You're hired, you're fired

Anyone who talks to me about their current corporate career will likely have heard me utter—likely innumerable times—my quintessential thought about staying in one place too long, “You’re not going to retire from there.”

Truth of the matter is that there are very few, if any, corporations that should be giving away gold watches to long, long, long term employees.

In my opinion, it’s not good for the employee or the corporation. Plain and simple.

Now, hold that thought. I’m going to take you somewhere else for a second. And then I’m going to come back here. It will seem completely disjointed. But I promise to bring it back around.

Know one of things I appreciated most about college? It was a finite experience. Better yet, it was defined as a finite experience.

I knew, going in, that I was expected to complete my work in about four years. I knew that if I was able to successfully meet the set objectives by the end of that period, I would receive a valuable piece of paper as proof that I had successfully completed the effort.

No surprises. Everything was set from day one: my time of hiring, my vesting period, my goals, and my time of firing.

And I believe that part of the reason that I continue to have a very strong relationship with my alma mater is because of this open communication. This honest communication.

So, given this little piece of information. Let’s go back to the first scenario.

If I’m not going to retire from there. And staying somewhere forever isn’t good for the employee or the business. Then wouldn’t it be nice if part of my hiring also included a specific time at which I would be fired?

I mean, if I’m working in a set period, with set goals? Just like college?

Maybe it’s 18 months. Maybe it’s 2 years.

But on my firing date, I would be let go, fully vested.

I would be required to be away from the company for at least one month. After which, I would be allowed to reapply for my former position, if I wanted.

If I was truly the best candidate, I could get rehired for another period. If not? Too bad.

Maybe there is another position available at the company for which I am better suited. Maybe it’s just better that we part ways.

Point being: current hiring practices are predicated on an outright lie. That lie being that the company expects you to work in the job for which they are hiring you, forever. When in actuality, you know you’re not going to like the job forever. And, in reality, the company expects you to stay in that job just as long as it is convenient for them to have you there. When it’s no longer convenient for the company, they will fire you. Despite any promises made to the contrary.

Lies, lies, and more damned lies.

So why not tell the truth? This is a finite relationship. During which time, the business would like to have the best you have to offer. And the employee will be justly compensated for contributing said effort to the company.

Doesn’t that make more sense?

If you hire me, let me know when you’re going to fire me.

Posted in Career, Employment, Firing, Hiring, Jobs | 7 Comments

Adopting an open meeting format

Get your meetings off the groundEveryone complains about meetings. Seems that they’re all useless.

But I have to imagine that there are some meetings that are valuable. Aren’t there? I mean, I get the chance to participate in some pretty productive meetings.

So I know they’re out there.

Toby and I were bemoaning this sad state of affairs when something struck me.

What if instead of scheduling meetings as a covert activity, it was an overt activity? What if scheduling meetings was like looking for events on Upcoming? What if all of your office cohorts and confidantes could follow what meetings you attended?

Well, it doesn’t matter, you say, because there aren’t open seats at most meetings.

But what if there were?

What if I could see when my boss, some other execs, and some of my peers were meeting? And then, what if I could choose to attend that meeting in one of the open seats?

So now, anyone can attend any meeting that seems interesting to them. Hmm. That would make for some pretty interesting meetings, I would think. I might just show up to see who the heck else actually made it.

So let’s take that concept a step further.

What if there were some structure that rewarded those who had the most well-attended and well-received meetings? What if there were some way to recognize that? What if you found someone who was always attending the best meetings?

Think about it. Could be interesting.

What’s keeping you from implementing it?

Posted in Career, Meetings, Whatif | 5 Comments

Does Mediocrity Reign Supreme?

So Rick and I were talking about passion for your work. Do you love what you do? How badly would you want to change to actively go out and find a better alternative to the job the current have (and maybe hate)?

So here’s a quick straw poll – what percentages do you think define the marketplace:

  • % of people that love what they do?
  • % of people that would love to love their work?
  • % of people that would rather put forth a mediocre performance at a job they don’t really like than work harder to find something they love?

My guess based on discussions is:

  • ~ 10%. I think this is largely public services oriented professionals, that have chosen to make a career serving others (teachers, librarians, social workers),  and is probably true of a smattering of others.
  • 30-50%. I think that “love your work” gets a lot of lip service, but probably isn’t as big a motivation to changing one’s work life as a layoff, relocation, death/ marriage/ birth of a child. I think that for most, professional changes are the result of major life events, or a bigger brass ring, rather than driven by passion. Naturally, this potentially changes when one retires from their career, and considers a more giving-back second career.
  • < 20%. I think Rick would argue a higher percentage, but I’m hoping that inertia and apathy don’t take a bigger bite than 1-in-5. Can you imagine a 2-in-5 ratio, where most meetings you go into have a 40% apathy rate, and folks would rather be home watching tv? Yikes.

Interested in your thoughts and logic.

Posted in Career, Change, Passion | 5 Comments

More than a year for More than a living

Just a brief note to mention that More than a living has officially passed the one-year mark.

In that time, we’ve composed more than 265 posts. And those posts have generated more than 30,000 spam comments. (I can’t get a count on the real comments, but spam? No problem.)

Here’s the first post, entitled “I still have the piece of paper.”

Thank you very much for your support, your insight, and your participation. We’re looking forward to continuing this little experiment.

And what’s a birthday without gifts? To celebrate, we’ll give you free access to Kumquat, our simple tool for gathering feedback on your performance.

Posted in Kumquat, More than a living | 1 Comment

Without artisans, tools are worthless

Tools in the hands of artisans[NOTE: I’ve been struggling with the title on this one for three days. And, while I can’t quite capture the idea in the headline, I still feel that this is imperative to get off of my proverbial chest.]

People are quite protective of their “tools.”

Oooh. Tools. They’re oh-so-valuable. Lah-di-dah.

Their software. Their methodology. Their ways of doing things. Little flowcharts. Templates. Processes. Scorecards. Whatever.

The perceived value of these tools is huge.

But what about the actual value?

I’d say that there isn’t much value in the tool, at all.

In fact, I’d be willing to argue that the vast majority of these so-called “tools” out there should be bordering on free. Given away. Put into the public domain.

Why? Because more times than not, the tool, itself, has little intrinsic value.

(Yes, yes, contrarian. You are absolutely right. Every once in a great while someone somewhere creates some tool that makes things easier, or that makes things more intelligible, or that makes things more convenient. Yes, yes. There is, in fact, value there. But, I would argue that, more often than not, that valuable tool is a tool informed by the intelligence of how people have used it or its predecessors. Could we get back to my rant now? Thank you.)

In reality, a tool only becomes valuable by being a tool. By becoming something more in the hands of an artisan to manipulate it.

Not to get all Zen, but the existence as a tool, per se, has relatively little value. It’s true value is achieved in reaching its “toolness” through use.

The tool, itself, isn’t valuable. The means of manipulating the tool–intelligently–is.

You can apply this to practically any tool.

Is Excel intrinsically valuable? If it is, then why does Toby get so much more value out of it than I?

Because he knows how to use it intelligently. And he knows how to manipulate it.

What about RSS Feed readers? I mean, am I going to catch as much cutting-edge breaking news as Marshall Kirkpatrick because he and I happen to use the same feed reader?

Absolutely not. Because he knows how to use that tool more intelligently than I.

What about PowerPoint?

Ah ha! I think I saw that light bulb come on.

Yes, you’re absolutely right. This is a continuation of the common sense thread.

You see, you get so used to doing what you do with any tool–you become such an artisan–that it seems second nature.

“Everybody must do it this way,” you say. “It’s common sense. I’m not doing anything special.”

But you see, you are.

The tool, itself, is practically worthless. Without someone to use it.

And once that symbiotic relationship is established, it’s important to keep that in mind.

You make those tools valuable. You make them work. And with them, you work magic.

And your rates and salary should be based on the skills you, as an artisan, bring to the table.

Posted in Artisan, Career, Experience, Tools, Value | 2 Comments

Intuition is a product of repetition

Common senseTo continue to riff on the “Common sense isn’t so common” theme…

I know you’re a smart cookie. So I know, for certain, that you’re often blindsided by moments of clarity. Insanely insightful leaps of intuition that just kind of pop into your head.

“It all seems so obvious,” you say to yourself. And after people quit staring, you continue. “Why hasn’t anyone done that before?”

Well, I’ve got news for you genius, it’s not obvious to everyone. Because no one focuses on that topic as much–or in quite the same way–that you do.

It’s through sheer repetition that you gain that insight.

Your brain starts getting bored. And it starts looking for something different. Even if you don’t realize it.

And because of that repetition, what’s obvious to you is not obvious to everyone else. That intuitive leap isn’t one that could be made by just anyone.

In fact, that intuitive insight? It’s likely unique to you or possibly a small smattering of other folks.

So, aside from kissing your ass, why am I mentioning this?

Because this affects how you communicate your idea.

Take Kumquat, for example. We were so excited about it. We thought it was so obvious. Well, duh, we thought.

But it’s not obvious. It’s difficult to understand the long-term potential. Let alone the short-term potential.

The concept is not necessarily intuitive. Unless you’ve been staring at it, and working on it, and thinking about it for months and months.

Or, unless perhaps, you’ve regularly suffered through the “corporate annual review process” with its mind-numbing dearth of any meaningful insight.

So, long story short, we screwed up in some of our communications. We assumed a great deal. And that led to us cutting explanations short. Because we thought it was so obvious. And intuitive.
Well, it’s not.

But, we’re not letting this get us down. We’re just accepting it as a mistake and working to rectify it. And we’re hoping that, as usual, by sharing our mistakes, we can help you. Maybe even prevent you from making them.

So that you can make your own mistakes. Instead of repeating ours.

So puff up that ego and remember that your intuition is unique. And your description of your insight should feel remedial. It should feel like you’re over explaining. Because you are. You’re trying to cheat time. You’re giving someone else the benefit of your learning, in a highly concentrated format.

So over explain your intuitive insights. Because it’s highly likely that that “obvious thing” is something only you see.

Posted in Career, Common, CommonSense, Intuition, Kumquat, Mistakes, Sense | Leave a comment

Resumes: Doing our best to fix part of the problem

Oy! Is that your resume?Sure, sure. You see us carp and complain about how horrible want ads are. Constantly describing the role instead of the problem that needs to be solved.

Well, you know, in all fairness, want ads are only part of the problem.

I mean, want ads suck. But, let’s face it. By and large, resumes suck, too.

And when it comes to resumes, you’re as guilty as the next person.

You see, running out and printing your resume on heavy, heather-gray stock at the local FedEx Kinko’s isn’t really helping the problem.

So here’s our latest news flash. Resumes? They’re actually meant to communicate something: information on the skills you possess.

Shocking, I know.

What’s more? They’re meant to communicate how those skills you possess have helped the people for whom you have worked.

Oh my! Is there no end to the secrets we’re revealing?

Yes, yes. You’re one smart cookie. And none of these insights comes as a shock to you.

So why haven’t you fixed your resume format?

I mean, seriously. You’re so much better than that.

Now, I have a little resume format that Toby and I have held close to the vest for about five years now.

And we keep getting really good feedback about it. But we’ve only shared it with a few folks. And, honestly, we’re not really looking for jobs now, so it seems to be a bit of waste to hide it. And common sense tells us it’s better to share an idea than conceal an idea. And… well there are a thousand reasons.

So here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to go all open source with our resume format.

That’s right.

We’re going to quit complaining and we’re actually going to do something.

So, here’s a resume format that we–and the folks with whom we have shared it–have used to get quite a few jobs over the years.

And now, we’re sharing it with you.

Now, it’s pre-populated with my information so you can see how it works. But, I’m not really looking to have you hire me, so don’t get all friendly.

Consider this resume format deemed “share and share alike” under Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Your new resume format

Think you can come up with something better? We’d love to see it (and promote it).

Feel free to comment.

Posted in Career, Hiring, Jobs, Resume, Resumes, WantAds | 14 Comments

Common sense is anything but common

Common senseCommon sense. It seems so, well, common.

Truth of the matter is: it’s not.

I mean, common common sense is a little more prevalent than for which I give it credit. But your common sense?

Nope. Not common, at all.

You see, your common sense is different than everyone else’s common sense. Your common sense is based on the experience you have derived from doing the same thing, day in and day out. By focusing. By digging.

And it’s completely subjective. That common sense that you have. So that stuff that seems so obvious? It’s not. And that forehead-slapping “what is that guy thinking?” response you have on a regular basis? That blunder on his part is not as painfully obvious as you might assume.

In fact, even if I were doing exactly the same thing you’re doing, day in and day out, it wouldn’t necessarily be obvious to me. I might have my own cadre of common sense that I thought you should already know.

And that’s my point: Common sense is anything by common.

And that’s why we need to work on over-communicating what we know. And why it is important. And how we have learned to get there.

Because that’s where the value of your common sense lies.

And we need to get away from assuming that “Oh, everyone else knows this stuff. I’m nothing special.”

You know more about what you do than I do, or he does, or she does. In fact, we’re all pretty ignorant in the realm of your common sense.

What seems obvious to you? It isn’t. Your common sense is not so common.

Posted in Career, Communication, Ignorance, Insight | 3 Comments

Kiss once-a-year performance reviews good-bye

KumquatIf you work in the corporate world, you’re likely starting to feel a little prickly sensation on the back of your neck. And that’s because, after reading that headline up there, you’re beginning to think about the ominous–not to mention foreboding–“annual performance review.”

As an employee, you’re now beginning to scramble. Trying to remind your managers about all of the great work you’ve done this past year.

You can’t actually remember all the work you’ve done. But you’re hoping your manager can.

While knowing full well, in your heart of hearts, that your manager is as busy as you, if not busier, so s/he’s really just going to rate you on your last project or two.

To use an inane sports analogy (as I, being a dumb jock, am wont to do), you’re in the review playoffs. No one cares about the season anymore.

And even then, you’re likely going to be plotted somewhere along the required “curve” so that there is a equal distribution of “exceeds,” “meets,” “needs improvement,” and “does not meet” employees in the organization. (I mean, really. Who wants to work in an organization where every employee is one who “exceeds expectations” and is rewarded for said effort? Perish the thought.)

And as bad as that sounds, my corporately employed friend, truth of the matter is that someone has it even worse than you. And that person is one of the ever-growing number of independents and employees of smaller businesses.

“Feedback on my performance?” those people say. “What’s that?”

As an independent, your only “performance review” is likely how long it’s taking your customer to pay your invoices. Less than 30 days? Must be happy. Ninety days out? Maybe not.

Call us crazy, but we thought this was a problem. We thought it was a problem when we were on the corporate side of the desk. And we know it’s a problem on the consulting side of the desk.

So, a little over seven months ago, we quietly introduced a project on which we had been working. That project was called Kumquat. And it’s been quite a haul. (If you’re the type who likes to hear all the sordid details, here are all the Kumquat-related posts.)

For those of you who want the summary, we’re happy to oblige.

Kumquat is a simple, Web-based tool that allows you to take control of your performance reviews, allowing you to solicit feedback whenever–and from whomever–you want.

It’s not about getting your annual bonus. It’s not about grading along the curve. It’s about you getting the feedback you need to improve.

Then–if you’re an employee–when it comes around to annual review time, you’ll have a ream of pixel-based (or paper based, if you prefer) reports to hand to your manager. Then instead of saying “What did I do this year?” you’ll be saying “Look at how lucky you are to have me.”

And if your manager doesn’t feel lucky to have you. Well, Kumquat works then, too.

Because then it’s about you controlling your information. It’s about you being able to use that effusive and glowing employee file to find yourself a new gig. And it’s about continuing to collect, manage, and track both the critical and positive feedback gig after gig after gig. Until you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing and you’re doing it exceptionally well.

And since you’re a reader of More than a living, we assume this is something you might be able to put to good use. So, we’re going to give you access to Kumquat. Let you in the secret back door. So that you can start using Kumquat to gather the feedback you deserve.

This special super secret access link will only be open for a limited time. So, if I were you, I’d register for your free Kumquat account, right now.

We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Have at it. Or take a closer look.

Posted in Career, Feedback, Kumquat, Performance, Review | 1 Comment

You are responsible for your own happiness

I feel as if I have already written this post in a variety of different forms at least a thousand times. So, one more time won’t hurt. And, honestly, it probably won’t be the last.

After all, its all about happiness, right?

And you are responsible for that. You are responsible for your own happiness.

Your employer is a jerk? Your consultants screwed something up? You’re tired of working for that client?

I don’t really care what it is. It’s still your fault.

It’s your fault that you’re unhappy. Not your employer’s fault. Not your co-worker’ fault. Not your clients’ fault.


So, instead of focusing on what pisses you off, why not try focusing on what would make you happy?

Is the job almost perfect except for a few little things? Then change those things. Is the client never going to get it? Fire the client. Are your consultants irreparable? Find new consultants. Is it not worth the struggle? Find another struggle that is worth it.

Fact of the matter is that none of these problems is going to miraculously fix itself. It’s up to you. You have to take responsibility for solving the problem.

And I really like you, so I thought I would tell you. Maybe wake you up a bit. (Maybe wake myself since I often persist under similar delusions of maybe this will resolve itself.)

Not happy? Fix it.

(Wow. I almost feel as if I were channeling a positive version of Alec Baldwin’s character from Glengarry Glen Ross. (NSFW))

Posted in Change, Happiness, Perspective, Responsibility | 6 Comments