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    Entries in career (90)

    Friday
    Feb272015

    Job Titles of the Future #12 - Professional Selfie Retoucher

    According to Business Insider, the reality TV personality Kim Kardashian spends upwards of $100K to keep a 'professional selfie retoucher' on call, who stands (or sits more likely) at the ready, poised to edit, smooth, crop, and apply just the right Instagram filter (I am a 'Hudson' fan myself), to her selfies and other photos prior to posting them to her millions of social media followers.

    If it sounds ridiculous, it is because it is ridiculous. But I think at least half of why it is ridiculous is the kind of silly name this job has been bestowed, and the kind of silly protagonist of the story. Kim Kardashian retaining a professional selfie editor to be on call is comical, but what about an author, sports figure, politician, or CEO engaging consulting services to protect, augment, and improve their online personas? Maybe not so silly.

    It must be a really big deal, and a important part of her business strategy, for Kim to be seen in a certain manner in her social media posts and activity. She must have figured out what her fans want and expect, and paying $100K to make sure she delivers on those expectations must be worth it to her in the long run.

    But in some ways it is not just reality TV stars or athletes or actors that rely on social media image and presence as a big part of their business strategy. Lots of 'normal' people do to. We are all, as long as we participate in blogs or on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, placing some importance (and risk) in how our intelligence, professionalism, and value are interpreted via our posts and pictures and, yes, our selfies.

    And lots of us try to be really careful about what we post. Not just in that 'I better not post that pic of me and the boys doing tequila shots', but also along the lines of 'Does this picture make me look smart/cool/happening/likable/on 'brand'?' You know you think about that. Everyone does. Think about how much you crop and filter and edit those Instagram and Facebook pics before you load them. It isn't just about you wanting to be the next Ansel Adams.

    It's just that you and me and almost everyone else makes these determinations and manipulations of our preferred version of reality for ourselves - it's only people like Kim K. who can dish out $100K to worry about that stuff for her.

    There have been PR agencies and image consultants and even 'personal brand coaches' (that title just made me gag a little), around for awhile, so the idea of a 'professional selfie retoucher' may not be all that new or novel, and just may be the logical extension or modernization of these roles for the social media age.

    But still, something about it, the on-the-nose way it describes the function seems new to me, and thus I officually welcome 'Professional Selfie Retoucher' as Job Title of the Future #12.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Feb052015

    ADVICE: Read more, write less

    Super interesting piece on the Savage Minds anthropology blog the other day titled Read More, Write Less, an essay by Ruth Behar about her conversations with the Cuban author and poet Dulce Maria Loynaz.

    I must confess to having no familiarity with Ms. Loynaz, but in the piece she offers some really excellent advice for writers, bloggers, really communicators of any kind.

    From the Savage Minds piece:

    Inspired by her meditative Poemas sin nombre (Poems With No Name), I had written a few poems of my own, and Dulce María had the largeness of heart to ask me to read them aloud to her in the grand salon of her dilapidated mansion. She nodded kindly after each poem and when I finished I thought to ask her, “What advice would you give a writer?”

    I will always remember her answer. It came without a moment’s hesitation and could not have been more succinct: Lee más, escribe menos, “Read more, write less.”

    That might seem like old-fashioned advice in our world today, where so many of us aspire to write more. But having pondered Dulce María’s words, I think I now understand the significance of what she was saying.

    It comes down to this: you can only write as well as what you read.

    Awesome advice, and so good that I don't really need to add anything more to it. I try and read as much as I can in order to have new ideas, fresh perspectives, and just interesting things to share. But there is so much more out there.  I know I probably should read more, and different things instead of trying to push out posts all the time.

    Read more, write less. Great advice. 

    Have a great Thursday.

    Monday
    Feb022015

    I don't want to work with companies, I want to work with people

    The hard thing about blogging sometimes is that for various and practical reasons you often can't write about stuff that actually happens in your actual life, personal or professional. Sometimes you have to change names, change details of a story, obscure some elements that might not be terribly important to the overall point, but at least give you some plausible deniability, (and protection as well, for the most part, most bloggers are not independently wealthy, i.e. we still need to make a living).

    That disclaimer serves two purposes really; one, as an acknowledgement and reminder that there have been plenty of really interesting and potentially really very good posts that I and lots of other HR/workplace type bloggers have to quash in the interests of personal protection/employability. And two, as a preface to what I wanted to really write about, (getting to that next, I promise), which is based on some actual events with real people, but with the specific names left out and some details slightly changed. Ok, here we go...

    One of the interesting aspects of the transforming nature of work and workers from corporate lifers into more entrepreneurial, flexible, contingent, and more or less free agents (who may affiliate with a company for a time for mutual benefit), is that customer/partner loyalty is now much more often tied to people and not organizations. Said a little differently, buyers and potential business partners are more and more drawn to the actual people involved in the project or transaction, and not so much, (if at all), their current, (and likely temporary) corporate affiliation.

    The specific circumstances that caused me to think about happened last week, in two separate discussions I had with some HR industry folks. Both of these were concerning projects and initiatives where I had been working with, or at least working on collaborating with specific individuals that was interested in working with again. And in both cases, as these potential initiatives became socialized inside the corporate meeting rooms of the organizations where these folks are aligned, the geometry of the deals began to alter.

    Suddenly, more (or different) folks needed to be involved. Now more higher-ups from these organizations had to have their opinion heard, (even when I had not talked with any of them previously). There was at least some reluctance in one of the cases by management to 'allow' their person to work with me on the project, as they wanted to have their other, preferred person, (who I did not ask for), leading the effort.

    As more professionals see themselves as free agents, who affiliate with companies in more fluid, shorter, and transitory arrangements while simultaneously building their personal networks, professional portfolios, and reputations independent of any corporate overseer, these kinds of tensions will only increase. In the examples I cited above, I was led to and wanted to collaborate with specific individuals based on past experiences (prior to them arriving at their current roles), and personal conviction in these individual's ability and competence. Quite frankly, their current corporate affiliation does not really matter. At least to me.

    But it does matter, naturally, to the folks that are the executives at these places, whose job it is to build, protect, strengthen, and make more valuable their company brands. But this will be increasingly more challenging, in many relationship-driven kinds of businesses anyway, when the company brand is really only comprised of a loose affiliation of individual brands, who are going to move in and out of the company umbrella more or less on-demand, and who have many more outside connections and relationships than in the past.

    This 'free agent nation', this new world that is sometimes referred to as the 'Uber-ification' of work where most workers are essentially carving out their own personal careers, less dependent on organizational support (and protection) than before is one that puts not only these workers under more pressure than before, as they shoulder more personal risk than ever, but it also will stress their company brand owners as well. I don't think my perspective as a potential partner/customer is all that unique; I am interested in collaborating with the best people I can, and often, (and maybe soon always), I am not that interested in their 'official' titles or what their current company leadership believes how I should interact and engage with them. As sometimes I like to say, that is a 'you' problem, not a 'me' problem.

    I guess I will leave with this - the free agent nation has delivered exceeding benefits to company brands - less fixed costs, less regulations, more flexibility, and even more profits. But there are some risks too. Some of your free agents don't really need the company brand as much as the brand needs them. And some of your best customers and partners want to work with people, not with companies. And as the ties between people and companies continue to loosen, (almost always at the behest of companies by the way), the company's hold on talent and opportunity and profit will loosen as well.

    Have a great week!

    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?