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    Summer updates

    Happy Friday!

    Apologies for the slow pace of posts on the blog of late. Between time off, some business travel, some personal stuff, and the fact that, well, it's the dead of summer and just about everything seems to slow down around this time, I have not been as focused on the blog of late.

    But I did want to just shoot out a quick update about a few things that are either interesting or important to me these days (making the huge assumption some or all might be important to folks who read this blog).

    So here goes...

    1. The HR Tech Conference early registration savings of $500 is only good until July 31 (Monday). Combine that with my discount code STEVE200 and get an additional $200 off your registration. But act fast because after Monday, rates start creeping up.

    2. I am really excited about all the great HR Happy Hour Network podcasts that have been released in the last few months. Head over to the HR Happy Hour home page to check out the latest HR Happy Hour shows, We're Only Human with Ben Eubanks, and HR MarketWatch with George LaRocque. And big thanks to HR Happy Hour Show sponsor Virgin Pulse.

    3. I finally got on board with the Amazon Echo and have had fun figuring out what I can do with it and the Alexa ecosystem. It is a pretty cool piece of technology, even if most of the folks that have them are not doing much more than setting timers and playing music. But in only a week I find myself frustrated with the other bits of technology that I have to interact with can't all respond to voice commands. Once you get started with the voice as the input paradigm, you don't want to go back to typing, or swiping, or pressing buttons. I am looking forward to seeing which HR tech vendor starts to really advance voice interaction with their tech this year.

    4. I offered a few ideas and thoughts on the impact to HR of increased usage of enterprise drones and other unmanned aircraft in a piece for SHRM. Thanks to Aliah Wright for asking for my opinions on this.

    5. And one more plug/link, I was a guest on the Strong Suit podcast a couple of weeks ago talking about the HR Tech that growing companies need, and what kinds of HR tech they may not need. It was fun to be a guest instead of the host, thanks Jeff Hyman for inviting me.

    6. Some random links of things I probably would have written about this week, (and my still write about)

    Effects of McDonald's (and other big companies) abandoing old suburban HQ locations for the city

    A Wisconsin Company is implanting workers with microchips to buy snacks and open doors

    Pharell and Adidas collaboration to drop soon

    AI May Soon Replace the Most Elite Consultants

    China Plans to use AI to Gain Global Dominance by 2030

    Ok, that's it for the Friday randomness. Will try to get back to the normal nonsense around here next week.

    Have a great weekend!



    As you set out for Ithaka 
    hope your road is a long one, 
    full of adventure, full of discovery. 
    Laistrygonians, Cyclops, 
    angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them: 
    you’ll never find things like that on your way 
    as long as you keep your thoughts raised high, 
    as long as a rare excitement 
    stirs your spirit and your body. 
    Laistrygonians, Cyclops, 
    wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them 
    unless you bring them along inside your soul, 
    unless your soul sets them up in front of you. 


    Hope your road is a long one. 
    May there be many summer mornings when, 
    with what pleasure, what joy, 
    you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time; 
    may you stop at Phoenician trading stations 
    to buy fine things, 
    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony, 
    sensual perfume of every kind— 
    as many sensual perfumes as you can; 
    and may you visit many Egyptian cities 
    to learn and go on learning from their scholars. 


    Keep Ithaka always in your mind. 
    Arriving there is what you’re destined for. 
    But don’t hurry the journey at all. 
    Better if it lasts for years, 
    so you’re old by the time you reach the island, 
    wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way, 
    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. 


    Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. 
    Without her you wouldn't have set out. 
    She has nothing left to give you now. 


    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you. 
    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, 
    you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


    C.P. Cafavy


    n = 1

    1. Three trips to China in the last three years and I am pretty sure it is the most fascinating place I've ever been and may ever get to. HR Tech China was amazing. Shanghai is probably the best city I've visited. I didn't get to see this when we were there, but check out this self-driving convenience store (yes, you read that correctly), coming soon to Shanghai.

    2. One of the harder things for independent consultants, contract workers, or other 'gig' economy types to manage is time out of the (home or otherwise) office. Unlike our corporate colleagues, there is often no one to delegate responsibility for work or even just responses to inquiries to when a gig workers is on vacation or traveling. Consequently, stuff piles up even more than usual. Once I dig out and some of the dust settles, I am going to figure out once and for all an email management system that can work for me. Until then, you can re-send if you are waiting for something from me.

    3. Due to above-mentioned travel, I missed 85% of the recently concluded NBA Finals series between the Warriors and Cavs. What a letdown. I probably watch (at least parts of), 400 NBA games each season. To miss the conclusion was kind of a drag. Thanks to the Delta Sky Club in MSP for having the game on this past Monday night while I was waiting out a 3.5 hour flight delay. 

    4. But now that NBA season is over, I am officially going to join the ranks of 'cord cutters'. Spectrum, look out for a call from me this weekend. In a related note, in the US, Netflix now has more subscribers than 'normal' Cable TV providers have.

    5. If you haven't yet, have a look at the latest shows on the HR Happy Hour Podcast Network. We've been producing some great content lately on HR Tech, Employee Wellbeing, Employee Engagement and more. 

    6. I am a huge fan (as a consumer/user) of Uber. But with each passing week we hear more and more of what a disaster of a company culture that has been allowed to develop over there. But yet, I still am compelled to call an Uber when I need a ride to the airport in Phoenix. I am not sure how to feel about all that. Have you dropped Uber the more you have learned about their culture?

    7. Speaking of Uber, in one of their 'healing' meetings recently, their new HR head asked employees to stand up and hug each other. This is a terrible idea on every level. Mark me down on the side of 'no hugging at work ever' policy. In fact, I am not that big a fan of hugging in real life outside of work as well. I think Jerry has it right in this clip (email and RSS subscribers click through)



    8. This is a really interesting longer read on corporate branding and logos from Fortune. I didn't know that the Bass Ale 'red triangle' logo is generally considered the first corporate logo, dating back to 1870. 

    9. Which companies generate the most revenue per employee? If your guesses start with Apple or Amazon, keep guessing. Some fascinating data from Visual Capitalist. If you could pick just one metric for the condition of your business, revenue per employee would probably be the smartest choice.

    10. I gave myself exactly 23 minutes to write this post, and I am at minute 22. So it ends here. Have a great weekend all!


    Blue Monday

    Blue Monday is not just the name of a New Order song from the 80s, it is also the designation given to the third Monday in January (that is today, in case you are still sleepy), by the British academic Cliff Arnall. Dr. Arnall postulated that a combination of factors including gloomy winter weather, holiday debts, time since Christmas and a general lack of motivation conspire to make this day, the 'bluest' or most depressing day of the year.

    And while it might be easy to pass off the idea of Blue Monday, or any most depressing day of the year as kind of a silly joke, I think like all good jokes there is at least some truth lurking within. For most of this past weekend (at least here in the USA), the news was dominated by extreme winter weather events, the impending inauguration of a new President that without getting into the politics of it, seems to have at least half the population in a tizzy, and punctuated by your favorite sports team losing in the big game.

    It is really, really easy to get a little down this time of year. Yesterday I thought I saw a small sliver of blue sky in what has been a typical, relentless, and yes, depressing series of gray, wet, and cold winter days. I actually stopped what I was doing to stare for a minute, (maybe I should have taken a picture), at a sight I had almost forgotten about. Immediately after completing this post, I am booking a trip to someplace warmer and sunnier.

    I'm joking, but only kind of. When you think about the concept of Blue Monday, and think about how you fired up you were, (or were not), when you were forced to crawl out of your warm bed and face the cold, dark, and potentially icy day, then I bet for many of you, (and the folks you work with), Blue Monday does not sound all that crazy.

    It is tough out there. It is especially tough today, if Dr. Arnall's formula is even a fair indicator of how the combination of weather, work, and personal pressures all seem to come together and smack you in the face this time of year.

    So here's my advice, (I hope to take it myself), for Blue Monday. Go outside, (if ice is not falling from the sky, I mean). Pet your dog. Or find someone else's dog to pet. Take a real lunch break. Call a friend. Eat something that is not on your diet. And finally, most importantly, be nice to each other. We are all in this crappy Blue Monday together.

    And if all that fails, feel encouraged that as bad as it gets today, well, things are only going to start looking up from here.

    Happy Blue Monday.

    Have a great week!


    Vacation wrap-up: What I did wrong, did right, and what I'd do differently next time

    I am just back from a super week of vacation/holiday spent in the wonderful state of South Carolina (Note to self: If I ever get my feet back in South Carolina I am going to nail them to the ground), and wanted to take a few minutes before diving in to my hopelessly full email inbox to reflect on the break with respect to how I did or didn't handle 'work' and 'work/life' issues during the week.  I had not taken this many consecutive days off (outside of the end of year holidays), in some time, so it was an interesting and revealing week for me as well. And also kind of sad in a way, that simply taking one business week off, (and the weekends on each side of that week), creates such a challenge for me, and I would expect, many of the folks who read this blog. It just shouldn't be that hard, if you know what I mean.

    But in the interest of 'I need to get back to watching Sharknado 4', let's get on with the idea for the post.  Here's what I did wrong, did right, and the next time I take a week or more offline, what I would definitely do differently.

    What I did wrong:

    By the time I had left for the trip I had one pretty important work item that needed to be completed, and sadly, was not. So I rationalized that I would work on said item on the plane ride down, and then it would be all set. But alas, said project took longer than I had anticipated, and I had to revisit it two other times during the trip before it was completed. What I did wrong was not finishing this project, no matter what it took, before the trip. There's no way to leave on a vacation with everything completed, but I should have realized the importance of this one thing and made sure it was done. It was completed by mid-week or so, but it did bug me for the first half of the trip. But that was on me, I needed to do a better job at prioritizing projects before I left.

    What I did right:

    Today is Monday, the first day I am back 'in the office', and I smartly have zero 'official' meetings or calls today. I knew that attempting to wade through the Inbox would pretty much be the only thing I would be able to attack today, and I made sure there were no other conflicts to allow me to attempt to catch up.  The other thing I did right, and I was not sure about this at the time, was actually haul the laptop with me on the trip. It wasn't because I felt compelled to 'work' on the trip, but if I really had to, (see above), I would be able to, and would not get stuck in a hotel business center or having to find a FedEx office location at the beach.

    What I would do differently next time:

    I will probably set up my 'Out of the office' email auto-response at least one full day before I am actually out of the office. This would create a little more airspace to complete anything that needs to be done before leaving on a vacation, and better set expectations for response time. I would also, similar to what I did today, make sure on the last day in the office that I have no meetings or calls set up.  It's kind of like setting up a DMZ situation one day before and one day after a vacation. The other thing I would do differently is perhaps pick one personal  'work' project, (for me it is this blog, the HR Happy Hour Show), to spend at least some time thinking about or working on. Those personal projects are extremely fun, and often don't really seem like work. I would have loved to come back from vacation with a dozen great blog post ideas or two or three podcasts booked. Alas...

    That's it from me. If you have not yet taken some time off this summer, I really hope you do and have a fantastic break. And if you are one of the approximately 489 people waiting to hear back from me, I promise I will get caught up soon. I mean that. Truly....

    Have a great week!