6 Ways Not to Treat a Speaker at Your Event!

I’m just getting ready to kick off the spring conference season and I’ve already had a handful of reminders of how not to treat someone who you are trusting to come to speak to your audience! It always amazes me how some conference organizers get this completely right and some fail massively!

Here are a few things you shouldn’t do:

1. Limit the conference pass to one day the speaker will be speaking. 

Really, you are asking me to come to speak at your conference, but then you are only going to give me access to your conference the one day you actually have me speaking? I think you’re missing the boat on what I might bring to the other days by having me there, plus you look super cheap and petty.

2. Only paying for one night of lodging. 

So, I’m coming from a snowy climate and you are now asking me to gamble that I’ll actually make it to your event. I can come the day before to ensure I’ll be there, but then you have me speak at 4 pm so I can’t possibly get a fight out, and now I have to pay for a room for an extra night on my own? Again, if you can’t afford two nights lodging for a speaker, you probably can’t afford to put on a conference!

3. Put limits on expenses that are so under market you are now turning me into a spendthrift to attend your event. 

It’s at minimum a $50 Uber ride from the airport to your venue, but you put in the contract a maximum of $35 for transportation from the airport. Or the only restaurant within walking distance is the hotel restaurant where the cheapest meal will be $40, but your limit is $25. Look, I don’t want to kill you on big expenses, but I also don’t want to pack my own lunch to make this work!

4. Give me a gift that is almost impossible to bring onto a plane. 

Okay, this sounds like I’m a pompous ass, right! Tim is complaining about a gift!?! But, if you give me a cutting board the size of Texas to bring home, I totally love the thought, but know that thing is never coming home with me! It’s not that I don’t love you did this, and it’s not generous, it’s that logistically it’s just a pain.

5. Don’t have diet Mt. Dew. 

Okay, this one is a bit personal but I don’t drink coffee and you want me coming in hot with the audience. Fully caffeinated, and shot out of a cannon!  “Would you like a bottle of water?” Nope! I’d like an IV drip of diet Dew!

6. Put them in a room that isn’t commensurate with the size of their audience.

Hey, we are so thankful for you to come to speak at our conference. To show you we put you in a room that holds 1,000 people, but we know only 50 will show up to see your session. Ugh! This is the worst ever for a speaker. To see hundreds of empty seats is defeating. It’s best to make the rooms smaller, have it standing room only, and the size of the room is a third the size. I don’t care about the size of the room, I care about how full the room is!

I’m a speaker and I hold events, and I understand the struggle of running an event and trying to make everyone happy. It’s next to impossible, but sometimes I think many of us aren’t even trying, or we care so much about the profitability of the event we start to treat people poorly.

The best events treat their speakers like a valuable commodity they want to return. How do we leave you with such a positive impression that you want to come back and you’ll tell your friends they should attend? That’s really the key. It doesn’t have to be about spending a bunch more money, but just making sure the speakers aren’t being put out of their way to perform their best at your event!

Why Do You Go To Work So Early?

Cooper: You know Dad you don’t have to go to work so early.

Me: Yes I do, someone has to pay the bills, put food on the table, keep the lights on.

Cooper: Yeah, I guess you’re right.

Me: (internal voice) – he’s probably right.

This was a conversation my youngest son and I had a few years ago. We are both early risers, so he and I have spent many mornings up before the rest of the family.

I like getting to the office early for a couple of reasons. It’s usually quiet, not a lot of distractions, so you can get a lot done, and, personally, I just perform better in the morning. I’m more productive early.

The reality is there are a few that I work with that are like that, but I find a bigger majority is probably not as early risers as I might be if given the choice. Therein lies the real issue, “given the choice”. If you were given the choice to start work at let’s say 7 am or so, or start work at 9 am or so, which do you choose?

I’ve always thought it was silly that high schools start classes, for teens, at 7 – 7:30 am. Teens have growing bodies and developing brains, why not let them sleep in and start school at 9:30 am or so? It truly makes zero sense, if we are actually trying to what’s best for children….but I digress…

What about the modern workplace? What time should work start?

I think for the most part, in environments that can manage this, we should allow workers the flexibility to start when they feel they’ll be most productive. If you’re an early riser, great, get in here and kill it. If you like to stay up late watching Netflix and roll out of bed at 9 am, awesome, get in here and do your thing.

It seems easy enough! So, why doesn’t this happen as much as it should?

The early risers don’t think the late risers really put in the hours they should. I come in at 7 am and I leave at 5 pm, I put in 9 hours. You come in at 9 am and you leave at 6 pm, you only put in 8 hours. It’s not fair! Honestly, this is really the main argument and why so many organizations still force employees to arrive at basically the same time!

It’s back to good old fashion clock watching!

The reality is, in a modern workplace, we should care less about hours and more about what actually gets done. If it takes you nine hours to get done what it takes me seven hours to get done, that’s a ‘you’ problem, not a ‘me’ problem. To make this happen, though, we have to have great measures of performance and hold people accountable to those measures.

Ugh, that’s difficult, let’s just stick to making everyone work the same amount of hours at the same time, that’s so much easier…

 

Are you a “People Person”?

I was listening to an executive the other day talk about what he needed in an employee. Of course, there were the job skills and competencies, formal education was one, and then that magical phrase came, “Oh, and the candidates better be a ‘people person’!”

A People Person.

What the living hell does that even mean?

A People Person: A person who enjoys and is particularly good at interacting with others. 

Oh, so like a normal person who isn’t an asshole?

The skill of being “A People Person” might be the most over-valued skill of all time. And not because it’s not important, not one wants you to hire an asshole, but because have you ever met someone who when asked said, “You know, I’m just not A People Person!” No! You haven’t! Everyone, from the beginning of time, says they are A People Person!

The reality is, we ask for it because we know the truth, most people don’t enjoy interacting with others. We put up with idiots we run into every day, some of us are better at than others, no profession really does better than another.

In HR, we like to say, “We the People Person People”, but I find it’s actually the opposite. Most HR pros I run into might have the worst People Person skills, but they are paid to do a job, so put on the act fairly well. Once in a while, you find that true kind soul who seems, almost naively, to get along with everyone. “Oh that Mark, he’s a stinker, but you know he once opened a door for me, he’s good people!” Those people might be only real people persons in the world.

I’ve been labeled A People Person in my career. The reality is I’m an inch deep and a mile wide in terms of my interest, so I just have a skill of finding those few things I have in common with people I meet, so conversation comes easy for me when I meet new people. But, I dislike people at the same rate as others. I would consider myself as much of an asshole as most people, I might just hide it better at the right times.

Maybe that’s the true real skill of A People Person. Not being an asshole at the wrong time. Or at least limiting those times you’re an asshole.

Here’s the thing: The next time you hear someone say or ask for A People Person, just smile and chuckle a bit on the inside, because what they are really saying is “I just want someone who isn’t that much of an asshole” but saying “A People Person” sounds so much more professional!

 

The Best of 2019! The Judy Rules!

I’m on a holiday break. Boys are home, we’re going on a trip. So, I’ve put together a Best of 2019 post list for you to enjoy. I’ll be back after the holidays with new stuff and some cool announcements for 2020! This post was written in Feb. 2019 after my Mom’s passing – such a great read!

For those who don’t know my mother passed away unexpectedly late last week and earlier this week, I gave her eulogy. Thank you to the hundreds of friends who reached out to me. I completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support.

For those who don’t know my mother started the business, I run today, HRU Technical Resources, and was a big part of the business for forty years. Click on this link and take a look at the picture of my Mom – that was taken the first week she started the company. She was 32 years old!

As you can imagine, as a son, I never in a million years thought of giving a eulogy to my own mother, and the woman I’ve worked for, for nearly two decades. At work, she was Judy, at home, she was Mom. Growing up, I’m sure my boys were very confused!

She was the queen of rules and so when I sat down to write the eulogy I came up with the Rules that I think symbolized her life the best. I wanted to share because I think there’s learning in them for all of us. Enjoy:

Rule #1: It only costs a little more to go first class.

So, she told me she stole this from my Poppi (my grandfather). And for those who travel, you actually know this is far from true! It costs a ton more to go first class!

But she said this all the time, and for her, it really meant if you’re going to do something, do it right, do it “first-class”. No one wants second-class, so if you have the time and resources, go all the way.

It’s really a great way to live your life. First-class doesn’t mean the most expensive. For Judy, it was more of how you made others feel and what experience you could give them. When the grandkids came to visit, she wanted them to feel special, she wanted them to have a first-class experience.

Rule #2 – You have to say Yes to adventure.

Judy was fearless! When she was younger she road motorcycles, water skied, did all kinds of crazy stuff. She wanted to live on the edge and experience things. We have pictures of her riding jet skis, snowmobiles, mopeds, etc. She loved speed.

She also loved to travel and see all kinds of places – mostly in the U.S. She often said that there were so many places to see in the U.S., she couldn’t see flying all over the world, when she still had so many great places to see right here at home.

Judy was that person who was pushing you do stuff you probably didn’t want to do, and she was such a great salesperson, you usually ended up doing it!

Rule #3 – Call them again.

I remember coming into her office one day when I first started working as a recruiter for her. I had called an entire file of resumes and no one wanted the job I had to fill. I went in and said, no one wants this job, I called every single one, I don’t know what to do next.

She simply looked at me and said, “Call them all, again!”

But I already called them! Are you listening to me!

Yep – call them again.

So, I leave, pissed off, and go back to my desk and I’m like what the heck am I going to do calling all these guys again. But I did it. I called them again, and I’m like, “I’m sorry, I know I just called you, but I really need to find someone for this job. Is there anything you can do to help me?” And guess what, they did!?

Judy knew if I called them again and asked them in a different way, or asked them different questions, they all had some piece of knowledge that would help me. I didn’t do it the first time. I only asked them the one question – do you want this job. They didn’t. But Judy knew they knew someone who might or someone who knew someone, etc.

While you would think this is only a recruiter’s story it isn’t. It’s a life story. It’s about getting something positive out of every interaction you have. Yes, they had something I needed, and if I could give them something they needed, it would most likely work out for both of us.

Rule #4 – People have no idea how successful they can be until you push them out of their comfort zone.

This was more of a core philosophy of Judy’s then a rule!  Judy saw something in most people that they didn’t see in themselves.

She really didn’t know anything else. If she knew you, and she cared about you, she was going to push you past a point you felt comfortable with. What she knew in her soul was that each of us had the ability to be successful, but the vast majority of us are unwilling to push ourselves to the point of being uncomfortable.

So many people hated my Mom for doing this. They thought she was a tyrant! But some actually had that lightbulb moment afterward and got it. “You know, I never would have reached this level if it wasn’t for Judy pushing me beyond a point that I never thought I could reach!”

I think this is what she enjoyed most out of running a company. She LOVED to see people succeed beyond a point they never thought they could achieve. There was no greater joy for her. Even beyond her own success, what she really wanted was to see those who she cared about succeed.

Rule #5 – Only you can decide what attitude you have. No one else can choose that for you.

My mom was mostly a positive person. If she caught herself feeling down, she would force herself back to positive. If those around her were negative, she would get very irritated by that and work to get them to be positive.

Without knowing it, she was actually using a very good psychological trick. Have you ever watched a video of a baby laughing? The pure joy of that. No matter what attitude you’re in, you can’t help but to smile or even laugh yourself.

Judy knew that even if she wasn’t feeling positive, if she made herself be positive, it would actually change her brain chemistry and she would start to feel positive, and once she was feeling positive, she would be positive.

It seems too simplistic to work, but it works! Turns out, if you want to be positive, just start acting positive and pretty soon positive stuff will start happening!

Rule #6 – You don’t need a man for anything, unless there’s a car door, then you need a man to open your car door!

Remember when they were full-service gas stations!? The guys would come out and pump your gas why you stayed in your car. Clean your windows, etc. Now everything is self-service.

When self-service gas stations first came into vogue – Judy would drive up and just sit there and wait. Eventually, someone guy would get out of his car behind her and come up to her window and ask if something was wrong. She would say No, and hand him $20 dollars telling him to fill it up! And they would!

Don’t get me wrong – my Mom loved men. She loved being chased by men. She loved them getting her flowers and gifts. She loved them taking her to dinner and dancing. She loved the game. But it was a game for her. There were very few things in life she needed from a man, and she loved that feeling!

Rule #7 – If you force me to make an immediate decision, you’re going to get an emotional decision. If you give me time to contemplate this decision, you’ll get a much better decision.

This rule saved my relationship with my Mom/my Boss. For those who don’t know. My mom fired me. She fired me because I was young, and stupid, and full of fire and emotion (thankfully she hired me back a decade later!). I forced her to make decisions at the moment, and Judy did not like to be forced to do anything.

Upon my re-hire, many years later, we sat down and had some really great conversations and learned how to communicate with each other, and I learned this was something she actually needed. Judy was street smart, she wasn’t book smart. So, many of the things I wanted to do, as the business evolved were complex and she needed time to think about them and understand them.

If I gave her time, she almost always came back and we would make a better decision. Sometimes we don’t have the time, but if you do, give it and let the person do some thinking on it.

Rule #8 – If you look unsuccessful, you’re most likely going to be unsuccessful.

My mom hated casual Fridays!

She wanted all of us to wear suits and be clean-shaven and smell good. Wear a gold watch and drive a Cadillac, and that car better be clean, inside and out.

Now, you might look at this as old school thinking, but what she knew was it wasn’t about you. It was about how others view you. We all have a choice of who we work with. Do you want to work with a slob or someone who took the time and care to make themselves look great for you?

The world changes – but this still holds true. Why the fashion of the day changes and the world has become more casual in general. We are still drawn to people who have that look like they have their shit together. Especially, if we are going to be spending some money with them!

Rule #9 – When in doubt, laugh.

Something most people don’t know, my Mom loved laughing! She loved watching stand-up comedians, going to comedy clubs, watching comedy movies. Anything that could make her laugh, she was all in.

That’s where I come in.

I truly believe God put me on this earth to not only make my Mom laugh but to make all of these women in my life laugh (My grandmother is the matriarch of our family, my Mom was one of five daughters and my sister was the first grandchild, I was the second). Their lives haven’t always been easy. Quite frankly sometimes life sucked and was hard. There will probably be some hard times to come. Today is a hard time.

But, when I get them around the kitchen table and we start telling stories, I can get them laughing so hard they are literally crying. My mom loved to laugh and my gift to her was being able to make her laugh so often throughout her life.

This great big dance we do in life comes with some hard times and great times, and all along the way, when in doubt, laugh at it all!

 

Where Does Corporate Logo-wear Go to Die?

This is the very first blog post I ever wrote! It was 4-12-09 over at Fistful of Talent. I just got back from HR Tech, this past week, where I was wearing a bunch of corporate logo-wear (see the pic above wearing at Patagonia vest from Candidate.ID) and it made me think for as far as I’ve come, I haven’t really come that far at all! 😉 

If you are like me, you’ve had a job or two in your career, and each stop along the way you pick up a few extra pieces for your wardrobe that you wouldn’t have necessarily picked out on your own.  These pieces usually are of the polo shirt variety, but they need not stop there as I’ve been given dress shirts, t-shirts, baseball hats, jackets, watches, sweatshirts – to date no undergarments – Thank you!

In almost every situation, these items were encouraged to be worn on casual Friday’s (check on Punk
Rock HR’s post on Casual Fridays).  My question is once you leave an organization, what do you do with this corporate logo wear?  Also, where does it all go?

I have to admit that most of my previous corporate wear went to Goodwill and I imagine (in my own little fantasy world) that somehow it all gets funneled into the international Goodwill community.  From there I know that there is some guy in need in West Africa wearing my “Applebee’s  #1 HR Peoplestacks 2007” jacket, not knowing what Applebee’s is or what he is wearing such a limited edition item.  I can say that I’ve never seen anyone locally wearing my gear, so at the very least I appreciate Goodwill for not re-selling my stuff local!  Can you imagine seeing someone at the movies wearing your shirt – how do you start that conversation “Hey – that was me – I’m the Applebee’s Peoplestack Guy!”

So, what’s the point?

I have to admit, it is usually us in HR who has this bright idea to reward our people with logo merchandise.  On one level we believe our associates will appreciate the gear and having the ability to promote the company they so proudly work for.  On another level, we are probably missing the boat completely, especially when looking at generational differences in terms of rewards and recognition.

I do believe Baby Boomers and the older Gen X set probably do feel appreciated when getting some of these rewards (assuming these aren’t the only rewards).  But, I would dare say, Gen Y probably doesn’t view this as reward and recognition and actually might take this as a negative now feeling like they have to or should wear these items at work.

Rule of Thumb:  Save your money and challenge your department to come up with other ways to reward and recognize.  That being said, I’m wearing my Careerbuilder.com Logo Nike golf shirt right now which just goes to show you, HR vendors need to go high-end to get into my closet!

(BTW – none of this has changed. If you want to get in my closet it better be branded swag! Shout out to Smashfly, OC Tanner, and Saba for great branded swag this year!) 

 

How can a HR vendor standout in a sea of competition? #SHRM19

Just flying back from the SHRM National Conference. This SHRM conference was the biggest ever. Over 20,000 HR and TA pros and leaders all in one location. Thousands of others from vendors and support staff. It was a bit crazy and awesome all at the same time.

When you go into the expo of SHRM National (and other giant conferences like the HR Technology Conference in Vegas in October) it can be a bit overwhelming. Not only for the attendees but for the vendors as well. How the heck are you supposed to connect with the people you want? Both sides, by the way, have this problem.

Vendors only want to connect with a small segment of those attending, their actual buyers. Attendees also only want to connect with a small segment within the expo, those products, and services they actually have a need for. The current design of expos at large conferences doesn’t help either side.

Do you know why Home Depot and Lowes build across the street from each other? If someone wants to buy home repair type of items it makes it super convenient for them to be so close. One location doesn’t have what you need, the other might and it’s right across the street.

What if expos put all the same types of tech within the same areas? Need a recruiting tool? Go over to the Recruiting section of the expo and you can see all of the products, solutions, and vendors in one place. Need performance management tech, go over to the performance management selection area, etc.

Seems like this would actually be a better design for both sides, yet we don’t do this because of traditional sales strategies of the conference community. How much are you willing to pay for prime spots and how long have you been coming? Thus we end up with this scatter blot of an expo floor with people wandering around aimlessly collecting bad swag.

I don’t think any conference will change anytime soon, but sometimes you just have to throw out ideas to the universe and see what happens.

So, how can you stand out in a world of expo chaos?

  1. You can’t just sit in your booth and wait for people to find you. Hire some “interns” for the week and have them moving around the expo dressed up in a way people will take notice and want to find your booth.
  2. Give an email, direct mail offer so enticing that people have to show up to your booth. Come to our booth, do a 20-minute demo, and we’ll give you a $25 gift card to whatever. People who aren’t interested in you will not waste twenty minutes for $25 bucks so the lead gen is good and cheap.
  3. Zig when others are zagging. You can have the most expensive, and brightest booth on the planet or you can do something totally different. I’ve seen companies just put down astroturf and fill it with puppies and their space was full all day. I have an idea that you could go buy a bunch of really high-end women’s shoes. Shoes that every woman is interested in trying on, but in reality could never afford. You basically use your booth a shoe store, but you aren’t selling them, you’re just giving them the experience of trying them on and seeing if they would actually want these for real, without the stress of going into these high-end stores. Your salespeople turn into old-school shoe salespersons and have great conversations. In the end, the women trying on shoes can register to win the shoes they like the most. You would have a line into your booth for the entire show. (partner with Zappos or something and probably can get the shoes at cost for the try-on experience)
  4. Celebrity guest and photo opportunity. You would be amazed at how cheap you can get someone to come to your booth for an hour. Again, partner this with an ‘if you demo, you get to get your photo at the meet and greet” of this celebrity. It might cost you another $10-20K, but if that turns into an additional 200 demos, you win! We are in a world where we are all enamored by celebrities.
  5. Make it extremely clear what you do. I can walk by 90% of booths and have absolutely no idea what you do and why I would want to buy your product. In big expo environments, less than 10% of the audience is your potential buyer, so you can’t miss anyone, and if one of those buyers walks past your booth because it’s not 100% clear what you do, you lost. No, we don’t know your brand. Just tell us!

I know you already spend a tremendous amount getting the booth, the swag, and having your entire team travel out to the event, but if you don’t attract buyers, all of that expense is just a waste! In expo lead gen, you are either all in or you’re just burning a giant pile of cash.

The best booth experience is one where you are only attracting the buyers you want and not spending half your time handing out stuffed animals to people who don’t know you and will never buy your stuff. I know it’s a risk not doing what everyone else is doing, but great marketing is risky.

5 Usable Excuses Not to Attend a Co-worker’s Wedding!

I had one of my Recruiters ask for some advice this week. It wasn’t work advice, it was a little more personal.  She had told a person she would attend the wedding of a family member with them but was having second thoughts. It was one of those Holy Crap moments! I don’t really like this person that much, and I don’t want to go to a family wedding with him and send the wrong message.

So, what was my advice?  It started out pretty straight. Tell them the truth!  “Look, dude, I’m just not that into you, and the last place on earth I want to be on Saturday evening is sitting at a table with your parents and Aunt Betty with them thinking “ours” is next!”

As you can imagine, that wasn’t going to do.  Not that she didn’t want to tell him the truth, but she also didn’t want to hurt him. She was looking for a softer way to cut him loose.  You know! A how-do-I-get-him-to-not-want-me-to-go excuse – like he can’t stand my breath or I have hammer toes, or something!?

Now, she was truly diving into my end of the pool!  You want a “Fake Reason” why you can’t go!  YES! I’m in HR. I’m in Recruiting. I’m the king of fake excuses for why people don’t get the job!  I’m on it!

So, here’s the first 3 I gave her:

  1. You have VD! (Ok, I know this is strong right out of the gate – but let’s face the facts – most dudes will run from this!  Funny Fact: She is a millennial and had no idea what “VD” was! I’m old! Using WWII references like it was cool 2015 slang!)
  2. Your Dog has Cancer! (Sketchy I know, but girls and their pets…this one might work.  Funny Fact: Her dog actually did have Eye Cancer but was cured, so not technically lying…)
  3. You have to Babysit for a Co-worker! (Now this one is fraught with problems, guys have gotten this one before and they might pull a. “Oh, I’ll come and help!” then you’re stuck and have to find some brat to babysit for the night. Funny Fact: She was like “Oh, hell No! I have a Real Job, why would I babysit!”)

All of this brainstorming got me thinking of how I’ve personally gotten out of going to Co-workers Weddings that I didn’t want to go to.  Here is my Top 5 Excuses to  Miss a Co-worker’s Wedding:

  1. I’ll be on Vacation! This is good because you usually find out about the wedding of a co-worker way ahead of time. All you have to do is actually plan for this and take your vacation during the weekend of the wedding. Far, far away from the actual wedding.
  2. My kid has a sports tournament out of town that weekend.  A little sketchy, but it is really hard for them to verify you really didn’t have a sports tournament, and let’s face it, I’m going to my kid’s sports game (the 127th of this year) vs. your once in a lifetime moment.
  3. I came down with the “Flu”!This one nobody believes, but it’s the go-to excuse because everyone uses it and it has been internationally certified as an acceptable lie to get out of anything.
  4. My Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa/Great Aunt Betty/etc. fell and are at the hospital. I needed to go see them. They needed my help. It was serious.  Let’s face old people fall. In fact, it might be the only thing they have left to do. You hear about old people falling every day. This is a very usable excuse in a pinch because it’s somewhat believable and old people don’t remember later on when someone asks “How are you doing after your fall?”, and they’ll go “better” and then complain about their aches and pains.
  5. I’ve got another Wedding that same day! Again, believable, but what you’re really saying to the person is “I’ve ranked you lower than someone else in my life. I hope you understand, but I didn’t buy you a place setting off your registry!”

What is your top excuse for not going to a co-worker’s wedding?

College Athletes: You better have some experience!

My oldest son is so close to being off the payroll and graduating college I can almost taste it! Because he transferred schools after his first two years he has a couple of classes to make up, but he has a great internship this summer, so he’s going back to school in the fall to finish up his senior year.

He plays college baseball, so a bunch of his senior teammates in the same grad class as he did graduate this past weekend. I got to speak with a bunch of these parents who are now excited for their kids to find jobs. You know we all love to hire college athletes, right!?! Right?

Here’s the thing. College athletes work their butts off and put in more hours than you can ever imagine between their sport and their classes. The work ethic. The competitiveness. Etc. Is why so many employers search out college athletes to hire.

But, with all of that comes one big problem. Most college athletes use the summer to get themselves ready for the next season. Becoming a starter takes place because of the extra work you put in on the offseason. So, we find a ton of college athletes don’t actually have much on their resume upon graduation, except for the fact they played a college sport, which now that they are in the real work world has very little value for most employers.

I get it, we are sports obsessed in America. We think little Johnny and little Suzy are the next Olympians and we spend enormous amounts of time and money chasing these dreams. I’ve personally spent more time and money than probably 99% of parents out there!

If I take off my Dad hat and put on my employer hat, this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Great Enterprise Rent-A-Car found success hiring college athletes to work as Manager in Training. By the way, that job sucks! But, if you can make it through the first couple of years, you can make a decent career out of it. But do you think anyone is going to college believing that they want to be a Manager in Training for a rental car company?

I look at the resumes of so many college athletes, as compared to non-college athletes and there is one glaring difference, and that difference isn’t one was an athlete and one wasn’t. It’s that the non-athlete, many times, has 3-4 internships with real companies, doing real jobs, getting real experience. That has real value to employers.

I Love that my son got the experiences he did in college athletics, but he was also smart enough to say I’m willing to give up training all summer, to get internship experience because, in the end, I’m not getting drafted. He’s in the minority. Most either work jobs that have nothing to do with getting a career, or don’t work at all, and then upon graduation are surprised to find out they aren’t as sought out as they were lead to believe.

So, if your kid is playing a college sport here’s my advice:

  1. Unless they are high-level D1 and have a legitimate shot at going pro and making real money, don’t let a college coach make your kid feel like they have to use their entire offseason to keep playing their sport.
  2. Get a real internship, at least one, before graduation that is in line with your degree.
  3. If you bought into the hype and the pressure and your kid now has no experience in the real world, it’s never too late to go and do an internship, even for free, to get real experience. Even after graduation.

Here’s the reality. When a hiring manager has an opening, especially for entry-level grads, they will see resumes with candidates who have multiple internships with big brands, and those candidates come across a very sexy! They will also see resumes of candidates who were athletes in college, and they will be intrigued. Almost always, the candidate with real-world experience will kick the ass of an athlete without experience in an interview.

Have fun. Play sports. Also, get some experience!

Are you measuring the Intelligence of your candidates? You should be!

Hire for Smarts. Train for Skill. It doesn’t sound right, does it?

The old adage is “Hire for attitude, train for skill”. The reality is, we probably have done this wrong for a long time. We hire for attitude, thinking we can train the person to do what we need if they just have the right attitude. Then Timmy turns out to be dumb and we can’t train him to do anything!

Lazlo at Google tried to tell us this, but we didn’t really listen in his “Work Rules” book. Scientist have been trying to tell us for years as well, that if you don’t have the ability to watch someone actually do the job you need them to do, the best bet across the board is to hire the smartest person you can, that actually wants to do the job you have available.

Smart + Desire to do the job = a pretty good bet on a hire. 

A new study just out doubles down on this concept that hiring smart people will actually give you an employee who is also more cooperative:

Our experimental method creates two groups of subjects who have different levels of certain traits, such as higher or lower levels of Intelligence, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness, but who are very similar otherwise. Intelligence has a large and positive long-run effect on cooperative behavior…Note that agreeable people do cooperate more at first, but they don’t have the strategic ability and consistency of the higher IQ individuals in these games.  Conscientiousness has multiple features, one of which is caution, and that deters cooperation, since the cautious are afraid of being taken advantage of.  So, at least in these settings, high IQ really is the better predictor of cooperativeness, especially over longer-term horizons.

The great thing about intelligence is it has nothing to do with actual educational success. A person can be a high school drop out, but still, be intelligent. You might also see a number of bachelor degreed individuals who test fairly low on intelligence. So, whether you are hiring for a low-skill job, or a high-skilled job, intelligence is a fairly good predictor in hiring, as compared to things like personality.

I would love to see a large organization, someone who does thousands of hires per year, actually measure the intelligence of those who term from their employment! We haven’t seen this, because of the obvious difficulty of getting a past employee to take an intelligence test, but I think the right organization/research partner could make this happen. I theorize that when taking a look at performance and tenure, you would see lower intelligent employees performing lower and having less tenure than those employees who have higher intelligence.

Cognitive assessments are actually fairly cheap and quick, and some organizations are using gamification to measure cognitive ability of applicants as an application pre-screener currently.

I have a bias against personality profiles. I think they are mostly witchcraft and sorcery. In my career, I just haven’t seen them consistently predict better hires during the interview screening process across all levels and kinds of candidates. So, I know I have that bias. On the other hand, I’ve seen cognitive ability raise the level of an organization when used consistently over time.

What do you think?

The First Question Every Leader Needs to Ask Themselves!

I’ve been blogging now for ten years. Writing every day for eight years. If you go around writing and telling people you know something about something, guess what? They’re going to ask you to tell them about something, specifically as it relates to their circumstance.

So, I get asked my advice quite a bit about talent and HR issues people are facing.

There is a bucket of questions I get asked that fall into the same type of category.  These questions all have to do with how do we ‘fix’ something that isn’t working well in their HR and/or Talent shops.  How do we get more applicants? How do we get managers to develop their people? How do we fix our crazy CEO? Etc.

I used to go right into how I would solve that problem if I was in their shoes.  Five-minute solutions! I don’t know anything about you or your situation, but let me drop five minutes of genius on you for asking! It’s consulting at its worst! But it’s fun and engaging for someone who came to see me talk about hugging for an hour.

I’ve begun to change my approach, though, because I knew as they knew, they weren’t going back to their shops and doing what I said.  The problem with my five minutes of genius was it was ‘my’ five minutes, not theirs.  It was something I could do, but probably not something they could do or would even want to do based on their special circumstances.

Now, I ask this one question: Do you really want to get better?

Right away people will quickly say, “Yes!”  Then, there is a pause and explanation, and sometimes from this, we get to a place where they aren’t really sure they really want to get better.  That’s powerful. We all believe that ‘getting better’ is the only answer, but it’s not.  Sometimes, the ROI isn’t enough to want to get better. Staying the same is actually alright.

We believe we have to fix something and we focus on it, when in reality if it stays the same we’ll be just fine.  We’ll go on living and doing great HR work.  It just seemed like the next thing to fix, but maybe it actually is fine for now, and let’s focus on something else.

Many times HR and Talent leaders will find that those around them really don’t want to get better, thus they were about to launch into a failing proposition, and a rather huge frustrating experience. Better to probably wait, until everyone really wants to get better and move in that same direction.

So, before you go out to fix the world, your world, ask yourself one very important question: Do you, they, we, really want to get better?  I hope you can get a ‘yes’ answer! But if not, the world will still go on, and so will you, and you’ll be just fine!