Colleagues That Care

I loved this from a colleague the other day.


When things got a little tough in the office, I came in the next day to 6 smiley faces lined up on my desk. 


This is something that I really appreciate from some people:


Their HUMANITY.


Even though my colleague faced the same tough day, she was thoughtful of others and the impact on them (not herself). 


There are some amazing people out there, and I thank G-d for putting them in my orbit. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sing Louder

So I heard this interesting saying the other day:

If you can’t sing better, sing louder!


It’s funny that people actually do that type of thing all the time. 


My colleagues boss told someone I know: 

You’re a fake it till you make it type of person


This can apply to all sort of activities and not just singing.


— Public speaking, your job, sports, cooking, etc. 


Often, people have to do things that they really just don’t do very well.


– Maybe it’s not their forte. 


– Maybe they’re just not into it. 


But rather than call it for what it is.


Instead, they pretend and make a show out of it. 


They exaggerate what they think they are supposed to do. 


Or they try to compensate with something tangential. 


Hey, maybe no will notice.


But people eventually catch-on and do know when you’re lip-singing and faking your way through or just screaming out the lyrics to mask how horrible you singing is. 


Better to be honest and admit what you can and can’t do.


Take some classes or get some training.


Practice, practice, practice. 


Or even consider doing something else that you do enjoy and are good it. 


Either way, you don’t want to be the one singing loudly their whole life.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal. Note: this blog is not connected to this or any particular musician)

STEM Lost And Found

Discovery

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So this was a shirt of a local college campus that I took yesterday. 

It shows aspirations to be all sorts of things…from a doctor and lawyer to a cowgirl and princess. 

However, in this list of  22 professional aspirations there is a noticeable lack of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 

Yes, doctors do have to know science, but not necessarily the type that opens up the world of discovery and innovation like a researcher or scientist!

STEM are the fields that over and over again have been reported as grossly lacking in this country. 

America Desperately Needs More STEM Students” (Forbes 2012)

Americas Lack of STEM Students is Bad News For National Security” (US News and World Report June 2015)

Another article in IEEE Spectrum (August 2013) claims that while the “STEM crisis is a myth,” still “we should figure out how to make all children literate in the sciences, technology, and the arts.”

From my experience, while I certainly get to see a lot of awesome technical talent, I also see and hear too many moans and groans when it comes to a lot of basic skills in STEM.

One colleague said the other day (and in a public forum), “Oh, don’t depend on my math skills for that!”

Others that I know have difficulty with everything from simple spreadsheets, backing up their computer files, or even balancing a checkbook, and other such fundamental skills. 

Growing up with a dad who was a math whiz, a sister with a PhD in bio-medical science, and me majoring in accounting, business, and later diving into IT, I learned to appreciate, on many fronts, how important basic STEM skills are, and I in turn used to drill my own kids with workbooks and worksheets–and they perhaps at the time resented me for it, and maybe only later in life, started to love me for caring and trying.

In school, I found a lot of the education in STEM to be lacking coming across too often as esoteric and disappointingly devoid of day-to-day meaning and application in the real world for the regular people not building bridges or spaceships, so I certainly understand the frustration of young people who while they may be interested in pursuing these critical areas of education, may be turned off at the way it’s being presented to them. 

We need great teachers who not only know the material, but love what they do and know how to make the material come alive to their students. Also, we need jobs that pay commensurate to the value of the talent and not nickle and dime the developers, researchers, and engineers while lining the pockets of the executive suite. Finally, we should focus the hearts and minds of our people on the real meaning of the work they do and how it helps people and society, and not just on what often comes across as isolated tasks or the organization’s free dry cleaning and all you can eat buffet lunches. 😉

(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)

Homesick or Heresick

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It’s funny, my dad used to tell a joke about not being homesick, but being heresick (wherever that “here” may be for somebody–they just want to get out of there)


Recently, at work though, I have found there are many people that don’t want to go home at the end of the day–and it’s not because they always still have so much work to do (although sometimes certainly they do). 


Yesterday, I asked someone at work–on New Years eve–what they were still doing there late in the day.


Someone with a fairly new baby at home, jokingly winced at me, and said something about it sometimes being better to stay a little later at work, because when he/she gets home, they start all over again with the spouse and kid(s)–like so many of us. 


It’s strange to me, because I love and value home. 


And it’s like the old rhetorical question about do you work to live or live to work. 


Just yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a book review about someone who opined about how home is where the heart is–and in anthropological terms–it’s always been that way!


Home is our sanctuary, for ourselves and our beloved family, it is where we are “king of the castle,” and where we do everything from shelter, comfort, reproduce, share, and generally love and care for each other. 


Yet, back to work, many people these days don’t want to go home to crying babies and dirty diapers, nagging spouses and the evening fights, encroachment on private spaces, and errands galore (it’s a 2nd job almost)–cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and bills–or even just plain loneliness there. 


So people hang out at work–they schmooze, they snack, they Internet, they may go to workout, or they dilly and dally–just so they don’t have to go home. 


As someone recently said to me, “It’s quiet. I like it there. Nobody bothers me there.”


They are homesick–not missing and yearning to be home, but some almost to the point of sick at the thought of going home. 


Work or anywhere else then becomes a refuge from the home that home is supposed to be. 


Sometimes it’s just a temporary thing at home, sometimes it’s more ongoing or permanent.


Everyone has a different home–for everyone it should be a true home. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Flying Garbage

Flying Garbage
Thought this was an interesting way to get the garbage to the curbside truck.



This guy is standing in the yard of this brownstone building in the leftover snow.



Almost like an Olympian, he is picking up bag after bag of garbage and tossing them at least a dozen feet (or more).



The garbage in these big hefty bags are sailing through the air to his partner standing by the truck in the street. 



This guy must be getting quite some exercise not only lifting, but also throwing these bags all day long.



And he actually seemed to be having some fun doing it too.



Like my wife said, “What if you get hit by the garbage…ew.



Fly garbage, fly! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Painted Sky

It was a beautiful walk in Rock Creek Park (even with my ongoing limp post surgery). 
 
Coming down the trail, I saw this amazing horse with a mounted police officer, and he was nice enough to stop and let me pet the horse and take this photo with them.
 
It was a truly beautiful animal and it was so cool seeing them on patrol for all the people taking advantage of the great outdoors here. 
 
In a fantasy type of way, I thought what a dream job (not high-tech, but oh so much in tune with nature and helping people)!
 
Anyway, this time of year, it was really lush green in the park and pretty peaceful. 
 
It was also interesting today visiting my dad and sitting outside on the deck with him, he looks up at the sky and says rhetorically, yet so innocently, “Who painted the sky so beautiful?”
 
I thought wow–what an amazing and poetic way to think of the hand of G-d and all that he has created for our benefit. 
 
Now, I think to myself outside, how our physical reality is just a manifestation of G-d’s artistry, imagination, and kindness, and it makes it all even better.
 
(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)