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    Nothing but our own fear

    I was at the Globoforce WorkHuman Conference earlier in the week, and one of the more interesting aspects of this conference from the many that I attend in the course of the year is Globoforce's willingness to showcase speakers and topics that are not necessarily 'on the nose' with their specific set of technologies and solutions.

    Most conference, especially vendor user conferences, tend to be super-focused on product - what's happening with the product, what new features are being developed, which companies are adopting the product, how can you learn to use the product better - you get the idea. And that makes perfect sense for vendor user conferences since the one unifying element that generally is the purpose and the binder for the event itself is the actual product. No products, no users, no user conferences. Pretty simple.

    And while there was certainly some of that product related content at the Globoforce event, it did not seem at all like the primary reason for the event, and the driver for most attendees to take the time to be there. Globoforce and the community of folks at the event did (mostly) seem to be there for a more general, conceptual, and different reason - the idea of making work more 'human.'

    What can make, or should make work more 'human' is at the same time a simple and kind of complex topic, (and not the same for everyone). I wrote about my ideas on this a couple of weeks back, so I won't go into them again here. But by making this non-product centric concept the central theme of your user conference, it frees up the organizers to make some interesting choices in terms of speakers and topics.

    For me, one of the highlights of the event was a wide ranging Q and A session with the legendary actor Michael J. Fox. In the Q and A, Fox shared really openly and passionately several stories from his long acting career as well as his well-known and continuing battle with Parkinson's disease.

    The conversation was full of gems, (like Fox lost out to Matthew Broderick for the lead role in one of my favorite films, 'War Games'), but the below quote, (which I tweeted of course, because that is what you do), was for me the idea that I am pretty sure I won't soon (if ever) forget.   


    For some context, Fox was asked about if was ever scared or afraid of his condition and the ongoing battle with Parkinson's when he made the observation about fear - his lack of fear and the fear he senses others see when they talk with him about his condition.

    This observation also reminded me of my single favorite Star Wars quote. Yes it is from Yoda, and no it's not the worn out 'There is no try' line.

    The one I am thinking of is from The Empire Strikes Back from the part of the film when Luke is on Dagobah to train with Yoda and learn about the Force. 

    Here's the setup and the line from Yoda (thanks IMBD).

    Luke: There's something not right here... I feel cold. Death.

    Yoda: [points to a cave opening beneath a large tree] That place... is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.

    Luke: What's in there?

    Yoda: Only what you take with you.

    The 'fear' Michael J. Fox talked about was our fear, not his.

    The 'evil' in the dark side cave wasn't really in there, rather it is carried in there by the seeker him or herself.

    I think we often forget that most of our fears are within us. Not a product of some scary, external circumstance.

    We choose what we see. We choose what we carry with us into that cave.

    And what is really remarkable that what led me to think about these things for the last two days was something I heard at an HR conference.

    Have a great weekend.


    WEBINAR: What does Game of Thrones have to do with performance coaching?

    So what does the popular TV series Game of Thrones have to do with performance coaching and building great teams at work?

    I have no idea, really.

    I must admit to have never seen even a minute of Game of Thrones. But it seems popular with you kids, and even more popular with your pals over at Fistful of Talent - so much so that they have latched on to the idea of tying the show into some lessons for the workplace in the next installment of the FOT free webinar series.

    Here are the details:

    “Winter is Coming.” “You Win or You Die.” “You Know Nothing, Jon Snow.”

    If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you know these quotes as parts of iconic conversations from your favorite series. If you’re not a fan of the series (TV or book), you still likely recognize these quotes as fodder from a series that’s made a friend a bit too obsessive.

    The team at Fistful of Talent? We view these quotes as coaching conversations. That’s why we’ve built our next webinar around Game of Thrones.

    Join us on May 19th at 2pm Eastern for “RAISING DRAGONS: What Game of Thrones Teaches Us About Performance Coaching and Building Teams, and we’ll use Castle Black and King’s Landing to explore best practices in performance coaching by giving you the following goodies:

    1. A quick rundown of the history of Game of Thrones from a leadership perspective. Have a favorite character who’s dead? Whether it’s Ned Stark or Khal Drago, we’ll go rapid fire and tell you what they did well from a coaching perspective, then tell you what dysfunction caused them to be… well… cancelled.

    2. We’ll feature the 5 most notorious leaders currently alive on the show and break down their coaching style—where they’re strong and where they struggle—with the help of the performance management experts at Halogen Software. Odds are you’ll find a mother of dragons, a short fellow and dire wolf owner in this breakdown.

    3. We’ll breakdown the five most common coaching conversations in corporate America today and tell you which Game of Thrones leader your managers should emulate to nail the conversation—so they can maximize their team member’s performance.

    4. We’ll wrap up the webinar by telling you what the coaching styles of the 5 characters featured means for their future—and the future of the teams they lead.

    You’ve signed up for enough boring webinars, right? Break the pattern and register for our Game of Thrones, webinar, and we’ll deliver the performance management/coaching science with a layer of pop culture you’ve grown to expect from Fistful of Talent.



    Signs of the corporate death spiral #2 - no more free lunches for you

    Quick shot for a super-busy day where I am simultaneously juggle attending an event, sorting out numerous technical issues, (I know, no one cares), and trying to keep the content engines humming around here.

    Thought it would be time to resurrect my 'Signs of the corporate death spiral' series that has long been dormant. Although I could just write about Yahoo every day and that would cover things.

    No, this post is not about Yahoo, but rather another Silicon Valley tech company Dropbox, who you may know from their pretty large data and file storage business. What signal is there that Dropbox may be lurching towards the dreaded death spiral? Check an excerpt from a recent piece on Slashdot:

    Not everything is working out at Dropbox, popular cloud storage and sharing service, last valued at $10 billion. Business Insider is reporting a major cost cutting at the San Francisco-based company. As part of it, the publication reports, Dropbox has cancelled its free shuttle in San Francisco, its gym washing service, pushed back dinner time by an hour and curtailed the number of guests to five per month (previously it was unlimited). These cuttings will directly impact Dropbox's profitability. According to a leaked memo, obtained by BI, employee perks alone cost the company at least $25,000 a year for each employee. (Dropbox has nearly 1,500 employees.)

    Look, no doubt Dropbox's pretty lavish perks package would be considered incredibly excessive by the average organization. I mean, have you ever worked anywhere that let you bring in five friends each month to the open bar on Fridays? Have you ever even had an open bar at work? And I am not talking about that bottle you think is 'hidden' in your bottom drawer. Everyone knows about that by the way.

    But why this benefits/perks cut at Dropbox could potentially be more serious longer term to them than the average organization's occasional need to cut benefits (which can usually be survivable), is that Dropbox exists almost entirely in a world where 'excessive' benefits are not considered excessive at all, rather they are more or less expected components of their Employer Value Proposition.

    That's right, I went all EVP on you all. But it is the best, most concise way to describe what I think is going on here and the potential warning signal this kind of a benefit pull back might end up having at Dropbox.

    No workplace or employee needs free dry cleaning service at work in order to be considered fairly compensated, and (hopefully), happy with their organization. No one needs this for sure.

    But at Dropbox, and maybe 100 other companies in the Valley that are chasing similar pools of workers?

    The end of free dry cleaning and posh gym memberships and open bars?

    They might move towards the need category a lot faster than you think. For you and your organization? It would be good for you to know what is your version of free dry cleaning before the CFO decides to come down with the cost-cutting axe.


    PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 245 - Talking Talent, Culture, and Technology (on the Radio)

    HR Happy Hour 245 - Talking about Talent, Culture, and Technology (on the Radio)

    Recorded Friday, May 6, 2016

    Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish McFarlane

    Listen HERE

    This week on a fun twist on the HR Happy Hour Show, we are replaying/reposting an appearance Steve made recently on the Win-Win @ Work Radio Show that is broadcast weekly on WSCA FM, 106.1 in Portsmouth New Hampshire,

    Steve was interviewed by Win-Win @ Work host Kristi Baxter and Michael Cameron, (who are fantastic), and the conversation touched upon innovation in the HR technology marketplace, how technology is helping HR leaders and organizations with talent management, succession planning, and career development, and finally, on the ongoing debate of hiring for culture fit vs. hiring for raw talent.

    You can listen to the show on the show page HERE or using the widget player below:

    This was a really fun and interesting conversation, and we thought it would be a great idea to share this interview with the HR Happy Hour Show community as well.

    Big thanks to Michael and Kristi for having Steve on the Win-Win @ Work show!

    Reminder: You can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or on all the major podcast apps for iOS and Android (I like Stitcher Radio). Just search for 'HR Happy Hour' to add the show to your subscriptions and you will never miss a show.


    n = 1

    1.  We love to talk about 'hiring for cultural fit' but have no idea if we really know how to do that, and if it really matters.

    2. You don't really have to be glued to your email 24/7. People who are emailing at all hours are mostly competing on responsiveness instead of on talent/skill/ideas. You can try to do compete on responsiveness for a while, but eventually, maybe soon, you''ll burn out and won't have enough talent/skill/ideas to fall back on.

    3. The number of people you can trust, who you can count on, and who really do have your best interests top of mind is fewer than you think. Maybe a lot fewer. But that is ok. One true ally is worth more than twenty impostors.

    4. Not everyone in the 'gig' economy is all that thrilled to be chasing gigs all of the time. You might be able to lock up some of your most talented and productive contractors or temp workers for much less than you think.

    5. It's probably too late to panic. Just get on with it.

    6. Incomplete or incongruous information about prices and salaries make so many of us leave money on the table. Whatever you are thinking of asking for, ask for 20% more.

    7. Stop working for free. Truly. You are devaluing your own skills and you are killing the market for everyone else. And to those big, giant companies that continue to want to compensate labor with 'exposure?'. Shame on you too.

    8. The single greatest disruption in the 'robots are going to take all the jobs' dynamic might be when self-driving trucks put a million drivers (in the USA only) out of work.

    9. Listen to the input of the (few) people you can trust, but always make your own decisions

    10. Once your network hits 150 or people, you can't really know them all that well, or meaningfully engage with any more. But you can let them think they know you by sharing just enough information,  in the right places at the right times. It isn't about being fake, it's about recognizing the limits of our capacity to engage. And also about making sure you give yourself the time and space to work on your own ideas, and not be too influenced by what everyone else seems to be fascinated with at the moment.

    11. I had a weird dream where I directed a movie. It was like a 'Planet of the Apes' except instead of apes, they were dinosaurs that walked on two legs. Million dollar idea!


    To be continued...


    Have a great weekend!