Human Resources Today

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Where Business Meets Behavior

Earlier in my career, I tried to explain my fascination with work to people. I started working at 14 and had more jobs by 22 than most people have their entire lives. I blame my parents, partly.  They made the mistake of teaching me the value of hard work. What I started to understand--as I moved from lifeguard to customer service representative to telemarketer--that the success of the work we do is based on how we behave and interact with each other. 'Where Business Meets Behavior' became my personal tagline but I've been struggling to describe why I live at that intersection for many years.  Purzue recently gave me the chance to share my obsession with all things talent.  Here's an excerpt:

Purzue: Many businesses search for the perfect candidate. How important is workforce diversification?

Susan: Once you know a candidate can fit the role and is a fit for the culture you want to consider the differences they bring. This is my perspective on diversity–what uniquenesses can a candidate add to the company, the workforce and the team once they demonstrate fit.  Specifically, companies should focus on diversity of thought and perspective, diversity in behaviors–how a candidate gets work done, and a diversity of experience across industries. Some companies are so focused on hiring from competitors rather than recognizing they can often learn more and diversify the thought process by thinking outside their industry and competitive set. There’s no perfect candidate. It’s who is right at this point in time and how can we find those people.

You can read the full interview here.



Stop Being Selfish: Doing Good Business Deeds

It's been a big year for me. Got engaged. Revamped my business plan. Pivoted the business. Got married. Took three weeks off for the first time in 10 years. It's this kind of year where you realize who people really are. Really.  I tried to ask for  help.  Sometimes it worked. More often, it didn't. Someone said to me recently: "you're really good at paying it forward and you're not so good at promoting yourself." I'll admit, I took that as a big compliment. I get more value from helping people than almost anything. I champion self-promotion to others in every way possible. I tell coaching clients to make big asks. I tell organizational clients to use multiple channels to promote their brands. But I don't do it so well myself.

In a year like I have had--both professionally and personally--I've been constantly surprised by people. And not always in a good way.  I don't help people because I want something in return. And I don't ask for help often. But this year I did. Multiple times. And the results, especially in business, were surprising.

Here's what I learned--it's so much easier to ignore than help. It's easy to ignore a voicemail, an email, a Facebook friend, a retweet request. If you turn a blind eye, you don't feel as badly. And that happens in business more often than we realize. There's a "me" mentality in business these days. People are selfish. They're prioritizing things in business based on a WIFM (what's in it for me) mentality.

There are tons of messages this season about helping others socially and economically. But what about in business?  How can we use the season to remember business?  Here are a few ideas:

1) Pay attention to your colleagues

I left my last job on December 31st last year. There were plenty of people in the office that day and yet I ate lunch alone. It would have been really awesome for  someone to notice I was feeling a bit down, nervous about the change to come.  Just someone noticing would have done wonders.

2) Promote a new business

Small business is the backbone of our economy. Go promote one!  It's incredibly hard to be an entrepreneur and those who are living the #startuplife will be so grateful for the small token of support.  Two start-ups I'm really proud of this holiday season? My friends Jamey Jeff and Scott Rothrock over at RemarkableHire (offering holiday discounts!), and the fabulous Lauren Thorp over at UmbaBox (can we say holiday shopping done?). Please check them both out.

3) Help a job-seeking friend

It's a tough time of year to be out of work. The good news? January and February are the biggest hiring months of the year. If you have job-seeking friends, send them a simple note: "I know you're still looking for work so I thought I'd can I help?"

4) Talk about and really thank the people who've helped you

Last year I blogged about the people who helped me in 2011. The post itself didn't get a ton of views, but it was really cathartic for me to think about the year, and who was so influential for me personally, and then thank them in a public way.  It's also incredibly interesting to see how those relationships change and evolve. You can learn a great deal about people that way.

5) Make an introduction

Introduce two people out of the blue who could really benefit from knowing each other.  There's a real value from getting a surprise introduction and that sort of altruism can lead to really valuable business relationships.

So stop being business selfish. Do something for someone in the spirit of the holiday season.

As for me, I'm far from perfect, in business and in life. I can learn too, help more and be a better business neighbor. So in that vein, what can I do for you? Let me know.  I also bet I can predict who will retweet and share this blog post.



College Football is a Brand Business

If you know me, you know that I love (American) football season. I grew up in Philadelphia where I think the hospitals do something to newborns to make them like football.  I did my undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech and it just made my fan status rise. There's nothing like jumping up and down to Metallica as your team enters the stadium. But people, it's a business and the 2011 BCS bowl game selections remind us of that more than ever. I've seen the word travesty more than once used to describe what happened last night.  Yes, Virginia Tech and Michigan were selected for the BCS bid over higher ranked Kansas State and Boise State.  Am I beyond excited. Yep. Did they both deserve it? Maybe, maybe not.

My sister and brother-in-law both went to Michigan. My Dad's from Michigan. I'm surrounded by it. And while I'll never be a fan of the maize and blue, I've been waiting for this match-up forever (mostly to shut up my brother in law, but that's another story).

The deal is, these are two teams with two of the best brands in college football, hands down.  Virginia Tech's been in the postseason every year since 1993 and it's stadium was voted by ESPN as the number one scariest place to play.  Michigan has the biggest college football stadium in the country which it regularly fills. It's also got the highest winning percentage in college football history.

The bottom line is we're good, and we fill stadiums.

The BCS isn't fair. It's a business. Capitalism people. And whether it's right or wrong, we're fans of this business that's evolved.

You see, brands drive business. And you've got two iconic brands here.  Virginia Tech fans and Michigan fans are rabid and have been for a long time. They wear the team colors to the game (not stilettos) and their fans are as loyal and travel wherever the team goes.  That loyalty means every Sugar Bowl seat will be filled and merchandise sales will skyrocket.  It's also gold for TV and advertisers.

There's also the PR factor. Articles about the "travesty" are dominating my feeds today. But it's press, and promotion, and we're all talking about it.

My Michigan-laden family will argue that Michigan has a better brand, but I can't tell you that. What I can tell you is that I've watched Virginia Tech INTENTLY build its brand since I started there in (ahem) 1993. Its brand is bolstered by a coach who's been almost entirely scandal-free (save one football-track team fight) in his 25 years, fans who are known for being well-behaved at games, and we have the nation's longest winning streak of 10+ win seasons in all of College FBS.

I'll be the first to admit, I hate the BCS. I've always advocated for a playoff. But this is a business.  And business likes strong brands. Strong brands mean money.

As I type this, I'm using my Mac. It's not the best computer and has a low market share in business sales, but Apple's won the brand war--and it's not just about sales.

So the Sugar Bowl 2012 may seem bitter to KState and Boise State fans---for that I'm sorry. But the fact is, we're BCS ranked and we have a great brand. And until the system changes, that's the system. And this year, that's a sweet victory for this Hokie.