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.

Patience

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.

Gatorade Shower

The “Salvy Splash” has become a tradition for the Kansas City Royals. It’s an act of celebration for all fans to anticipate and enjoy. Today I want to tell you about a different kind of Gatorade shower.

I have been a basketball official for the better part of the past two decades. I work from high school varsity down to rec ball of all ages. This weekend I worked two 2nd grade games before the Championship games of a boys / girls varsity tournament. Throughout my career, I have experienced a wide range of emotions and reactions from game participants and fans. Overall people have been supportive and positive. I’ve had many people thank me after games which is always appreciated.

That said, officials have plenty of verbal abuse directed toward them. It’s just part of the job and something I’ve learned to take with a grain of salt. Generally outbursts are caused by emotional investment in a team, disagreement with our judgement, and a lack of rules knowledge. (For example, unlike football and soccer you are allowed to be the first to touch the ball after going out of bounds as long as you are not the dribbler, you have established one foot inbounds, and are not otherwise touching the boundary.)

I ignore 99.99% of the fans who shout out at a game & the rules say the coach deals with the other .01% at the direction of the officials.

Unfortunately there is a line that some people cross. I’ve heard parents threaten to “kick someone’s ass” after a game and while I’ve never felt physically threatened, this weekend an official at a tournament had to deal with a .01% fan who expressed displeasure at being ejected by hitting the official with a thrown Gatorade bottle. Not the type of Gatorade shower you expect, and one I’m hoping will keep that person from attending future games.

Years ago I was coaching my son’s basketball game. I did not agree with much of what the official was doing and was plenty vocal about it. I don’t remember what I said to him at the end of the game, but it wasn’t a compliment and it certainly wasn’t warranted. His response was priceless and launched my love of being a basketball official. He handed me a whistle and a plastic striped vest and said “Since you think this is so easy you have the next game.” Two decades and several thousand games later I’m still wearing the zebra stripes.

Over the years there are a number of things I’ve learned from my experience as an official.

  1. Everyone makes mistakes. Even professionals at a high level aren’t perfect (as evidenced by the no call on the travel at the end of the KU / K State game in Lawrence this month.)
  2. In many cases, your opinion isn’t nearly as important as you think. You can disagree with others and still have a civil discussion.
  3. There will always be people who are critical of your work. Unless they understand what you do and can help you grow, or hold some authority over you, ignore them.

Next time you want to judge someone’s work, walk a mile in their shoes first.

RIP Ace #30

Life isn’t easy. No promises are made. No day is guaranteed.

Today Kansas City is mourning the loss of Yordano Ventura.  Baseball is mourning the loss of both Ace and Andy Marte.

It is a time to grieve.

Pitchers and catchers report in 21 days. Yesterday leaves a big hole in Surprise that will never be completely filled. Despite this tragic loss, the team will have to move forward. No matter the outcome of the 2017 season, it will be a special one. A season to honor their friend taken much too soon. A season to remember what’s really important.

Out of this dark day there will be a light that emerges. Good will come from the bad. Watch for it because it will be easily recognized.

I saw some light last night. Every season the Royals put out a calendar with proceeds going to Braden’s Hope. This month features Ace and 9 year old Ameila Meyer. Ironic that he was taken from us in the month he was featured, but I’d like to think it’s a little sign that he’s okay, and that he has reunited with Ameila who passed in October. Their lights certainly shine brightly for one Kansas City mother. Check out the whole story here.

We all face difficulty in our lives. It is healthy to mourn, it is okay to be sad.

However, do not wallow in sadness. Indulging the dark leads down the wrong road. Find the light. Focus on the good that grows out of the pain. Light always beats the darkness.

Procrastination

We’re two weeks into 2017 and I’m just now getting around to updating the events on my website. I’d like to blame it on Procrastination, but the reality of the situation is much different. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Quadrant 1 if you’re familiar with Covey’s Time Management grid so the TJG.com has taken a back seat. Fortunately I have a little time for Quadrant 2 today.

Which leads me to the point of this post. There’s a huge difference between Procrastination & Prioritization. 2017 is a year I’ve resolved to spend more time focused on the priorities. Important things like

  • My family.
  • Helping our new RiverPoint team have success.
  • My health.
  • Less social media, more social interaction.

If you follow my blog you know last year was tough. This year will be better. As one of my favorite lyricists says “Stay Positive.”

All right 2017 – I’m ready.

Pick up the Pieces

2016 has been a difficult year. This year did not start as hoped which was difficult. I’ve been here long enough to have weathered a few storms, so if that was our only challenge I wouldn’t take the time to write this. Unfortunately this is just the beginning of the story.

On February 27th one of my co-workers and close friends was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and went on disability. His prognosis was good and we never gave a second thought to replacing him, we simply did what business development we had time to handle on his behalf. His are big shoes to fill so despite our efforts there was a tremendous dip in our business development activities over the first six months of the year. Thankfully we were able to bring back a former colleague for a period of time which helped tremendously jump-starting efforts and we quickly got our business back on track.

Everyone in sales has ups and downs – we were handling things the best we could while Jeff went through treatment. After several rounds of chemo in the spring he had to go through several months of recovery. Throughout his treatment the doctors were optimistic, and I was 100% convinced that he would be back to work in the fall. Unfortunately cancer had other plans. On Oct 25th he was put in hospice and my friend passed away Nov 10th surrounded by family. We went from anticipating his return to saying goodbye in a matter of a handful of weeks.

Everyone has lost someone close. It rips your heart in two and makes day-to-day difficult. Walking by a now cleaned-out office. Seeing his name everywhere.

2016 sucked. I’m glad it’s almost over.

Soon someone else will put pictures of their family on Jeff’s desk. They will start calling on Jeff’s clients. No doubt they will hear the stories and get to know a little about our friend. That makes me feel good. Jeff left an impression on everyone he touched.

I will continue to mourn the loss of a friend, but I will not linger on the pain or let it keep me from moving forward. I honor my friend by picking up the pieces, welcoming our new associate with open arms, and finding the good in the day. 2017 is going to be better. Even if it isn’t, I’m going to be thankful for what I have.