America’s Greatest Threat? Lack of Hourly Workers!

Businesses big and small are desperate currently for workers. Low-skill, semi-skilled, people who have no skill but are willing to be trained. The hourly rate is anywhere between $12-22/hr. I’ve spoken to companies in every market and industry, many of whom will tell me they’ll hire as many people as they can find, they just can’t find anyone!

Now, I don’t want to get into all the reasons of why organizations are struggling to find hourly workers. There are many, and it’s a complex situation that isn’t going away anytime soon. I want to focus on how not having enough hourly workers puts America at a competitive disadvantage in the world.

What Happens When America Can’t Hire Enough Workers?

First, organizations will do what it takes to actually hire talent. They increase wages and benefits, which initially seems like a big win for workers. Businesses will also raise prices, to pay for those additional expenses. Say, hello to inflation. The supply and demand dynamics of labor all happen fairly quickly.

Organizations will look to become more efficient and add technology that in the long term can be a better value than workers. Let’s be honest, this has been happening since the beginning of time, but in times of true pain in hiring, all this speeds up and happens faster than normal. Say hello to the robots!

Companies will offshore, more than they already do to countries with an abundance of hourly workers. China, Mexico, India, various countries in Africa if they can get politically stable, will gain millions of jobs from organizations looking to sell their products in America. Say hello to more jobs leaving our shores. Also, as we’ve seen with the Pandemic, this will cause he further issues with our supply chain in critical times.

What Should We Be Doing In America To Ensure We Have The Hourly Talent We Need?

Okay – I’ve got some ideas. Some you’ll agree with, some you’ll hate, but something has to change. American demographics are not changing. Our labor force is shrinking and we are getting older as a country. We have a crisis staring us in the face, and we are too divided to even see what’s really happening!

  1. Major investment into trades and apprenticeship programs at the high school and post-high school level. Free College? Screw that, rich folks can pay for college. Let’s have Free Trades and Apprenticeship programs. Let’s start these in Junior High and High Schools and continue them post-high school. Let’s have 22-year-old kids making $40-60K a year in skilled occupations.
  2. Blow up public education as we know it. It’s broken, can we all admit to this. About 70% of kids are not college kids, but we force them down the path of college. Let’s have public education that promotes our best and brightest, but also promotes kids who want to work with their hands, who want to work in the arts, etc. If we are the most powerful country on earth, why can’t we have multiple avenues for our kids, whether they are rich or poor?
  3. Encourage our children to once again be firefighters, police officers, home builders, big truck operators, cooks, delivery drivers, etc. Both boys and girls. I was struck when I was in Australia how many construction workers and road workers were female. You rarely see that in America. Our children should feel proud to have an occupation that is helping their community and others, but instead we, as parents, talk down these occupations. Our children are listening, constantly.
  4. Open the Mexican border. Uh oh, he didn’t just say that!? Yeah, you know who has millions of people who want the jobs that Americans don’t want? Mexico. If you don’t want to work that $15/hr job, step aside, there are people that do want those jobs. Plus, actually having a great labor force strengthens America! Would you rather have Mexican citizens come to America and make American products, or have American companies go to China and have the communist government of China make the products sent back to America and much of the profit goes to China or India, or somewhere else outside of America?
  5. Pay Equity laws limiting the spread of pay between the highest-paid executive and the lowest-paid employee. I’m not saying that entrepreneurs and executives don’t deserve great salaries for their efforts and their risks. They do. But should a CEO of a company make a $100M a year and the workers make $17/hr? That just seems a little bit out of line, right? Should a college football coach make $5M a year? It’s a stupid game. A game I love to watch, but come on! We’ve got a bit out of line with the haves and the have-nots.
  6. National Occupation Corp. What if every single American child upon graduating high school, put in one year of service into a select list of hourly occupations? Road workers, infrastructure projects, building affordable housing in their community, building parks, etc. Mormon kids do a two-year missionary to spread their word, and it doesn’t seem to harm them one bit, in fact, most would argue it actually helps them become better adults. Doing a national occupation corp would show some kids they actually love this type of work.
  7. End programs that encourage workers to not work. I’m hearing politicians talk about a 4th Stimulus! Are you kidding me! We don’t need more stimulus! We need people collecting unemployment and stimulus to prove they can’t find a job. They can’t get work. Because for the most part, it’s a lie! There is work everywhere! Our Unemployment Insurance system is broken and needs an overhaul.

How do you like those ideas!? A little GOP, a little Dem, a little socialism! If you’re a regular reader of the blog some of those ideas, coming from me, probably surprise you. This is how desperate I think this situation is! We are facing an economic meltdown in the future if we don’t fix this issue, that will make the great recession look like child’s play. America can not be without a great labor force, and right now, we are quickly trailing the rest of the world in the one thing we always hung our hard hat on.

“I Fully Reject the Employment Model of Pre-Pandemic America!”

This was an exact quote on a comment on one of my blogs about how hard it is right now for companies to find talent in America to work hourly jobs. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this from an old GenZ or very young Millennial (basically early to mid-’20s).

What does this even mean!? 

Let me interpret, for the older millennials and GenXers in the crowd who are actually working and don’t have time to learn the GenZ vernacular. This is actually a cross of GenZ and Snowflake which can be very confusing sometimes to understand.

What this person is trying to convey is that they don’t believe they should have to work a job for pay and benefits (employment model of Pre-pandemic America). They actually love the employment model of Pandemic America – which is either sitting at home and getting paid to mostly not work, or actually just collecting unemployment and government stimulus to the tune of about $1000 per week, to do nothing at all.

Their idea is in Post-Pandemic America they would like to continue to get paid a living wage and benefits to do what they want. That might be something very productive and useful, like volunteering to help children to read or older people to have a better life in their later years, or it might be growing weed in their basement. This employment model is much more attractive to them. I get great pay and benefits to do what I want, not being told what to do by “the man”.

“The man” doesn’t actually have to be an actual “man”, it might be a rich woman or rich non-binary person. Basically, anyone who would make money off of their labor is now “the man”. They also reject anyone making money from their efforts, except for themselves. Which is actually wonderful if they would start their own business, but that would take work that feels too similar to an employment model of pre-pandemic America. Because of course, they would then become “the man”.

And you wonder why you can’t find anyone to come work for you? 

Some would believe this to be a socialist movement that has began to grow in America, mostly started by Bernie followers. No, this isn’t socialism, this what happens when you helicopter and snowplow parent your way to a generation that thinks the world should revolve around them.

I should only get A’s because my Mom says I’m the smartest little boy on the planet. And I should only get first-place medals because I showed up to the game. In fact, we should all get first-place medals because there should be no losers in the world, only winners.

And we truly wonder why terrorists want to bomb our country.

The world, in the end, will be truly harsh for these people if they don’t change. The world, since the beginning of time, has winners and losers. If you think socialist societies don’t have winners and losers, you might actually want to read about the history of socialist societies and inequality.

Do CEOs of companies need to make one hundred times more or a thousand times more than the average worker? No, probably not, but if you think you can just show up to a job and you should be within ten times of a CEO’s salary, you’re actually just ignorant.

This isn’t a political statement. This is the real world. Every single elected politician in the house and the senate is more wealthy than the average American by a giant margin. All of them. Winners and losers. People who take risks to start a business get all the bad and all the good. America, for good and bad, was built on Capitalism. It’s not perfect. I don’t know of a perfect society or culture in the world.

So, I do not fully reject the employment model of pre-pandemic America! 

Is it great? Nope. Can we do better? Yes.

Have we changed the employment model any over the past century? 1000%

Worker safety, health and wellness, D&I, training and development of skills, employee engagement, candidate experience, you could literally list a thousand improvements that have been made to the American employment model. And we’ll continue to improve.

I have hope that we’ll get better and solve our pay equity issues and we’ll continue to improve our diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all employees. America is a big and complex situation. Change does not happen overnight. For how bad young people think we are now, we have made tremendous strides along the way.

Okay, time to end this, I’m starting to feel like this guy…

What Happens When an HR Pro Gets Harassed at Work?

On episode 58 of The HR Famous Podcast, longtime HR leaders (and friends) Tim SackettKris Dunn, and Jessica Lee come together to discuss what happens when HR pros get harassed in the workplace. JLee shares her story of being harassed at work as an HR pro, the process that followed, and then discusses the situation and process with KD and Tim.

Listen (click this link if you don’t see the player) and be sure to subscribe, rate, and review (Apple Podcasts) and follow (Spotify)!

Show Highlights

1:30 – Tim got his first Covid vaccine. He’s the first of the crew to get it! He got it at an old Sears!

5:00 – First topic of the day: JLee shares her story about being sexually harassed at work.

12:30 – Tim asks JLee what percentage of women have experienced harassment in the workplace. She says well over 50%.

15:00 – KD asks JLee what happened after she reported the harassment. JLee asked HR not to do anything about it and she confronted the harasser herself.

19:40 – JLee says that she felt like she needed to handle it herself because she was a strong female leader. She also notes that she didn’t have confidence in the HR employees to handle it effectively.

21:50 – Tim asks JLee if she thinks what this person did was a fireable offense. She says that from her HR perspective, it seems like this employee shouldn’t be working there because of the repeated offenses.

23:00 – KD says that he misses employee investigations. JLee doesn’t miss them, and Tim doesn’t miss the lose-lose investigations.

26:30 – JLee says that her boss at the time was very protective of her and she worried that the boss was going to do something if she didn’t handle it herself.

30:20 – KD asks JLee if she thinks other global cultures have caught up with workplace behavior and treatment. She thinks that some pockets of the world are more progressive than others, but overall they have not caught up.

33:00 – Tim mentions how as a society, we’ve started the practice of guilting companies into doing the right thing. He mentions the example of disparities in the NCAA March Madness tournament with the men’s teams and women’s teams.

40:00 – JLee remembers that she has all of the email correspondences of her dealings with her sexual harassment. She’s an A+ HR employee!

The Single Most Desired Trait Employers Want: Being an Adult!

Don’t buy into the hype! “Oh, just do what you love!” That’s not being an adult, that’s being a moron! Just do what makes you happy! No, that’s what a child does.

“Tim, we just want to hire some ‘adults’!” I hear this statement from a lot of CEOs I talk with currently!

That means most of the people they are hiring, aren’t considered adults by these leaders. Oh, they fit the demographic of being an adult from an age perspective, but they still act like children!

I tell people when I interview them and they ask about our culture I say, “We hire adults”.

That means we hire people into positions where they are responsible for something. Because we hire adults, they take responsibility for what they are responsible for. If I have to tell them to do their jobs, they’re not adults, they’re children. We don’t employ children.

I think about 70% of the positions that are open in the world could have the same title –

“Wanted: Adults”.

Those who read that and got it could instantly be hired and they would be above average employees for you! Those who read it and didn’t understand, are part of the wonder of natural selection.

How do you be an Adult?

You do the stuff you say you’re going to do. Not just the stuff you like, but all the stuff.

You follow the rules that are important to follow for society to run well. Do I drive the speed limit every single time? No. Do I come to work when my employer says I need to be there? Yes.

You assume positive intent on most things. For the most part, people will want to help you, just as you want to help others. Sometimes you run into an asshole.

You understand that the world is more than just you and your desires.

You speak up for what is right when you can. It’s easy to say you can always speak up for what is right, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like an adult.

You try and help those who can’t help themselves. Who can’t, not who won’t.

My parents and grandparents would call this common sense, but I don’t think ‘being an adult’ is common sense anymore. Common sense, to be common, has to be done by most. Being an adult doesn’t seem to be very common lately!

So, you want to hire some adults? I think this starts with us recognizing that being an adult is now a skill in 2021. A very valuable skill. Need to fill a position, maybe we start by first finding adults, then determining do we need these adults to have certain skills, or can we teach adults those skills!

The key to great hiring in today’s world is not about attracting the right skills, it’s about attracting adults who aren’t just willing to work, but understand the value of work and individuals who value being an adult.

I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as an opportunity for organizations that understand this concept. We hire adults first, skills second. Organizations that do this, will be the organizations that win.

The Motley Fool has a great section in their employee handbook that talks about being an adult:

“We are careful to hire amazing people. Our goal is to unleash you to perform at your peak and stay out of your way. We don’t have lots of rules and policies here by design. You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

You are an amazing ‘adult’ and we trust you

If only it was so simple!

What was the hardest manual labor job I’ve ever had?

I was a “Picker” for a large supermarket chain in their warehouse on the second shift. What’s a “Picker”? I Picker was a position that would take an order from one of the grocery stores that used our warehouse, and I would drive around on a pallet jack and physically pick all the cases and items going to that store on a semi-truck.

A pallet jack isn’t a Hi-Lo, it’s more like a “Lo-Lo” it held two wood pallets, just off ground-level and the goal was to build those pallets up to six-eight feet, wrap them tightly in plastic shrink wrap, and then load them onto the truck. Some orders took 15 minutes to fill, some took over an hour, every single one was different.

The warehouse was giant. Like ten football fields with aisle after aisle of products, you would find in a large grocery store. Some heavy, some light, all shapes, and sizes. It was a Union shop, but I was a temp summer worker. So, most of the workers were full-time, long-term Union workers, over 90% men. My Dad was an executive in the offices of this company. A family friend was the Union Steward in the warehouse.

This job taught me that I didn’t want to work manual labor my entire life! 

But, it also taught me to respect the true value of manual labor jobs.

It also taught me so much about life, work, and fitting in on the job:

  • Instantly the union guys knew my Dad was in management, and boy did I catch sh*t for that! I quickly learned to have tough skin and you better give back as well as you were getting in that environment.
  • About a month into this job I came home at 2 am and woke up my Dad crying telling him I was going to college (Yes! Crying. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it was memorable!). It was physically hard! It was hot. It was dirty. I didn’t want to go back in. I was working next to guys who had been doing that job for twenty-plus years!
  • A Union-shop has formal and informal rules. To survive you must quickly learn the informal rules or you won’t last. I was told specifically to slow down my work pace or all four tires of my car would be slashed. Even though I wasn’t even making rate and all the full-time union guys ran circles around me!
  • After you filled an order you had to go get another. There was one lady who did this, behind a glass window in an air-conditioned office. You could feel the cold air through the hole in the glass. Very quickly you learned there were easy orders and hard orders, and orders you could more easily make “rate” on. The lady was a big girl, normal looking, middle-aged, to see all of us guys sweet up to her like she was a runway model trying to get easy orders, boy that was a site! Always be super nice to the person doling out the work!
  • You need to find your tribe. I wasn’t the only summer temp, college kid, there were a bunch of us and we found early on it best we stick together. We ate lunch together, found each other on breaks, helped each other when we could. The union guys weren’t going to help.
  • Hard-ass manual labor jobs are marathons, not sprints. We worked 8-hour shifts, but almost every night had to do mandatory 2-4 hours of overtime. They wouldn’t tell us if we were working or not, because if you knew you had to work 12 hours that night, you were not working fast!
  • I was 18, the legal drinking age in Michigan was 21. After our shift on payday, all the guys would go to a bowling alley down the street that was open until 2 am. They would cash our checks and let us drink like men. Young guys would be drunk after two beers and the union guys would take the summer guys’ cash when they were in the bathroom and give it to the waitresses! Always keep your cash in your pocket!
  • Second-shit sucks! You go in around 3 pm, if you’re lucky you get out at 11 pm or midnight. Go home, can’t sleep, finally, get down around 3 am, wake up at noon the next day and basically start it all again.
  • Union or Non-Union manual labor shops are really going to test you. The fact is, they want to work with people who are going to work. Really work! If you don’t carry your weight, eventually it will come back to more work on everyone. So, they push you to try and quit because they only want people around them that really want to be there or have to be there, but show up and work!
  • I had so much fun at that job with probably the most diverse workforce I’ve ever been in. We were all in the middle of it and equally giving each other sh*t constantly. All of which would have gotten us all canceled and fired today. It was in many ways a brotherhood. What happened on the floor, stayed on the floor. Very much workers vs. management.

I think every single kid, male and female, right after high school, but for sure before they graduate college should have to work a manual labor job. Too many kids come into the work world with this warped perception of what work is, and too many look down on the millions of workers truly busting their backs doing the work you don’t want to do.

At the very least, I would prefer to hire a kid with a solid degree from a state school who I know worked a manual job or two in their life, then a perfect student from Harvard who never got dirty. Our society has in so many ways devalued ‘real’ hard work, manual labor, no-skill, low-skill.

What was that hardest manual labor job you ever worked?

Hiring for a High Give-a-Damn

Josh Zywien, the CMO of Paradox, made a great hire this past week and I sent him a note telling him so. I like to do that. He knows he made a great hire, but it’s always nice to get a note confirming your belief! If you don’t know Josh, you should give me a follow, he’s one of the good guys in our industry.

Josh responded to my note with a statement I wanted to share because it’s profound:

I like to hire people who have a ‘high give-a-damn’! 

I absolutely love that and told him I was stealing it!

What does hiring for High Give-a-Damn Mean? 

It’s one of those intangibles you know when you see it. Like porn. Hard to explain, but when I see it, I know what it is. High Give-a-Damn (HGD) individuals don’t just care about their job and their company. HGD is pervasive in all aspects of their life. You’ll see it come out in other ways away from their career as well.

The High Give-a-Damn Traits:

  • High attention to detail
  • Live an orderly life
  • Most likely, well-kept house, clean, probably makes their bed every single morning.
  • Classic fashionable dress style not to stand out, but you notice them
  • They say the right things and the right times
  • They can be counted on
  • Follow-through is impeccable
  • They give a shit about stuff that matters
  • Have a habit of taking care of their physical & mental self, more than the average person.

People with HGD don’t drive around in a messy car with a coffee stain on their shirt. They might not have a lot of money, but what they have, they take care of. They do more with less because part of HGD is not to waste resources, both professionally and personally. So, you take care of your stuff. Part of your ‘stuff’ is your personal self.

I’ve written about organizations “Hiring Pretty” in the past. About the scientific research that shows organizations that tend to hire more attractive people actually have higher results. There is a bit of this in HGD. Individuals with HGD most likely get the most out of the attractiveness they have.

It doesn’t mean the person has to be naturally ‘pretty’ but think of the time when you took that one selfie, that one time when you were feeling super cute, had that one hat on, the light was right and now it’s your favorite IG photo. Yeah, that, but now what if you did that every day? That’s HGD. “Felt cute, not ever gonna delete!”

Now, at this point, you might be saying, “Tim, all of this seems superficial. There is nothing here about skill or performance, about actually being able to do the job.” Yeah, I’m not only hiring for HGD and nothing else. This is about, what if I had three people who had similar skill level, education, experience? At that point, my tiebreaker is who has the most HGD?

Who is going to bring the most HGD to the team? Because in the end, when I’m going to war with my team, I want people who give a damn. Yeah, we might be making widgets for crackheads, but I still want people who want to make the best widgets for crackheads. People who want to make sure that crackhead has the best experience with our product and service. (Right now, Josh is like, WTF, how did I get in a Tim Sackett Blog Post with Crackheads!?)

Not enough Hiring Managers are hiring for HGD. In fact, as a society we kind of gone soft on HGD. We have this belief that you can be HGD in your personal life, but not your professional life, or vice versa. The reality is true HGD is always on or never on as a personality trait. You either give a damn about your life, or you don’t. I want to be around and work with people who are HGD.

The Bad Idea Trap!

2020 wasn’t the best year for a lot of people and as such we have so much excitement and anticipation for what 2021 will bring, but we are cautious. Already in 2021, we’ve seen some hangover of 2020!

We believe that 2021 and into the near future will be a bit of a struggle for most organizations. Some character building years ahead of us. We’ve come out of a decade of growth, pandemic hits, and now we have some rebuilding to do.

I truly believe when tough times hit, we see the best in people. As professionals, we work harder than ever to get to the success we want. We come up with all sorts of ideas and things to try to get us back on top. Therein lies the problem.

You see, there is this funny phenomenon that happens, that has now been proven in science. Turns out, during bad times, we come up with more bad ideas than good ideas!

Why do we have more bad ideas than good ideas during hard times?

A great historical example (that might have some context to 2020!) was during the 1920s and 1930s. Extremely hard economic times in Germany led to the rise of the Nazis. I think we can all agree, 100%, the Nazis were a very bad idea. But, because of the awful economy, many folks thought the Nazis were a great alternative.

Turns out, depressions, pandemics, social uprisings, etc. Lead us to more bad ideas than good ideas. We start grasping at straws, believing we are trying to help. We are testing out stuff to see what works when we think nothing is working when in reality, we might actually be starting something worse.

To go along with this, when times are awesome, no matter what you do, you probably are less likely to screw something up. “Hey, we did this crazy thing and our sales were up 3%!” Great, maybe if you didn’t do that crazy thing your sales would have been up 10%, but now you think that crazy idea, that bad idea, actually was positive!

Great times cover up many of our bad ideas. Bad times shine a giant light on our bad ideas.

Why am I talking about Bad Ideas? 

2021 might be a ripe time for bad ideas! We all will be pushed and stressed to make things happen. Leaders are going to look for ideas. It’s our job to come up with ideas. Most of those ideas are going to be bad. Sorry, but that’s just simple math. Most ideas are bad, some are good, very few are great.

In HR and TA we tend to believe that our ideas, our projects, our programs, etc. don’t have a giant impact on organizations. Actually, they have more impact than you think, but it’s mostly long-term impact, not short-term. We want these ideas to have an immediate impact, but people and culture tend to take time.

That is why, in 2021, we have to be very careful about the Bad Idea Trap.

I want you to go out and test and try things but move a bit more cautiously out of the gate. Be willing to shut things down quicker. Be more aware of the timing and how your organization is doing. If your organization is killing it, great! Go have some fun, break some things! If your organization isn’t doing well, slow down, take your time, don’t allow yourself to be in a rush, even though it’s going to feel like you should be.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a large corporate meeting room with a bunch of people and some well-meaning executive starts off with “there are no bad ideas! Let me have them all!” Yes, there are bad ideas and the worse idea is a bad idea that is chosen to move forward!

Maybe our 2021 Slogan in HR and TA should be “Yes, there are Bad Ideas!”

My Momma Don’t Like You…

My Momma don’t like you and she likes everyone…

Do you like that new Justin Bieber song?  Yep, I’m a Belieber! Don’t hate. The kid can entertain!

How does this have anything to do with HR?  Come on, you know I’ll bring you back!

“My Momma don’t like you and she likes everyone.” Do you have someone in your organization that is a walking cultural fit filter?

I do. Her name is Lori. I call her LJ. She has been with us (HRU Tech) for over 20 years! True story we hired her when she was 18 years old, straight out of high school to be a receptionist. Married, mom of three great boys, she is still rocking it at HRU in a much more expanded role! Most days I think I probably report to her.

When we interview a candidate to work in our corporate office, LJ knows if the person will fit or not, without being in the interview! LJ is like Justin Bieber’s mom. She likes almost everyone. Easy to get along with, but most importantly she knows the HRU culture.  If LJ says the person won’t work, the person won’t work.

I think most organizations have someone like this.  No, it’s not you in HR or Recruiting. You think you know, but you fail constantly at choosing. Cultural fit filter people are on the front lines. They hear and see the crap that HR and Recruiting never get to hear and see. They know your true culture.

I’ve worked with organizations, that truly carried about cultural fit, that have added one step into their candidate screening process. It’s a cultural fit interview, with a cross-functional team on non-hiring managers, non-HR, non-Recruiting folks. It’s also a knockout screen. If you don’t make it past them, you don’t move forward.

Organizational fit has always been important, but organizations are beginning to put some real emphasis behind it recently.

I don’t worry about it much. I just ask LJ, she’ll let me know.

 

Your Superpower is Your Authentic Self!

I had someone ask me what my superpower is? I found that a hard question to answer. I mean do you think being able to write a 500-word blog post in 15 minutes a superpower!? Some bloggers probably do, but no one else!

I was told that my true superpower was me just being me. My authentic self. Then I asked this person how much I owed them for the life coaching session! 😉

We are told constantly to be ourselves, or live our true life, find a way to be yourself, etc. The reality is being your authentic self might be your superpower, but like all superpowers, they can be used for good or evil.

Let me give you the best example ever! Donald Trump is his authentic self. It’s his superpower and he rode that superpower right into the White House. His authentic self was a superpower he used for evil, and ultimately it destroyed him and his legacy.

What I find a leader of people is that employees living their authentic self either works wonderfully or awfully and rarely anywhere in between!

Here’s the thing about being your authentic self, you must first know if your “authentic self” something others want to be around or if your authentic self off-putting to others. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself, but if your authentic self is a complete asshole, you might want to work for yourself and not someone else!

Let be really frank here, any gender can be an off-putting authentic self. It doesn’t mean you don’t love who you truly are, but you must also realize who you truly are isn’t what most people want to be around. Your superpower isn’t going to be asked to join the Justice League, you’re going to be asked to join the villain side.

In real life, you actually don’t become a villain, unless you’re DJT. Most likely you become your own boss, or you live a miserable existence trying to fit into a work world that doesn’t want you and you don’t want it. Some of the best and brightest people I know can’t work for others. Their superpower is something that allows them to be awesome, but not when working closely with others on a daily basis.

Why does this matter? 

It matters because if some idiot is trying to sell you the snake oil of “Just be your Authentic Self” you must first determine, is your authentic self something others will embrace and want to be around. If so, great, you’re going to probably have a great career. If it’s not, and you want to work in the corporate world, you’re probably in for a lot of therapy.

Also, let me be very clear, not living your authentic self while you are at work isn’t the worse thing in the world. You can be one thing at work and another thing in your personal life. Is it ideal? No. But, I’ve seen many people in my career be successful in doing this. It’s a little like Clark Kent and Superman. I can be Clark Kent at work and then go home and be Superman in the rest of my life.

The worse thing that can happen is you try and force your authentic self onto others and believe they should “accept” your authentic self. Nope. That’s not how it works. You can’t make anyone accept your authentic self, you can only make yourself accept that. If I don’t like your superpower, you can’t make me like it, and if I’m in a position to determine the trajectory of your career, you’re in trouble.

Superpowers are awesome, but they can be super for good or super for bad. Love who you are, but don’t expect others will necessarily love it.

Are you running out of time to get your nose pierced?

I have three sons, two of whom just graduated from college.  They can do anything right now!  If they wanted, they could fill a backpack and walk the earth. No one is going to stop them, in fact, many will congratulate them for taking this leap while they’re young.

In just a few years, people won’t say that.  They’ll tell them it’s crazy and you’re going to hurt your career, etc.

I’m a few years older than my sons (turns out that’s how it works!).  I have a feeling that I’m getting to an age where I no longer can make a change in my career path.

Before you start commenting with things like, “Tim, age is a state of mind”, or “You can do anything you want”, or “Follow your passion”.  Stop it. I’m a grown-ass man.  I like to think I’m an adult, although my wife and kids question that frequently. I have adult obligations: mortgage, college tuition, kids to raise, health insurance.

I can’t just go off and polish rocks.

We all get to certain points in our life where you can no longer just go do ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is for you. I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t change careers, not because I don’t think I could, but because society doesn’t look well upon middle-aged dudes looking to change careers. Something is now wrong with me if I wanted to change careers. BTW, I don’t want to change careers, I actually think what I do is pretty cool. Or hip. Or Hella. Or whatever the kids are saying.

If I decided to go back and become a nurse, right now, at my age, with all of my responsibilities, people would say something is wrong with me. You know what? I would think there was something wrong with me.

My question is more around what is ‘that’ time when if you’re going to do it, you better do it now?

For traveling the world: I think it’s 18-22 yrs old, or after 60.

For completely changing careers: I think you have to do it around 30-35 years old. Later, and you just look like your reaching. (I think most people won’t agree with this, but it comes from my recruiting background and how hiring managers look at older candidates who have made this move)

For having kids: this one has changed a bit, but before 40 seems safe. Otherwise, you’re just tempting science to give you problems. One caveat, if you’re adopting, I’ll push out this age because those kids just need someone who will love them.

For completely your high school or college education: I’m really open on this one. I would say anytime before death! I’m a huge advocate of lifelong learning!

For having grandkids: After 45 years old for sure. If you have grandkids prior to becoming 45, you did something wrong as a parent.

For getting your nose pierced: 17-28 years old. Yeah, I’m looking at you 37-year-old mom with the kid with a mohawk not wearing his seatbelt in the back of your Ford Mustang.

So, hit me in the comments with your age ranges on when you think it’s no longer socially acceptable to change careers or do any of the other things listed. And, yes, I get it, I’m old and you can do any of these things at any time, and why are you judging. Because I can, it’s my blog, go start your own, Karen.