It’s Really Hard to Judge People!

I was out walking with my wife recently (that’s what middle-aged suburban people do, we walk, it makes us feel like we are less lazy and it gets us away from the kids so we can talk grown-up) and she made this statement in a perfectly innocent way:

“It’s really hard to judge people.”

She said this to ‘me’!  I start laughing.  She realized what she said and started laughing.

It’s actually really, really easy to judge people!  I’m in HR and Recruiting, I’ve made a career out of judging people.

A candidate comes in with a tattoo on their face and immediately we think: prison, drugs, poor decision making, etc. We instantly judge.  It’s not that face-tattoo candidate can’t surprise us and be engaging and brilliant, etc. But before we even get to that point, we judge.  I know, I know, you don’t judge, it’s just me. Sorry for lumping you in with ‘me’!

What my wife was saying was correct.  It’s really hard to judge someone based on how little we actually know them.

People judge me all the time on my poor grammar skills.  I actually met a woman recently at a conference who said she knew me, use to read my stuff, but stopped because of my poor grammar in my writing.  We got to spend some time talking and she said she would begin reading again, that she had judged me too harshly, and because I made errors in my writing assumed I wasn’t that intelligent.

I told her she was actually correct, I’m not intelligent, but that I have consciously not fixed my errors in writing (clearly at this point I could have hired an editor!). The errors are my face tattoo.

If you can’t see beyond my errors, we probably won’t be friends.  I’m not ‘writing errors, poor grammar guy”.  If you judge me like that, you’re missing out on some cool stuff and ideas I write about.

As a hiring manager and HR Pro, if you can’t see beyond someone’s errors, you’re woefully inept at your job.  We all have ‘opportunities’ but apparently, if you’re a candidate you don’t, you have to be perfect.  I run into hiring managers and HR Pros who will constantly tell me, “we’re selective”, “we’re picky”, etc.

No, you’re not.  What you are is unclear about what and who it is that is successful in your environment.  No one working for you now is perfect.  So, why do you look for perfection in a candidate?  Because it’s natural to judge against your internal norm.

The problem with selection isn’t that it is too hard to judge, the problem is that it’s way too easy to judge.  The next time you sit down in front of a candidate try and determine what you’ve already judged them on.  It’s a fun exercise. Before they even say a word.  Have the hiring managers interviewing them send you their judgments before the interview.

We all do it.  Then, flip the script, and have your hiring managers show up for an interview ‘blind’. No resume beforehand, just them and a candidate face-to-face.  It’s fun to see how they react and what they ask them without a resume, and how they judge them after.  It’s so easy to judge, and those judgments shape our decision making, even before we know it!

 

Are You Struggling to Find Happiness at Work?

In 1942 Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist, was taken to a Nazi concentration camp with his wife and parents.  Three years later, when his camp was liberated, his pregnant wife and parents had already been killed by the Nazis. He survived and in 1946 went on to write the book, “Man’s Search For Meaning“.  In this great book, Frankl writes:

“It is the very pursuit of happiness that thwarts happiness.”

What Frankl knew was that you can’t make happiness out of something outside yourself.  Riding the Waverunner doesn’t make you happy. You decide to be happy while doing that activity, but you could as easily decide to be angry or sad while doing this activity (although Daniel Tosh would disagree!).  Frankl also wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

I get asked frequently by HR Pros about how they can make their employees or workplace happier.  I want to tell them about Frankl’s research and what he learned in the concentration camps.  I want to tell them that you can’t make your employees happy.  They have to decide they want to be happy, first. But, I don’t, people don’t want to hear the truth.

Coming up with ‘things’ isn’t going to make your employees happy. You might provide free lunch, which some will really like, but it also might make someone struggling with their weight, very depressed.  You might give extra time off and most of your employees will love it, but those who define themselves by their work will find this a burden.

Ultimately, I think people tend to swing a certain way on the emotional scale.  Some are usually happier than others.  Some relish in being angry or depressed, it’s their comfort zone.  They don’t know how to be any other way.  Instead of working to ‘make’ people happy, spend your time selecting happy people to come work for you.

In the middle of a concentration camp, the most horrific experiences imaginable, Frankl witnessed people who made the decision to be happy. Maybe they were happy to have one more day on earth. Maybe they were happy because, like Frankl, they discovered that the Nazis could take everything from them except their mind.

Provide the best work environment that you can.  Continue to try and make it better with the resources you have.  Give meaning to the work and the things you do.  Every organization has this, no matter what you do at your company.  Don’t pursue happiness, it’s a fleeting emotion that is impossible to maintain.  Pursue being the best organization you can be.  It doesn’t mean you have to be someone you’re not.  Just be ‘you’, and find others that like ‘you.’

When is the time to work hard?

“Never! Work smarter not harder!”

Shut it. I wasn’t talking to you idiot.

I tend to try and surround myself with people who are “hard” workers. Who sees stuff that needs to be done and they just do it. In fact, they can’t even turn themselves off if they wanted to. Maybe all the work that you, or I, or they do isn’t “hard”, however, you define hard work, but it’s work and it needs to get done.

Every successful person I know is a hard worker.

Being a hard worker doesn’t mean you almost always work more than everyone else, but when work needs to get done, they get it done. But, don’t discount time and success, most successful people work more and harder than none successful people. It’s super rare to find a lazy successful person.

At what point in your life should you work the hardest? 

No, it’s not all the time, unless you’re young, then yes, when you are young you should be working hard all the time! That is the time to build the foundation. That is the time you have the most energy. That is the time when you have the least to lose.

The time in your life when you should be working the hardest is when you are young. 18-35 years of age, should be a work fest, followed by brief interludes of some trips and stuff.

I often get into conversations with young people who want to retire young, be super successful, but they have yet to work 50 hours in a full week in their life! They should be working 80-100 hours per week. This is the time you can work that amount and make it count.

But girls (and boys) just want to have fun, Tim!

Yeah, you know what’s not fun? Being a greeter at a mass retail store at 68 years old because you can’t pay your rent. The world is a young person’s game because you are fun. You have the time, the energy, you as nice looking as you’ll ever be, you have the fresh young person smell, all of the world wants more of you!

To be successful you must work hard. Part of that success comes from working hard all the time when you are young. As you age and gain experience, you begin to find out when exactly you need to turn it on and when you can shut it down for a bit. If you’re young and you think you already know when to shut it down, you’re a moron, or at the very least you are only getting to a fraction of the success that you are capable of.

If you just graduated high school or college this month, it’s not the time for a break, your life is just beginning. Right now, today is the exact time you should be working hardest and you should be doing it all the time!

 

The Single Biggest Factor in Finding Your Dream Job!

I’ve been given the opportunity to speak to a number of high school and college graduating seniors. The one common question from both groups, I get frequently, is “how can I get my dream job?”  It’s a simple question, with about one million possible answers.  Which makes it a tough question to answer in front of a group.

I think I might have found the perfect answer to this question.  From Penn State football coach, James Franklin, when asked at a conference how does a graduate assistant move up in the college football coaching ranks:

“It comes down to people and opportunities for growth. I always tell people to stay broke for as long as possible.  When you have a car payment and other things like that, it becomes a factor. Keeping money out of it allows you to chase your dreams longer.”

Stay broke as long as possible.

Internet personality, Gary Vaynerchuk (Gary Vee), says basically the same thing when people ask him how they work at something they just love to do. He will tell them you need to then live the lifestyle that affords you the ability to do what you love. If you love to pet puppies all day, you can’t live in a mansion! You’ll probably live in a box.

But, if that’s truly your passion in life, then that’s what you need to do to make it happen. What he finds is people who are willing to lower their lifestyle to do what they love are usually the ones who end up making money doing what they love. The theory being they found a way to live doing what they love, and little by little, they’ll find a way to make money doing what they love. Most people are unwilling to change their lifestyle to do what they love.

I remember back to when I first got out of college and was making $20,000 at my first job.  The reality was, I could have gone almost anywhere and made $20,000.  The money wasn’t the draw of the position, the opportunity was.  If it wasn’t for me, I could go and try something else. I had a crappy car and a $400 per month apartment. I didn’t have life obligations that were going to stop me from chasing a dream.

Fast forward five years and now I have a new car, a new house, and a new kid.  Chasing a dream would be much more difficult.

You hear it all the time, chasing dreams is for the young. Not because the young necessarily have better dreams or are better equipped at chasing dreams, it’s because the young can ‘afford’ to chase their dreams.  They, usually, have little holding them back, financially.  The older you get, the more responsibilities you have and the larger tax bracket you’re usually in.

Leaving a $20,000 job to chase my dream wasn’t going to be a problem. Leaving a $100,000 job to chase my dream was going to be a problem.

No one really wants to tell you this in their ultra-motivational writings and speakings.  “Go chase your dream! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you!… Just be prepared to have nothing for a while!”

We never get to hear that last part.

Want to be an NFL Referee? It’s a great gig! You just have to put about 15-20 years in at being a referee at every other level where you make peanuts and have to work other jobs to make ends meet. Yes, you can get there.  No, you won’t get rich getting there.

You can definitely go out and work towards getting your dream job.   Being broke will help you with that.  It takes away the fear of failure and losing what you have.  If you have very little, losing it doesn’t seem as bad.  If you have a nice life, giving it all up, seems extremely hard.

Being broke, in a very ironic way, gives you more options, when it comes to a dream job!

Is Love Greater Than Fear?

The most famous quote from Machiavelli’s book “The Prince” is:

“Better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

Uh, oh, Tim is quoting Machiavelli, this blog has jumped the shark!

I heard this quote recently in a virtual HR event. HR speakers seem to come in two types:

1. Love is greater than fear. This is popular and most fall into this camp. It’s a feel-good play. The first rule of HR speaking, it’s always better to make the audience feel good, than to give them something they actually need.

2. Machiavelli’s assessment, It’s better to be feared. Less popular take, but I do hear it in the form of stuff like, “I’m not here to be your friend, I’m here to get results!”

I also have smart friends who pull Machiavelli’s name out anytime they want me to feel like I’m on the wrong side of something, “How ‘Machiavellian’ of you, Tim!” Okay, I get it, you’re smarter than me, how ‘Machiavellian’ for you!

The normal breakdown of leadership goes like this. You would rather be a beloved leader than a feared leader. Those leaders who are loved will be more successful than those who are feared. You have to be one or the other. Or do you?

I think all leaders deep down in places we don’t talk about at parties (A Few Good Men reference!) want to be loved, or at the very least, well-liked. It’s human nature. No one really wants to be hated. It’s stressful, people don’t want to be around you, it makes for uncomfortable hugs, etc.

On the love side, love can make you do some crazy things, but so can fear. I would drive all night to help my wife or kids with something if I thought they really needed me, even if they or I could probably find another alternative. I would also probably work all night if I thought I might lose my job and I need to pay my mortgage. Love and fear are powerful in getting us to act.

I think fear is bigger when it comes to crunch time scenarios. I might ‘love’ my boss a ton, but when the project is on the line and the company might lose a major project and cost us hundreds of jobs, fear is driving the truck, not love. Love won’t bring those jobs back, fear might just win those jobs back.

As leaders, this our dilemma. I want my team to love me, but I also need a touch of fear on the edge. It’s an imperfect balance.

What I know is love isn’t the only answer, no matter how many memes you make or posters you put it on. I don’t know if Love is bigger, it’s definitely more popular, for obvious reasons, but great leaders have used both. I want you to love me, I need you to fear me a bit, in the end, I’ll probably use both to get the job done.

If You Don’t Stretch, You’ll Never Know Where The Edges Are…

Did you know the N95 mask that is critical PPE for healthcare workers right now was invented by a woman at 3M in the late 1950s?

The title of the post is a quote from Sara Little Turnball, she was a designer who started consulting for 3M in 1958. She was super sharp and made a name for herself prior to 3M, and then 3M came calling. They didn’t know what to do with her (it was 1958 women aren’t supposed to know more than men, right!?! ;), so they started her in the gift wrapping section, because you know she’s a woman!

She decided she needed to do something and created a famous product presentation called “Why?” where she presented one hundred ideas to 3M executives for various products that actual people would use. She told them there were so many uses for this moldable, woven textile they had created.

So, they hired her to make a molded bra cup. Of course, they did! But, she persisted and let them know she was also using the design and material to make a better type of surgical mask. Her first attempt failed, but eventually what she started turned into basically the N95 mask that 3M started producing in mass in 1961.

“If you don’t stretch, you’ll never know where the edges are.” 

You guys know I’m not a “failure porn” person. Just fail more. Fail faster. Etc. Sara Little Turnball was a designer and inventor and it her world you needed to fail. She estimated about 90% of her work was failure.

The world takes both types. Creatives will fail way more than they succeed to reach their genius. Producers can’t fail as often, and shouldn’t. We need all types in this crazy gumball factory we live in.

We need people willing to stretch themselves to find the edges. Today, as we take off for a long holiday weekend, I’m grateful for this lady who was willing to find the edges and I’m betting so are millions of healthcare workers who are fighting for our lives.

 

#CoronaDiaries – The Travesty of Hero Pay!

I’m back in the office and I’m feisty as ever about all this “Hero” pay going on across the world! I love Heros, I mean who doesn’t love Heros, but…

Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?

Also, beyond excited that Disney+ is releasing the Original cast of Hamilton on July 3rd! In the comments give me your over/under number of the amount of times I’ll watch Hamilton on Disney+? (I’ll tell you what my wife’s number on me was after a bit!)

If You Are Efficient You’re Doing it the Wrong Way!

I read this interview with Jerry Seinfeld recently and I wanted to share a piece from it below:

A few thoughts on this…

  1. You know I’m all about efficiency when the process calls for being efficient, like in recruiting. When you start talking about being creative, like Jerry is above, that’s when you have to throw efficiency out the window. Genius doesn’t have a timeline. Sometimes working smarter not harder isn’t the right answer.
  2. “Who’s McKinsey? Are they funny? Then, no I don’t need them.” Too often we ask for help from folks who don’t know what we do or how to do it, but they have an MBA from an Ivy League school so they must be smarter than us, right? Right!? Well, they might be smarter at somethings, but you know your business and you probably know what needs to be done. The question is do you have the courage to do it or are you using a consulting firm because you want someone to share the blame?
  3. “The show was successful because I micromanaged it.” When I speak to really successful entrepreneurs almost all are successful because they micromanage the crap out of every aspect of their company. We like to act like this is a bad trait because it can be destructive, but most of the great leaders find ways to micromanage and still treat people really great. It’s not one or the either, it’s both.

 

I love reading and listening to really successful people talk about why they are successful when they aren’t trying to be impressive. When you get the real stuff. I think this was some real stuff from Jerry.

 

Happy Thoughts by Tim Sackett

My local news station is doing just positive news for one of their half-hour shows on Thursday early evenings. I’m a cynic, I suspect it’s a play to grab ratings on a low ratings time, but you know what? We could all use some good news!

So, I sat down to think about all the Happy things that are going on that I could share. It’s not easy! There’s so much negative, I can’t even with the news anymore, but here goes:

The All-In Challenge!

Have you heard about this? A bunch of celebrities are auctioning off stuff and they’ve tried to make it inexpensive so everyone can have a chance, not just rich folks. So, you can be in Kevin Hart’s next movie and get the chance for $10 to put your name in the hat! Or Justin Beiber will come to your house and sing a song! You can play in the NBA Celebrity All-star game, etc. The entry fee for each is just $10 with all proceeds going to provide food for those affected by the pandemic. I’m obsessed with this, I want to do half of the stuff!

Hourly Workers Getting their Do! 

To be honest, I’m not a giant fan of everyone calling themselves heroes. I like to save the “H” word for those who really put their lives on the line for my freedom and safety on a regular basis. All that said, hourly workers usually just get dumped on with crappy pay and crappy jobs, and right now many of those folks are holding this country together. I was in a gas station today and the lady in front of me was running a laundry mat and she said, “I’m an essential worker! I’m needed right now!” Yes, you are my dear! Get all the feels you need right now!

Family Tik Tok Videos! 

They are corny. Some funny. Some not. All of them are families doing stuff together and I quite frankly think it’s awesome. Even those where they are just having their Mom or Dad hold the camera. At least you are finally doing something with your teenage kids! Family Tik Toks and Puppy Tik Toks, keep them coming. If you haven’t downloaded Tik Tok, it’s 99.9% stupid short videos and every once in a while some pure gold.

Conversations at the Dinner Table! 

Yep, we are all sick of each other by this point, but in a couple of months, I have had more real conversation at my dinner table than the combined past two years! That is awesome and makes me smile! My wife and I are actually getting tired of cleaning up after dinner because it’s happening every single night! I have boys so you usually don’t get a lot of conversation anyway, but it turns out if you actually sit down every night, they start talking.

The Return of Civility! 

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like everyone is a nicer right now. I mean I guess any of us could kick the bucket at any moment so we tend to just be a little nicer to each other. Of course, early on we were all fighting each other for toilet paper, but once we got settled in I think people are truly caring about their neighbors and community. Even in my work interactions, everyone seems to be really concerned for each other’s safety.

I like thinking Happy Thoughts. I’m reminded of a great quote by Viktor Frankl:

 

Are We Still Pissy About Unpaid Internships?

Back in the height of the Great Recession (think 2008-2010), when we had double-digit national unemployment numbers. It was dark times, especially for those students who were graduating and those trying to get internships.

Most organizations in hard times cut internship programs. It’s not that they are not important to recruiting, it’s just the ROI drops as unemployment numbers rise. If you have a lot of candidates, it’s tough to spend valuable resources on interns who aren’t really adding much value, if any, to most organizations.

Internships, at its core, is mostly a one-way proposition on the front side. We hire you to get experience. We pay you. We hope you’ll come back and take one of our open jobs and in the future help us be successful. It usually works out, but it’s not a guarantee. In hard times, “not a guarantee” is a hard budget item to get approved!

During the Great Recession the idea of offering “Free Internships” was being used by many organizations and a lot of people lost their minds!

“You have to pay people for the job they do!” “All Interns should be paid fairly!”

Basically, this all went away pretty quickly because the economy took off and we got to the point where we weren’t just paying interns, we were competing for interns and developing all kinds of programs and incentives for interns because talent was so scarce.

The argument wasn’t really solved, it just disappeared because it was no longer relevant. Well, say hello to my little friend! The Free Internship concept is back! Thanks, COVID!

Let’s talk a little bit about our current internship situation!

  • Most organizations have canceled internships for this summer. There will be significantly fewer internships for the summer of 2021, as compared to summer 2019
  • As unemployment rises and layoffs grow, more will cancel these programs.
  • New graduates who can’t find jobs, need experiences to build their resumes.

Should we offer Unpaid Internships? 

YES!!! 1000% YES!!!

Now, let me explain. If you can afford to pay your interns, but be a dick and not pay them! If you can’t afford to pay interns, but you can afford to give students and graduates valuable experiences, give them those experiences!!!

I never understood the argument that you must pay interns for their time. I did student teaching as part of my undergrad degree. I worked a full semester as a teacher and I paid full tuition and never got a dollar for that work! My wife is a Physical Therapist and she did many practicums (medical internships) where she had to pay for school, work full time without pay. Many professions have this happening.

We turn a blind eye to these examples and just believe it’s part of getting that degree, but it’s truly no difference. The reality is, the experience you get, the ability to put that brand on your resume and have a professional reference is very valuable. So, working for free almost always works out for the best for those who take on those experiences and give it there all.

For the record, I have paid my interns. I will pay my interns this year. But, I can’t tell you I’ll always be able to pay interns. At that point, I have a decision to make. Not have interns, which only hurts those kids who need an internship, or have unpaid interns. I’m completely comfortable having unpaid interns, as I know the value it gives those individuals.

I’ve gotten questions recently about unpaid internships, as I hear so many people canceling their internships for this summer. “Can we have an intern work remotely and be unpaid?” Well, it’s not officially an employee, but if you want to “mentor” a student, and that student what’s your mentorship, nothing is stopping you from helping that person out!

Understand, if you aren’t going to pay someone, you get what you pay for. But, I also truly believe that a student who says, “Hey, I can give you twenty hours per week to learn the business” we have a moral obligation to help these students out in a time of crisis!

Okay, hate me in the comments – but we need to be open to Unpaid Internships!