Archive for February, 2010
At the end of January 2009, I decided to recognize a member of the online HR community for doing what I asked in this Carnival of HR Vlog. I recognized Laurie Ruettimann. Now, I have decided to make do this at the end of every month this year. This month the recognition goes to Franny Oxford of the blog Do the Work. Check out my video to see why!
This is me, a generation or two back, when I was a uniformed patrol officer in a suburban Detroit police department. When I stopped someone I suspected of drunk driving, it was standard practice to give them a field sobriety test, which consisted of a series of simple mental and physical acuity exercises. Simple for someone sober, not so simple for the inebriated. One of these exercises was asking the suspect to recite the English alphabet.
Many times a suspect would start speaking, “A, uh . . .B”, and then stop and look at me and ask, “Can I sing it?” When I answered affirmatively, the suspect started singing their ABCs to the familiar tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” You know what I mean. It’s in your head as you read this.
Baby boomers (like me) learned their ABCs this way. Sung in sequence. We learned our Social Security number in order, too. Nine numbers. So today, when the person at the bank or on the phone asks for the last four digits of your SS number as an identifier, you recite the whole thing, silently or under your breath, before you loudly speak the last four. Sequences are meant to be recited . . . sequentially. We can count backwards from 10 (another part of a field sobriety test), because we learned that as a countdown sequence. But we can’t say the alphabet backwards without a huge struggle, because you are asking us to remove those familiar letters from their known sequence.
So what does this have to do with generations?
When someone talks or writes about “Gen Y”, I really have no clue which demographic group they are referring to until I put the letter back into proper sequence. I have to stop and think about the fact that Y comes after X, and therefore Generation Y is the one born later than Generation X, which by itself is a highly random designation. This is a lot of mental work for people who have to sing the ABCs all the way through.
I was born during the “Post World War II Baby Boom”, the generation commonly referred to as Baby Boomers, often shortened to Boomers. No letters. No sequences. Just one highly descriptive name. I don’t know who decided to start naming subsequent generations by letters, but I would like it to stop. Let’s use “Millennials”, instead of Gen Y, as some already do. I don’t care what you call Generation X, as long as it’s something else. They were first referred to as Baby Busters, but maybe that has negative connotations.
What do YOU think?
Do you know someone who owns, or partially owns, a small (under 100 or so employees) business? Do you often hear them complain that they can’t make their product or sell their service as well as they want to because they are busy with administrative problems like employees, compliance, insurance, and legal issues? Maybe they are getting things done, but only by spending a fortune out-sourcing all of it, cutting into business profit.
I ask you, loyal reader, if you know someone, because the people who are overwhelmed by their small business are probably not taking the time to read this, or any other, blog. So if you know a business or a person like this, tell them you know of a professional that can ease their burden and help their business make more money. Tell them about me!
- I’m a lawyer. This gives the business a huge advantage, because I can review and negotiate contracts and leases, write any kind of compliance document, and help assess the legal risk of almost any situation, without having to spend a dime on outside counsel. Say goodbye to a legal retainer.
- I’m a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). This means that I know and understand strategic and operational HR. Really. I took a test to prove it, but I’ve done it all, too. If a business has to pay anyone from the outside to come in and investigate, discipline, review policies and procedures, audit practices, or ensure legal compliance – then I can retrieve those costs.
- I understand business finance. I will figure out how you make money and where it goes, and how to help align the business administrative needs to the financial realities. I’m not afraid of a P&L.
- I’m intellectually curious. If something needs to be done outside my area of expertise, I am happy to research the issue and do whatever needs doing to get it done. I have successfully implemented a bar code scanning system and enhanced product labeling this way.
The type of business, in my opinion, is basically irrelevant. All businesses have administrative needs, no matter the people or product. I just want to be happy with the company mission and values. For the record, I am willing to relocate, at my own expense, to just about anywhere except California.
If you want to see my formal resume with some specific accomplishments, check out a video or other writings, and link to my Twitter profile, start with visiting my LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/joanginsberg. Everything can be reached from there, and my email and phone numbers are on my resume. Make sure you click “view full profile” at the bottom.
As a way to say Happy Valentine’s Day, I want to share with you this blog post from The Night Train. She usually writes about Detroit-area history, and if you check out the link to see the whole post, you will see that she tried to do so this time. She ultimately settled on a very personal and highly touching tale of love. What made this post extraordinary was the way the author conveyed her love for the couple, as well as their love for each other.
This is my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Bill in 1963 or 1964. They met on a blind date when Margaret was 19. Uncle Bill used to tell me that Margaret wore all blue on their first night out: a blue dress, blue stockings, blue shoes, a blue handbag. I bet she looked incredible.
Bill and Margaret got married seven years later, at a hunt club in Farmington Hills. They spent the rest of their lives, as far as I could tell, marvelously in love.
My mother was nine years old when they were wed, so she grew up with Bill and Margaret as much as I did. They were like grandparents to me in a lot of ways: Margaret picked us up after school, cooked us fishticks and frozen vegetables or macaroni and cheese for dinner, read to us. But more importantly, she tended to the small, real people growing inside of us. We had conversations with her. We shared ideas, defended convictions, talked about books we liked, boys we liked, places we wanted to see. She was honest, and joyous. It’s hard to even write about her without stooping to tripe; I can walk my brain through every corner of her house, but the influence she had on my life and the incredible love I still feel for her really overpowers any constructive details I can remember about her besides the last three agonizing weeks of her life.
So thank god for old family photos; I can see them like this, 20 years before I was even born, when they were gorgeous and adorable. Even when they were aging, Margaret grey and papery from decades of cigarettes, Bill bald and permanently sun-leathered, both of them losing their teeth, their love for each other was radiant, and together, they were a pretty beautiful thing to behold.
When Margaret died of lung cancer in 2001, Uncle Bill was permanently wrecked. It took years for him to cut his trips to the cemetery from twice a day to once. When we buried him in 2008, we arrived at the mausoleum to find the flowers he’d taped to the marble wall of her crypt the day before he died, peacefully, while he was napping on the couch.
I have a fiancé now, and it tears my heart out that Margaret and Bill don’t get to meet him — and that he has to settle for an occasional teary (and usually sad-tipsy) monologue from me about how great they were. On our first date, we went to the opera. I tried not to think too much about it, but my favorite vintage shopkeeper talked me into a stunning wool shift dress, with sheer mesh netting at the neck, dotted with tiny sequins.
It’s royal blue.
In a few short days, many HR and recruiting pros from the world of Twitter will be heading to an unconference called TruLondon. I am truly heartbroken that circumstances, mostly financial, prevent me from attending this event. Based on my experiences with some of the attendees, the sessions will be lively and the exchange of dialog and ideas will be electrifying.
What I will miss most, though, is the opportunity to network face-to-face (IRL is the dreaded acronym) with the people that I have come to know and love in the online community. People whose opinions I seek and whose values I share. People who have never hesitated to reach out and extend sympathy, laughter, or a helping hand. People who engage you because they want to – which is what social media is really all about.
Based on this experience I have come to the highly unpopular conclusion that most traditional forms of networking are pointless time-wasters. I am not talking about social or family functions, where you happen to mention to Cousin Bill or Friend Mary that you are looking for work. I am speaking of those events that are billed as “networking opportunities”, where networking sometimes is the only reason the gathering exists at all.
3 recent examples:
1. Local SHRM chapter seminar. I spoke with a total of 6 people from a crowd of about 120. Most people came in groups or with co-workers and were happy to huddle with those people only. Of the 6 people I spoke with 3 were, like me, in transition and moved on quickly. One woman approached me because she recognized my avatar from LinkedIn. (So much for in-person!) Cost was $10. Time spent? 6 hours. Number of real (people you will continue to engage)connections? Zero.
2. Michigan Chamber of Commerce seminar. I reached out to 5 people in a small group of about 25. At the beginning of the session, one facilitator asked the participants to discuss how their business was doing financially and whether they were hiring. I approached one woman from an HR consulting firm who claimed to be hiring. I gave her a business card and explained what I do. She reacted to me, and that card, as if I was giving her a communicable disease. I spoke with both of the facilitators, and sent them a LinkedIn contact request when I got home. They both ignored that request, and I am certain I will never speak with them again. Cost was $300. Time spent? 9 hours. Number of real connections made? Zero.
3. Motor City Connect luncheon. MCC is a community created specifically for networking. Lunch was at a local restaurant and everyone introduced themselves. Most of the attendees were entrepreneurs trying to drum up business. Cost was $20. Time spent? 2 hours. Number of real connections made? One. I hired him to help me set up this blog and I keep in touch with him through Twitter and Facebook.
In short, I have found that many people at networking functions are there for their own purposes only. If you don’t fit into that purpose – you are ignored or politely dismissed. Or people come with security blankets made up of other people – and then are afraid to put those blankets down. ROI (Return On Investment) can be pretty slim, if you measure your investment, as any economist would, in terms of time spent as well as dollars.
Online networking – where the people are generally as anxious as you are to connect and go to great lengths through tweets, status updates, blogs, and comments to achieve that connection – is a vastly superior investment of time and emotion, in my opinion and experience. Still not convinced? Let me ask you one question: When was the last time you went to a conference, or seminar, or similar event, and hugged almost everyone there?
I like all kinds of live theatre, but I am particularly fond of musical theatre – what many people call “Broadway musicals”. I like musicals so much that I read books about them, listen to cast albums, and attend performances at all levels, including local high schools. I follow many musical-related sites on Twitter; my favorite is @DailyShowtune.
Unfortunately, I am also hyper-critical, which sometimes makes it very difficult to enjoy watching shows. If a musical takes place in 1958, like Bye, Bye Birdie, and the actors are wearing 1995 shoes, I go a little berserk. Don’t even think about using a 1960′s radio as a prop in a show set in the 1940′s. I don’t like the concept of jukebox musicals (musicals that are written around a song catalog of one artist, like Jersey Boys) at all. When I see these things, I see so much red that it is hard for me to concentrate on the rest of the show.
So when I am squirming in my seat, trying to ignore Emile de Becque (you know, the guys who sings Some Enchanted Evening) wearing a Detroit Red Wings tie in a local community theatre production of South Pacific (yes, this really happened), I take a deep breath and say to myself: What can I find to really LOVE about this show?
Inevitably, I will find something I really love – like the costumes, or a particular performance, or the sets. Turning aside my critical feelings and finding the good stuff – it’s always there somewhere – keeps me in my seat for the whole show, even though the accepted theatre-goers response to show dislike is to get up and leave.
So what does this have to do with Al Gore? Or HR?
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced that Al Gore was going to be the featured speaker at their big, brassy annual convention in San Diego in June 2010. There was an immediate amount of backlash and negative discussion prompted by his selection, including negative bloggers and a highly critical discussion on LinkedIn. Many people said they would not go to his speech, or to the convention itself, because of his selection.
See the connection? These people are letting this one small piece of hyper-criticism destroy their love of the whole. And if they don’t love the whole, why do they care if Al Gore speaks or not? I hope these people re-evaluate their positions and decide that it is not worth walking out on SHRM Annual just because they don’t like or agree with Al Gore and/or his politics. If they LOOK FOR SOMETHING TO LOVE, even in his speech, I bet they’ll find it. Maybe he’ll be wearing great shoes.
Audience walks out – why do they come back?