Twilight

ATLANTIC SKIES: Did you know there are three stages of twilight? |  Regional-Lifestyles | Lifestyles | SaltWire

Twilight ; a condition or period of gradual decline following full development, achievement, glory, etc.

I am in the twilight of my career. I have accomplished a lot, have a few trophies (literally and figuratively) and have no regrets.

I have been writing on some of the most prevalent HR and Talent blogs for several years including Fistful of Talent, TLNT, ERE, Workology, and the SHRM blog.

I have had the honor of presenting at close to two dozen major SHRM conferences since 2006 and another 30 plus conferences in the HR stratosphere.

I have some major metal too. Winning the SHRM National leader of the year in 2007 and HR Executive Honor role in 2010 are nothing to sneeze at. With the HR Executive magazine accomplishment, I finished as a runner up to Lazlo Bock at Google. Unfortunately, no one ever remembers the runner up. Do you remember who lost to Kansas City in the Super bowl last year?

As an educator, I have instructed hundreds of our current HR and business leaders. My life as an educator dates to the late 1970’s as I can honestly say I taught over a thousand kids to swim, many are connected with me on social media and this may be my one of my proudest accomplishments of all.

Of course, my proudest accomplishment is my daughter Morgan’s success as a student and professional as a civil engineer. We do a lot wrong as parents and adults, but sometimes we do a few things right. My contributions to my daughter’s success are definitely more meaningful then my own.

So now I have a few good years left to do a precious few things to write my own legacy.

I am starting a doctoral program this coming week as I am just a few short years from retirement and social security. Many of my family and friends have challenged me. Why not just kick back and enjoy this time?

Well, I am not ready to kick back just yet. Yes, I love playing pickleball, golf and tennis whenever I can. But I still have some goals to accomplish. Getting my Doctorate is one of them.

I want my next few years to be about helping others and what better way then to enhance my own knowledge to give back to the next generation.

Maybe I am not as relevant in the HR community and that is ok, my voice is silencing to a whisper. But I still have a lot to give to the HR community and will continue to as the opportunities present themselves….

Birthday Musings

Pro-Trump Protest DC Jan. 6, 2020: US Capitol in Lockdown - Bloomberg

I am appalled by what is going on in Washington today.

My Birthday is a side show to the world we live in. It does not matter which party you affiliate with. We are supposed to be be the example of Democracy to the world. As I watch the capital stormed by protestors I can only state my support to law enforcement to settle the situation.

I get as most folks do, the right to voice dissent with the presidential election. However, after multiple law suites and 6 weeks of craziness we are at a point that our government needs to hit pause and accept the realities without drama.

Maybe my comments are to little and to late. All I wanted to do today was have a nice dinner with friends…

So much for celebrating my birthday….

what is ‘that’ time when if you’re going to do it, you better do it now?

Watch Better Late Than Never Episodes at NBC.com

Thanks to my friend Tim Sackett over at Fistful of Talent for the great title and so true for me personally as we head into 2021. Tim makes a bold statement that “We all get to certain points in our life where you can no longer just go do ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is for you.”

The topic for today is if not now then when? And are you past the point of “when”?

Tim makes some great points of timing for certain things in your life. If you are interested, click the link to read the whole post. For now, let us just focus on doing something while you still have the time and energy to do it.

For me, that something is going back to graduate school for a doctorate in business. Many who know me casually are probably shaking your head as the official time clock of days on earth click over the 60-year mark next week. At best I will be 3 or 4 years short of Social Security age when I hopefully complete the task.

I have never been one to go with what others believe are appropriate. My career moves from Operations to HR and from retail to other industries all broke the naysayer’s rules that you just cannot make the leap. I did and here I am again with a lot of folks saying why? This is not foreign territory for me.

For background I have been teaching for over a decade at Adelphi University’s business school and you can go back another 12 years to my time teaching at F.I.T (Fashion Institute of Technology) as I cut my teeth doing executive recruiting at Limited Brands. In fact, I could probably teach several of the courses I will be taking. I am also successful in the college classroom having been awarded the teaching excellence award a few yrs. back and then promoted to “senior” adjunct; a position normally reserved for retiring tenured professors.

So, here is the why….Because I always made or had an excuse why I did not have the time before and now I do not. I have wanted to do this for a long time. Some folks want to go into their twilight career years taking that great vacation or buying a second home. Others cherish the chance to recreate and enjoy family and activities that they could not fully enjoy earlier in life. Do not get me wrong…I want some of those things too. But now I have a real chance to pursue this and I am before the grey matter dissipates and leaves me intellectually challenged to complete this much  sought-after accomplishment.

In a few days I will be starting my first two classes online at Liberty University’s graduate business school in pursuit of a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership. I have marked hundreds of term papers, projects, and presentations over the years and yes, I can feel the anxiety of being on the other side for the first time in over 3 decades.  I have not written a term paper since grad school in 1984. Back then I was still using a typewriter and only started to use a computer. So, this will definitely be a challenge. My first class is all about using APA (what???) and citing peer review journals….oh and there is a religious bend to the first class, well it is Jerry Falwell’s school…if nothing else this will be interesting. Especially as I am not of the religion of the school. Can you all pray for me?

If you really want something go for it. What is the thing you have always wanted but have not summoned the courage to go after? What is your WHY and is it still a reason to avoid pursuing a dream?

If it is your time, don’t let it pass you by. Just go for it….the worst that will happen is you you won’t succeed, but with the knowledge that you tried.

Wish me luck. Have a great New Year. Pursue your dreams!

I Like Working From Home

If work from home is here to stay, what are the implications for  individuals and companies?

With the vaccines finally coming to market for COVID the question for 2021 is should we keep working from home.

I will be the first to admit I miss some of the face to face (literally). However, I also have become accustomed to not having to travel 3 to 4 hours daily to our major clients and leaving during rush hour to teach evening grad classes.

I take issue with SHRM’s recent return to office antics at the height of the pandemic. Their CEO even dished on this topic in the most recent SHRM magazine “From The CEO” introductory editorial. Out of fairness he presented different angles and did focus on HR’s role in insuring culture, communication, and commitment were focused on regardless of where an employee works from.

In regards to teaching, I have found the sweet spot of using ZOOM breakout rooms for activities (note to Microsoft: improve your breakout room technology for assigning and reassigning folks as it is clunky) and my students actually have come around to virtual instead of live. There are still some challenges to providing tests as Moodle and Blackboard are not where they need to be for creating online testing, but with that said, I much prefer ZOOM over classroom.

For clients we provide three core services. First our leadership training has not skipped a beat online. Second, we are able to do coaching and 360 work as well if not better online. Finally, the project work only suffers from being in an office to ask questions, however with technology we have been able to work around this and access data via technology.

So for me there is no question that work from home or from anywhere is a plus. In fact this Spring and Summer I am tee’ d up to do some conference speaking potentially live and being able to do work from a hotel room in between is a huge plus.

Now I understand, not every job or industry can provide the same dynamics as my own, however the past 8 months have acted as a litmus test for the future.

What do you think? Inquiring minds would love to hear from you!

Where have you been lately?

I know I have not posted on my own blog in a while. Maybe it is COVID. Maybe just a lack of something important to share. Or a little apathy…

I have kept up with my FOT posts. In a way I feel obligated. The folks at Fistful of Talent have given my voice a large audience and for that I am grateful. Plus, I seem to do some of my best work for them. So, it is a quid pro quo of sorts, plus I love the medium and the folks I collaborate with there. Chris and Tim even did a special appearance for my classes this fall on a ZOOM call.

So, consider this my catchup for the past few months of inactivity in of all places my very own blog.

I am not sure where to start so I will just jump in. I have been challenged as all of us have been with COVID. Everyone in my immediate family is fine. We experienced a lock down here on Long Island in Mid-March. My business was temporarily impacted as all of you were. My teaching continued and luckily, I had just finished mid term tests as we went into an extended spring break. As we emerged from break all my university teaching was online.

As far as my business we were fortunate that our largest client allowed us to test doing leadership classes online in mid-April and we were able to restore most of our contracted work. So, from a business standpoint my hit was not as extensive as it could have been.

My summer was a blur as we moved from lock down to phased opening. I spent most nights walking with my good friends in the neighborhood and when Memorial Day weekend came, I was able to start playing pickleball outside. I got hooked on the sport and would play 4-5 times a week all summer. I now have a pretty good 3.5/4.0 game! For those not familiar I am a solid intermediate player.

We were lucky here on the Island as we had maybe the best summer and early fall weather in more then a decade. We also did a lot of Barbeques in my back yard and we were the weekend destination for our extended family. The weather was a big plus as there was really not much to do or watch on TV. So being outside was a great distraction.

I also got to play golf with my regular group weekly. The one caveat was we walked all summer to help with social distancing. Now that winter is approaching my clubs have been mothballed for the foreseeable future. My pickleball games are mostly indoors 2 -3 times a week with my weekly tennis added on.

My business model has survived with online accessibility. The fall saw a couple of significant projects and I am grateful to my clients. It is really rough out in this climate getting and just maintaining client work. Thankfully most of my capabilities translate well to online.

I am also tinkering with starting my doctorate in 2021 in HR. You are never too old to learn. I have been thinking about it for a couple of years and just needed something to push me to action. I think the pandemic has done that.

I also committed to being the programming chair for SHRM Long Island. It is time for me to turn my attention from national to my backyard, although you still may get to see me speak at future national conferences. So be on the lookout for new and innovative stuff!

So that is it in a snapshot. Oh, I forgot to mention I dropped some weight this past year. Sometimes adversity brings opportunity. I feel better too.

I’ll try to get back in the swing of posting at least once a month….Wishing everyone a great end of the year….Be safe!!!!

Movie Night

The pandemic has created a void in things to do, especially here on Long Island where we have only entered phase one of opening this past week. So my out of the house activities are a daily am walk to the local deli for coffee, an evening walk most nights with a couple of friends, and golf on the weekends. The majority of my free time other then taking care of personal life activities is watching television. My TV time has been dominated by cable news, which sucks because there is no live sports (except Nascar and German Soccer) to occupy my down time from work.

Add to this I have gone from teaching online 5 nights a week between Adelphi, Manhattanville and HR Jetpack, to zero as the semester ended last week. So I now look  forward at least twice a week to catch a movie. Lets just call it MOVIE Night. And tonight was a movie night!!!! I Watched the Guardian with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. Its probably the 5th or 6th time watching it over the past few yrs., but its a great movie. Action, drama, and a good story line. It hit me personally 30 minutes in when Costner’s Commander tells him he needs to know when it is time to  get out of the water. Costner obviously disagrees. I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it (go rent it  or watch it on the Paramount network).

“You need to know when it is time to get out of the water.”

A classic line and a metaphor for saying you need to know when you need to move to the next phase of your career. Most of us can’t see it or accept it. Professional athletes often hang on one or two yrs. to long with diminishing returns. As I look at my own career it is difficult to decide if I have some mileage left to run HR for another company one more time, or am I better suited to continue on my consulting and college teaching trajectory?

I am not alone or unique in facing this dilemma. We all face it at some point and sometimes more then once. I felt a little empathy for Costner’s character having to go from Rescue Swimmer to Instructor. He was in a way “a fish out of water”. Well actually he was perfect to be an Instructor, he just yearned to get back to his true passion. Was he to old, battle warn, a step to slow? He held all the records until he meets his protege in Kutcher. The opportunity to pass the baton was to a certain extent, satisfying and distracting. My own business accolades with SHRM, HR Executive Magazine, Adelphi, and local business are much like Costner’s characters records. Meaningful at the time but eventually just a name plate on the wall. We all have gifts and some of them get rewarded with ribbons and trophies. More importantly it is what you do with your talent. Do you help others? Do you make a difference?

We all look for importance in our life. Some of us even create bucket lists. Do you have one? It helps us make sense of our goals, desires, and accomplishments. It keeps us focused.

From adversity comes opportunity.

Movie night lets us dream.

Make a difference. Use your talent to the fullest.

I gotta go get a towel and dry off…. I will see you at the pool when it opens up…..

I love movies!

Rough Winds

roughwinds

The past six weeks have been rough here on Long Island. As a stand alone, the Island has the second most confirmed cases of Corona Virus in the country. We have been limiting social contact since St. Patricks day, way back in the middle of March. We have friends that have contracted it, most are ok…a couple are struggling with it now. And a couple of family members of friends have succumb to it and past on…Tragically…

It’s lonely being housebound for 6 weeks, for all of us. I played my last night of tennis the Thursday before St. Pats. My last pickleball game that Saturday. And unfortunately my last round of golf three weeks later, as the governor shut my last escape physically to all of us 10 days ago (rightfully so). I’m fortunate to be doing o.k. …..a weekend walk with my neighborhood boys club, there are 4 of us, keeps us from the brink of craziness. And one to two walks around the neighborhood each day (weather permitting) with Pandora cranked to 10 in my earbuds…. thank god for the music of STP, The Foo fighters, Tool, and a myriad of 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s classic rock.

My work had some interruptions in March, fortunately we have gotten some of our client work back virtually the past two weeks. All my teaching is on-line too. So financially we are handling the strong winds of change. I would say we are more fortunate than most.

This Spring’s Conference Season is a train wreck. I just completed taping two sessions for SHRM Talent. The conference is going virtual. It feels weird doing a taped presentation in front of a computer on ZOOM. More like I am teaching a class or taping a class on-line. My timing was way off too. My 18 minute Smart Stage came in at a paltry 12 minutes and change….my hour presentation is still being edited and I estimate maybe 32 – 33 minutes. I have done over 2 dozen live SHRM  major events and I usually come in a couple minutes under the wire. But no introduction, Q&A, and audience banter soak  up a significant amount of time….so my 52 minute Agism was cut by about a third. I’m sure SHRM and the audience will understand. I was not short selling the presentations….just didn’t factor in the extras not being there. And to be honest, I didn’t want to fluff extra into the presentations.

The remainder of the conference calendar year is in doubt too. I have a freebie to SHRM national in San Diego the end of June  (courtesy of the blogger debacle), but I doubt that conference will survive….Johnnie Taylor (CEO of SHRM) is giving May 4th as the decision date….but my money is on cancelling this one… Maybe I will squeeze in a local presentation at one of the SHRM chapters later this year….And talking about chapters, I have been helping out the Long Island chapter with ideas for future programming and have stepped into an interim volunteer role assisting with programming…if you have a cool topic…hit me up to discuss….

What I feel terrible about, aside from no sports and golf…to play or watch, is my Adelphi students. I have an undergraduate class with 9 seniors graduating with no graduation ceremony….and an MBA class of NYU – Winthrop Hospital Administrators and Professionals. They are unbelievable juggling the pandemic and life….and they show up every week for my class on-line.

They are unsung hero’s.

So that is my update for now….I hope the rough winds die down soon…..and I hope all reading this are safe!

 

Catching up with 2020 Vision – The Blind Audition Tour

It’s been a while since I posted here. As 2020 comes into site I wanted to provide the folks still following me here a quick update.

To start with I will be touring again in 2020 with a hot topic of “AGEISM” with my Blind Audition Tour. It kicks off On February 26th at the SHRM Long Island breakfast meeting followed by a stop in Orlando Florida at SHRM Talent.   There will definitely be additional dates so stay tuned!

I am still teaching grad school at Adelphi,  conducting SHRM certification  prep for HRJetpack and Manhattanville college, and doing a variety of interesting executive leadership projects in conjunction with Improving Communications and under my HC3 umbrella.

I continue to  stay active writing on Fistful of Talent and the SHRM blog. I also have been active with guest podcast and webinar activity with my pals at Workology and HRJetpack. In fact, my 2020 webinar series kicks off on Weds. February 5th with a webinar on: While I Was Sleeping, My Company Went Global! Now What? I’ll be posting details on LinkedIn next week. My HRJetpack series will run every other month with webcasts on a variety of topics.

So I am busy but always open to new opportunities, so feel free to reach out….till my next post!

Thanks… Giving

My business associate Rich Atkins is probably cringing at my title and misuse of the English language. It is Thanksgiving Holiday week and the most special of holidays for me. I spent the first 14 yrs. of my career working for retailers, so this holiday was my last gasp of relaxing before a typically robust 7 week holiday season. I say 7 weeks as we did not finish till early January with store Inventories. Even in my last couple of years doing HR at Limited Brands, the holiday period was a 6 and 7 day week marathon of long days, nights and weekends.

The past two decades I have been fortunate to work in other industries which afforded me the opportunity to have extended 4 and even 5 day weekends. But my time in retail left me with a deep appreciation for those called upon to work by choice and most often by necessity during this Holiday. In the past few years retailers have opened for extended sales on the holiday itself. How sad that profits are put in front of people. In my opinion they should bring back blue laws to prohibit all but essential services on this holiday.

A local retailer on Long Island, P.C. Richard and Sons chooses to continue to close each year on this day, refusing to buckle to competitive pressure to do otherwise. They annually run an advertisement in Newsday, the local paper, wishing all of their employees a joyous holiday and taking a shot at others who fail to treat their employees with dignity and respect. I personally give them a lot of credit for holding pat.

So with this special few days I am compelled to recognize those who give so that we can “get” or enjoy festivities, food, football, and friendship.

Medical and EMS personnel, services workers across all industries, and our armed forces, we owe you more than a THANKS for working so that we can enjoy this special day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The Broken Model of University Education 2019 Edition

brokenwing

It is hard to believe that Universities around the country are locked into a Century old paradigm of Research and Reward as a priority over quality education for our next generation.

As a part time educator, myself, I see it first-hand throughout the year at the university I teach at. Now this is not a blanket statement that credentialed, or should I say tenured tracked, professors are shunning their responsibilities toward students (many are exceptional educators with yrs. of quality results). But the system is certainly doing so.

To top this off, many areas of learning, including my own (the business school) have reinforced this broken and outdated system that focuses on terminal degrees over both real-world experience and the ability to educate adults in the classroom.

Ask yourself, if you wanted to learn Accounting, would you be better off with a former accounting business senior partner with 25 to 30 yrs. of real world experience or a rookie PHD with 2 years of a fellowship having done research on some slim segment of the field? Tough call if the PHD can work the classroom or if the retired partner can’t.

But from a practical viewpoint it is hard to reason that the researcher brings more to the table then the experienced practitioner.

In some areas of education such as nursing and social work, universities have provided more of a balance to utilizing a practitioner approach to education and requirements to teach. But for some strange reason the business community has not.

At Adelphi, where I am a senior adjunct in the business school, we are currently grappling with this issue. It is bolstered by ASCSB accreditation requirements that mandate a certain percentage of doctoral level full – time educators. In fact, almost all must be. Tension has arisen over the past few yrs. as adjunct faculty have been bypassed for the opportunity to teach full-time. The business school administration with full support of the university has chosen to go the old school route. Hiring degreed PHD’s over otherwise highly qualified professionals from industry that just happen to be really good in the classroom. They use the accreditation standards as a shield to any and all conversations on the topic.

It’s hitting a crescendo now as several new faculty have appeared as part-timers stare and watch them fumble over curriculum that they rarely have practiced in real environments. The adjuncts are provided the crumbs as they take on  the leftover classes. Many  adjuncts don’t care as the class is just an extra few dollars or something to do that is fulfilling. However, several do care and even a few, like me, would welcome the opportunity to do this as a full -time gig.

Think of the analogy of a pilot, would you rather have someone who has read about piloting and got an A on the written test and done an extensive research paper on flying, or someone who has flown thousands of hours in the Air force or Navy and has dealt with all types of stressful conditions. We already know the answer.

The crazy part of the conversation is that teaching does not require a degree of any kind to perform. Universities pay premium dollars for tenure track professionals to conduct research, which certainly is of importance, especially in the sciences. But let’s be serious, how many of the journal articles written by the everyday professor is read by even a small number of individuals outside the PHD fraternity…or impact our lives in the smallest of ways? My musings on the SHRM blog and Fistful of Talent get multiple views and reads in comparison (and nobody is paying me for them) and truth be told have more practical impact within the HR community.

So, the question for today is why has the world of Universities and their yearning for PHD’s never changed with the times?

Now that would be something to do research on!