Legacy

I’m just getting back into the swing of things after enjoying a week with my amazing wife wandering through New England. We did more of an “off the beaten path” vacation with a mix of historical sites, lighthouses, touring towns and just soaking in a different culture. One place we visited was Concord, Massachusetts. Yes, it was interesting to see the site where the Revolutionary War began, but it wasn’t what I’ll remember most.

In the heart of this quaint town is a cemetery. It’s called the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. What makes it stand out is something called Author’s Ridge where several noted American authors are buried including Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. We walked through the winding paths until we saw the headstones of these memorable folks.

Standing there under the trees while a light breeze blew by was moving. I just stood there taking it all in.  I wondered if any of them thought that 150 plus years after their passing that anyone would be visiting their graves. I doubt it. However, I do believe that they wanted to share the creativity and thoughts within their minds. I believe they wanted to capture the world around them as they saw it. Their legacy is still read and studied throughout high schools and colleges around the world. I think they’d be somewhat surprised to know that their written word would have such a lasting effect.

I blog to share my voice, as do many others. I want to capture the world around me and help shape a view point that runs counter to the culture that continues to want to tear things down instead of build things up. I don’t pretend to think that my words will be remembered or celebrated 150 years from now. In today’s society, it’s rare if a blog post lasts more than a few days.

That’s why I want to encourage you to do something different than what I see happening.

First of all, if you feel you have something to share – write. Start a blog for whatever you want to put out there. It could be about HR, business, your hobby – literally anything at all. I know there are people who say that there are already too many blogs, but I don’t buy it. Blogs are a way to communicate. It’s worse to keep it in. Give it some thought before you jump in, but give it a shot.

Secondly, share the blogs of others. The authors I visited didn’t write to just hear themselves. They wanted others to experience their work. I see most people write their blog and then share it over many social media forums. I think that’s wonderful to see. However, I think it’s only a start. Sharing the writing of others has more reach, impact and gives things more life than only posting your own blogs.

This practice also runs counter to the norm, but it makes sense to me. I enjoy the work of others and want everyone to learn from them as well as connect with them. I think the way to break the “echo chamber” is to keep sharing the blogs that I read and not just my own.

There are many facets to one’s legacy. I know that writing is one way to establish yours. So, start composing and then start sharing. Let’s see where it goes. One thing for sure is that it has a better chance to last !!

IRL !!

I’ve been active in social media for over a decade now, and I’ve done it intentionally. It’s amazing to me in a world where social media forums are methods to communicate literally around the world that there are those who still see it as a “waste of time.”

Do you honestly feel that connecting with other humans is wasting your time? That is hard for me to comprehend because I truly think that we’re wired to be connected to other people. I don’t think that we’re meant to be isolated or alone. I know that I have an abnormal perspective on meeting others. I get geeked with every single new person I encounter. I don’t mean to project my approach on others because I know it’s not how most others see meeting people.

The point I’d like for you to consider is that when you have a chance to meet others – that you understand it makes you both better for having that encounter.

This is something that is lost by HR pros because we buy into the myth that it’s so important to “get things done” more than any other factor of their job. The same is true with social media. We talk about the people who share their ideas through posts, blogs, and podcasts. Yes, the content is important, but in the end, we tie it to the people who create the content. What is funny about all of the people we follow and like is that the number one thing they enjoy – is meeting each other IRL (in real life). It’s true more that people are willing to admit. Behind the avatar, people want to get to know each other as people.

This past weekend a good friend from my past, Curtis Midkiff, made IRL come to life !! Southwest Airlines opened some new routes at the airport in Cincinnati and he coordinated so that two of my great friends, Dave Ryan and Joey Price, flew in from Chicago and Baltimore respectively to commemorate this event. We saw each other and greeted each other with hugs (because I’m a notorious hugger) and caught up on life and family. Our time in person mattered so much more than just following each other online.

In less than two weeks, I’ll be at #SHRM17 with Dave and Joey as well as other social media folks. I can’t wait to see them all !! There will also be 15,000 other folks at the conference and it will include known friends and friends to be made. I want you to know that if you’re attending the SHRM Annual Conference, I really want to meet you IRL !!

Remember this above everything else . . .

The people you meet in person will be the BEST resource you’ll ever get at a conference !!

So, take the time to with people in person and on purpose. You have the chance to do this every day in your role and when you attend events. Make the step forward to make friends and establish relationships. Trust me, when you do this, you will become a better HR pro and, even more importantly, a better human !!

You Have A Choice !!

Have you been watching social media lately? Even if you aren’t on the forums, the media makes sure to share tweets from political candidates. There’s one consistent feel to the majority of what is being shared – negativity.

Honestly, most of what we consume is negative. We either swim in it willingly, or we get frustrated because it seems that we can’t escape it. What is ironic is that we’re expected to make a decision on things like an election by all sides slinging mud at each other. It isn’t only politics. Stories of the failures of others makes up the majority of our “news,” and we don’t cover all items – just the ones that are the grimiest.

A great friend of mine and I had an exchange this week on social media where he stated that he might just stop participating on the forums because all he sees is negativity. It was a solid observation, but I jumped in and challenged him. I agree that there is so much darkness that is around us, but I think you can be genuinely positive.

choiceYou have a choice !!

One of the choices you have, which my friend shared, is to step away and stop being active on social media. I’m floored by the number of my peers who used to encourage and espouse the value of social media who are now silent. I miss hearing their perspective and insights. I respect this choice, however I would much rather hear from them.

Another choice is how you use social media. Every time you get on a social media platform, you have a moment before you post. It may be a brief moment, but it exists. Instead of instantly lashing out and reacting to what someone says, step back and think. Then respond.

I don’t feel comfortable in throwing out extreme views, although I understand why people share them. When you’re as emotionally vehement in return, why are you surprised when people dig in on their sides of an argument?

When I respond, I choose to be positive. It’s not hard for me to do, but it goes against the tide of the majority of messages. I think that going against the flow is what is needed – especially on these forums. You have to trust me that I’m not naive or sheltered on what is happening in the world today. However, adding to the negativity of a situation only continues to pile on and drive it further down.

People are looking for an alternative voice, and that voice is positivity. I’m not talking about puppies and unicorns. I am talking about seeing what’s good in others and how to arrive at solutions. I am talking about having discussions, and even disagreements, on items. I am talking about lifting others up to encourage them and show them that they can contribute, add value and succeed.

This is the choice I make when I use Social Media. Will you join me in going against the flow? I hope you do. You just have to make a choice.

Be An Influencer !!

I’ve been active and visible on Social Media forums for many years now. I enjoy them immensely and find them to be great methods of connecting with others across the globe, a simple mechanism to share the work of others and an overall great way to communicate. If you’ve been out here for any length of time, you see lists. The lists have great intent, but often bring up harsh emotions.

People struggle with lists if they aren’t included, and that reaction is senseless. One of the serious downsides to social media is that we are so fixed on wanting to see our name, face, and posts. We measure and obsess over the number of shares, likes, retweets and followers we have. It’s odd because they are just ways of measurement. How can something not have value if you’re not included ??

I understand that many folks use social media to conduct business, make sales and establish/maintain their brand. I’m all for it, but it gets way too much of our attention and it seems one-sided. A great example of this where you see people really jump is when people are considered “influencers” in these lists.

I have a feeling that the moment influencer lists are published, the doubt, skepticism and scoffing ensues. When it does, it’s brutal and unfortunate. I’m sure when people were compiling their lists, they had the hope that who they listed would be geeked and share that they were included. That happens, but the wave of sentiment against the lists far exceeds those who are excited.

InfluenceThe overall problem to all of this is that I think we’ve absolutely missed what influencing others means. It has so little to do with social media, but that’s where we feel it should be. Influence naturally lies within all of us. The question is whether we recognize and own it or not.

You see, in HR, we are rarely alone. We swim in a sea of people. Unfortunately, I hear too many of my peers complain about this constant reality. We miss the opportunity to truly “influence” people because we tend to down play our interactions with others. Instead, we give our attention to the situation or problem we’re addressing, and then coming up with some rock solid solution.

If the only reason you’re in HR is to solve other’s problems, change occupations.

People aren’t problems. We may all have problems and struggles in some fashion, but to immediately categorize someone as someone to fix, you have a negative view of humans.

Influence can be, and should be, positive !! When it’s used for negative reasons, it is often short lived but it also can do incredible damage. You have a choice to not allow influence to be used in that way. It’s incredibly difficult to be a positive influence in today’s workplace and society. However, it is what we are called to do.

You have the chance to influence every, single person you come across. Not one person should pass you by without you interacting with them. Not one. That may seem daunting, but it’s very doable with some effort and the desire to be intentional. Something as simple as a smile, a “Hello”, and the willingness to stay and listen to how they respond, may seriously make all the difference they needed that day.

That small action is more influential than any list on social media EVER will be !! The chance to be an influencer is available to you and it’s time you step in. People need your influence, and I can’t wait to see how you positively impact and change the lives of those around you !!

 

Stay True !! #TimSackettDay

I remain fascinated by the world of Social Media and how people in HR approach it. The majority of people are observers who may take in content every once in awhile, or venture out and tweet every so often. When HR conferences happen, people jump in full force and set up social media accounts and they are very active throughout the event. Then they fade back into the mix of the majority.

Staying visible and relevant in social media over time is tough because it takes endless energy, creativity and a willingness to keep the fire burning. I haven’t seen many examples of people who do this well with one exception – The Recruiting Animal !! He was a social media pioneer and he has stayed true to who he is from the minute he burst onto the scene.

Recruiting AnimalIf you aren’t connected to The Animal (@animal on Twitter), you should be. However, be warned that you better have thick skin. If I had to describe Animal it would be “what boundaries” ?? He has a long running blog talk radio show and he is very upfront with his guests that this won’t be a soft, self-serving interview where you both stroke each other about how awesome you are. He cuts to the quick and expects you to be prepared. Some people are taken aback by this approach, but Animal doesn’t sway. He stays true to his approach, and it’s incredibly refreshing !!

Social media has become more about “look at me, look at me” than “look at others”. Animal has always looked out for the profession and has move recruiting forward more than others. His brash style runs counter to many folks who love hanging in the middle of the road.

I’ve chatted with Animal once in awhile and we’re connected on Social Media platforms all over. He was (and is) an inspiration and a model to me because I dig his authenticity. I wanted to reach out and connect with the person behind the ventriloquist dummy avatar, and I’m glad I did !! He’s a thoughtful, passionate and insightful person. His desire to keep people alert and moving is needed in HR, recruiting and the profession as a whole !!

One of the best ties I have with Animal is that he, John Sumser, Sylvia Dahlby and I share eclectic and vast music tastes. On a regular basis we share our “finds” on twitter under the #HRMusicShare tag. I look forward to seeing what Animal digs up and make sure that I reciprocate.  We haven’t grown this little faction of the hashtag. We’ve stayed true to how it organically started, and I dig that !!

I want to wish Animal a happy #TimSackettDay !! You rock my friend and I appreciate you modeling how to be authentic and genuine. I have a bucket list wish to be on your blog talk radio show sometime. And trust me, I’ll be prepared !!

Here’s a find for you that I hope you enjoy on your day !! Always stay true to yourself my friend !!

Be a Student !!

I’m a big proponent of Social Media. The various forums give us a variety of ways to communicate, connect and learn from each other. It can be overwhelming at times because it comes at us from every angle and during every moment of the day.

What intrigues me though is how people approach Social Media. I find that most people present ideas, opinions and perspectives that I would not have necessarily come up with myself. I enjoy looking at the material I see as a way to build the amount of knowledge that we can use.

One thing that is challenging in how people use Social Media is when people are critical. Not in the way of poking at the status quo, but in the way where their style, or form of sharing. is to tear everything down. There are no areas that are off limits and the more critical the better. Very few solutions are offered and it is really disheartening when I see the tone of blogs tear people down.

I value hearing from others who don’t look at things the way I do. The fact is this happens every single day all around me. I don’t need Social Media to get that. I do think that Social Media has a “critical” feel to it because we spend the majority of our days being critical of each other and the experiences we have. This isn’t to point fingers. It’s an observation and one I’m guilty of as well.

It’s exhausting and not productive. When you think that you’re spending so much time being critical when you could take a different approach. I heard a piece of advice this week that hit me directly and made me want to change. Here it is . . .

Be a student and not a critic.

LearnThe thought is to learn from others instead of critiquing what they say, or who they are. This may seem passive, but I don’t think so. Hearing other’s points of view does not necessarily mean you agree with them. However, it also doesn’t mean that you tear what they say apart only because it differs from your beliefs.

This is essential in HR. One of the biggest roles you have on a daily basis is being a counselor. You are in a position where you hear the good, the bad and the ugly of people’s lives. If you take the posture of being critical, you will always see the dark side of what you’re facing. You can’t help it because you assume that the worst will surely occur.

You have a choice. You can listen, synthesize and respond to people, or you can critique, judge and react. This is true for all people in organizations and in life. I know that even in writing this people will be critics. My choice is to be the student.

I’d rather learn from you, get to know you and have a relationship with you. Even though our thoughts and opinions may differ, I can still learn. This week I ask you to stop being a critic, and start being a student.

The Wisdom of Tide Pools !!

I am a big fan of Social Media. I use most of the well known forums liked Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. I dabble in Instagram and Pinterest, and am always interested in watching other platforms to see what they offer. I think they’re an incredible way to communicate with people globally and they provide avenues to connect that we didn’t have in the past.

I know there’s a negative side to Social Media and the way I look at it is just like all areas of life. If you want to find the dark side of something, you’re sure to find it. I choose not to – ever. I use the great wisdom of Eric Idle from Monty Python – “Always look on the bright side of life !!” (double exclamation points are my addition, always wanted to be a Python)

The biggest challenge for me is taking note of how I use my time on Social Media. It’s easy to get bombarded with friend requests, likes, invitations, retweets, etc. It can grab your attention and take it away from other things. Let me share a story . . .

This past week I was on vacation with my family in San Diego. It was our first time there and we rented a condo that sat up high enough on a hill to see the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean. We took in the phenomenal San Diego Zoo our first full day and I took tons of pictures of the animals and the park. The second day we went to Coronado Island and the beach. Again, incredible and tons of pics. I felt compelled to post a few !! The third day we ventured to Cabrillo National Monument which is a National Park.

Tide PoolWe decided to see the tide pools before the monument, lookout and light house. To get to the tide pools, you hike up and down the cliffs alongside the Pacific as the waves do their best to erode the shoreline every few seconds. It was physically challenging, but I wouldn’t have missed it. The views were panoramic and inspiring. We took our time and were careful as we worked our way over to the area where the pools were formed inside a rock ledge. As the kids and my wife were taking pics of their own, I leaned over one of the pools and said to my wife, “Debbie, you have to see this !! It’s beautiful !!”

And . . . then I slipped and slid down into the tide pool. I panicked and tried to push off the bottom, but never felt it. I was up to my chest (and I’m 6’4″) when I grabbed hold and pulled myself out of the tide pool. The kids yelled “Phone !! Camera !!” I yanked them out of my cargo shorts, but they were blank, black rectangles. My “swim” took less than 30 seconds.

I was safe but drenched. Everyone around asked if I was okay, and I was thankful I was. I’ve seen many posts from my friends about the need to be unplugged from Social Media and I agree with them. I’ve taken breaks, but I’ve never had one taken for me. It seems that my slip broke the chain I didn’t know I had.

When we got back on the trail to see the rest of the National Park, Debbie reminded me that I lost a phone and camera, but she could have lost me. I was only a few feet from dropping down into the ocean. A sober reminder.

The break was what I needed because it was life before Social Media and technology. The rest of the trip was better than the beginning !! We saw one of my past Eagle Scouts who is training with his brother at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to try and make the Archery Team for the 2016 games in Rio. We climbed the California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man and saw the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, and we enjoyed delightful food and picturesque sunrises and sunsets.

I was missing the reason that I post, blog, tweet, etc. in the first place and that’s the people in my life. I learned a great lesson from that tide pool. It’s not the technology that’s a problem, it’s how I choose to use it.

I plan to take this lesson to heart from now on.

 

You’re Involved !!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the SHRM Regional Business Meeting with all of the State Council Directors from around the country.  It is one of my favorite events to attend in my role with the MAC.  It’s a fave because the group of volunteer leaders that attend this are “all in” !! They help provide direction for their State Councils as well as the SHRM HR Chapters throughout their State.

There’s real value when you’re around people who share the same experiences you are having.  This year the entire event had a positive vibe because people came wanting to have their voices heard, share their ideas and opinions with each other and the SHRM Staff, and see movement.  There was definite movement and I’m geeked to see the Society listen and act.

A quick side note . . .

If you aren’t a member of SHRM, or a local chapter, and you’re in HR, you should reconsider.  Getting involved yourself is how things get better.  The more you’re engaged, the more you can share your insight, advice and experiences.

We had a great example of how being involved helps you both professionally and personally.

One of the presentations was with the SHRM Public Affairs folks about Social Media. It’s funny, but as someone who’s fairly active in social media forums, you fall into the trap that others are as involved at the same level you are.  I know that isn’t the case, but you lose sight of this.

There’s been a real wall put up by those of us in HR involved in social media pointing towards those who aren’t as active.  We’ve done one of two things – we’ve either tried to engage and embrace them, or we chide them for not being as “fully” involved as we are.  Social media should NEVER be an obstacle to HR.

90-9-1 RuleAndrew Morton, who heads up the Social Media efforts at SHRM, gave the attendees a refreshing and different perspective.  He told us about the 90-9-1 rule of social interactions in communities and forums.  It states that 90% of people on Social Media observe (lurk) as their level of involvement in social media. 9% comment (edit) the posts and content they see out on these forums and 1% create content.  He used a great video (The First Follower) to make his point.

His contention, and I absolutely agree with him, is that it’s great to be in the 99% when it comes to Social Media because you are still involved !!  You don’t have to be the 1% who creates and shares content.  It’s a misconception and shouldn’t keep you from being active in the 99%.

The video talks about the Lone Nut and his First Follower.  It shows that there’s more power in stepping out and connecting where you feel comfortable. You may always stay in the 90%.  You may move to the 9%.  And, who knows, you might be one of those lone nuts who creates and shares content !!

The key is to remember is that you ARE involved already !!  So, relish that, leverage that and make social media a part of how you engage, learn and advance HR !!

 

The Real #FF !!

As 2014 draws to a close, we take time to reflect on what was and what will possibly be for the coming year.

For those of you who are active on Twitter, there has been a hashtag called #FF which stands for “Follow Friday.”  It’s where people recommend others that are on Twitter for you to consider following.  When Twitter was in its infancy, this was huge every Friday and you’d see tweets flying so quickly that your head would spin.  People were excited to connect and see who else was out on the social platform.

Inevitably, you’d see the same names week after week because, like any system, there is a bell curve of activity.  There are many who are very visible, active and they do a great job of posting their material and the material of others.  There are also many who “lurk” and watch what people write and post.  Nothing wrong with lurking because I’m assuming that you are trying to see what has value to you and this allows you to filter what information you like and avoid that which you don’t.

There is also a significant group of people who dabble in social media because someone encouraged them to, but they lose interest quickly. For whatever reason, it just doesn’t capture enough of their attention to merit ongoing effort.  They may show up in a #FF once in a while, but they rarely reciprocate.

Friends and FamilyThis isn’t specifically a post about Social Media though.  You see this past week during the holidays was filled with the Real FF – Friends and Family !!  People gathered from all over to make sure to see each other and catch up.  These times of seeing people in person has immeasurable value.  It’s great to hear new stories or relive old memories surrounded by warmth and laughter.

In my case, these gatherings are also generational.  There are Grandparents, Aunt, Uncles, and cousins of various ages and from various backgrounds.  They live in urban settings, rural settings and suburban settings.  It’s a broad spectrum that continues to grow as the families grow.

Getting together with people in person is energizing for me. To take the time to get to connect with friends is something I look forward to every time I get to go to an event.  I am a big proponent of the #FF movement on Twitter and try my best to keep active because I believe these electronic introductions can lead to meaningful connections and friendships.

Going into to 2015, I hope to make more of the #FF that I do socially come to life in person.  I believe that the more intentional we are in making these connections become a reality, we experience that “friends and family” high of getting to know one another.

So, be on the lookout !!  I plan to make sure to rekindle existing friendships as well as develop new ones.  I hope that you are one of those #FF folks who truly becomes a friend.  Don’t be surprised when I find you !!  It will be magnificent !!

An Oasis in the Desert !!

As I sit to type my weekly post, I am overlooking a beautiful mountain range that encircles the Las Vegas strip.  It’s my first time to visit Vegas, and I find it to be an incredibly intriguing human experiment !!  (That will be for a later post to be sure.)

One thing that strikes me though is that in the midst of a desert sits an endless series of skyscrapers, neon lights, constant movement and a throng of people taking in absolutely everything their senses can endure.  It’s like an oasis filled with people searching for something to refresh them.

After finishing the Ohio SHRM State Conference, I noted another oasis in the midst of a desert. During the hustle and bustle of the sessions, vendor hall, food, SHRM Store and entertainment, people are looking for something to refresh themselves professionally.  You see Social Media usage jump from literal non-existence to a robust life because people have to tell others what they’re experiencing.  It’s great to see people embrace social media, even if it’s for this short burst.  Ironically, there’s still a movement out there at conferences that wants to squish and limit social media.  In fact, one of my friends was attending another State Conference said that they had speakers (who weren’t on social media themselves) encouraging HR to not allow social media.  That narrow look at things kills me.

You see, I think social media is more than a platform for exposure.  Sure, that’s what many people use it for.  However, I think social media is the best method to connect, communicate and curate.  There is a hole in HR people.  They want to connect and become this amazing tribe, but they don’t know how.  It starts to bubble at HR events, but then it dissipates as soon as the event concludes and “real” work starts again.

OasisWe continue to compartmentalize social media as something that exists “out there” and is “for others.”  I’d like to see that change.  To me the first primary function of social media is to connect.  Before social media, our HR sphere was limited geographically both in how far we were willing to go and who we met at traditional gatherings.  Social media allows us to meet others who do what we do and face the same challenges and opportunities we do.  You aren’t alone !!  This is one facet of the oasis that is within your reach.

The next is communication.  Now we have the ability to reach out with the touch of an “enter” button to talk to anyone.  We have no reason to say that resources aren’t accessible.  People want to help each other, but YOU need to be the one who reaches out.  Sitting by your mobile device hoping someone will ask you for your keen and sage advice isn’t going to happen.  Reach out first.  It’s not as risky as you think.

The last piece is curation and it’s something that needs to start happening more.  This is more geared to my friends who are already well-versed and comfortable in the social media space.  People want to hear your voice and the voices of others.  I appreciate that people fill social media with content, but I see most people publish and not push.  By “push” I mean sharing the great content you see to others.  When we get caught up in analytics and how our numbers are running, I feel that we want see how our personal social media brand is doing more than making the profession stronger.

Be the oasis !!  Get information out to people and gather them together so that they are renewed and equipped to be able to do the good work of HR in their corner of the HR universe.  I want you to join me in making social media a platform that is more than just a series of announcements !!

People in HR are seeking the oasis.  Let’s start meeting there.  The desert isn’t really where need to be.  HR practitioners want to gather and come together.  Join me in making this happen !!