What’s Your Relationship?

This week I learned about the Three Levels of Relationships.


Level 3: Family/Friends

The highest form of a relationship where you are being authentic (i.e. yourself), you share deeply about yourself (thoughts, feelings, desires, mistakes, etc,) and you are vulnerable. 


Level 2: Professionals

The middle level of relationships in which you are seeking to build trust and respect, you share some information (i.e. appropriate), and you expose yourself a little to the other person. 


Level 1: Acquaintances

The most elementary of relationships that is superficial in nature, there is little personal sharing of information (i.e. mostly when you are asked a question and you feel comfortable answering it), and you remain guarded. 


This is a good way to assess your relationships–is it a level 1, 2, or 3 and are you behaving appropriately within that, so that you trust, communicate, and collaborate effectively.  😉


(Graphic Credit: Andy Blumenthal)

A New Diplomacy In Town

Aircraft Carriers 3

A wonderful colleague sent me this really impressive photo.

This was one of my favorite of 3 aircraft carrier strike groups taken together (Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan)–the 1st and the 3rd of which are Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarriers. 

According to the slides, there were literally 4 four nuclear submarines standing guard in the waters beneath, as well as a B-2 stealth bomber flying overhead.  

What I really liked the most though wasn’t even the photos, but rather the motto for the carriers of:

“Over 90,000 tons of diplomacy…wherever… whenever…”

Diplomacy can be listening, negotiating, and compromise, but it can also be through the projection of the ultimate national and human strength. 

With a staggering rise in global terrorism, militaristic adventurism, and the proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, perhaps it’s time to harden up on some of the soft power, and demonstrate as well the very credible hard power and resolve we have for protecting American lives, freedom, and human rights. 😉

(Source Photo: here)

The Millennial Workplace

Keep Mouth Shut

So a colleague from a law enforcement agency told a funny story the other day.


When he was an agent-in-training he said they told them, “Keep your eyes open and your mouths shut.”


Basically, you are new–so watch and learn before you do something stupid and potentially get yourselves or someone else in trouble. 


But now as someone who been there for decades and is a supervisor, he was interviewing someone right out of school, and in the interview the kid says, “I want to be in charge!”


The difference from Generation X and the new Millennials couldn’t have been starker. 


But what did this guy do, he didn’t show the candidate to the door by his earlobes, but rather he ended up hiring him. 


Times have changed–not only with all the technology we use–but also in terms of people’s expectations from the job.


What do people want these days–aside from good compensation and comprehensive benefits?


Engagement through challenging and meaningful work that has tangible outcomes from day one

Innovating and creating versus pushing paper and doing routine, repetitive work

– Using current and cutting-edge technology

Opportunities to stay and advance or building the resume to “move out to move up”

– Lots of feedback, teamwork, sharing, and transparency

– Considerable work-life balance 


The bottom line is don’t be surprised by the kid who wants to be in charge from the get-go, instead relish their gusto and unleash their talent in your organization–with guidance, they can do amazing things. 


It’s not your fathers workplace anymore. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to g Tarded)

The Power Of One, Many, And G-d

Voice
I took this photo at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. 



I like how they took the pictures of the professors, administrators, and students and wallpapered it outside on the facade of the building. 



It says, “I am the voice of innovative education and civic engagement for the 21st century.”



It’s a cool idea showing the individuals and the power they have to make a difference as well as the aggregate of the photos, as a group, displaying that we are somehow all in it together. 



We can’t just rely on others, and we can’t take it all on ourselves…progress is a shared responsibility. 



We do our part and contribute to the greater group–it takes a variety of talents to get things done, so we leverage everyones strengths for the good of the team. 



Education is one part.  



Experience is another.  



Engagement is a third



And all these ingredients only come together with divine providence and the good fortune from the Almighty.



This last one is the secret sauce as they say. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Iran: Engagement or Containment

Dangerous Dealings

As the deadline for the now 2nd round of current negotiations with the dangerous Iranian mullahs fast approaches on November 24, we need to remember who we are dealing with over there.


Despite nearly endless negotiations that have gone on since 2002 (or for almost 13 years), including yet another round of new talks that began 14 months ago and which were already extended once again…


Just this week, no less than Iran’s Foreign Minister and lead negotiator made clear their position on nukes and it is not favorable to coming to any real agreement:


Here in his own words:

  • Iran insists that the U.S. must bow to Iran’s “Inalienable Nuclear Rights.”
  • Despite our wanting to believe that a deal is possible, he states, “Some [Western] countries have fallen prey to miscalculations [about Iran’s position] due to wrong analysis.”
  • He goes on to say, “U.S. sanctions against Iran “have left no impact” on their position. 


While our goal may be for a peaceful Iran without nuclear WMD, “a goal without a [genuine] plan is just a wish!”


Hmm…is this a real partner for peace?


It is recognized that:


1) Iran has one of the world’s worst records of human right abuses of their own people! 

2) “Iran is the single largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”


3) Iran threatens “annihilation” and Genocide to their neighbors in the West. 


We cannot fool ourselves anymore that Iran will ever voluntarily give up their desire or pursuit of The Bomb!


Enough rewarding Iran with billions of dollars in incentives just for coming to the table with no meaningful results. 


Yes ideally, we would all love to celebrate this Thanksgiving with a REAL deal for peace.


However, we don’t need a bogus agreement or another meaningless extension that gets the Iranians that much closer to nuclear breakout capability and the world to the next major regional or even global war. 


Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


Perhaps it’s time to change the playbook then…


Engagement is an excellent opportunity with a partner that is willing to seriously negotiate, but containment and ultimately military intervention is necessary when talks are simply a long-running ruse or sham to dangerous nuclear WMD and world terror. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

So the Federal government has some archaic hiring practices.

Some common critiques of the system:

– While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it’s place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points.

– Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn’t necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected.

To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.

However, when it comes to hiring, what you can’t really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board.

Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college.

She’s a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I’ve seen in 25 years of professional experience.

She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more.

But she doesn’t just do this with me, but with all her customers.

She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn’t just take their orders, but engages them as human beings.

I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other…and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I’d conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I’d probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job.

I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.

Why?

Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos.

However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she’d never make “the cert” (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she’s currently working in a coffee shop.

Something is wrong that we can’t easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don’t have the perfect checklist answers.

Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it’s not checklist-driven, then it’s usually not at all. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Engaging and Listening

Engaging and Listening

It was unexpected that the day after I blogged about a number of change organizations attracting attention in our society, particularly from our young people, that I saw it for myself on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Yet another change organization–different from the two that I wrote about yesterday–this one called “Be The Change” with three national campaigns currently:

– Service Nation–encourages a year of national service “to tackle pressing social issues.”

– Opportunity Nation–advocates for expanded economic mobility for all young people and to “close the opportunity gap in America.”

– Got Your 6–seeks to create opportunities for veterans.

Has “change” just become cliche or are people genuinely looking for something that is missing in today’s culture, values, and norms.

These smiling people certainly seem to be excited about change.

It just makes you wonder–what is it that people are desperately missing in their lives and want en masse to change? How do we help people find that missing link and achieve real enthusiasm for what we are doing and where we are going?

As leaders, it is our duty to understand and meet the genuine needs of the people…somehow doing this on the street corner by volunteers (as hardworking and noble as it is) seems to missing the larger point of government by the people for the people.

We need more politicians engaging and more people feeling they are being listened to. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)