A caller to a podcast I listen was upset about being passed over for a promotion because the owner of his company hired his nephew and put him in a job that the owner had promised the caller. He said the nephew wasn’t at all qualified for the position and was looking for advice. The host suggested that the caller start looking for a job because if the caller was right about the owner reneging on his promise and hiring an unqualified nephew he has no integrity, and you don’t work for people that don’t have integrity. Sound advice.

Nepotism is favoritism based on relationships (blood or otherwise) and it’s not always an integrity issue. If you feel you’re being passed over because of nepotism you should ask yourself some questions.

If you work in a large company where there’s a ‘good old boy’ network with an accelerated career path based on who drinks beer with whom, and who can kiss more cheek, you probably need to start looking elsewhere. Conversely if you struggle with certain elements of your job, isolate yourself from your team, aren’t growing your capabilities or aren’t adding value to the bottom line you likely are going to be passed over for someone else.

In a smaller company consider relationships of the other individuals involved. In a family-owned business family is commonly “groomed” to take over certain functions within the company. They may not be as qualified as non-family members when the promotion comes, but they are capable and willing to learn. Owners concerned about business continuity may move a less qualified family member ahead of you to ensure the longevity of the organization. I don’t see that as nepotism, and that’s a risk you take working in a small family business. That said, if the individual isn’t capable, or feels entitled due to their family standing and gets the job anyway that’s an integrity issue with the owner(s) and straight up nepotism.

The biggest question you should ask yourself regardless of the size of the company – am I doing what is expected to grow into a new position? Do my background, abilities, passions, and interests align with the job? Am I producing quality work that goes beyond expectations? Do I respect the work of my team? Do my teammates respect my work?

No question there will be times where the “other guy” gets the job and there’s going to be hard feelings. If you’re in an organization that values relationships over abilities when promoting staff you may have to move on. Before making a decision to change, talk to others inside and outside the organization. Listen to their input and make sure you’re controlling the things you can control. Talk to leadership about your objectives & how they align with the company mission.

We all want to work where we feel appreciated and get a fair shake. If nepotism is holding you back it’s time to make a change, just don’t mistake favoritism for a reasonable decision that does not advance your career.

5 Balls Speech

If you’re not familiar with former Coca-Cola CEO Bryan Dyson and his famous “30 second speech” open another browser tab and Google “Five Balls Speech.”

Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’ve read the speech and understand the difference with the work ball let’s have a serious conversation. Are you really happy with what you do for a living? Is your work fulfilling?

If the answer to those questions is no, then you are damaging the “other balls.” No one has ever gotten to the end of the road and wished they had worked more. Too many people have gotten to the end of the road not doing the work they should have pursued.

There are many excuses to not pursue your “dream job”

  • I don’t want to take a step back.
  • I have too many bills (i.e. debt) to take a paycut.
  • I’m not sure where to start.
  • I don’t have enough time to make a move.
  • My job isn’t so bad on some days.

Change has never been affected by an excuse.

  • Staying where you’re at in a job that’s not fulfilling will never let you step forward. You’re taking more steps back than you think.
  • Everyone has bills and a large majority of Americans have debt. Tighten up your budget & get out of debt. Work like a mad-dog. Quit eating out. Cut up the credit cards. Sell the $30k SUV and get a hooptie. (Can you tell I’m a Dave Ramsey zealot?)
  • If you’re not sure where to start take one step. You’re reading this, right? Now take another step & read as many books on finding fulfilling work as you can. Engage in the process.
  • Don’t have enough time? I would argue your time is running out. Take the first step before it’s too late. (see earlier comment regarding the end of the road.)
  • Your job isn’t so good on most days, otherwise this post is irrelevant & you wouldn’t have read this far. What are you waiting for?

Your work ball bounces. Use that to your advantage and find the work that God intended for you to do.

White Supremacists Need Not Apply

Earlier this month Cole White, an appropriately named white supremacist, traveled across the country and took part in the now infamous rally that resulted in the tragic death of Heather Heyer. Pictures of these bigots flooded social media and someone recognized Mr White and his place of employment – a hot dog stand in Berkeley California.

I’m not sure how quickly this all went down, but I’m speculating that someone walked into the hot dog stand with a picture of Mr White in his full racist regalia and made management / ownership aware that they were employing a white supremacist. Not long after he was either terminated or asked to resign (depending on what news outlet you read.) Either way – he lost his job for being a racist asshole.

Thankfully our government has not passed any laws that protect him from being terminated. Hate speech may be protected, but it never should protect you from the consequences. You’re fired. Good luck and Good riddance.

Many other racists were “outed” via social media, and my hope is more employers recognize that these individuals and their “white nationalist” agenda is an aberration and has no place in our society which includes our workplaces. These vile peoples’ philosophy is so abhorrent that we should not be forced to support them by providing them jobs or any other opportunities.

If you want to run around with a hood on your head or swastika on your arm you certainly have the freedom to do so. Just don’t expect the decent people of this country to support you in any way, shape, or form.

We are a nation of immigrants. A melting pot of people seeking a better life in a country with wonderful opportunities.

Your racist political agenda has been used to justify evil throughout history. It’s caused countless deaths. It’s spawned countless wars.

It has no place in modern America.



“I Ain’t Serving No Police”

Earlier this week a McDonald’s employee was terminated for refusing to serve a uniformed officer. You can read the story here and while it’s sad that our society has bred this much animosity between groups, I don’t want to make this the theme of this post. I simply am offering an extreme example of being a bad employee so I can write about what you can do to make yourself a valued employee.

McDonald’s is a minimum wage employer. All you need to do to get a job there is fill out an application & fog a mirror. Show up on time & be civil to customers and you’ll keep the job for as long as you’d like. But you’ll never go anywhere. Did you know McDonald’s was the first company to have a Global Training program? Did you also know in some countries getting into that program is more difficult than getting into Harvard. Being in management for McDonald’s is a highly prestigious job in some areas of the globe.

Every employee McDonald’s hires has an opportunity to grow, but they have to do more than phone it in.

This is true in every job you’ll ever hold. If you are really good at hitting all the responsibilities laid out by management you’ll have your job until the next corporate downsizing or management shift. You are paid to do the basics, but if you want to move up you need to go beyond the basics and add value.

How do you add value?

Every manager has expectations of your performance. Look for little things you can do to improve process, save money, or better serve your customers. Sit down with your manager on a regular basis and talk about your ideas. Get their buy-in on your ideas & implement them. Sometimes that means working late. Sometimes that means doing things that aren’t in your job description. It usually means you aren’t going to reap immediate monetary reward. But it does add value, and when it comes time to decide who to promote (or possibly cut) do you think it will be the idea person or the phone it in guy? Don’t answer – that’s a rhetorical question.

Find a way to serve rather than be served. Be generous with your time and talent. Even when you don’t like someone. Rather than refusing service, refuse to be average. Even if you are making $10/hr flipping burgers. Because average doesn’t flip burgers for long.

Excellent Written and Oral Communication Skills!

If you’ve been reading job postings for more than five minutes you’ve probably run across that gem. The 2nd Generation came when “communication skills” morphed into “interpersonal skills” which reads better than writing “oral communication skills,” yet it still rings hollow. Adding the “communication skills” requirement is an all too common relic of job description authors who are firmly planted in a bureaucracy that also thinks adding “must be able to make decisions” and “be able to move about the office” is necessary to attract the right person.

Those last two are real world examples of how ridiculous job description content can get. Would you hire someone that can’t make a decision or find their way from their cube to the break room? I know I wouldn’t.

The ability to effectively relate and communicate with others is ultimately a result of an individual’s character, background, education, emotional intelligence, and a host of other things that make each of us unique.

Trying to fit that on a bullet point in a job description (or a resume for that matter) is difficult, if not impossible. Stop trying. Please.

Suzy Welch: The Single Best Question to Ask in an Interview

CLICK HERE for the full article.


I am not a patient person – it’s in my nature to stay in motion so I don’t like waiting in line. I don’t like waiting on someone else to get ready. I don’t like waiting in traffic. I definitely don’t like riding behind someone driving slow in the passing lane. (See Urban Dictionary for the term for this person.)

There’s a lot of waiting in my business. Waiting for someone to

….return a call.

….complete a task.

……make a decision.

Looking for a job involves a lot of hurry up and wait. It’s just part of the process.

I’m trying to train myself to be more patient by first asking myself why I’m in such a hurry. Is what I’m doing or where I’m going that time sensitive? If it is, did I leave myself enough time?

Another strategy is to simply appreciate the opportunity to wait. My commute is time I can use to listen to a podcast, or just sit in silence. Why rush that?

While you wait for someone to respond to your application why not do some research on the company & see what might get you excited about working there? Waiting give you time to find someone on the inside that can help.

While you wait for one employer to interview other candidates there might be another opportunity that is a better match for you. RiverPoint interviewed me in April 2000 and said no. I got impatient and took a job I hated. Thankfully that job ended, and when I reconnected with RiverPoint in the fall of 2000 they said yes.

Patience ultimately comes from being at peace with things out of your control. That peace comes from uncovering hidden opportunities in the waiting.

Think Before You Write

I grew up in a time when mail was something the post office delivered. Phones didn’t take pictures, connect me to hundreds of friends, or fit in my pocket. They had dials and were bolted to a wall. “Mobile” phones meant you had a 6+ foot cord attached to the box.

Today the written word has replaced verbal conversation in so many instances it’s high time we expand the old “think before you speak” adage to include what we put in an email, text, or post for all the world to see. Body language, inflection, and all the other nonverbal cues in a traditional conversation are lost when you type your words on a screen and hit “send” making it critical we choose our words carefully.

THINK before you WRITE!

Liar Liar

Pittsburg, KS High School principal Amy Robertson was fired after journalists at the student newspaper discovered her credentials were bogus. Their work was picked up by many major news outlets including Fox, CBS, NBC, LA Time, the Chicago Tribune. The list went on. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands (or possibly millions) of views in social media.

Needless to say, this was a major black eye to the district and a national embarrassment for Ms. Robertson. The district claimed that the competitive nature of hiring school administrators caused them to miss a few check-marks on the background.

No kidding.

As much as I’d love to say this is an isolated incident, it’s much more common than you may think. There’s plenty of other examples of public figures getting caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

Scott Thompson, then CEO of Yahoo!, claimed to hold a degree in Computer Science when in reality his degree was in Accounting forcing him to resign.

Marilee Jones worked at MIT for nearly twenty years, becoming their Dean of Admissions before resigning after being caught lying about her academic credentials.

George O’Leary was hired to coach Notre Dame football after falsely claiming to have a Masters Degree. He doubled-down by claiming to have played football despite never being on a college football roster. Notre Dame fired him.

Even celebrity chef Robert Irvine was fired from Food Network’s “Dinner Impossible” after it was discovered that his claim to have designed the wedding cake for Princess Diana & Prince Charles was false. He simply picked out the fruit used on the cake.

This tactic isn’t just for the rich & famous. Here’s just a sampling of what I’ve run across:

Bogus Credentials. Any employer worth their salt verifies credentials. I will find out that you were not honest about your degree. I will also verify any relevant certifications you claim to hold. You would be shocked at how many times I’ve caught someone red-handed misrepresenting their credentials. If you attended college but don’t have a degree “coursework toward a Bachelor of Science” is truthful, “Bachelor of Science” is lying. Feel free to reach out to these guys to do the lying for you.

Diploma Mills. The former High School principal claimed to have degrees from unaccredited schools. Many of these “schools” will issue a “degree” when your check clears the bank. If I have any questions about a college I just plug it into this site.

Mis-matched resumes. Years ago when paper ruled this was tough to catch. Today I have resumes from 15 years ago. Just this week I caught a person who did an assignment for us in another office send me a resume with different employers, different dates, with a degree from different schools. Turns out this person was released for cause after only a few months on the job.

Mis-matched people. There’s a disturbing tactic used by a handful of disreputable staffing & solutions agencies when it’s necessary to hire someone without meeting them first. Send a completely bogus resume, have someone that knows their stuff go through the interview process, and then send someone else to work. It’s becoming common enough that there’s a Twitter feed dedicated to outing people.

If you misrepresent your credentials eventually it’s going to catch up to you.

Marilee Jones initially applied for an entry level position at M.I.T. and rather than come clean, she continued the charade as she moved up the ladder. Her resignation letter read in part “I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to M.I.T. 28 years ago and did not have the courage to correct my résumé when I applied for my current job or at any time since, I am deeply sorry for this and for disappointing so many in the M.I.T. community and beyond who supported me, believed in me, and who have given me extraordinary opportunities.”

I’m sure in hindsight she wishes she would have mustered the courage. She felt painted into a corner with no out. However, there is an out and it starts with courage. You have to muster the courage to come clean. With the right attitude and outlook lying about your background is not the end of the world.

Marilee spent nearly twenty years handling admissions at one of the most prestigious schools in the world. She knows a thing or two about what it takes to get a letter of acceptance and has parlayed that knowledge into a private consulting practice.

Despite not having a Masters Degree or experience as a player, it turns out George O’Leary is a pretty damn good football coach. He continued to coach in both the NFL and at the University of South Florida where he was head coach for over a decade.

Scott Thompson spent four years as the CEO of an online shopping company before leaving last fall to take the CEO chair of a company that provides a student loan management platform that allows employers to help employees pay off their student loans.

Robert Irvine was re-hired by Food Network to host Dinner: Impossible, launched a spin-off called Restaurant: Impossible and is a regular guest on their Iron Chef series. He has used his celebrity to launch the Robert Irvine Foundation which honors the men and women of the US Military. In the Spring of last year he was awarded the U.S. Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Award.

We all make mistakes & do things we regret. Have the courage to come clean, make amends, and use your God-given abilities to do great things.



Self-Taught Experts

Today ran across this resume opener:

Self Taught Computer Expert.

I find many non-graduates using “Self Taught” as a counter to a completed education. This individual did not have a college degree and let’s be honest, a degree isn’t the end-all, be-all indicator of success. Obviously Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and countless other successful people who live in your neighborhood and work at your firm are doing just great without that framed diploma.

That said, self-taught is an oxymoron. In the strictest sense of the term, self-taught means you learned by trial and error without outside influence.

Your parents taught you to tie your shoes. Your teachers taught you to read. Your older brother taught you which bands were cool. No one is truly “self-taught.” We all learn from someone.

Don’t discount the influencers in your life. If you want to be an expert in anything you need mentors & advisors. Saying you made it completely on your own is arrogant. And a lie.

Rather than claiming to be self-taught, you are better off saying you are resourceful. Able to apply research to practical solutions. Willing to listen. Willing to learn. Appreciative of life’s experience.