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    Entries in work (238)

    Monday
    Dec032018

    Sensing age discrimination at work? Maybe try changing your date of birth

    Here in the US, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) specifically forbids workplace age discrimination against people who are age 40 and over. The law prohibits discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Additionally, an employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, regardless of age, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on applicants or employees age 40 or older and is not based on a reasonable factor other than age.

    But despite the ADEA's intentions, we all kind of know that age discrimination still happens in workplaces. It often is disguised by job descriptions that emphasize terms like 'fast-paced' or 'dynamic' or even older applicants being turned away under the guise of them being 'overqualified'. Sometimes you can just look around you and get the sense that the company or department only seems to hire people between 20 - 30 years old no matter how many openings get filled or the type of roles being filled.

    But since it isn't technically illegal (in the US, your country may be different) for employers to request or require an applicant's or employee's date of birth, even companies that have good intentions and don't wish to discriminate based on age, might still succumb to age-related biases and/or outright discrimination.

    So what can/should you do if you are say 40+ and are starting to sense that your age may be limiting your career prospects or opportunities?

    Well, I am not really sure, this isn't a career advice column, but I did want to highlight the issue after reading a story about how one gentleman in the Netherlands has tried to fight back against age discrimination. 69 year-old Emile Ratelband decided to simply try and change his date fo birth to make him legally 20 years younger, and petitioned the Dutch government to make this change official.

    Here's the details from a piece on the case on Fortune:

    Emile Ratelband--frequently referred to as “positivity trainer,” although he calls himself an “entrepreneur in personal development--filed suit last month to change his birthday, according to the BBC. The 69-year-old said that he felt age discrimination and that it affected his ability to work and get dates on Tinder.

    “When I’m 69, I am limited. If I’m 49, then I can buy a new house, drive a different car. I can take up more work,” he told the BBC. “When I’m on Tinder and it says I’m 69, I don’t get an answer. When I’m 49, with the face I have, I will be in a luxurious position.”

    Although Ratelband argued that at a time when people can change their names or even their genders, opting for a different age should be allowed.

    Sadly, for Emile, the court ruled against his request to legally change his age from 69 back to 49.

    According to the court, "Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly. But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships.”

    On the surface, the case does seem a little ridiculous. But then again, Ratelband does have a point about how societal norms around identity and personal freedom and expression have been and likely will continue to evolve. And as he hints at, employers, financial institutions, even potential Tinder dates - all form a pre-judgment of a person based on that one data point - age. And if that one data point is indeed causing someone to miss out on opportunities or even worse, to be actively discriminated against, then why not take a shot at changing one's circumstances to try and drive better outcomes.

    Like, I said, Ratelband was not allowed to legally change his age. And the entire story does seem a little ridiculous.

    But lots of other things that were once ridiculous-sounding are now pretty common and accepted. 

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Nov302018

    Accepting bids for sneaker sponsorship deals

    (Kinda) big news in NBA and sneaker culture circles this week with the news that the Toronto Raptor star Kawhi Leonard has reached an agreement to become a spokesperson for the New Balance sneaker company, part of the venerable brand's strategy to compete in the basketball sneaker market.

    Per ESPN reports, Leonard will receive north of $5M per year to rep New Balance, a figure that places the deal in the top 15 or so most lucrative NBA player sneaker endorsement deals. Nice bit of change for sure.

    The announcement reminded me of something I'd been thinking about for some time. Namely, why can't 'normal' folks get access to or at least be considered for these kinds of sneaker, (or any kind of footwear or apparel) deals as well?

    For example, take your humble correspondent here. In the last several months I have acquired several pairs of Greats Brand shoes to wear to events, conferences, speaking engagements, etc. These shoes are awesome. Stylish, comfortable, reasonably priced when compared to so-called 'designer' fashion sneakers. They are the bomb. 

    You'd think with all this glowing praise I am heaping on Greats, that I have some kind of sponsorship or endorsement deal with the brand. In fact, I do not. But that is the point, or the question I suppose. Why shouldn't I have an endorsement deal with Greats, (or Brooks Brothers, which is the only kind of suit I wear, or Adidas, of which I have about way too many pairs to count).

    It's not as crazy as it seems. Read about how many marketers are moving away from expensive agreements with social media 'stars' with huge (often fake) followings, and engaging more with what has been termed 'micro-influencers' in their marketing and branding programs. 

    So why can't I, or you, be one of these 'micro-influencers?'

    The answer is you sure can be. Or at least I can be anyway.

    So Greats or Brooks Brothers or Diet Dr. Pepper or Adidas or Miller Lite (don't judge), I am available. If Kawhi is worth $5M per year to New Balance, I figure I've got to be worth what, half that?

    Hit me up...

    Have a great weekend!

    Monday
    Nov192018

    Learn a New Word: The Glass Cliff

    Over the weekend reports dropped that the NFL's Cleveland Browns, long a league doormat and in need of yet another new head coach for next season, were interested in interviewing former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice for the open role. While later reporting seemed to indicate that in fact Rice was not likely to be a candidate for the Head Coach spot, it has not stopped a pretty tremendous level of reaction in the sports world. While those various reactions (the Browns are nuts, the role of Head Coach is evolving, Why not look in a novel direction for this hire, it can't get much worse for the Browns?) are all interesting in their own right, it was a term in the Fortune piece linked above that caught my attention - The 'Glass Cliff'.

    I had never seen this term before, and since as the author of this blog I have to assume what I think is what you think too, I thought it a valid entry as the latest 'Learn a New Word', even if I am really the only one who is learning this for the first time. 

    Ok, here's the definition/description of The Glass Cliff: (from a piece on Vox)

    The glass cliff is a relative of the “glass ceiling” — a metaphor for the invisible, societal barrier that keeps women from achieving the highest positions in business, politics, and organizations. The glass cliff is a twist on that: Women are elevated to positions of power when things are going poorly. When they reach the upper ranks of power, they’re put into precarious positions and therefore have a higher likelihood of failure, meaning there’s a greater risk for them to fall.

    It is a really interesting concept that is backed up both by some empirical research, as well as by what many of us have seen or been impacted by in our own careers. One prevailing theory is that when things are going poorly for a company or any kind of institution, and there is the need for new executive leadership at one of these organizations, the very fact that things are going poorly deters many if not most of the typical (read white male) candidates for the open executive position. Since these kinds of leadership positions become harder, relatively, to fill than others, more women and people from underrepresented groups become candidates and relatively more of them get hired. But, since the organization is already in trouble, the chances for these newly appointed executives to succeed are not that high, and more of them end up failing than they would if they were joining more healthy organizations.

    The above linked Vox piece has a number of great recent examples of the Glass Cliff phenomenon, (Mary Barra at GM, Carol Bartz then later Marisa Mayer at Yahoo, Jill Abramson at the New York Times) and ends with what may be a definitionally classic 'Glass Cliff' appointment - Jill Soltau the new CEO at beleagured retailer JC Penney - a company that has been deterioting for years. Whether or not Soltau will be able to revive the company is anyone's guess, but there is no doubt she's walked into an incredibly challenging set of circumstances - standing on the edge of the figurative Glass Cliff.

    Ok, that's it for me, back to try and find something new to learn, especially something I should have learned a long time ago.

    Friday
    Nov022018

    FOLLOW UP: When your 'dream job' ends up being a nightmare

    A few months back, just as the soccer World Cup was getting underway, I shared the tale of how the Spanish National Team manager Julen Lopetegui was fired from his National Team post just days before the side's first World Cup game, for the 'unforgivable' offense of agreeing to take the Manager's job at club Real Madrid, a position he would start at the conclusion of the World Cup.

    Essentially, Lopetegui had lined up his next gig, his post-National Team Manager job while still serving as the National Team Manager, thereby incensing the Spanish Soccer Federation powers that be so much so, that they showed him the exit door just days before the most imporant soccer tournament in the World. Lopetegui was out and the Spanish side ended up not impressing in the tournament without him, not factoring in the contention for the title.

    But for Lopetegui, the disappointment of not seeing his job out at the National Team should have worn off quickly, as his new job, manager at one of the most successful and famous clubs in world soccer could rightly be seen as a 'dream' job for any soccer manager. A rich and famous club, an annual contender for the Spanish League title, the Champions League title, and a club where many of the very best players in the world aspire to play for. All in all, a 'dream' scenario.

    Well, not so fast my friend.

    About four months into the role at Real Madrid, and our pal Mr. Lopetegui finds himself in the unenviable position of losing his second 'dream job'. After a slow start to the season for Madrid, Julen is out. From a piece on Deadspin reporting the news:

    Pour one out for Julen Lopetegui, who has had just about the worst possible year a soccer manager can have. Real Madrid fired Lopetegui this afternoon, one day after an embarrassing 5-1 ass-kicking by Messi-less Barcelona, thus ending a nightmare of a year.

    As of just four months ago, the poor dude had the Spanish national team rolling into the World Cup on tremendous form. Spain had never lost under Lopetegui’s guidance, going 14-6-0 with a +48 goal difference during his two years in charge. But then, just one day before the World Cup started in Russia, Lopetegui was unceremoniously and inexplicably shit-canned by the Spanish federation in a bizarre display of frat-boy “alpha” posturing because the federation president was mad Lopetegui committed the mortal sin of, uh, not telling the federation soon enough that he was going to take another job after the World Cup. Predictably, Spain completely collapsed once the tournament started.

    A pretty amazing fall from grace from not one, but two of the best, highest-profile and most sought-after jobs in soccer management. Whether or not Lopetegui can recover from these setbacks and ever again score a role at a big club or as a national team manager of a top side will be interesting to follow. Because you could argue that both of these dismissals were not completely his fault.

    He was really successful as the National Team manager before they let him go for reasons having nothing to do with performance. And at Real Madrid he never really had much of a chance, only managing 14 games, and dealing with the loss of the team's best player, Christiano Ronaldo, who was allowed to leave the club.

    Is there a lesson to all of this? I don't know. I guess that even for 'star' performers at the highest level of their profession, sometimes things happen, and it doesn't end up well at all. Lopetegui did a lot of things right by most generally accepted career advice, and it still turned out all wrong for him.

    Let's hope he can get it turned around. And let's remember to watch our own backs as well.

    Have a great weekend!

    Monday
    Oct292018

    Creating 'Psychological Personal Space' at Work

    Blame the 'open plan' office design that pretty much takes away individual privacy or blame the workplace information overload that causes many office dweller types to feel like no matter how much they are working, they never seem to feel like they are getting much accomplished, modern work and workplaces can seem really, really frustrating.

    People always in your face, or at least in your peripheral vision, few quiet places to retreat to in order to get some peace and quiet and really focus, and more and varied incoming requests for our time and attention, (emails, texts, Slack messages, etc.) than ever before all conspire to make it really hard sometimes to do our best work - or any work for that matter.

    Wouldn't you like, at least sometimes, to fence yourself off from these kinds of distractions? To be able to, even if you don't have a physical 'retreat' space to head to at work, (not counting going to sit in your car in the parking lot), create some kind of semblance of private and personal space - to be alone with your thoughts, your work, yourself? 

    Enter a new idea from the fine folks at Panasonic - the 'Wear Space' - a kind of combination privacy screen and set of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones that functions like a set of horse blinders, except for people. The Wear Space wraps around the user's head, blocks most of their peripheral vision, allowing them to focus on their work that is in front of them. The nature of the Wear Space also signals to the wearer's pesky co-workers that they should probably not bother or disturb the person, as he/she clearly does not want to be illuminated by tales of how you spent your weekend or what is on the menu for lunch today.

    According to one of the Wear Space's developers - the Wear Space is supposed to create a “psychological personal space” for the wearer to help them concentrate, particularly in noisy, distracting, open-plan offices. The device isn’t intended to just isolate the wearer but also communicate with others, telling them: Go away, I’m busy.

    I don't have too much more to offer on the Wear Space as a technology, but just to say that if we need to invent a kind of ridiculous looking combination head covering, noise canceling, giant barrier to wear in order to try and cut down interruptions and distractions at work probably means that we are not taking enough time or care in designing work and workplaces so that these kinds of gimmicks are not needed in the first place.

    We all probably do need some way to find 'psychological personal space' when we are at work. It probably should also be something not that hard to find as well.

    Have a great week!