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    Entries in smb (18)

    Friday
    Jun162017

    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!

    Monday
    Jan162017

    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!

    Monday
    Aug012016

    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!

    Saturday
    Jul302016

    How to answer the 'So where do you live?' question

    Quick dispatch from vacation and the beach...

    From the most recent issue of GQ, (no link, not sure if this is online or not, and like I said, I am on vacation and can't be bothered to check).

    From a kind of oral history piece about actor Matt Damon titled 'Damon for Dummies'

    (Actress)  Julia Stiles - After The Bourne Ultimatum came out, there was a premiere in London. Prince, (The Artist), actually came to it, then got tickets for the cast to come see him perform. We were summoned into a room to meet him after the show. Matt (Damon) said, "So you live in Minnesota? I hear you live in Minnesota."

    Damon - Prince said, "I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon."

    Amazing. 

    Not possible to answer that question better. Next time someone asks me where I live I hope I am cool enough to answer like Prince.

    I live inside my own heart.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Jun292016

    Which questions are too personal?

    I am sure at least 50% of the folks who read this will think I am nuts, (and probably do think that anyway), but I have to break from the regularly scheduled fare to go a little bit off topic here.

    This post is called 'Which questions are too personal?' and was inspired by two separate but related interactions I had yesterday, both of which, (possibly because I am crazy), bugged me in a similar way. First the run down of what happened, then why it did get to me a little, and then tossing it open to you for comments/feedback.

    Scenario 1 - An introductory business call set up by a mutual contact with a person whom I do not know, but is in the same industry. The purpose of the 30-minute call was to learn about a new product/service offering from this person's organization and to get some context around some additional correspondence related to said product/service.

    Scenario 2 - A lunch time trip to a fairly busy local establishment to get some take out. A location I have been to many times before, but this time was being helped by a person I have never seen in the past. 

    Both of these scenarios are completely normal, run of the mill, and typical kinds of interactions that most all of us have all of the time, if not many times a day.

    Why did they both stand out from normal life and end up bugging me at the end?

    In scenario 1, the person on the call asked me where I lived, how long I have been living where I live, if I had a family there, and if so how many kids did I have? Again, this was a business call with someone whom I do not know and have never met before.

    In scenario 2, the person behind the counter asked me where I grew up, was I watching the Euro soccer tournament, and which team was I supporting.  Again, this was in a small, local take out place and a person I have never seen before.

    Now I know that many of you, perhaps most of you would think, 'What's the big deal? Those are just casual, small talk kinds of questions that people ask when they meet someone new. It's just being polite.'

    And at some level, I guess I would agree with those of you who feel that way. I am sure that both of the folks were just being polite, and were not trying to pry into the life of a total stranger (me).

    But some people, (me), are really private and almost guarded (for myriad reasons, none of which matter), about their personal lives and take questions like 'So, how many kids do you have?' as a question and topic they would rather not discuss with someone they just met, particularly in a business context like the two described above.  For some people, (again me), getting asked those kinds of personal questions by complete strangers is really uncomfortable.

    I know you may think that question, and others that are similar, are totally benign and mundane even, given the norms of civilized society.  

    But perhaps making the mistake of falling into the trap of 'If I feel this way, there must be plenty of others who do as well', I think that it's smart when in a business context to avoid wading in to personal questions when making small talk.

    If you have to make small talk, ask about something relevant or at least tangential to the purpose of the interaction - maybe the industry overall, or a particular piece of professional work the person did that you are familiar with. Again, this might just be my hang up, but 'I read what you wrote about XYZ, tell me why you think that' is a much more comfortable and proper conversation to have than 'So, what grade in school is your kid in?' when we have never met or spoken before.

    Ok, that's it. Rant over.

    Am I off base?

    Should I feel compelled to tell people about my personal life the first time we ever speak?