Random Thoughts for August 17, 2014

There was a lot going the past week, it’s hard to do individual posts, so it’s best to summarize here.

Robin Williams

On Monday, Robin Williams took his own life at his home. It was later in the week, it was announced Williams was battling early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

On the entertainment front, Williams was a ball of joy. Either as a comedian, a guest on the talk show, or the main attraction in a comedy, Williams wanted to make you laugh and with his frantic mind, you have no idea where he was heading (read the behind-the-scenes of Mork and Mindy) and that was what Williams wanted: to see his mind and come join the ride. I know many tributes will include probably his most famous role as the teacher in Dead Poets Society. I have two favorite roles. The first is Good Morning, Vietnam, playing DJ Adrian Cronauer during the Vietnam War, for obvious reasons. The other was The Birdcage, where Williams plays a drag club owner to help his son getting married to a daughter of a political family with the help from his partner, Alan, played by Nathan Lane. Williams was funny, but restraint. There were over the top moments, but were not over the edge.

Robin also discussed his struggle with depression and see so many tributes people discussing their struggles with depression. There’s some research that discourage this, but some want to know how to battle this. We don’t know what is the best solution, but it is a consensus that when someone has depression, we should be there to support, by any means necessary.

Ferguson, Missouri

It all started with a police officer shot down Michael Brown. There has been two different versions of how Michael Brown was killed. The Ferguson police said Michael Brown was trying steal a gun from the officer and the officer acted in self-defense. Witnesses say Michael Brown surrendered, raise his hands up, got down to his knees, and then the officer shoot him. From the recent events the past week, we trust the Ferguson citizens more than the police department. We did know Michael Brown did something, but was it worthy to be killed for his actions, that seemed to be minor? Ferguson citizens, which 2/3rds of the population is black, thought the police, which the department is 94% white, took it way too far. This has resulted in looting; police in army gear; confusion not only in Ferguson, but in the state of Missouri (see Jay Nixon); and chaos that journalists are getting arrested for no reason. How does a small town get all that army gear? The modernization of the cop from friendly and upright citizens like Barney Fife are no more and evolved to essentially a soldier programmed to see any wrongdoing and take action.

We’re all upset by this because it has race and class overtones, but we’re also mad because we can see and hear what the Ferguson police are doing to their citizens in an instant. From the looks of it, the Ferguson police department are still stuck in the 1960s, while everyone is watching in shock and horror. Ferguson’s response is left to be desired.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

No, I have not participated in the ice bucket challenge because no one has challenged me, yet, but it has become a viral phenomenon and the ALS Association announced it raised over $11 million during that time. Most enjoy doing the challenge, while some are either sick of it, some think it serves no purpose, or few think we’re focusing too much on one cause. Two thoughts here: 1) $11 million was raised in less than a month serves the Ice Bucket Challenge’s purpose and 2) if you read or watch Pete Frates‘ story, you understand why it has become viral. This is Marketing 101 for nonprofits: find someone with a unique story to tell and let them and/or their friends do the work for you. Frates had a great support system. They pay it forward it to others, who are well-known athletes we admired, and it has spread. Now, people have more knowledge about this cause. Also, it’s appropriate since it’s the 75th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig announced he has ALS. He would be confused at first with why people dumping ice cold water on themselves, but happy they are doing this to b ring awareness to ALS. Of course with all this money, it’s how ALS spends it that’s more important and with a huge support of people behind the cause, the ALS Association better not screw this up.

That’s all I have. Back to your regular posts hopefully this week, unless something happens that is beyond my control or I actually have work to do.


Jayson Werth Gnome-ageddon

Before the season, the Nationals released their promotion schedule and one of the intriguing promotions was the Jayson Werth Garden Gnome on August 5th. I was a partial season ticket holder, but August 5 was not in my plan. Luckily, by being a season ticket holder, I could exchange games. More luck, the preseason game between the Detroit Tigers and the Washington Nationals was cancelled and the ticket, which I had but could not attend, can be exchanged to any regular season game and August 5 was the selection.

Fast forward to the day of the gnome giveaway, I left my house at 9AM to pick up my gnome costume in Ballston. I decided to go with the gnome costume for only one purpose: win the Nats Fan of the Game for the third time in four tries (and the $50 Harris Teeter gift card).

I notice when I stop at Ballston, the rate from Fairfax to Ballston is now $3.10 at off-peak hours. After getting some work done, I decided to walk from Ballston to Nationals Park, with a lunch stop at Custom Fuel (I had a Livingsocial deal). I also realize the Africa Summit was happening that morning and there were some closures, so I walked around and when I finished my lunch, the crew were just removing the barricade over at The White House. I did some errands and finish work and when I saw Nationals 101 tweet that the line was forming, it was time to go.

When I got there, a line was starting to form and would reach to the Navy Yard Metro stop before the gates open at 4:30 PM. During the 60-75 minute wait at the line, a lot of people were taking a lot of pictures of me. I was stunned by the amount of picture requests because I know there will be some who will dressed up as gnomes and a few will have dressed as gnomes with beards. Why would I think I’m not the only one dressing up? Looking at the other pictures, I was one of two, at the park, who had the full gnome gear, including the beard. It really got started with my friend, Elissa’s tweet:

And then the media started picking it up (yes, I noticed, there’s no y):

Picture requests continued when I got into the park. At the same time, my entrepreneurial mind also told me to give out business cards knowing who I am and what I actually do. Here are some (also, I’m looking to add more pictures. If you have pictures of me dressed as the gnome, forward it to me.):

Now, here’s the disappointing part of the story. During the picture requests, one of them said to me, “How much are you selling?” while I was taking off someone else’s sunglasses, I dropped my Jayson Werth gnome. I was upset, but I wasn’t as upset as the Eff Yeah Jayson Werth Group and they really wanted me to find a replacement gnome. Maybe it was a sign it wasn’t meant to be that I get my own gnome. I didn’t find a replacement, but I was never a hurry because 1) I dropped it. No one’s fault but mine and I brought in all the attention and 2) over 15,000 didn’t get a Werth gnome and as you see above, if I was the consolation prize, I don’t mind that. As for the broken gnome, it is in the hands of my friend, Stefany, who is trying to put it back together. There might be some hope for “my gnome” since it was made of “ash” than in “maple” (translation: it broke into three pieces, not a million). Also, I know some feel pity for me and want me to have a replacement gnome. I love the support and thank you for caring, but I’m fine with or without the gnome. Then again, I’m missing out on making a profit. Then again, I’m glad I’m not this person:

As for my quest to win the Fan of the Game for the third time: it was an all-kids edition, so I had no shot (if you’re wondering, my only loss was to a kid last year. Stupid kids! I kid, I kid.)

As for the game, the Nationals lost to the Mets, 6-1, and I will take full responsibility of the Nats lost because I dropped my gnome and bad stuff happened. Also, saw Dan Steinberg and Scott Allen as well, so you know it was a big deal (now, I’m craving for the DMV).

Although the Nats lost, this was the most fun I had in the ballpark in two years and had no clue I had so much support with the gnome look. I had the rainbow mullet wig for over a year. I think I have found a new costume. Oh, for the people who missed out on the Werth gnome, I can be the alternative…but at a reasonable rate ;)

UPDATE: My friends went out of their way to give a replacement gnome from trading their own bobbleheads to even asking Jayson Werth of extra gnomes (we know some people). Alas, Stefany did put the gnome back together and here’s the final result:



Also, I’ll give credit to Kathleen Smith on this, but if you ever want a gnome to do some recruiting work for a day, two days, or a week for employer branding purposes, I can do it. Again, email me if you’re interested.

If I Were Running A Company…Happiness

via BigPulpit.com

Last week, Pope Francis did an interview with an Argentinian magazine, Viva, on his top tips for Catholics to be happy, where the National Catholic Register translated it to English. What got to me is the tips are more associated to work and the workplace. Obviously, Pope Francis wants everyone to have a life, but it goes beyond the household and workplace. Here are Pope Francis’s top ten tips of happiness and how each associates with the workplace:

1. “Live and Let Live”

Do not try to judge people. Let people be who they are, and you and the company, should not interfere with the employees’ beliefs and values.

2. “Be giving of yourself to others”

Have charity of not just money, but time to help out a cause or a situation for the people who need it the most. Pope Francis warns that, “if one gets tired…one runs the risk of being egoistic, and stagnant water is the first to be corrupted.” Basically, charity keeps an agile mind.

3. “Move Quietly”

Slowdown. If you go too fast, you will miss something. Have an older person be a mentor because of their wisdom and guide through the tough times. The older employee will have the experience and know-all of what’s going on. It’s alright to have energy, but it’s also important to have perspective and inside knowledge to slow things down so you capture everything.

4. Have a healthy sense of leisure

This is simple, spend time with your friends, go out, read, listen, something that you enjoy the most. Why I highlighted this part is because in the United States, Americans took only around half of their paid vacation time, and 61% work on vacation. The United States is also the only advanced economy that does not require employers to pay paid vacation time to employees. There has been talks about reducing the number of work hours so the employees will be fresh the next week. There’s a motto, “work hard, play hard” that applies here, but it should be “worker harder in less hours to play harder more.”

5. Sunday is Family Day

In Catholicism, Sunday is where you enjoy leisure time with your family and friends. At the workplace, have one day (or half-day) to have all the employees together and do something fun to end the work week. As Pope Francis says about families (and I would include companies), “the concept of families are necessary for the survival of humanity.”

6. Find ways to make jobs for young people

Pope Francis says, “Power, money, culture do not give us dignity. Work, honest work, gives us dignity.” He also states that companies must find creative ways to bring young people into jobs to prevent them from drugs and suicide. The United States youth unemployment rate is at 13.3%. Where are the jobs for the youth? USA Today tried to answered that. I personally think there’s not enough solid public-private partnerships to help the youth find jobs and not a solid foundation in talent development among either colleges, governments, or companies/organizations. Time to change that.

7. Respect Nature

Be respectful for the environment and nature. Nothing noteworthy about the workplace expect how to save your electric bill and the food we eat.

8. “Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy”

Have a positive mindset. If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it too long. Also, don’t talk bad about your colleagues and your employer. It would seem you have low self-esteem.

9. Stop proselytizing

Stop “spamming” on people about how great your company is. Network and have a conversation with them on their viewpoints and how would they approach different situations about your company. People will join if they’re attracted to it, not by force-feed advertising.

10. Work for peace

Have a heart and be proactive and never be quiet about your work (In Pope’s version, peace).

The Pope’s top 10 tips of happiness would be a great handbook for employees. I highlighted some segments because although we should follow these tips in our professional and personal lives, the United States still lags behind other countries in vacation, hours, and productivity. Why is that?

One word: Fear.

  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Fear of losing their jobs and paychecks
  • Fear of their future
  • Fear something will be taken away

Fear drives most of us to work to survive instead of thrive. Fear only gives us satisfaction at a point and why most people work paycheck-to-paycheck every (other) week. We work just to maintain a house, a car, paying bills, and others. Although most Americans are productive by the most part, companies are still stuck on the status quo that hours are important than results.

Instead of bringing fear in the workplace, employers need to give their employees room to find joy. If you’re employees find joy, work will be more productive; employees can talk about organization positively, in an organic manner; bring new ideas and perspectives; create a generous culture; and people will be attracted on your employer brand. Give them room to figure it out. It’s about growth.

Fear is a short-term solution of making money. Happiness (Joy) is a long-term solution of being a great organization. The United States needs to figure that out, but in a polarized setting we’re in, that might be a generation away or may never happen.

If I Were Running A Company…Assessment Tests (Promo Alert)

I’m not a big assessment test person. There are many questions that are in-between, you have to select one answer and you’re not sure if it’s the answer you want. One little answer affects the result. Now, there’s some questions about the validity of personality tests, like Myers-Briggs, if they really capture the person accurately.

This confirms my opinion that assessment tests are a bunch of crock (looking at you, a certain University Career Center). However, there was one test I took that puts a different perspective on this.

I tried Project Fascination, created by Sally Hogshead, who is promoting a new book, How The World Sees You, where how others see (or perceive to see) you at work. I took the test, seeing my other HR professionals have done it and it doesn’t give me an explanation about myself, but what others see me. It gives your primary advantage, your secondary advantage, and your dormant advantage.

The result they gave to me is that I’m the “Quick-Start,” who are innovative and alert, although my least effective trait is trust. You can read my full report here. Have to say that’s pretty accurate. Now if they have this for dating…

You can too see what others see you by filling out the form, here, for the first 100 people signed up to take the test using the promo code: BL-pudgeyt (have my name as the username is lame, although, I should of gone with thispersonstinks) and share to the world how the world sees you by using the hashtag, #HowTheWorldSeesYou.

The Cannonball Run Series: Revisited

If you want to re-live your 80s nostalgia, I might have a nightmare for you. In 1981, The Cannonball Run debut in theaters. It was panned by critics, but respected by the mass audience. It made $72 million in the box office and was the sixth highest-grossing movie that year.

It had an all-star cast, which was led by Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Dom DeLuise, and Roger Moore as himself. The movie was a slapstick comedy version of the actual Cannonball Run in the 1970s, where teams drive from New York to L.A. The movie also had Jackie Chan, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin (as priests), Jaime Farr, Terry Bradshaw, and a host of random celebrities.

In 1984, The sequel, Cannonball Run II, came out and had a more star-studded cast with Tony Danza, Ricardo Montalban, Marilu Henner, Shirley MacLaine (yes, that Shirley MacLaine), Telly Savalas, Abe Vigoda, Sid Caesar, Charles Nelson Reilly, Tim Conway, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, Joe Thesimann, Frank Sinatra, and others. The sequel didn’t live up to its predecessor and only made $30 million in the box office.

Cannonball Run has some relevance in cinema history:

  • It was the last movie with the Rat Pack together onscreen.
  • The blooper reels at the end of the credits that Director, Hal Needham, helped made it popular in which co-star, Jackie Chan, used it in his movies.
  • If you want to be noticed for terrible acting and a terrible movie, Cannonball Run was that movie. The original had one Razzie nomination for Farrah Fawcett for Worst Supporting Actress, and the sequel had eight Razzie nominations (and amazingly, no wins).

Why I’m writing about Cannonball Run series is…I have no idea. I just want to show you the one scene that made me dream I want to grow up to be Captain Chaos:



Cannonball Run isn’t a masterpiece. Hell, it was a crappy movie, but Captain Chaos flying from the roof of the house, made me dream I can save lives just by flying from someone else’s roof and crash to a crowd of people. Isn’t that cinema supposed to do? I need to dress up as Captain Chaos for Halloween one day.

For your viewing pleasure…

The original Cannonball Run:

The sequel (Ok, not really. Just Jackie Chan fighting everyone):

If I Were Running A Company…Context

Courtesy: Twitter/@PrincessBMM via Buzzfeed

This is Breanna. She’s a teenager who tweeted out this picture (selfie, if you will) at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. She tweeted and emoticon that she is smiling. Obviously, this picture is getting a strong response on Twitter because of Auschwitz’s terrible history and the assumption why Breanna is happy could send a wrong message. Later, Breanna clarified that she is smiling because this was suppose to be a trip with her dad, but her dad passed away a year ago and was smiling just for him.

You can read the full story on Buzzfeed. Strong language is in the story.

Of note: I will not focus on her responses to detractors because if she were an adult and had this behavior, she would of been fired in most workplaces.  I’m focusing on the initial picture and caption.

In my opinion, although I’m uncomfortable with this picture, I don’t know her motive was and she is not doing anything crazy. A picture only speaks to a millisecond of her life and we’re suppose to be rational about everything. I wish she could tweeted her caption like “For you, Dad” or something like that, but she’ll learn since she’s a teenager. I know I’ve seen people smiling at cemeteries; even I do questionable stuff while caught on camera. Everyone has a different reaction to a situation and we need to be respectful of why they react.

This leads to my point in recruiting and HR and one of the issues I have in my profession, and I’ll say it over and over, is most look everything at face value. When they see, what they perceived, a disturbing picture, most will move it, but not knowing the context of the picture or statement. What if it’s someone who has the skills you need the most in the workplace and they made, in their opinion, a mistake? You could make an argument that our soundbite and instant culture has made this worst because of the visceral responses when we see something that can be questionable, like Breanna.

People do questionable stuff and some do step out of line, but that’s where HR and recruiters need to determine if this person, who made a mistake, was a one-time thing or it’s constant by looking at their previous tweets and posts. Look at the Justine Sacco case for example; she tweets out insensitive comments about race and diseases and gets fired. Most people will say it was the tweet before she headed home to South Africa. If you saw her timeline, before she deleted it, there were questionable tweets about race and culture, so her personality was not that out of line to the tweet that fired her.

The lesson for HR and recruiters is a basic morale: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” When we see things that initially shock us, we’re suppose to have a deep reaction and that’s fine, but given time and when you settle down, maybe it is not as bad as it seems. HR and recruiters should always investigate the matter, but need to make sure the pieces make sense and talk to the parties before render out a decision, either on a hire or conflict.

What Breanna did should had more context, but it’s not as bad as people would assume. Now, if she was a employee working in a cubicle, singing songs with the n-word? That’s another story.


If I Were Running A Company…Scavenger Hunts

The latest craze going on is scavenger hunts, albeit cash, tickets, or some other prize. A twitter account, called Hidden Cash, hides cash somewhere and people, who follow the account, go to the place and find cash. It has become a huge craze, people have trash the place and fight over the cash.

Recently, a company called ID.me put 30 bases around the DC Metro area for people to find and underneath each base is free Washington Nationals tickets. The caveat is the person, who founded the tickets, must be either a veteran, police officer, firefighter, or EMT and if you’re not, give it to them as a nice gesture (not sure why do it that way, but fine).

This leads to something that has being talking about in HR and recruiting and that’s the popularity of gamification. Companies are looking for new ways to find talent and one of the ways is gaming to help give an idea to applicants what the company does and what you’re going to deal with.

For recruiters, one the best simulations is scavenger hunts. In scavenger hunts, you find something (people or objects) based on clues or random searching and guessing. There have been some recruiting scavenger hunt methods like finding random people or finding objects. I personally like finding objects because they can be great conversation starters to the surrounding people. Also, some people will stare

When I was doing the QR Code Hunt at my county fair, I had to find the QR codes with no clues. At times, the QR codes were in crowded areas and it was a perfect way to network to not fond other clues, but get to know the person or the company handling the booth. Thankfully, my keen eye and recruiting skills help me won free tickets to the county fair for life.

Although I did this by myself, I imagine recruiting scavenger hunts to be into teams. In that case, you need at least two people in your team:

  1. The Sourcer: A person who investigates and scours to all the clues based on the information given or places they’ve been to.
  2. The Business Development person: A person who can talk to find the way to your destination.

Scavenger hunts are a fun way for recruiting and HR departments to get involve and sharpen those skills and if you’re lucky, you win a big prize. In this case, it’s the hire.