Work Place Disruption – What’s New

Blink:

As vaccination rates rise and COVID-19 hopefully begins to taper off, companies are currently being challenged to reopen their offices. How is it going? Time for an update.

Read On:

For starters, a significant byproduct of the pandemic was 47 million Americans hastily quit their jobs. This sudden shift of jobs was labeled the “Great Resignation.” A nationwide Harris Poll survey conducted at the end of March with USA Today revealed a high level of dissatisfaction among workers and employers.  By the numbers:

  • One in five workers in the past two years who quit their jobs and switched during the “Great Resignation” regret their move and are already looking for a new job – 30% were surprised about what their new jobs entailed, 24% indicated they missed the culture of their previous job while another 24% admitted they failed to weigh the pros and cons before making a shift.
  • Only 26% like their jobs enough to stay.
  • Some employers in numerous human resource surveys have acknowledged they were too quick to hire, thus find the right fit for each job resulting in burnout for new employees failing to adapt and fulfill their new job responsibilities. Note: A Gallup survey indicated that only 12% of employees felt they were prepared for the onboarding process of their new job.

Secondly, a major issue now surfacing in the workplace is the inflated costs associated with the daily routine of R.T.O. (return to office). At the beginning of April, consumer prices were 8.5 percent higher than they were the previous year – overall the fastest 12-month inflation rate since 1981. Two areas workers are feeling the pinch were rising gasoline prices for commuters and “lunchflation” – increased food prices (sandwiches and salads) further compounded by the increased cost of iced lattes or the average morning cup of coffee.

Finally, the future of flexible workplace models is still in flux. McKinsey & Company conducted a survey and fortified hybrid work is popular among a majority of respondents – more than four out of five preferred retaining hybrid work going forward, plus two out of three employees who preferred hybrid work would seek other opportunities if asked to return to fully on-site. Employers still need to work out the dynamics of their hybrid work place models to offer the flexibility of enhancing work-life balance while providing a sense of inclusion – the rising demand employees covet for a sense of belonging and being appreciated.

Opinions Welcomed!

Miner or Farmer?

Blink:

I am an early adapter of LinkedIn. As I move in on almost two decades of being active on the networking and career development platform, I have noticed a change, diluted engagement and more self-promotion, thus I have begun re-evaluating my future level of participation/time commitment. My assessment?

Read On:

When I first joined LinkedIn, given I was self-employed, I thought it would be a great way to expand my business network band width beyond what I had already cultivated via attending conferences, speaking engagements and volunteering in my industry’s association. Being a networking aficionado, I quickly validated my hypothesis there are two types of networkers: strip miners (takers, what’s in it for me) and farmers (givers, who nurture their relationships by sharing information). The strip miners just wanted to collect LinkedIn connections without truly understanding the individual they were connecting with. On the other hand, farmers usually participated in discussion groups to engage with other professionals with similar backgrounds.

Initially I enjoyed my engagement with other LI members via comments, but quickly learned to be more select from a time management perspective. I found engagement usually in select discussion groups was a productive way to aggregate information. In addition, another way was joining discussion groups with a news feed. Before making a connection, I scheduled introductory/exploratory phone calls which was a great way to exchange mutual interests. The net result was I connected with some excellent people and achieved my objective of expanding my business network band width.

For me in the early 2010s, LI engagement morphed. First the platform eliminated news feeds so I no longer was able to aggregate information from my discussion groups. Then LinkedIn followed Facebook and added the Like button. Hitting the Like button might be good for metrics, but to me engagement became diluted. It made it too easy for people since they no longer had to take timeout to post a written comment.

Now I am noticing another change. Posts have become more personal as in people sharing TMI (e.g., spouses battling health issues like dementia), self-promotion about switching jobs or getting promoted, attending conferences, etc., etc., etc. There has been a significant increase in job recruitment which makes sense given LinkedIn was originally launched as a professional networking platform for finding a job, developing the professional relationships needed to succeed in one’s career. 

Frankly, what is now missing for me is aggregating relevant information for my business when I cruise LinkedIn and the potential for meaningful engagement with existing or potentially new connections. Candidly all the c’est moi self-promotion are broadcasts by miners. People just wanting to collect LinkedIn connections.

Opinions Welcome!

French Tape

Blink:

I have validated thanks to living in France, a roll of heavy duty, water proof, industrial strength (2”x 50 yards) tape, only comes in one color, red,

Read On:

When I made the decision to move to Cannes, I knew France had a reputation for being a nightmare for bureaucracy and red tape. Given I was not going to buy a piece of property or get a job, thus pay taxes, I assumed French bureaucracy could not be no better or worse than what I had encountered in the States, except for some extra stamped paperwork. My experiences to date:

  • Out of the gate when I attempted four times to open a local bank account without success, I realized this widespread belief of French red tape was real, not just an old, tired cliché/stereotype.
  • In early September 2020, I assembled the paperwork (a.k.a. dossier) needed to renew my long-stay Visa. I received notification my registered mail was delivered and signed for at the region’s prefecture. I was waiting for my renewal interview and then bam, France’s second COVID-19 lock down occurred, thus forced the prefecture to close. Post lock down I followed up several times and never heard back. I decided to hire a lawyer to expedite my request for a Visa extension. Still waiting!
  • Unfortunately, I experienced two medical emergencies and had to navigate the French medical system. The first was my mother suffered a stroke, survived, so I moved her into a special care residence. She did not have proper medical coverage so I worked with the hospital’s social services to get her temporary French social security to cover the cost of her lengthy hospital stay. Another dossier was required. Good thing I packed a copy of her birth certificate. Her assisted living residence made me sign/initial every page of a 22-page contract. I then had one personal medical emergency. I only had to work with my American medical insurance company to process my claim. Definitely less paperwork, one form and my hospital report, plus numerous exchanges “your call is very important to us, we are experiencing longer than normal call wait times as a result of COVID-19.”

My most recent red tape experience stirred me to write this post. My mom (102 and 3 months old) finally passed away 4/7/22. To abide by her wishes to be cremated and have her ashes scattered at one of her favorite local beaches in Théoule sur Mer, with the help of my family, the cremation paperwork was tedious. The funeral home required me to send in two handwritten letters from my family back in the states complete with copies of their passports authorizing my request. At the end of the funeral home rendezvous (a.k.a. French for meeting), I was told when I am ready to scatter my mom’s ashes, since she selected a public beach, I will need a special permit to rent a boat to take me to a point 500 meters off shore, approximately 5-1/2 football fields, to complete my task. I was speechless.

This much I do know: I will continue to utilize public transportation & UBER and not even entertain the idea of getting a French driver’s license in the near future.    

Rock Star A Cut Above

Blink:

I recently read this post by one of my LinkedIn connections. I’m hiring. I’ building out a ROCKSTAR Product Marketing Org. for a ROCKSTAR financial technology company. DM me if you are interested! As a result, I googled to explore the origins of the business buzz word Rock Star.

Read On:

My research disclosed the expression “like a rock star” surfaced at the turn of the millennium with the popularization of the rise of a “creative class”, people who were going to drive growth via innovation in the 21st century. Rock stars were no longer free-spirited musicians who fronted a famous band playing to sold out stadium crowds and selling millions of records in between drinking and drug binges, smashing guitars and occasionally tossing a TV out of their hotel room. The new rock stars of the 21st century were visionaries, super skilled workers. Human resource management coined the term to label people who were talented and had the expertise to handle repetitive, detail-oriented tasks – technology gurus, social media strategists, B2B telemarketers, sales people and consultants.

I clearly remember the first time I heard the term. I was having a drink with one of my ephemeral social media connections in Philadelphia discussing a digital marketing project I was working on and he said to me: “Bring me on board and I will make you look like a rock star.” I remember saying to myself: “Self, what if I don’t want to be a rock star, what if I just want to be a marketer, one cut above.” Later that evening I went home and compiled a list of the key attributes needed to become a marketer, one cut above:

  • Creative – Think “outside the lines.”
  • Adaptable – Aggregate information, study marketing trends and embrace change.
  • Innovative – There are no bad ideas!
  • Strategic – Transform relevant insight into marketing movements.
  • Organized – Harmony = balance.

After reviewing my list, it occurred to me I did not want to be a rock star. I wanted to be more like a jazz musician, since jazz musicians are known to improvise.

“I rather be a musician than a rock star.”

  • George Harrison

Opinions welcomed!

Playground Freedom

Blink:

Friday morning, I closed my eyes on the balcony and concentrated on my sense of sound. In the distance (one-block) I heard kids squealing with joy in a school playground. Reminded me of a great article about playgrounds written by Phil Taylor, an accomplished sports journalist.

Read On:

I am captivated by playgrounds, a topic I have approached several times. In Playground Lessons. I suggested children play to better learn about the world around them and how best to connect with other people (peers, family members). They use the playground as transformative environment to learn. Playgrounds are a blank canvas for their imaginations to flourish/grow. There are no boundaries in a playground environment.

Phil Taylor’s feel-good column The Thrill Seeker details his visit to a playground with his grandson Rafa who at 2-1/2 wanted to go on the big kids slide designed for children between the ages of 5 and 12. Being responsible for his grandson, he was concerned he was being overprotective by dissuading Rafa and steering him back towards the section of the playground meant for kids his age. He processed with freedom comes discovery and joy, but also the potential for harm and disappointment. He decided to let his grandson go for it. He wrote: “Some bumps and bruises, literal and figuratively, are necessary for children to learn to handle the greater ones to follow. Ready for the world.” He referenced the philosophy of Helle Nebelong, the prominent Danish landscape/nature play spaces architect who purposely varies her designs to encourage children to take risks, choose freedom over safety, since freedom is key to learning how to adapt.

Opinions welcomed!

Online Creators – People Hackers

Blink:

It’s no secret, Tech Juggernauts make money from people’s online usage. With present-day computing power dissecting an individual’s data, marketers can hack people thus manipulate them in our digital economy. Thanks to the power of social media, a new breed of people hackers (a.k.a. online creators) is flourishing.            

Read On:

As I shared in my 2021 post Social Allurement, America runs on social media. According to a Pew Research Center 2021 survey of U.S. adults:

  • Seven-in-ten Americans have used social media sites. Note: Share data has remained relatively stable over the past five year
  • YouTube and Facebook are the dominate platforms with 81% and 69% of respondents reported using these platforms respectively.
  • Younger adults (18-to-29-year-olds) indicated they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%), while roughly half say the same for TikTok.

Social media platforms make money selling advertising. I want to focus on TikTok which shares their user data more than any other social media app and their sub-culture of online internet creators. Some females are known as a BimboTok. They create daily videos considered promotional incorporating products or songs companies hope will go viral thanks to their massive followings. One leading BimboTok who posts on Instagram and TikTok has a combined 4.5 million followers. Young males obsessed with bodybuilding and high protein diets, a disorder defined as bigorexia, are posting workout videos #teenbodybuilding. Their followers are fixated by the thought there is something wrong with the way their body looks. From a marketing perspective, these online creators are a new breed of White Hat “ethical hackers” who have permission from the platforms users to collect marketing data. Another example of how the digital advertising ecosystem is morphing.

Opinions welcomed!

New World Fish

Blink:

Interesting quote from Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum: “In the new world, it is not the big fish that eat the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.” What about the scrappy fish?

Read On:

Klaus Schwab is founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, which he began in 1971. The WEF is well-known for its annual forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, which attracts leading business, government, and civil society leaders from around the world to engage and shape global, regional and industry agendas

My understanding (spin on) Mr. Schwab’s quote cited before the economic disruption of the current Russian sanctions, are the fast fish eating the slow fish are the global leaders in society embracing transformation in our new covid world? However, I believe Mr. Schwab is overlooking a third species of fish, scrappy fish. The species I am most familiar with are remoras. A remora is a fish which attaches itself to large fish by means of a sucker on top of its head. They are attracted to great white sharks given the shark and remora relationship benefits both species. Remoras eat scraps of prey dropped by the shark as well feed off parasites on the shark’s skin and in its mouth. I am using remora metaphorically to describe the third species of new world fish, scrappy fish (a.k.a. people/sycophants) populating the waters of Wall Street, Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley.

Opinions welcomed!   

Medley of Senses

Blink:

I took out an old essay (hard copy) this morning written by Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, former syndicated columnist for the Boston Globe. I wanted to jog my memory about her guiding philosophy: “live life deep versus wide,” a philosophy I subscribe to.                                        

Read On:

Ellen Goodman has written numerous essays about returning to her roots, Casco Bay, Maine every summer versus taking an exotic vacation (e.g., Vietnam, Galapagos). Her rationale? We have evolved into mobile citizens of the world. We equate our mobility with ambition, broad horizons, thus thrive on getting up and going. By visiting Casco Bay every summer, she prefers being a native of the land versus a citizen skating across the world. She enjoys sitting of the edge of her favorite tidal cove since childhood to observe the yearly changes, walking down the country road by her home to enjoy the wild flowers while stepping aside of the poison ivy, listening to songbirds tweeting and picking apples from the trees bearing fruit every other year. Her return to Casco Bay reminds her what it’s like to live deep instead of wide plus in her own words: “I have slowly added a new sense to those of touch, taste, sight, smell, sound; a sense of place.”

Later in the day while I was taking a walk by the Mediterranean, I reflected on her statement regarding senses. After basking in the winter sun and hearing the squawking/chatter of the seagulls, I concluded, day to day, we experience a medley of our senses. Right now, for me the four senses I experience the most are sight (the sun glistening on the water), sound (the gulls are a noisy crew), taste (great food), and the fourth, Goodman’s sense of place, a topic I addressed back in November on my second anniversary here in Cannes. As Goodman encourages, we all need to take timeout from our fast-paced world to live life deep versus wide. A good starting point is to invigorate and enjoy the medley of your senses.

Opinions welcomed!

Harmony = Balance

Blink:

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” 

                                                                                    – Mahatma Gandhi

Read On:

Being an art enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by the harmony some of the great artists and architects I admire achieved over their entire body of work. The list is long: Leger, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Calder, Dali, Neel, I. M. Pei and Frank Gehry. Specifically, each one had the ability to coordinate colors and materials to achieve artistic creation. I have studied and written about how each of these individuals have guided me on my business journey. One major lesson they taught me is harmony = balance.

Recently I have come to the realization, harmony = balance, an excellent norm to observe as I navigate our toxic turvy Covid world.

Opinions welcomed!

Pandemic Indifference

Blink:

I have been reading a plethora of op-eds and friends’ emails all expressing concern how the pandemic should have bought people together, but instead it has driven them further apart. Renown NYT columnists, Thomas Friedman and Frank Bruni labeled it “Societal Immunity” and “Tribalism” respectively. Why all the Pandemic Indifference?

Read On:

To get an interesting perspective regarding the Pandemic, I continually engage with my favorite historian, my centenarian mother who has experienced the Great Depression, WWII, the bomb, FDR to Trump and everything in-between. I posted two interviews we conducted on LinkedIn.

In the first interview, when I asked how the COVID-19 pandemic compared to all of the history she witnessed/experienced she responded: “Awful! The worst!” Back in September 2020 she made the observation, people were not pulling together. Verbatim (edited): “The pandemic has changed how mankind reacts to a major crisis. Instead of pulling together, I feel the fear in the air and it is every man for himself. During the Great Depression we had nothing, but I remember people knocking on our backdoor begging for food. My Mother would give them whatever bread or soup leftovers we had. Rationing of gas and food during WWII was a hardship, but we all supported the plan. In addition, patriotic young people went off to war to preserve democracy. During the pandemic, people to me, appear to only care about their own turf. You witnessed it here in Europe. Instead of the EU pulling together during the pandemic, each country did its own thing. Back in the States, there wasn’t a national unifying plan.

In our most recent interview she advocated fragmentation in society is rampant as the pandemic sticks around. Specifically, she alluded to the inequalities in global vaccination distribution since there isn’t a unifying plan, as well as a deeper fragmentation festering with the anti-vaxxers. People are not pulling together. Fragmentation is contributing to the Ultimate Divide.                                                  

Not long ago we read the Bruni op-ed. I asked her why are we witnessing so much societal indifference during the pandemic. She agreed with Bruni, but thought tribalism goes beyond America and is global. “The pandemic revealed mankind’s tribal behavior.” She added there are no strong world leaders to pull all the tribes together. Then she coined an expression I now frequently use: We live in a Toxic Turvy world.

Opinions welcomed!