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    Five things I think I think, year-end 2017 edition

    Winding down 2017 with five quick observations, (not predictions), about HR, work, tech, basketball, or whatever comes to mind in the 21 minutes I have allotted to complete this final post of 2017.

    1. Workplace- Matt Lauer. Robert Wilmers. Harvey Weinstein. John Skipper. All really powerful execs/talents (and I can name dozens more), that seemingly out of nowhere were here one day and gone the next. If 2017 will go down as the year of #MeToo it will also be remembered by many as the year when organization's lack of planning for the future was severely exposed. There is no doubt that in 2018 we will see more of these abrupt terminations and separations - many from high-profile well known leaders, and many others involving people lesser or unknown, but important to the organization's operations. If I were the Chief HR or Talent Officer of any reasonably sized company, I think I would start 2018 working on my organizational talent depth chart. When your COO or CFO suddenly resigns (or is terminated), on Jan 7, will you be ready?

    2. HR and HR Tech- I am going to have to try really hard not to get too overboard with my recent 'Voice interfaces are the next disruption' take, although I really believe it to be the case. I caught a recent video of an 85 year-old grandma learning to use her new Echo/Alexa device her grandkids gave her for Christmas and I couldn't help but think of the power, accessibility, and reach that voice UI make possible. I still think this will be the story in HR tech in 2018 and 2019. As for 'normal' HR, the tightening labor market shows no signs of reversing as we close the year. 2018 will (hopefully), finally be the year when wages (more broadly), begin to increase meaningfully as organizations chase scarce and powerful talent. Your compensation analysts, (ironically), have become much more valuable to your organization.

    3. Media and content- I have to admit, I have missed, (and probably still will miss in 2018), the idea of the 'pivot to video' that many media companies have made in the last couple of years. Maybe it is because I do have the proverbial face for radio or maybe it's that I still prefer to consume 'real' content in writing. And I still think that most HR, tech, and business professionals are not spending their days at work or on a plane or during their commute watching a stream of short videos instead of reading longer form pieces, (and listening to podcasts, but more on that next). I could be wrong about this. Maybe. But the most compelling piece I read about this pivot to video theorized that it is happening not because it is what consumers/audiences want, but rather because it is what Facebook decided it could sell more expensive ad products against, and thus has prioritized video content in user's news feeds. Sounds plausible.

    4. HR Happy Hour- The HR Happy Hour Podcast is now heading into it's 9th year. It remains my favorite creative exercise and (hopefully), the most valuable contribution that I make to the HR, HR Tech, and workplace communities. And it was cool to think that we (myself, Shauna Moerke at the beginning, and Trish McFarlane now), were on to 'the next big thing' before it was even a thing. Sure, I am shilling, but I am really proud of what we are doing. Shamleess plug - HR Happy Hour Show.

    5. Blog- The blog here is now about 10 years in. At the beginning, I started blogging for the students in an HR Tech class I used to teach. Then, when blogging became much more mainstream in the HR space, I wrote for the increasing numbers of readers, (and for the attention, I have to admit). Now, with attention completely divided up into bite size pieces, spread out across thousands of sites, social networks, apps, and new media, (like podcasts), I think now I mostly blog for me. It still is a mentally valuable exercise, gives me a sense of 'At least I got something done today', and keeps me from getting lazy. In a lot of ways the blog has turned back into what the first (web) blogs were created to do - provide a forum for sharing the blogger's personal thoughts. That still is valuable to me and why I still keep up this blog after all this time. The blog is about what I think is interesting, which is the only way I can stay interested in the blog.

    As always, thanks for indulging me and many thanks for reading in 2017.

    I hope you have a fantastic end to the year, and that 2018 brings you everything you hope it well.

    Happy New Year!


    Steve's Holiday Gift Recommendation #6 - Take care of yourself too

    Wrapping up the Gift Recommendations series today not with a specific item or product, but rather a more basic, fundamental recommendation.

    Which is this - over this holiday season make sure to take care of yourself too.

    My guess is that you are like a lot of people I know - on the grind at work and maybe taking on more responsibilities this year while still having to balance your real life - family, kids, friends, and maybe even a little fun from time to time (if you have time).

    It seems almost everyone is busier than ever. 

    And while that can be, and often is, a blessing, it can also be a tremendous challenge.

    You put your job before you. You put your family before you. Maybe you even put the causes and groups you care about before you. Because that is what you do. And that is ok. But it can be, over time, really, really hard. And maybe even a little unhealthy. 

    You skip meals to work on that presentation for the CEO. You skip going to the gym to make sure you get the groceries for tomorrow's dinner. You get up at 5:30AM because your meetings and calls start at 7AM and that's the only time you have to fold the laundry. And you lay in bed at 11:45PM and like and comment and say nice things on social media on your family and friends posts and pictures. You're exhausted but you do it anyway.

    And you are amazing. Truly.

    And since you spend so much time putting everything and everyone else before you, my recommendation for this holiday season is to take some time, however much time you can find, (or need), for you and you only.

    Sleep in. Let someone else handle the car pool or the vacuuming. Order some takeout instead of cooking. And have it delivered, (GrubHub is awesome).

    Turn off your phone for a day or three. Or at least put it aside for a few hours. 

    Go to the movies, the gym, the salon or wherever it is you want to go and not be in someone else's service for a little while. Call a friend that you never seem to be able to find time for these days.

    Think about what you really want from 2018, personally and professionally. Or just think about nothing at all.

    But mostly, take some time to make sure you are taking care of you - physically, emotionally, spiritually, professionally. 

    Because unless you take care of you, you won't be able to take care of all the people in your life who rely on you.

    You are amazing. Truly. You deserve it.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, thanks so much for reading. It means a lot to me.


    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!