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    Entries in comedy (3)


    A funny reminder of what normals think about many of us

    I am pretty sure my favorite, offbeat website is Dinosaur Comics. I know I have blogged at least a couple of times over the years with a take on something interesting that the genius behind Dinosaur Comics, Ryan North has posted.  And his idea, a comic series where the pictures, panels, and layouts are exactly the same every day, but with the topics and dialog between the two characters changing, is really unique and remarkable.

    Recently, Dinosaur Comics took on the topic of HR and Recruiting's favorite sourcing and people research tool, LinkedIn. Take a look at what two comic dinosaurs think about LinkedIn, and then I (natch) will have a couple of comments after the comic.

    Really funny, right? But to paraphrase the great Joe Pesci in Goodfellas - how is it funny? And should we really care beyond laughing? A couple of quick thoughts:

    1. 'Normals', i.e. people who don't live and die all day long on LinkedIn, are not all that concerned with their 'personal brand', and don't actually feel like their job is the most important thing about them likely make up the majority of your workforce.

    2. Most of these people, I think, are not at all comfortable with the notion that the divide or the separation between 'work' and 'not working' is diminishing (or even disappearing). Lots and lots of solid and even outstanding performers are not thinking about work after 5PM. And they are not spending their weekends sending LinkedIn connection requests. They are, once again, 'normal.'

    3. HR and Recruiting people love to tell everyone who will listen that 'They need to be on LinkedIn' and offer endless tips and tricks so that people can 'Get the most out of their LinkedIn profile'. They do this for primarily self-serving reasons - they want the full range of people that they someday might be interested in contacting about job opportunities to be easily findable and contactable, (facilitated by tossing a few $$ to LinkedIn). I wish some honest recruiter would just post an article that says 'If you ever want to be considered for a job at my company, here is what I expect to see on your LinkedIn profile.' But instead we get dozens and dozens of pieces about 'optimization' tips. So boring.

    I don't mean to take shots at LinkedIn, I am a long-time user and have gotten some value out of that over the years. But I also think it has become too easy (and lazy) to have one and only one source for universal professional information. And one that normal people don't really understand as well.


    In Soviet Russia, marketing candidate find you!

    Yes I am (sadly) old enough to remember the heyday of one Yakov Smirnoff, a Russian comic popular in the 70s and 80s. Smirnoff's main schtick was to crack wise about the differences between the then-communist Russia and his adopted home in the USA in a format that came to be known as the 'Russian Reversal' and that went something like this:

    In America, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, Party always find you!


    In America, your work determines your marks. In Soviet Russia, Marx determines your work!


    Ol' Yakov was quite a funny guy, and I couldn't help but think of him several times over that last few days when seeing numerous pieces in various contexts about how technology, robots, and increasingly sophisticated algorithms are more and more moving the needle to produce not only what we explicitly ask for and need, but also what they think we will need next.

    See for example, Pre-cognitive robot knows you need help before you do, about developing robot technology that is learning how to 'see' and assess you, your actions, and your environment to anticipate your needs and react to them without or before receiving commands or direction.

    And this piece, Forget Searching For Content, Content Is About to Start Searching For You, on how smarter, location-based, and fundamentally tied to your mobile device applications will more and more 'push' data, suggestions, and options to you, based on where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with, without you having to search or ask for information.

    And this one, The Data Made Me Do It, about how the availability (and our increasing willingness to share) of oceans of personal data is leading to better and smarter 'anticipatory systems' that can and will provide you the answers to questions that you haven't even asked. Yet.

    The key running through all these examples? None are really similar to what passes for analytics or business intelligence or even 'big data' solutions that we keep hearing so much about, and what lots of energy are focused on. Mostly, these current tools try to provide better insight and visibility into things that have already happened, not so much about what is likely to happen next, or even more advanced, to lead you with answers to questions you have not even though about yet. What has already happened is important, no doubt, but that is only a baseline or floor for beginning to understand what's next and what is not even imagined.

    It's said that when really good basketball players play together on a team for awhile that they begin to understand, visualize, and anticipate each other's moves, and what they are most likely to do on the court without having to shout, point, or even make subtle eye contact with each other. Each player just knows where the other one will be, and with that knowledge and insight, can make the best decisions about what to do next, again, without even asking.

    I think the same thing will eventually be said for the best technology support systems that we deploy in our workplaces. 

    They won't tell us what has happened, but what is likely to happen. 

    They won't be about providing report cards about the past, but rather action plans for today, (and tomorrow).

    They won't remind us that we need to do a search for candidates for that Controller position that has been open for two weeks, rather they'll present us a list of qualified and interested people to contact for that VP of Marketing position that isn't technically open yet, but that signals from the internal and external social networks indicate a 87% probability the current VP is going to resign.

    As Yakov the HR Director would say, in Soviet Russia, you don't look for marketing candidates - marketing candidates come looking for you.


    Just Because You Can... You Know the Rest

    A video clip of the comedian Louis C.K. bemoaning social media and Twitter as being 'awful' made the rounds on the internet in the last few days, where the funnyman has a go at the service, and the kind of shallowness that underpins much of the activity on Twitter and many other social networks. Initially my reaction was that the routine was kind of funny, but that it also was a little narrow-minded; after all, for every silly and insipid update on Twitter one can also find examples of progressive, authentic, and meaningful applications of the service for business, community, civic, and other benefits.Why can't I have a Google Plus Page? Why?

    Social networks are altogether a personal experience, and we all run the risk of gross oversimplification by assuming our experiences are somehow indicative or predictive of anyone else's experiences. So if Louis C.K. or your Mom, or your CEO tries Twitter and finds it 'stupid' or 'awful', well all that really proves is just that, and while their conclusions are perfectly rational and reasonable, they shouldn't matter to anyone else. 

    Who cares if Louis C.K. thinks Twitter is stupid? No one should. Even if he is possibly right.

    But one thing Louis did say in the video does have merit, the social media take on the old advice of 'Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should'

    I was thinking about this late last night when I discovered that some friends and colleagues had opted in to the new capability Google had released for it's new social platform, and created new Google Plus pages for their businesses or blogs. It hit me, that I too should have a Google Plus page for my blog or for the HR Happy Hour Show.

    So I raced over to Google Plus to stake another claim to a tiny portion of the internet, and much to my frustration and confusion, I was not able to create either of the new Google Plus pages I wanted. No real reason, just some unexplained 'Unable to create page. Try again later' message from the great Goog as soon as I clicked the 'Create Page' button.

    I kept trying, maybe four of five more times, before giving up in a ticked-off huff. Never mind that I have no real idea or plan for a Google Plus page for the blog or for the show. Never mind that I hardly even go on to Google Plus right now. Never mind I have a million other things to do and don't really need to add 'Google Plus page administration' to the list.

    Nope, forget all that. Google Plus pages are there. And darn it, I had to have mine too.

    Finally I (sort of) snapped out of it and quit trying to create something I don't really need, don't have time for, won't help me write better posts or have better radio shows, and won't really accomplish much of anything except give Google Plus a little bit more of my time and attention.

    The lesson in this little tale? None, really. My experience and conclusions are valid only for me. Just like it doesn't matter if Louis C.K. thinks Twitter is stupid, it doesn't matter that I felt like a doofus trying to set up Google Plus pages. It might make a ton of sense and hold a lot of value for you. Your mileage will vary.

    But the ancient advice is still valid though - just because we can, doesn't mean we have to, or even that we should.

    And Louis C.K. does use Twitter.

    And I probably will try again to create those stupid Google Plus pages. 

    Just because it is good advice, doesn't mean we know how to follow it.