Defeat

I have to admit I took some pleasure in last night’s drubbing of the Denver Broncos in the SuperBowl. Don’t get me wrong – I like Peyton Manning. Unlike John Elway, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and his public persona is ‘approachable.’ I digress…

From the first snap Denver did not look prepared. Quite the opposite – Manning admitted in a post game conference that the safety was a direct result of a mis-communication due to crowd noise. Anyone watching the game heard the 12th man and I think Denver expected them to stay home in Seattle.

On the other hand Seattle looked exceptionally well prepared. Despite Manning setting a record for completed passes in a SuperBowl their defense held a team that had scored the most points in NFL history during the regular season to one touchdown and a 2 point conversion. Outside of that touchdown, Denver never got close to even field goal range. Their defense scored twice. Their special teams scored once. A 5’11” quarterback that no one thought would amount to anything in the NFL made a very good Denver defense seem incompetent.

Yesterday’s game has some lessons for us all.

  1. You can’t be too prepared. Seattle hoisted the Lombardi trophy in part because they had a great game plan.
  2. A great plan is nothing without execution & part of execution means a readiness to change your plan on the fly. There’s no doubt John Fox and his coaches felt they had a game plan they felt would win the game. However, I sincerely believe they did not expect the level of crowd noise they experienced & they were unable to adapt. We had a bet on how many times we would hear Peyton say “Omaha.” The winner was zero.
  3. The Seahawks and the entire city of Seattle has a reason to celebrate. This is Seattle’s 2nd championship team (the other being the 78/79 Supersonics). They’re closing the schools on Wednesday and having a party. Good for them. You need to celebrate success.
  4. The Broncos can’t go home thinking they failed. A 38 year old quarterback led his team to 15 victories and broke the regular season TD and average yardage record. They were one of only 2 teams left at the end. Even if you don’t win the big game you can’t discount the other achievements along the way.

Edison once said “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” If you get beat you have 2 choices. You can feel sorry for yourself and quit trying. Or you can get up, dust yourself off, and keep playing.

I’m not looking forward to having Peyton’s Broncos in the AFC West next season.

Question

Humans are naturally curious. When I was 3 years old we had just moved into a new house and I climbed up on the kitchen counter and started twisting knobs. One of the twists resulted in very pretty red coil so I decided to touch it. I didn’t need to question whether the stove was hot from that day forward.

Question is a word you should keep in mind this year.

When you ask someone a question the next step is to listen. Listening is the key to developing strong bonds with other people. When you ask them a question you are showing genuine interest in what them. Questions are good things.

Don’t stop by just asking questions. Learn to question. Why am I writing this blog? The answer that question will tell me if it’s worth the time and effort to keep typing. Is there a better way to write this blog? Maybe. There’s been a “WordPress 3.8.1 is available! Please update now.” bar above my admin panel for a year. I haven’t updated because I’m concerned how it will impact the site. Will it go down? What exactly does 3.8.1 do for me that the current version lacks? Questions. Now I’m compelled to ask my good friend Mr/s Google those questions. I bet s/he has the answer.

If something isn’t going the way you expected ask yourself why. If things are going along swimmingly for you right now there’s a question to ask. Why, and how can I make it better?

If you aren’t asking questions you’re standing still. If you’re standing still you’re falling behind.

Nothing great ever happened without someone asking a question.

Dream

Martin Luther King Jr led our country out of it’s darkest days and forever changed us (and the world) for the better.  Martin Luther King had a dream. It would have been easy to look around and say his dream was impossible to achieve. Yet he took action to make that dream come true. So much so, that his dream did not die with him.

America has a very ugly history. We don’t think about it much because it’s not comfortable. We gloss over it in our History books. Consider the following:

People were considered legal property for 373 years after we landed on Plymouth Rock. For the next 100 years (as MLK put it) people were judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. What my white European descendants did to African Americans is a horrific piece of our history. That along with the genocide they affected on the Native American people isn’t discussed when talking about “the best country in the world.” Our country is great, but millions suffered in the process. Let us never forget we spent 400 years killing natives and shipping in slaves. We spent the next 100 years living in societal separation. Half a millennium of war and hate.

Most of us didn’t grow up in a segregated society, but it was not that long ago that drinking fountains had “Whites Only” signs hanging above them. Ask your grandparents or parents about them. Better yet – take a trip to Memphis and spend the day at the Civil Rights Museum. Drink in the ugliness. It’s very sobering.

Yet one man had a dream.

The Civil Rights Act was signed by Lyndon B Johnson the day after I was born: July 2, 1964. In response southern governors began turning fire hoses on people and using the military to block access to quality education. Today we have 24×7 bickering about a broken website and a traffic jam on a bridge. Fifty years ago innocent Americans were being bombed & hung on trees by their fellow countrymen. This happened in my lifetime.

472 years passed from the time European settlers landed on Plymouth Rock until the Civil Rights Act became law. Millions died. Societal lines were clearly drawn. Lines that seemed impossible to break down or cross.

Yet one man had a dream.

Fifty years later I can’t say we’ve been perfect. Undocumented immigrants coming across our southern border must have a similar experience as African Americans a hundred or even fifty years ago. Many are the modern day sharecropper.

But we’re better off because one man dared to dream. Martin Luther King Jr only had 5 years to start the process of breaking down five centuries of hate and discrimination. The movement to have a National Holiday in his honor started in 1968. It took 18 years for that dream to became a reality.

Despite the odds against such a major change given the indoctrination of our society over 500 years I‘d like to think that in large part Martin Luther King’s dream has been met.

Read this excerpt from his speech. These things were dreams in 1963.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
Dreams do come true. All it takes is time and effort. Don’t forget to dream a little this year.

Connect

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

From the beginning we were wired to be together. Adam & Eve were told to go forth and multiply. We are told we are all brothers & sisters. No one aspires to die alone. Living your life in a vacuum simply isn’t an option.

Our society has never been more connected. In the 140 years since Bell said “Come quickly Watson, I need you” we’ve seen our society has become completely globalized. With a click of a mouse we can get up-to-the-minute news from anywhere. Social media has reintroduced us to our childhood friends and gives us access to connections across the globe.

You need to Connect.
Collaborate.
Give.

If you’re in between jobs you need to connect. If you are underemployed or unhappy at work you need to connect. If you are in your dream job YOU NEED TO CONNECT.

My action item for connecting in 2014 is not related to LinkedIn, Networking, or any other business criteria. I’m a busy guy, very busy – especially during basketball season. I leave the house at 8 am and get home at 8 pm or after 5 days a week from November through April. Saturday usually is another 5-8 hours away from home. My action item is to connect with my wife. That means date night no less than once a month. Put all the ‘stuff’ aside and make time for us a few hours a week.

Learn

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin

You don’t know it all. Learn should be a word you should focus on this year. I’ve been a technical recruiter and recruiting manager for thirteen years. I know my job well, and part of knowing that job well means I know I need to learn. Technology changes. Success approaching and engaging top shelf talent changes. Client expectations change. Staying on top of changes requires research. You need to follow thought leader’s blogs. Read industry articles.

As important as industry specific learning is, reading outside your industry is more important. Industries tend to attract like-minded people with similar ideas. A big part of learning for the “Outliers” is to infuse fresh ideas from others outside their area of expertise. Outliers implement and experiment with ideas that come from a variety of sources. They understand that failure is a part of success.

My action items for learning in 2014 fall into two categories, one industry specific and the other non-industry specific.

Industry: I receive at least 5 emails a day with links to IT / Staffing / Recruiting relevant information. Each day I will read at least one of those articles in its entirety and look for ways to leverage the knowledge in my business.

Non-Industry: In 2013 I read maybe 10 books all year, mostly biography and fiction. This year I am going to take the 30 minutes in the morning normally devoted to catching up on personal email and surfing Facebook and read a business book. I figure between that and other down times I will be able to get through a book about every 2 weeks. I’m almost finished with Seth Godin’s Linchpin book & have another on deck.

Any recommendations for reading are welcome – fire off an email to david.templeman@gmail.com.

Words

I wrote some words on a whiteboard last night. They’re MY words. Words that I will use to put together my path for 2014. A path that I’m going to share via my blog over the next few weeks. Each word has meaning to me. Some of them will have meaning to you. Feel free to use them – even though I say these are MY words, they can be your words as well.

Each word will have an action plan. Specific things that I’d like to accomplish this year related to that word. I’m posting this to my blog because you should write your goals down. I also hope that it will inspire some of you to action. Or perhaps inspire you to hold me accountable. We all need accountability.

The first word is “ART.” In Seth Godin’s book “Linchpin, Are You Indispensable?” he describes ART as a “personal gift that changes the recipient.” It doesn’t matter if you’re talking business or personal relationships, if you have nothing to give there’s no reason for anyone to interact with you.

Art’s action plan will be each day I am going to share a form of my personal art with someone else and write it down in a journal. At the end of the year I’ll post the results.

Setting Yourself up for Success

New Year is a time for fresh beginnings. The gyms are packed with people who have made a commitment to fitness. Jenny Craig & Weight Watchers have a membership spike. Usually by Valentines Day the gyms are less crowded & weight loss center sales are back to normal levels.

Why don’t we stick with our New Years Resolutions?

The answer is found in attitude and behavior. It’s very easy to change your mind about something. Saying “I need to lose 20 lbs” is easy. Most of us think we should lose a little weight or get in better shape. The answer starts with this simple fact – attitude is easy, behavior is difficult. Long term change only comes when we focus on behavior.

Behavior change comes from a road map. Road maps are made up of smaller goals that will get you to your big goal. Get up at 6 am and go to the gym 21 days in a row. Don’t miss a single day. See how you feel at the end of the 21 days. You’ve achieved a goal. Get up on day 22 and go to the gym and keep it up for 20 more days. Now you’ve been to the gym every single day for 6 weeks. It’s becoming a habit.

Attitude changes can happen in an instant. Behavior changes take time.

Ugly Christmas

Christmas should be a joyous time of year. Festive decor and music rings from offices and stores to homes and streets. This is a traditional time to gather with friends and family and share in the abundance of the season. But what if there isn’t abundance?

What if Christmas is a time of dread? What if Christmas is ugly?

This year I have a friend who will be spending his first Christmas without his wife who he lost less than 2 weeks ago. Certainly there are people and families who lost their house to foreclosure this year and are spending Christmas in an apartment. Plenty of unemployed people are looking for ways to give gifts to their children. Someone lost a child this year and the presents under the tree are simply a source of pain and anguish.

Christmas doesn’t go well with brokenness. It gets ugly. If you are struggling this holiday season I’d like to share some thoughts with you that were the topic of our sermon Sunday.

The birth of Christ wasn’t all bright stars and wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Our savior was born into a lot of ugliness.

Let’s start with Mary, an unmarried teenage girl who becomes pregnant. The angel Gabriel told her of the significance of the child, but even her own fiance Joseph was ready to put her out until he was also visited by an angel. What do you think the community at large thought of Mary? Being unwed and pregnant in that time in history was a source of great shame. I’m quite certain this ugliness followed Joseph, Mary & Jesus the rest of their lives. People talking under their breath. Looking at the family with disdain.

No room at the inn. Maybe there actually was room, but the shame of the unwed mother preceded Mary & Joseph. Regardless, Christ was born in a manger. More accurately a stable. Stables are where the animals live. Even today stables are not the picture of sanitation. They are where animals do their business. Sometimes that business doesn’t get cleaned up as frequently as it should. Imagine a 1st century stable. They smelled bad. Really bad. They were infested with flies. Not just common house flies, these would have been big flies. Big flies bite. This is the context of the birth of Christ – a smelly stable filled with camel dung and horse flies.

Herod. A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. (Matt 2-16) Herod is a part of the Christmas story. Remember what he did when he found out he was outwitted by the Magi? His part in the Christmas story is the death of a generation of boys in Bethlehem and surrounding areas. Imagine the government coming in and killing all the boys under the age of 2 in Overland Park, KS. This is well beyond ugly. It is unimaginable. Yet it is part of Christmas. Rachel weeping, refusing to be comforted for her children because they are no more. (Jer 31:15)

Christmas did little to comfort these families. To the contrary, it was the source of their pain. That’s the Christmas we don’t think about. The Christmas we don’t celebrate. The Christmas we shouldn’t celebrate.

If you are struggling this season don’t be too hard on yourself for not being in the “Christmas Spirit.” Peace cannot be found in the turmoil of a broken world. A world that cause the first Christmas to be pretty ugly.

The good news of Christmas is that into all this ugliness a Savior was born.

A Wonderful Counselor. A Prince of Peace.

True peace comes from knowing Christ. That is where you will find the joy in an Ugly Christmas.

May the Peace of Christ find you this Christmas.

2014 & Beyond Economic Outlook

Last week I attended a technical staffing conference and one of the more interesting keynotes was from economist Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics. If you’ve heard an economist speak you know they like to use charts & graphs and usually leave you wondering if you should prepare your doomsday castle. The good news Alan had for us was technology is going to continue to be an industry with high growth and high demand for the foreseeable future. He pointed to several factors to remain optimistic about our economy overall:

  • Leading indicators are pointing up.
  • The government & Fed continues their stimulative monetary policy.
  • Employment is rising (companies right‐sized).
  • Banks are lending.
  • Retail Sales are rising.
  • Construction is improving.
  • Deficit spending continues.

While you can argue continued deficit spending is just kicking the can down the road, it does provide reasons for short-term optimism. Other positive indicators in the marketplace included dropping delinquency on consumer debt, rising manufacturing, and an abundance of natural resources (especially natural gas) within our borders. However, as all economists tend to do, he gave us the good news first. He feels there is cause for concern in 2014 because of • Stagnant wage growth and ongoing high unemployment.

  • Food, fuel and rent inflation.
  • Higher payroll and Affordable Care Act taxes.
  • An unclear deficit reduction plan.
  • A looming bond and stock bubble.

The ACA is a hot button with a lot of people, and there’s no doubt it’s going to result in higher taxes, but when you look at the increase vs. the GDP there’s been many other pieces of legislation with greater impact including the “Read my Lips, No New Taxes” Bush increase in 1990 and the Clinton increase in 1993. Even Reagan’s increase in 1982 was a higher percentage of GDP than ACA.

The take-away was that 2014 is going to be a year where we’ll see little growth, with the possibility that there will be a small set-back as people and companies adjust to the new healthcare law. Overall he was optimistic about things over the next 15 years. Which is good news for everyone.

National Career Summit Nov 4th – 15th

There’s a two week online job seeker program chock-full of great speakers and topics. Rather than put these events in the calendar I am going to put them in this blog post and keep it active through the 15th.

Full Details can be found at THIS LINK.  Daily topics include:

Monday, Nov 4th
Resume Writing
Personal Branding
Negotiating: Get More Money in Your Next Job in Any Economy (Or a Raise in Your Current Job)

Tues, Nov 5th
Tapping into the Hidden Job Market
Choosing a Professional Resume Writer
Setting Career Goals and Planning Your Career Path

Wed, Nov 6th
The #1 Formula to Win in a Difficult Job Market
Developing a Professional Network
Staying Motivated and Avoiding Depression During Times of Unemployment

Thurs, Nov 7th
What’s New Hot and Hidden on LinkedIn
Interviewing Skills 101
What NOT to Wear on a Job Interview.

Friday, Nov 8th
New Trends in Resume Writing
Getting Yourself in Front of the Right People with LinkedIn
Climbing the Corporate Ladder (Growing in your Current Organization)

Sun, Nov 10th (Bonus Day)
Break all the Rules and Get that Dream Job!

Mon, Nov 11th
How to Navigate Applicant Tracking Systems
The Importance of Securing a Professional Internship
Earn What You’re Really Worth

Tues, Nov 12th
Build Your Online Reputation: How to Create the Right Digital Dirt
Discovering and Removing Obstacles in Your Job Search
How to Find a Career that Excites You

Wed, Nov 13th
Preparing Veterans and Others for Federal Employment
How to Communicate for Success in your Job Search
Entrepreneurship: Creating a Business Plan

Thurs, Nov 14th
Great Jobs for Everyone 50+
Networking (On and Off line)
Twitter and Facebook For Job Seekers

Fri, Nov 15th
How to do Research to Find the Job You Want
The Art of Self Promotion
Why Cover Letters Are Dead

What an outstanding opportunity to learn from experts across the country.