I know it's circulating like the flu in February, but if you haven't seen the clip featuring the Rhode Island Little League Coach Dave Belisle (or, like me, you want to see it again and again), then spend a few seconds with him here. You don't need to know the story line...just watch.
Obviously I'm a sucker for stories like this because my chosen profession is captured by Dave so very well: motivation, inspiration...and honesty. He had me at "I gotta see your eyes, guys." His respect and love for these young boys is so beautiful, it reminds me I could squeeze a little more of that Little League Coach in me when dealing with...ummm, little league boys?? (Hmmm, that didn't come off right...JUST WATCTH THE CLIP!)
I am pretty sure I'm talking to nobody here but these are words that are heartfelt and I gotta get 'em out. The reason I don't think you're listening is that I haven't done much to promote a recent change in my career, so I don't expect anyone knows I'm here...yet. (Here launching Core 6, that is.) Obviously I've set up the obligatory web site (it's average, IMO, but serviceable), and of course a twitter account...and a bright shiny logo to boot! And while I continue to publish blog posts knowing nobody comes to my site, it's with the understanding that I am going to formally announce what I'm doing in September, when everyone's listening again. And then they'll all flock to this section and read my wisdoms of the past...and then of course, rose petals will appear on my stoop!
Yet the reason I write now is solely because of me...I'm not trying to market or sell or push anything. I just need to talk. Today's subject is loss, and the brief examination of how we feel about our media world and our "connectedness". Literally 5 minutes ago I walked by the TV during a Today Show episode and stood dumbfounded at how one particular marketer is promoting their "back to school" wares...I stuck around for a few more commercials and was equally dumbfounded...I know this is not news, but when did marketing and advertising get so stupid. Are WE stupid? Are we a stupid people here in this grand country of ours? I look around in my professional circles and see so many bright, earnest, and well-intentioned people and then I turn on media (ANY media) and just want to start writing apology notes to the world.
In my deep heart, I love media. I love magazines. I love good television. I love newspapers. I love good web sites. I love good web sites that bring stuff to my door in a day. I love how connected I feel because of media. And yet I loathe it too. And it is with that conflict that I live most days. I am a baby-boomer citizen of our grand capitalistic society and I'm proud of it. But I also feel the need to write those apology notes!
There's a guy I've been following named James Altucher and he writes some pretty good stuff...he wrote a column recently about how to deal with loss which of course, doesn't sound like it applies here but it does. We have lost something in our society as a result of all this "connectedness". There are so many good things that we've gained as a result and I wouldn't change it for anything, but I just think sometimes we need to slow it down and think more. Slow it down and talk more. Just slow it down generally. Most of the article to which I provide a link above does not at all refer to the theme of this post, it refers to losing cherished things in your life (people, friendships, good jobs, etc), yet when I read this verse from Mr. Altucher, I straightened in my chair:
"I wasted so much time worrying. Regretting the loss of a life I thought I was entitled to."
I don't want to feel entitled at all - AT ALL. None of us do. And yet, sometimes media promotes entitlement. Or rather, I allow myself to feel entitled and I blame media. (Yeah I know, I have nobody to blame but myself.) And marketers make me worry that I'm not "doing it right". So what's the loss here for me and us? Have we lost something we can't get back because of all this fancy schmancy technology? The majority of us will probably disagree with me yet I urge us all to think about this deeply. I LOVE technology, but I don't love being a human being and sometimes - a lot of times - I feel I'm slowly being replaced. I don't want to lose myself. None of us do.
Through these posts and my daily life here at Core 6 with my great clients, I will ALWAYS live to fight another day. Today, I leave you with more from Mr. Altucher:
"I lost that life. And found another. It's the gap in between that's the secret ingredient. Be gentle with yourself in the gap. Gentleness is what has worked for me now."
I read the following quote over the weekend and it hit me like a box from Zappos, which I received over the weekend too. (And we all know how Zappos thinks about the concept of Culture. ) Here's the quote to which I refer:
"'We value integrity" means nothing. But tell a story about a former employee who hid his mistake and cost the company thousands, or a story about a salesperson who owned up to a mistake and earned so much trust her company doubled his order, and you begin to teach an employee what integrity means." A woman named Annette Simmons wrote that in her book, The Story Factor.
I do not know Annette, but she got my attention because there's so much talk these days about building culture and also, defining culture and what it tangibly means. However, if you're like me, hearing folks in the Valley/Alley talk about C triggers a huge "CLICHE WARNING" or, Poseur At Work signal. Mostly, the talk is exactly that, just talk. There is a clear vapidness engrossing these start-ups regarding C because they don't define what it means to their business and daily actions. And certainly the appointment of their happiest employee as Social Chairman doesn't qualify as a commitment to Culture!
Culture is one of those things that most companies think they are addressing, and/or think happens naturally if they have a good product or service. Too often, developing companies miss the importance of good Culture because their product offering is driving most actions and decisions in the organization. I get that there are 63 other emergencies going on every day inside internet start-ups, but Culture is rreeeaaaallly important because it's the heart and soul of how a company creates accountability! Companies who think they need to focus first on P (product) and then worry later about C are missing it, and missing out!
Lately I've been feeling very uneasy about being asked to write one of those LinkedIn "Recommendations" on behalf of an associate. I think LinkedIn is an incredibly wonderful and powerful tool and use it often - can't imaging my professional world without it, in fact. Yet when someone asks me to write a "recommendation" for him/her on LinkedIn, I'm sorry to say, my friends, I do not want to participate. Personally, I think these reccos are stupid because they don't say anything real or genuine. It's just one big beauty pageant exercise and it offers no value because everyone follows the same protocol: get one of your best business friends to say something really nice about you, have them post it to LI, and presto, you're a Business Star! (A REAL recco is when people get on the phone and exchange specific information and CONTEXT about the candidate regarding the specificity of the role for which he/she is interviewing.)
Even though I realize we're all supposed to smartly promote ourselves online through various platforms and resources like LI, this "recco" exercise is akin to writing in someone's yearbook, and I think we're a little too old for that. I've done a few of these in the past for some folks, yet never felt comfortable and would write comments like, "Ed's a great guy, but if you really want to know the good stuff about him, just pick up the phone and give me a call." (Crickets.) That tells me I'm just honestly sharing here what you agree with: this feature wastes space and time. Now, I just won't go there anymore.
To all my peeps who actually DO want me to participate in advancing their careers, just call me and tell me who I can call on your behalf, and I will contact that person and frame your story in a magnificent, germane, and powerful way. There's a lot that technology can't replace...let's get on the phones, folks!
Michael Hess is the Founder/Principal of Core 6 Management Advisors. Drawing on almost 3 decades of experience in Sales and Management, Michael shares his thoughts and opinions here for you.