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Blog Lifehacks Process Improvement Tools and Apps

Missive, How I ❤️ Thee…

This is a love letter.

A love letter to email.

Well, not exactly to email, because you, email, are a necessary evil.

This, is about my email application.

No.

My — unified messaging and communications operating system.

Missive App.

(Disclaimer: No, missive pays me nothing for this. They don’t even have an affiliate program. In fact, I pay them a fairly solid monthly subscription for my growing recruiting team. I will gladly keep paying. And, enjoying the hair I did not pull out of my own head over using plain old email tools)

Story Time

Its about 23 minutes into the zoom meeting and, the other person says, “give me a moment, that’s in my other email account…

“… ugh, I got logged out.

“OK! Sent it.

“Dang. I sent it from the wrong address. That’s not going to work.

:angry email noises:

…”

via GIPHY

Meanwhile… the hopefully polite look on my face while I witness this belies the eye twitching that is happening under the surface. Not only could this meeting have likely been an email, 80% of this meeting ended up being about email issues:

  • Not finding the mail
  • Mail in the wrong place
  • Did you get the email?
  • Did they send the email?
  • Not being cc’d on the email or otherwise not knowing the content of said email
  • Getting forwarded the email last-minute and now having to page through mind-numbingly confusing forwards to find the part of the email that matters for this meeting,
  • …all from your phone because your laptop is presenting.
  • Needing to email someone and ask a specific, detailed question
  • Emailing the person again asking them to quickly reply as we’re trying to make a decision
  • Clarifying the question we asked, since, thanks to brevity, we assumed they knew all the context of what was being asked and were forced to reply with “It depends…”
  • and so on
  • and so forth

Email issues that could have been solved if communication, not email, were the priority. ?

If I Haven’t Told You Missive Is Better Than Your Email App, Either We Haven’t Talked, or I am Being Nice

The other half of this story is that people who work with me know that, at this point in the meeting, if I have not yet brought up Missive, the email app I have been leveraging for at least three years now, it is because of an immense amount of personal strength to keep. my. mouth. shut.

Why?

Missive is like my right-hand, time-saving, boss-level communications master control center.

Missive is like my own mind, but with a better memory, and with emoji support. ?

I can’t stress enough all the ways that Missive helps me, my personal life, my family and my team through a week and, in building ConnectedWell from a literal company-of-one to a growing team with expanding partnerships and opportunities, Missive has been my most-trusted ally, by my side in that awesome, scalable, helpful-but-not-clingy kind of way we all seek from our email applications, but, sadly, most never find.

OK, Hot Shot. Why is Missive So good?

Here is a list of things my email program does effortlessly that yours doesn’t. Neener, neener.

  • Works effortlessly across any device I have, via app or browser, with zero functionality loss on mobile. Truly a mobile-first application.
  • One Login. I login with my account once and it remembers all my other accounts, gmail, gsuite, exchange, outlook, or whatever other email server you use.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. The gmail ones. Or, use your own
  • SWIPE multiple emails at once. Delete, Archive or Snooze all these junk emails at once and then, boom, inbox zero #FTW.
  • Also remembers all my inbound/outbound signatures, forwarding rules and other tweaks for each account.
  • Good search across all accounts or separate ones
  • Email templates for you or shared
  • SNOOOOOOOoooooze emails for working with later
  • You can even snooze email from the alerts that pop up on your computer or device.
  • Send emails later, as well (so you look like you were (or were not) up at 1:30am)
  • Snooze emails to come back to you after you sent them (so you can follow up). Choose to snooze only if the other person does not reply.
  • UNDO send, too, so you don’t look like this guy when you accidentally reply-to-all (see below, or here: youtube). This one is YUGE.
  • Rules and filters that make gmail rules, uh, not rule and make outlook’s rules feel like 1990s tv sitcom dramas. Cute, but really not that entertaining any more.
    • My personal favorite use of the email rules? I have a set of filters and rules that keep all email OUT of my inbox except for a few very specific times of the day (a la Tim Ferris style) so I can actually get work done.

What Happens When You Reply All

Here are some of the superpowers Missive gives my team and me:

Missive’s integrations beef up my
email superpowers ??
  • Inline email collaboration and editing (and inline sidebar chat) like a Google Doc, but in. email.
    • Let that last one sink in a little
  • Assign people and tasks to an email or just FYI them. Do not forward the email. Just @mention them in the sidebar and they have access. Boom. Instantly, to the whole thread in their screen, along with all chat messaged about it, in chronological order, as if they were the one who got the initial message.
  • Real team shared inboxes, both a general box like “[email protected]” where everyone gets a copy of messages, or a way to let everyone see the status, and replies of all other messages — so nothing slips through the cracks (and a great way to share know-how and best practices among team members)
  • Send on behalf of the team or as an individual, either all the time or just ad-hoc. For example, you could can ask me for help on an email, we collaborate on it, and then you can send the email AS ME, using my own email credentials, right from your own email app, and zeeeeero tech support or password sharing required.
  • Don’t forward an email to yourself or your trellor board or something. Send them (or your task list/trello board) an actual URL LINK to an exact email so you can click once and go right back into the content you need.
  • Ready to power up? Seamless integrations with apps you’re already using. I use their trello, todoist, pipedrive and other integrations every hour of the day.
  • Social integrations let me manage facebook, instagram and other social messages from my email app. Yeah. That easy.
  • Missive’s powerful Twillio integration powers the chat “bot” telegram like feature on this site (lower right corner), dropping site-based chats into the [email protected] team inbox as if they are emails. Try it.
  • I could also use Twillio to send SMS messages, too, fwiw.
  • Missive is actively being developed with a very responsive team (I’ve chatted with Etienne, Phillipe and Rafael frequently). Their Canny feature requests, get this, actually turn into product releases. They ship multiple times a month.

I will come back to this and add more, but for now, this is a pretty good list of reasons you should check out Missive.

Again, missive doesn’t pay me, but I gladly pay them. It’s a good app. And, for something you use 38 hours a day, you should treat yourself better than the way you’re being treated.

I’m just sayin.

Of course, how you choose to email is none of my business.

Would you like to reply?

Categories
Blog

How to Know if a Decision is Good

I can’t tell you if a decision is right, but I can give you a simple measuring stick to know if a decision is good.

But first, a little background…

In life, in work, in our careers, in our communities, we are faced with countless possibilities of ways to spend our days, our nights, our love, our effort, our money, our time and more.

In our busy, modern, app-driven & time-crunched lives (and quarantine seems to have only made it worse over time) the challenges of dealing with both information overload and the resultant FOMO, the fear of missing out, if you should choose the wrong thing are a constant struggle.

Why is Decision Making so Hard?

Primarily, “one of the big reasons we all hesitate to make decisions is FEAR.” says Lynn Leigh Neild. This is definitely the case when making a decision seems to be between too many good options:

  • What if I pick the wrong one?
  • What if the other choice is better?
  • What if I don’t know enough information?

The gridlock of these conflicting influences often leads to analysis paralysis, or worse, feelings of anxiety that can spiral out of control, if unchecked.

What is Anxiety?

“Anxiety is caused by an over-reaction of the human fight-or-flight response.” explains Manuel Krause, a mindfulness and anxiety expert (MS Applied Psychology) and founder of Pocketcoach, a cool-looking chatbot* that can help you manage anxiety.

“This innate reaction has developed over more than hundred thousand years of evolution in order to protect us from danger. It’s a biological process that kicks in whenever the brain detects something dangerous.”

How Can You Overcome Mild Anxiousness?

Combating the anxiousness that can come from indecision is hard. Breathing can help (here’s why), and managing deep anxiety from a psychological level is beyond the scope of this writing, but for those who feel bodily tension, perhaps in your shoulders, around the eyes or other places in your body when it’s time to make a decision, a few things may be able to help:

Move & Breathe to Help Anxiety Move, Too

It could be thought of that anxiousness is emotion taking place in you, or having a physical effect on you. It has been said that “emotions need motion”. When you are feeling anxiousness, it is often helpful to move around to help the anxiety move along.

Further, breathing, walking or even just standing and stretching can help your body regain some regulation over these feelings.

Tips:

  • Got an apple watch? Use the Breathe app to grab some quick mindful moments.
  • My.Life (formerly Breathe) provides quick as well as deeper mindfulness tools for android and apple devices as well as Alexa.
  • Put your walking shoes on and take a brisk walk around the block or building (or house). Count your steps and think about how the ground feels under your feet with each step to bring yourself to a present state of mind.

For deeper resolution to anxiousness, I have used headspace to help me regain a feeling of centeredness and calm.

How Do You Combat FOMO?

FOMO, the fear of missing out, is increasingly common in our social-media driven society. The constant barrage of how great other people’s lives create an intensive mental challenge that is not easy to overcome, and can lead to even more decision-making gridlock.

When it comes to the fear of missing out on something, William Bednarz notes in The Conversationalist that “What you DON’T want to do is let the FOMO get the best of you and allow it to consume your mind. If you keep thinking about what you’re missing out on, it will manifest itself in your mind and dominate your thoughts to where it seems much more than it actually is.”

Some research reported by Psychology Today notes some surprising effects of FOMO relative to social media use in that, people who experienced FOMO experienced the same amount of it, no matter if they learned of the missed activity online or in person, and even if the thing they chose to do instead was fun:

In the research, “FOMO was a commonly reported feeling, which created negative emotions and feelings of distraction. Adding to this, the results showed that FOMO was felt no matter how the person found out about the alternate social activity on which they were missing out. Hearing it from a friend versus social media produced the same amount of FOMO. And finally, it was also felt even when the selected activity was an enjoyable (social) one.” #

Psychology Today, The Science of FOMO and What We’re Really Missing Out On

In light of this, it’s important to note that experiencing FOMO after you have made a decision is almost guaranteed. And experiencing FOMO is not an indicator that the decision you made was the wrong one, because you are likely to feel it anyway.

How Do I Know if a Decision is Good?

Okay, so, how do I know when a decision is a good decision? This simple measuring stick will help you, or at least give you confidence it is not a bad decision.

A good decision will impel you to be intentionally willing to turn down other choices that you also see are good.

In economics, this would be called opportunity cost, and is a real measuring stick that economists use to help understand human behavior:

“…Opportunity cost, also known as alternative cost, of making a particular choice is the value of the most valuable choice out of those that were not taken,” explains Abhishek Kothari in The Opportunity Cost of Everything. “In simple terms, when you chose to do something, you give up something.”

In practice, you can be confident a good decision is good, if the alternatives you must give up are also good.

  • Choosing between two excellent job offers.
  • Hiring one of two excellent candidates.
  • Choosing to move to a new home or stay in a home you love.
  • Deciding which great university to attend.
  • Picking an AirBnb by the beach or one in the mountains.
  • Choosing between two cars with a great payments and top safety ratings.

Why this works

This works for three deceptively simple reasons:

  1. The downside is almost nonexistent.
    Reality is, if you are choosing between attending two great university choices, the downside for you becomes vanishingly small. Really, what’s the worst that could happen? That lit class will bore you to death no matter which campus you are on (or which zoom room you are in)
  2. The upside is huge.
    Jim Rohn used to say “Indecision is the thief of opportunity.” and it seems the second you decide something, the universe aligns to help you make it happen.
  3. Choosing something creates momentum.
    And momentum makes any task easier. Objects in motion, of course, tend to stay in motion

Still Stuck? Try ‘Ooching’.

If you stilllllllll just can’t make that choice, then you might try “ooching”. It means taking incrementally, but intentional steps toward the thing you’re trying to do to see where things lead.

Ooching “allows you to experiment with a decision while minimizing the risk, which can be helpful with choices large and small,” according to Kristin Wong at Forge, referencing the book Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath (Amazon).

Wong continues with some examples: “If you’re thinking of moving to a new city, for example, maybe first you ask permission to work remotely for a month in that city. If you’re thinking of buying a new car but unsure if you can make the monthly payments, set aside a couple hundred bucks each month in a separate savings account to see if you can swing it.” #

*Disclosures:
– I have never used Pocketcoach, but it looks appealing.

Categories
Blog

Productivity Hack for Freelancers: Multiple Chrome Profiles, FTW

Google Chrome is a popular web browser. Beside the powerful extensions, speed and other benefits, Chrome is really the way to go for a simple, fast web browser on your computer.

If you are a freelancer or independent contractor, or even more importantly, a solopreneur or working a side-hustle, your time is, literally, money, and the most-precious asset you have.

Often, a lot of it gets “sucked up” in the mental problem of logging into this account or that, either your personal, your work, your side-gig or your client’s accounts.

How Multiple Profiles Helps

Setting up multiple user profiles in Chrome helps you avoid this issue all while keeping passwords in sync, data from being colluded between accounts*

I tell people this tip a lot and they roll their eyes just a little at me, because, I know, “How hard is it really to manage switching from one Google Account to another?”

Well, it’s not. By itself.

But, if you’re like me, it gets a little hairy when you have 3 to 5 different client accounts you’re managing all at the same time, and they ALL use the same systems, such as G-Suite, Google Docs, and in my recruiting world, Lever, SmartRecruiters or Greenhouse to boot. Fun fun.

Don’t forget how awkward it is when you’re sharing your screen on a zoom call and the link you click drops you into your other client’s account for everyone to see. They might not say anything, but it IS awkward. Believe me.

Oh, you’re also working for them, huh?

Look, whatever s0-called loyalty is these days, the last thing you need is Bob in finance bringing your name up when budget discussions come around and the CFO is looking to trim some fat, “Well, we know they’re double-dipping on us with ACME corp… I think it’s safe for us to cut this contract.”

Personally, I’d rather save the headache, embarrassment, and time of trying to keep all your swimlanes clear when you’re going from client to client.

How Multiple Profiles Work

You could think of multiple profiles in Chrome like being able to login to your computer with multiple accounts, but see them all on the same screen. See this primer from PC World about Chrome Profiles, if you like.

Windows, Tabs, Profiles, Oh My!

You are already familiar with browser windows. Yeah, that thing with 300 tabs you have sitting there in your face all day long. You can open multiple browser windows, too, which you might already do to separate tasks from each other.

Adding profiles to this this takes additional browser windows-usage up a notch as you can separate client work, or personal browsing (banking, for example) from your work profiles.

Each Chrome browser window is tied to a Profile by default. That Profile can be tied to a Google Account, if you like, with some benefits such as cloud synchronized password storage, cookie and search history and more. If you haven’t done anything with profiles, you probably have just one profile on your user account, and if you use GMail, it’s probably tied to your Gmail account already.

This means you’re 90% there already.

In the upper right corner of Chrome, next to all your Chrome Extension add ons, you might see a little user icon or your own picture (if you’ve connected to a Google Account)

My user icon to the right of this bar of Chrome Extensions tells me in a glance which “profile” I am in right now. This icon is for my professional ConnectedWell account.

Tapping this little icon allows you to open other Chrome profile windows OR add a new one (down at the bottom).

I assign different
Chrome profiles
different user icons
so I can tell them apart

When I add a new profile, I will link it to a google account and give it a unique icon or user avatar image so I can quickly pop up off the page and see which account I am in. I have one for personal and one for work, and one for each client sandbox I want to have (where I have access to their internal systems).

I have had up to six active profiles going at a time. It really helps streamline things!

Pro-Tips and Errata

A few side benefits to this behavior:

Delete old client profiles in moments, not days

Beside parsing away all your client work from your other clients or personal work, you can easily blow away an account and delete everything when your relationship with that client is over. All good things come to an end. I promise, ripping off the bandaid is better.

Delete the profile and you can safely know you won’t accidentally violate any privacy agreements or trip any alarms if your browser tries to log you into something in the background.

Keep your bookmarks (and browsing history) separate

Look, you don’t have to go far online to see examples of, ahem, interesting things that popped up in someone’s google search bar when they were trying to search for something while presenting to a room (or a recorded video conference).

If you don’t want to have to defend that your daughter is the one who watches My Little Pony fan videos, not you, just use another browser profile for your, uh, your daughter’s web surfing interests.

Other smart people think this is a good idea, too:

Questions? Ask away.

*Not sure if this could really happen, but in the age of GDPR, keeping my accounts (or more important, my client’s accounts) in separate sandboxed Chrome instances makes me sleep better, anyway. The extra layer of separation seems like it’s only a good idea.

Categories
Blog Entrepreneurship My Favorite Things Process Improvement

Gusto Makes Paying Payroll & Contractors Magical

I have used Gusto* twice now to run my payroll in my business ventures and, in the 8 clicks or so that it took to pay my contractors and employees today, I thought I should write about it. Partly because, for some strange reason, I avoided using them during my current venture even though I loved them before. Looking back, I put myself through a lot of pain this go-round. Don’t do that to yourself. #learnFromMyMistakes

Managing payroll and compliance with Gusto makes my small business or solopreneur venture even more awesome. Key benefit for me? Paying contractors any amount with direct deposit with no extra fees or transaction charges. ? ⬇️ Finally, I can stop using Venmo!

Gusto definetly goes on my list of how to run a business smarter, not harder. Three years (and $20k in tax issues later), cough up the comparative pocket change to do this right.

The OLD WAY of paying contractors for me included trying to find their venmo account, ignore how many times they bought tacos last week (really?) negotiate on if they wanted payment from Cash App instead or maybe paypal… and then haggle over who paid the transaction fees. This worked “great” until I had enough business I bumped up against my venmo transaction limits, and my people will attest that the waiting around for payments SUCKED. I had two contractors getting paid by venmo, one on Cash app, a bunch I had to hoodwink into reactivating their PayPal accounts (and I coughed down the fees most of the time). P.S None of this included the accounting gymnastics I got to do monthly when I had to parse out which payments went to whom and for what work

The cost of using Gusto to pay yourself + 9 employees is the equivalent of 58cents an hour. If your billing rate can’t choke that down, I seriously recommend you find a regular job ?.

If you are going out (or already out) on your own or taking on a side hustle, or partnering with some colleagues at a joint-venture, it’s alluring to run everything on your own and go lean, but after three years of trying and making mistakes at this, I am learning to automate the things computers can do so I can do the things I do best — which is recruit and lead and support my team.

Things Gusto does very well (the top three were enough for me to stop kicking myself and sign up)

  • Manages payroll for W-2 employees seamlessly.
  • Send payments to 1099 Contractors direct deposit, and for no extra fees.
  • Run as many payroll or expense reimbursement runs per month as you like, for no extra fees.
  • Ability for your employees to get “instant” paychecks if they like or are short on cash (no cost to you).
  • Ridiculously quick and friendly support.
  • Awesome, simple user interface.
  • Access to benefits and other nifty features such as charitable contributions, 401k, 529 accounts, life insurance and more.
  • Helps you process 1099s and W-2 statements at the end of the year.
  • Know before you submit payroll exactly how much will come from your accounts and when.
  • Automatically handles state and federal tax requirements, sending the right tax amounts to the right withholding accounts so you can rest easy knowing the tax man cometh, but not with a scythe. They even got my account numbers for me. I did zero paperwork.
  • Onboard and offboard employees, even sending offer letters!
  • Sync magically with all accounting packages.
  • Causes your accountants to regularly break out into song.

Plus, they’re giving you $100 Amazon gift card to try it just for signing up at my recommendation (after you run payroll). I mean, I would recommend it anyway, but, if they’re going to front you a hundred bucks, that’s 2.5 months worth of their fee if you (yourself or others) are a W-2 employee. That’s 4 months free if you have no W-2 employees and 4 contractors (16 months free if you have just one contractor).

Full disclosure, I also get $100 if you try this. I’d recommend it anyway, so, if you feel strange about that just go to gusto.com yourself and sign up, or ask your accountant to refer you if you want to keep the cash “in the family”, so to speak.

Either way, I ran payroll and paid my contractors and ticked off a bunch of tired old tax-compliance boxes using Gusto this morning in way less time than it took to write this.

Or, keep doing payroll the hard way.

Gusto is part of my accounting stack for small businesses, which includes:

Tell ’em I sent ya ?

*This is a referral link. If you go here and buy stuff, I may or may not get a small something in return. It might be money or a gift-card or a discount on my service. It’s usually not much. And, I am a paying customer of all these services, so its really just soda money in the end. I am not living off this, lol. If this makes you feel strange, feel free to run over to that website all by yourself or ask someone else to refer you. No problem. But if you feel like my advice helped you, clicking this link is one way to say thanks. I mean, that or five pound box of $50 bills would work, too… but clicking the link is easier. #justsayin

Categories
Blog

People AND Recruiting? Why Not Both?

Spoiler alert: Most startups do it wrong

Photo by me, on Unsplash

A lot of entrepreneurs talk about the power of “and”. It’s a mental shift where you walk someone through the journey from “I hate work. I need better life balance” to “What work can I do AND have better life balance?”

See that? Subtle, but powerful.

We do it all the time in our lives. Eggs AND bacon. Dinner AND a movie. Peanut butter AND jelly. Two is better than one, economies of scale and all that.

So it’s natural when i see companies who need their first HR teams/experts because they need good policies, but they’re also hiring a ton so they need good recruiting, so they naturally combine these roles into a People AND Recruiting function! Problem solved!

Right?

Not so fast.

Reality is, in our bacon and eggs example above, you would never ask the chicken to make both eggs and bacon. They are fundamentally different things.

(Follow my logic here one more second)

We love the outcome of the combo. But precisely because they are so different do they pair so well together! “Eggs and Chicken” is just not as appealing, although the supply chain and scaling opportunities would be exponentially simplified!

In the end, it’s a little silly to ask one person to be in charge of such vastly different things and do them all well:

  • Care about all employees. Make them feel valuable.
  • Write policies for all employees. Make sure things are fair and everyone’s rights are maintained.
  • Hire new people to the team. All the teams. Make sure they are the best people, too.
  • Onboard and hire everyone. That employment paperwork is the worst. Make sure we don’t get in legal trouble.
  • Oh, make sure we cut costs, too. Gotta keep and eye on the bottom line.
  • We have to keep up our hiring in sales or we won’t hit our sales numbers.
  • An engineer left. Can you find another replacement?
  • We think an internship program would be great. Mind slapping one of those together. Has to be awesome.
  • Ah, there’s some questions about remote work and office expenses. Can you do a thing about that? Make it fair but not too generous.
  • This person needs a work visa renewed? Can you make that happen?
  • We always did annual reviews around this time of year. But they suck. Can you fix that and make them not suck, but make sure we also do them?
  • I think we need a better PTO policy. Will you get me some options?
  • Are we paying people fairly? We can’t break the bank, but let’s check into that.
  • I want to hire this person in Minnesota. No problem, right? I told them you’d get them the offer. Oh, they started last Monday, actually.
  • I’m not sure the employees are getting enough attention. Can you make sure that happens?

Going a little bonkers yet?

Though this is the life I see many “startup” HR, people and talent individuals go through. (And burnout from)

It’s mind-numbingly complex and each of the above scenarios is fraught with legal, logistical and other socially complicated issues.

Do you really want to hinge the legal liabilities AND success of your company’s growth on asking one person to be an expert in employment law, interpersonal relationships, management coaching, all the whole sourcing, screening, attracting and closing top talent across your company?

Would you ask your operations leader to also sell and do tech support? Of course not. But HR people are tasked with these disparate duties all the time

In short, having one person do all these things well is, ridiculous.

For years now, my team and I have been helping companies manage these complexities through a blended, hybrid model of embedded/external consulting and work.

For example:

  • We provide a proven Senior level HR person to directly work with the founding team/C-suite on high level issues. This is often your “point person”, allowing one-point of contact to drive progress and get results/reports.
  • Backing them up is a team of HR certified professionals who have their hands on all the best, state of the art policies and procedures across the spectrum of “full stack HR”. From vacation policies to workers compensation. Soup to nuts.
  • We also can consult with your HR system vendors (or find you one) and implement systems and tools to automate your world.
  • We can work with your attorneys (or ours) to ensure you and your people are compliant and protected.

AND

  • We are a very, very good recruitment agency too.
  • Your hiring managers get ONE PERSON to work with, a senior recruiter with many years of experience recruiting the people they are looking for.
    • Engineers? We compile the best .
    • Accountants? We’re all credits and no debits.
    • Operations? We’re well documented leaders here.
    • Sales & Success? We’ve got your number.
    • Tech support and customer service? We’re standing by.
    • C-level executives? We’ll corner-office the market for you.
  • We can place one-off or multiple roles.
  • We work under various models ranging from hourly or retained to contingent direct placement, all with an eye on growth, speed, agility and cost-controls.
  • Got your own internal recruiters? We’ll augment your team and even train them up if you like.

AND

We can start providing you all these services immediately, with a cost structure that would be comparable to hiring just one senior person to your team.

Need more flexibility to control cash? No problem. We start with what you need. AND can provide everything else on demand.

Your company AND ours, we can do great things for your people AND you can get back to business.

Ready to have your cake AND eat it, too?

Let’s talk.

Categories
Blog Hiring Process Improvement Recruiting Industry Recruitment Process Automation Workplace

Recruitment Automation 101

A trend that is becoming pretty exciting right now is recruitment automation. Likely accelerated by the tools that are more readily available like integromat and zapier, and more open APIs between HR apps and Applicant tracking systems, recruitment automation is a brave new world of growing and improving your HR and Recruitment Systems and keeping your human interactions exactly that, more human.

The most important item to stay focused on when considering recruitment automation is the candidate. What is the end-result, and what is the purpose of what you are trying to automate.

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Picture of Steven R Covey
Steven R Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People

Steven R. Covey, of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (Amazon) fame is accredited with the famous line “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” #

As you consider what you are trying to automate and why, this is an important piece of the puzzle. Just because something can be automated does not mean it should.

Another way to look at this has become my unofficial axiom for recruitment process automation in general:

Automate the things computers do well, so you can do the things humans do well.

This means rethinking the old standbys like calling candidates personally to book calendar appointments, but then sending blind, generic emails from “noreply” email accounts when they are no longer considered in the process.

Perhaps, automating your calendaring time could help candidates feel in some control of the process as well as allowing you to let candidates know they are not being considered any longer for a role with a personal call, not a heartless “thanks but no thanks” message.

Categories
Blog Jobseekers Networking Recruiting Industry Relationship Working with Recruiters

How to Ask for Help on Linkedin

Linkedin, as a social network, is different than others in that it was created around connections and networking, and the purpose of it, generally speaking, is to connect people together professionally.

To that end, since people go there to ‘Network’, there is a tendency for people to be willing to help you professionally, if you ask for it correctly.

There’s three ways I can think of to immediately ask for help on Linkedin:

  1. Give 10x more than you receive
  2. Ask for specific, actionable help
  3. Go out of your way to be thankful

Give 10x More Than You Receive

Nobody likes a beggar. Especially a persistent one. The old rule in networking is to give ten times before you ask once. My friend Jason Alba taught me that principle and he turned me down when I offered him a job 12 years ago only to create his own company (JibberJobber) literally helping people get jobs (his amazing 6 week Job Search Program currently is on sale at more than 60% off with this link—and a JibberJobber subscription is included!) . He’s also an accomplished Pluralsight author if you’re a member of their great program.

His advice, to give 10x more than you receive, has been a cornerstone of my personal and professional philosophy. As I have built my company, and my network of thousands of hand-picked first level LinkedIn connections, i have tried to maintain this posture of helping 10x before asking once. It focuses my efforts on being good and kind as well and that helps in the most challenging times.

Be sure you are helping others more than asking for help. It’s good for your soul and your reputation.

Ask for Specific, Actionable Help

The biggest thing you need to do is ask for something specific. If you just yell out “help!” but you don’t provide some kind of direction, you will hear nothing but crickets.

Ask for something specific, depending on where you’re posting.

On your feed, asking for leads on a new job is totally appropriate. Or perhaps “anyone know companies that are hiring?”

In a private LinkedIn group, you can do the same but be more specific, and know that your request isn’t public for the world (or your employer) can see.

Finally, in a personal one-on-one message, you can also directly ask for a connection to a specific person or company. For example “Hi, Mary. I hope you’re well. I am looking into this role (link) at your company. Do you know who I should talk to? My resume is attached.”

Also, Say Thank You!

Finally, go out of your way to thank those who help you. Publicly or privately, let people know you appreciate any help they provide.

Paying it forward by helping others and crediting the help you’ve received along the way is a great way to show your appreciation as well.

Pro tip: If someone gets you that dream job you wanted? Surprise them with $200 gift card to their favorite restaurant or store once you get your first paycheck or signing bonus. If they don’t want the money, ask to donate it to their favorite charity in their name and send them the receipt for tax purposes.

Categories
Allyship Blog Commentary Life Workplace

You Are ‘Amy Cooper’ & So Am I. Now What?

A confrontation in Central Park sparks outrage about privilege and race in the United States

A few years ago, my teenager asked if we could watch The Hate U Give, a movie based on the book of the same name. I knew the subject would be controversial, and I wanted her to watch it, though I was adamant that we watch it together because I wanted to talk with her about it.  I am glad I did, and I highly recommend this movie to you so you can better appreciate other’s lived experiences if you have not lived them yourself.

Why This is Relevant

The very real and needed debate that is happening right now where, in the same week, a white woman named Amy Cooper called the cops on a black man who asked her to obey Central Park Rules and leash her dog, though she claims she was in fear of her life, and George Floyd, a black man suspected of forgery in Minneapolis, who died after being taken into police custody when a police officer knelt on his neck (video: MSNBC) for an extended period of time, even when Floyd repeatedly noted he could not breathe, of course, hearkening us all back to Eric Garner’s death in 2014 under similar circumstances — circumstances in which no federal indictments were brought.

There are many debates, and I would say changes, that need to happen in our society that these two incidents, so close in time and so terribly visible on camera show, but in the more narrow scope of this writing, I think one question needs to be asked, in terms of Amy Cooper, what do you do when someone in your company is spotlighted like this. How do you react?

Kate Bischoff, an employment attorney, poses it this way on linkedin and further follows up on her website:

You’re in #HR . Over the weekend, an employee engages in racist behavior that’s caught on video. The video goes viral. What do you do?

Do you immediately fire the employee? What do you say to other employees? Do you tell everyone not to talk to the media? Should you just let it be?

Doing nothing is disastrous. HR needs to take the lead in addressing employees, holding forums with staff, drafting talking points for leadership and managers, and fostering an environment where employees feel safe to raise issues stemming from this incident and others.

Do you ultimately fire her? Abso-fricking-lutely. Not only is there a legal risk for her employment decisionmaking, but the organization’s commitment to being a fair, harassment-free workplace is now squarely in the spotlight. Keeping her will forever damage the organization for both employees and customers.

What do you think?

More important than that, the reality is that ALL of us have faced real situations where either we are ‘Amy Cooper’ or we behave in a way like ‘Amy Cooper’ toward others.

Those of you in leadership positions, this becomes especially tricky because, what if ‘Amy’ is someone in your team? Even more, what if he/she is your top performer?

As I noted on Katie’s post, “what do you do if there is NO video and the employee in question has ‘always been a team player’ and ‘consistently ranks above average on evaluations’?

No. Really. When there’s no spotlight, what do you do?”

This is not an easy thing to grapple with, and likely is more real than any of us want to admit.

Allyship Requires Action

Jodi-Ann Burey, a writer and speaker, poses the following suggestion to each of us who look in the mirror and realize the problem may be more “us” than we wanted to otherwise believe:

Please Note: Central Park Karen is not the exception, she is the rule. You work with women like her… everyday. You care about women like her. You may very well be her. Allyship requires action. If you want to exercise your allyship, talk with each other as white folks about what you all can do to help each other stay accountable to being better.

So… Now What?

So, today, May 27, 2020, what are you going to do differently, seeing so much that needs to obviously change?

Part of the answer, as Jodi-Ann notes, is Allyship.  This means getting clear about what your part in all this might be, and realizing you may be complicit more than you know.

Tolerating even a little racism or sexism leads to cultural challenges personally, organizationally and, as we see too frequently, nationally.

People will do what they see their leaders do. Actions > Words. Serve and care for those around you and, if you are a leader, then lead from the front and from the back, cheering those on who are struggling, and carrying those who otherwise could not make the journey.

Resolve, today, to be part of the solution.

Is That What It’s Really Like?

A few days after we watched The Hate U Give movie, my teenager asked me openly, “Is that what black neighborhoods are really like, or was that just for the movie?”

The question set me back a bit, I admit.  We don’t live in a glitzy, fancy neighborhood. Our homes are very moderately priced. Even underwhelmingly priced. Yet, our quiet community South of Salt Lake City is markedly different from the streets depicted in the film.  But, they were not too different from some of the streets I knew as a kid in Indianapolis (though I lived in the quiet suburbs, I spent a moderate amount of time in the city).

I relayed back to her that I thought it was a pretty fair depiction of what life in black communities was like in a lot of the country.

She thought about it and said she appreciated the chance to see things through the eyes of the teenage girl in the film — torn emotionally between her black roots and the predominantly white prep school she attends — and then a secret witness to the death of her friend at the hands of a police officer.

She has been different since we watched that movie together. These stories and other lived experiences have helped her want to lift up and care about people around her in ways I think most teens would not spend time on.

I hope she will continue to be an ally to those around her. I hope to continue helping her have those experiences as well.

Categories
Blog Life

Waste Hours —> Save Years


I’m writing this near a hideaway campground I found near Capitol Reef National Park. I took a few days off this last week, not just physically but mentally as well — something I haven’t done in six months and something I think I have never actually done well.

So, I am nostalgic. Bear with me.

Someone I highly respect said once that as you get older you start experiencing what he calls “long days and short years.”

I am starting to understand some of that.

I wonder if this same sentiment is echoed in Robert Frosts’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening where he laments how many miles to go he has before he sleeps, and in Five for Fighting’s “100 Years” (YouTube) remarking how he is chasing the years of his life and speaking back to his fifteen-year old self telling him he’s got plenty of time ahead.

I saw this sentiment come up again in a different way recently when @ShaneAParrish quipped “We waste years because we cannot waste hours.” *

And I am reading Four Hour Workweek for the first time (yes, late bloomer, I know) and considering his admonition that we should take Fridays off, even if we “work” but focus on self-work or learning new things, and that compressing our work is better for us than relentlessly trying to hustle for more, more, more and more.

So, as I pack up to take my remote trailer office home today, I am pondering the value of just unplugging and letting things that I have built on over weeks and months and years “fend for themselves” for a few days.

And nothing blew up — that I know of.

And I am fresher and more excited about the good things I need/get to do.

And I am also more keenly aware of the endless loops I get myself into where there is a lot of hustle but no production — a lot of noise but little signal.

And a resolve to do better about breaking that cycle. Now.

Partly by forcing myself to waste some hours in the week. On purpose. So I can ALIGN myself better with what I want to DO, which I am decoupling from (and still appreciating the overlap in) what I do for money.

What are you doing to not waste your years?

— — —

By Robert Merrill, written near Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA

*The debate in the comments to this tweet point to the idea this sentiment was previously noted by the late Amos Tvsersky, whose Nobel-prize winning work I love, though I admit I like Shane’s packaging better.

Categories
Blog Communication Life Relationship

Be Interested, Not Interesting

Here on the corner of my computer screen, I have a little piece of a sticky note with the following on it:

Interested > Interesting

Meaning, being interested is better than being interesting. And, if you’re in the people business, or have any personal relationships that are important to you, this is good advice.

It comes from Mark Goulston, Author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.

This is a great book and, for me, has been instrumental in me trying to really deepen some personal relationships as well as going farther to develop connection with the people I work with, both as candidates, hiring managers and as just other great humans I want to know better.

The whole book is interesting. Mark, who trains hostage negotiators, opens the book with a pretty intense confrontation between a man threatening to commit suicide in a mall parking lot. You see two kinds of negotiations take place. The “Hey, you’re in big trouble so put the gun down” kind that we see on TV and a much different approach that diffuses the situation and brings a peaceful resolution — listening.

One challenge I admit that I have in listening better is, well, asking questions. It sounds funny, but I sometimes get stuck just knowing what I should be asking someone!

So, from my notebook to yours, here are some fantastic tips you should hold on to. Let me know how it goes? I am definitely curious! ?

Great Questions You Can Ask Anyone To Show You Are Interested

As quoted from the book Just Listen by Mark Goulston. See the snippet here on Kindle.

Professional:

  • “How’d you get into what you do?”
  • “What do you like best about it?” 
  • “What are you trying to accomplish that’s important to you in your career (business, life, etc.)?” 
  • “Why is that important to you?” 
  • “If you were to accomplish that, what would it mean to you and what would it enable you to do?”

Personal:

In personal relationships—for instance, at a party or on a first date—questions like these can often trigger a heartfelt response: 

  • “What’s the best (or worst) part of (coaching your kid’s soccer team, being away from home, etc.)?” 
  • “What person has had the biggest influence on your life?” 
  • “Is that the person you’re most grateful to? If not, who is?” 
  • “Did you ever get a chance to thank that individual?” (If the person asks, “Why are you asking these questions?,” you can say: “I find giving people the chance to talk about who they’re grateful to brings out the best in them.”) 

FTD Delivery

Mark goes on to talk about how he tries to get people to respond to questions that include how they feel, what they think and what they did or would do. He mentions in passing that you can use the initials of those phrases, FTD, and the name of the popular fast florist delivery company of the same initials as a way to remember the formula.

“I know that when people ask me questions that generate all three of these answers, I feel known by them in ways that I usually don’t if we’re talking exclusively about what we feel or what we think or what we did or would do.,“ Mark continues.

He finishes with these sage words that I am trying to take to heart day by day.

Much of who we are is composed of what we feel, think, and do, so when we’re in conversations where we get to express all three, we feel more satisfied. Eventually, one of your questions will click and you’ll see the person lean forward eagerly to tell you something with enthusiasm or intensity. When that happens, do the right thing: Shut up. Listen. Listen some more. And then, once the person reaches a stopping point, ask another question that proves that you heard (and care about) what the person said.”

Try this tip out and let me know how it goes!


Read The Book:

Editor’s Note: The links to Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston in this article reference Amazon.com with an affiliate code. Using this link helps to support our services. However, if you’d prefer to go directly to the book page on Amazon, this link is affiliate free !

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