Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pegs and Interviews

I know several people who are looking for jobs.  I’m not talking careers, just a job so they can get a paycheck.  In this economy having any job is a good thing and I think that there are times where you just have to have a job to support yourself, even if it’s not your dream job.  I respect the man/woman who provides for their family by working several jobs to get by, but I don’t think this is the perpetual state we should operate within if we, as a culture/society, are to move past mere existence and into living abundantly.  I’m not limiting abundance to fiscal plenty either.  Living abundantly is a finding what you are most naturally wired or made to do, focusing on your strengths and natural abilities, and ultimately reaching your full potential.  That is the abundance I’m speaking of.  When we live abundantly we fulfill life’s purpose and are fulfilled in return.  I think about this often as I speak to my friends looking for jobs specifically when we discuss interviews.  You can find a ridiculous amount of resources on the internet about interviews tricks and tips, suggestions for how to interview well, and ways to prepare yourself so that you dominate the interview.  There aren’t many resources that I’ve seen though that offers a different approach to interviewing. 

I call this approach the peg approach.  Again, I think that making it is admirable, but at some point we must seek to thrive and move beyond simply getting by.  We’ve all seen children play with the little peg toys.  Those little boxes with certain shaped holes cut out with complementary pegs that go in each.  These toys teach children cognitive skills along with fine-motor skills.  It teaches them how to reason at a very simple level.  “It helps them see whole-part relationships, increases their visual specialawareness, and depending on the subject matter can teach them a variety oftopics.”  I realize that it’d be quite odd to see a grown man or woman sitting in their office playing with this simple children’s toy, but maybe we ought to revisit the logic it teaches so early on. 

The stress involved in an interview is interesting and intense.  So much to worry about, will they like me, will I say the right things, what if, etc etc,  Nerves get the best of a lot of folks and they end up bombing an interview and ultimately failing to show the interviewer a true sense of who they are.  Because of that we walk away feeling regret and remorse and eventually insecurity sets in.  It’s kind of a nasty cycle all caused by a random meeting between 2 strangers.  Have we forgotten the whole-part relationships and special awareness we learned when it was still acceptable to pee our pants?  You can watch a child spend much effort trying to shove a square peg into a round hole.  They exhaust themselves until they learn the true shape of the peg and place it where it belongs.  It is a simple concept in terms of this toy for us now; however the application doesn’t seem to stick with us.  Preparation for an interview is essential and something to be applauded.  Knowing the company, what they stand for, what the job will entail, and how you can contribute are all very good things to know.  More important than all of this though is be aware of yourself, preparing yourself by identifying your shape.  Yes, I do realize there are several directions I could go here with corny acronyms, but I’ll save you the torture.  If we do not recognize our shape and correlating proverbial hole we fit in we will expend and waste a lot of effort.

My advice to prepare for that interview, to knock it out of the park, be yourself, focus on being confident in what you can offer, not what you imagine they want you to say.  Let’s put round pegs in round holes, it’s child splay really, isn’t it?  

Intangible Value

I’m a Food Network fan.  I enjoy cooking (eating especially) so naturally I enjoy watching television programs that revolve around food.  I've learned a great deal and been entertained by many programs.  Most notably, I have become a fan of Food Network Star.  I enjoyed the contestants, but more so was struck by an underlying psychology of business I saw in the mentors of each contestant.  If you’re not familiar with the show, the basic premise is 3 Food Network celebrities pick teams of chefs and through a season of challenges and such end up choosing the final person they think can be the next Food Network Star.  These groups of people are selected and split into teams, who are then mentored.  2 mentors/coaches interested me the most in how different their approaches were in tracking down the next star.  The difference in how they went about things ultimately interested me and kept me watching until there was a new Food Network Star crowned at the end of the season.

In the beginning of the show they were interviewing the mentors and asking what they were looking for as they picked their teams.  One coach said that he was looking for good cooks, as long as they could cook, he could teach them how to do television.  In stark contrast another coach said he was looking for big personalities first and that he could teach them how to cook.  This can be reduced to a simple paradox, experience versus potential.    One coach wanted experience and skill in cooking and thought he could teach them how to have a personality on television while the other looked more for the intangible (call it personality or potential) knowing he could teach a skill.  The ultimate difference in approach here is that there is some intangible, call it personality, potential, or an x-factor.  The question is, can this intangible be materialized or learned?  Is it better to go with a resume that is impressive and has all the experience and skills you desire while being possessed by a person that lacks an intangible or look for intangibles knowing that one can learn and most are teachable?  I suppose to answer that question one would need to decide on the philosophy of work they have.  One philosophy is the old hard-nosed work ethic that says work isn't supposed to be fun or fulfilling, but should just be done.  This philosophy produces mediocrity and discourages strengths and intuitive thought process.  The other philosophy is that we are each born with something we have natural abilities and skills to do, we possess a certain potential, and it is our role to find an avenue to express this in, when we find that work is fun and meaningful.  One philosophy promotes molding the subject to the process while the other promotes finding the process that best fits the subject.  Again, these are very different approaches and dictate how you behave.

I’m a potential philosophy guy.  I believe it is better to seek out to find intangibles you’d like in an employee over seeking the experience and hope to teach the intangibles.  I think personality and potential cannot be taught, I think they are natural rhythms which we operate within.  When we find the beat of our drum we thrive.  The truth of consumerism is that it is emotional more so than it is logical.  If a business can somehow appeal to a consumer’s emotions then they have a sell.  Truly, it’s all about how you make the consumer feel.  Logic is a great thing, but ultimately even super educational type marketing attempts in any business make the customer feel something, maybe that something is assured.  Emotions play a very high role in consumerism so it would make sense that you would want to make hires based on what they can offer or how they can complement the emotional connection to whatever product or service a company is selling.  You won’t hire an accountant to sell cars because although they may be the best on advising about value and financing they don’t have the personality to make an emotional connection to sell a product.  Naturally I have an emotional tie to this subject because I am experiencing the tension between experience and potential and the on-going struggle between their values.

So what’s your philosophy?  Do you value experience or potential/personality/intangibles more?  It doesn't always have to be either or, but we do have a bent left or right of the center.  I had a professor once say we are pendulum people, meaning we constantly swing from side to side in how we view the world and thus behave.  It is rare to see and experience total moderation; we are always swinging or leaning to one side or another.  What do you think the world would look like if we made decisions based more on the intangibles than experience?  I’m a fan of what our old friend Albert had to say though (check out the picture/quote above).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Shut the Cluck Up!

People are running around like chickens with their heads cut off when it comes to well, chicken.  If you’ve been keeping up at all or even if you haven’t I’m sure you’ve heard about the CEO of Chick-Fil-A being asked a direct question in an interview and answering it regarding same-sex marriage.  Chick-Fil-A is a traditionally Christian owned and operated organization.  Ever wanted a juicy sandwich on a Sunday, well, if you’ve ever wondered why the parking lot and restaurant is empty it’s because of their religious belief that Sunday is “the Lord’s day.”  Again, the CEO was asked a question directly and responded with his own opinion.  Dan Cathy said he supports the traditional man-woman marriage.  The media has taken off with it and both sides of the aisle are turning a simple comment into an ugly political and religious storm.  As I watch the storm brew and see passion thrown around irresponsibility I can’t help but weigh in and tell people to relax or my clever play on words, shut the cluck up.

Today is Chick-Fil-A appreciation day and of course the media only talks to the yahoos from both extremes.  One man says he came out o support Chick-Fil-A because he believes what the Bible says while others, same-sex supporters plan a “kiss-in” at locations where they will put their same-sex relationships on public display (FoxNews).  Publicly elected officials who are sworn under the constitution are taking on the media saying they’ll ban the business from coming to their city or saying they should be banished from the city.  I’m just shaking my head here and trying to grasp why it has come to this, why are publicly elected officials admitting publicly they’d compromise their oath and break the law and have citizens put their private relationships on display?  What’s really going on here?  Can we be rational for a moment, before we allow our emotions to control us, which would be characterized as irresponsible and impulsive anyways? 
I’m not going to Chik-Fil-A today and it has nothing to do with who marries one another.  I’m not going because I’m not craving a chicken sandwich and typically don’t do fast food.  Let’s review what Dan Cathy did NOT say.  He didn’t say he hated gay people.  He didn’t say that they were not welcome in his establishments.  He didn’t say they should burn like his delightful crispy chicken sandwiches.  Dan Cathy did not say anything offensive out rightly.  Dan Cathy answered a direct question honestly.  Do you like blue or red.  I like blue.  Of course all the red supporters now want to paint everything red and seek a counsel to disband blue from being a color at all.  Reverend Greesball takes to the podium and declares empathically, “Crayola throw down your boxes and love your brothers and sisters, I say we must banish blue!”   You do see how ridiculous that’d be right?  Are we allowed to have opinions anymore folks?  Can we disagree?  Must we try to convert others to our beliefs?  Isn’t that what folks have had against Christians for so long anyways?  Those old school Christians who go around the world converting a minority to their majority opinion have been frowned upon.  Isn’t it hypocritical to look at the majority and be so offended that they do not hold to the same principles as the minority and seek to convert and manipulate until it happens that way?  This isn’t about chicken at all is it?  Let’s be honest, this is about world view and control.  This is about power, or the illusion of it.  Logically this is a simple story.  The CEO of a big corporation came out and said he supports traditional marriage, not same-sex marriage.  He doesn’t make any further implications and made no hateful comments, he simply said his opinion.  Because his opinion was on a hot topic all those extreme people on one side or the other took this opportunity to take to the streets and wave their banners for or against such an opinion.  Would we have cared if the question was Batman or Superman?  Would we see the streets and local businesses filled with capped men and women nationally?  If we take the emotions out of this and are left with logic and rationale alone, this is quite silly isn’t it?

While folks do have the purest intentions in doing these “kiss-ins” and touting your bible to your lunch table, I think all this passion is misplaced.  I wouldn’t want to see a straight couple in a public place kissing, keep that behind your doors at home.  I wouldn’t care if a Hindu came to eat because they like the color red in Chick-Fil-A’s branding.  You can have a stance on same-sex marriage and by the law are allowed to voice your opinion.  Isn’t that what is so great about our country?  We don’t have big brother shutting off our internet when we see or write something they don’t like.  The general idea is differences are celebrated rather than discouraged.  It is ok to disagree in America.  Or is it?  So everyone chill out and calm down, this really has gotten way out of hand.