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Can We All Agree – 11/21/15 edition

November 21, 2015

Can we all agree that an ISIS- Al Qaeda rivalry is not good news for anyone?

Can we all agree that we’re thrilled to know that despite the Paris attacks Boko Haram maintained their first place standing in the terrorist rankings by murdering the most people over the last year?

Can we all agree that the Mali attack shows just how vulnerable the world is to terrorism? As if we didn’t already know.

A Mali hostage is helped to safety. (Star-Tribune photo)

A Mali hostage is helped to safety. (Star-Tribune photo)

Can we all agree that the GOP has taken scare tactics to  new level as they debate restrictions on Syrian immigrants?

Can we all agree that the GOP candidates are even worse?

Can we all agree that Donald Trump has created a whole new category for himself?

Can we all agree that those supporting the effective end to any immigration seem to have forgotten how the Jews were not allowed to emigrate before WWII or how the Japanese were interned illegally in 1942?

Can we all agree that by their reasoning, since several of the Paris terrorists were French or Belgium citizens, we should no longer allow anyone from France or Belgium into the country either?

Can we all agree that there is a bit of inconsistency in  claiming to worry about the safety of Americans but refusing to stand up to the NRA and pass meaningful gun legislation?

Can we all agree that the folks in Sandy Hook, CT or Aurora, CO must be thrilled to know they will be safer because no Syrian refugees will be allowed to come to the United States.

Can we all agree that President Obama erred badly by just rejecting the the GOP bill without engaging in any meaningful negotiations to craft a bill he might have been able to support, or ignore?

Can we all agree that the GOP has managed to turn the immigration debate to their advantage?

Can we all agree that when the Paris attacks fade from voters’ memory by Christmas, they will be right back where they started?

Can we all agree that the CIA and FBI and trying to use the same scare tactics to force US companies to alter their encryption policies?

Can we all agree that the campus ‘free speech’ movement has now officially become counter productive as students try to use sit-ins and demonstrations to object to policies they simply do not agree with?

Can we all agree that it is remarkable that for the first time the number of Mexicans leaving the US has surpassed the number trying to get in? Guess we won’t need that wall after all.

Can we all agree that when California lawmakers  feel they must visit Hawaii for a conference to study the state’s problems they are just adding to their own poor image?

Can we all agree that, given this week’s news, no-one noticed that we have one less GOP Presidential candidate?

Can we all agree that when the newest Star Wars movie, which has not even been released, has already grossed $50 million in ticket sales, its safe to safe it’s going to be a hit – even if it’s a bad movie.

George Lucas and the poster for the newest Star Wars movie

George Lucas and the poster for the newest Star Wars movie sells $50million in advanced tickets, it just might be a hit?

Can we all agree that we’re starting to tire of all the El Nino stories? In the last month, it’s already rained more in California that it has for the last two years.

Can we all agree that CNN is being a bit self serving in suspending a news anchor for a tweet?

Can we all agree that convicted spy Jonathan Pollard should just be allowed to move to Israel?

Can we all agree that the debate over genetically modified food will heat up again now that the FDA has allowed genetically altered salmon to be sold?

Can we all agree that the Egyptian government seems to be the only body which refuses to admit that a bomb brought down the Russian airliner?

Can we all agree that the least newsworthy story of the week was the news that Charlie Sheen is HIV positive?

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‘Rules’ in Need of Adjustment

November 18, 2015

I just finished reading Laszlo Bock’s ‘Work Rules’ and while I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the book I definitely think it needs an attitude adjustment.51Df4YVLvbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Bock is Google’s head of People Operations, which is an advanced version of what most people would know as human resources. Like many hi-tech firms, Google feels HR is an outdated term and doesn’t really explain what the department does. In truth, at least at Google, the department does a lot more than traditional HR departments.

But that’s really part of the problem. Bock presents a myriad of suggestions  for managing, promoting, recruiting and measuring employees or potential employees. Many of the procedures were developed at the company using statistical models developed by Google and all are presented as a common sense logical alternative to the way  other firms operate. A common refrain is simply “why would you do it any other way?”

This rationale comes despite that fact that the new procedures represent significant changes from the way Google used to do things, which were also supposedly based on statistical models and were  logical conclusions to the way things should be done.

Old methodology which has now been jettisoned include minimal middle management and the well known brain teasers which stumped thousands of job seekers.

Bock admits what everyone else in HR had been telling them for years: Everyone needs management and brain teasers only test how well someone can solve a specific problem, not overall creativity or performance.

The reality is, that despite their reliance on statistics, Google’s employee turnover  is no better than many other firms and they felt obliged to sign on to an illegal agreement with other tech firms not to poach employees. That case has been settled but the issue has not disappeared.

While there are a plethora of great ideas in the book, that many firms would do well to consider, my problem  is really an attitude issue. Much like a lot of other actions which aggravated many people, (such as private buses using public bus stops) Google seems to assume that what they do should not face the same scrutiny as others.

Other firms, they seem to feel, should be grateful that Google has shared their ideas so openly and should adopt them. That may be true, since there is a lot of bad management at most companies, but no-one likes to be told what is right for them.

In truth the best use for the book, might be for potential employees who want to figure out what principles will govern their potential employment.

And for that reason, I will suggest it for all my career clients, although I will warn them about the attitude adjustment that may be in order.



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Can We All Agree – 11/15/15 edition

November 15, 2015

Can we all agree that maybe the Paris terrorists’ attacks will  create a unified world response, rather than an American response? The Russians certainly realize they can be targeted too.

Can we all agree that Hillary certainly did not ‘win’ last night’s Democratic debate, but it may not make any difference?

Candles honor the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks (NYT photo)

Candles honor the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks (NYT photo)

Can we all agree that every time we think the GOP Presidential campaign has reached a new low, the candidates take it down another notch?

Can we all agree that Donald Trump’s latest diatribes are really hurting his effort?

Can we all agree that the Koch Brother’s decision not to back any GOP primary candidates speaks volumes about the quality of the candidates?

Can we all agree that political junkies are salivating at the prospect of the first brokered convention since 1976?

Can we all agree that the most recent GOP debate at least contained some substance although the fact checkers were working overtime?

Can we all agree that, while there is room for debate about the cause of the economic calamity left over from the last President Bush, every time Job brings up the topic he just reminds people of the Great Recession Obama has had to fix?

Can we all agree that Marco Rubio is finding out why sitting on the fence can be so painful?

Can we all agree that with the debates we’ve already had, both Democrat and Republican, most voters have enough information to choose a candidate?

Can we all agree that while the opposition has officially won the election in Myanmar, Aung San Suu khi , is sounding a bit like a dictator?

Can we all agree that the Utah judge who first took an infant from a foster home headed by gay parents, he should not be congratulated for correcting his own ill-considered mistake?

Can we all agree that war journalism has entered  new phase when it means reports on downed airliners, drone assassinations, and attacks on outdoor cafes?

Can we all agree that it appears California will once again be entering the ranks of states which execute convicted murders?

Can we all agree that it’s good news that smoking in the United States has reached a new low?

Can we all agree that the Rose Bowl Parade will be much different this year now that it has the ‘Ken Burns effect?’

How the Sierra's should look this year

How the Sierra’s should look this year

Can we all agree that football programs all over the country are worried, now that players from the University of Missouri have forced the resignation of the school’s top administrators?

Can we all agree that the Starbucks Christmas cup controversy is beyond absurd?

Can we all agree that the President’s Supreme Court appeal of his immigration orders is a no-lose proposition for him? Either he wins, and immigrants have one more reason to vote for Democrats, or he loses and the public is reminded how the GOP has refused to deal with the issue.

Can we all agree that the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a Texas abortion case sets the stage for Roe v. Wade part II?

Can we all agree that Russian attempts to deny their Olympic athletes were using performance enhancing drugs, as part of a state sponsored program, are falling on deaf ears? Although the Olympic committee has already provided them with a roadmap to avoid disqualification from the 2016 Olympics.

Can we all agree that it’s good news when the California ski season opens early for the first time in years?

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Can We All Agree – 11/14/15 edition

November 14, 2015

Filed under: Politics,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 6:30 am


San Francisco City Hall, lit in the colors of the French flag.

San Francisco City Hall, lit in the colors of the French flag.


Can we all agree that the carnage in Paris will bring the war on terror to a whole new level?

Somehow it seems obscene to include commentary on last night’s events in Paris with Donald Trump’s latest irrational diatribe, so I will delay my regular column of “Can We All Agree” until tomorrow.

We are all Parisians

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Can We All Agree – 11/7/15 edition

November 7, 2015

Filed under: Can we all agree,Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — admin @ 7:41 am

Can we all agree that no one is surprised the President turned down the Keystone pipeline project?

Can we all agree that, given the history of airline investigations in Egypt and Russia, we may never know what happened to the Russian airliner? But smart money seems to be on a terrorist bomb.

Kansas City Royals celebrate after winning World Series

Kansas City Royals celebrate after winning World Series

Can we all agree that the Kansas City Royals were the best team in baseball this year and deserved to win the World Series?

Can we all agree that the new books about the Vatican’s bookkeeping do not paint a very flattering picture?

Can we all agree that 271,000 additional jobs is good news for everyone – except he stock market which knows a Fed interest rate increase is almost guaranteed, and the GOP who knows elections are all about the economy?

Can we all agree that while conservatives may have won significant victories in this week’s elections, it will not help them in the general election for President in 2016?

Can we all agree that the story of the Illinois police officer who apparently committed suicide gets stranger every day?

Can we all agree that the arrest of two Louisiana officers on murder charges leaves everyone wondering what really happened?

Can we all agree that Volkswagen may never recover from the expanding investigations into their practices?

Can we all agree that it’s good the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is  available to read, but very few legislators will read it before staking out a position?

Can we all agree that George H.W. Bush’s comments on his son’s presidency seem to reinforce what we all suspected?

Can we all agree that there is something unseemly about the Pentagon  paying sports teams for patriotism?

Can we ll agree that Fox’s decision to trim the number of GOP candidates in their main debate next week might torpedo a few candidates?

Can we all agree that Jeb Bush’s new  slogan is not the answer to his campaign’s  problems?

Can we all agree that Ben Carson’s stories, which seem to be filled with significant exaggerations are starting to cause real problems?

Can we all agree that decisions by Mexican courts, which may lead to the legalization of marijuana in that country, will put more pressure on US border states?

Can we all agree that the meeting between the presidents of China and Taiwan, may just be a political stunt, since the people of Taiwan seemed poised to oust their leader because of his close ties to China?

Can we all agree that Paul Ryan is off to a bad start as Speaker when he says he will not work with the President on immigration reform?

Can we all agree that the victory by Turkey’s president last weekend, may help the US bombing campaign against ISIS, but will certainly lead to more repression in Turkey?

Can we all agree that the ACC officials suspended after blowing the final play of the Duke Miami game deserved a much more severe penalty?

Can we all agree that it will be good to have some version of Star Trek back on TV, or at least on streaming video?

Can we all agree that surveys showing teens devote more time to digital media (9 hours) than they do to sleep, has some ominous implications for society?

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The Monetary Value of Your Job

November 4, 2015

Filed under: Coaching,Health,Management,observations,Tech — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 12:46 pm

I had two clients this week who both needed some not so subtle reminders that the value of their jobs might be different from the monetary value of their paychecks.images

Both were young people who had been working at their first real jobs since they graduated from college last June and both had jobs in their chosen career field,  – but neither was happy.

Both were having a very difficult time putting a value on their work.

The first, a young man who was working for an established retailer was frustrated that his pay was not as much as many of his peers in hi-tech, and was concerned about why he wasn’t being promoted.

His work, he said, had become routine, and while he was busy, he felt his job had become routine. At the same time, his commute was about 20 minutes, and he was  living on his own.  He admitted that his supervisor was very open to discussion about additional responsibilities, although she was honest in saying that a promotion was unrealistic for at least another year.

He liked his co-workers, found the environment relaxing, and felt no fear that he was about to be downsized out of his job if the economy soured.

My other client, a young woman, hated her job, and while she was in her chosen field,  counseling, she felt the office was disorganized, there was constant turnover and her ability to help her clients as a case manager, was actually inhibited by her work environment.

She admitted that she was barely able to support herself and was not making much more than she was at a waitress job she had while she sent out resumes a year  ago.

The question to both of them was simple. What is the value of the externalities, apart from the actual work.

For the young man:

Was it worth and extra  $5,000 in salary knowing that he would be exposed to additional experiences, making him more valuable to his current or future employers?

Was is worth an extra $10,000 knowing that his job was secure even if the economy slowed?

And what of the value of a pleasant work enviroment, with an easy commute?

No, he didn’t have free meals, transportation, or  haircuts like his fellow classmates in Silicon Valley, but he wan’t working 80 hours a week in a high-stress environment either.

So maybe his salary was lower, but he was doing better than he thought.

The opposite was clearly true for the young woman. Everything about her job was subtracting value from her paycheck.

Since she was in social work the very least she could expect was that the job would provide ‘supervised hours’ she could apply to an advanced degree or certification, if she went back to school.

But even that benefit was denied her.

The reality was that she was making less than she thought and was getting no benefit from the job. She might as well have taken any other job, since it ws really just a way to support herself until she figured out her next step.

After our sessions my message to each of them was the same: When you assess your job you need to consider more than just a paycheck. Sometimes that adds to the value of your job, and sometimes you might be better off moving on, as quickly as possible.

Do the math, next time you get your paycheck, and see where you stand.


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