Be Flexible Loudly!

I was on a leadership call last week and a startup founder, Jennifer Henderson of Tilt.com, made this comment when talking about one aspect of how she is building culture at her company. (BTW – Check out Jennifer and Tilt, amazing leader and a great company that is reimaginging employee leave management.)

“Be Flexible Loudly!”

Meaning, flexibility isn’t flexible if your employees feel like it might be a trap.

Just “allowing” flexibility isn’t enough. You must build a culture of flexibility. Leader’s must show and demonstrate that flexibility is valued, so when you do use flexibility in your work environment, you should make it known, loudly!

Too often, as leaders, we say we value and offer flexibility, but then our actions we portray are the exact opposite. Signs and symbols speak loud. Instead of quietly sneaking out of the office on a Friday afternoon, make a scene “Yo! I’m taking off to go play at the park with my kids! You guys have a great weekend!”

Be Flexible Loudly!

In a remote, digital work world this become even more important. Too often when we are working at home or work from anywhere, we tend to actually never leave work! It seems like we are always available and on. A leader should purposely send a note out on Teams or Slack and say, “Hey, all! I’m unplugging for the rest of the day! See you all tomorrow!” Or, “FYI – I’m in late tomorrow! I’ve got a chance to jump out on the slopes and get a few runs in before some meetings I have in the afternoon!”

If we can’t physically show our staff we are being flexible, we need to find ways to inform them. This also goes for times when any of us decide part of our flexibility is doing some work when others most likely aren’t. I love to catch up on email on Sunday evenings, so I don’t feel overwhelmed coming into a thousand emails on Monday morning. It’s critical to reply with a message that lets folks know, this is part of my flexibility, but not yours! So, I don’t expect or want a reply from you tonight.

Be Flexible Loudly!

This isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially for leaders that have grown up in an environment where leaving early or focusing on your own wellbeing was viewed as a sign of weakness. I’ll be honest, I started working from home on Wednesdays each week, and I feel guilty. I feel like I should be in the office if anyone is in the office. At the same time I want my team to feel empowered to be flexible, but that means I need to do it way more loudly!

The key to being flexible loudly is trust. Trust that your team will actually act like adults and value the company the same way you value the company. Trust that their performance will actually be better because of the added flexibility and empowerment.

What I find is 99% of people handle this exactly like we all handle it. We are actually concerned about our performance and the success of our teams and organizations. So, we probably don’t use enough of the flexibility given to us. 1% are assholes and take advantage and don’t perform well. Great leaders, get rid of the 1%, and cheer on loudly the 99%. That is the culture we should be striving for.

How Great Leaders Handle Crisis!

We’ve had a lot of crises over the past couple of years. Everyone would agree with this.

It’s been popular since the beginning of time to judge people based on their best moment. Stand up tall, when others are small and you are destined for greatness in history. No matter when you did before or after.

Rudy Giuliani, by most, is considered a great leader of our time for his leadership in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. He was in charge when the towers came down. He said and did the right things during that time. He will be forever remembered for that time in his legacy.

The reality is, leaders are not best judged in times of crisis.

Great leaders should not be judged by how they reacted in a once-in-a-lifetime event, but by how they act every day. On good days, average days, bad days, and very rarely on crisis days. The problem is we aren’t paying attention to normal days. We don’t see the greatest. So, we judge them on the few times we see them, which are either celebrations or catastrophes.

Crisis management is incredibly difficult for leadership teams at organizations. You try with all of your might to put your own situation aside, but it’s always there in the background, while you try and do what’s best for all involved. The hardest thing a leader will ever do is make the decision that some will have to lose their job, so the majority can keep their job. Even putting your own name on that list of cuts, isn’t as difficult.

Nobody wants to be judged by his or her worst moment. In crisis management, we tend to have a lot of worst moments because we are often making quick decisions with the limited information that in hindsight looks foolish.

As we are all going through some level of crisis management currently, I wanted to share Professor Scott Galloway’s three steps of crisis management from his NYU class he teaches on the same subject:

  1. Top Guy or Gal Takes Responsibility
  2. Acknowledge the Issue
  3. Overcorrect

Overcorrect is the key. Well, I’m not sure if we should do this, let’s just wait a little while longer and see what happens. NO! Overcorrect. Make the safest choice possible. Make the best choice possible for your people. Act swiftly.

If we watch, we will see great leadership moments in any crisis. Some of these moments will be by great leaders doing great leader stuff. Some of these moments will be done by idiots who just happen to be in the right place and make the right decision. Don’t confuse a moment of leadership competence with being a great leader.

Great leaders don’t just show up for a crisis, they show up every day.

What is your “Save” strategy for 2022?

I’m calling 2022 the “Great Retention“! Primarily because I was sick of hearing “Great Resignation” when it wasn’t really the great resignation, it was more reshuffling. A ton of openings allowed workers to upgrade jobs and salaries in 2021, so yes, folks “resigned” but then immediately accepted a job somewhere else they felt was better for their life choices.

We are facing some major challenges in 2022 and beyond. Most of which can be traced back to simple demographics. The reality is, we are going to see more jobs than workers for a long time. This means a few things:

  1. Yes, we can be and must be getter at acquiring talent.
  2. We need to be more flexible with our workforces, if we want to keep and attract talent.
  3. We need the government to open up immigration in new and innovative ways, for both skilled and unskilled workers.

How are you going to Save talent in 2022?

Your recruiting strategy can not only be to actually go recruit more talent in 2022. There must be a simultaneous strategy to retain talent and save talent. What’s the difference between retaining and saving?

Retaining talent is about a systematic, ongoing strategy to improve and change pieces within your work world that helps create an environment where your current employees want to stay longer with your company.

Saving talent is about having a systematic strategy that is designed to talk someone out of leaving your company for another opportunity. A save strategy goes into effect the moment you believe someone is going to leave you. That might be when they put their notice in, or maybe you start to hear about someone interviewing, etc. The reality is, there’s a good chance they are looking to leave your employment.

What does a save strategy look like?

Most save strategies are designed around critically hard-to-fill and/or revenue-focused roles. Roles that will have the most impact by keeping well-performing talent versus having to go out and try to hire new talent.

When you engage a save strategy, there must be concrete steps you take to try and talk the employee out of leaving. This might, and usually, includes multiple people, including senior executives up to the CEO. In a traditional notice situation, you have two weeks or so to work your strategy. While the person is in your employ you can have them travel, meet, and pretty much pay them to do what you need before they leave.

Traditionally, let’s face it, most of us waste these two weeks. We let the employee dictate what they will do and not do. This usually ends up being pretty much useless as the current employee just makes sure people know what they have going on before they leave.

What if you designed those two weeks around trying to do whatever it would take to keep that employee with your company? You might have them meet with the leadership team and discuss why they are leaving and what it would take to keep them. You might have them go try a different job they are interested in to see if they would be opening to transfer to another role or location.

I’ve worked with organizations that when a certain level of an employee put their notice in, they were immediately scheduled for a flight out to meet with the company executive team to discuss why they decided to leave and what the executive team could do to keep them. The success rate was 40%. Not perfect, but instead of hiring ten new employees for every ten that put their notice in, we only had to hire six! That made a huge difference for a stretched TA team!

The best recruit you’ll ever make is the one you don’t have to!

Tracking Remote Employees is an Amateur Move!

I continue to see more and more technology being released by tech companies targeting c-suite executives who are paranoid their employees who are working remotely aren’t working! Mouse tracking software, keystroke tracking software, login/logout tracking, etc. It’s become a billion-dollar industry to track you while you work at home, just in case you’re not working at home and just screwing around!

The most ingenious employee is the one who is trying to get paid without doing any work! Check out this TikTok:

@leahova

It’s called mental health, Janice. Look it up. #wfh #workfromhome #corporatetiktok #worklifebalance

♬ original sound – Leah

Now, I don’t think Lea is trying to get away with not working. She’s a good one, she’s paranoid in the other direction. If I try and go to the bathroom may be the A.I. will tell my boss I’m not working and I’ll get fired! None of this software really works like this, but it’s all a slippery slope!

A better idea for tracking employees!

How about building measurable performance goals and just managing those!? OMG! How f’ing brilliant am I!?! I just gave you an idea from 1979 that actually works perfectly and you don’t have to make your employees feel like they are being micromanaged and tracked by Big Brother!

Seriously! How lame are you that you think you need to track an employee at home by how often they move their mouse!? If you’re an executive and you believe this is the cure to your corporate ills, it’s time to hang it up, Hank!

It’s the 21st century, we can now treat employees like adults and place goals and expectations on them, that we’ve sat down and worked with them on coming up with so that we all feel like we are getting a fair deal on this little employment contract we’ve put together. We give “X”, You give us “Y”, and we are all happy with “Z”! If you don’t give us “Y”, let’s dig in and find out why that is, and if you continue to not give us “Y”, we’ll stop giving you “X”.

Okay, for those bad at Algebra, I’m talking about you do your damn job and we pay you. If you decide to sit at home and watch Netflix and not do your job, we stop paying you.

A better idea than buying a “mouse mover”!

Quite that stupid job who thinks measuring your mouse movements is equal to work. Seriously, there are more jobs open than people alive right now. Leave! There are great companies that are waiting to hire you that will let you go to the bathroom as much as you want.

If you bought a mouse mover to sit at home and watch Netflix and get paid, but not work. Congratulations, you’ll eventually be fired and/or your company will go out of business. You win, I guess, for the time being. Just know the world hates people like you.

The Point is Finality

Most work becomes a series of urgent events and tasks. We run from one urgency to the next, constantly fixing things to make them work better at the moment. Solving these urgencies gives us a great feeling of satisfaction. That was broken and I fixed it! Oh wait, there’s another one…

This might be the biggest cancer in organizations.

Quick fixes don’t ever really solve the underlying problem of why something isn’t working the way it should. We rarely work to solve the core issue and put a permanent solution in place. The time that does happen is usually after someone gets fired and the entire process has collapsed under a mountain of urgent fixes that have been cobbled together over months and years.

I see this on a monthly basis with leaders I speak with. I’m lucky to be on the front side of many of these conversations with leaders new in position who are working on building it the ‘right’ way. Finally, trying to get away from urgent fixes and put permanent solutions into play. To jump off the treadmill and add some finality to the process.

“We have always done it this way“.

That statement has gotten a bad reputation. We make fun of people who say it. When in reality, we should all be striving to say this statement. We’ve always done it this way because it freaking works amazingly! We had a problem. We worked our butts off to find the right solution for the long term, and unsurprisingly, it works and we kept doing it.

Jumping from one shiny new thing to the next, adding in stuff to cover up something that stopped working for now, because we don’t have time to truly fix the root cause, has become the norm for almost every department and function we have in organizations.

We’ve lost the view of “oh, I might have to live what I’m building here for the next twenty years, so I should probably make it work properly.” Instead, it’s “yeah, our process sucks, but we (add in excuse here), so we’ll just have to deal with it for now”. “For now” means until I either find a new job, or I get fired, or I move to another job or department.

I hate workarounds.

When someone tells me they are going to do something as a workaround I immediately have anxiety. Because what I hear is, “I don’t want to fix this the right way” I would rather fix it temporarily so it can be someone else’s issue down the road.

We have this belief that we can’t stop and fix things the way they should be. We don’t have the time, we can’t stop what we are doing. Until of course you get fired or leave, then someone ‘magically’ has the time to fix it the right way.

The worse spot you can be in is a cobbled mess of systems, processes, and people who don’t give a shit. If you find yourself in this spot there are only two options: 1. Leave; 2. Stop everything and fix it the right way.

5 Things Leaders Need To Know About Developing Remote Employees.

I think we try and deliver a message to organizations that all employees need and want to be developed. This is a lie. Many of our employees do want and need development. Some don’t need it, they’re better than you. Some don’t want it, just give me my check. Too many of our leaders truly believe they can develop and make their employees better than they already are. This is a lot tougher than it sounds, and something most leaders actually fail at moving the needle on.

Now, let’s add in we don’t get the luxury of seeing and spending a bunch of one-on-one, face-to-face time with many of our employees who are now working remotely!

Here are some things I like to share with my leaders in developing their remote employees:

1. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” -Maya Angelou. I see too many leaders trying to change adult employees. Adult behaviors are basically locked. If they show you they don’t want to work. They don’t want to work. Part of developing a strong relationship is spending time with people who are not a waste of time.

2. People only change behavior they want to change, and even then, sometimes they’re not capable of it. See above. When I was young in my career, I was very ‘passionate’. That’s what I liked calling it “passionate.” I think the leaders I worked with called it “career derailer.” It took a lot for me to understand what I thought was a strength, was really a major weakness. Some people never will gain this insight. They’ll continue to believe they’re just passionate when in reality they’re just really an asshole. When you work remotely, it’s way easier to have these personality ticks. Great developers of talent find ways to help folks realize these and diminish them.

3. Don’t invest more in a person than they are willing to invest in themselves. I want you to be great. I want you to be the best employee we have ever had work here. You need to be a part of that. I’m willing to invest an immense amount of time and resources to help you reach your goals, but you have to meet me halfway, at least. Don’t think this means a class costs $2,000, so you should be willing to pay half. It doesn’t. Financial investment is easier for organizations to put in than for employees, but if you pay for the class and it’s on a Saturday and the employee turns their nose up to it, they’re not willing to ‘invest’ their share.

4. It’s usually never the situation that’s pissing you off, it’s the mindset behind the situation that’s pissing you off. Rarely do I get upset over a certain situation. Frequently, I get upset over how someone has decided to handle that situation. Getting your employees to understand your level of importance in a situation is key to getting you both on the same page towards a solution. Failure to do this goes down a really disastrous path.

5, Endeavor to look at disappointment with broader strokes. It’s all going to work out in the end. It’s hard for leaders to act disappointed. We are supposed to be strong and not show our disappointment. This often makes our employees feel like we aren’t human. The best leaders I’ve ever had showed disappointment, but with this great level of resolve that I admired. This sucks. We are all going to make it through this and be better. Disappointment might be the strongest developmental opportunity you’ll ever get as a leader, with your people. When you are showing disappointment over a Zoom call it’s way to easy for this to get misinterpreted as well. Try to have these conversations face-to-face if possible.

What if you allowed anyone in your company to hire?

Let me walk you through a scenario and you tell me what I’m missing.

We all have hiring needs right now. Almost all of us are struggling to fill those needs. We love employee referrals! We also have great employees, doing great work who work with us, that we trust.

What would happen if we went to our employees and said, “Hey, we love you and trust you, so we are going to allow you to hire one person. You have total say in whether this person gets hired. We have a few parameters around HR stuff, drug screen, background check, etc., but the hiring decision is yours”.

You could probably add in some fun parameters like:

  • Here are the positions we have open that you can hire someone for. (IE., you might have some positions you don’t want the run of the mill making hiring decisions on)
  • If your hire fails, you won’t get this chance to hire another person for at least a year, so make it a good one!
  • If your hire succeeds, you will be given the ability to hire another person.
  • Maybe you want to throw some sort of bonus to your folks for successful hires, explain what “success” looks like, etc.

What might happen?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never done it, but I think I would be willing to test it out.

Let’s dig into what we think would mostly happen.

My best guess is you would have some employees who would be like, awesome, I’ve got a friend or family member I think would do a great job, and I’m going to hire them. Yes! Some positions get filled and they have some employee sponsorship that will probably help hold them accountable and be more successful.

You will probably have a few misses. Yeah, I thought Johnny would do well, and since he has a record no one will hire him, but he’s my sister’s kid and I really thought he turned his life around and this was a great chance, but ultimately he’s a loser.

You will probably have some employees who think you are nuts and not serious.

The big question is would you allow this for any positions, or just low/no-skill type of positions? I mean, really, conceptually, it works for any level. If I have a finance position open, and there are certain requirements needed for the job, then it isn’t really that hard to see if the person can conceptually do the job or not with their experience and education. So, it could work for any level job, blue-collar or white-collar.

Does this empower your employees?

Imagine being an individual contributor in your organization and one day you wake up and go to work and you realize you can actually hire someone. I can have that experience of making a life-changing decision for someone else. That seems like it would be pretty powerful!

Do you remember the very first person you ever got to hire? That’s a giant career moment. I tend to think every person you hire is a pretty great career moment, but the first one is big!

I think being able to hire someone would be super empowering and it’s really just a next-level employee referral program. Instead of you just referring someone, just take it few more steps and make it happen!

I tend to look at our current staffing problems with a strong testing mentality. Let’s try a bunch of stuff and see what might work. Most of it won’t work, but we might run into something amazing! Maybe our first test of this concept is to go to a hand-selected group of 10 or 20 employees and give them the first shot. Measure the results, gather feedback, decide if it should be rolled out further or what changes should be made.

All that I know is that early in my career if the CEO came into my cube and said, “Tim, we are going to allow you to hire one person to work here!” I would have taken that assignment very seriously and would have thought that was super cool!

What do you think? Tell me how crazy this is.

The New Normal in Hiring Isn’t New!

In January 2020 the US unemployment rate was under 4%. Historically low and trending downward. The pandemic hit and it immediately went up, but most of that was in a few targeted industries. The current unemployment rate is 4.8% and trending downward.

By the end of the third quarter of 2019, most organizations were desperate for talent. I would take calls from CEOs who would say that if I found a hundred workers for them tomorrow they would hire all 100. The Pandemic made us forget how bad hiring was prior to the pandemic!

The New Normal in Hiring is just like the Old Normal in Hiring!

In 2017-early 2020 organizations were already talking about what they would need to do to attract talent. It was about competitive wages, perks, even some conversations about remote work and variable schedules. Since we had centuries of in-office work, most organizations focused on making the office a more fun place to hang out. Free food, drinks, ping pong tables, cool spaces to work in, etc.

In Q3 of 2021, organizations are talking about how to attract and retain talent in almost the exact same way, except now more organizations are trying to add in remote and flexible work options. Don’t think work has changed or morphed into something “new”, it hasn’t, it’s still “work” and organizations will still find ways to get the talent they need to complete the work.

The pandemic was an organizational behavior black swan event.

We panicked. We had to find ways to keep people working and organizations going, even though we couldn’t be by each other. So, we did what we had to do. A few organizations actually found super high success, because of the pandemic and the dynamics it created. Most survived. Some didn’t.

Organizationally, we mostly just imitated what others were doing. Oh, you sent your folks home?! Okay, we need to do that. Oh, you have your folks come in on different shits to maintain a safe distance, we need to do that too. Oh, you make your folks wear masks when they are customer-facing, ditto…

We build processes and organizations around averages and what we could be given optimal circumstances. Things like hurricanes, pandemics, political unrest, throw historic averages all over the board, and organizationally this is extremely hard to plan for and deal with.

The Old-New Normal of Hiring.

We lost over a million moms out of the workforce. We lost close to 3 million close to retirement workers out of the workforce. We were already trending demographically in a negative worker replacement (meaning, we don’t make enough babies to replace the older people dying). These aren’t short-term issues, these are long-term issues that we saw coming in 2018 and 2019, and then we forgot!

We forgot we were already in a talent crisis, and the pandemic made this crisis much worse.

History has put us here before. After World War II it was super hard to find workers. Organizations pulled out all the stops to find talent. Things like:

  • Apprenticeship programs (Build your own talent)
  • Moving to markets with more talent
  • Paying higher wages
  • Creating immigration programs to get workers from other countries
  • Developing more automation to supplement worker shortage
  • Creating better working conditions and environments
  • Poach talent from our competitors
  • Create attractive perks
  • Charging higher prices to afford all of the above

What are organizations going to do today? More of the same but the 2021 version.

Technology has taken us a long way, so we have new ideas and ways of working we didn’t have in prior generations, but the concepts are exactly the same. Exactly.

There is no magic bucket of employees. Well, wait there is, but no one seems super excited about bringing in workers from other countries who want to find their American dream by working in an Amazon warehouse or making coffee at a Starbucks. It’s really the only untapped resource we have left when it comes to talent. I’m sure there are millions of Mexican, Haitian, Venezuelan, etc. immigrants who would love to work in the jobs our own American citizens have no desire to work in. My guess is they would happily pay taxes as well to have the resources we have as Americans.

Another option also could be some version of Peace Corp but for American kids graduating high school, that they have to work two years in industry before going onto college. American Worker Corp could be like a peace-time-style draft to the military, but not to the military. Little Timmy is going to work the customer service counter at Walmart and get paid, then he hopes to go on to State U and get his degree in management! I for one think every kid should have a real job before going to college.

We do not have a new problem! We have an old problem that we ignored and it became our most recent problem. We could easily blame our politicians for this short-term focus and thinking, but every one of us who works in business also owns this. Every one of us that works in education also owns this. We all saw it coming, but we were waiting for someone else to fix it. Now, we all have to fix it.

Supply and Demand are Undefeated!

Why can’t you find talent?! Why are your workers resigning at all-time highs? Why can’t I buy the car I want? Why does my local supermarket keep running out of diet Mt. Dew in the 16 oz bottles!?

The law of supply and demand is undefeated in the history of the world! That’s why!

When there is a feeling of equilibrium in the talent market, meaning we seem to have enough workers and enough jobs, but not crazy on either side, our world works fairly well. For sure, there are outliers, but all of those have a real business answer to why you’re an outlier. Right now, it seems like no one has a real business answer to why everyone is an outlier!

That’s because there isn’t one answer. Well, I take that back, there is, and it’s fairly simple, but your executives don’t want to hear it, we have more demand than supply of talent.

I find it super ironic that really smart executives won’t hear this when it comes to talent, but will go into every single board meeting and using different words tell their boards the reason they can’t sell enough products or services is because of supply and demand. But, when asked about talent, they truly believe TA/HR has a magic machine they can keep filling up with more candidates and employees that is never-ending!

There. Is. No. Magic. Employee. Machine!

By the way, everyone is to blame for this supply and demand issue. It’s not people who work. It’s the entire system failure that causes supply chain issues. What are these failures:

  • We are crappy at educating kids for future jobs. We take way to long to react to what our world needs for skills, from a public and private education standpoint.
  • Those that have the money are unwilling to properly incentize people for their labor and efforts.
  • Those who buy products and services are unwilling to pay more for all the crap we want.
  • Employers are unwilling to invest what is needed to grow their own talent and then do all they need to do to ensure they retain that talent.
  • We have a government that is basically incapable of doing anything besides work to get voted in again. Rinse. Repeat. Do nothing of consequence.

Gawd! That seems pessimistic, right!?

But, I don’t think so, because every single one of those bullet points we can control as a society, which is why we are all complicit in this problem!

This is not a complex problem. This is simply a supply and demand problem. Create more supply and bring back some equilibrium and everything will be back to normal. I have no fear that this won’t happen because supply and demand are undefeated!

What’s Your Code?

Everyone lives by a certain set of rules. Morales, ethics, values, experience, call it what you will, but when you put it all together it kind of creates this code you live by. Like any code, it’s all about trying. We aren’t Yoda – do or do not. Life isn’t usually that simple.

The code evolves and changes over time. You are probably born with a base set of codes that nature has given you like it’s nice to survive. Your environment and upbringing teach you another set of codes, and your life experiences along the way give us a bunch more code to add to it all.

As we grow, we might learn that certain pieces of code are outdated and just flat-out wrong and hurtful. As a child, I know I recited racist playground songs about catching a “tiger” by its toe, but we didn’t use “tiger”, and honestly, I was a pre-teen with a best friend who was black before I knew it wasn’t “tiger”! That’s bad coding. That had to go!

I was listening to something recently and the person speaking was talking about the code they lived by and it made me think, “what is my code?” I mean I have to have one, but I’ve never really sat down and thought about it. What are the pieces of code I’ve picked up along the way that I’ve decided at this point in my life to hard-code, or can I even say I’ve got hard-code?

What is my code?

As I mentioned above, some of the code you live by is many times aspirational. I know this code is right, but day-to-day, man, this is hard to live by. The goal, I think, is you know that certain code is better if you can use it more than you do. So, you strive to use it more each day. Also, none of our code is unique. Remember, all of this we’ve picked up from someone or somewhere along the way.

I try to help people whenever I can. Sometimes to my own detriment, and I know I’m not alone in this feeling. Because there are people out there with code that says “take” and if you are a giver and a helper the takers can really work you over some time. My dad taught me this. It’s both good and bad, at times, because helping people means sometimes your own family takes a backseat to others.

I love to love, I don’t love to be loved in return. This is a tough one because we all want to be loved in return, it’s a basic human need. But I truly try to love others because I just love them regardless if they love me. It brings joy to my life.

I believe the glass is half full. I’m not a negative personality. I love pessimistic humor, but I live my life believing a lot of stuff is possible with the right work, the right network, the right support, and some good timing. So, I guess I’m really a believer in people because I rely on a lot of people in my life to continue my belief that the glass is half full.

I believe in hard work. Sometimes that’s actual back-breaking hard work that makes you sweat and hurt. Sometimes that mentally draining hard work that leaves your brain tired and exhausted. I’ve rarely ever met a very hard-working person who isn’t doing pretty well. They might not be the most successful, or the richest, but I’m not worried they won’t make it. Hard work has always been the one thing I could control on my own.

I like to laugh often. I’m coded to laugh and smile. It’s both my best natural state and a defense mechanism. When I’m stressed, I like to make others laugh because I think it reduces the stress, but that’s not always true. Still, I prefer laughing to most other emotions. I love children for this reason. They laugh all the time because the world hasn’t beaten it out of them yet. Hanging out with little kids is so much fun! And if you throw puppies into the mix with little kids, watch out!

I like to win. I mean I like to win at everything! Not just games, but debates, and life, and money, and love. Winning is so awesome, it’s way better than losing! By like a trillion million! The thing is, you have to have some big losses in life to really enjoy the big wins. And you have to be playing.

If I look at my codes I would say, “yeah, that’s me” but it’s also just a portion of me. It seems so incomplete. It’s probably why I’ve never really put a ton of thought into “my code”. When someone says, “Oh, I live by this code…” I find that as a challenge to discover when that isn’t their code, which is probably another piece of my code!

I married a Jewish girl. Because I was not Jewish when we got married, a Rabbi wouldn’t marry us. So, we used a Cantor (a singer in the Jewish faith, that can still marry people). This Cantor made national news by bringing in a former disabled Nazi into his house to live with him.

This Nazi was coded to hate Jews. But when the world turned its back on him and no one would take him in, this Jewish man did and cared for him. Fed him, took him places, etc. This man hated Jews because he was coded to hate Jews without really knowing any Jews. This friendship obviously changed his code. He realized that part of his coding didn’t fit reality.

We all have a code we live by, and I think the greatest part of that is we all get to choose and change that code as we see fit.

What is one of your favorite pieces of code?