Working Out Loud: Advocate (Part 3 of 5)

Howie Advocate

Show up whenever possible. (Part 1)
Ask to speak with senior leaders; chances are they will see you. (Part 2)
Advocate for yourself and others. (YOU ARE HERE PART 3)
Speak to the heart and mind.
Have faith and courage.

Part 3 “Advocate”

Politicians are often heard touting about themselves in order to prove their value. In recent times, we have seen an interest in people like Donald Trump and he is sure making a case for himself. If anything, you know his name and you are aware that he has made a lot of money in business. Consider that he has made a career of raising awareness of his brand. In our world, a person that is perceived as a “nobody” has to become a “somebody” or wind up as “anybody.”

A lot of us aren’t politicians or branding experts and when I walk into a room, people generally don’t know who I am. I really don’t like to write about myself and if someone asked me to do it a few years ago, it would have felt that it was more like a chore than a pleasurable event. What I have learned is that when I started thinking about and writing about people that I appreciate, there was a positive impact on me. It was much easier for me to see what others have done. I was able to learn more about myself in the process and as a result of my writing about them, people learned something about me. It has become part of my life at home and in business to advocate for others given the opportunity. I have had the benefit and honor of others advocating for me as well. It feels good to have someone help you but as you may know, it feels great to help others and learn through the process.

Working Out Loud and Raising Awareness

What is that story of you? In order to help others and advocate for yourself, it is important to start practicing. There are many ways to start and I am sharing, some of the things I do that have consistently worked for me.

  1. One of the first things you can do that is fairly easy and productive is to write three types of resumes. I will have a follow up blog about writing resumes and more details on what each type looks like, but for this blog, what you need to understand is that going through the process of thinking about your history is helpful and knowing your own accomplishments is important.
    1. Super type – This is the short history of nearly everything about me.
    2. Referral – This is used for customization when someone asks, “Did you ever…?”
    3. General – This is what the public sees on LinkedIn or other places that have information about me.
  2. Make a presentation about yourself and share it with people who know you. If you want some examples, let me know and I will share or send them to you.
  3. Start a blog or write for someone else. You can use many services or you can write on a friend’s blog as a guest writer. You can also write on LinkedIn.
  4. Write recommendations for others both inside and outside your organization. When someone does something for me at work, I will write his or her leadership about it. I write constructive thank you notes to people outside of work as well. It is important to recognize and reflect how people have a positive impact on your life. I have written about people who are living and people who have passed away as well “Remember Arden
  5. I also work to practice what I would call “respectful connections” where I ask people if it ok to advocate for them. There are people for one reason or another who don’t want anyone to know too much about them. I know a few Intel guys who don’t go on any social media or use email or phones (just kidding on the phones). They like to keep a low profile and I respect that.

If you have any questions or comments, post them. If you would like some examples of anything I brought up here, let me know and I will be happy to send them.

Part 4.. Speak to the heart and mind

Nelson Mandela said, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Excuse Me .. You Have Something on Your Face..

J-DuB asks– How do we fix the problem of people SAYING they want to INNOVATE and DOING nothing BUT Innowasting Time & Effort?InnovationToday.jpgBeginInnovation.jpg

Good question sir.. today I am going to talk a little about innovation in plain speak for people who “get it” but don’t “get it” or really don’t “want it.”

Crazy post..?? Yup..:

Dear Leadership,

You asked me to tell you what we could do better.  You told me that I am important and that I matter to the organization, yet.. when I answered you.. (*sniff*) You smacked my words away as if they were an annoying nat buzzing around your ear.  You called me to sit and listen to your two-hour talk about needing to blah, blah, blah-ovate and blah, blah, belm-ovate.  Does this sound familiar?

You are not only our workforce of today!  You are our workforce of tomorrow.  We… no.. I am counting on you to help take our company into the future.   We are facing new challenges with budget constraints and time, and customer issues and..

…it is critical that we crowd-source our best practice lessons learning into a web service (SOA) offering that cloud enables our capabilities to perform predictive analytics on BIG data!  We are leaning forward and all pulling in the same direction.   I need you.. your thoughts .. your ideas.. WE NEED TO INNOVATE.. **pant.. pant..pant**

As I look into the crowd… **pause** (looking forward) I see our best and brightest!   I see the future and the future is YOU!   I need to know what I can do to make things better for you!  I need to know what I can do to ENABLE you!


Sir.. remember when I raised my hand?  Do you remember when I said ” we know how to help and we will help if you let us?”  What happened?

Where did you go when you stepped down off the podium?  Where are you now?  We needed to tell  you that you have something hanging from your nose and it is not pleasant to look at.   Oh, no it isn’t something disgusting and physically embarrassing.  It is worse than that sir.  It is an untruth.


Your Staff 

Leaders: Yes, Something is ON YOUR FACE

It is really a shame, all that energy and potential just sitting in a box (cube), ready to explode out and create.

Trim a tree but do it well and it will grow and blossom! It can be shaped, it can be bounded and it could be beautiful.

This untruth is bold and clear, it is not hidden and that is why we can say that it is on their faces.  We all know it’s there but we play pretend like we don’t see it.  It is that organizational leaders are far removed from the thick of the work.  They tend to the sheep through the spreadsheet and the Powerpoint.  The problem is that today our generation x’rs and the millennial workforce that is taking hold of business doesn’t tolerate this behavior.  They were told that each and every person can make a difference.  They were told that they individually are special.  They believe in taking action and they believe in being empowered.  I can tell you that I have seen and heard stories (over and again) on how the workforce is changing.  The costs associated with ignoring this truth is astronomical.  It can and in some cases will put businesses out of business.

There are many dynamics to this but the key here is (TRUST).   Trust and honesty the fundamental core of credibility.  When leaders are telling stories and lies in plain sight, it destroys and diminishes the ability of the organization to move in one direction.  It becomes a bounded box supercharged with shards of fragmented people pulling in multiple directions.   Well, it is bounded.. cause umm .. some people still have to work, they just aren’t as motivated and maybe they are looking elsewhere for something that they aren’t finding back at the ranch.

What the.. does this have to do with innovation?

Before you innovate, you have to motivate.   It is that simple and that clear.Findx2013.jpg

Process List:

  1. Motivate ✓ – Help people find PURPOSE.  Understand the truth about the organization.(Who are we and what do we do?, What did we do?, Why we don’t do dat anymore?)
  2. Share (OUR) Purpose✓ We have been in this business for 10,000 years selling caveman clubs.. but ya know… people don’t want clubs anymore to bonk stuff, they want clubs to smack balls in tiny little holes on a beautiful grass field.   We are changing our business!!! We are going sell small exotic metal clubs to make people happy!  (Our purpose is to make people happy!!)
  3.  Share the mission✓Be honest now.. what are we really doing?
  4.  Share the vision✓ How are we going to get there?  Oh.. you don’t know and you want help to figure that out? (more to come on this below)
  5.  Share the scope of work✓
  6. Share the objectives✓
  7. Tell the story of where we are now and why things are changing and why things have to change✓ (How about a little ownership on change?  How about you tell me that I have a stake in this and that I can help make things better?)
  9. Ahh that’s enough .. you are probably bored.. 

Ok.. so now I have said what needs to happen but we all know that it doesn’t happen this way.  We know that leaders are afraid of the truth.   We know that they are afraid of change.  We know that large companies are changing all the time but big changes happen like tectonic plates smashing into each other.   To shape a large corporation quickly, big things have to happen.   That is the reason innovation doesn’t jive well in large organizations.

SO, how do some companies get around it?

Well, there is a saying in our industry called “guerrilla IT”  it happens in organizations when the superusers go rogue and duplicate or create new technologies to support themselves.  Companies were against it for a long time, until recently.  They figured out that people will take care of themselves and those around them on behalf of the company.  In a lot of cases, they will do it out of their own pockets.  (BYOD anyone??)means bring your own device, if you aren’t cool and into the new lingoes.

Say What?.. innovation is the same thing.. people are innovating all the time.  They are just doing it in secret.  They are doing it in pockets of space between tasks and they are doing it at home.   When they bring their innovative ideas to the workplace, if they have autonomy there is no problem.  Of course, someone may find out later but  …  the difference is that people will do what they enjoy regardless of what the leadership in the company says.  What leadership needs to understand is that if they don’t help people find purpose and help them align their motivation to the organization, their innovators may be just innovating for themselves.  That means they become some cost to the organization that really can’t be accounted for.


We can certainly talk more about this topic but I am making a few points here. Doesn’t look that great so far … BUT


First,  leaders need to face the truth about what they really want. Specifically in terms of the health and well-being of their company relative to the risk they are willing to take on by ignoring their true innovative catalysts.  Once they figure out what they want, they need to be honest and build trust with their staff by becoming “ENABLERS” and “SERVANT LEADERS.”


Second, leaders need to face this little reality (people will innovate whether adjacent, transformational, break through, sustained, disruptive, basic, etc.  People that have fire in their bellies and passion in their hearts will find things to do. They will innovate and they will do all sorts of cool things and great things…

it just may not be for YOU!  It may be that J-DuB just built the best steampunk lego device of all time.

What could he have done for you?

Just sayin..

Do you need a towel to wipe that off?

finIllustrations provided by the artist formerly known as Bryce..

The Proper Care and Feeding of Employee X … I mean Y and Z.

Forbes Infographic

Those are some stats but.. what does it mean?

At first glance the thing that I pick up on is that close to half the work force will be filled by the people in this generation.

I think we will need to consider some things outside the normal conversation as factors.

  • This generation grew up with reality tv as part of their lives
  • Social considerations like “say anything to anyone is the new normal”
  • Emotional intelligence and progressive thinking with relation to immediate feedback from human to human or human to machine relationships should be considered.
  • Supply and demand will dramatically shift the way companies operate internally.

These factors should be considered in addition to others as we participate in the changing workforce.  The fact is that the GenXr’s are such a thin layer of workforce ( that there will be a great drop off once the baby boomers leave and the bulk of the workforce will be weighted to Y and Millennial.  For the Generation X workers that will flip their “normal” upside down.  It makes sense that industry is looking to figure out how to deal with the Y and Mils but it also makes sense to take into consideration the push and pull on the X’ generation.   Why? because these guys still may have 20 plus years in the workforce.  The other thing is that Generation X traits have characteristics and traits that represent stability and a memory of parents and grandparents that lived through histories more recent and difficult times (X traits).

I remember people that were part of the holocaust don’t click here if you can’t take it –>(horrific) and the great depression Migrant Mother 1930.  I heard their first hand stories.  When I tell my oldest son who is part of the millennial generation, he looks at me in a way that tells of confusion and disconnection.   The closest he has to seeing and experiencing these kinds of events is 9-11.   If  you think that my perspective may be a little harsh,  I will concede that it may be and further that I may be discounting some other events like the Gulf war and the long Iraq and Afgan conflicts.   Although, that being said I have been working with the military for many years and the media surrounding war seems a lot different from it did 20-30 years ago.

My generation saw change that was unending, dramatic, compelling and extreme.  We saw the Berlin wall come down and we saw genocide in many countries, we witnessed the worst of racism and the beautiful hearts and minds of those that fight it.  There are so many things that the Gen X’rs have seen and dealt with through the past 30-40 years that it is mind-boggling.  It seemed as if this generation had the greatest accounting for firsts.  First this or that.  I know that well before there were gen X’rs there were many firsts and many milestones but it seems as if the Boomers plowed the field and framed out the roadway and their parents (Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation or GI Generation) felt the great pains of a torn and weighted nation.  The burdens of our parents were always hanging in the background.  There was an echo of all these voices that were full of pain and sorrow that held a constant undertone in our lives.  There was greatness that rose up through the noise and the sorrow.  It was inspirational.   It was also the beginnings of a world that would be sheltered for some and further creating fear.  Generation X saw the birth of the data explosion and they were the generation that had to not only absorb the wave but learn how to ride it.   So this generation has been run through sociological and human condition changes that test and try an individuals mentality.


How did we respond?

We are more flexible and we are more open but we still harbor the pains of deep seeded confusion about who we are.

  • Our children were more sheltered and out of touch with the world.
  • Our children stay home and don’t wander the streets until the street lights come on.
  • Our children don’t get kicked out to play all day (for the most part).
  • Our children have a global view and are “worldly”
  • Our children are sophisticated in electronic communication.
  • Our children have no patience and demand immediate feedback.

I can go on all day with this list.  From the perspective of a business what will this mean?

As fast as things are changing now, things will move faster.  Further, explicit information and data is king and the primary means of communication.  More specifically, we will be moving further and further away from human to human interaction in person because it is simply not needed.

Maybe in the FUTURE we will hear sayings like “I wish I could content tag all my words” or “context is like my personal theme song”

We are starting to sift big data and watch trends and we are missing the spaces between the words.  If you look at music on a page and read it, will it give you the FEELING that makes you love the song?  We are starting to break the rules of effective communication and companies like Yahoo, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Best Buy are already responding by limiting the flexibility and telework that these employees are already DEMANDING.   Companies will have to either force culture change on this younger generation or this younger generation WILL change the way business operates.

Put that in your database and sift it.. are you getting it? 

In the meantime, Gen X’rs will be riding, surviving, flexing and rolling with the great changes.  They are the key to bridging the gap between the “digital divide” , that chasm that exists between where we are today and where we are heading.   There is no question we are already dealing with a divide, it started snowballing in the 1970’s and look at where we are from then to now.  It is less than a blip in the time of humanity and yet folks like Ray Kurzweil are actively talking about machine intelligence and transferring our consciousness into machines.

The question of INTENT in communication and business management has to be on the table.

Going on.. we are guessing on “HOW TO” motivate the millennial, discounting the Gen X’r and disregarding our humanity.  Here is a list of “surprising” ways to motivate millennial workers?

Forbes author Jenna Goudreau writes in Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennial Workers that employers should (could) motivate this younger generation by doing these things listed below.

1) Explain The Company Vision

“If you can explain the whole picture, it connects the meaning to the person,” says Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert and author of Inspired People Produce Results. Millennial workers are more likely to look for meaning and impact in their work and aren’t satisfied simply punching a clock. Helping them understand their role in a larger plan gives them a clearer sense of purpose. ”It makes them feel valued, which in turn boosts productivity,” says Kingsley.

2) Prioritize Community Service

A comprehensive study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that millennials place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%). Dan Epstein, the CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro who has a staff comprised of 90% millennials, says allowing employees to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes meets their desire for social consciousness. Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company. “In order to tap into their creative energy,” Epstein says, “we need to be respectful of the things they care about.”

3) Develop In-Between Steps And Titles

More than their Baby Boomer parents or Gen X older siblings, millennials are especially eager to progress in their careers and less willing to wait three to five years for a promotion. “By developing in-between steps and titles, managers can meet their desire for career progression,” says Epstein. “It also provides incremental training and experience that will aid them later with larger career advancement opportunities.”

4) Give Encouragement And Regular Feedback

“This generation responds well to encouragement and immediate feedback,” says Kingsley. “People need to know they’re being noticed.” The good news? It’s free. A simple “thank you,” “congratulations” or honest, supportive feedback from a manager can make all the difference, fueling their motivation to produce results. While the millennial generation has been criticized as being needy or wanting undue rewards, Kingsley says there’s a balance to be found. Make it clear from the beginning that you reward good work, and then keep an open line of communication to let them know how they’re doing and how they can improve.

5) Offer More Flexibility

Work-life balance is one of the most significant drivers of employee retention among millennials. This tech-savvy generation is essentially able to work anytime from anywhere with an Internet connection. Thus, seemingly arbitrary work hours or having to sit at a desk all day is less appealing to them. A 2012 study of the generation by Griffith Insurance Education Foundation discovered that millennials will sacrifice pay for increased vacation time and the ability to work outside the office. Offering flexible scheduling, occasional telecommuting or even unlimited vacation time—provided performance remains consistent—can meet their desire for flexibility while also showing your trust.

6) Provide Education And Professional Development

According to a 2012 survey by staffing agency Adecco, 68% of recent graduates identified good opportunities for growth and development as one of their top professional priorities. “Most in this group are hungry and want to advance,” says Kingsley. “If you do not provide development, it’s like a slap in the face.” Assigning stretch projects, bringing in speakers or sending employees to leadership conferences will be especially helpful for those millennial workers interested in learning and growing their skills.

7 ) Give Them Time For Personal Projects

“On a regular basis, allow team members to work on whatever they want,” says Tim Elmore, the founder and president of Growing Leaders, a non-profit dedicated to youth leadership development. Progressive companies like 3Mand Google have had success offering employees time to work on a project of their choosing, helping them feel more engaged and in control and also boosting innovation within the company. “This allows young employees to take initiative, be creative and produce something on their own.”

Are we SOLVING the Wrong Problem Precisely?

How are we measuring and documenting “the space between” the intangibles?

Douglas Hubbard has written a book called “How To Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business.” The book is available here.
“Often, an important decision requires better knowledge of the alleged intangible, but when a [person] believes something to be immeasurable, attempts to measure it will not even be considered.

As a result, decisions are less informed than they could be. The chance of error increases. Resources are misallocated, good ideas are rejected, and bad ideas are accepted. Money is wasted. In some cases life and health are put in jeopardy. The belief that some things–even very important things–might be impossible to measure is sand in the gears of the entire economy.

Any important decision maker could benefit from learning that anything they really need to know is measurable.”

He goes on to explain in detail how to measure intangibles, including sections on how to clarify problems, calibrate estimates, measure risk, sample reality, and use Bayesian statistics to add to available knowledge. He also describes his Applied Information Economics (AIE) Approach that ties together several threads of his ideas:

“The AIE approach addresses four things:
1. How to model a current state of uncertainty
2. How to compute what else should be measured
3. How to measure those things in a way that is economically justified
4. How to make a decision”
Information Economics Approach

Do you know my ?

or my ?

Are we going to content tag our lives?

Will Sharepoint give us the information and tools that we need?

How are we going to recognize when we are succeeding?

Are we going to step on Generation X or step over it?

Do we look to turn change from an unending marathon to a series of sprints? –Change Fatigue?

How do we define success for our future workforce by dollars alone or by time for an individual + stability?

How do we quantify and qualify individual intent?

How do we convey intent?

How to we rationalize and manage intent?

How do we introduce emotional intelligence into the workplace?

How do we build and manage trust with our workforce of the future?

How do we escape judgement from businesses via Facebook?  (Am I my Facebook account from now on?)

How do we convey that we “feel”? How can we tell the machine that we “feel”?

How does the machine know when it provides raw explicit information back for analysis what the undertone or underlying context is?

Further examination.

While we are moving towards automation of a great many things.  We are still human today.  We still need to see, feel, hear, smell, hug, hold, embrace, and sense.  Technology should never be the driver, it should exist to enable.  The hammer does not build the house.. maybe the 3d printer will but for now, it is a human and he can identify a problem just by senses and caring.  These tacit knowledge components must convey to the next generation and as the Boomers are leaving.. it is the X’rs that will carry this torch.

Business should not forget “The proper care and feeding of employee X” ~

Forgive any misspellings and or grammatical errors. I was yelling and rolling around on my keyboard and I did this on my galaxy asdf in 140 characters or less in 2 minute spurts while walking through streets and grocery stores and stuff ignoring everyone around me like they didn’t exist and listening to music…  🙂