Free Cell Phone Headsets

Cingular and Avis are providing free cellular phone ear buds at 28 Avis airport locations, now through April 7, 2004 while supplies last.
Find a list of locations here via Dr Mercola
Prepare Your Candidates For Interviews (Very practical)

Candidates, do this:

1. Write down 4 or 5 strengths and 1 or 2 weaknesses. Write a short, one-paragraph example of some accomplishment you've achieved using each strength.

2. For weaknesses, write up a specific situation where you've turned that weakness into a strength, or have overcome the weakness.

3. In an interview, answers should be about 2 minutes long. More than 3 minutes is boring. And you must give examples! Most candidates talk in generalities (yawn). But only real, specific evidence is convincing.

4. List your 2 most significant accomplishments. One should be an individual accomplishment, and the other a team accomplishment. Describe each in 2 to 3 paragraphs. Include examples of your strengths in both descriptions.

These write-ups will allow for better recall of this important information.

5. The interview should focus on a discussion of major accomplishments. If the you think the interview is going nowhere, ask: "From what I understand, this job involves (key functions). If this is correct, could you explain it a bit more? Then I can give you some examples of projects I've worked on that are comparable."

6. At the end of the interview, tell the interviewer that you are interested in the job, and would like to know what the next steps are. If the next steps seem unclear, ask if your accomplishments seem relevant to the job.

Understanding a gap allows you to fill it in with an example of a related accomplishment. Sometimes you have to ask for the job to understand what points you need to get across.

7. Recruiters, you can send the candidate's notes to hiring manager along with her resume and your formal assessment. Suggest that the manager discuss these two write-ups during the first 20 minutes of the interview. Interviews are nerve-wracking. This gives them something to get working on right away. And that helps both parties to calm down.

Find more here
Don't Punish Error ?

Failures are easier to recover from if they are spotted early on, when they are small. And, organizations can do a lot to encourage their members to face up to failure.

There is an interesting story about Wernher von Braun. When a Redstone missile went out of control during prelaunch testing, von Braun sent a bottle of champagne to an engineer who confessed that he might have inadvertently short-circuited the missile. An investigation revealed that the engineer was right, which meant that expensive redesigns could be avoided.

You don't get a lot of admissions like that in organizations today. But all it takes is one such story to make an individual in the company buck up and say, "Hey, these folks are serious about facing up to failures, so I'm going to take a chance and speak up." [Note: there was minor editing in the above]
Find more here via Fouroboros

If you have a top-notch performer who acknowledges error, you aren't going to fire him. But what if it's an average guy? I'd say he's headed out the door. So, you can never institutionalize acknowledgement of error because there is no way to insulate it from negative consequences without making a commitment to hold on to dead wood.

Perhaps, the plea-bargaining model would apply. You say to your employees, "Listen, if you goof up, we're going to find out in the end. But if you fess up right off the bat we'll take that into consideration and give you some kind of favourable package if we decide to let you go."

Yesterday, a blog I was reading noted that the old practice of resignation from a senior post in response to error is no longer adhered to. Bush's cabinet, for instance, has remained the same in spite of the failure to prevent the Sept 11 attack. The blogger said that this makes sense since the last thing you want in the middle of an emergency is the loss of an experienced hand. (Though some might label it otherwise).
How Encouragement Boosts Performance

Frequent verbal encouragement leads to greater maximum effort in a treadmill test than when no encouragement is given or when the encouragement is infrequent. The reasons?

1. Dissociation: Talking to the participants might have distracted them from discomfort.

2. Reinforcement: Encouragement statements (eg Excellent !, Good job !) can be positive reinforcers.

3. Obedience to Commands: Encouragements that sound like commands might have triggered automatic obedience.

Find more here
How To Grade Competence

Here's a 5-layer scale to grade effectiveness.

1. Weak - Incompetent or ineffective.
2. Adequate - Meets basic needs, but requires extra support or supervision.
3. Qualified - Meets all expectations without outside support or extra supervision.
4. Well-Qualified - Consistently exceeds expectations.
5. Exceptional - Will always go beyond expectations in spite of special obstacles and challenges.

A manager who spends most of her time managing the "1s" and "2s" will find herself cleaning up their mistakes and wondering where her time goes. She should fix the "1s" or lose them and move the "2s" to "3s" if she can. Then she'll have a team delivering what it's intended to without a lot of management intervention.

Can you think of better names for these five categories?

Find more here
One Tough Sales Guy

Bill Krueger loves it when people ask if his fee is negotiable; it means they want to buy. He tells them: "If the Palestinians and Israelis can negotiate, I'm sure we can, too." This means that it's a fair question but one that won't get them anywhere.

He answers confrontational questions with a simple yes or no. No explanation. It's his way of saying: "This is me, take it or leave it. I'm not going to jump through hoops to make your stupid remarks look good."

Here's some tough guy tips:

1. Don't be too humble. They'll think you're a loser.

2. Make sure your client knows who's boss. If he wants to customize, let him go to a tailor.

3. Don't be afraid of interrupting. The main thing is to maintain control. People are intimidated by strong people so you have to take the reins.

4. Practice. The more you get in front of people and speak, the better you will be.

Find more here
Laugh With Dr Phil

I found the comments on Dr Phil at Jump The Shark simply hilarious.

Dr Phil tells deadbeats, morons, unemployed trash, abusers, cry babies, where to go. Instead of crying with these losers and saying "wah wah wah," he tells them point blank, "This is your problem, only you can help yourself." We need more Dr Phils to tell the deadbeats, losers and abusers of this world to stop feeling sorry for themselves and change.

It's fun to see Phil, and his exalted sense of self, lord over his audience of sheep, castigating them for their self-made dilemmas, and then acting puzzled when some cry. It's an uncomfortable freak show of Middle Americans, and I hope it dies a hasty death.

Lots of guys like me hate him because he brainwashes women, which is easy to do when you have a daytime television show. It's a bit troublesome when you have to come home from work or school to find the lady of the house thinking her relationships have gone sour.

Hey Now!!! Why does this joker think he's any better than any other bozo with a PhD in Art History handing out advice like a Pez dispenser. It's like getting counselling from Hank Kingsley.

Correspondence-school physician, heal thyself ! This guy makes me want to hurl. Now put down the tambourine, put down the flowers and get out of the airport.

This is a guy who told a family on the verge of bankruptcy to get rid of their dog, even though their kids were really attached to it. Yeah, because a bag of dog food costs a freakin' pantload at Wal-Mart. Thanks, Dr. F---khead.

Doctor Phil left his testicles in Oprah's purse when he got his own show. I've got other things to worry about than why some loser piece of white trash wants to go on TV to tell the world about her lazy no good cheating husband. To all you losers who watch this buffoon get off your fat Bon Bons and better yourselves. Isn't that what Dr. Phil should really be saying?

Every time he states the obvious the whole audience claps. I could give better advice for free.
Find more here
Hurray For Starbucks !

Regular readers know that I have been complaining endlessly (March 16,18, 20) about the removal of my favourite chairs from my regular Starbucks. Well, today, after I'd given up all hope of their recovery, I entered my favourite morning haunt and found all of them restored. Two have new covers - deep purple (ugh!) - but hey, that's a side issue. I can sit in the two that are wine-coloured. Thank you, somebody. Al, the quiet counterman, says that they took the new chairs to a different store where people didn't sit so long because they weren't very comfortable. Now, if they could only turn down the music and make the coffee hotter...
I've Got Another Security Job

No, it's not on the front desk in a condo.
That's after outsourcing! Here it is, below.

Title: Manager, IT Security & Risk
Location: Toronto
Reports to: Director IT
Direct Reports: 3
Reason for Opening
- an IT audit revealed the need for increased security
- so this role has just been created to fill that gap
Key Responsibilities:
- enhance security policy
- develop security architecture
- implement security architecture
- promote security awareness
- reduce security risks
- manage security breaches
- more of an operational role than strategic one
- key security role in the company
- ground floor opportunity for someone who likes building new things.
Maybe my math is off......

Detroit News had a story yesterday with the title: Headhunter firm builds loyal clients (how's that for an obvious headline?).

The story details a local "executive search" firm unfortunately named "Qualigence' (yuck!). I guess they took Quality and Intelligence and put them together!

Lisa: Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use
the same word for "crisis" as they do for "opportunity"?
Homer: Yes! Cris-atunity.

Anyway according to the article the firm did 2600 searches last year. That is a hell of a lot for a 35 person firm - approximately 75 per person. I don't know about you but as a headhunter I think that is a little bit extreme but then again maybe they are good time managers.

We are also told they have revenues of 6 million.

Now according to my math that is an average fee per assignment of $2307.00. According to the firm they tend to focus on positions in the 30-70k range. But with fees like that they must be either discounting like hell or misleading the intrepid reporter.

Could it be they had a profit of 6 million? That might make a little more sense. If not they should consider honing their negotiation skills. A little work bumping their fees up could make for the same revenue with a lot less assignments to complete.

But hold on! 6 Million was the projected growth for this year which will be a 50% increase over last year. And this year they expect to handle 3500 "assignments". That brings the avg fee to $1714.29!


Now I never was very good at math so if someone thinks my arithmetic is screwy please feel free to point out any errors. But if I'm a headhunter working in house at "Qualigence" I am making just over $800.00 per placement - given the rule of thumb at most firms that the fee is split 50/50 between the house and the consultant.

Is that worth going in to work for??
What is Passion?
1. A kind of fruit.
2. Inside lane of a highway (the passion lane)
3. The energy that comes from bringing more of what you like into what you do. Automatically making you put more of your attention on it.

What is the Passion Core ?
1. Inside of a fruit
2. Something to do with sex.
3. The underlying characteristics of things that turn you on.

If you like taking things from the drawing board into reality, implementing ideas is part of your passion core. If you like sorting things out anal retentiveness (which is often a good thing) is part of your passion core. If you like creating new things, innovation. If you like sitting around yakking....

Some people have more simple, extreme passion cores.

Their obsessions can make them unpleasant to be with when they don't get exactly what they want or boring if you don't share their enthusiasms. But their strong, narrow interests and consequent obsessive behaviour might drive them to greater achievements than people whose natural inclinations are more of a mixed bag.

The latter might envy the achievers because of their success. But, if they thought about it a bit, they would realize that they don't really want to be like the achievers they envy, honour or resent.

Apologies to The Occupational Adventure
Which Job Suits You Best ?

Find out what Chinese Numerology has in store for you.
It's easy. Find it right here.

via Ghost of a Flea
Four Types of Leaders - Leadership and Dominance

I'm continuing the discussion of Nigel Nicholson's take on leadership types from his book, Executive Instinct.

Note: I have modified yesterday's posting (see March 24, below) adding to the description of the Type A Dominant Boss (as suggested by Fouroboros).

What is Leadership
Nicholson defines the leadership role as the position of highest authority within a social group. When he speaks of leaders he is talking about the people in these roles. This includes heads of state, presidents of corporations, division heads and the leaders of some self-governing teams.

There are two leadership drives: the drive to dominance and the drive to status (eminence). Their strengths vary from person to person so that not every leader is the same.

Non-Charismatic Leaders
Charismatic leaders have a great drive for both both dominance and status. But there are non-charismatic leaders too and Nicholson offers the following examples:
- the first-among-equals in a team-based business
- a technician or artist leading by example in a specialized organization
- the organizational publicist running a market-oriented business (?)
- the wise elder of the board overseeing a large long-standing corporation
- the nurturing protector governing a family-type organization
- the war chieftain leading a firm to battle in a tough market

These would seem to be leaders with a higher drive to status than dominance. In Nicholson's terms, Type B Ambitious Professionals .

Dominance is a biological universal among all social animals. The vocabulary of dominance is universal - an upright stance, decisive gestures, strong voice and unflinching gaze. Dominant people also talk more than others (the babble factor).

Great benefits accrue to those with high status and that induces people to desire leadership roles. People who would be leaders try to master the attributes of dominance. For some this come easily but, for others, it is an impossibility. Leaders often inflate their personal presence with trappings that are symbolic representation of their power (eg. a large office).

Within one type, leaders are not all the same
Jeremy of Ensight complains that the list of four leadership types is too narrow. But, Nicholson, does allow for varying strengths of the key leadership drives within different people. And this adds some variability within the different types.

For instance, the Dominant Boss type is clearly seen in romantic grand-standers like Fidel Castro and Lee Iacocca. They are great communicators with strong visions who enjoy running the show. But, the type also includes Robert Goizueta, CEO of Coke. Nicholson calls him a partial Type A.

Robert Goizueta
Goizueta is a more bland personality than Castro. He is independent. He turned down the a chance to take over the family business. Instead, he took a junior technical management job in the local office of a large US firm. And, he did display a single-minded determination to succeed. But that just makes him sounds like an Ambitious Professional. However, when he got the chance to wield power over people and take responsibility as their leader, he seized it.

Jeremy immediately identified himself as the Type B Ambitious Professional and I think that this is correct. But, I also agree with him that he is more complex than that. He doesn't have a lust for power but he still does have a desire to lead - even if he sees that manifesting itself as helping people rather than bossing them around.
Increasing Your Visibility II

Last week I did a post about increasing your visibility (you'll have to scroll to the archives because our permalinks are kinda screwy) to executive recruiters (headhunters). To continue on that theme I want to cover a couple of other ways to increase your visibility.

Firstly - how well are you known in your industry or field? Have you ever Googled yourself? Try it. If you get zero hits you probably have some work to do.

Now you might not be an expert in your chosen field so what do you do? Well firstly start attending conferences and seminars. Sometimes attendees lists are found on the Internet by enterprising recruiters and we are typically more interested in the attendees than the high flying speakers.

Secondly and most important: to what professional associations do you belong? No matter what field you are in there is some type of professional association (sometimes several). Just joining one gets you on the membership directory and headhunters love membership directories!!

But don't just stop at joining an association - get involved. Get on committees help out in events. If you are on the association executive or a committee you will probably be listed on a the website and thus you will be more visible!

Try both of these - and see if your Google hits (and recruiter calls) don't go up.
Four Types of Leader
There are three Core Elements of Leadership :
1. Drive
2. Ability
3. Constitution.

And, there are Two Main Drives:
1. To dominate other people.
2. To achieve eminence (status, reputation) through competition based on some technical gift.

These two drives can be combined in four ways.
And each combination creates a different type of leader.

Type----------------------Dominance Drive------Status Drive
A: Dominant Boss---------------high----------------high
B: Ambitious Professional-----low-----------------high
C: Informal Influencer----------high----------------low
D: Reluctant Leader------------low-----------------low

TYPE A: DOMINANT BOSSES have the desire to dominate plus the desire to achieve through competitive striving. Includes political leaders and many business leaders. Lee Iacocca, Castro, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sam Walton.

TYPE B: AMBITIOUS PROFESSIONALS have little interest in dominance over others. They are leaders because they possess some technical gift. For example, faceless technocrats running investment banks and science-based firms. These gifts can be colourful as in creative people who head up media and arts organizations but have no real interest in managing people.

Also in this group are Tough Achievers who like to compete and win but have no interest in leading people.

Type B's only survive if the business runs on its own through its procedures (the Machine Bureaucracy model). Type B's are also a safe stopgap after a company recovers from a brutalist Type A. Charismatic, extreme A's are often followed by B's who, because they are not so dominance-oriented can be better suited to peace-making .

TYPE C: INFLUENCERS don't want to compete because they fear failure. But their high dominance drive makes them want power so they gravitate to roles in which they have power without responsibility. They can be cheerleaders for the boss or rebellious dissidents who sit on the sidelines working the crowd against him.

They only become leaders if the position is handed to them with little risk attached as in organizations which are run collectively or where the leadership role is underwritten by a higher power.

TYPE D: RELUCTANT LEADERS are people who prefer a safe, rewarding niche free from competition. They become leaders when other types are in short supply or when the leader's role confers little status or power.

They can also come to power via natural succession in a family firm but when they do they are usually awful.

Reluctant leadership is also characteristic of civil service and other bureaucracies in which people are delivered the role via an escalator of tenure.

Another bureaucratic model is the Carousel Principle of leadership rotation: every few years it's your turn whether you want it or not.

From Executive Instinct.
Succession and the Family Firm

Succession exposes the major weakness of family firms.

Since single-mindedness and an inflated ego are often part of the profile that motivates owner-founders, it is very common to find them hanging on too long as head of the firm and then continually interfering from a position semi-retirement.

IBM survived only because Tom Watson Jr. was tough enough to stand up to the tyrannical authority of his father.

Here are some suggestions for owner-bosses.

1. Set a succession time-table and stick to it. Invest your energy in some enterprise outside the firm.

2. Widen the leadership pool beyond immediate family. Don't expect children to share your leadership qualities.

3. Don't look for a clone of yourself. This might be a time for strategic change.

4. Don't grant each child an equal share in the firm. They're not equally capable and their struggles for ascendancy can destroy the firm.

From Executive Instinct.
Toronto Bloggers Meet

Last night, the great Newfoundland blogger, Damian Penny of Daimnation, was in town and some of his fans arranged a meeting of Toronto bloggers at the Drake Hotel. It's a nice place and very popular. The large lounge was completely crowded by the time I got there about 8:15 and started wandering around trying to identify people I'd never met.

I was ready to give up when, through a window in the lobby, I noticed two men and two women standing out on the street carrying books to a bar on a Saturday night. A dead give-a-way I thought but, still, I can be rather shy so I just went over and stood by them hoping to catch some hints as to who they were from their conversation. I didn't get any hints but it actually was Damian and Kathy Shaidle (Relapsed Catholic) and two fans. The meeting eventually took place in the cafe next to the lounge, (there's also a large dining room) and while the cafe promised to be much quieter than the big lounge bar I could often barely make out what the people next to me were saying.

You know, sometimes, fantasy enters reality and it's not as magical as you'd think. It just becomes more real. Online, people are constantly spouting off in interesting ways but in a group of strangers in a noisy bar, I found that, quite typically, I often had little to say and that the conversation was uneven. Debbye from Being American in T.O. had to put up with sitting next to me. Also in my vicinity were Ghost of a Flea, Angua, Mark Wickens and Spinkiller. Next to them were Accordion Guy, David Janes and Rick McGinnis. And, on the other side of me was Michal of tonecluster.

With names like these, you can imagine the introductions. It was like a meeting of super-heroes. "Green Lantern meet The Flash." Or, perhaps, more like "Captain Amazing meet The Shoveler."

Finally, I'll note that this was billed as a Poliblogger Bash and I was the only business blogger there. The only business talk I had was with Spinkiller, an ex-punk who is a very energetic, entrepreneurial kind of guy (who still looks pretty tough even if he has given-up his out-to-there spiky mohawk).

And, oh yeah, Damian expected me to be 21-years-old. Not a compliment considering that he only knows me via my comments on his blog. But, hey, I still like him anyway. And hope to meet everyone again.
Do Recruiters Run Microsoft?

Here's an ad from the Microsoft recruiting site:
Are you a talented recruiter interested in the opportunity to shape Microsoft's future products and policy development...?
It sounds like it, doesn't it? Uh-oh! Wait a sec.
I think you need sailing experience!
In this role, the Recruiter will oversea [sic] and drive executive sourcing plans which will require building a road map for recruiting on niche and complex titles ensuring positions are filled within set time frames.
And, here's the confusion of singular and plural again:
The Recruiter in this role will spend 40% of their time researching competitive landscapes for specific candidate pools....
That's depressing. If Microsoft can't solve that problem I guess no one can! Hear that, Bill? You're in a position to establish numerically-correct, gender-free pronouns for the whole damn world! So, here's an ad I'd like to see:
Grammarian Wanted. The Challenge: change the way English is spoken in the next historical epoch. Because of its strategic role in the world today, Microsoft is well-positioned to create new models for the way English is spoken in the post-feminist era and, via translation, the way people speak in every language in the world!
No, it's not crazy!

By the way, the recruiters who run Microsoft have their own blog. You can find it here. (via Ensight)
Recruiting via Networking: Some Rules

1. Backtrack: Ask yourself who would know the person you need. Network with that person. A few names are all you need to get started.

2. Target 3 names from each person.

3. Don't ask for people who are looking: You want former coworkers, bosses or subordinates the person thought were great.

4. Ask for other referrers - people who might know someone in addition to people who would be candidates themselves.

5. Do a mini-reference check. Find out why the referrer considers the person highly qualified.

6. Share info. The more you tell a person about the company and role the more comfortable she will be in helping you. (Of course, with all the info in hand, someone might try to make an end run around you which can be fatal if you are working on a contingency basis).

Note: I am not a master of the referral. Targeting 3 names per referral call is a very exciting idea for a headhunter but the people who speak to me are unlikely to give even one.

Here's my problem. Let's say I call Joe Blow and make it very clear that I want to know who he knows who does this work. Not who he knows who is looking.

He says that he doesn't know anyone. It can't be true because everyone knows good people in his own field. Do I tell him that straight out? Or, perhaps active listening would would be good: "You mean you don't know any Product Managers?"

But, is it a good idea to do battle with strangers you call out of the blue - for a favour? Perhaps that's what separates real sales and business-people from the amateurs. They are always willing to initiate contact, ask for what they want and argue their case.

Find more here
Starbucks Chairs: The Finale

I arrived at Starbucks yesterday to find that they had compromised on the new chair issue. They've kept the fluffy, new lawn-chairs. And, they haven't brought back the nice cushy wing chairs. But they did add two new chairs. They're big, have no arms and they look as if they might be cushy living room chairs, but they're not. Because they're not soft. And, there's something non-descript about them that makes me think that you might find them in the lobby of a movie theatre or a higher-class waiting room. Not a modern one. Something from the forties. And, that's the end of the story.
Candidate Order: Is it better to be first or last?

When I took Latin poetry in highschool, our teacher, (Brutus Hill), told us that the first word and last word in a line are the most important. It makes sense. Since both positions are free of other words on one side, they are not so easily lost in the mass.

Apparently, this is a general psychological rule. In any sequential presentation of information, the first and last items tend to stand out. It can apply to interviews, as well. The first and last candidates might be the most memorable for that reason alone.

One way for an interviewer to combat this bias is to document each meeting with detailed notes. And, to grade the various candidates on the same list of qualifications.

There is a problem here too, however, in that the deeper I get into a search the more I understand the requirements of the job so I might not have asked as many of the right questions at the start. This can make it possible for me to get a better handle on the value of the later candidates.

What can a candidate do? Well, she can invite the interviewer to call if any other questions come to mind. And then check in during the course of the search to see if any issues that weren't covered during the meeting have come to the fore.

Also, the candidate can figure out what he thinks the important issues are in the job and try to make sure that most of them are covered during the meeting.

Sometimes, candidates call me to add additonal information after the interview but they often catch me when it is not easy for me to add the information to my existing notes. So, I would advise them to make the call but also to follow it up with an addendum to the resume containing the information in easy-to-read point form with bold headings over each different topic.
I need an IT Security Specialist

Do you live in Toronto and love Security?
This role has to be filled very quickly.

Title: Product Manager
Location: Toronto
Must have:
Related experience with Registration and Security products.
Liaise between markets and engineering. Plan and develop the product.
Company: growing, stable organization,
Main Attraction:
A ground-floor opportunity building a large, secure network.
- Manage product life cycles
- Develop business cases for product strategy, positioning and pricing
- Vendor management
- Prepare and evaluate RFP’s
- Familiarity with SLA’s
- Exceptional communication and documentation skills
Resume Microsoft-Style

Microsoft in-house Recruiters tell you what they want in a resume.
Americans Boycott U.S. Workers

The CEO of a California tech firm recently said "there is no amount of overtime that we will not pay, no temporary services we will not use, no outsourcing we will not do, to prevent us from having to hire one new, permanent worker in the U.S."

There is a whole industry geared to helping US companies avoid hiring full-time American workers because wages and benefits are too expensive.

via Decembrist via Fouroboros
How To Discover What Works

Jeremy at Ensight has an interesting discussion about your relationship with your customers.

Here are 3 TIPS for small shops that won't cost a dime:

1. Create a BUZZ MAP that literally maps how you obtained each of your customers. Was it the result of a referral? Who was the referrer? Did someone refer the referrer? Find the ground zero of every customer, and you might be surprised at who your biggest promoters are.

2. Take a customer to LUNCH every week with no intention of selling. It's not about you, it's all about them. Ask 50 questions about her challenges. Don't wait for existing customers to call you. You call them.

3. End every customer meeting by saying, "Can we spend 3 minutes going over what went well in this meeting and what you would do differently next time?" Capture each item and send a quick summary back to the customer. The next time you meet, kick off the meeting by addressing the improvements and what you're doing differently (or not) and why. Asking for honest feedback can be brutal, but it creates trust.

Starbucks Chair Update

Regular readers will recall that I was deeply disappointed this week by the replacement of the greatest chairs in the world by evil, less comfortable chairs at my regular Starbucks.

Why, I wondered, would the Starbucks people have done that without consulting me, a regular customer? Well, this morning, when I went in, Amy, the barista (coffee person), told me that the District Manager visited the store yesterday and asked about the reception of the new chairs. Amy told her that the reception was not good, basing her comments, I suspect, on my complaints alone.

Well, to my surprise, the District Manager appears to agree with me and is going to try to get those old chairs back. I would have assumed that it's too late for that, the horse being out of the barn. But, we'll see. In the meantime, I've made myself comfortable on the couch.
Strengthen Your Weakness

Haven't you seen all kinds of advice telling you to improve your strengths and delegate your weaknesses? It seems to make obvious sense, doesn't it? But does it really?

People already seem to focus on their natural strengths and avoid their weakness. Boys who aren't good natural athletes will probably leave sports and physical life behind unless they are encouraged not to do so by the creation of opportunities for success at lower levels of performance.

Likewise, people who are not naturally pugnacious will probably shy away from the martial arts. But should they? I don't think so. Some skills are too essential to delegate and ignore.

The same thing is apparent in gender segregation. Supposedly, men do better at some things and women at others. The traditional wisdom has been to force them to follow their categorical gifts. But that leads to ignoring individual talent.

And, even if the traditional overgeneralized view was true, would it make sense for a man or woman to ignore basic skills that could be delegated to a spouse? The consequences are well-known. I've heard of many women who left their household finances to their husbands only to find when their husbands died that they didn't know what they had or where to find it or how to manage it.

Focus on your strengths? Yeah, but.
Outsourcing: Which Jobs Will Go?

Jobs Going: mainly sitting at a desk, working on a computer, talking on the phone

Jobs Staying: require a lots of personal contact

- elementary and secondary schools need someone on-site teachers
- college professors are more at risk because of online learning.

- production work can move to cheaper locations; writers, actors and directors need to understand American culture.

Health Care:
- billing, lab work and reading X-rays can be done anywhere.
- anyone who touches a patient -- doctors, nurses, physical therapists -- needs to be close at hand.

Human Resources:
- payroll and benefits processing jobs can go offshore; recruiters cannot.

People-intensive occupations:
- hard to send offshore
- eg. child care, police, firefighters, chefs, interior designers, attorneys, financial planners.
- who will have the money to hire these people is another question

Marketing, Advertising, Media:
- likely to stay here because they require an understanding of American culture.

- hard to export because they require interaction with a wide range of people.
- but company wide projects in global companies are handled by global teams

Sales: hard to outsource.

- programming is leaving but not all roles (eg. Solutions Architects and Client Relationship executives)

Companies that help other companies move work offshore include: Accenture, Affiliated Computer Services, Bearing Point (formerly KPMG Consulting), Convergys, EXL Service, IBM, OfficeTiger and WNS Global Services.

via San Francisco Chronicle
What Kind of Candidate are You Part II - Visibile or Invisible?

Michael had a post referring to Lou Adler's definition's of the different types of candidates.

One of those was the Semi-passive Candidate.

In case you missed it semi-passive candidates are defined as follows:

"Top-notch people who have pretty good jobs, [...]. They hope some recruiter will call with something better. You find these candidates by proactive networking"

This got me thinking. If you are "hoping" a headhunter will call you maybe some will. I am sure there are some headhunters out there with very good "hope antennae" but as for myself I don't seem to have one. So if you are sitting there waiting for the phone to ring and it isn't ringing what do you do?

First you have to understand how headhunters work. We spend a good deal of time on a particular search trying to find out who is who in a particular organization so we can target those people who might be a fit for the job we are trying to fill.

Often this is difficult. One of the biggest stumbling blocks we run into is at the switchboard. Most switchboard operators have little information about various departments (by accident or design) and on the surface this might not seem important but if you are a Project Manager IT (for example) and are hoping a recruiter will call you then you better make sure that the people who operate the switchboard know who you are.

I know what you are thinking "Of course they know me! I work here."

Ok, try this tomorrow. When you arrive at work ask the switchboard operator this "Do you know what my exact title is?"

Betcha he or she doesn't.

Why is this important?

Because if I am looking for a Project Manager IT and I am trying to find one I am going to ask for the person by title rather than name. That is how headhunters uncover semi-passive candidates.

We often do searches where we have zero people in our database with that particular title or skill set. So we make lots of cold calls to find out who does this specific position in our target market.

I am always surprised at how hard it is to find out who handles a particular function within a company. And I am not talking about junior positions. I am currently involved in a search for a Vice President with a client. One of the target companies I called has recently promoted this person into another role. I know this person's name. I know their new title; I know their old title. But do you think anyone can tell me who has taken over for her?


Word to the wise - if you have gotten promoted recently make sure people in your company know who you are.

This is one way you can increase your "visibility" and get called more frequently by recruiters.

I will continue on this topic in a day or so.
Don't Go Changing

I go to Starbucks every morning. I like to get there early, before the recruiters come in to interview candidates at the top of their lungs as if no one else was around. Not everything is fantastic. The coffee's often lukewarm and the music is often too loud but sometimes it's not even on and I can sit there reading and making notes as if it was my own private club.

One of the greatest things about it are the big wing chairs. You can just sink into them and forget that gravity exists. The way they envelop and cushion you, it's like floating on air. If you're in a deamy mood, they make it easy to let your mind wander where it will. A wonderful experience.

Well, I arrived this morning and found the chairs were gone. Part of a general upgrade. The new chairs have big, loose cushions on the seat and back but the base under them is just plain wood so they're still quite firm. And, the chair is more upright so there is no sinking back. An era has ended.

Luckily, the couch has not been removed. It's really good but, because it doesn't provide the same support on both sides of your body, is not quite the same. And, who knows what fate it's future holds.

Indigo Books used to have some great cushy chairs. But people used to read in them all day without buying any books so they got rid of them. One might suspect, then, that SB chose their new chairs deliberately so that people would not sit quite so long, but I doubt it. As Frank Sinatra says, "It was just one of those things. Just one of those crazy flings."

Tell that to the marketing people. Why don't you survey your users before you start making improvements? Wah!
Performance Anxiety: Musicians On Beta-Blockers

Performance Anxiety is a huge issue for musicians. Here is an argument about the use of beta- blockers to relieve stage fright.

First Musician:
I haven't had debilitating nervousness in performance for many years.
I attribute this to 3 things:

1. Even in the highest circles of performers, nervousness is common.

2. Everyone makes errors but they are usually overlooked by the audience and other performers.

3. Once you recognize this it is easier to give yourself permission to make errors. As a result, your fear of mistakes will lessen and so will the terror associated with performance.

I discourage the use of beta blockers, because the user never learns to cope with performance. Other drugs such as tranquilizers or alcohol are the road to professional suicide. I once used a beta blocker when auditioning for an orchestra, only to find that I was not in control of my body. I didn't get the job.

Second musician:
I disagree with the statement that on beta blockers you can't overcome the real root of performance anxiety. The minute I started taking them (Inderal 10 mgm every 8 eight hours; a very small dosage) my life changed. The nervousness that started the chain reaction has never come back. I'm now totally comfortable with playing a risky exposed solo or getting up to improv in Jazz band. And the intensity of the solo is not effected! Now, because of this, I'm more sure of myself... not because the beta blockers are working... but because I can play without getting nervous. The mental effects are very beneficial: I'm sure that if I stopped taking the beta blockers (and I have as an experiment) I wouldn't have any problem performing. So, I have to say that beta blockers can be helpful in combatting performance anxiety... my point is that the physical effects are nonexistant as compared to the positive mental effects. If you try them though... you've got to have the right mindset. You must think: "I'm taking these beta blockers as a stepping stone to confidence. "

Third Musician:
I've had horrible, terrible performance anxiety for the entire 45 years I've been performing, and I had not learned to "cope" with it yet. But I found that the effect of the low-dose beta blocker was to transform a threat into a challenge and performing has become almost a joy, which is what it should be. It shouldn't be a situation where you just would rather die than do it. Some people have debilitating physical reactions to stage fright, and it often leaks into other aspects of their lives. All I really want to say is that if you have not lived in someone else's problem, don't judge their choice of a solution.

Find more here
Interview Jitters: Beta-Blockers and Peformance Anxiety

I'm starting a series of postings on performance anxiety during interviews.

People can, theoretically, be trained to relax during interviews. But interviewing is not something most people do on a regular basis so most will never have enough motivation, let alone the opportunity to undergo such training.

Therefore, I would like to put some focus on the idea of using some form of medication to help people through this significant process which might have very little to do with their ability to perform the actual jobs they are interviewing for.

The most popular drugs for performance anxiety appear to be beta-blockers. So, they will be the initial focus of the investigation.

What are beta-blockers used for?
Beta-blockers are used to lower blood pressure when diet and lifestyle changes are not sufficient measures.

They help to prevent angina and can reduce the risk of a second heart attack in people who have already had one. Some beta-blockers help control abnormal heart rhythms. They are also used in very small doses for some people with heart failure.

How do they work?
Beta-blockers control the action of adrenaline, a hormone which makes the heart beat faster and more vigorously. They prevent the heart from beating as quickly and forcefully as usual during exercise and because of emotion.

They usually can be taken once or twice daily in order to maintain acceptable blood pressure levels. If necessary, beta-blockers can be combined with other medications that increase their effectiveness.

Some people experience tiredness, lethargy, depression, impotence, weakness in the legs, or coldness in the hands and feet. Sometimes the heart rate can become unduly slow, causing light-headedness and dizziness.

Beta-blockers are usually avoided in patients with a history of asthma or chronic bronchitis as they can aggravate these conditions. However, some beta-blockers are more selective to the heart (cardio-selective) and are sometimes used for people with lung conditions under extreme caution and with specialist supervision.

Patients with diabetes who take beta-blockers should be aware that the warning signs of a low blood sugar such as palpitation and tremor can sometimes be hidden.

Other considerations
Sometimes when beta-blockers are stopped suddenly patients experience palpitations which, if persistent, may need medical attention. It is therefore important that a course of beta-blockers is only finished after consultation with the doctor, who will advise on how to end the treatment by gradually lowering the dosage.

Find more here and here
Four Types of Candidates

1. Active candidates:
Usually the unemployed. It's hard to find the best in this group.

2. Semi-active candidates:
The under-employed. They have jobs but want something better. They look for new jobs on an irregular basis, usually when things get tough at work. There are some great people in this group.

3. Semi-passive candidates:
Top-notch people who have pretty good jobs, but feel the pressure of downsizing. They hope some recruiter will call with something better. You find these candidates by proactive networking.

4. Passive candidates:
They have very good jobs and have to be lured away. The cost to attract this person is too high and not worth it if you can find someone equally good using an easier sourcing technique.

via Lou Adler
How can companies retain employees?

Many firms try to use financial punishments to keep employees from looking for other jobs. But punishments are made irrelevant by the rewards gained by making a move.

Instead, managers need to identify what motivates and frustrates people and then "re-recruit" them with jobs that increase the motivation factors and decrease the frustration factors.

The key is to make the best opportunity come from inside the corporation as opposed to outside of it. And, to succeed in this, you've got to pay a lot of attention to the needs of your employees.

Find more here
Girl Power?

The management style in most organizational cultures is a male-oriented, "command and control" style that was originally developed in the church and military. It emphasizes clear lines of authority, top-down decision-making, and reliance upon the leader as the one in charge.

Women are socialized to embrace a more interactive management style. Those who have made it to the top of large companies have patterned their behavior after men. But, most women prefer an interactive approach in which the leader takes a facilitative, participative role and uses more truly team-oriented decision-making.

This feminine approach has been viewed as un-leader-like. So, many women are starting their own businesses or find employment in smaller companies willing to embrace various styles.

Is this a modern old-wives tale or has anyone ever seen it in action? Find more here
Stop and smell the roses

In Murfreesboro, Tenn., the city council demands that city workers practice good hygiene. The new policy reads: ''No employee shall have an odour generally offensive to others when reporting to work."

How will the city know when an odor is in violation of the policy? "We'll know it when we smell it." says Councilman Tobey Gilley. Find more here

(Alternate titles: "Manly yes, but I like it too". "Do not fold, spindle, mutilate - or wash".)
Would you hire a successful man?

Not known as a compromiser, Izzy Asper got where he is today by kicking and fighting against long odds to make his own vision prevail. And for the past 25 years, he has resolved an endless series of battles with his partners and ex-partners and critics by suing the hell out of them.

"He could shave a beaver off a nickel," says Ray Heard, a big admirer. Brilliant, mercurial, inspired and supercompetitive. A generous friend and a dangerous enemy. A chain-smoking, hard-drinking, jazz-loving, piano-playing workaholic who has wound up suing or being sued by nearly every business partner he ever had.
Find more here

Izzy Asper was a very successful Canadian who died this past year. He was a lawyer, leader of a provincial political party and he built a large, national media empire called Canwest-Global Communications.

But, look at his profile. It doesn't fit the blah-blah-blah you see in every last job description and which every candidate, especially the most junior, reproduce faithfully in their self-descriptions. "Able to work both independently and in a team environment. etc" What does it mean? That he really wouldn't have been a good hire because he was too entrepreneurial? You tell me.
Office Warfare: A Good Offence is the Best Defence

Conscience works automatically. To prevent you from doing wrong, it blocks action first and thinks about it later.

Therefore, the conscientious person, acts as if she is guilty until proven innocent.

Shrewd fighters know this. So, they are quick to accuse others of wrongdoing in order to paralyze them. It doesn't matter if the charges are false. The goal is to make the target doubt his position - which is something he is naturally inclined to do.

When the victim thinks "Maybe I'm doing something wrong," she becomes more willing to appease.

Find more here
International Headhunting
Taleban cautioned against recruiting Pakistanis in Afghanistan.
Find more here
New Age Dept: 9 Personality Types
The enneagram is a personality typology taught by early 20th century guru, George Gurdjieff. It divides personality into 9 types.

Here's a paper called Applying the Enneagram to Manage and Motivate People. And, here's an online test you can give to candidates.
Master Your Working Language

I've been working on a junior position recently for a Technical Customer Service Rep. A lot of people have been referred to me who were engineers in their homelands and are now looking for work in Canada after having attended school here for about a year.

Recently, I spoke to a guy who was similarly employed overseas. From a technical point of view, I know he is probably capable of doing the job (even though he was working for a distributor rather than a manufacturer). But, look at his resume:

- Prepared quotations of different machineries and products for customers
- Solved different types of complaints from the customer by convincing them
- Satisfied customers by explaining the advantages of the products
- Was responsible for meeting the targets
- Ensured the deliveries on time

You can tell that he understands English fairly well. But, isn't it telling that he didn't have his resume reviewed by a native English-speaker before he sent it out to me - for a job that is 90% communication by phone?

I don't believe that he didn't know any Anglophones since he is attending a Canadian school and I know his ethnic community well. Everyone in it has a relative or a friend with grown Canadian children.

His spoken English was the same as his resume. I could tell he was a smart guy but he had an accent, spoke fast and mumbled. And, it wasn't just nerves.

I told him, quite frankly, that his communication skills were not up to par for this job. He begged to differ but it was clear to me that our conversation did not flow naturally. I couldn't understand some of his words and found myself speaking slowly so that I would be sure he could understand me.

This guy hasn't been here long. And, his English is pretty good for someone who is new to the country. I assume that it will improve soon and that he will be very successful. But, I'm also well aware that most immigrants, including some who are very, very well-educated, do not see the importance of mastering English.

Last year I spoke to a Russian designer who has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He was earning $60,000 a year. Sometimes, a bit more. He's worked in Israel, Toronto and California, always for other Russians.

I told him that if he learned to speak English properly he could be earning a lot more money. He replied that he was more interested in maintaining his technical knowledge by reading about new developments in his field.

He had a philosophic attitude but most people are more concerned about money. And, if that's a main concern they should realize that managerial jobs, certainly, have to go to those who are easy to understand. And, the same is true in most other jobs, as well.

It's obvious, however, that many people - who are otherwise very disciplined, hard workers - don't care about this too much. I, myself, have relatives who have been here for fifty years and still have fairly strong accents. And, a major reason is that they don't speak English at home.

I'm as lazy as the next guy and when I come home I wouldn't want to have to struggle to speak to my family in English when I could do so without effort in some other tongue. But, it's a plain fact that this is going to hold you back.

Indians have a major advantage here because English is common in their homeland. But, even so, my impression is that very few have gone to any pains at all to reduce their accents beyond what might come automatically in the course of learning English in Canada.

Certainly, English-speakers from England don't try to develop Canadian accents. And, most Canadians don't make any effort to improve their communication skills. And, this is proof positive that most people place a very low value on communication skills -- when these can, in my opinion, be a major factor in one's ability to sell oneself for a job.

And, they probably contribute to one's ability to sell your ideas in a job, as well. And, the ability to sell yourself and your ideas can be very important.
Martha's Alibi: Scientific Proof of Supressed Memory

Researchers have shown that a biological mechanism exists in the human brain to block unwanted memories. The findings reinforce Freud's thesis about the existence of memory suppression.

The experiment showed that people are capable of repeatedly blocking thoughts of experiences they don't want to remember until they can no longer retrieve the memory, even if they want to.

Controlling unwanted memories was associated with increased activation of the left and right frontal cortex which led to reduced activation of the hippocampus (the part of the brain used to remember experiences).

The more subjects activated their frontal cortex during the experiment, the better they were at suppressing unwanted memories.

The Freudian idea is that even though someoe is able to block an unpleasant memory it they has consequences even though he doesn't know why. Sound familiar?

I made myself a promise, that I'd soon forget we ever met, Well, but something sure is wrong, 'cause I'm so blue and lonely. I forgot to remember to forget.
Will A Brand Motivate the Troops?

Research suggests that the emotional link with a brand is so powerful that it will overwhelm more practical considerations.

A professor at Baylor College of Medicine gave subjects the "Pepsi Challenge" in an Fractional MRI brain scanner.

1 People found Pepsi more pleasing to the palate -- their reward center lit up
2 Coke's branding hit literally at the core of their sense of self, a much stronger bond.

Inotherwords, brands are so powerful that we are more likely to buy something we identify with than something we like better or that is better for us. (via BusinessPundit)

This supports Fouroboros' claim that pride in your firm is a better motivator than money. Also, Anthony's support for Napoleon's quip that men will risk more for ribbons than anything else.

This has to be the clue to the motivation of many suicide-bombers, as well. And martyrs of all sorts. (All-Sorts, remember those?)

However, I'm reading Executive Instinct, a pop-psych book about Evolutionary Psychology in business. And, I remember it saying that employees can respect a brand but that the amount of loyalty you can generate toward it is very limited by our innate programming. I'll find the relevant lines and post them soon.
Touchy-Feely Dept: Take A Step Back

I was in a movie theater not long ago watching an engrossing movie - then for some reason I realized that as I was watching the movie I had forgotten all about my location and my surroundings. Part of me forgot that I was in a movie theater and there were dozens of people all around me; The only reality I knew was what was happening in the movie.

In that moment, I had "come out" of the movie. I could still see the movie on the screen, but I was aware that it was just a movie. Where minutes ago I had been reacting emotionally to the events on the screen - laughing, sitting on the edge of my seat, in this detached state I could see it for what it really was: a movie. Not that I didn't want to enjoy the movie - I did, and in fact I jumped right back in and became engrossed in it again. But sometimes, it's important to jump back and see things objectively.

At the end of the day (or week) close your eyes and imagine yourself in a movie theater. The movie you are watching is the day that just finished. Start it with the first detail you can remember and follow yourself throughout the day. Progress the movie at any speed you like and focus on any events you want. Only do it as long as you feel like doing it.
Find more here

The story about waking up in the theatre and the easy exercise presented some common ideas in an interesting way.

1. Everyday life is governed by reactions that are pretty automatic, so it's like a reel of film that has already been created and is just being replayed.

2. Your current focus is not the whole picture. There might be more you're not aware of and, therefore, more possibilities for action than seem apparent.

There might be more to you than your reactions. You might even be able to separate yourself from them.

3. Realizing this on a regular basis might insinuate a subtle awareness of it into your daily life alongside your habitual daily reactions and, in doing so, increase your flexibility.

via Occupational Adventure
The Interview Game

Like a Super Trouper lights are going to find me shining like the sun, smiling having fun, feeling like a number one.
Ryan's Hope has a good posting about interviewing from the candidate's point of view: (I've modified some of his phrasing)

The interview process is a bit of a game. The pre-game requires a lot of practice. The game itself can go a lot of different directions, and some elements are out of your control.

The fate of the interview seems to rest partially on how you see your interviewer - as an opponent or as a team member.

Some interviewers deliberately position themselves as opponents because they want to see how you react under pressure.

The best approach is to not to take that bait... just continue treating the person like a team member.

After the game is over, the post-game analysis can last for days. And nights. At 4:30 am you wake up replaying the interviews in your mind. The replays continue until the outcome is known.

If you dont' get the job, you take a vow to be rich and successful to show up the firm that dinged you! Then you cry or mope for a while... If your call comes from a senior officer, you dance the jig of joy.

These reactions to success and failure are inevitable, and there is no sense fighting them.

An article in the student publication of the Chicago Business School makes an interesting point that relates to optimism, or more specifically, the psychology of "winning" in the job search process:

I have seen many people falter during interviews because they were scared that one ill-perceived move was going to result in an interview ding.

Students who interview "not to lose" are tense from the initial handshake and carry a sense of reserve throughout the interview, which inhibits their ability to demonstrate enthusiasm for the position.

You must not allow yourself to fall into that "not to lose" mentality. So as you approach each interview, ask yourself one I doing this to "win" or am I doing this "not to lose?"

There is a difference, and the choice is yours.
That seems to be true of anything worth winning in life. If you focus too much on avoiding bad outcomes, you pass up on risks that are necessary for personal growth.

Ryan says a very wise thing:
1. Our reactions to failure are inevitable and there is no sense fighting them.

But he contradicts himself when he gives the following advice:
2. To be successful in life you can't be too afraid of losing.
3. Don't react to aggressive opposition with counter-aggression or fear.

He's not unreasonable in recommending these as worthy goals. They are. The problem lies in the implication that we can simply follow his advice on points 2 and 3 when these reactions of fear and loss aversion he tells us to avoid, are part and parcel the reaction to failure which he has just said is beyond our immediate control.

To react differently, you have to develop alternate responses and practice them over a long period of time (pre-game practice). And, this would surely have to be as thorough a re-conditioning as that you would encounter if you went to boot camp in the marines.

An idea comes to mind: has anyone ever recommended a mild tranquilizer on the interview day? It may sound extreme but if you're really nervous and you can figure out the dose, it might make a lot of sense.
Make Your Business Their Business

Fouroboros has an entry that relates to yesterday's Fire Them Up posting.
(I've modified some of his phrasing)

90% of successful business depends on connecting meaningfully with what you do. Nobody does anything well unless it supports the innate ambition and idealized personal future people cart around in their heads. That's powerful stuff.

Getting your route salespeople to gently nudge aside the the Frito-Lay stuff to better display your Utz Potato chips depends on that guy or girl personally identifying with the product or company character. Call it ownership-by-proxy.

This is not rocket-science. If you discover your employees' latent ambition and graft it on to your objectives, you get real loyalty. And you get patience. Because "owners" forgive a multitude of sins and imperfections in their own business.

Get the insights into what they want and do the necessary communicating and they'll understand why outsourcing may have to happen, as long as you offer a credible answer to their follow up question: "What's next, for me?" And believe me, bonuses or raises or new Aeron chairs aren't what they're looking to hear.

Jon Katzenbach has an interesting book out, "Why pride matters more than money". That's a title business leaders should like because Pride is cheaper than money. It has a better batting average too.

Pie in the sky? I'd like to see practical examples. Perhaps on another blog.
Word of the Day

FUBAR. WW2 slang meaning: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair.

(via Fouroboros)
Fire them up or they'll drag you down

Managers should be measured by their ability to energize employees. Because, unless emps feel praised, developed and valued they're not going to work very hard.

Most managers focus on employee weaknesses and try to fix the unfixable. That destroys motivation. You grow by developing your strengths.

A manager needs to:
1 discover an employee's 3 strongest skills
2 help her build on what she already does well
3 put her in the right job

1 Review performance formally once a quarter
2 Focus on future performance instead of past
3 Make sure she knows where she fits into the company
4 Make sure she knows what's expected of her
5 Ask: What can we do to develop your strengths?

When BusinessPundit initiated this discussion it led to a lot of complaints about bad service in retail stores. Which leads to the question: how can these rules be applied in that setting, where the job is quite limited, the pay is quite limited, and the possibilities of career progression are too.

Perhaps the key would be to make your emps feel praised and valued even if there was not much you could offer in the way of salary or personal development. But not necessarily.

Find more here
Here's an odd one My Pet Fat. (via Simran)
Don't Hire Self-Serving Slackers

Photon Courier tells us how to identify Opportunists IN the workplace.

Of course, he doesn't tell us how to spot them during interviews (when it counts) - but he does make an important point for naive people who aren't used to job-hunting.

Many career books encourage you to drive a hard bargain in terms of starting salary and act in other ways that resemble the behaviour of opportunists.

Sometimes it's necessary to be tough. Someone I know well made his prospective employer sign documents committing the company to give him a certain kind of laptop, parking place, etc. before he would accept an offer. And, it's a good thing he did so because once he was on staff they tried to back out of everything they'd said.

I should note, however, that this guy is a person of truly exceptional abilities who had many different offers he could have accepted. And, the employer, a large public institution, had a reputation he was well aware of.

But, most people don't have as many options as he did, and, if you seem too self-seeking, you might turn people off.
Two Step Recruiting

Interviewing should be done in two steps.

First, conduct a round of selection interviews in which the ONLY purpose is to identify people who can perform the job. Then, a round of ranking interviews to decide who is the best person from the selection pool.

Subjective questions and free-form conversations should only come in the late ranking stage, AFTER you have parity between selected candidates, based on Key Skills Assessments.
Gradual Power

The problem with gradual change is that it's so subtle.

You could achieve many goals with small amounts of regular effort over the long term, but the daily result is so trivial that it's hard to believe you will ever get anywhere. So the projects don't seem promising enough to pursue.

Success, however, does seem to come to those who have the insight to see that it's in the mastery of the gradual that true power lies. Here's Seth Godin in the pulpit:

You don't win an Olympic gold medal with a few weeks of intensive training. There's no such thing as an overnight opera sensation... Every great company, every great brand, and every great career has been built in exactly the same way: bit by bit, step by step, little by little.

You're not going to build a great company because of a neat idea that you got in the shower one day. You're not going to find that perfect job just because your résumé ends up on the right desk on the right day... Stop shopping for lightning bolts. The way out of paralysis is thinking small and thinking gradual... You have to invest in things that represent big change over time..

We shouldn't be surprised that the Atkins diet is so popular. It's not gradual, and it doesn't build a lifetime foundation of good health. In otherwords, it's the American way.

Funny, that he should close with a shot at Atkins. Dedication is inspired by the occasional miracle and the weight loss Atkins delivers during the first two weeks is so painless, quick and surprising that it can serve as a springboard for something long-lasting.

And funny, too, because another pundit, Joel Mowbray, promotes Atkins as a remedy to the culture of instant gratification.
Leaders Are Nice Guys? Please!

Jimmy Citrin and Rick Smith believe that nice guys finish first. Here's their argument based on their own research.

The most successful leaders focus on the success of others. They create an environment where the best performers want to work, perform at peak levels, and remain loyal. In turn, the leader is carried upward by the performance of those working with him.

These successful leaders are not perceived as being overly self-interested. 90% are concerned about the careers of their subordinates as much as or more than their own. The aggressive executive represents less than 1 in 20.

Ed Woolard, a Dupont chairman and CEO said, "A good B player can surround himself with a lot of A's. My job was really just to nurture them and make them successful." (via Fouroboros 3/4 down the page)

Hmm. I've been thinking about leaders too. And, here's what I've come up with.

Leaders are people who aren't overly "sensitive". They don't mind telling other people what to do and even bossing people around. And, they don't mind making mistakes. Political and military leaders can send young guys into battle and have them die, sometimes stupidly, and then maybe lose a few nights sleep over it, but that's all.

You might think that I'm making these people sound crass. But, there are lessons in their examples from which we can all learn. For instance, that it doesn't pay to be too concerned about problems. They are leaders because they are willing to act and make mistakes and they don't feel much guilt and don't care too much if people don't like them.

I said as much in the comments section under Fouroboros posting on Benevolent Leadership and he has replied in a posting called Lumberjack or Ballerina (under the pictures of Rummy).

Fouro contends that emotion is the great driver of action. That people follow whatever they react to with a "Wow!" And that the secret of great leaders is that they have what it takes to turn people on in this way. He writes:

...sustainable leaders believe something almost metaphysical about business or their companies that's attractive to wide groups of people. That doesn't mean they're freaked-out arm wavers or gurus. They just show people futures they didn't realize they had, even if their sole contribution is to just get out of their people's way and enable them to create those futures.

...Sometimes you have to put people on point or sacrifice... them, although it's very rare that that is a first, second or even third resort, unless you've been very derelict in your duties. Still, if and when it has to happen, people will assent to being asked to suffer. And do it willingly. But only if it's in aid of an abstract shared ideal that they're serving, rather than...a balance sheet.

To clarify, I wasn't saying that the mailed fist is the first tool any leader turns to. Nor did I say that they are completely heartless, though I can see how that was implied.

My point was that leaders are willing to command and that many want to do so. And, also, that they are willing to take painful action without suffering too much stress, even when the pain is suffered by someone else. Which is something many people would be afraid to do.

I was thinking here of political / military leaders I've read about. Lenin, Golda Meir and Dubya come readily to mind. Do you remember last year, when Bob Woodward's book about George W came out? It was widely reported and with great interest that he lost some sleep over the decision to go to war. As if that was something amazing. It's not what a leader is expected to do. It showed that he was a bit "normal".

I consider Clinton a leader in this regard, too. As soon as the Lewinsky scandal hit the papers I thought he would have to fold up his cards and go. That's what I would have done. But, whatever you think of this guy, he fought like hell and survived.

And, just yesterday, I saw Europundits praising Tony Blair for defending his position "like a lion" in the House of Commons.

These guys have guts. And, it's just not possible that their "courage" could manifest itself in this way if it had to struggle against tremendous counter-emotions to see the light of day. They have to have nerves of steel or, perhaps the equivalent, a thick skin.

I was also thinking about a more personal experience. I meet once a month for a discussion over dinner with a group of guys I've know for some time. Sometimes, we have organizational issues and we have to make decisions as to what we are going to do.

I have to admit that my voice is rarely heard. But, the mopes tend to listen to The Great Chimp. He's smart, speaks well and sounds as if he's in command. He's inclined to be arrogant and bossy - and this might be an Achilles Heel - but, even so, it's a manifestation of the easy readiness to impose and oppose that I suspect comes naturally to those who take a leading role in any group where action is required.

Actually, if you read them together, my comments and Fouro's make a leader sound, more than anything else, like an extraordinary sales person. He can "show people futures" they didn't see before, knows when to get out of the way, and is not afraid to move ahead even when there is a risk that other people will dislike him, or her, for doing so.
Mobile Phones Damage The Sun

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a report showing that our increased use of cell phones is damaging the sun.

“There is a strong causal link between our use of the radio spectrum for mobile phones and recent evidence suggesting the sun is dying,” the report says.

“If we don’t address this issue as a matter of urgency,” an IPCC spokesman said. “There’s every chance that the sun will explode during our children’s lifetime.”

A conference in Tokyo has been organized to reduce the use of radio signals and environmental groups in Canada are urging Prime Minister Paul Martin to sign on. “Almost every scientist on the planet agrees with this finding,” says Toronto activist, Robert Walnut.

via Bald Monkey Satire Alert. Caveat Emptor.
Marcom a la Harry

After seeing Fouro rave about Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith I googled it and came up with a reader's review which supplied the main themes. You'll find them below.

If you worship an expert, you're a sucker.
Because, there are no answers, only informed opinions.

Appeal only to reason, and you'll have no appeal at all.
Familiarity breeds business. Spread your word however you can.
And follow-up brilliantly.

Focus wins. To broaden your appeal, narrow your position.
Stand for one distinctive thing that will give you a competitive edge.

Logical pricing isn't smart pricing.
Good value makes you look second-rate.
Middle-range pricing means you're average.
Rock-bottom pricing makes you look substandard.
So, a little resistance to your price is a good sign.

Nothing beats a brand.
Building a brand doesn't take millions. It takes imagination.
Give your service a name, not an abbreviation
Generic names encourage generic business.

Make the prospect feel comfortable
Good basic communicating is good basic marketing.
Saying too much communicates nothing. Better say too little than too much.

If you think your promotional idea might seem unprofessional, it is.
Give your marketing a human face.
People hear what they see. Watch what you show.
Prospects don't buy how good you are at what you do. They buy how good you are at who you are.

Don't raise expectations you can't meet.
To manage customer satisfaction, manage customer expectation.
Watch your relationship balance sheet. Assume it is worse than it appears and fix it.
Out of sight, out of mind. If you're not meeting regularly, she's not thinking about you.

Learn how to build a network

A strong network is a critical tool in managing your career because more positions and assignments are found through a network than any other way.

However unique the meeting, you will not remember the person after a few weeks. Organize your contacts into categories in a database. Note where and when you met the person. Input the data ASAP.

Try to keep in touch with an occasional call or email. Doing this builds relationships and a sense of history between parties.

Keep in mind that a network is a two-way street. Do not call people only if you need something. You will be seen as a user.

I use my network to make introductions between people whom I believe should know each other, and it has proven to be a great tool in creating other relationships. I would always rather do a favor than ask for one. It is better for relationships, and provides a lot of chips to call in if ever you need some help.
Find more here

My Comment: the main thing a recruiter can offer someone is a job. And, that's not something you just have hanging around to give when someone calls for a favour. So, I think it can be hard to make the relationship reciprocal.
Building Candidate Satisfaction

Are your ex-candidates happy to help you when you need a referral? Or do they think that they were treated badly and long to get even?

Here are three ways recruiters can build candidate satisfaction:

1. Guarantee a response to every candidate within a certain time frame.

2. Random phone calls to rejected candidates, applicants and new hires asking for feedback.

3. Periodic follow-up communications to candidates checking on their status.

Find more here
Don't Trust Older Workers

That's the implication of Margaret Wente's current column in the Globe & Mail. She claims that since she's hit 50, she's losing her mind.

I remember that Michael Bliss, the historian, wrote an article about ten years ago saying something very similar but I'm thinking that it might not be legal to say such things in public anymore. Here's Marg:

It's comforting to blame mental slips on overtasking. We lead busy, busy lives, and our brains are buzzing with big ideas and too much to do... No wonder we occasionally find ourselves in the middle of the Staples store and can't remember why we're there.

But secretly, I know that overtasking's not to blame for this depressing deterioration of our faculties. Turning 50 is to blame. That's when the laws of entropy kick in with a vengeance...

After you turn 50, it is dangerous to think about more than one thing at a time. If you do, you will drive right past your own street on the way home from work, the one where you've lived for 15 years.

"You need a minder," my husband said the last time I did this. It was hard to argue with him. The other day I blanked out on the words for "windshield scraper."

My friend Barbara is even worse than I am. "Can you lend me that fantastic novel by Saul Bellow, The Bleeding Heart?" she says, when what she means is The Human Stain by Philip Roth. She maintains that even though the things she says are factually inaccurate, they are generally true, which is what counts.

Barbara's theory is that we only have a certain number of memory slots in our brains, and by the time you reach age 50 they're all filled up... This wouldn't be so bad if the information you already possessed was worth having. Unfortunately, my own memory slots are crammed with useless junk.

It is impossible to delete these files. This explains why I can't remember how to program the voice mail on my cellphone, or recall the name of somebody I met last week.

Recently I went to see my dentist, the one I've had for more than a decade. I spent half an hour standing helplessly in the lobby of a downtown office tower because I forgot his name and couldn't remember what floor he was on.
Find more here
Mike Hammer's 3 Elements of Business Success

1. Capable (not brilliant) people
2. Innovative processes
3. A culture of passion

Capable People

The idea of Talent is easily misused by giving it too narrow an application.

The most talented engineer will be outclassed by a less technically talented peer if the engineering job they are working on requires a talent for interacting with customers which the latter has and the former doesn't.

IBM proved this in the 1960s and 1970s. Other computer companies had more brilliant people, but IBM had superior processes and people with the right talents and styles to execute them. The result was decades of market dominance.

Innovative Processes

In football you have plays. In business you have process, the plan of action.
If you do everything in the same way as your competitors, how can you beat them?

You need to be as creative in your process as you are in your products and marketing.

Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. zoomed from nowhere to being the 4th-largest auto insurer in the US by constantly inventing new ways of underwriting, handling claims, and quoting rates.

But, new ways of working are not invented on the fly by people in the trenches. You need to put real effort and resources into creating great processes and making sure that your people know and follow them.

Culture Counts A Lot

Even the best people working with best processes will not deliver results unless they really want to. And, they won't want to unless they are imbued with passion. And it is leadership’s role to create that passion.

You create passion by rewarding people who exhibit what you are looking for (and punishing those who don't), by embodying these values yourself, and by endless, repetitive, relentless communication with everyone in the organization.

People, Process, Passion.
The last one brings to mind crowds waving little red books and must be the toughest to achieve beyond fairly circumscribed limits. More about that later.