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Over 50, Should I be Blogging or Playing Golf?

markgolf

Sometimes I wonder if I should hang up my cleats on blogging and just play golf. Yes, I am over 50 yrs. old and one of the older bloggers in the HR space. It’s my 10th anniversary blogging and maybe my time has come and gone?

To set the record straight, I have been blogging since 2007. In fact, this is a 10-yr. anniversary for me. Thanks to Laurie Ruettimann  (Punk Rock HR, Cynical Girl and her own name), Penelope Trunk (Brazeen Careerist and her own name) and Kris Dunn (HR Capitalist and Fistfuloftalent) I was inspired to try my hand at blogging. I was at Leviton in 2007 and Dina Anzalone, my new HR manager was charged by me with starting a social media presence at Leviton. I had stumbled on Penelope’s blog back then and her musings on the startup of the Brazeen Careerist website. We signed on as a Beta company and were one of the first businesses to have employees contribute content to the site. We took out a small advertising package for recruiting support and Dina along with a few employees wrote content for them. Back then I had dinner 4 or 5 times with Penelope whenever she would come to New York City. I would take her to dinner and pick her brains. She was the ultimate in Disruption before anyone coined the phrase. I thought she was the coolest Entrepreneur. She was so Raw and transparent. I learned a lot from those few interactions. She was and is still someone that I look up to for inspiration.

I also read Laurie’s blog religiously, eventually getting the courage to post comments on her sites. Laurie and I eventually became friends and would catch up in person at conferences and I even had her do some consulting along with Robin Schooling while I was at Success Academy. Laurie was also 5 yrs. ahead of the curve.

Reading Laurie’s blog led me to other sites including FOT and Kris’s personal blog. Never would I have imagined that a few years later I would be a regular contributor on FOT. Kris was another trailblazer that is an incredible writer with great insight to the HR community. Folks including Jessica Lee, Paul Herbert, Kelly Dingee, Maren Hogan and Jen McClure were some of the early folks on the site. They were all fantastic bloggers, raw and hard hitting. Eventually I got the courage to start a blog on the google platform for free. Part journal and part brain fart, it was a mish mosh of my thoughts and experiences.

As I worked out the kinks, Laurie even spent some time one afternoon with me on the phone way back when offering suggestions. She probably doesn’t remember but it was an important event for me. One thing she said back then was “just write”, she told me the more I write the better I will get.

It was the most profound yet obvious advice I have ever taken in and acted on over the past decade.

As my blogging progressed I mustered the courage to reach out to John Hollon, who at the time was the editor and chief at TLNT, another one of my favorite sites. John gave me a shot and published several articles of mine over the years. He was always brutally honest with me, occasionally rejecting content, offering suggestions and a champion for me as I continued to progress in my writing for professional publications.

There have been others that have influenced me greatly since my early days. Tim Sackett, Robin Schooling, Sharyln Lauby, and the list could go on. They might be surprised to read this in a blog post, but they were instrumental…

Although I have a great sense of humor my writing never quite got to the level of funny. I am a serious topic writer that has just a sprinkle of snarky and sarcasm sprinkled in. It used to bother and upset me that I didn’t have that gift like Tim or Kris or even Laurie. But I found my own unique voice and am continually learning to fine tune it. Yes, I am the “HR with an Attitude” guy and proud of it.

Over the past 10 years my writing has appeared in numerous national and international publications. In print and on-line. Places like SHRM, World at Work, HR Executive magazine, TLNT, ADP, and numerous other industry publications have printed my thoughts and musings…This has wrapped around my national conference presentations and being quoted in a multitude of online and print publications as well as television and radio spots locally and nationally.

So now I am at an inflection point in my career and life. I am no longer the C-Suite HR dude and my writing as well as conference presentations (discussion for another day) have had a great run.

Many of my colleagues have suggested hanging up my writing cleats for something less controversial. For me that would-be golf where I have finally broken the 3-digit score barrier on a regular basis. Last week I shot 97 and 93 on two challenging courses!

I must admittedly mull it over but in the interim I will continue to write and speak, and provoke, agitate, and hopefully spur discussion and dialogue.

I am not ready to hang it up just yet….I think I can continue to do both at least for a little bit longer!

Time will tell….

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A Quick “Catch” Up

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I have not written anything directly for this blog in a while, so I thought I would catch my followers up on what’s new and what’s not.

First the Fall semester has begun and I am teaching 2 grad HR classes in the MBA program at Adelphi. My students are awesome and I just agreed to having Geico sponsor a class research project in my Selection/Recruitment class. More on this in future posts.

I am still dealing with the run off of poor administrative management at the school. My latest update is a couple of union meetings with other adjuncts who are similarly upset.  I have a meeting finally with the President in a few days. Only 8 months from my original correspondence. So much for a sense of urgency, but let’s give it the benefit of the doubt until afterwards…maybe there is good reason or rational. I will be updating you on this too.

My business endeavors include acting as the Chief Talent Officer for a VC backed start up and part-time Senior HR strategist for a major catering business near my home. I am still doing work for Signium and recently completed an international compensation project in Ireland.

On the speaking front, I have two engagements in the fall. One speaking at a regional SHRM conference and the other speaking in Chicago at the Paylocity User conference. The topics for both is Money Ball for the Talent Function, a revised encore of my SHRM presentation in New Orleans this past June. I have a few conferences in the oven for next Spring, with brand new content. I will keep you posted on dates and local.

I continue to write for Fistful of Talent and am now a regular contributor on the SHRM national blog. This may be one of the reasons I have been absent from my own site, but will make a concerted effort to start writing my own stuff once again as the summer comes to end.

Finally, my golf game has finally improved to a point where I am finally playing double instead of triple digit scores. Barely, but I will take 96-99 scores regularly if I can. The goal is to get to a 90-93 level in the future. My Tennis season  (season # 17 with the same group) is starting this week and I am looking forward to Pro Football  after my Met’s self-destructed this past summer.

Well that’s it for now, I think your all caught up.

If you need any HR consulting, Strengths programs (Gallup), or project work, please reach out!

Apology Not Accepted

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I am not big on apologizing in business and I don’t much care for being apologized to either. It’s not that folks shouldn’t let you know they take responsibility for a mistake or doing something inappropriate. I just think that fixing it and moving on is a lot more productive and a lot less dramatic.

Personal apologies are slightly different in my book. Yes there are occasions where they are necessary, but even in personal endeavors they are often a poor response to dealing with a situation. It also seems like an easy out. I will say I am sorry and the situation magically corrects itself.

We are all human and are going to make mistakes. In business, they are even expected. Just recognize them quickly and fix them. My best learnings have been from mistakes. At Leviton, I failed twice in implementing a High Potential program. The first time I didn’t get buy in. The second time I started to low and wide in the organization. If not for these two failures, I may never had succeeded on try number three.

At Success Academy, there was this apology culture if you made a mistake. It wasn’t just required but expected too. When the apology for a mistake didn’t come it caused rumblings, emails, phone calls and even an occasional meeting to diagnose why. I always held to the concept of fix the mistake, learn from it and move on.

In retrospect, I probably would have been better off to just say sorry, even if I really wasn’t. But that’s not who I am for better and yes occasionally for worse.

I also never really needed an apology when someone screwed up a project I assigned them or a daily task. They happened all the time, most were insignificant. Occasionally it was something big. I always focused my staff on fixing it. When they would apologize I would often say “don’t apologize, fix it”. I think that as a rule this was more effective (at least for me). You can ask them. I bet most appreciated not having to apologize and I believe the response was more effective in the long run.

 

Gonzo HR

hunterthompson

My favorite Writer Hunter S. Thompson is responsible for Gonzo journalism, and I think my muses cross over into “Gonzo” territory.

This past week I met up with the Sr. Operating team from my time at Success Academy. Noel (the COO, but really president) and Dennis the CFO and a good friend. We pushed the envelope on conventional operations and HR during our close to two year stint working together. I think Success is succeeding in part because of the foundation we laid 2 yrs. ago. We built stability and infrastructure into a hyper growth  organization. I built a sustainable HR and Talent model. Dennis brought order to financial chaos and Noel brought a level of professionalism and strategic mindset to the organization.

We dished on personal stuff and yes spent a good 45 minutes reminiscing about all the crazy stuff we endured. In the end the organization is better from our services and we are more versatile executives having “survived” our tenure there.

Dennis and I started on the same day and he departed about 2 months prior to my departure. We were kindred spirits working in unison. It was amazing to see HR and Finance on the same side of the table constantly and a tribute to what the relationship between the functions could be.

Noel was our fearless leader. Smart, calculated and steady at the helm. I watched him quell the most contentious meetings to a level of civility on numerous occasions. A brilliant engineering mind, Noel could see the big picture like no senior executive I have worked with in my 30 plus year career.

Success was like a Hunter S. Thompson’s road trip without the drugs in his “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” memoir. One day I will write a short story or maybe even a memoir on our time there. It also rings true of another famous writer…It was the best of times and the worst of times….

I loved the work but had cognitive dissonance over the mission and practices….No child should be denied a great education based on their zip code, however we all need to live within a certain level of appropriateness in changing the education landscape….lets just leave it there for now.

In any event, I have come to to recognize that I am a bit of an HR rebel, I could not have worked there if I was not. My writing also has an edge, maybe even a little more then an edge, I would call it an Attitude. Your free to call it what ever you wish. Maybe it is even GONZO…

My time writing for Fistfuloftalent.com, recruitingdaily.com, and most recently the SHRM national blog has allowed me the freedom to express my views without a filter. I want to thank all of them for the platform and Freedom of Speech that it has afforded me.

It has shaped my personal brand and more importantly is a true reflection of my views, beliefs and ethical perspective.

I have a lot of content out there right now on the sites mentioned, here on LinkedIn, and even occasionally on guest sites like Carnival of HR.  I am also suddenly in demand to speak at conferences. I will be at the Paylocity User conference in Chicago this November, a few SHRM regional conferences and  a slew of conferences the first half of next year….

Maybe GONZO is not such a bad thing….

 

 

It’s Attitude Week for HR

hrwithanattitude

My most recent SHRM blog post was on – you guest it – HR with Attitude. You can click here to see the post. I tend to have repetitive themes that I write or publicly speak about.

This one I believe firmly in. Attitude is not about being aggressive or obnoxious. It is about being competent, taking a stand when you have the information and the facts, and not backing down.

HR needs an injection of this every so often.

You can also check out my previous post on the very same subject it was a podcast and you need 12 minutes to listen. You can click here  to check it out.

I am working on a presentation on this very subject and putting it in my bag of tricks to take on the road in 2018….be on the lookout…

I promise to write about other stuff going forward….

Hope you all have a great day!

HR With An Attitude

HR Studio_Interview_Ep35 (002)

Here is the content from a recent Podcast I did on the “HR Podcast” series. TO hear it in its entirety click here.

Can HR Transform to Truly Impact Business Success?
The profession of Human Resources has evolved over the last 30 years from an administrative function to one focused on positively impacting the bottom line results of organizations. While still required to ensure compliance with regulations and regulatory agencies, the function is focused now on building organizational competencies necessary to compete and win in today’s very competitive and rapidly changing global marketplace.
Truth be told, the evolution of HR is still in progress. Many organizations are at the very beginning in trying to make the transition, while others are at the forefront and making some good headway. But there are many critics that don’t actually believe HR will ever be able to make that transformational shift at all. Mark Fogel is one of those people, and he has a very clear opinion of the topic and some very important and meaningful advice for HR professionals today.
Mark is a former CHRO and CMO, a successful entrepreneur, a writer, and a notable speaker. He has many awards to his name including SHRM’s 2007 Human Capital Leader and SHRM’s 2009 Innovation Award winner. He is currently the leader of the retained search and consulting practice for Signium in New York City. Signium is a top 25 global search and consulting firm.

Key Learnings From This Episode
 State of HR Today. Mark believes HR’s transformation from administrative to an HR Business Partner is like having a GPS, and you have several ways you can go. There are the strategic folks and then there are the tactical people who are taking the side streets and are getting caught up in the street lights at every block. It is a tale of two cities. There are some players out there who are ‘getting it’ and they move the profession/function forward, and then there are a lot of people who are stuck in the mud, spinning their wheels. Mark feels we should get more people rallied around doing what needs to be done to keep the profession fresh, vibrant and important to the business.

HR with an attitude. Mark has espoused an HR posture for success, which is ‘HR with an attitude’. What does that mean and how did Mark arrive at that kind of stance as an HR professional? Attitude means a lot of things to a lot of people. When you are asked to describe a ‘New Yorker’, the first things people think of are ‘sassiness’ and ‘having an attitude’. To Mark, attitude is not about being aggressive or obnoxious. It is about being competent, taking a stand when you have the information and the facts, and not backing down. It sounds relatively simple, but it is difficult when you have people all day long pressing you to move their agenda instead of doing what is best for your business and your people.

Applying “HR with an attitude” to his career. Over the first half of his career, Mark took the slow path, listening to others, trying to do the right thing, and being methodical. One day he realized that if you stand by your convictions and push forward, push away the naysayers, and do what you believe in as long as you know it is right, everything else works out, and it has – and that is when his career took off.

Mark spent the first 14 years of his career working in retail, part of it in operations and then part of it Human Resources, even though people told him he could not make the jump. He wanted to get out of retail, and people told him that although he was HR Retail, he would never get out and work in HR for other companies or industries, but he did.

People would continually give him advice, but he soon came to realize that ‘advice is cheap’. You need to believe in yourself.

What does Mark see as the critical behaviors necessary for success as an HR professional? Data analytics has become a major part of everything we do, and not just in HR. It has become critical to be able to ‘back up’ with credibility. To take a step forward, many businesses are doing predictive analytics – not just saying ‘this is what happened in the past’, but actually saying ‘we can make decisions on the future using this data’ – capturing data and using it in a way that helps you move forward. We need to stop measuring things that don’t add value anymore. HR has to catch up to the times, and right now, it is a runaway freight train. Utilizing data, synthesizing it down to actionable plans, and taking action on those will lead to success.

It is critical for HR professionals to move to a true organizational development mindset. It is easy to do compliance, onboarding, benefits administration, basic compensation, and to administer reviews. It is much more difficult to engage people and to get them to use a feedback culture – to really understand what makes their people tick and keep their people happy. Engagement was the rage a few years ago, but we need to get beyond engagement. Engagement is something that should happen every day.

Is HR going to be able to make the transformation? Mark believes ‘yes’ but that it is a tale of two cities. Some organizations are making it already, and not just the large companies who are getting a lot of press. There are many small and mid-size companies that ‘get it’ and have become extremely agile and optical. The ability to be flexible and to not get locked into an old mindset – those businesses have jumped the river, and they are on the other side. Most want to make the jump, but they either have not or they are struggling with it.
Recommended Reading and References From this Episode
fistful of talentRecruiting DailyThe SHRM Blog

Should you put yourself on the line if there is no clear payback?

biteyourlip

Many of you know that my career has been peppered with controversy. Challenging CEO’s, controversial business decisions, and skirting the line of business ethics with rogue C-Suite members.

Recently I have been dealing with both Macro and Micro issues at Adelphi, where I have been teaching as an Adjunct since 2011. To be clear, I love my part-time job. There is nothing better professionally then playing a part in shaping our next generation of HR and Business executives. This is not a position that is about the dollars. It is a position about giving back to the next generation.

I have been successful in my university teaching endeavors. First at Fashion Institute of Technology in the late 1990’s and most recently at Adelphi where I also happen to be a graduate school alum.

Adjuncts are a rare bread as they typically do not have PhD’s and often are treated no better than disposable contractors, yet they approach the college classroom with energy and passion. I would like to think this is different at Adelphi where we have some of the best, brightest and most caring Adjuncts in the education world. In the business school we went over a decade before I was awarded the teaching excellence award and then one of my adjunct colleagues followed the next year. Clearly our adjuncts standout in the classroom. We also help students with references, referrals, resumes, internships and even occasionally interviews. We also bring real life business into the classroom, I have yet to see a PhD program that can match the value of the real world in a business class….

So for the past 6 months I have been dealing with adversity and by  Adelphi’s administrations own admission been poorly treated in relation to the hiring process for a full-time lecturer role in the business school. I am not alone as my colleagues have faced a similar fate. Some believe that it is even being done purposely. The business school hides behind accreditation #’s and the belief that rookie Phd’s know better and teach better then senior executives with decades of real business experiences.  If you were spending a $150 grand or more on an education wouldnt you want the best education possible regardless of a diploma in a back office?

I have been outspoken about it, confronting the President, Provost, Associate Provost business school Dean, HR, and even pulled the union into the conversation. When I approached our President who broadcasts open office hours for a chat, I was rebuffed twice and pushed to the Provost who politely pushed it further down hill. When I approached our business school Dean I was met with teflon and my call outs were not even investigated. Only after months of emails and contacts did anyone even take my conversation seriously. I was made to feel like the criminal in an assault case…How sad…

Unfortunately after 6 months, the outcome was not optimal. No one took responsibility till recently when the Associate Provost admitted “we fucked up”. HR remained silent, knowing I knew the drill better than they did.

So after 6 months and a couple of Mia culpa’s I am left empty, admittedly poorly treated after a series of incompetent actions.

It’s a strange feeling being on the opposite side of this discussion. In my past life running HR functions I spent significant time cleaning up this type of mess.

So I have several options, including a pretty clear legal runway as well as my personnel connections to major writers at three of the country’s most prestigious newspapers (on-line and print). Even if they don’t pen the articles they can afford me access to Op Ed pages. For those who don’t read Newsday on Long Island, there was a recent editorial on Adjuncts. Oh, and before I forgot to mention it, I write on-line for two of the largest HR social media sites in the country. So I also have the option of writing an editorial myself. In fact I just did, however with minimal reach. My other options are much further and deeper in reach and reputation management….So I have options to stir shit up or take it a step further.

But I don’t want drama, I just want the right actions to be taken and for administration to own their actions…I still love to teach and students shouldn’t be hurt by the poor decisions and actions of their school’s administrators….

So if this was you, would you push the “red button”? Or would you bite your lip?

 

Decisions, Decisions…..