Quantcast
Subscribe!

 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in career (87)

    Monday
    Jan262015

    Sprinkles are for winners

    Over the weekend during an extended period of extensive reading and research that keeps this blog full of interesting and provocative content, (I was mostly watching basketball on TV), I ran into this little beauty (video embedded below, email and RSS subscribers will need to click though), one of the latest in the long-running series of 'Flo' spots from Progressive Insurance. Watch the quick 30-second spot then some FREE comments from your humble correspondent.
    I, like you too probably, was just about done with Flo, she has been seemingly telling us about how fantastic discount auto insurance can be for literally YEARS.

     

    But with this little bit of wisdom, 'Spinkles are for winners', she is all the way back on Steve's 'approved' list.

     

    Why is this spot perfect, and relevant too?
    Because it reminds us that in life, sports, business, sales - whatever, that losing is sometimes the inevitable outcome. Sometimes the other guy/company/product/candidate is bringing is simply better than what you have to offer. And sometimes you just have to accept that.

     

    But, and here is the key, you don't get a complete pass, or a do-over, even if the other guy really is better. You get an acknowledgement, sure, (if you are lucky), but you don't get many more chances probably, and you definitely don't get a prize.

     

    You have to figure out a way to win, eventually, even when no one blames you for losing. 

     

    Sprinkles are for winners, Jimmy.

     

    Have a geat week!
    Thursday
    Jan082015

    More reasons to wear the same thing to work every day

    Lots of folks spend 10 or 15 or maybe even 30 minutes each morning staring at the closet trying to figure out what outfit to wear to work that day.

    Recently hired University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh is not one of those people. He is rarely seen not wearing his 'signature' Walmart Khakis and black long sleeve shirt.

    Why? 

    As Harbaugh puts it, "It's gotten to the point where I save so much time a day knowing that I don't have to stand in front of the closet, trying to decide what outfit to pick out. About 15 - 20 minutes a day. That adds up, day after day."

    Harbaugh isn't the only successful, famous person who adopted this 'wear the same thing every day' philosophy. So did Steve Jobs. So does President Obama (for the most part).

    Wearing the same thing every day does save time, and it may even be kind of liberating. But most of us don't even consider it. I wonder why.

    A few months ago I posted about this idea over on Fistful of Talent, and since the Harbaugh story put the issue on my mind again, I am going to run that FOT post below, because I still think it is interesting, and I am kind of too busy today to come up with anything better. <FOT Post below>

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

    The Corporate Uniform… Or, Are you Brave Enough to Wear the Same Thing Everyday?

    Steve Jobs.

    Mark Zuckerberg.

    President Obama.

    Karl Stefanovic. (Okay, I bet you have no idea who this guy is… hang in there, we will come back to him).

    What are these four gentlemen all famous for? Check that—a better question is this: What do these four gentlemen all have in common?

    Besides being extremely successful in their chosen fields of endeavor (even Karl—I will explain), they all at one time or another adopted a personal uniform, i.e., they essentially elected to wear (more or less) the same basic clothes every single day.

    Jobs, of course, became renowned for his black turtlenecks and blue jeans. Zuck, for his seemingly endless supply of gray t-shirts and hoodies. President Obama wears only gray or dark blue suits.

    And our man Karl, who, in case you are not familiar is an Australian morning TV host, has worn the same blue suit on the air every day for a YEAR.

    The reason that the first three men in this list elected to adopt their signature style are remarkably similar. Each man felt like they had much more important things to worry about than fashion or even simply choosing what to wear each day. So by adopting a “uniform” of sorts, they effectively eliminated one set of decisions from their daily routine.

    And there is at least some science that suggests that reducing the sheer number of decisions that one has to make can help to avoid something known as ‘decision fatigue’, a situation where the quality of decisions deteriorates after a long or prolonged period of decision making. When decision fatigue sets in, it can be hard to make appropriate trade-offs and can lead to decision avoidance and irrational—even careless—choices.

    But let’s get back to Karl Stefanovic, the person on this list you are likely least familiar with. Karl, in an experiment of sorts and influenced by his observations that there exists a double standard in TV and entertainment between how men and women’s appearance are judged, decided to wear, on air, the same blue suit every day for a year.

    Karl’s theory was that he could easily get away with wearing the same “uniform” everyday on TV, but his partner, a woman, would be excoriated by the public (and probably by management) for attempting the same stunt. And while we don’t know for sure what would actually have happened if his co-host Lisa Wilkinson tried the same move, we do know the result of Karl’s “wear the same suit on TV every day for a year” experiment.

    The result?

    No one noticed.

    Not a single viewer complained. No letters or emails or tweets about the suit. Management did not issue a correction or reprimand.

    No one cared.

    Karl was, in his words, not being judged on what he wore or how he looked, but rather on “my interviews, my appalling sense of humour—on how I do my job, basically.”

    But if co-host Lisa (or any high-profile female personality or executive) tried the same stunt, can we honestly say that the reaction would be the same?

    If Ginny Rometty or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer wore the same clothes every day (like Jobs and Zuck and Obama), would we EVER stop talking about what they are wearing and focus on their performance?

    Probably not. Men get judged (primarily) by what they do. Women, especially in visible, important positions, never seem to be able to shake the criticism and commentary about things like clothes and hairstyles.

    The truth is that it hardly matters at all what people wear or what they look like. What matters is what they do.

    For Jobs and Zuck, we don’t give that conclusion a second thought.

    Why can’t we say the same thing for the rest of us?

    Wednesday
    Dec312014

    REPRISE: How far would you commute each day for your dream job?

    Note: The blog is taking some well-deserved rest for the next few days (that is code for I am pretty much out of decent ideas, and I doubt most folks are spending their holidays reading blogs anyway), and will be re-running some of best, or at least most interesting posts from 2014. Maybe you missed these the first time around or maybe you didn't really miss them, but either way they are presented for your consideration. Thanks to everyone who stopped by in 2014!

    The below post first ran back in June and was a good example of a non-robot, non-technology, and non-sports type post that for some reason seemed to resonate a little bit. It hit on a normal issue for careers and workplaces - commuting, and the challenges that really long commutes to work can present. The example in the post is pretty extreme, but I think it helps us think about the kinds of 'life' tradeoffs we are willing to make for 'work'.

     Happy New Year's Eve!

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

    How far would you commute each day for your dream job? 

    How far would you be willing to commute, (to keep it simple let's assume we are talking about commuting via driving your personal car), in order to work at your dream company/job?

    I have to admit it is not a question I have personally thought about very much these last few years as my 'commute', if you could call it that, has typically been taking a short flight of stairs to my lower-level office/lair/Fortress of Solitude.  But lots of folks, heck still the large majority I think, are making the pretty much daily grind to an office, store, warehouse or whatnot. Despite how much we like to talk about the nature and practice of work and workplaces changing, for most of us 'work' remains a place we physically go to just about every day.

    So how far of a drive is too far?

    I only thought about the question this week after reading a post on the LinkedIn blog titled, Inside Story: LinkedIn’s VP of Mobile on Driving in the Snow, Houzz and Anticipatory Computing. I clicked through to the piece because of the 'Anticipatory Computing' phrase, that just sounded really interesting and cool, but as it turns out the more interesting nugget from the post was about how this VP from LinkedIn (Joff Redfern) had a ridiculous commute his first four years with the company.

    How ridiculous? Check this Q and A from the piece:

    Q: What’s not on your LinkedIn Profile?

    A: During my first four years at LinkedIn, I had one of the longest commutes. I lived in Lake Tahoe, California, but worked out of headquarters in Mountain View, California. It’s about 250 miles each way, so I put over 110,000 miles on my car. That’s the equivalent of driving around the world more than four times. It gave me lots of time to think and one of the benefits is that I’m pretty awesome at driving in the snow. 

    Did I read that correctly? 250 miles each way to get to the office? Even taking into account the fact that there was probably no way Mr. Redfern was making a 500 mile round trip every single work day, even still, just a couple of times a week that kind of a grind will be almost impossible to sustain.

    How someone could manage a commute that crazy, and not go insane is kind of an interesting question I think, and you could substitute '500 mile commute' with, 'Has to work 18-hour days for a year in order to ship our first product'. I think there are at least three key elements you'd have to have in place in order to make it work:

    1. The work itself has to be an ideal (for you) combination of challenge/excitement/opportunity/reward that will set you up perfectly for the next 10-15 years of your career such that you simply have to bite the bullet and devote yourself to that work for a year or two (or four).

    2. You either have to have just about zero responsibilities outside of work (no spouse/significant other/kids/dog etc.) that might either literally starve (in the case of a dog) or be starved for attention (every other person in your life), since you are working all of the time. Or, you have someone in your life who has decided that they will take care of everything outside of work for you while you are working all of the time. I suspect it would be really tough for anyone to pull off a regular 500 mile commute if they had a spouse, a couple of kids maybe, at home that they actually wanted to see awake once in a while.

    3.  You have to be (reasonably) healthy before taking on such a grind. The combination of working crazy long hours and a long commute will start to break you down physically (and likely mentally too). You will eventually start eating poorly, not getting enough exercise, definitely not enough sleep and that combination starts to take a toll. If you are not set up to reasonably handle that kind of physical punishment you are more likely to end up in an ER somewhere than accepting a fat bonus check or a bunch of stock options for your hard work. Everyone can handle a long day or two or maybe five, but keep stacking them up, week after week and month after month? Good luck with that.

    So how far are you willing to commute for your dream job?

    Tuesday
    Dec302014

    REPRISE: On Nobel Prizes and Email Responsiveness

    Note: The blog is taking some well-deserved rest for the next few days (that is code for I am pretty much out of decent ideas, and I doubt most folks are spending their holidays reading blogs anyway), and will be re-running some of best, or at least most interesting posts from 2014. Maybe you missed these the first time around or maybe you didn't really miss them, but either way they are presented for your consideration. Thanks to everyone who stopped by in 2014!

    The below post first ran back in April and hit on a subject I was kind of obsessed with in 2014 - Email. For many, and often myself, email is a kind of scourge. It never ever stops. And while it is most assuredly a part of almost all of our jobs it shouldn't be the better part of our jobs, and all too often it feels like it is. So this piece offers a slightly different take on email - namely, if you are good enough at what you do you get to decide how you spend your time, and how responsive you are to emails. 

    Happy Tuesday.

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

    On Nobel Prizes and Email Responsiveness 

    I have a 'hate-hate' relationship with email.

    No matter how much time I try to spend on email the 'task' is never completed, there is always another message that needs a response, (or the person who sent the message at least thinks it needs a response), and most responses just spawn even more messages, the digital version of the old myth of the Hydra, when cutting off one of the monster's many heads simply resulted in two more appearing in its place.

    Plus, I am bad at email. Bad in the sense that I actively try and manage the time I spend reading/sending emails so that I don't reach the end of the day with nothing really to show for it, except an endless, meandering trail of email threads. If sending/responding to email is all you do in a day, then you can never be really happy I don't think - you can never complete anything. Which is the reason, even when I am really, really busy, that I try to blog every weekday. No matter how insipid, irrelevant, and lacking in insight any given post might be, it is always done. And there is some satisfaction in that.

    Also, if you are someone reading this post that has been (persistently) trying to get my attention via email lately, you probably are nodding with understanding and also probably cursing me out under your breath. I will get back to you, I promise. I mean it. Really.

    It is from this place, that this piece caught my attention the other day. Titled, Richard Feynman Didn't Win a Nobel by Responding Promptly to E-mails, it shares some insight into how a great and successful scientist manages to stay productive and focused. One way, certainly, was by not getting bogged down or distracted by non-essential tasks, (like 90% of emails). Feynman also says 'No' a lot - basically to any request for his time and attention that takes away from his main goals - doing great science.

    From the piece:

    Feynman got away with this behavior because in research-oriented academia there’s a clear metric for judging merit: important publications. Feynman had a Nobel, so he didn’t have to be accessible.

    There’s a lot that’s scary about having success and failure in your professional life reduce down to a small number of unambiguous metrics (this is something that academics share, improbably enough, with professional athletes).

    But as Feynman’s example reminds us, there’s also something freeing about the clarity. If your professional value was objectively measured and clear, then you could more confidently sidestep actives that actively degrade your ability to do what you do well (think: constant connectivity, endless meetings, Power Point decks).

    That is a really interesting take, I think. Tying most jobs and workplaces inability to measure success unambiguously and objectively with the perceived need to spend time on those activities that 'degrade your ability to do what you do well.'

    You spend countless hours doing email and sitting in status meetings because that seems to be what you should be doing, but I bet that often it is because no one knows what it is you really should be doing.

    So the lesson from Feynman? Figure out what you do really well, and then focus on that as exclusively as you can. If you get good enough at it, and it is valuable enough to the organization, then you get to decide what other nonsense you can ignore.

    Until then, better get back to your email. Me too.

    Wednesday
    Dec102014

    Prepare to be disappointed

    The full title of this post really should be 'Prepare to be disappointed: The 2014-2015 New York Knicks', but I wanted to at least try not to scare away any potential readers, particularly ones that get tired of the 8 Man Rotation 'Sports and HR' posts.

    I promise this post isn't really about the Knicks or sports, not completely anyway.

    The backstory:

    I arrived back home at HR Happy Hour HQ at about 7:55PM ET last night and realized that it was about 5 minutes before the tip off time for the Knicks, (my favorite NBA team since forever, my favorite holiday picture from my childhood features a 5 or 6 year old me sporting New York Knicks pajamas that Santa had bestowed), who were matched up against the New Orleans Pelicans, (not a very good team, but better than the Knicks, much like just about every other team so far this year is better than the Knicks). 

    As I quickly gathered up some snacks and a needed beverage, scurrying to be in my favored easy chair for the start of the game the thought that popped into my mind was that all I was really doing was preparing to be disappointed - the Knicks are one of the worst teams in the league and have lost a number of close games recently, the kinds of losses that really sting for longtime fans (and I suppose the players too). Heading into last night's game, there was no logical reason to expect the Knicks would be able to defeat the Pelicans, I didn't think they had much of a chance anyway, so all I was doing by planning my evening, (partially), around watching the game was really just preparing to be disappointed by the eventual Knicks loss.

    OK, that was a lot of nonsense about basketball to get me to the point, so here goes.

    I have ceased letting Knicks loss after loss bother me. Sure, I would rather they were better, I would enjoy more frequent wins. But I get that this is not going to be a very good year for them. And so as a hedge against the Knicks stumbling and bumbling, I have adopted the much better (and much more fun to watch), Atlanta Hawks as my proxy team for the season. 

    The Hawks have a solid winning record so far this season, play an upbeat and entertaining style of basketball, and, importantly, have never been a significant or hated rival to my Knicks. They have always just been another team in the league, so supporting them is not really traitorous to my team, but rather serves as a way for me to keep invested in something I enjoy, (NBA basketball), while not allowing the terrible Knicks team to ruin the overall experience of the sport.

    So now the point (no one has kept reading until this point I am thinking).

    The Knicks, and there relentless way of disappointing me and their other fans probably represent a lot of our real lives too. Jobs that we really can't stand. Managers that are always on our cases. Co-workers that let us down, (at best), or stab us in the back (more likely). Significant others that just seem to do the same annoying things over and over again. And if you have kids, well, I don't need to delineate all the ways they manage to exasperate, frustrate, and yes, even disappoint us. 

    How do we deal with all that, with all that disappointment?

    I think we have to find the version of the Atlanta Hawks in all these varying situations.

    The part, even if it small or insignificant, that is pretty reliably positive. The element that we can latch on to in a bad situation and take something positive from. 

    There is something about your crappy job that has value. Your slacker boyfriend probably takes good care of your cat. There is likely at least one person amongst the clowns you work with from which you can learn something.

    This isn't about seeing the bright side in a given, bad situation, it is about seeing a different side.

    I am stuck supporting the terrible Knicks because they are my team. But I can still take enjoyment from the Hawks, (up until they play the Knicks), without being a traitor.

    And you can find something to love about your job while not betraying your very real hatred for it.

    Ok, that is it, I am out.

    Note: It is halftime of the Knicks-Pelicans game. The Knicks are only down by 2. Maybe I won't be disappointed after all.