Archive for April, 2010

I dropped out of the Elite HR forum on ………..


Talk about  a vertically challenged group, this was it. Anytime anyone asked about innovation and HR the discussion were marked by silence. If you went off on best practices and world-class, then things heated up with a flurry or reinventing the wheel. I don’t blame my colleagues. The real world of HR even at the exec level is often a day-to-day battle around the basics. The more strategic business objectives that HR could be involved are either not understood, comprehended or simply put on the back burner forever.

I did stumble on an interesting guy John Hulsman who focuses on foreign relations. He has discovered the out of the box world of Lawrence of Arabia and the lessons that can be applied to our current policies. Of course because I am a whacko I take it a step further. I consider most HR departments to be very linear in their approach to the business and one could, with very little imagination, say that we could be better at thinking out of the box in the work place.


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“Curiouser and curiouser!

Obviously I haven’t distanced myself far enough from work because people keep wanting to chat with me about WORK! And of course I am the one who said not to dump your old work chums (or something to that effect). But I do believe in distance. I need to move on and do other things and not think about the eternal struggle with WORK!. Today a colleague called me asking for my advice and he told me work sucks. I answered back saying that work only sucks when you are not doing work that you enjoy. In the work place we strip ourselves naked the way Alice is stripped in the picture above, hoping that we’ll actually be appreciated for what we are and what we bring to the table. It’s a crap shoot.

But in seeking approval we seek denial (or de Nile). But seeking approval, we end up in that deep dark place up the river in the heart of darkness. It is very tough to get back down the river again. Ask Kurtz.

I hate rules but here’s a few.

Work for yourself. I don’t mean that we all have to go open our own businesses. But follow your own path even if you work for someone else. Make sure that you enjoy your work and if you don’t and can’t change it THEN CHANGE JOBS! We’re all free agents in case you hadn’t noticed. Once you have been laid off a few times you’ll get the picture.

Don’t base your happiness at work (or anywhere for that matter) on the opinion  of others. Take feedback when you want it, process it and then make your own decision about what happens next.

And this is critical. Own the outcome even if it doesn’t work out.

Be prepared to walk away. The power of “no” is critical. Of course so is the power of commitment, both making them and keeping them. So realize walking out on commitments has a steep price. There is an art to this too. When things get that bad and I have to leave, I do my damnedest to replace myself. of course if the other side has broken their commitment to me, then all bets are off.

The freedom I feel right now is because I don’t have to ask permission of anyone in regards to work (or most things) but I still feel compelled to obey the traffic signs and pay my taxes. During the latter part of my last gig I found myself spiraling into permission asking or pissing folks off because I didn’t ask permission at all. It was a bit frenetic at times. And there were a great many “I want you to ask my permission” types springing up all over the place. I call them sheriffs. There were always new sheriffs in town.

Anyway, back to distancing. Maybe I was right in the first place. I watched a show this morning on high def TV called Sunrise International and it showed Heron Island on the Great barrier Reef. It all looked very real. I could almost smell the surf. Maybe I need to be in a place like this. I was at Seascape in Aptos over the weekend with my BW (beautiful wife) and it was pristine except for the wedding party that was up late into the evening drunkenly staggering around the resort and talking in loud voices as if the whole world cared.

But in the morning during my runs and in the afternoon laying out in the sun, it was superb.

Note to myself. Don’t stay in the main building next time. Stay in the condo’s that are as far away from the pool and bar as possible.

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The ladder theory of dating can be applied to getting promoted.

You may consider the ladder theory sexist but if you really think about it and if your mind isn’t clouded by Judeo-Christian morality, it all makes sense. When I was single and trying to get laid (sorry but I was. I was young and it was the 1960’s and 70’s) there were women whom I found attractive and  I dated who were friends. I never got into the sack with them. We might cuddle but that was it. After a time I would get this sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was never going to get beyond first base. Two come to mind right away even after all of these years. Wendy and Coleen. I spent a great deal of the summer dating these two women and at the end of the summer I had slept with two other women (reminder: It was the early 70’s!!!) who there was a squats chance in hell that I was going to go long term with.

On their ladder,  I was a “friend”. On my ladder they were women I wanted to sleep with. Certainly 6’s and 7’s. Excuse the word fuck. It appears here liberally. After all it is only another word for sexual intercourse or in the dating vernacular, wanting to get ahead.

One thing I found was that it was almost impossible to cross over from the friends ladder to the “real ladder”. I tried in the mid 70’s with another long time “friend”, Diane. We hung out for three years. We became very close buddies but that was it. Never even kissed. One evening we held hands. That came out of nowhere (or so it seemed). So I made my move. We kissed, held each other tight and planned to make love the next time we got together.

Whoa, that was it. Within days Diane was sniping at me and getting royally vicious and shortly after that, we blew apart like a bomb that gone off. We never made love. I tried to understand it. Years later I finally understood that I had tried moving from the friends ladder to the real ladder. It hadn’t worked.

So what is the point I am making?

The ladder theory exists in the workplace and I am not just talking about getting laid. It exists for promotions or just getting ahead if that works better for you. I went from 1977 to 1997 without a promotion. In 1977 I was a recruiter at Siltec. In 1997 I was promoted to a Director at Sun Microsystems. Now that didn’t mean that my title and level of responsibility and the accompanying compensation didn’t go up. But here’s the key. It never happened insitu. I just never got a promotion while in the same company. I always had to move to get a promotion. In terms of the ladder, I was rarely on the real ladder. I was perpetually on the friends or “nice to have you” ladder. That may have explained the 4 times I was laid off.

I am not saying this is the norm but whenever I hear colleagues and friends complain about not getting recognized and promoted at work, but they keep getting nice raises and pats on the head now and then, I know they are on the friends ladder. I know. I have been there often enough. When it came down to it, the only way I made more money and attained a higher rank was to move companies. Same with the dating ladder. I had to move on to other women. When I was willing to move, I got laid regularly. Otherwise, I resigned my dating life to the perpetual status of “friend”.

This is way too painful for most people. Moving on that is. I moved on all the time (we’re talking about work now). 17 times to be exact. In the end I attained the exalted rank of Vice President with all of those juicy stock options and bonuses. But in the real final analysis, I was better off as a consultant which was more like the outlaw biker described in the ladder theory. My job was to get “laid” and move on. I loved it. I was an interim VP of HR twice and a director numerous times. But title or brevet or not really had no intrinsic meaning. I was getting “laid” regularly and I loved it.

So for those of you who have stuck with me through this long explanation and haven’t been offended too much (and frankly if you are offended then that alone can screw your promotability), if you are happy in your job then stay put but if you want to get ahead and it’s just not happening, it is time for you to move on. It is the rare bird who can make the jump from friend to lover on the dating ladder and just as rare on the work ladder.

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This is sort of scary. Not for Apple. More for the employee who lost the cleverly disguised iPhone.  Well, OK it is scary for Apple but perhaps more importantly is to understand the unforgiving nature of Apple when their future technology is at stake. Years ago Jobs who had borrowed the idea of the personal computer from PARC, let Bill Gates see his new technology. Gates then borrowed the idea and made it Windows. Anyway, you get the basic idea. So keeping intellectual property “things” secret at Apple or any company for that matter is critical.


Source: http://tiefster.wordpress.com/

One must ask why it was camouflaged in  the first place? Why did it end up in some bar. Maybe to impress some girl.

Sort of like the old west. The guy comes in to the saloon wearing a Colt 45.

Hey, Tex, do you know how to use that thing?

Oh, yeah. Oh, you mean the gun. Yeah that too.

Apple is phobic about stuff like this as in There Will Be Blood! Once “Gated”  one can never be too careful.

Perhaps the employee who lost the “phone” will be forgiven or perhaps not. That’s where HR will come in. This why we earn the big-bucks.

It may well be his time. Everyone will shake their heads sadly but like a herd of zebras on the veld who have just seen one of their own being taken down by the lion, they will run a bit before coming to rest and returning to grazing.


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Blogging has taken the place of diarists and letter writers from old times. The difference is that blogging is public immediately. For those who are looking for experts, well we can get to them right away.

I am supposedly an expert. I worked in business for well over 40 years with 33 years in Human Resources. I have had 17 jobs in  HR alone and at least two dozen clients as a consultant (but that is really one job…I was working for “me” and that was a company. So I guess that is 18 jobs altogether.

I am a guerrila HR warrior who for years played the game on the straight and narrow until I finally got tired of having companies shot out from underneath me. The good HR folks, the one who stuck to the rules, the ones I learned from, the good soldiers. They were and are the antiseptic ones. They played by the rules because that was asked of them. I did it too for a time. But…Ping..Ka-Pow…Ping…Ka-Pow, you end up like a duck in a shooting gallery.


And who is shooting at you?  The sterile ones. Because it is easier to dump on HR than stand up and fight for the right thing.

Someone once said that leaders do the right thing and managers do things right.

In 1993 I started to the right thing by nobody elses rules than  my own. I wouldn’t go so far to say I had become an outlaw. I certainly was no Robin Hood. I did not steal from the rich and give to the poor. I did however help some middle class income folks very wealthy. Along the way I may several million smackeroos myself.

I can remember the final straw when I was at Borland and we were going to buy Ashton-Tate. I told my boss that the acquisition would kill us. He shut me up by stating that “It was the right thing to do” and of course having no other choice except walking out on my job, I did things right. A year later Borland was bleeding money and sinking by the bow. I was put out of my misery. Laid off and sent packing. At Sun all of this nonsense stopped. I decided to channel Lawrence of Arabia and started to play the game out of the box. It wasn’t as crazy as it sounds and for the most part I haven’t stopped.

Vivek Ranadivé the CEO of Tibco channeled the same guy (in a way) and his efforts are documented in a story written about this in the New Yorker.

But when we ask “experts” on the web for the most part we get answers from the in the box folks. The good soldiers. And of you want to be a good soldier than by all means keep following their advice. Whether it is the job search or company politics, you can’t go too far wrong from doing a great impersonation of a zoo animal and if you act like a really good little employee, you may even make it to the petting zoo.

A great many people come and ask me for job search advice. There are two reasons for this.

1. I am well networked. I know a great many people in the industry. If I don’t know them I can get to know them. I know how to network.

2. They think I know secret ways of getting jobs (and I do) but it’s not the secret way they feel most comfortable with. Actually it’s not even secret. You just have to talk to a great many people.

It’s called Networking.

I help very few folks in the end because my out of the box methodology makes them uncomfortable. If I am looking for work, I email, call, blog and do coffee, breakfasts, lunches and dinners until I have a job! I am relentless. I don’t stop and I don’t ask for permission. Hell, I don’t even ask for a job. I don’t wait to have the perfect resume. I help others as part of my search.

I find out what jobs are moving in my world before most people even know that the search for candidates has begun. If I don’t get to this point, I can’t be successful.  During the financial collapse of 2008 I found one contract for three months that had I chosen to stay would have ended up being an HR Director. I didn’t feel it was the right place for me so I moved when things were worst. I found another job that fitted my temperament and made the move right before as company lay off! One of my first tasks was helping lay off co workers.

But most of my fellow bloggers on this subject are focused on job hunting rules and good resumes and the other box canyons of job search.

I am not special (No, I am not a special little person….). But I know the desperation of having car payments, a big mortgage and a family counting on me and NOT HAVING A JOB. I am not even religious but I have prayed to whatever power that exists within me and perhaps outside of me, to get a job.


People who think in the box and follow the rules are not the people you need as a guide because they will just give you more rules. Heck, maybe I am laying down rules here too.

The only rule in job hunting and careers is that there are no rules.

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How to stop working for good or just for a good long time.

I am detaching from my former work filled world of the last 33 years. I am retired (as I have sort of said). In my 20’s and 30’s I took time off too. Twice for a year and once for about 6 months.  If you are in transition or what William Bridges calls the neutral zone then it helps to have a few things in mind.

1. You are going to feel weird at first. Get used to it and get through it. Don’t freak after 2-3 months as some people I have known and say to yourself  I am bored so I am going back to work. I am not saying you shouldn’t go work (at something) but you should get through this period so you can make a decision  that is not knee jerk.

2. You can create a qualifying event. This is something that quickly takes you out of your former world. In 1976 I went to Europe for two months. Back in the days before cell phones and the web, there was few ways to reconnect with my world of work. Nor did I try. One week I was in San Jose, California and the next I was in Germany and later on Yugoslavia and Greece. In  1979 I did not travel. I took a years to focus on competitive running. I wanted to see how good I could be. Between my weekly mileage and racing and a good kick in the rear end by a friend (who told me I was still talking about work a month after I had left) I was pretty much out of that” world within 45 days.

3. Say to yourself “I am not going to do that for the time being” or if you are feeling particularly adventuresome just say to yourself “never again”. of course never is a long time. Right now I am in the mode that if it requires regular work hours, a badge and an office, I am going to pass. If I can come and go as I want then I will consider it.

4. Don’t kick all of your former work colleagues to the curb. In other words don’t sink your network (given that you actually have one). Don’t disappear. But don’t get caught into the “Gee whiz, I really miss this. I think I will go back to work.” If you missed it, then why did you want to leave in the first place? You would be surprised how much they may have valued their relationship with you. And vice versa of course.

5. Don’t feel smug about not working. You not working has nothing to do with people who still want to or have to work. It’s a life choice. People were mystified by my long periods of not working back in the 1970’s.  I couldn’t explain it to them and I didn’t try to analyze why they felt the need to have a career and make money. Over time I played both sides of the game. Work, career, make money and then not working. There were times when I needed to work and times when I didn’t. Both good things and the traps were there on both sides of the line.

6. Don’t base not working on what other people say about your life. Base it on how you feel and of course your ability to support yourself.

7. It really is OK to give yourself a sabbatical.

8. Don’t make not working, work. This is my take. I have a number of friends who coach high school runners. They treat it like a job. They are stressed all of the time (just like being at work). One retired friend of mine coaches cross-country. I asked him how track season was going and he said very plainly, “I don’t have much to do with that.” He went on to say that was by design. He had other things to do in his life. He needed time for himself and he wasn’t afraid to take it.

If you go back to work make sure whatever you choose to do is “exactly” what you want to do. Not someone else’s idea of what they think you should be doing.

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I have a friend who identifies heavily with the Republican Right. he doesn’t understand how I can vote otherwise in any election. Why I don’t want to teach Iran a lesson by dropping a small Nuke on them or how I can be for an intelligent health care initiative. He considers himself an objectivist. We both had periods in our lives where we read Ayn Rand rather heavily. I know I was influenced by her. I got the meta message in Atlas Shrugged but liked The Fountainhead more than the later book. Maybe because that book was more about individualism because even a strike of those that Rand considered the important people sounded too collective to me. I admired the character of Roark for two reasons. He seemed unentangled with the stuff that weighs us down. Family pressure, clubs, cliques, wanting to get ahead. That was Peter Keating. Roark could be like this because Rand created him this way.

But the Republican right doesn’t resemble Ayn Rand in the least and neither does my friend who sees himself as a creator not a second hander. A second hander by the way is a person (most of us according to Rand) who live off the ideas of others.

Ayn Rand had a physical archetype for her heroes. If they were male they tended to be tall, gaunt and handsome in an unconventional way. My friend is medium height and rather fat. But he does drive a Porsche so that might make up for his physical short comings. I can remember in Atlas Shrugged that there was one short guy who was on the good side (he worked for the railroad). He was lean and wore cowboy boots. This must be important because I am short and lean and back in the day I too wore cowboy boots. Not because of Urban Cowboy but because back in the mid to late 1960’s when things were breaking loose as to what was acceptable, I chose to wear cords and boots. I was comfortable that way. My hair was long and wild like a dark lions mane and I often had a droopy mustache and a rare beard or two. In a faint way, I was my own man. But then Ayn Rand’s heroes didn’t have mustaches and beards. So I really didn’t fit the profile anymore than my rather plumpish, round friend does. He does fit the physicality of the second handers. The Wesley Mouch’s and others of their type.

I belonged to neither political party. I voted my conscience when I did vote which wasn’t often. I still vote that way. I see little difference between the two parties. If one were to get their head out of their respective asses they would see that they pursue the same ends in slightly different manners. One comes from behind and the other comes from the front. Depends on who has the majority. It’s like when I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy the same day. One my request was that the doctor insert the tube in my throat first.

The truth is that I just don’t care that much about politics.

My friend has channeled Ellsworth Toohey from The Fountainhead through another fat guy, Rush Limbaugh. Rush says this. Rush says that. Rush is a radio personality for God’s sake. Toohey was a columnist.

I am not a Democrat or Republican. I am an individualist. At times I fail to live up to my own standards because I am human but I keep trying. I am not threatened by others who want to live their life differently. That is their business as long as they respect my choice of how I choose to live my life. No, as a mater of fact they don’t have to respect it. I don’t require that from them. Just let me live my life as I see fit, warts and all.

Even Ayn Rand had some ugly ghosts. She conducted a sexual affair with one of her protege’s even though she was married. That destroyed on marriage and neutered her husband. She played queen bee in her court of objectivity and if someone of the court didn’t agree with her and didn’t bow down very low in her presence, then she had no compunction about discrediting them. In the end, following her was just another form of servitude. She should have gone back and re-read The Fountainhead. She may have “made” Roark but after a period of time the creator drifted away from her own vision and became something else.

From Objectivism 101


A person who looks to others to decide his values or beliefs.

The term comes from The Fountainhead. It describes people who don’t deal with reality directly, but instead look to others. Instead of trying to understand the world, they simply accept what other people tell them, without attempting to evaluate that information. Instead of trying to decide what values would benefit their lives, they look to others and trust that they must be right.

A second-hander does not think for himself. He does not even act for himself. He lives in order to impress others. It doesn’t matter if he’s happy if he can trick others into believing he’s happy. It doesn’t matter if he’s wealthy, if he can trick others into believing he’s wealthy. The only thing that matters is what other people thing or believe.

In practice, people mix a little second-handedness into their lives. They look to impress others by acquiring things that others would want. They profess to believe things they don’t really accept in order to fit in. They ignore their own judgments or evaluations when they conflict with other people’s. They sacrifice their own values for the sake of fitting in.

Objectivism promotes the idea that each person should be free to do whatever they want to do just as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. This doesn’t mean that Objectivism thinks any action is as good as any other. People can and will do incredibly stupid things that they really shouldn’t do. Objectivism draws a distinction between what you should be free to do, and what you should do. You should be free to live your life the way you see fit, even if other people are convinced that it’s the wrong way. The law should not try to force people to act morally. Its sole purpose is to promote individual liberty, and by doing so, create the conditions necessary for someone to live his life.

Does either party really follow this line?

Not in my book.

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