Man UP! (kinda)

I’m not what you’d call a “handy” guy, i.e., I can’t fix jacksquat. It’s actually a well known meme in our house; whenever something does need to be fixed, if my wife can’t fix it, I’m hiring someone to fix it.

(not a typical representation)
(or the lesser known “Miss Toolmonkey”)

And, as Mr. Toolmonkey is explaining the ins and outs of needed t-joints and the angle of the dangle, my reply is usually the same, “220, 221, whatever it takes.” If that quote means nothing to you, please reference the link provided while we wait…..

Are you back? Good (and you’re welcome.)

Now I know I’m not alone out there, men. For every guy who can install a sprinkler system, there’s another 3 of us that can’t properly program our DVR.

It’s not that I don’t want to fix things (well….that’s not exactly true, sometimes that’s exactly what it is), but I know there are people infinitely more qualified than me in these areas & as long as I’m drawing a paycheck these good men will be on my speed-dial. That’s life around the house…how about life at work? Well, about that Applicant Tracking System we’re using…

You may have heard, “Big Data” is the future of HR. And with big data comes the increased use and capabilities of HR Technology. I’m sure there are a few of you gear-heads out there (lookin’ at you, Boese) who are at the nape of the wave utilizing HR Tech in ways that would blow the minds of yokels like myself. For the rest of us, Fistful of Talent is here to help. Tim Sackett and Steve Boese, the Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference, will break down the issues surrounding buying HR Tech in our latest webinar on August 28 at 12pm ET (sponsored by Bamboo HR), entitled Buyer’s Remorse: The  FOT 1st Timer’s Guide to Buying HR Technology.

They hit the high-level stuff:

  • Suite or Best-of-Breed?
  • The Decision Tree
  • Tips & Tricks the HR Vendor Community uses to suck you in…
  • Building the ROI needed for a “green light” from your leadership


Different arena, same concept – that which I can not do, I rely on experts to do. You’re guaranteed to get at least a handful of solid ideas from your hosts; we encourage you to steal those ideas, make them your own, and put a little extra horsepower in your HR engine.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to check out this Fetzer Valve. I’ll need some 3-in-1 oil and gauze pads, maybe about 10 quarts of anti-freeze.



Urgency – It’s All Relative

Guest Post from my buddy Adam Boyd; Adam hangs his hat in Austin, TX where he works for Sandler Training helping organizations maximize selling opportunities

Stop the car, Mom! Stop the car!” My not-quite-three-year-old son yelled from the back seat, panicked. “What’s wrong?” my wife, startled and concerned, asked. “I dropped a puff,” he replied. (Puffs are small, easily dissolved foods for infants. My son had some of his baby sister’s.)

Realizing this wasn’t an emergency, she asked, “Do you still have your bowl in your hand?”


“Do you have puffs in your bowl?”



“Eat those. I’ll get the other one when we stop.”

For my toddler, life is always urgent. It’s now or not at all. He couldn’t let this one puff go. We’re working on patience with him. But his attitude would serve sales organizations and salespeople well. How so?

Opportunities have a shelf life. Time kills deals. Yes, some deals do require time, but many are lost because too much time has lapsed. In those, the seller often failed to uncover any urgency.

But even more prevalent is the lack of urgency on the part of a seller to go looking for new opportunities. “I’m working on the Acme deal – I don’t have time to make these calls, use this CRM, or follow up on those bad leads,” many say. The result? Deals we only hear about others winning. Or success we see others have. This is easy to gloss over, though, because we don’t see the money we didn’t make. We didn’t realize a little more effort would grow sales and income 10, 30, 50% or more.

Too many organizations have leaders – owners, CEOs, VPs –  who have a sense of urgency about revenue and the pipeline. But when it comes to their sales team, the sales culture is not one where people are aggressively seeking and pursuing opportunities. Some salespeople see sales as something for marketing to create, or for the leaders to drive. The ownership mentality is missing. Others are stuck in a comfort zone, afraid to fail because they lack confidence. And still others don’t know how to go find the new business. In any case, the result is a business that cannot get to the next level, scale, or be sold, because it’s too dependent on the efforts of a select few people.

Why does this happen?

  • We know 76% of people are miscast in sales. It could the wrong role, the wrong function, or the wrong market for them.
  • We often fail to onboard them appropriately and set expectations. The 20-year veteran doesn’t have to make cold calls.
  • We fail to hold people accountable for performance.
  • We fail to build the right comp plan, or truly know what motivates people.
  • We don’t replace non-performers.
  • We hire people who lack the desire and commitment to do what’s necessary to succeed at selling.
  • We don’t help them overcome conceptual roadblocks – fears, doubts and worries – that impede success in selling.

For individuals who sell, this happens for a few other reasons:

  • They cannot get past the discomfort of prospecting to make themselves do it.
  • They lack an accountability mechanism.
  • They lack the skills to be successful consistently.
  • They aren’t clear on their goals, their “why.”

Sixteen months ago I met a new life insurance agent. He told me he was struggling. I asked him about his hours. “I tend to start around 9 am and finish around 5:00,” he said. 

“You won’t make it,” I told him. “You aren’t acting like a guy who wants to succeed. If you are committed to this, your day needs to start at 7:30 and wrap at 6:30, at least.” Four months later I saw him.  He was doing well. He was at it early, working longer hours. All because he gained a sense of urgency.

If you want to discuss these issues, you can reach me at

7 Lookouts When Inspecting Your Culture

Let’s conduct an investigation, shall we? Put on your houndstooth jacket, ascot, and thinking cap, and let us partake on an endeavor to assess the “real” culture of your company. That means bypassing the red herrings, smoke screens, false positives, and similar shiny objects meant to distract.

To help, here are 7 “lookouts” when you are defining your culture:

  1. First, separate the “noise” from true cultural traits. What really influences results at the company vs. what seems important. Wheat from the chaff stuff, get all biblical with it. Don’t accept corp-speak, have people communicate with their own words. For example, what the hell does this mean? “We strive to be the supreme customer-oriented provider while facilitating extraordinary growth with sustainable profitability.” I don’t see people using that in everyday conversation, do you?
  2. Don’t mistake “squeakiness” with criticality. There can be loud bleating that leads nowhere, volume does not equal importance. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? Yep, and it also monopolizes your time and resources; sometimes the wheel is squeaky because it needs to be replaced (a little HR humor; very little, I realize.)
  3. Take time to research the history. There may be sacred cows in the organization that are ingrained so deeply into the fabric of a company that they absolutely must be included in a culture definition. Quirks, personality traits, little peccadilloes that are as much a part of you as your own obsession with pointing all desk ornaments to face Westward. Shut up, it’s perfectly normal.
  4. Use your eyes more than your ears. When describing culture, employees may be quite adept at paraphrasing the corporate mission statement. Watch how things really work when defining a culture. I work for a company that defines itself as “Casually Intense” – as I walk around the campus I see leaders of industry in jeans and Sanuks as they carry about the business of curing cancer. I’d say that my eyes vouched for my ears.
  5. Ask the same question in various ways to calibrate the meaning of various terms. Example: “Would you define your organization as risk tolerant?” Then later, “What mistakes are not tolerated?”
  6. Explore the data behind the message. A “Performance Culture” can be easily identified by historical information regarding merit rating (and dollars) distribution. I’ve yet to meet an executive who doesn’t vocalize the fact that his/her company culture is “performance driven“; but when you look at the numbers, a different story materializes. Could a 3rd-party observer immediately recognize your key performers by looking at a spreadsheet of historical merit awards and/or bonus awards? If not, you’re not quite there yet.
  7. Don’t only focus on the usual suspects. High-potentials and Senior Leadership are great at explaining the culture, but make sure to check in with the people shoveling the coal, too. There’s also value in looking outside the company to see what others are saying. Customers, former employees, current employees on social media – your reputation is highly indicative of the culture you have cultivated.

The underlying message here? Transparency – be honest and encourage the same from those who contribute to the discussion. There’s no prize for fabricating a culture you aspire to have, the key is identifying what makes your company tick, then improving where you see an opportunity.