Monday, June 15, 2015

Does an Apple a Day keep the Doctor Away?

We have all heard the phrase, "An apple a day keeps the Doctor away?"  A great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn once asked, "If it were true... would you do it?"  

That is, if you knew that eating an apple every day would keep the Doctor away or better said, if you ate an apple every day, you would always be healthy... would you do it?

A lot of us would nod our heads yes.  But in practice, many of us would likely forget to eat one EVERY day.  We would have excuses like, I would have eaten one, but I ran out.  I would have eaten an apple, but I didn't feel like it today.  Or worse, I didn't eat my apple today because I don't care about being healthy.

Well, life is exactly like this.  There are things that we should do every single day to have the kind of life we want to have, but because of laziness, forgetfulness, or pure stupidity we don't do those things.

So what are the things we should do every day?  Eat right!  Any questions?  Nope, you agree that if you eat right, you will feel better.  Exercise!  Well, I don't have to exercise EVERY day to stay vibrant.  I can take a day off and I won't even notice.  

And THAT is where we get in trouble.  We know what it good for us, but because we don't see immediate consequences to developing poor habits, we do!

I believe we should read every day to expand your mind.  Of course, if you don't do it for one day, you are going to be just fine.  But if you track the progress of those who do read every day compared to those who never read another book after high school, the trajectory of their lives WILL be different.

For me, this is my list of daily activities that are mandatory for me:
  • Read the Bible and pray
  • Love my wife whether I'm home or away
  • Be positive (what's the alternative)
  • Be physical-- run, tennis, walk, stretch, something to make me feel alive
  • Eat at least ONE good meal per day, usually breakfast to start me out right
  • Talk to at least one friend or family member a day (other than Judy)
  • Learn-- I read through or listen to at least 30 books per year to grow
  • Say yes!  I really decided 8 years ago that I would live by this.  If someone asks me to do something... I always try to say YES.  I have said yes to new sports, yes to speaking engagements, yes to dancing class with my wife.  Who knows what other adventures I will have!
 Life is full of moments.  If we spend the moments well, we will have a good life.  It's not going to be the trip down the amazon or running with the bulls in Pamplona... it is going to be living a fulfilling life of things that matter to YOU!  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Where are you going to be in 5 years?

Lou Holtz, famous college football coach once said, "I can tell you where you will be in the next 5 years based upon these 3 things:
  • The Books you read
  • The People you meet and
  • The Places you go"
Lou Holtz
I really believe this!  Look back in your own life over the past 5 years.  Think of the person you were,  the things you were doing, the places you were going... are you growing?  Are you staying the same?  Has life taken a bad turn over these past 5 years?

I would bet you that there is a direct correlation between your personal life trajectory and the 3 things listed above.  If over these past 5 years, you have read new and inspiring books... you have been around people that naturally get you motivated to live a better life... and you have been to places that helped you continue to define a purposeful life... I would bet you everything I have that your life is in a much better place than it was.

On the other hand, if over these past 5 years, you have not been exposed to books that grow you, people that challenge you and places that enhance you... you are in the same place... or worse... your life is getting worse.  You are less happy, content, satisfied.

So take charge of YOUR life's direction.  Read books that stretch you (my personal list below**
).  I like these books today.  They expanded my brain.  They help me see the world differently.

The people you meet sounds so random... but it does not have to be!  There are so many people who are stuck with a group of people that are really stuck themselves.  Expand your horizons by becoming a volunteer.  People who volunteer are passionate!  People who volunteer care for more than their OWN desires, but have a passion for SOMETHING!  Take a class!  For almost no money you can take an adult class within your community.  You can learn to build a website, paint or study a foreign language.  For me, it is getting involved in my church.  People who love God... generally love people!  They are caring people.

Another way to meet new people is in books.  Read a biography on a person.  You will feel like you have a new friend!

And finally, "The Places you go", definitely takes purpose.  We all have busy lives.  We do certain things that are our patterns.  Without these patterns, most people wouldn't know what to do with themselves.  But does your patterns include watching yet another TV series?  Does your patterns include playing more hours of video games?

This past year, we hiked to the Hollywood Sign.  On the day we did this, the sky was clear.  Sitting before us was Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.  By turning around we saw Griffith Park, San Fernando Valley and Warner Brothers and Disney Studios.  Inspiring!  Then we went to Los Feliz to have lunch at a quaint neighborhood restaurant.  What a memory! 
My son Austin and his fiance Jordan at the Hollywood sign

A few years ago, I went on a missions trip to Cambodia.  You talk about life changing?!  My mind was blown away by Southeast Asia, it's people, and the culture.  We even went to Angkor Wat, one of the 7 wonders of the world!

Please grow!  Please expand!  As my dad used to say "Life is NOT a dress rehearsal."  This is the only one that we have!  Use it to the full.  If you feel stuck; commit to reading great books, meeting new and inspiring people, and exposing yourself to places that can change your life!

**My recent book list:
  • The Bible---the greatest book ever written, it refreshes me EVERY day
  • How We Got to Now--Steven Johnson
  • Brothers--George Howe Colt
  • Lord of the Flies--William Golding
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World--Jack Weatherford
  • In the Plex--Steven Levy
  • East of Eden--John Steinbeck
  • Destiny Disrupted--Tamim Ansary
  • The Power of Habit--Charles Duhigg

Monday, May 11, 2015

My Interviewing Process, because I trust everybody...

Over the years of interviewing people, I have realized that I am really not that great at judging talent.  Generally, I like too many people.  I trust that what they are telling me is true.  So this is the process I have developed over the years and why it works for me.

Post the Ad

I post my ads on Linked In.  It is my go to place for job postings.  Everyone in business uses Linked In.  OK, so people don't always USE Linked In, but at least many people have an account. 

When I write the ad, I try to mirror the company that they are going to work for.  We are not a large corporate organization that is a name everyone has heard before.  We are a small company, full of passion that needs people that really are going to work to help us succeed.  So I try to write the ad so people understand who they are applying with.

I then post that link on all my social channels to get the word out to a wider different audience.

Then I usually get 100 resumes to review.  Quick note: Great people need to be contacted quickly or they will get another job. 

Sorting the Candidates

So I review the candidates everyday.  I quickly sort them into 3 piles.  No's.  These are usually easy.  At least half of the candidates are NOT qualified and don't deserve a second glace.  Yes's.  These are people that I realize meet the criteria I have set for the job.  Finally, Maybe's.  These I put in because they are decent candidates.  They look pretty good.  They are not perfect, but I don't want to yet throw them in the dust bin.  If the interview pool is small, I will go back to the Maybe's.

First Interviews

I will email the yes's and ask them to call me the next morning at 9 AM and every 20 minutes thereafter.  I will give them my cell number.

So the next morning I will hopefully have a few interviews.  I schedule them in 20 minute increments; 9:00, 9:20, 9:40 etc.  I want them to call me to show me they can keep an appointment.  I schedule it quickly as I want to make sure they are responsive on email.  If they don't get my message until 10 AM the next morning, I likely don't want them to work for me.  My people need to check email regularly and respond promptly. 

When the candidate calls me, I thank them for calling.  Then I tell them we have 15 minutes.  In that time I would like them to explain their job history from the beginning of their career, reminding them I am looking at their resume.  Then, tell me what you know about Mirabella.  And finally, I will answer any question they might have.   In this I learn... Can the candidate follow simple instructions?

It is very interesting to see how they then react.  Do they actual go through their resume?  Or do they just talk about what they have been doing lately?  Can they remember the dates they worked at different companies (ideally, they are looking at their resume and walking me through it)?  At this time, I like to have them explain gaps in the resume.  I also like to see why they left each company and why they joined each company.  This can be very telling.  If they hated every boss, they are going to hate you too... eventually.

When they get done explaining their background, will they remember to tell me what they know about Mirabella?  It pains me to see how little preparation people do for interviews.  If all they know about Mirabella is what they can read on the "About Mirabella" section of my website, I am NOT impressed.  Today with the resources people have at their fingertips, even small companies can be researched.  They should find out more!

And finally, the questions they ask are very telling.

Are the questions they ask about the position well thought out?  Are they wanting to know about the company, its people, its products and its customers?  Obviously there is a big red flag if the questions are about money and benefits.  I will ask them their salary history at this point though.  I want to know if they will be in our range.  This also will give me an idea of what salary I will likely offer to them.  If the salary range is $40-60k and they have been making $120k, I don't want to waste their time going to the next step as they will likely NOT be happy to take a huge step down.  On the other hand, if they had been making $42k, I will not likely offer them $60k either. 

Second Interview-The Group Process

If I like them, I will schedule a follow up group interview in our company headquarters.  We will invite our management team plus people that may actually work for this candidate to be a part of this group process.  In this interview, I will generally ask the same first question again.  Tell us about your work experience from the beginning of your career until now.  Then I shut up and let the team interact with the candidate.

My team asks different and better questions than I do.  It is interesting to watch the candidate answer questions without having to think them up.  It is interesting to watch the candidate interact with the team.  Are they warn and engaging?  Do they fit culturally?

 At the conclusion of the interview, I instruct our team to NOT talk about the candidate to each other.  I want them to have a chance to see each of the candidates before speaking.

Once we have seen the candidates, I will get the team back together to evaluate each candidate individually.  Though you can get a little group think, I don't think you can get away from that.  So each person sounds off on their impressions of each candidate.  Once everyone has spoken, then we will have more discussions with individuals with differing opinions.  Often, one person might not like the way a candidate answered a certain question and that colors their opinion.  Many times people will be influenced by dress code or mannerisms.  None of these impressions are bad, it is just important for everyone to know WHY someone likes or doesn't like particular candidates.  We will do this with each candidate.

Then the real job begins.  We then try to determine if there is a candidate that everyone is comfortable with continuing.  Frankly, if just one person doesn't think they are a fit, I don't hire them.  If there are multiple people, great.  If there is only one candidate, I am nervous.


After we chose the candidate we want to pursue, I will call them for their references.  I want to talk to 3-5 people.  At least one of those candidate have to have been their boss at some point.  Before I call these references, I will ask the candidate what these people will likely have to say about them.  People are surprisingly forthcoming with this as they know I will actually be talking to the reference.

My experience in checking references is that people are generally very nice and polite about the candidate OR they are over the top excited about the person. 

If they are very nice and polite, the candidate is likely an average to poor performer.  If the reference goes on and on about the candidate, you have a winner!  It has NEVER happened to me that a candidate gives me a reference that said something negative.  But you need to read between the lines to get to the truth.

The biggest surprise to me about reference checks is how easy they are to do.  You always hear that large companies instruct their people to refer these to the Human Resource department.  Then the Human Resource department will give you only the basic facts about their employment.

But I have not had that be a detriment.  People are giving you references to people they like and that like them.  They will generally NOT stick you with Human Resources.

Next Steps

If I don't get a candidate that our team loves and the references love, I start the process over again.  Yes, it takes time, but it is easier to hire than fire.  Hiring the wrong person for your organization sets you back.  Hiring the wrong person hurts your culture.  Hiring the wrong person wastes the companies resources, not the least of which is the time of the team to train a mediocre person.

The best next step with any candidate is on-the-job interviews.  I would love a person to ride along with a salesperson, sit for a few hours with a customer service person, or work a trade show.  It is good for both parties to understand each other more and make certain there is a strong match.  
Mirabella at a Trade Show

We do this process for every candidate.  We want to make sure our customer service department team is as important as our Regional Managers by doing the same level of interviewing.

Even with this process, you make mistakes.  I encourage you to train everyone well.  Give them the best shot at success as you can.  If you realize you made a mistake, get rid of the wrong people quickly.  I know it hurts to be without a person.  But it is better to keep a strong culture with great people than allow a mediocre person that doesn't fit the culture to stay.

Hope this helps!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Right Mindset for Successful Employment

Do you get paid what you deserve?  This is THE most difficult discussion I have with employees each year, compensation.  Honestly, as the boss, you can never win.  The employee always believes that they deserve MORE than I can reasonably offer to them.

Therefore, there is always this discontent.  At least one time per year during reviews.

Years ago I had an employee turn this conversation on its head.  It came after a very difficult salary negotiation.  Have you ever heard that during negotiations the first to speak losses?  Well, we were discussing the next year's salary on our drive out to a monthly meeting with our management team.  This 1 hour drive was completely silent.  Neither of us wanted to be the first to speak, and therefore lose the negotiation.

In the end he said something that is the perfect way to think as an employee.  He said, "You buy me for wholesale and sell me for retail." 

Your employer PAYS you at wholesale and the services you render for this employer is the retail price.  The difference between this wholesale price and the retail price is the profit the company makes on you.  The more you provide value to the company, the more you make because the company keeps becoming more profitable on your work.

I believe this to be true.  Therefore, the only way for an employee to make more money is to be more valuable to your employer, that is increase the retail price.  If your retail price continues to rise, you will get a raise or you will become so valuable some other company will pay you much more to join their firm.

So as an employee, you need to have the mindset that you have to continue to raise your retail price by providing more value to your firm.  How can you do that?  If you are in sales, it is obvious that you need to make more sales and more profitable sales.  If you are administrative, you need to find ways to do more work in less time, increase your efficiency.  If you are in management, your group needs to find ways to accomplish more with fewer man hours. 

This takes creative thinking all the time.  It means thinking about how and why you do each task.  Are you doing something that doesn't need to be done at all?  Are you doing something that if you took a class you could do it quicker with technology?

That is how you increase your retail price... and therefore increase your pay. 

Long term, it is NOT about negotiating a better salary!

Think of many of the Unions in our country.  They have served an amazing purpose for millions of Americans, my Father-In-Law was part of a Union for 40 years.  But in many Unions, the Union bosses negotiated such great deals for the employees, the company was not competitive.  Therefore, many contracts had to be renegotiated to the workers detriment.  This is an extreme example.

But consider this the next time you ask for a raise...