Friday, February 26, 2010

Jamie Oliver's TED Speech

I know there are some who think Jamie Oliver is a bit over the edge when it comes to his crusade re: obesity.

I also know that there are those who have both good and not so good things to say about the TED Awards, speeches, etc.

Indeed if you are one of the thousands (millions?) of Tech Crunch followers you probably saw the back and forth over the speech given by shock stand-up comedienne Sarah Silverman.

Be all that as it may, I came upon Jamie Oliver's speech because someone posted it on Twitter and thought it was something people should check out, so I did. I would give her credit here as well, but I have since lost the message.

Anyway, the reason I make reference to it here is twofold:

1. I have a lot of respect for what Oliver is trying to do and the commitment he demonstrates in trying to fight for change that he feels is critical on all sorts of levels.

With his background, and success, he could be spending his time and energy on lots of other stuff. He has chosen not to.

2. I also think that if you take the 18 or so minutes to hear what he has to say that as a result you will come away with some of the same feelings I have expressed above, and as a business leader, admire the passion he brings to those he hopes to influence to act.

After all, that's one of the key things leaders hope to do. Inspire people to follow. Oliver has his way of trying to achieve that, and each of us has ours.

Just watching him in action helped to renew my energy; something we all need from time to time.

No matter what needs renewing in your life, maybe Jamie's passion will help do that for you as well.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Don't Get Mad, Get Even

My guess is that most everyone who stops by this blog from time to time will recognize the name CareerXroads. However, just for the record for those who might be experiencing short-term memory loss, CareerXroads is an enterprise founded in 1994 by Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin.

For many years among other things, Mark and Gerry have published a newsletter called: CareerXroads Update. The name is appropriate for sure as it follows and comments on trends (both good and bad) in the world of recruiting. The result? It provides good reading for those on both sides of the recruiting process. It's free and if you are not on the distribution list, you can register by clicking here.

That said, what prompted all this was actually one of the articles that was included in the CareerXroads Update published last month. In it, was a entry entitled: The Candidate Experience Revolution. Let Them Eat Cake.

The central to item was an article written by Michelle Goodman who writes for the ABC News/Money site in which she writes about what she called the Five Worst Hiring Trends of 2009 from the perspective of a job seeker. It's a great read.

Mark and Gerry's comment was that the piece could easily have covered the "last decade" much less only 5 years. I could not agree more, and I am not sure that I would stop at a decade. If you are a candidate in this market, check out her list of topics and see what emotions it conjures up for you.

• Labyrinthine Job Application Systems
• Overly-Demanding Job Descriptions
• Unscrupulous Recruiters
• Endless Interview Loops
• No Follow Up With Finalists

Over the course of my career I have been on both sides of the desk and I would like to think that I have a pretty good feel for the rationale that is offered by the staffing side as well as the frustration felt by the candidate side, and certainly if I could wave the proverbial magic wand I would fix it all, because if there is one thing where there is common agreement it is that this stuff needs fixing.

That said, and probably as the result of wandering around the business world for the past 45+ years I long ago threw away those rose colored glasses they give you along with your degree.

Translation: I don't think much of this sort of thing is going to get fixed anytime soon, but that doesn't mean that those who feel it should be can't and won't continue to cause some discomfort for those who need to feel it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Executive jobs: It’s not you, it’s not me. It’s just not meant to be.

Just to show you how far being the times I am, the subject of this post was actually around since August of last year. Fortunately for readers, the content of Jose Ruiz's post was not time sensitive, indeed, in some respects it is timeless.

Jose, as you'll see if you check out his site, is a principal in Heidrick & Struggles Monterrey office where, as his bio indicates, he specializes in recruiting in Mexico for US companies with a strong focus on bilingual and bicultural candidates.

Since my Spanish is pretty much limited to "Amigo, Dos Equis por favor" and there isn't enough money in the world to move me from the shores of Narragansett Bay the fact that he is a recruiter was not the attraction.

What got my attention when I stumbled across this posting were two things:

1. He was an executive search consultant who had taken the time to try and dissect a process that remains a mystery to more folks than one would think, and

2. The way in which he takes the reader though his thought process in assessing candidates is clear, concise and very helpful to anyone who finds themselves on the candidate side of career change.

The reason I say this is because given the current economy, there are literally tens of thousands of executives who, while they may have been recruited by a search firm from time to time, nonetheless have discovered that being recruited is totally different from being a talented professional who doesn't happen to be employed at the moment, and finds him/herself at a loss to understand why if they were fortunate enough to get an interview, they were not selected.

For sure rejection on any level is no fun, and when it comes to a process that at the end of the day is subjective anyway, that doesn't help either.

What does help, however, is when someone at least makes an attempt to openly explain how they approach the process and why; and this I thought Jose did very well.

I really suggest you read the entire post, but as a teaser, what Jose has written about are the four key elements of what he calls "match and fit:"

- A broad cultural fit
- The "Must Haves"
- A "micro" cultural fit
- The task at hand

Furthermore, if you are one of those candidates, knowing the thought process as explained in Jose's posting ought be help you prepare for your next interview because no matter who you are interviewing with, while they may not use the same terminology, the "match and fit" items addressed in this post are what any interviewer worth his salt is really trying to figure out, and from this one can learn.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

From Start To Finish

Okay, so here's today's cash call question: As you look over the list below, what do the numbers at in front of each statement have in common?

#59 Should you jump in and save every sales situation?
#39 Do you have to know everything that's happening?
#38 What is the one thing that makes people join your new company?
#6 Is having fun at work over-rated?
#7 Why is firing someone at your startup extra hard?
#96 Why do you have to be an energy-creator?
#82 Why you don't want your people to worry like you are worrying.
#66 Why the "new guy" could be doing more harm than good.
#67 Why you shouldn't trust those who say they can help you raise money.
#54 What is the biggest sign of a culture that is developing badly?

Here's a clue...they represent just 10% of the subjects covered in StartUp, 100 Tips to Get Your Business Going.

Some may recall a quip attributed to Mark Twain in which he said to a friend to whom he had written a letter something like "I would have made this shorter, but I didn't have the time."

To be honest, I don't know if Twain was the one who first came up with this truism or not, but it makes a very important point. Specifically, being able to deliver meaningful and powerful information in confined space is an art form. Few have done it, and fewer still can do it in a way that is truly memorable.

Exactly what the genes are that allow these few word wizards to do what they do I don't know; just wish they could be beamed into my Blackberry.

One thing I do believe, however, is that those who can do it have at least one characteristic in common and that is that they are super busy individuals.

By way of example, I offer up GL Hoffman, who among others things, describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. "Certifiable" is more like it.

If you know of GL then no further proof is needed. If you don't, you are missing something, and you check out everything that he is and has been involved in, and stand back amazed like the rest of us.

So what does all this have to do with a book that measures 4 x 5.5? Answer: If you ever wanted to see how much truly important management advice can be crammed into one place, set your cyber GPS right here, right now.

Here's why:

There is almost no executive I have ever met who isn't always looking for advice and counsel on those myriad of situations that confront leaders on a daily if not hourly basis. Most of us see all the well-publicized business books written by the gurus of managing that promise upon finishing their latest tome you will have the universal solvent for every management challenge known to man.

Unfortunately, most of us are way too busy fighting our way through the day to get much beyond the list of the best sellers in the NY Times and feeling depressed because we haven't gotten to any of them.

Well, here's a book you can not only have time to read but much more importantly you can't afford NOT to read. Better still, it is small enough to carry around with you so that you can very likely find the issue and the answer to almost any issue that stands between you and moving your enterprise forward.

If you are a type "A" personality like me, you may remember the satisfaction you felt when back in the day you got turned on to Ken Blanchard and the One Minute Manager. StartUp deserves similar standing.

With praise, however, also comes some criticism, and to that end I would say to GL that with the title he has sold himself short. This book goes way beyond great "learnings" for startups.

Anyone from first time supervisor to CEO would not only love this book, they will treasure it.

I gave copies to our management team and they are still cheering.