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?

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.

VA Scandal-When Policy trumps People

Boehner-White-House-agree-Shinseki-should-stay-on-at-VA[1]The recent scandal involving the Department of Veterans’ Affairs speaks to an issue that is not only prevalent in government-run organizations but many organizations regardless of size.  The allegations include deadly wait times and manipulation of client records according to recent reports.  In any organization, policies are needed to help provide a structure or operating procedure for basic tasks and processes associated with producing a product or service.  Unfortunately, if not properly managed, these policies can be come the golden calf of the organization resulting in such erroneous decisions as those associated with this scandal.

As a leader, we are tasked with managing not only policies but people.  I think there is a pandemic of management strategies that worship the policy with little or no regard to the people executing it or those affected by it.  Typically, organizations have managers in place to help ensure the efficient deliver of a product or service but the issue is not the policy that is implemented but those in charge of executing it.  When such constrictions are placed on an employee or group of employees, the consequences can be the death of an organization.  These policies that are the cancerous death of organizations could include those associated with production times or quality, incentive plans, processes or even human resources policies.

While there exists a need for policies and procedures, there also exists a need for team members to be able to make good judgement on the impact of those affected by the policies.  Teams should be engaged and empowered by senior executives to make such judgement calls when employees deem the impact to negatively affect a service, delivery, or end-client.  I have had experience working for organizations that valued policies over people and can attest to the miserable existence that results in such mantra.  While working in a leadership within those confines, I dreaded going to work, disdained any type of meeting, and lacked brand engagement.  After all, my views or opinions were not valued because at the end of the day because the policy is the golden rule and the most important aspect of the ethos of the company.

Evaluating your company’s priorities can be a daunting task but well worth the amount of time spent.  Ask yourself these questions to determine if you have a “Policy over People” policy:

  1. Do my team members feel empowered to make decisions that will result in the best interest of our client when needed?
  2. During meetings, does my team or I feel as though policy dictates strategy?
  3. If I were to do an audit of client complaints, what would be the percentage of complaints associated with policies being enforced where a simple work-around could have created a more pleasant client experience?

We could go even further to evaluate the use of incentive plans or bonus compensation plans being used to validate the use of policy over people, but that would open Pandora’s box.  Start with these three questions and if you find you have a problem, address it quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, NOW!

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 his career, Trent has 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.

Simplicity=Sohpistication

Image“Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”Leonardo Da Vinci

This year I have decided I am going to embrace simplicity.  Last year is already a blur and I plan on this year being more being more of a “move the needle” kind of year.  In an effort to find the answer of how, I began researching ways to simplify life and discovered this wonderful quote by Da Vinci.

If you stop and think about it, what are the items that we consider “sophisticated” today?  I immediately think of items like the iPhone or Android devices, tablets, and other electronic devices.  If these are used correctly, it can make life less complicated and more organized.  The question is, how?  Which apps are best?  Here are a few of my favorites right now:

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Evernote is a jewel if used properly.  This program is the ultimate of note-taking platforms and syncs with your desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.  You can take notes from meetings, create a grocery list with check marks, create an audio or web note and then file it away to the appropriate notebook that you create to organize all of your notes.  There are several uses for this great application and it’s easy to create a template that works for you.  Topping it all, you can share these notes via email or social media.  If you have not tried this as a tool, you must.

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Ok, this isn’t an app but work with me. So I decided I would simplify my life by using my calendar more effectively.  I am notorious for scheduling items back to back not leaving myself any time to be effective.  This year, I have decided that before major meetings, I will block at least 15 minutes off of my calendar to prepare for the meeting.  This could include gathering information, determining my talking points, or clearing my mind.  I have also begun blocking off time to get away from the office, typically around lunch, and attempt to stick to it.  During this time, I plan to go and work out then grab some lunch.  Studies have supported that getting out during the lunch break to walk or work out can increase your productivity and mental clarity throughout the day.

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This is a critical one.  I plan to say no to the extra things this year.  I have a bad habit of having the best of intentions and overcommitmenting myself to projects or initiatives that drag on my personal and professional productivity while adding several levels of complexity to life.  Saying “no” can seem like something negative, but if you say yes to something, but default, you are saying no to something else.  So, I will plan to say no more to extra items so I can say yes to more things like kids’ plays, family time, and focus on the real things that matter in life.

Like beauty, simplicity is in the eye or brain of the beholder.  Items that are simple for me might be complicated for someone else so you will need to find what works for you.  These are just some of the items I am using or plan to use this year.  What are your suggestions?

About the Writer:

13 - 1

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 his career, Trent has 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.

Why Recruiters Should Use Google +

People ask my opinion on why recruiters should use Google Plus. To me, Google Plus is what LinkedIn is trying so desperately to be but coming up short. Sure, you have the ability to post to groups, message people and other basic options, but unlike LinkedIn, Google Plus makes you a driver and not just a navigator. How? Circles, The GOLDEN Ticket

Solution 1- Direct Your Content

As a recruiter, I can set up different circles based on my efforts-projects of sorts. So if I have four jobs I’m working on, I can set up four different circles of potential candidates, influencers, or groups that would fit what I am looking for. This is perhaps one of the best reasons to use the platform because when I post a status update, I can specify which group my information targets. So if I am talking about a need for a Social Media Engineer, I can only target those in my Social Media group that I designed.

Solution 2- Monitor the Crowd

I’ve always been one of those who likes being in the know. On LinkedIn and other platforms, I have to search through a number of channels to stay up to date. Other platforms like Google Alerts or Twitter Alerts are also good, but Google Plus takes it up a notch for recruiters. Once I have my separate circles, I can select which circle I want to see in my home stream. Example, say I hear some newsworthy tidbit on the evolution of a Social Media platform that would impact the job I’m recruiting for. I could easily go to Google Plus, select my handy dandy Social Media circle, and see what everyone is saying on it. Better yet, I can engage in the conversation and hopefully develop passive candidates into active ones.

Solution 3- Hangouts

I love using a Google Hangout when I can. It’s a great way to keep interview costs down, especially if you need to lay eyes on your candidate but have neither the time nor resources to fly across the country. These are great and if you’re connected to a circle, you can even host a hangout to talk about the job you’re recruiting for or the brand you are attempting to hire for. It’s a great next-level marketing tool that, if used correctly, could alter how you engage your candidates.

So some people say that Google Plus is for the Social Media snobs and if that’s the case, I am a snob! I love the platform from it’s design, interface, and cool features. I can say that I have been successful in engaging candidates using this platform more than I have other mediums like Facebook. So if you’re looking for something outside of or in addition to LinkedIn, try Google Plus. I think you might just fall in love with it if you let yourself.

Social Media:Being Engaged without being Obsessed

I get picked on a lot by fellow professionals and family alike asking me questions like:

  • Do you ever sleep?
  • Do you ever work?
  • Are you obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
  • Can you shut your Social Media Voice up for a week?

Typically, these comments come from people who also ask me to assess the value of Social Media and ask for business tips so I don’t take the questions personally. It does bring up a great question though, how do you remain engaged in social media without being obsessed with it?

I have a full time job, I am finishing my Masters, have three active kids, and am on more projects than I can remember. Being a self-proclaimed nerd, I typically read at night as a way to decompress my mind and find new ideas. Personally, I use the PULSE app to aggregate all of the various blogs and news sources I like to follow so I can go to one place and scan for the things that jump out at me. What many people don’t know is that I will often schedule my content two or three days out on my various networks, sharing what I’ve read or sparking a conversation. This takes all of three or four clicks and using a platform like HootSuite to manage all of my platforms (except Google +).

As for my blogging, I typically get inspired over the weekends to get my writing out, again, it’s part of my weird relaxation method. Some people like to do yoga or run, but I like to get my thoughts out on my blog. Again, I typically will crank out three or four posts and just have them scheduled to be released throughout the week. This method helps me remain relevant and active without having my eyes glued to the screen throughout the week.

Also, there are times when it’s good to take a break from work, a 5 minute siesta of sorts, to remain energized. I’ll occasionally scan through my various feeds for items of worth and then get back to work. This helps me with a variety of work related issues:

  • Fatigue
  • Mental Block
  • Shaking off a bad call
  • Getting by mojo back

So if you’re looking for a great way to remain engaged without being obsessed, check out platforms like Pulse or Hoot-suite that brings everything to you in one place. If you’re thinking about blogging or engaging in conversation, this is the best route to take. Look up similar products until you find the product that fits your needs. Don’t be overtaken by Social Media but don’t be silent on it either. Both decisions result in death by Social Media.

Google Plus goes into Overdrive

Google+ also shared new user metrics, confirming that the site has 540 million active users if you count log-ins through Gmail and 300 million monthly active users in the stream (users who visit the website or app directly). Users also upload 1.5 billion photos per week, said Google VP Vic.

Personally, I like this site more than Facebook for one major reason: I can control my feed and my audience. Google Circles allows those of us that recruit, market, and pontificate direct our message to the appropriate audience. Unlike its competitors, Google Plus let’s you be more of a sharp shooter with your message versus looking like that annoying guy on the corner yelling on the street corner to whomever will listen.

In addition to this great feature, you can use its awesome photo editor. Now this editor I’d pretty wicked to say the least. It touches up your blemishes and also allows you to cut those aggravating photo bombers with ease. If you’re like me, you’re always using your phone to take pictures of the kids or the cities you visit but struggle to remember how you filed it. Well, Google takes care of that add well with auto indexing.

Bottom line: if you’re not using this platform you’re missing out on some great add ons. Next we will explore how the platform helps your rankings.