Do you trust your co-workers this much?

Amazon is building two large data centers in my neighborhood. That means they need power. Lots of power. And redundancy.

Each of the two data centers has a new power substation. The next phase is installing redundant power feeds to these substations.

For the last couple months they have been running new power lines along the large transmission towers that feed the new substations. Have you ever wondered how they do that? I happened to capture a bit of it from my phone in this video:

(If the video isn’t in your view, here’s the direct link:

As I watched these people working, it occurred to me how much trust there must be between the individuals on this crew. The obvious one is the guy (we’re just going to go with “guy” here) hanging in the harness. Clearly he has to have an enormous amount of trust in the helicopter pilot. A friend tells me the line on the other side of this tower are live, at 138,000 Volts. Ouch!

The less obvious trust factor is on the pilot’s part. Let’s face it, if that guy hanging in the harness gets tangled, the pilot is in just as much trouble.

Do you have that level of trust with your co-workers?

While this level of immediate self-destruction might not result if either you or your co-worker fails at their job, there is still a need for trust. There is still a level of dependency. At the most base level, each of you is depending on the organization for which you work to be financially viable so that your paychecks can continue. That relies on the overall success of the organization, which in turn relies on each individual doing their job.

Do you trust your co-workers? Do they trust you? For better or worse, you are in this together.


Doing the Hokey Pokey

You put your left hand in, you put your left hand out, you put your left hand in, and you shake it all about…

Do you know the song? I’m sure you do. Sorry if it is now stuck in your head.

What does that have to do with making work fun? Everything.

It is coming up on 4 years since I left the comforts of the corner office to pursue this dream of being a full-time corporate entertainer and speaker. But, it is only a bit over a month since I closed the last door on my former world of being an IT guy.

Soon after leaving the full-time IT executive job, I signed on with an IT services company as a consultant, doing odd projects as they fit my schedule and interest. It was very sporadic. The projects were few and far between. But, it kept me connected to the old world. Why? I guess I was keeping a toe in the waters. You might call it a plan B. You know, if this puppet thing doesn’t work out, I can always go back.

What it did, though, was provide excuses. It allowed me to hold back in pursuing some gigs when I really needed to be aggressive to win them. It allowed me to say to myself, “Oh, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have any gigs next month. You can just go fill in with some IT stuff.”

Then when I would get calls for IT projects, I found myself being annoyed. I didn’t really want to do that work. The joy in that work is no longer there for me. And every time I was out on one of those jobs, I would be thinking about all of the opportunities I was missing by not being able to return that phone call immediately, or polish that new joke I had been working on.

So, I finally pulled the plug, closed the door, moved on. Pick your own metaphor. Whatever you call it, I quit the IT consulting job. There is no more safety net.

Darren LaCroix tells a story of getting started in the speaking business, making reference to an old job he clung to for security. He says a friend told him, “That’s not a safety net. It’s a drag net.” There is so much truth to that statement.  (Side note: Darren produces some of the best speaker training programs available.)

What are you clinging to from your past? What pond are you still dipping a toe into for some sense of security? Where are you simply being stubborn about letting go?

If you really, truly want to achieve your goals, you have to be committed. You have to be all in.

Stop putting only a left hand, or a right foot in your pursuit of your dreams. Get to the end of the song. Put your whole self in and shake it all about.


Cherry Blossoms

Photo of Cherry Blossom Festival

It’s Cherry Blossom season. And that got me thinking about one of my old bosses.

For the first half of my career, I  was a software engineer. At one point, the team I was on had grown to where we needed to divide. There were too many of us for a single manager. One of my peers became my manager.

I have always made it a point to learn from the mistakes of others. I learned a lot from this guy. He made many of what I now understand to be classic first-time manager mistakes. (Side note: To all of you who had the misfortune of living through MY mistakes as a first-time manager, please accept my apologies, many years too late.)

One of the biggest mistakes this particular manager made was cherry picking the projects he wanted to work on, and then divvying out what was left to the rest of us.

1. (transitive) to choose or take the best or most profitable of (a number of things), esp for one's own benefit or gain

Up until this point, we had been equals, with a pretty fair distribution of fun and exciting projects between us. To go from that to picking up the leftovers was not fun at all.

Are you a “working manager?” Do you still do much of the same work as those on your team? Beware of cherry picking your projects.

Instead, seek to nurture your staff. Provide them challenges so they can blossom.

Hiring is Easy

Photo of Easter Egg race
Photo copyright ©2004 David J Crone. All rights reserved.

Have you seen or heard the ads for Zip Recruiter? They are running a major campaign in my area, with a steady stream of plays on both radio and TV.

Their message is clear: Hiring is hard. You have more important things to do. We make it easier and save you time.

I hate these ads. They perpetuate the belief that hiring is hard (it’s not). They reinforce a belief among so many hiring managers that they have more important things to do than spend it hiring (they don’t).

Hiring is not hard. But, it does require time, energy and effort.

Hiring is important. If you have a position on your staff that truly needs to be filled, then there is no more important task than devoting the time to finding the right person for the job. If you don’t find this to be one of your highest priority items, then you are saying by your actions that filling the position is not that important.

One of my former places of employment had a system for hiring that I came to appreciate. It was similar to the airline model of overselling seats on a plane. There would be a limited number of positions that could be filled, but they would allow more than that number of openings to be posted. It created somewhat of a race to fill your posted positions. It forced you as hiring manager to devote time and energy to the process. If you didn’t act quickly, your posted position could be shut out by someone else hiring faster.

While there were people who complained about this, it did enforce a truism: those departments that had real need to fill the posted positions found a way to devote the time and energy to make it happen. Those departments that dragged their feet and managed to continue to do their jobs as-is, demonstrated that they could get by just fine without filling that position.

When my kids were young, we took them to a local park for the annual Easter Egg hunt. It was more of a race than a hunt. Scattered around a field were plastic eggs filled with candy. The kids would line up on the edges of the field with baskets in hand, waiting. When the horn blew, the mad dash was on. Each kid went running onto the field to grab as many eggs as they could. There were only so many eggs to go around.

Some kids got it. They knew they had to run and act quickly. They walked off the field with overflowing baskets. Other kids were a bit slower to catch on. They stood back, watching. They’d eventually head onto the field, stuck with picking up the few eggs left behind, overlooked by those who went first.

Hiring is like this. It is a race. There are only so many candidates out there. It is your job to rush onto the field, cull through the candidates quickly and select those who will be the best fit for your team. If you hold back, if you spend your time watching, or looking up in the sky at the clouds and the birds, you’ll be stuck with only what is left over.

I am sure that Zip Recruiter, Indeed and their competitors do make the job of hiring easier. I am sure they provide a valuable service. But, let’s not allow their message that you have more important things to do become our operating model. Rush the field. Fill your basket.