Category Archives: Current Events

Scattershooting…on Bosses Day

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Chris Rock…

Here, on the most awkward of “celebrated” office days, it seems appropriate to share my own reflections about becoming a “boss.” Being put in a people-manager position, like a lot of things, should also come with the warning of “careful what you wish for” ~ management status provides its own share of uncomfortable moments (like when your employees feel they have to give you a gift on “Bosses Day”) but there are more subtle lessons along the way that remind you: “You know you’re a boss when….”:

  • You actually have to remind yourself to make a distinction between “friendly” and “friends.” We’ve all had a boss (or two) that is a nightmare, but I’ve also had a couple that were bonafide friends – that’s a dicey situation, but you see more of the barriers being broken down as a younger generation enters the workplace….”You know you’re a boss” when you really begin to empathize with your own boss – a lot of us look at the elevated title, income, and status, but have no real reference for the other side of the coin; increased responsibility, increased accountability, increased blood pressure – most of which your direct reports never see (and are certainly uninterested in hearing about them)….You know you’re a boss when you come to terms with this fact that “yes, they probably ARE talking about you behind your back.” Did you really think you were this funny? Do you believe your ideas are always “brilliant!”? To make up for that nonsense, your directs probably throw a few darts at your face later in the evening. That’s what people do….
  • You know you’re a boss when your workday ends at 5pm, then kicks back up around 8pm.
  • You know you’re a boss when your role at the office Happy Hour changes – you’re there to fund, not necessarily to participate. You can’t afford to show your a** to the people who work for you, and yes – they are watching.
  • You know you’re a boss when (similar to parenthood) you find yourself saying things you swore would never come out of your mouth – i.e., “working remote is a privilege, not a right!
  • You know you’re a boss when some of your suspicions are proven true – bosses really do have favorites, and try as you might to maintain objectivity, your other direct reports can easily determine who the “favorites” are. It’s like being a Little League coach for your son/daughter’s team – you’re almost obligated to start treating your favorites with more scrutiny, lest you raise the ire of the rest of the team.

It ain’t easy being the boss. Your flaws become magnified, and many of your strengths from your previous role are innate – you find it hard to “teach” things that come naturally to you. There will be times of self-doubt and times where your workload seems overwhelming, but that’s the job you signed up for…so, on this day, let’s give the boss a break. Because starting Tuesday, it’s right back in the fire.

SourceCon in Dallas? Bring Cab Fare…

Well howdy folks, and welcome to Dallas ~ now get your Smartphones out and download the Uber app. On behalf of the Metroplex (I’ll get to that in a minute), please bring your consumer dollar and spend liberally. If you’re one of the hundreds of people headed down (or over) here for SourceCon, why not bring the spouse or significant other (or both) and make it a long weekend? The “Metroplex” includes all of the cities and communities that include/bridge the Dallas/Ft. Worth corridor. Having grown up in Ft. Worth, then living in Dallas, Irving, Bedford, and now Southlake, I feel moderately qualified to make a few recommendations.

Full disclosure, folks – this ain’t Chicago (or New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, or Vegas) but it’s one helluva place to live. And, since you picked a week to come where the weather might actually fool you into thinking we have a “moderate” climate, it’s a good time to enjoy what we have to offer.

There are probably more comprehensive lists (see Bradley’s here,) but there may still be a few things you could do that would make this a truly memorable experience – an NONE of it occurs in Dallas. As a Ft. Worth boy, I can impartially tell you that Ft. Worth blows the doors off of Dallas and demands your attention, and sits only a short 25-minute drive away.

1. Saturday, September 19th, 7pm – TCU plays SMU at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Ft. Worth, TX. The “Horned Frogs” will be ranked #3 in the nation, and take special pleasure beating their Dallas rival, SMU. Great college scene in TCU, the weather will be insanely nice, and you can view the richest co-eds in the state of Texas, regardless of which school’s students you may observe.

2. Joe T. Garcia’s – There’s only one Mexican food experience that counts around here. Joe T’s, located on the North Side of Downtown Ft. Worth is an institution. Authentic family-style Mexican food, margaritas that are flammable (again, Uber app), and the perfect place for a pre-game meal or post-game capper with friends. One of a kind, take advantage of the opportunity while you’re here.

3. Billy Bob’s Texas – Yeah, it’s cliché, and it’s a little hokey, but the place is massive and lies just down the road from the aforementioned Joe T.’s. Dancing, mechanical bull-riding, honest-to-God cowboys and goat-ropers (don’t ask), this Saturday  it’s featuring Bret Michaels. I’m not a fan, but still – Bret Michaels.

4. Sundance Square – This is downtown Ft. Worth. You may have heard of the Bass Brothers – they started financing the re-building of our downtown back in 1979. Outside of Austin, this is the best downtown in Texas. Great restaurants, great scene, and you can walk anywhere without fear. Try that in Dallas, but make sure your dental records are up-to-date. In downtown Ft. Worth you’ll actually see mounted police in cowboy hats ~ I don’t care who you are, that’s pretty cool, padnuh.

"Y'all be safe now, ya hear?"
“Y’all be safe now, ya hear?”

5. Global Life Ballpark in Arlington – Yeah, I know, this is an Arlington highlight, but this is Major League Baseball. Located next door to Jerry Jones’s Death Star (literally, they can share parking lots) in Arlington, the Texas Rangers are on a home stand & they are in the throes of a pennant race. Playing the Houston Astros on Thursday, the Seattle Mariners on Friday and Saturday. Beautiful stadium, outrageous food, meaningful baseball in September – what’s not to like?

So do yourself a favor while you’re here in Dallas ~ grab a few buds, get a ride, and go see a more “Texas-y” part of Texas. You have my personal, bias-free endorsement. 😉

Trump – It’s No Longer a Gimmick

Note – Originally posted on LinkedIn, 8/10/15, but it keeps getting better. Highlighted any updates to this circus.

It was June 16th when The Hairpiece announced in his Presidential candidacy speech that “The Mexican government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, and rapists.” Not surprisingly, the reaction was one of disgust, and Trump found two of his most beloved branding opportunities, The Apprentice and the Miss USA Pageant, either cancelled or boycotted. He even had El Chapo use Twitter to threaten to “make him eat his words.” You gotta be pretty offensive to have a mass murdering, drug-dealing, convict on-the-lam actually take time to address you on Social Media.

That’ll shut him up.

Except it didn’t. The Donald continues to double-down on his rhetoric about illegal immigrants, has thrown in disparaging comments about Senator John McCain, and is directly calling out President Obama as “the worst ever.” He’s like J.R. Ewing, only not as likable.

And he’s gaining momentum.

Is Trump is a legitimate contender to be the Republican nominee for President? I’m not even sure he is committed to the cause, this whole “candidacy” could be from the Trump book of marketing – but I find this situation absolutely fascinating. Trump has an audience, and they are listening. You wonder if his camp is shocked by the support, considering the P.R. disaster this man can be. So why is this happening?

  • People believe him. I don’t know anyone in my network of professional contacts who would endorse Trump…(publicly, that is.) It’s not popular to admit supporting Trump, but polls show he has captured an issue people actually care about, whether they admit it or not. I don’t expect to see lawn signs appearing in my neighborhood, a straw poll would probably tell a different story.
  • He’s honest(ish). When he’s talking about illegal Mexican immigrants, you get the feeling that he’s pulling no punches. He’s now (loudly) reminding everyone he opposed the Iraq War [he did] and spelling out his militaristic plan to “take their oil, take their money, shut them down.” That may make him the only political candidate in the last 20 years to tell you exactly what his beliefs are. Even if they appall you. Our “professional” politicians are so talented in spin-doctoring that it’s nice to occasionally hear someone’s real opinion. If Trump ever had the opportunity to give a State of The Union address, it would be can’t-miss TV ~ when was the last time that happened?
  • We are starved for leadership. This is reminiscent of Ross Perot’s brief foray into the Presidential race. America wants a boss. At some point, the political correctness of our elected leaders becomes intolerable. Somebody,anybody, show us a plan, give us direction, show some conviction, make a stand, and tell us how to make this country great again. Compare that to Hillary’s continued bet-hedging with her email “scandal.” She’s exemplifying what we already think about politicians – you have to think Trump would have said “yes, I did that, so what? By the way, lose 15 pounds.” Which brings us to…
  • We love hot dogs. Yep, we just don’t want to see how they’re made. Trump promises to “make America strong again,” which implies two separate messages: 1) America is currently weak, and; 2) he’s got a plan to put America back on top where it belongs. It could be quite ugly, cruel, and difficult to digest if we pay too much attention to how that happens, but all’s well that ends well… pass the mustard.

So why not Trump? I’m sure it terrifies Democrats (and Republicans) to think of Donald Trump as POTUS. He’s brash, arrogant, bombastic, and prone to being offensive – you know, an American. He outdid himself with his comments about Megyn Kelly & dared to bite the Fox hand that feeds the Republican party; even Hillary saw that one as an opportunity – but he’s still moving ahead. But his gaining popularity in the current polls promise he has caught the attention of those who may have initially dismissed him.

So, as Trump stirs the controversy cocktail early in the political race, consider for a minute the message behind the madness. Trump may very well be the candidate who sets a topic ablaze (i.e., immigration) and then steps back to watch the fire, but don’t be surprised when you see a “kinder” version of his stance from one of his counterparts in the Republican primary. Did you see Ted Cruz come out in support of  Trump? Not necessarily for “how” he said things but specifically for bring the illegal immigration topic to light. Politicians go where the votes are; if Trump continues to whip their collective butts in the debates, get your popcorn ready, ’cause it’s going to be a circus.

He’s loud, rude, crude, and somewhat of a bully (ask Rosie O’Donnell); his speeches seem designed specifically to cause angst and debate. He’s now been “dis-invited” from a Conservative event in Atlanta because of his inappropriate comments about Megyn Kelly’s moderator behavior ~ you have to know that for an anti-hero like Trump, that’s the LAST thing Republican leaders should do as it only lends credence to the possibility that the established political leadership (read as “political correctness”) fears him. Fascinating stuff, really.

And it’s working.

 

Ah Cecil, We Hardly Knew Ye….

Cecil the Lion is dead, and the world mourns. And as if we needed another reason to hate dentists, Dr. Walter Palmer, DDS, is the killer of the aforementioned Cecil.

The result? People have collectively lost their freaking minds. You can do what you want, but don’t touch our freaking lions.

Disclosure – I’m an animal lover, contribute to “Best Friends,” and the ASPCA, have had pets my entire life and the only hunting I do is when I lose my keys. My point is this; a “Trophy Hunter,” I’m not. I don’t like hunting, don’t understand the appeal, and shake my head at every rationalization I hear explaining this “sport.” I’m a big softie, so the thought of something as beautiful and majestic as a lion being hunted for a bucket-list is heartbreaking.

But this reaction to Dr. Palmer is insane.

This man lost his Dental practice, is being put under mandatory police protection, and has Jimmy Kimmel tearfully calling him out on live TV. There are 100,000 people who have signed a petition to have him extradited (you’ll be relieved to know the White House will thoughtfully review said petition; your tax dollars at work!)

My guess is that 99% of the people in the free world had never heard of Cecil prior to this tragedy. But we humans are a funny bunch; did you know, that in the U.S., EVERY DAY:

  • there are 44 people murdered
  • there are 30 people killed by drunk drivers
  • over 6,500 animals are euthanized
  • 5 children die from child abuse
  • 1,800 women are forcibly raped

You see where I’m going with this, right? This is like a Malcolm Gladwell book waiting to be written; “Don’t Kill the Lion.” It’s an amazing phenomenon – why is it that this captures the collective minds & hearts of humans to the point of action? Why would a Bachelorette participant start receiving death threats? Why did Michael Vick stir more fury than Jeffrey Dahmer?

Like a lot of people, my initial reaction was to brand this guy as a selfish turd who lured an animal off a protected refuge in order to add a head to his wall. Actually, I’m not sure my opinion on that has changed a bit. But for the love of Pete, do you think this may have gone a little far? Does PETA really need to call for him to be hanged?

Get a grip on yourself people, this is bandwagon behavior at its worst. God forbid any of us do something that goes viral on Social Media, where everyone from the outhouse to the White House throws a stone at us. Celebrity opinion is obviously appalled at the death of this magnificent beast, mainly because they don’t have anything else to do – but what about the rest of us, what’s our excuse?

R.I.P. Cecil, you will certainly be remembered – even by those who don’t know who the heck you are.

 

Cupid is Stupid

cupid-poem-life-funny
“Love is painful, see?”

It’s the 4th Annual reposting of what was an instant classic. Four years ago my first born (now 13) blessed us with a poem that I vowed to re-visit on an annual basis.

Compliments of Jack, my little boy genius & obvious Casanova-in-training:

“I love you, I love you, I love you so much, if I were a dart frog, I’d give you a touch.
 
If I were a boxer, I’d give you a punch. If you were a sandwich, I’d eat you for lunch.
 
If you were a paper I’d tear you apart. If you were a toy I’d sell you at Wal-Mart.
 
I love you the way a dog loves a cat, I love you the way a ball loves a bat.
 
If love was money, you’d be a nickel. If love was vegetables you’d be a pickle.
 
If you were a sink, I’d give you a clog. If you were a chew toy I’d give you to my dog.
 
I love you, I love you, I love you so much, but if we go together we’ll have to go Dutch.
 
I thought that some day we’d be under the steeple, but for now we should see other people.”

 

(For all you Hallmark representatives out there, I’m claiming copyright privileges – don’t make me come after you.)

The point of the post today? Don’t be fooled by the words, there’s a lot of love under there somewhere.

Happy Valentine’s Day ~

 

Welcome to Ferguson

Let’s burn this bitch down.” – Louis Head, step-father to Michael Brown & Ferguson, Missouri citizen.

I’d say that’s a strong-to-quite-strong statement made by Mr. Head. At first blush, like many people, I was appalled and a little bit frightened when I saw the footage. “How could he???” 

Hopefully you’ve kept apprised of events in Ferguson, MO, so a re-hashing of events that led to the current state of unrest is unnecessary, because, honestly – the actual event has become secondary to the reaction that perpetuates.

As you may have noticed from my profile photo, I’m white. In a time where we all walk on eggshells making any racial distinction about ourselves, I say that for one reason only…I don’t completely understand the riots, looting, and mayhem that has taken over in Missouri. Or, more accurately, I can’t completely understand.

It’s not my child, it’s not my neighborhood, and my life’s experiences (and my parents and grandparents’ life experiences, respectively) to this point in no way acclimated me to street rioting. I can’t possibly claim to completely understand the vantage point of the citizens (including law enforcement) of #Ferguson anymore than I can completely understand the events of Tiananmen Square 25 years ago.

Not completely. But I do think we can all understand some of what we are seeing. We understand human suffering; we understand the feeling of betrayal and/or unfairness. We understand feelings of frustration, helplessness, and anger. Where we don’t seem to have a common understanding is the various manifestations those feelings may take.

We each have our own Perspective: Depending on where you stand, the same occurrence can look a hell of a lot different. Everybody has a unique history; a collection of experiences that have shaped their respective being. If you look at Ferguson with disgust or with glee, you may want to check yourself a bit. Not everyone will agree or even remotely understand how you can see something the way you do.

I don’t want to devolve into a catchy allegory about rioting and corporate change; I think it minimizes the pain and heartbreak of those truly impacted by the outcome (and continued outcomes) of the tragic occurrence that cost Michael Brown his life, Darren Wilson his future, and the city of Ferguson much, much more.

But for those of us in Human Resources, it never hurts to remember the responsibility we have when it comes to dealing with human interactions in our respective workplace. Going in with pre-conceived notions may not be our plan, but as fellow humans (opinions may vary) we can’t assume that we have it all figured out based on the view we have through our own lens.

Do We Get What We Deserve?

#Election2014. Thank God that’s over.

Howdy Texans, we have a new Governor! For those of you who care, Greg Abbott won the gubernatorial vote over Wendy Davis in a bit of a landslide.

I’m thrilled.

Not necessarily by Mr. Abbott’s election, but by the fact my television watching experience will no longer include the pathetic attempts by both parties to demean and dehumanize the opposition.

I can’t speak to the elections in other areas of the country, but I can tell you that in Texas, it’s downright nasty.

Here’s the saddest part of the tactic of mud-slinging…it works. It must work, right? Why in the world would the same under-handed tactics be re-employed every election year? Am I continually left with a choice of a candidate who hates America vs. one who hates children? The commercials become more comical as the election grows nearer as any guise of “fair play” is a fart in the wind. Here’s an example of the garbage we are expected to ingest, compliments of Ms. Davis.

According to ThisNation.com, Americans are largely opposed to these ads, but it’s almost expected that candidates will twist the truth; or, as your mother refers to it – LIE. We’re numb to the fact that the candidates we elect to office are actively lying in their respective efforts to gain office. The unfortunate part of this tactic is they aren’t lying about their own accomplishments, they choose to lie about the opponent’s shortcomings.

I was having this conversation with a fellow staffing professional and related this to the interview process; what if, instead of the question “what are your greatest strengths?”, we asked “what are the other candidates worst qualities (btw, don’t worry, we know you’re going to hyperbolize, but still…).”

What kind of employee would you end up with? (Now, if you will, take a look at Washington, DC.)

We deserve better.

Ebola? None For Me, Thanks

If you want to know what’s inside something, just squeeze.” – Whitaker wisdom, date unknown.

Grow up in Texas and you’ll pick up any number of colloquialisms, parables, metaphors, and the like…sometimes, you even invent them. This one is a family favorite, passed down from my Pop.

On a related topic, have you heard about this #Ebola “thing?” Yep, thought so.

will there be room service?
will there be room service?

Here at “Ground Zero” (that’s Dallas to you folks) the E-word dominates the airwaves, coffee shop chatter, and my morning newspaper. A second health-care worker has tested positive for the disease after caring for the careless traveler from Liberia who brought his deadly virus to our town. Since we’re on the topic of “careless,” Dallas has proven that it’s not only West Africa airport screeners that are guilty of negligent behavior; the Keystone events at Presbyterian Hospital are shameful at many levels and include many people. Still, this radically negligent chain of events has resulted in exactly one death in the United States.

Influenza, as a comparison, has resulted in approximately 70,000 deaths in America in the last calendar year.

That’s a healthy disparity (pardon the pun.) But can we please maintain a bit of perspective here? Read this excellent article by Dr. Katz calling for similar restraint when considering the imminent danger to your person.

But the talk, the fear, and the hype of the moment is Ebola. We’ve been “squeezed,” and predictably, the collective panicked behavior speaks loudest to one truth – we cannot stand the unknown. Just as we reacted to SARS, AIDS, Bird Flu, and any other scourge that penetrates our bubble of safety here in good old ‘Merica.

We want (demand) certainty. “Guarantees.” Explanations. SOMETHING. Even at the expense of the truth.

I’m not trying to minimize the seriousness of a deadly virus; all things considered, I’d rather pass on Ebola. I’m trying to stress the need for a communication plan. The communication being disseminated in Dallas at this moment is akin to an employee rumor mill gone mad. The people with the platform to communicate (media) continue to inflame the situation by speculating (and sensationalizing) instead of providing useful information. Ebola is the boogie man we don’t know yet, so we take this information and run with it, oftentimes resulting in harmful consequences we have manifested ourselves – exactly how it happens in Corporate America; rumor is allowed to fester, informal communication takes the place of formal communication, a tough situation becomes complicated with emotion instead of fact. People begin obsessing rather than working, fearing instead of focusing, and generally creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to be sick? Keep worrying, that should do it.

Remember, the universe abhors a vacuum – the lack of a responsible communication plan leaves the door wide open for hyperbole, rumor, drama, and hysteria.

The media is squeezing you right now…show them what’s really inside you & live your life despite the noise.

NFL, “Not Feeling Lucky”

Ray Rice, meet the Bonfire of the Vanities.

Challenged by public outrage and “new” video footage, NFL leadership reversed an earlier decision for a 2-game suspension, and instead they just knocked his ass to the elevator floor.

TMZ, easily the king of American paparazzi got possession of said “new” video footage and let the world see exactly what it looks like when a professional athlete cold-cocks a female. In this case, the female was Rice’s fiancee, now wife, Janay. In a twisted sense of irony, Janay now stands as the sole supporter for Rice, while the sheep with the purse strings all head for the hills.

The league suspended him “indefinitely.” The Baltimore Ravens released him. Nike cut him. Refunds are being offered to fans wanting to return his jersey. Even Madden NFL 15 will remove him from the uber-popular video game.

Smells like a chicken coop, if you get my drift.

If you think the NFL didn’t know about the details of this incident prior to TMZ’s viral release, you haven’t been paying attention. This is a league that fines and suspends players for wearing the wrong socks; they fine players for celebrating; they fine them/eject them for “violent” hits on unsuspecting receivers (think about the irony of that for a minute.) It’s all about protecting the NFL Brand, and as long as no “proof” was available to the public, the league was not going to over-react to the incident by losing a valuable piece of the product (that’s you Ray, you’re cattle to them). As far as we knew, Mrs. Rice had a fainting spell and the easiest way to remedy her was to drag her by the arm half-way out of an elevator.

But that’s not the point – Rice is being rightfully vilified for his actions, but the league was willing to turn a blind eye as long as the truth didn’t surface.

I’ve been in HR for 20+ years and I’ve seen similar circumstances play out. It’s called a cover-up, meant to protect a valuable asset (again, like cattle.) To then throw Rice to the dogs as a sacrificial lamb is meant to do only one thing – make sure the focus stays far, far away from those who screwed the pooch.

Is it working?

#FireGoodell

Sterling Reminds Us Again – You Can’t Ignore Stupid People

When you sleep with dogs, you wake up with fleas.” – Benjamin Franklin

Welcome, NBA Owners, to the flea circus.

On your watch, you allowed the consistent bad behavior of a peer to continue relatively unopposed. The only real surprise of the latest Donald Sterling gaffe is that anyone would be surprised. The guy has a solid track record of buffoonery, discrimination, sexism, and racism. And yet, he’s among the most tenured of all NBA owners. Apparently, membership has it’s privileges, and they include the art of jack-assery. To boot:

  • In 1981, Sterling tried to get out of paying $1,000 to a contest-winner who hit a half-court shot at halftime.
  • In 1983, while interviewing Rollie Massimino for the Clippers head-coaching position, one of his less constructive questions was “What makes you think you can coach these n******?”
  • In contract negotiations with Danny Manning (1988), Sterling refers to him as a “poor black kid.”
  • In 2002 he makes disparaging racial remarks when describing apartment tenants whom he felt poorly represented his image….smelly, dirty, and lazy among other descriptors.
  • In 2006 he was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for housing discrimination.
  • In 2009 he was sued by former General Manager Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination.
  • In 2010 he heckled his own players on more than one occasion.
  • His latest blunder tops the sundae; over 100 hours of recorded conversation with his nookie-girl mistress, where his racist rants have become a viral bombshell.

How does this happen?? Don’t be silly…it always happens.

My guess is anyone reading this can immediately pull up an example in their corporate life where someone was allowed to behave in a completely inappropriate manner, but seemingly suffered no real consequences for their actions. A senior leader was allowed to sweep indiscretions under the rug; sales people are allowed to behave boorishly as long as revenues are solid. Bullies tolerated despite the departure of talented and skilled underlings who could no longer tolerate the unfair treatment.

Why do we allow this to perpetuate? “We” in this sense meaning the collective population, but specifically in Human Resources, why do we allow this to happen?

So I’ll be paying attention to the events that unfold from this latest Sterling gaffe. He’s a known quantity, i.e., NBA Leadership already knew he was a racist, a sexist, a pig on feet, yet he continues to be a member of an exclusive club. His fellow NBA owners knew he was a personal disaster, but they remained silent throughout the years. The coach, Doc Rivers, knew he was going to work for a man who is on record as viewing minorities as “dirty” and “lazy.”  We can only assume that the financial rewards for tolerating Sterling have outweighed the potential discomfort with removing him.

But no one, to date, has done jack-squat to really address this man. And that, to me, is the most disappointing piece of the story.