Square Watermelons

I thought this was pretty novel. 


A square watermelon. 


Why do you need a square watermelon?


It was created to make transportation easier and to fit on the tight shelves of small stores in Japan. 


How do you make a round/oval watermelon square?


Why of course, you put a box around it while it’s still small and on the vine. 


Ah, I think they broke the mold on this innovative idea.  LOL


The problem is that that because they are harvested before they are ripe, they are inedible. 


So the Japanese use them for decorations, and they can last about a year. 


They are so unique, they cost roughly $100 for one. 


Why be square, when you can be round? 😉


(Credit Photo: Defense Acquisition University)

My New Sneaks

These were my new sneaks for like two hours. 


I loved them in the store. 

My stylish and lovely daughter helped me pick them out. 


Nike bright orange–cool, fashionable. 


“Just do it!”

But when I tried them on, I didn’t have socks, and had to use the ridiculous thin ones in the store.


The sneakers were snug and I asked for a larger size, which they were out of. 


I took the sneakers anyway, hoping they would be okay when I got home, but disappointingly, they were way too tight. 


And “the give” that the saleslady said would happen with the sneakers, absolutely didn’t. 


My foot was being crushed in there. 


I think Nike’s run small. 


Like the look, but not the sizing. 


Anyway, saw three people playing soccer in these (or something close to it) the same day. 


Orange is the new black. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wherever You Go

So my father used to say this idea about dealing with life’s challenges:

“Wherever you go, that’s where you are!”

If you think about it for a moment, it really is very profound. 


Some people think that they can run away from their problems.


Move here, there, everywhere. 


Change schools, jobs, spouses, whatever. 


But you can’t run away from yourself. 


Wherever you run, you’re still you!


So you need to fix yourself, your problems, your life. 


Yes, sometimes your in a place is bad, a bad fit, the people are bad, the chemistry is bad, the circumstances are bad. 


And then change can certainly be a welcome and good thing.


But when you change the external, the internal has to keep developing and changing as well, so that we learn and grow to be better people.  


Change your place is not a substitute for changing and growing yourself–that is the only constant with change. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Science Of The Interview

Job

Job interviews seem to have evolved into elaborate psychosocial and behavioral tests.


Almost as if there is an exact science behind trying to pick “the winners” from “the losers.” {hate those harsh terms about people]


Many questions look at how quickly the interviewee thinks on their feet, how prepared they are for the interview, and how well they present themselves for the job.


However, my question is whether these things are truly determinant of the fit between the person and the job, the culture, and the supervisor and team, as well as indicative of integrity of the person, their work ethic, or how well they would actually perform in said job. 


The interviewer proudly blurts out from his or her script:


TELL ME ABOUT…


A time that you came from from work and said “I completely nailed it–a home run out of the park!”


Or


–  A time that you came from work and said “Oh shit, I completely screwed everything up.”


Ah, like work–or life for that matter–is generally that black and white.


Are we forgetting about the 99% of the time that people go in the office, put in a solid day’s work for a solid day’s pay–and did a good job, made a decent contribution, and got along with the team. 


Also, let’s face it, the vast majority of people are not the Einsteins or Steve Jobs of this world. 


They don’t come to the interview having invented the driverless car or negotiated the end to World War II.


How about this question…


“Why do you want to work here?”


I heard someone actually asked this question about a job working in mining regulation–yeah right, your and everyone else’s dream job. 


What an incredibly narcissistic question, where the interviewer is looking to hear about how great their organization is or their department is, how superb a leader he/she is known to be, and why the person just will fit in perfectly to a place that alas they probably really know very little about from an insider’s perspective.


Okay, let’s try another one…


“Where do you see yourself in 5-years?”


Let’s see I want to be kissing your ass in 5-years and actually until the day I die or maybe better what your really afraid of hearing is that I’m gunning for your and would like to take your job and show this company what a real XYZ can do to improve things around here. 


Here’s another one a colleague told me about recently…


Pretend your David Ogilvy and sell me on one of your ideas. You have 15-minutes to prepare. 


Ok let’s put the pressure on, because the candidate coming in today for the job interview with a mortgage and two kids at home to feed isn’t enough.  Do these conditions really demonstrate what the person could do with amble time and preparation and for something they really believe in?


Let’s not forget to give an IQ and personality test to the person, so we can peg their intelligence and Myers Briggs or perhaps we should give them some puzzles and let them really sweat with the pieces. 


Let’s face it we’ve all had some people wow on the interview and on paper and turn out to be duds on the specific jobs, and others that you weren’t so sure about that turned out superbly.  


Assessing people is hard and many people are great at the poker game of landing the offer. 


It’s the interviewers job to look beyond the playbook and the acting, and try to see the real person sitting in front of them.


Yes, presentation is important, but even more so can we get down to the work ethic and the integrity of the person?  What they are good at and where do they have weaknesses? Are they able and willing to learn and grow?  What do they like to work on and what do they recoil from?  How do they relate to others and can they get along?  When they face problems, challenges, and conflicts, can they and are they willing to work through it? 


I don’t know any supervisor that hasn’t hit the jackpot on some hires and made mistakes on others…those that claim they’ve made an actual science out of bringing on the absolute talent–I wonder how well they do in their next interview. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

That’s Getting A Little Personal

Pants Ad
This was a funny advertisement hanging in Hot Topic in the mall. 



It says: “Get in our pants”–well, excuse you!



Using sexual come-ons to sell, sell, sell…is not a new marketing strategy. 



As they say in the biz world, “Sex sells!”



Perhaps a more targeted ad about quality, fit, and pricing would be more to the product point.



But why sell with facts, when you can sell with fantasy. 😉



(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

It Can Happen To Anyone

It Can Happen To Anyone

Life is unpredictable.

Today, at the pool, someone collapsed.

Looks like a heart attack or something serious.

Most of the people at the pool are in amazing physical condition.

The young folks on the swim team are fast as hell.

The older people, many seem like they never aged and can do still perform adroitly.

I find the whole crew generally quite competitive and if you can’t keep up…you may even get shove to the side.

When I heard the whistle blow this morning, it was unlike the usual stop running or horsing around–this time is was long and shrill.

Everyone stopped and pulled to the ends.

Instead of splashing water, you could hear a pin drop.

Lifeguards started running. One ran back to the control center and I could see him through the glass window dialing quickly on the phone for help.

Another young women was getting help from the pool supervisor–the young one ran, the older one strode sternly to ascertain the situation.

People started swimming in the main pool again, while the collapsed man was out of sight around the corner in another pool area.

The floating lady water runners were kibbutzing about what happened and is he going to be okay.

Eventually the swimming continued, but even then, people were looking around and had those worried faces on.

There was a realization that even with the dozens of people there, this person could’ve been anyone–any of us.

The ambulance and fire truck rescue came, the stretcher was brought in.

I asked the lifeguard with concern what had happened to the man and he said in a monotone, almost practiced voice, “The ambulance is here; everything is okay.”

It sort of sounded like don’t anyone panic and shut the heck up.

Anyway, it was upsetting to see someone up early, getting themselves to the pool, trying to stay healthy and fit, and struck down at the scene, while trying their best.

I’m a little shaken and am still hearing the whistle in my head. :-0

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Rethinking Topgrading

>

Topgrading is a best practice for hiring top performers, developed by Dr. Bradford Smart, and used by many leading companies.

According to Dr. Smart—managers have only a 25% success rate in hiring star performers:

  • 1 in 4 hires end up actually being a high performer (“A players”)
  • 2 of 4 disappoint as mediocre (“B players”)
  • 1 in 4 turns out being low performers (“C players”)

Smart blames this on ineffective hiring techniques—resumes, traditional competency/behavioral interviews, and candidate selected references—where candidates can provide incomplete information, play up accomplishments, downplay negatives, and deceive interviewers.

Instead, Smart’s practice of Topgrading calls for a much more thorough screening process and therefore one that yields up to 90% success rates; the techniques used include:

  • Reference calls specifically with former bosses, not just anybody provided by candidates.
  • Complete career histories including salaries, ratings, likes/dislikes, and reasons for leaving.
  • Competency/behavior interviews (same as in traditional hiring), but augmented by a second chronological interview that walks through with candidates all of their jobs (from the first to the last) in somewhat painstaking detail and includes all of the following: success/accomplishments, failures/mistakes, appraisals by bosses, and key decisions and relationships.

Topgrading also calls for Tandem interviewing—using 2 interviewers at a time. Again, the idea is to be thorough and thereby more careful in the hiring process to yield better results.

While I certainly agree with improving our hiring competencies and doing everything we can to hire the “best and brightest,” I think the premise of having everyone be an A player, all the time, is really more than a little naïve.

People are not things, like gems or coins that you trade and collect and see who has the shiniest, most valuable collection. Rather, people are human beings, and they come to work, as they do to all aspects of their lives, imperfect.

While I understand that Smart means by A player is not someone who is perfect, but “one who qualifies among the top 10 percent of those available,” and that we should of course strive to hire the top qualified available people for all our positions, I also believe that people come in all shapes and sizes and finding top quality is not a one size fits all (i.e. like a caste system), rather we need to find and match the right person to the right job.

Many will say, that prior successful behavior is the key determinate to future success, however, if your not failing, your probably not trying hard enough—so I think we need to look at people as a composite of who they are, what they’ve done, what their potential is, where do their interests lie, is it a god fit, and so on. It’s more than just are they “top 10” (grades, schools, appraisals, etc.). Remember the movie Rocky, he didn’t start out a top 10, but ended up the world champion.

In the end, we are all a lot more than our career histories and reference checks, and timing and fit have a huge impact on whether we are successful in a particular endeavor.

I know that I have certainly seen top performers from one job “fall on their face” in another job that was just wrong for them, and vice versa, people who failed miserably in one job (due to a misfit in culture, organization, boss, duties, etc.), thrive when they are in a better suited opportunity.

So Topgrading’s scientific approach to hiring has the potential of missing the finer point that people are complex organisms. The quantifiable approach is helpful, but only when coupled with qualitatively looking at the fit being the particular organization, job, person, place, and time.

Moreover, in searching only for the A players, Topgrading has the potential to perpetuate the way of thinking that we must only look for those who are robotic, conformists that get the best grades and appraisals, rather than breaking the mold and looking for those that are non-conformist, innovative, and put everything into question. Who will reward someone like that? Not everyone. So in some cases, it may actually be the A players that are the worst players—it actually depends on the situation.

In summary, I would say yes, Topgrade to do due diligence as a leader and manager in looking for and hiring the best talent, but recognize that people have ups and downs—sometimes due to the job, sometimes due to factors completely outside the job, and sometimes its their own undoing—but don’t expect that every one you hire will be perfect, are you?