, (text lifted heavily from the What is? definition page, (apologies and thanks in advance):

    We place a living cat into a steel chamber, along with a device containing a vial of hydrocyanic acid. Note: he did not actually DO this, it is just an illustration. There is, in the chamber, a very small amount of hydrocyanic acid, a radioactive substance. If even a single atom of the substance decays during the test period, a relay mechanism will trip a hammer, which will, in turn, break the vial and kill the cat. 

    The observer cannot know whether or not an atom of the substance has decayed, and consequently, cannot know whether the vial has been broken, the hydrocyanic acid released, and the cat killed. Since we cannot know, according to quantum law, the cat is both dead and alive, in what is called a superposition of states.

    It is only when we break open the box and learn the condition of the cat that the superposition is lost, and the cat becomes one or the other (dead or alive). This situation is sometimes called quantum indeterminacy or the observer's paradox: the observation or measurement itself affects an outcome, so that the outcome as such does not exist unless the measurement is made. (That is, there is no single outcome unless it is observed.)

    Did you follow all that? Until you open the box the cat is not either dead or alive, it is both dead and alive, and only by opening the box and observing the contents does the cat actually become one or the other.

    When I first looked this illustration up and read through the description of the (fake) experiment it really seemed kind of silly, I mean it may be a valid explanation of the quantum theory of superposition, but beyond that it really could not have any possible implication to anything I care about in the real world, i.e. the NBA, barbecue, Pawn Stars, right? We know the cat can't really be BOTH dead AND alive at the same time. It is one or the other, but not both. It just doesn't make sense.

    But then I thought about it just a little bit more, and then in the context of many of the projects, roll-outs, system deployments, and other change management kinds of things I'd either been involved with or at least observed in the workplace and it started to make a little more sense to me.

    Truly, how the project or change was presented and maybe even more importantly, to whom the new shiny tool and improved process was pitched to first did indeed impact the actual result. If we made our pitch to the right leader or executive first, and couched our pitch in terms that allowed Ms. Executive to see how they would benefit from whatever goods we were hawking, then we had a much better chance for success. 

    And if we did not make the case early, and convincingly, and to the right folks, well then we pretty much were ensured of failure, or at least, lack of impact, i.e. eventually the box gets opened and the cat is dead.

    The thing is both outcomes, project success or failure, well they definitely both existed the entire time. It was only revealed which outcome actually became real until the impacted organization opened the box as it were and had a look inside.

    That's it from me on this. And after having a quick scan though before hitting the 'publish' button, I too realize this very post is both dead and alive at the same time. It's only now, as you read this final sentence, that the actual state is determined.

    I hope the little post survived...


    Below is a short clip explaining the Schrodinger's Cat illustration, have a look if you are still intrigued, (email and RSS subscribers please click through)

     Have a Great Weekend!