“Googley”-The Google X-Factor

googley-art-wall[1]“Googley”. Doesn’t sound like a real word, but it defines the number one trait that Google executives look for when they are hiring candidates. Stacy Sullivan, Chief of Culture for Google, says it’s not a definable term but “means someone that is not too traditional or stuck in their ways”. This flexibility and mental agility is core to Google’s culture and helps drive its success.

Google has created an addictive culture that job seekers flock to. The campus exudes energy and creativity offering open office space concepts with hangout areas and corporate sponsored cafeterias. The firm has succeeded in creating a community rather than just an employee base.

At Google, hiring is a team sport! It takes the hiring process seriously and requires company executives to spend at least one full day a week recruiting. During the hiring process, recruiters and executives market the Google culture and look for those “googley” candidates that will be the best fit for the company.

The company’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, tells candidates how Google wants to create technology to dramatically improve the world. “We are in unchartered waters, but that’s why we do what we do,” he says. According to Ray, the world is the test lab for Google which drives their need for people who are intellectually curious enough to push the limits.

Ray gives perspective employees a view of the culture within Google which makes them one of the most sought after companies in the world. Ray’s hiring pitch helps candidates understand what is vitally important to the company in a well-defined culture statement.

Hiring for a cultural fit is as important as hiring based on the requirements of the job. Someone can meet all of aspects of the job description but be the worst employee for your firm if they are not a cultural match. You want someone who will not only be able to do the job but be completely invested in the vision and direction of your company.

Perhaps you need to create your own word to describe that x-factor that determines success within your company. Make it a team effort! Involve employees from varying levels of the organization in the creative process. Once your team has helped to define the culture factor needed to succeed within your organization, incorporate it in your hiring process.

Google’s hiring methodology has narrowed their x-factor down to being “googley”. Even the word says something about Google’s culture. Its ability to involve culture throughout the hiring process has helped sort through numerous candidates to find the not just any candidate, but the right candidate.cropped-fb.jpg

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How to deal with the Meghan Trainors in your Office

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Having a 13 year old daughter allows me to keep up with all the current music. After dealing with a particularly rough day last week, my daughter and I were jamming in the car when Meghan’s song “No” came on.  Although the song is referencing a woman fighting off advances of an unwanted guy, the chorus of the song summarized the people I had dealt with that day.

Every company or organization has them…you know who I’m talking about. It’s that individual or department you loathe dealing with because it seems like all they want to do is tell you what you can’t do or simply just find unique and creative ways to tell you “No”. I have a personal little reference for these types, kind of a profiling term if you will.  I have dubbed them the CantNos.

Sidenote: In my earlier, less mature days, I would actually have contacts’ first name followed by a last name CantNo to remind me who I was dealing with on the phone.  I’ve evolved since then though.

As a driver,  I think one of the hardest things I have to deal with are those in the workplace whose first answer is instinctively “No” or “We can’t”.  I guess I’m just too optimistic or “Polly Anna” when approaching problems or even trying to find alternative ways to further the brand, expand a message or take our game to the next level. Sometimes I think how miserable it must be to always find ways to kill someone’s idea or squash their passion.

Just as the CantNos have an instinctive response to most every situation, I have a guttural reaction in dealing with them.  I often find myself counting in my head to calm down, imagining a great post about them on social media or silently throat punching them in my happy place. (Figuratively of course, no violence in the workplace)  Unfortunately, what I don’t say usually can be seen all over my face. Disgust, anger, bewilderment in some cases. This is a group of people I just can’t understand.

If you’re in a position of leadership and can readily identify this group, here are some things to consider:

  1. Are their responses warranted?  I do know there are times when you have to deal with a department whose primary role is to protect the company or organization. Groups like legal, compliance, regulatory or finance have to keep the company in the right lane. I’m sure most of them do not relish in killing every major idea but it seems a number of these groups just accept that as part of their role. If you are a leader, challenge these departments to find a way to soften the blow. A simple, “Let me find a way to help you” would go a long way. As a driver, if I know you’re at least trying to explore an idea but find it is absolutely impossible or too risky, I can accept that.  It’s all in how you frame it.
  2. Do they just get satisfaction from being dream killers? This is a toxic group. You can hire the brightest talent in your industry but if you have a one, two or more of the CantNos in your organization, you may find yourself with a revolving door. If it’s more of an attitude issue, you need to confront it head on. This could include having a direct coaching session or even eliminating the CantNos from your company. You’d be amazed at the change in morale once you have the spine to pull the trigger.
  3. Be self-aware. I know I’m an intense guy, I’m a driver. I have learned to take a moment to identify if the issue is really a potential CantNo or if it’s me being unrealistic.  There’s nothing wrong with being outgoing or super creative but I have learned to be more self-aware to recognize the difference between people who are helping me be more realistic versus those who are CantNos. This has helped mitigate some of the internal frustration I once suffered from while furthering my own evolution toward a better team player.

Saint Augustine said “Anything in moderation is ok” (paraphrased). The same holds true for this topic. Identifying the root cause of CantNos can help you determine the wheat from the chaff in your organization. It can also help you better prepare yourself for interactions with them.

If you haven’t heard the song, it’s a great little tune so that’s my #MondayMotivation gift to you!  Enjoy!

Why I’m Jealous of Magneto’s Helmet

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As a driver-minded guy, I’m always finding lessons in life, especially in movies and television series.  One of my favorite genres is Marvel…. anything Marvel.  The complexity of the characters and their development throughout the story-line always leave me wanting more.

One of my favorite characters in X-Men is Magneto. He’s quite the complex antagonist. Unlike traditional adversaries, Magneto does not have the a-typical plan to destroy the world to motivate his actions. His motives are to protect the race of mutants from the efforts of the human race to track and exterminate.

One thing I find myself jealous of is Magneto’s helmet which protects him from the telepathic attacks from other mutants.  Sure, in the real world we don’t have to worry about such attacks (or do we), but I’d like a little variation of his helmet to make my life a little easier.

I am one of those who struggles with being inside of my own head. For those who do not share this debilitation, it is best described as over-analysis paralysis on your own actions, thoughts, and words throughout the day. There are times I’ll find myself so wrapped up in mental if/then scenarios, I exhaust myself with little or no productive results to show for it.

Here are some examples:

What did person X mean when they said Y? Was it because they misinterpreted what I said? I hope they knew  I was joking. Man, I should work on that, not everyone has my sense of humor.  Could I have handled that better? Maybe they’re not responding because they’re upset? Or what if they’re just busy? Should I acknowledge that I may have made a mistake? No, that would seem like I lack self-confidence.

If you’re an X-Men fan like me, this little dialogue is similar to when the audience gets to experience what telepathic hear when they use their powers. Magneto, however, simply puts on his helmet and is able to tune all of it out. #Jealous

Being self-aware is in no way a bad thing… in moderation of course. If it were as easy as placing something on my head to keep it in moderation, life would be golden. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t made anything like that yet so I have to resort to other measures.  Here are a couple of my tricks:

  1. Workout- I workout twice a day during the week. This routine is more about mental clarity than it is about physical health, although the physical benefits are great too. I have found true balance when I’m able to break away from the world, put on a good book or favorite playlist, and crank out a physically challenging workout.
  2. Honest Friends- An important lesson I’ve learned is to surround myself with people who will tell me when I need to get out of my own head and move on. These people are priceless and a must have in my life. They know when I’m truly struggling with something real versus something I’ve concocted in my head. More importantly, they are bold enough to tell me what I need to hear when I need to hear it.
  3. Journaling- I know it sounds cheesy but sometimes, it’s good to write things out and then reread your thoughts. I’ve found this is a good way for me to remain as objective as I can and force myself to view reality, not the augmented reality I sometimes create.

Everyone has their own way of “putting on the helmet”, these are just a couple of my tricks.  What works best for you?

When you bite off more than you can chew

kobayashi-hotdogs[1]Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual attraction on the 4th of July that attracts both competitors and audiences from around the world.  Mountains of hot dogs are stacked in front of the competitors as the anxious crowds wait to cheer their favorite competitor.

Takeru Kobayashi, a small framed native of Japan, holds six Guinness Records for eating hot dogs, meatballs and other junk food items. In 2001, he set his first record eating 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes at the Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest. The secret to Takeru’s success is his unique strategy to tackle monumental eating challenges by taking one bite at a time. Where many cringe and crack under the pressure, Takeru continues to set world records with ease.

Takeru realized early in his competitive eating career that the biggest challenge is not the number of hot dogs but the tendency for people to have mental barriers. He simply sets a goal and works toward it in a methodical manner.

When he was asked about his ability to think without limits, Takeru said, “I think the thing about human beings is that they make a limit in their mind of what their potential is”. Unlike Takeru, you may find that members of your team have preconceived limits that hold them back.

So as a manager, how do you help your team manage through times when they feel they have bitten off more than they can chew?

There’s an old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Helping your team recognize that every project has bite-size pieces can be a good first step. Managing these smaller sized portions is an easy way to be able to avoid being overwhelmed.

As stress mounts, we tend to focus on the enormity of the problem rather than the more manageable solutions. Team members who appear to be overwhelmed need you to coach them on how to find the most practical strategy to complete their work. The real barrier may be all in their perception and an objective viewpoint could be the perfect diagnosis to this common problem.

Leaders should use Takeru as an inspiration for their teams and teach them that often the biggest barrier to success is a mental one that can be overcome with the right perspective. Helping your team learn how to accomplish their goals without cracking under pressure will not only enhance organizational productivity but also show your team that you committed to making them successful.

Business Lessons from The Walking Dead, Season 6 Episode 9

For those of us who have the sickness known as “TWD Syndrome”, The Walking season 6 episode 9 delivered enough punch to make up for the amount of time we had to go without!

In the first ten minutes, I found myself on edge, laughing, cringing and coming off my couch. Let’s just say, the writers left nothing on the table and started out guns blazing. (Or actually, in Daryl’s case, a rocket launcher.) The episode was laced with several lessons we could take to the office this week.  Here are two for you to nimble on.

Know when to cut them: The moral battle between Morgan and Carol over when to and when not to kill has remained a theme over the last few episodes. Morgan believes everyone has a the opportunity to change so he tends to avoid killing anyone who is a non-walker. In contrast, Carol is a fierce mamma bear who will kill anyone who threatens the community. Morgan’s decision to spare the life of the Wolf put the fledgling community’s only doctor in jeopardy.

Lesson: Sometimes we have to realize not everyone will change their ways. If you have someone like The Wolf on your team, taking the Morgan philosophy could threaten the rest of your team.  As cold and cruel as it may sound, most teams function better under leaders who, like Carol, make the tough decisions and remove anything or anyone who will threaten the vitality of their team. Bottom line, when in doubt, make the kill shot.

Everyone needs a Daryl and Michonne on the team: Daryl Dickens is a quiet character on the show. He tends to be the voice of reason as well one who can always be counted on when times are tough. Similarly, Michon is a complex character with quite reason, amazing strength and raw brutality when needed.

Both characters can be counted on when critical decisions need to be made. In S6E9, Daryl brought down fire on a band of thugs to save Abraham and Sasha (probably one of my favorite scenes). Michonne took the kill shot later in the episode when the young man threatened to kill Rick.

Lesson: Don’t underestimate your steady team members who are critical to the success of your organization. You likely have reserved team members like Daryl and Michonne who are always willing to step up to the plate when needed. Although they do not require a lot of attention or maintenance, it’s always a good idea to show them some love and ensure they know their value.

The Walking Dead writers continue to hypnotize me with the show’s plot and character development. It’s an added benefit that each episode tends to have business lessons laced throughout.

So for all of the The Walking Dead fans out there, what was your business take-away from Season 6, episode 9?

2016 Productivity Goal- Screw the To Do List

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Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Lincoln’s quote speaks to the value of preparation and having the right tools. In business, success is driven by thoughtful planning and effective implementation.

Most of us are trying to get back into the swing of things after a holiday slumber. It seems our brains are naturally wired to begin working on new ways to be more productive. Many will make a resolution to make better to do lists, only to find themselves exasperated at the end of the day with little sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, the tool many of us lean on is the one thing holding us captive to our lack of productivity: the to-do list.

My advice for being more productive in 2016: screw the to-do list!

In Kevin Kruse’s book “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management”he offers a solution to the downward spiral to do lists cause.  Rather than adding your tasks for the day to some legal pad or Moleskin notebook, create a calendar appointment. According to Kruse, this allows you to allocate your time to accomplish the tasks rather than trying to squeeze them in between meetings or other daily time hogs.

The key to success will rely on your commitment to treating this calendar appointment as a doctor’s appointment. If you schedule fifteen minutes to complete an expense report, then start the task at the appointment time regardless of what the day throws at you. At the end of the fifteen minutes, if you haven’t finished the task, look at your calendar and allot more time.

I think you’ll find this method to be more productive and provide you the ability sleep soundly at night knowing you allocated your time to complete the necessary tasks for the day.

The Delicate Nature of Customer Retention

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Client retention is a vital portion of any successful business, but how far is too far?  Comcast Inc has suffered a barrage of negative publicity lately after one of its customer service representatives kept a customer on the phone for eight minutes while trying to (unprofessionally) salvage a relationship.  This blunder has resulted in an affirmation of what many cable users commonly feel: cable contract=chained to awful service.  (Click on the pic above to hear the call.)

While I can appreciate the rep’s attempt to retain a client, there does come a time when you simply cut ties.  Unfortunately, this employee would not let go of the topic and continued to press, almost badger the client, reaffirming why the client wanted to leave the cable giant.  Companies are struggling to retain valued clients as the costs to attract clients continue to rise, but what’s the best way to do this without becoming the highlight on blogs and news shows?  

1. Listen to your client.  There are times when a client might desire to drop you for the wrong or even uneducated reason.  The message will always be in their story.  Client facing employees are too quick to diagnose a problem when the real problem could surface by simply allowing the client to fully express their discontent.  Sometimes, there are ways to enhance the client experience by changing the product or service, but you will not know this by simply listening to the first couple of sentences and shooting from the hip.  You need to be genuine in your quest to retain them and the first step is to listen actively. 

2. Know when to hold ’em and when to walk away.  As much disdain as I have for Kenny Rogers’ music, the lyrics do apply here.  In my experience, there is often a gut knowledge in client situations that tells me whether the relationship is salvageable or if the right thing to do is to let them walk.  If the situation is handled properly, the chances for a return client increases.  Don’t affirm their thoughts or your “poor service” or “poor product” by allowing their last visit with you be a disaster that they tell to their 800 closest friends on Facebook. 

3. Empower your team. Allow your team members that deal with clients own the experience.  Companies like Zappos have encouraged their customer service representatives to own the experience and have enjoyed the fruits of significant growth and wonderful reputation gains.  If you train your team and allow them to become engaged in the company’s vision of a great client experience, you’ll be amazed at the creative tactics they can bring to retain those valuable relationships.  On the flip-side, if one of your team members continues to bomb in this area, let that employee walk away.  (Sorry, now I can’t get the song out of my head!)

Customer retention is a valuable strategy if handled correctly.  These are just three quick tips to enhance the “break up” experience to either retain the client, or keep the door open for their return! 

About the Writer:

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I have a passion for driving results and have since I started my career in banking.  This blog is about that passion as well as the frustration I endures from those who do not seek results or slow down the process.

I have a degree in Marketing and a Masters in Management with an emphasis in Project Consulting.  Over my career, I’ve worked in numerous positions including sales, sales management, consulting, HR and recruiting.  I currently work as a head-hunter and project consultant, while trying to stay abreast of all of the changes in today’s workforce.

For a professional resume, click here.