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.

Your Washington Nationals Midseason Review

It wasn’t going to be easy.

For the first quarter of the season, it looked like the 2013 Washington Nationals: injuries, no runs with runners in scoring position, manager issues. At one point, the Nats were under .500 and it looked like Atlanta was going to runaway again.

Then, Fister debut in May, Zimmerman came back and is now a super utility player, Ramos returning, and Harper returning has the Nats virtually with Atlanta for the NL East lead.

Let’s focus on two things. The first is Matt Williams. At times, Williams can be authoritative. Look at the Bryce Harper situation, when he didn’t hustle to first base, Williams benched him and started a million rumors about their relationship.  Also, Williams can be question about his strategy. However, there’s no question the players have responded to Williams and with a full lineup, let’s see how Williams handles the second half.

The second part is the health of the team. Before June, only one time the lineup was at full strength: opening day. Now, the Nationals have the second half of the season to see if this lineup comes to fruition. What you can say is the Nats bench is much better than last year, and still have rooms of improvement via trade and waivers.

Last year at this time, the Nats were playing catchup with Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. This year, they’re in the mix in not only the NL East, but the postseason race. We will see how they will respond.

If I Were Running A Company…Bosses to Coaches

via SHRM

Although I did not attend the SHRM Conference in Orlando this year, I was paying attention in the twitter stream. I’ll be honest, there wasn’t much from the stream, from an outsider point of view, but there was one part I was intrigued by from Yum! Brands CEO, David Novak:

I completely agree with David on this.

It used to be that if you’re the boss, you can control the room because your title says you’re above the others and other employees have no other option in their time. Now, with starting a business becoming more friendlier, a “free agent” world where anyone can go anywhere, and more options for people; the boss can’t do the same things like they have in the past. The current, prototypical boss have to relate to their employees and understand what they’re going through.

A great example of this is in sports. You used to have managers and coaches yell and scream to get attention, either to the players and referees, because they were in control and act like they know everything. In today’s sports world, coaches and managers need to relate to the players of how to approach their respective sport better.

The first person to actually capture this trend was Pete Carroll twenty years ago, when he was head coach for the New York Jets for one season. At the time, the NFL coaches, some of the players, and the media ridicule Carroll’s methods of being a player-friendly coach. Carroll had another NFL coaching gig with the New England Patriots from 1997-1999, and then was the sixth choice to be USC’s head football coach in 2000 and made them into a college football powerhouse with the same methods he employed when he was in the NFL. After a successful run at USC (and the Reggie Bush incident) he returned to the NFL in 2010 to coach the Seattle Seahawks and this past year, his team won the Super Bowl in a 43-8 blowout over the Denver Broncos.

Pete Carroll’s success has lead to other sports teams finding former players to become either a coach/manager or a general manager because they understand how the current player thinks and acts because they used to be in that role. This is the manager of today. Bosses can’t be controlling and worried about keeping a job. The “new boss” passes down and guides the employees to navigate the company. The “new boss” has been in the trenches and understands what employees have been going through and find ways to make their employees better, either as individuals or as a team.

Why not stop at the workplace when you can use this at college? The problem with some colleges is they teach about the business through keywords and terms. It’s great students learn the terminology, but at some point they need to put that in practice. Why not bring in former employees and managers to show the ropes of business students of how a business really functions? Colleges can still have their research and studies, but college is about experimentation and for the students to get a job in the workplace when they graduate, they need a guided hand. I think a manager or employee can fill that role.

When you think of boss, you think of the words controlling, demanding, emotional and bottom line. Throw that out the window and managers need to think of these words: relate, building, wisdom, guidance, legacy, and pipeline. These are not words that you’re not turning old; these are words to keep your business going.

Soccer Has Arrived In America…Just the Media didn’t realize it 4 years ago

It was a disappointing loss for the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team as they lost in extra time to Belgium 2-1. This can be the discussion about the crazy, amazing performance Tim Howard had with 16 saves. This can be a discussion of how Chris Wondolowski missed opportunity and how it will haunt him for the rest of his life.

I’m going to write about the pain we felt on Tuesday was great for U.S. Soccer in the long-term. In the past World Cups, we have always rooted for the USA to win. That’s typical, but when they’re out, they were gone in our memories.

In 2010 it’s where I think the tide turned. You saw the same loud crowds this year as you did in 2010. This year is more profound because it was in Brazil and and time difference was not bad. This makes me ask  why now soccer will stick in America? Social media.

When social media (talking about Facebook and Twitter) came to prominence in 2007-08, people can talk about any subject in the open and your message was going global. It was the right time soccer fans to come out and talk about the sport. Real soccer fans understood Europe has the best leagues and the best players and they can talk about it on social media. Those messages infiltrate to other sports (and casual) fans to watch soccer in the morning, most likely the English Premier League. That made the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League valuable on TV. That is why NBC and Fox Sports, respectively, ponied up a lot of money to get those rights and it is paying dividends. To me, that’s where soccer in America arrived.

In 1996, Major League Soccer (MLS) debut after a successful 1994 World Cup in the United States. This was suppose to boost interest soccer in America. However, it turned off many fans: the backwards clock, clock froze, playing in big stadiums that were mostly empty, trying to be bigger than the major four. MLS was struggling. Fast forward eight years later and MLS tried to hype up Freddy Adu and became a bust, but at the same time, MLS downsize and it is reaping the benefits. The building of new soccer-only stadiums, like in Columbus, OH and Los Angeles, that have a few more seats than an indoor arena, can be filled with soccer fans. Having people filling the seats jumping and chanting makes it better for TV and it shows. MLS has new TV deal with ESPN, Fox Sports, and Univision starting in 2015.

So when people ask today what’s next for American soccer, casual and other sports fans have to realize this will take awhile. For starters, the U.S. Men’s Soccer team have tons of physical talent, but very little technical talent. As you saw in this year’s World Cup, the U.S. passing and possession is not up to par to the Europeans. I felt I was watching the 1998 Stanley Cup Final between the skilled Detroit Red Wings and the scrappy Washington Capitals again. This is why Jurgen Klinsmann was brought on as coach. He will teach his players how to be technical and working on the little details of the game. Klinsmann will also be responsible of building up the youth teams  (U-18, U-21) to become more competitive and refine their approach. I think fans expect with Klinsmann’s track record that he can bring a World Cup to the US. That’s a lot to ask since World Cup coaches to stay beyond for one cycle (4 years), but some do comeback years later. Klinsmann is there to build a culture of winning and success like he did with Germany and can get USA to the next level (quarterfinal, semifinal).

As for MLS, think of with  the KHL-NHL relationship. MLS is really the minor leagues to the European clubs and where old soccer stars from Europe come to the U.S. to say thanks. MLS’s real job is to find talent and shipped them to Europe to become real stars, globally. This is why some soccer fans want Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, and Jozy Altidore to stay in Europe because they can watch them grow into superstars. Now, U.S. Soccer fans will have to root for Julian Green, John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, and others to become stars in Europe to really be interested in Russia in 2018.

In addition, youth soccer, in the U.S., has boomed the last five years (this past year was flat), and youth football participation has dropped because of cost and worries of concussion. To be fair, soccer has the same concussion problem, but the head is not an essential part of soccer and can be restricted in youth programs. Hell, the Premier League can replace cartoons as the kid favorite Saturday morning show, when most of the Premier League games are played and a great moment for kids to actually see the best soccer stars and try to emulate that in their local soccer pitches. U.S. Soccer has a bright future.

For the casual and your average sports fan, the important number to know is 2026. This is where FIFA will pick its next location for the World Cup and chances are the U.S. are the front-runners because it’s the year the United States celebrate 250 years of independence (although, it’s FIFA). Expect 2018 in Russia and 2022 in Qatar as the USA getting respectability as a soccer power and in 2026 is where the USA are considered the favorites and have players who physically AND technically talented.

Side Rant: I’m going to miss ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup and sad that I have to watch Fox Sports after this World Cup to 2022 to get my soccer fix. I know there’s talk of the U.S. getting the 2022 World Cup if FIFA takes it away from Qatar, but if that’s the case, I want to be in a different country like Germany or England and have the United States get it in 2026. When the negotiating window opens for 2026, I want either ESPN or NBC to outbid Fox for those rights. People might not like ESPN, but I would rather have them covering a sporting event than the goons at Fox.

The question should not be if Soccer has arrived in America. It arrived a long time ago. What people should be asking is when (not if) the U.S. becomes a global soccer power? We have 12 years to know.

Happy Canada Day!

Ok, I know it’s July 3rd and Canada Day was on July 1st and although I’m not Canadian, Canada Day felt very lucky for me this year. This is what happened on Canada Day:

Capitals actually signed Defencemen

It has been a long time the Capitals signed actual defencemen…I just don’t know about these defencemen. I like the Matt Niskanen signing. Signed a 7-year deal and he is 27 years old; a great deal. On the other side, Brooks Orpik also sign for the Capitals. I don’t mind Orpik on the team for his leadership and physical play, I don’t know if he’s 5-years, $27.5 million worthy. As for the Caps, it looks like they want to go into the playoffs. Personally, I would tank next year for the chance to get either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel because they need centers badly.

Nats win!

Nationals crushed the Rockies, 7-1, but I want to use this space to talk to the Nationals brass for next year to have Canada Day at the ballpark and have the Nationals wear the Montreal Expos uniforms every Canada Day, and let them wear the powder blue uniforms like this:

Also, I want all Boardwalk Fries stands to have poutine for this one day and invite Youppi to get involved in the Presidents’ Race.

Some Nats fans don’t want anything related to the Expos because they want the Nationals to have their own history. I disagree with that notion since other cities remember their past. Moving the Expos to Washington is part of our history. It shouldn’t be erased and it’s unfair for the Expos fans. Canada Day should be a thank you to Montreal.

Speaking of the Nats:

Lunch with Mike Rizzo

I (and three others) recently won a drawing to have lunch with Mike Rizzo, sponsored by MASN. It’s in early August, but I definitely have questions for him, but if you have a question you want to ask Mike Rizzo, ask on the comments section.

Free Lifetime VIP Passes at Celebrate Fairfax!

The biggest prize from Canada Day was I won free passes to Celebrate Fairfax! for life. This was a month ago and I only attended Saturday and basically paid my ticket by donating clothes to their Fall Festival. There were three reasons I wanted to go on Saturday:

  1. QR Code Hunt (I know it’s cheesy and outdated, but for free lifetime passes, you do it.)
  2. Cheap Trick
  3. California Chrome chasing the Triple Crown

In addition, Saturday is the longest day of the festival. In half of the time I spent on that Saturday, I was doing the QR Code hunt. I scoured everywhere to find numbered QR codes and ask a few people. My lunch was free samples of Ledo’s Pizza and cups of water. At the end of the hunt, I got 32 of 33. The one QR code haunted me was number 27. I mention half of the festival that day, I was doing the QR code hunt, half the time, I founded the 32 and the rest of the festival, I was trying to find number 27 and I was a wreck because I know some attendees would attend 2 or 3 days and I only attended one day. I turned in my form and the guys at the booth said I was the clubhouse leader at the time. I told them I’m not confident because there’s one more day at the festival and there will be friends who team together to find all 33 codes and I would be devastated that I lost by one.

Fast forward to Canada Day and got an email from the Celebrate Fairfax! people that I won the QR Code Hunt and I don’t have to spend a dime on going to the festival except food and carnival games and bring my first date from Match.com to the event (HA!).

Oh, Don’t [expletive deleted] With the Recruiter! ;)

If the Celebrate Fairfax! people are reading this, I have three requests before I die (which I hope it isn’t anytime soon):

  1. Lisa Loeb. She’s more of a Sunday performer. I have not attended a Sunday festival in a long time. This would make me go on a Sunday.
  2. Roxette. They’re the first band I really liked and I want them here.
  3. Jimmy Eat World. It’s the only ’90s band that might be under your budget and are good. You can also take Gin Blossoms. Maybe Collective Soul again.

As for the rest of the Saturday festival: I got sunburned, had some bison dog and pizza, California Chrome didn’t win the Triple Crown, and Cheap Trick rocked the stage and were pure Rock ‘n Roll (I’m still haunted by the worst concert I attended: Ok Go! at Celebrate Fairfax! several years ago). Here’s a few pics from the festival (June 2014).

This could of been a better Canada Day if I had some work, job postings, and the U.S. Men’s Soccer team winning, which I will talk about tomorrow, but it’s no wonder I love Canada Day, even though I’m not Canadian. Must be the healthcare and crisp weather in the summer.

If I Were Running A Company…Career Hacks

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Credit: The Ink Factory

A couple weeks ago, I watch the live-stream of MCON14 (Twitter highlights here), a 2-day conference for millennials making an impact on society. I only caught the second day and I’m glad I did.

The most intriguing guest was CEO of Malaria No More, Martin Edlund. How did he became a CEO of a nonprofit? He did not have a career path, but being a career hack by acquiring skills from different places. If you look at his Linkedin profile, it’s all over the map:

  • He majored in Government at Harvard.
  • Founder of one of the last successful companies in the dot.com era.
  • A writer.
  • Heads up a nonprofit.

All those places he worked for, he learn something and acquire a skill. Edlund says you can’t prepare for career opportunities that may or may not exist in the future, but learn something from your opportunity you have and take it to your next phase. Edlund also mention that people need to be a MVP…minimum viable product, to be an essential core features that are needed for something to go to market.

I want to break down Edlund’s talk in three categories: entrepreneur/executive, the employee, and the job seeker.


This is self-explanatory as the entrepreneur/executive used to be in the position most of us are in right now. They did the work, they know the colleagues and their functions, they know the culture, and have the intangibles to maintain it or take it to the next level. They know the ins and outs because they’ve been down this road before.

The Employee:

The employee’s main job is what they’re doing with the company, but that should not be the only thing. Employees should check out to other departments of how they function and attend to their events. Employees should also attend company functions. Granted, it maybe cheesy or you’re too cool for it, but it’s your best opportunity to learn about your co-workers and what they do. As an employee, you have the best view of how everything works and make it better.

The Job Seeker:

This is where it gets tricky. The job seeker has the skills to handle a job (or jobs), but are not defined because the path they took. This is where the recruiter or hiring manager have to project if they’re a good candidate to interview and then if he/she is a good hire. Most of the time, Hr professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers are looking for known qualities and a sure thing than take a project and develop them in their company. I’ve always said that although recruiters can be innovators for the company, most tend to look at talent at face value.

How can job seekers change the perception to recruiters? Actually nothing, but you can change the hiring manager’s mind. This is why the cover letter is an important weapon.

There was a debate that if you need a cover letter or not. Here’s the thing: recruiters look for information on the internet and the resume about you. Hiring managers want to know what you have done, step-by-step. The cover letter should be to the hiring manager. The recruiter gets it as an additional attachment, but it helps that the recruiter understands what the job entails by seeing it in his/her eyes.

Martin Edlund’s talk reminds me that in the hiring process, we need to eliminate the “What do you think you’re going to be in 5 years?” stuff since it’s projected millennials will work around 25 jobs in a 50 year span. In addition, job hopping used to be bad thing because it perceives you’re not showing loyalty, when in reality, they (employee and/or employer) could have run its course, both wanted different things, or something else.

What job seekers and employers should focus on is:

  • Why did you apply for this company?
  • What skills, that you acquired, that could help our department/company?
  • What did you learn from each organization you work for?

If you answer these questions, you can force the issue with HR, recruiting, and the hiring manager. It’s up to them if they want and that will depend on their needs and projection of the company. All you have to do is still work on acquiring your skill set to be a better worker in the future.