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! ūüėČ

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.

I hear you…

It’s what you hearing…Listen!

It’s what you hearing…Listen!

It’s what you hearing…LISTEN! (DMX – X Gon’ Give It To Ya)

I hear you…

2020 was not what you expected or what you wanted. I hear you.

You aren’t where you want to be in life. I hear you.

You didn’t accomplish all you wanted this year. I hear you.

You lost more than you won this year. I hear you.

You took some big losses in 2020. I hear you.

You felt like the world has turned upside down. I hear you.

You’re afraid that 2021 might not be much better. I hear you.

You’re not sure your career is on pace for where it should be. I hear you.

I hear you.

What I love about New Years’ is we are given this freedom, once per year, to start over or continue, or do just make a decision to move in another direction and go, “yeah, in 2021 I’m going to do “X”!”

We are congratulated on this announcement. Good for you! I can’t wait to see how that turns out!

So, I hear you, and now is the time for you to make a decision. You can continue being your version of 2020 or you can try and be something else in 2021. Quite frankly, this has worked really great for me in some years, and not at all in other years. Still, I like the exercise.

If I could be “X” in 2021, what would that be and how would I get there, and am I willing to put in that work or change to get there?¬†

This isn’t about anyone or anything else. It’s just you. We love to believe it’s about other things. If I just had another job. If I just had a different significant other. If I just lived someplace else. If I just wasn’t so unmotivated. Then, my entire life would be better!

I hear you.

Now, write down what you want to do in 2021 and email it to me at sackett.tim@gmail.com. Let’s get to work on that.

What can your employees count on from you in 2021?

At the HR Technology Conference his fall, Marcus Buckingham gave a talk on some new research he did on resilience. It was definitely timely because of the year that is 2020. Also, when you talk to c-suite leaders all will say one of the most sought after attributes they want in their employees would be resilience.

From his research, Marcus found that employees determine how much they trust a leader and an organization comes down to just a few simple things, and one of those major things is not what you hope and dreams are for the organization, but what you can specifically tell employees that they can count on, 100% count on.

We see organizations come out all the time with examples of this:

  • Google said they will not have in-office work until September 2021, but the plan is to bring people back in-office at that point. Concrete date and plan, of course, it might get pushed out again, but at the very least you know you have remote work until September 2021.
  • I’ve seen CEOs come out in 2020 and tell their employees we will not lay one person off this year. For many employees in those companies, that was such a relief to hear.
  • It can be as simple as letting your employees know you will not be changing your benefit plan for the coming year or moving your home office after a merger or acquisition.

Of course, all leaders want to share their vision and dreams. We love aspirational leaders, even if we don’t completely trust them! What all employees want, based on the research, is a leader who will tell them what they can count on moving forward, even if it’s something small.

“I can you this much, for sure…” Then, from a trust standpoint, you move heaven and earth to make that happen! So, the old leadership axiom of under-promise, over-deliver fits really well into the trust dynamic.

Also, don’t make this lame!¬†

“You can count on me to always tell you the truth!” No, I can’t! That’s a lie right there! As soon as something happens, let’s say talks about acquiring a new company, or having your company acquired, you won’t be able to share anything about that.

“Hey, are we getting bought?” Well, I can’t yes or no to that question, and that’s the truth! No, you’re an idiot who is saying nothing, and now I don’t trust you.

What can your employees count on? 

Sometimes this is the most difficult question to answer because there is way more we can’t count on, then we can. But, if you can come up with those few concrete things, you can leverage that trust a long way.

2020 has shown our employees are not as fragile as we like to believe. For the most part, employees who truly understand the truth of their circumstances are much more resilient than we think. “Hey, 2021, is going to be extremely hard on the organization. We need sales, or we will be in trouble. Everything we will do needs to focus on how to help us sell more.”

Yes, some employees will run and find a new job. But, many more will fight and show their resilience and reward your honesty. At the end of the day, we just want to know we aren’t being lied to and after that, it’s pretty remarkable what we are willing to face and conquer.

The 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate A$$holes!

I wrote a post a while back titled, “The 5 Things HR Leaders Need to Know About Developing Employees“. In that post I had a paragraph:

When I was young in my career, I was very ‚Äėpassionate‚Äô. That‚Äôs what I liked calling it ‚Äď passionate. ¬†I think the leaders I worked with called it, ‚Äúcareer derailer‚ÄĚ. ¬†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‚Äôll continue to believe they‚Äôre just passionate¬†when in reality they‚Äôre really just an asshole.

I then had a reader send me a message and basically said, “This is me!” And I was like, “That was me too!” And then we kissed. Okay, we didn’t kiss, but it’s great to find another like yourself in the wild!

The reality is, I’m a recovering Passionate Asshole.

What’s a “Passionate Asshole” who are asking yourself? Here’s my definition. A passionate asshole is a person who feels like they are more about the success of the company than anyone else. I mean everyone else. They care more than everyone! And because we care so much, we treat people poorly who we feel don’t care as much as us!

Passionate assholes truly believe in every part of their being they’re great employees. You will not be able to tell us any differently. They are usually high performing in their jobs, which also justifies even more that they care more. But, in all of this, they leave a wake of bad feelings and come across like your everyday basic asshole.

You know at least one of these people. They’re usually younger in the 24-35-year-old range. Too early in their career to have had some major setbacks and they have high confidence in their abilities.

Here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate Assholes:

Step 1: Realization that you’re an Asshole, not the best employee ever hired in the history of the universe. This realization doesn’t actually fix the passionate asshole, but without it, you have no chance.

Step 2: You understand that while being a passionate asshole feels great, this isn’t going to further your career and get you to your ultimate goal.

Step 3: Professionally they have to be knocked down in a major way. I was fired. Not because I was doing the job, but because I was leaving a wake of bodies and destruction in the path of doing my job. You don’t have to be fired, demotion might also work, but usually, it’s getting canned that will do the trick.

Step 4: Someone you truly respect needs to tell you that you’re not a good employee, but an asshole, during a time you’ll actually listen.

Step 5: Find a leader and organization¬†that will embrace you for who you’re trying to become, knowing who you truly are. You don’t go from Passionate Asshole to model employee overnight! It’s not a light switch.

Step 6: Time. This is a progression. You begin to realize some of your passionate asshole triggers. You begin to use your powers for good and not to blow people up who you feel aren’t worthy of oxygen. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Step 7: You stop making bad career moves based on the passionate asshole beast inside of you, telling you moving to the ‘next’ role is really the solution to what you’re feeling.

Step 8: We make a list of people we’ve destroyed while being passionate assholes. Yes, even the people you don’t like!

Step 9: Reach out to the people you’ve destroyed and make amends. Many of these people have ended up being my best professional contacts now late in life. Turns out, adults are actually pretty good a forgiving and want to establish relationships with people who are honest and have self-insight.

Step 10: We are able to tell people we’re sorry for being a passionate asshole when find ourselves being a passionate asshole, and not also seeing the passion within them and what they also bring to the organization is a value to not only us¬†but to the organization as a whole.

Step 11: You begin to reflect, instead of reacting as a first response. Passionate assholes love to react quickly! We’re passionate, we’re ready at all times, so our initial thought is not to think, but to react decisively. You’ve reached step 11 when your first thought is to no longer react like a crazy person!

Step 12:¬†You begin to reach out to other passionate assholes and help them realize how they’re destroying their careers and don’t even know it. You begin mentoring.

I know I’ll never stop being a Passionate Asshole. It’s a personality flaw, and even when you change, you never fully change. But, I now understand when I’m being that person, can usually stop myself mid-passionate asshole blow up, and realize there are better ways to communicate and act.

I’m not a Dr. but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, using the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D. There is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university.

The question really comes down to, is there really a difference in calling someone “Dr.”?¬†

I’m a brain surgeon, call me Dr. I’m a clinical psychologist, call me Dr. I’m a Pharmacist, call me Dr. I’m a Physical Therapist, call me Dr. I’m a Professor of Sport History, call me Dr. I’m a Vaccine Scientist, call me Dr. I teach English 101 at a local community college, call me Dr.

For each of those titles, currently, to obtain that title you have to have a doctorate degree. Well, actually, you don’t have to have a doctorate to teach at a university or community college. To become a medical doctor, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, today, you must get your doctorate in the U.S. Regardless, many people get a doctorate but do jobs that don’t necessarily need a doctorate to do that job.

As a recruiting professional, I have an opinion. 

I believe we call people Dr. when in normal society those people are called “doctors”. When I go see a Physician, most people, who don’t know them personally, will call them “doctor”. If in a normal work setting, someone doesn’t call you “doctor”, but you call yourself doctor, that comes off really bad.

The worse is when you expect someone else to call you “doctor” but the average person in the world would never expect to call you “doctor”. Then you come across as pompous. “Tim, it’s nice to meet you!” Yes, that’s Dr. Tim, thank you. “No, that’s Dr. Asshole, goodbye!”

This is just good situational awareness if you are on the job market. We deal with many candidates who have their doctorate in various sciences. It’s very rare in a professional work setting they would ever use “Dr.”, and if they corrected a hiring manager during an interview, let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.

Does any of this really matter? 

Before someone loses their head and puts in a 700-word comment about how I’m a misogynist against Dr. Jill Biden, check yourself. I could care less about what Jill Biden wants to be called. If she wants to call herself Queen, good for her! Dr. Queen, even better!

The reality is, most likely, this Op-Ed wouldn’t have been written if Jill Biden was voted in as President, and her first husband, Joe, has his doctorate in education, and called himself Dr. Joe Biden. So, that’s a problem. It doesn’t make the Op-Ed opinion wrong, just questionable.

If she’s comfortable with calling herself Dr., that’s all that really matters. I have a feeling that if I got an Ed.D or any other kind of doctorate degree, I would force people to call me Dr.! “Hey, Mr. Teddy Starbucks barista, that’s “Dr. Timmy”! Get it right!” I would also expect that people would say bad things behind my back if it wasn’t normal for someone with my degree to be called “Dr.”

What do the “real” doctors think?¬†

I got feedback from three friends who all have a doctorate degree. All three felt like this was basically bad form on the part of the writer of the Opt-Ed. He comes across as a sexiest, old, out of touch elitest.

There is, though, a background within the doctoral community of hazing between those with doctorates about who has the “better” degree and from the “better” school. Also, MD’s, medical doctors, most likely look down on all other doctorates who don’t save lives.

As my one friend put it, I will definitely give it to my fellow doctorate friends who have an Ed.D versus a Ph.D, or went to a B-level school versus an A-list school. But, let’s not kid ourselves, I could have not gone to my Ph.D class on management, or done poorly, and no one is losing their life!

The fact is, all doctorate recipients did the work. Professionally, they will take being called “Dr.” in that professional setting. Professors might not ask to be called “Dr.” but if a student calls them by “Dr.” it fits the professional setting. If Jill Biden is working on Educational Policy and Strategy, if completely fits her being called Dr. Biden, that is her professional role.

If I’m going out for dinner with Jill and Joe, in a personal setting, of course, it would seem weird for her to want me to call her Dr. Jill Biden at the dinner table, if we were just having a social dinner. But, that’s not what this is about. This is about someone you thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s going to mansplain it to us all, especially, a woman.

If Jill wants to be called Dr. Jill Biden, call her that. If you don’t like it, then don’t put yourself in a position to have to use her name. I’m sure she would appreciate that.

5 Magic Phrases that Will Instantly Make You More Likable in an Interview!

We’ve heard for decades that most interview decisions are made within seconds. Someone meets you and pretty much sizes you up in those first few moments. I think that’s mostly correct, but every interviewee still has that time to change hearts and minds.

Sure, you came in and immediately made a verbal gaffe or smelled like old lady feet, that doesn’t mean you’re dead in the water! You can still make a comeback, but it really depends on your personality and how you engage with those in the interview.

Here are 5 magic phrases if you used at the right time and context can make you exponentially more likable in your next interview:

1. “Wait, can you say that again, I want to write that down?”¬†

Of course, you need to use this phrase when appropriate. Let’s say a leader in the interview says something about how they like to manage, or something about their leadership style, etc. It should be quotable or something that would need writing down. But the phrase is very flattering to the person it’s said to.

Alt versions:

“I love that idea! I’m going to write that down so I don’t forget it.”

“That’s interesting, I like how you do that, I’m going to write that down so I remember.”

2. “Thanks for asking…”¬†

Again, needs to be used in the right context. “So, tell us about yourself.” Is not a good time, to say, “Thanks for asking, well let me tell you about me!” That seems corny at best! But, many times in interviews we get the, “Do you mind if I ask…” This is when it’s a perfect time. “No, in fact, Thanks for asking that question…”

3. “Sorry for interrupting, I’m a little nervous during this interview and can get really excited to respond.”¬†

This works well when you know you probably jumped the gun, but the interviewer was let you go on anyway. To be able to finish your thought, but let them know that you know, you probably stepped in too soon. “I’m sorry, I think I interrupted what you were going to say…” Also, especially in a setting when you’re a male being interviewed by a female, you don’t want to come across as mansplaining or hogging the floor. Being able to acknowledge you’ve interrupted shows high self-insight and gives the floor back to the person who should have it.

Alt versions:

“Sorry for interrupting, I’m just really into this topic!”

“Sorry for interrupting, I think I didn’t let you finish your question or thought.”

4. “I’d love your input on…”¬†

In every interview, usually towards the end, there is always the, “do you have any questions for us…” A better way to approach that as an interviewee is to use the “I’d love your input on…” I’d love your input on how you believe “X” technology will evolve or change your business? I’d love your input on how you think my skills can be used within your department? From a communication standpoint, asking for input connotates conversation and peer level. It brings the interview back to the level of professionals having a conversation.

5. “I usually dread interviews, but this has actually been fun.”¬†

Now, it might have been torture, but you don’t want your captives to know that! Letting your interviewers know you had ‘fun’ when interviewing them lets them know you feel comfortable. Much of the interview process is about “do we and they feel comfortable together”. Just as you worry about do they like me, many interviewers are worrying about the same thing! You are saying, whoever I am, I match you guys and I could get used to this.

 

7 Things Dudes Need for their Remote Office

Ladies, you do not need to read this post! You were actually born to put together a remote office. You might even have a Pinterest dream board for the perfect office. Most dudes, suck at this! They are still sitting, hunched over at their card-table, kitchen table they bought at Costco with the four folding chairs, or on the couch.

Sure, we (dudes) probably have a better WiFi connection than you do. That is the extent of our remote office ability. Great WiFi.

But, I’ve been told by many prominent women in my life that I kind of act like a chic, a lot. Many of my good friends are actual women! I have a good eye for interior design, and I think a great space can make you more productive.

BUT, the dude in me also knows this can’t take a lot of time or effort, because us dudes have other more important things to do, like run wifi speed tests to find out why our other dude friends somehow have faster upload speeds than we do!

Here are the 7 Things Dudes Need for their Remote Office (will not include any technology suggestions as that is for the 7 Things Chics need in their Remote Office):

1. Sturdy, Minimalist Desk. I like L-shape, but your space might not be big enough. Essentially, you need something to sit your computer, extra monitors, and stuff on.

2. An Office Chair that costs more than $99. Look the chair you had in the cube at work probably cost $399+. If you’re going to sit in something for over 1,000 hours per year, make sure it’s good and comfortable, for a long time! Plan on $400+ and think Steelcase, Herman Miller, etc. Don’t skip on a great chair! “Looks cool!” isn’t a great trait of a remote office chair.

3. Front Lighting. Sure it looks great to have a window as your backdrop, but it sucks as a functional workspace because every time you are on a video call you get washed out! So, you either have to have a big ring light staring you in the face, or have the window in front of you and let all that natural light make you look great!

4. Head Phone Stand. We (dudes) spend a lot on our headphones, don’t screw up that investment by continually throwing them on the desk every time you get up. Plus, when you leave your desk for the day/evening, it just looks nice!

5. Some Succulents. Some succ-a-what!? Now, my pod-partner Jessica Lee, is love with some sort of rubber tree plant. That’s cool, but maybe too big for a nice desk plant or two! Also, you’re a dude, you will kill real plants, so these are ones that will look great no matter what!

6. Cable Management. I know you don’t care that you have 7 things plugged into three extension cords that are snaking all over your office space, but it looks terrible! Also, a messing space makes you unproductive. Let’s tighten it up!

7. Artwork – Again, this must be strategically positioned so that people can see it. Now, let’s talk about limits. Sure, you can have a Star Wars print, but it better be retro and it better be framed! Another option is great landscape photos of mountain ranges or lakes, etc. You can even go pop culture, just make sure it makes a statement. If you’re questioning your decision, have a friend, who is female, who you think is a neat freak take a look, first! Go big, 36×24, or even bigger depending on your space, no one wants to see some 12X10″ framed photo all by itself on the wall. I’m looking at ordering this print for my office right now – iconic! Check out Etsy for some great prints and prices.

 

Are you struggling to be happy 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.’

Thank You!

As you go off on your Thanksgiving Holiday – Thank you! Thank you for reading my thoughts. Thank you for your support over the years. Thank you to all those who send me personal notes on how a post impacts you. Thank you to all those who send me personal notes about my grammar errors.

In a year that has been so hard on all of us, thank you for your friendship. Have a great holiday!

3 Things you can do at the office the Friday after Thanksgiving – Remote Work Edition!

So, in the United States, if you have to work the day after Thanksgiving in an office environment, we’ve had this neat little game we play. You act like you work all day, while basically doing nothing!

I’ve written about this in the past and tried to give advice to those poor souls who must go into the office the day after Thanksgiving. I was trying to help them be productive, things like:

  • Clean out your files – paper and digital
  • Send out emails to folks you are thankful for but haven’t told recently
  • Organize your calendar for the next month to ensure you kill the last month of the year.

This year, for so many office workers, it’s completely different! You now are remote. The vast majority of you will have no watchful overload to see if you are actually doing anything or not. It’s just you and your conscience, working all alone at your home.

So, what should you be doing this Friday?

Well, the try-hards in the bunch will do the things listed above but also add:

  • Early morning email out to folks that manner with some kind of important question. Make sure to note, “No reply needed today, but you get a minute…”
  • Late afternoon update on something with data. “I was just crunching some 3rd quarter data and found that we can probably do a budget adjustment for 4th quarter on “X”.”
  • Pro-Level: send a text message to someone else who is working asking for a file you can’t find.

This will show the powers-that-be that you’ve been working super hard all day!

Then there are the other things you can do in between that 8 emails and that 4:30 pm email:

  • Black Friday online shopping (this should take up most of the day) – at least one stop at some sort of office supply site, because “office supplies”
  • Catch up on some Netflix documentaries that have some sort of connection to whatever you do. Research for work stuff.
  • For those who love holiday decorations, this is a perfect time to “decorate your office”
  • There’s always some sort of football game on, just have it running on your second or third screen, I mean you’re working!
  • I like to make a big pot of chili for lunch on Black Friday (it’s okay, you’re working you get to eat lunch)
  • I like to send out holiday cards to my professional network on this day, which is probably really is work, so I might hold off until Monday for this task.

If any of my own team at HRU Tech is reading this – do not send me emails early in the morning or late in the afternoon – unless you really need something, because I know you’ll be doing work if it’s needed, and you’ll be enjoying your life if it’s needed! You can sed me any text messages with great deals you find that you think I should be aware of!