“If you are absolutely content with what you have, there is no aspiration in life. It is important to have aspirations but if you are feverish about them, that becomes an impediment. If a cup is held under a tap that is running at full force, it will never get full. Run the tap water at the right speed and the cup fills up. This is what happens with people who are too ambitious or feverish.”

—Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

I cringe whenever I hear a hiring manager or recruiter start a pitch with some line about how the world is changing fast and how they need to hire “highly adaptable people with can-do attitudes who fit the culture of their company.” It’s a tired, non-specific line that undermines what an employer truly needs, what an individual actually has to offer, and it perpetuates an idea of “culture fit” without concrete or tested parameters of what “culture fit” means, let alone who is credible to actually vet for it or how it might blatantly or blindly foster bias, sexism, or discrimination.

Yes, obviously hiring people for their adaptable can-do attitudes should help lessen the dilemmas of change, particularly when your role requirements are crisp, and the scope of the role is accurately defined. That’s when your lovely-adaptable-can-do-culture-fit hire operates under an assumption that adaptation is a refinement, an improvement upon a role or function that is already working in some baseline way. Awesome.

But most of the time, companies that are changing are also unprepared for those changes, and role requirements are unclear and non-specific, and “adaptable” and “can-do” lends itself to ageism and reverse-ageism. It renders job-seeker experience and individuality non-essential since the individual has committed to the more dominant contract of nonstop adaptation and doing everything all the time under all circumstances, and “perfectly, please,” since the company doesn’t actually know what it is doing. If the individual in the role fails; or if the function of their department fails; or if the function of their company fails, then the employer or manager points the finger at the individual for not adapting fast enough, for not doing more. Sometimes when this is happening to a seasoned person, I’ve heard, “You are not fresh or energetic enough to meet the demands of this role.” To a younger person, the statement goes, “You lack work ethic.” And we all know that if the individual objects, well, then he or she is not being an adaptable-can-do player! Clearly, this is counter-productive. No?

Now I tend to believe that recruiters and hiring managers, and the management community at large, have good intentions, and this bad outcome is merely the consequence of confusion. I am going to go out on a limb here and say most people want to evolve at a pace that is in line with expectations. They want to fulfill the needs of peers, clients, and customers, and in a cheery “Yes ma’am” way.

Here’s what I think is happening. I think burned out managers are being told they must complete an assignment (or too many assignments) in timeframes that are not possible and not always practical. The saying goes, “Nine women can’t make a baby in one month.” But these folks are not in a position to control the situation, either from lack of power or lack of training/ability. There is an imbalance and the individual or the company is struggling to pivot, to push back, or to filter out non-productive activities, and, hence, they pass the buck to somebody else. Since they don’t have the time to determine or vet requirements, as their backs are up against the wall, they lob to a recruiter who doesn’t have all the pertinent information.

Great. Now it’s the recruiter’s job to find you the right talent, and you say, “Find me someone adaptable with a can-do attitude who fits the culture of our company,” when the statement at this point should probably be “Find me someone who is experienced, non-conforming, and strong-willed. We need to hire someone who helps design limits and parameters, someone who is not afraid to push back, someone who helps ground others in the face of obstacles. Someone with strong communication skills. We will need to determine the role requirements together! We are committed to cohesiveness, to compromise, to open-mindedness, to empathy, and, of course, mutual self-accountability!”

The Dangers of Recruiting for Culture Fit

Okay, let’s talk about culture fit. There is a growing body of employers who have developed a framework for what they see as the cultural pillars of their organization. These pillars are the guiding values and principles that they believe will allow them to succeed in business. This is the best case scenario for how companies recruit for culture fit. I won’t even go into the worst case scenario because there is fault enough even in the best case. Subsequently, they use this cultural framework to narrow prospects from the herd and hire people to run or manage the actual work. Seems reasonable, right?

Sure. But it reminds me of a similar scenario where a person identifies his or her ideal life partner by taking into consideration religious and political views, beliefs about family, beliefs about hygiene, beliefs about gender roles, beliefs about income, and so on. (2, 3)

How many possible permutations of a fit may there realistically be? Infinity? 100? 1?

What is the margin of error?

What is the probability that family opinion or “group-think” forms a predisposed bias?

What about the role of our neurobiological natures? How does that impact decision-making? (Wink)

It is a well-known fact that human beings are born with the tendency to reason or justify their way through almost anything—good and bad alike. We pick what we want to do, and then we rationalize it. If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend you read the book, The Righteous Mind by John Haidt, where Mr. Haidt explains the tendency for human beings to first assume their instinctual beliefs as true and then they find ways to rationalize those beliefs as true, rather than actually question “is it true?” to determine validity. (3)

Let’s get real here, folks. Even if you understand at a basic level what values you are looking for in an individual hire, chances are you don’t know how to define those values; you’re probably not an expert. There are philosophers and scholars who have spent lifetimes exploring individual values. Do you think your recruiter or hiring manager is one of them? Probably not. Most recruiters and hiring managers have merely a cursory understanding. What qualifies them to make these assessments. I mean, really?

Therefore, when I think of institutions enforcing culture fit hiring practices, I cannot help but wonder how subconsciously or even intentionally institutions introduce prejudice into the process; how they are probably weeding out people who could be their best performers; how they are likely demoralizing masses of qualified people; how they are obliviously enforcing broken stereotypes; and how they use sweeping generalizations to assume a host of specific beliefs about individuals.

But if you are going to move forward with this approach then it makes sense to accept that imperfect individuals enforce them, and it is necessary to assume that you are susceptible to unconscious or subconscious or accidental bias. Therefore, you should build in meaningful protocols to prevent prejudice, to the extent that it is possible. I suggest systematically and iteratively posing three fundamental questions.

  1. How could we be introducing prejudice through our process and what problems might this create? (For example, maybe our corporate value of transparency has led us to hire many individuals who are more likely to speak frequently, loudly, and aggressively since transparency often binds with these characteristics, and also it binds with individuals who tend to experience less backlash when being transparent. Hence, we may be marginalizing individuals who historically are more likely to experience higher degrees of backlash when speaking without a filter such as women or individuals of different backgrounds and races as transparency can be and has been a punishable offense. Additionally, we have noticed that misinformation runs rampant throughout our organization, and correcting misinformation is both costly and exhausting.
  2. How can we reduce or eliminate this prejudice?  (We de-emphasize hiring for this value for certain classes of people or we adjust the weight of this value against others. We consider how this value manifests in different classes of people and customize accordingly.)
  3. What’s the benefit in fixing this problem? (We are more diverse, and thus, statistically more profitable. We produce higher quality work outputs since we’ve hired individuals who chose their words more carefully and that meticulousness has transcended into the work. Additionally, we manage the spread of miscommunication more effectively, a must in a large organization, all while making the world a better place.)

I intentionally use “could we be,” instead of “are we,” in the first question because it is easy to assume you are immune from this issue. The question is designed to push you to reflect on possibilities—to observe “what is” rather than what you assume is true.

So, how would I go about hiring if I were you?

There are some excellent recruiting firms out there that are more than capable of researching and sourcing to identify pools of potential candidates. And you should absolutely hire them to help with this. They have the tools and resources. I am happy to provide assistance with this, should you need it.

But the problem, as discussed, is not getting to the pools of candidates. Rather, the problem is wearing the right lens, both to identify the right pools, and to select the right candidate. Minimizing the margin of error is dictated by how well you define your own requirements, and the best people to perform the following exercise are those with the knowledge—the people the new hire will work with, will work for, will supervise, and equally important, if not more so, the domain experts (individuals who are exceptional at the craft you are hiring for).

Before I move on, let me say that determining whether personalities, abilities, and skills will complement and supplement the personalities, abilities, and skills of the actual people who are doing the work is no small feat, but with practice, you will improve.

Okay, let us get started.

How to Hire Tactfully

  1. Create a list of non-negotiable job tasks. Many people will tell you to start with the goal of the role. I would argue not to put too much weight into this. Goals are often psychological de-motivators, frequently incorrect, infrequently met, and are often ignored. (4, 5) It is not worth starting a relationship this way. You are better off allowing goals to emerge organically.
  2. Identify the skills and abilities necessary to do these tasks well. Here is where your domain experts come into play.
  3. Validate your list with credible people.
  4. Identify and evaluate potential pains of the role. For example, if this role requires the handling of a high-need, high-demand, client for long periods of time, how will you support this role, particularly in times of sickness, vacation, and during other valid absences? How will you empower the person in this role to set limits?
  5. Identify basic parameters for the role such as: pay range, expected work hours, and work location.
  6. Determine a reasonable time frame for filling (or adjusting) the role based on the actual talent pool, your current needs, future/consequential needs, and the strengths and weaknesses of your team.
  7. Identify common scenarios for the role, taking into consideration the personalities of the people involved. Design open-ended questions that start with “how would you respond in a situation where [insert scenario] occurs?”  Ask these questions in multiple ways through different interviewers and of interviewees. How you ask the question is as important as the answers you get. Candidates may change or refine their own answers as they go. This is a valuable insight. You may learn as much about the people who are asking the questions as you do about the candidates themselves.
  8. Have domain experts assess prospects for the skills required to accomplish non-negotiable tasks. This may be in the form of an interview. It may be in the form of a sample work request. It may be in the form of a new assignment given to the prospect.
  9. Take thorough notes.
  10. Reserve judgment until the end of the interview period.
  11. Observe the reactions of your cohort, and respectfully probe for specifics. Exchange observations. You may find there are other motivations at play. You may need to address them.
  12. Always return your attention to the list of non-negotiable tasks.
  13. Do not involve too many interviewers in the process. 3 interviewers per 1 candidate is probably ideal.
  14. Identify your top picks, taking into consideration the outcomes of all previous steps, and begin the offer process.
  15. At some time after the hire, personalities, skills, and abilities will grow more transparent. Adjust to them. Optimize for strengths, train where applicable, and minimize reliance on weaknesses. This is an iterative process.
  16. When you add or remove people from your team, expect to exceed in new areas and fall short in others.
  17. Always remember to ask, “How is this person smart?” rather than “Is this person smart?” and your team will almost always evolve for the better.

I leave you with my final thoughts. The fact is you will, without a doubt, work with people who do not wholly share your values, and who prioritize those values however they see fit, even when some—or many—overlap. In order to collaborate, we must commit to our differences as much as we commit to our similarities. Even if you think all this diversity stuff is a waste of time, you cannot ignore the numbers. According to an article by the American Sociological Association that cites to studies conducted by sociologist Cedric Herring:

Even if you think all this diversity stuff is a waste of time, you cannot ignore the numbers. According to an article by the American Sociological Association that cites to studies conducted by sociologist Cedric Herring:

“Companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in nearly 15 times more sales revenue on average than the lowest levels of racial diversity. Gender diversity accounted for a difference of ~$600 million in average sales revenue.” (6)

“For every percentage increase in the rate of racial or gender diversity up to the rate represented in the relevant population, there was an increase in sales revenues of approximately 9 and 3 percent, respectively.” (6)

“Companies with a more diverse workforce consistently reported higher customer numbers than those organizations with less diversity among staff. In terms of racial diversity, companies with the highest rates reported an average of 35,000 customers compared to 22,700 average customers among those companies with the lowest rates of racial diversity. The difference is even larger for gender diversity rates. That is, companies with the highest levels of gender diversity reported an average of 15,000 more customers than organizations with the lowest levels of gender diversity. Herring also found that the smallest incremental increase in levels of racial or gender diversity resulted in more than 400 and 200 additional customers, respectively.” (6)

When I think about racial equality, gender equality, and economic equality, I cannot help but think of the enormous power recruiters and hiring managers have to right the playing field and to launch us into more prosperous times. So please, if you care, seek truth. Seek kindness. Seek open-mindedness. Seek mutual respect. Seek, and you shall hire successfully.

References

  1. http://mdaily.bhaskar.com/news/referer/4444/understand-the-mystery-of-life-sri-sri-ravi-shankar-1201824.html?referrer_url=
  2. http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/cultural-fit-a-qualification-for-hiring-or-a-disguise-for-bias/
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/the-righteous-mind-by-jonathan-haidt.html?_r=0http://righteousmind.com/
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201104/why-goal-setting-doesnt-work
  5. http://business.financialpost.com/executive/careers/why-stretch-goals-are-a-waste-of-time
  6. http://www.asanet.org/press/diversity_pays.cfm

Did you find this useful? Have suggestions? Have questions? Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Read other posts like this one at www.CommonSmarts.com

happy people are 12 percent more productive

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References

Increase Your Productivity: Work Less, Get Happy

Why Happy Employees are 12% More Productive

Happy People Really Do Work Harder

New Study Show We Work Harder When We are Happier

Happiness and Productivity

finding a project manager can be like finding a needle in a haystack

Let’s start with understanding where you stand today. I bet you don’t actually know … yet … 

This article is designed specifically to help you identify the right PM—as opposed to the left one—starting with bridging the gap between your perceived needs and your actual needs.

__

Congratulations! You just won a new client; it’s a multimillion-dollar deal, and you’ve decided to hire or resource a Project Manager (PM). You’re smart enough to know you can’t juggle all the moving parts of this hefty goal without one.

Whether you’re instigating a search through a recruiter, or requesting a PM through your existing Project (or Program) Management Office, there’s still some upfront work you need to do before picking your metaphorical PM rabbit out of a hat. And it starts with being realistic.

I often meet executives who have crafted a deck and pitched a presentation. The presentation has gone well, and they believe their presentation deck is comprehensive enough to ensure a seamless transition to a project manager who will then be expected to deliver on the goal.

Guess what? It’s not. A successful presentation may be a green light to move forward on a project. It may generate excitement and infuse passion, but without a thoughtful and practical execution plan, which includes requirements, schedules, budgets, and often more, all you have is an unqualified idea that is attached to a strategy that has not been validated against any inkling of reality.  Ouch.

I know it hurts to hear, but let me say it one more time because it’s important:  a sales deck is not a vision, a strategy, or a plan. It can have elements of these things, but the goal of such a deck is to win business, not to deliver final results. The real “what” and “how” is usually missing.

OKay. You get it. I hear you.

From a resourcing perspective, this means you need to hire a project mind-reader and certified therapist, not only to transcribe your pitch into a decipherable language but to dream up the “what” and then translate and deconstruct that dream it into tangible buckets that you can work on.

Functionally, the role of a project manager teeters between transcriptionist and wild and visionary producer/therapist. That’s a big spectrum. If you need a lot more of the latter, and you get “transcriptionist,” you will be left with one big ugly mess. If you hire for “visionary,” when what you need is “secretary,” chances are he or she will realize they are out of your league, and move on.

So let’s take a step back. Do you want to know where you stand today? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is your vision a combination of vaguely defined products and services with made up delivery dates? It is multiple projects (a program), or one project? Is it unique?
  2. Is your vision flexible? What about your strategy? What about those promised products and services, and delivery dates, how flexible are they?
  3. Where are you in the development of your product(s) or service(s)? Have you provided a proof-of-concept? Are you still concepting?  Do you have a prototype?
  4. Have you gathered business requirements, and have you vetted them with qualified people? Are requirements still changing? How frequently? Have key influencers been left out?
  5. Do your detailed plans and high-level plans map back to one another? Are you aware that both of these plans are of equal importance, and that they must both be accurate? How well do the two align? Are there significant gaps? (Note: If you did not start with an accurate picture of reality, then when it comes to committing to budgets, schedules, and deliverables, make sure that you communicate assumptions and risks as transparently as possible, and don’t act surprised when you’re asked to return to your client with your tail between your legs.
  6. Is this the first time you’re working on a project of this nature? Did you consult with qualified/credible people? Did you evaluate similar types of projects? Did you build in contingencies? Did you build in dependencies? And what did you communicate to your client?

If you can answer these questions truthfully and comprehensively, you’re now in a great starting position to have a conversation with a recruiter or your local PMO (Project Management Office), and are more likely to hire a better fit. Sadly, even after you identify your actual needs, there is another challenge recruiters know but rarely tell you: you could be stuck with whoever shows up. Gasp!

So why not skip this step altogether and spare yourself a headache?

Well, anyone who has ever handed off a boatload of work to the wrong person can tell you just how painful this can be. It not only sullies your reputation when the hire screws up but spending twice as much money and effort to clean up after someone else’s mistakes is irritating.

Sure, you may never find the perfect project manager, and that can be sad, but by going through this process, you:

(1) get to make informed decisions about how to resource against missing skills and abilities

(2) prevent issues from arising that you could have foreseen

(3) mitigate against an outright “bad” hire, which means less exhaustion, less frustration, less depression, less turnover, and more happiness, along with a higher probability of success.

So, let’s get started you, you open-minded-intelligent-business-guru. Where is your project in its evolution, really?

Did you find this useful? Have suggestions? Have questions? Contact me on LinkedIn.

Like this post? Read more at CommonSmarts.com.

You’re sitting in a meeting when two influential colleagues hijack the conversation and turn it into a high stakes game of chicken with your project.

You’re not quite sure how you let it happen, but sheer terror emerges as you recognize overconfident people are loudly and speedily sharing semi-logical information. Yes, semi-logical: sh*t logic wrapped in a delicious layer of good logic.

If you let them continue, the phony information will spread like wildfire. If you interrupt, you’ll be a casualty of involuntary ego-cide, career death by egotistical recklessness. You don’t stop a tiger fight by sending Bambi in as a moderator.

Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You’re not prepared to take on these tigers. You’re not a superhero. You’re a down-to-earth person who values quality and kindness. This is your project. What are you going to do? How are you going to defuse the situation without looking like tasty tiger bait?

Lesson One: Merely witnessing an ego-trip can throw you off balance. It can make you feel demoralized, unappreciated, confused, angry, fearful, and weak. BUT YOU CAN RECOVER IN THE MOMENT. 

When this happens, and it will, take DEEP breaths, kick back into your seat, and cross your arms up behind your head like you’re the boss.

Okay, I know it sounds silly, but you can’t underestimate the profound impact these moves have on your psyche. 

Studies indicate diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress hormones while power poses (such as crossing your arms behind your head) increase testosterone, stabilizing your flight or fight response and giving you confidence.

You need confidence, a steady heartbeat, and an open mind to turn these tigers into kittens. So take a deep breath now. And another. And another.

Feeling better? 🙂 Good.

For an added boost of confidence, I like to think about an SMBC comic by Zach Weinersmith where he plots a persons willingness to opine on a topic against their actual knowledge. For your enjoyment, here it is.

20111228

With permission from Zach Weinersmith of SMBC Comics

It’s a funny image to remember when ignorant VIP opine on topics they don’t know enough about. Keep it in your back pocket. Now take another deep breath. 

So what do you want?

You want…

  • To defuse the situation
  • To correct information without collateral self-damage 

Now think, does speaking loudly and speedily make a decision rational? Does it make it any easier to understand?

Probably not. Hence, it’s not in your best interest to let confidence transform you from Bambi into a tiger, unless it’s this one… 

walt-disney-238128_640

The truth is these colleagues need someone smart and buoyant–like you–to swoop down and gently nudge them over the edge of Mount Stupid into the valley of enlightenment. But how?

Lesson Two: “Help me understand” is a kinder and more modest way of saying, “No, you irrational, impolite bullies, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

With this approach, your colleagues backpedal to retrace their steps. The sheer act of stepping back with the intent to educate forces a person to confirm their own logic. It presents an opportunity to reflect while at the same time confirming validity. If a gap exists, you (and others) will spot it, and seek remedy.

If the logic is sound, you avert damaging influential relationships. (Hey, you can be wrong, too.)

That said, sometimes, even when the logic adds up, something still feels fuzzy.

Lesson Three:  In conversation, we often experience a self-imposed sense of urgency.  Saying, “Let me reflect on that” buys precious time.

Don’t let the fallacy of urgency back you into a corner. If your gut sends a signal, explore it! In other words, let curiosity, reflection and research drive the decision-making process, not a false deadline. If others are in the room, you may want to say, “Let’s reflect and reconvene.”  Others will nod willingly if they’re in the same boat. Some will spread misinformation anyway. Don’t fret. You can’t control everyone, but you can ensure a thoughtful call to action by fostering an environment of reflection.

Lesson Four: It’s easy to marginalize people. It’s hard to empathize, particularly when you are threatened. But where there is conflict, there is room for pause. 

Here’s the thing. What you value may not differ greatly from your cohort. People often share overlapping values and still end up in situations like this one. How you process and prioritize those values, on the other hand, is where conflicts arise. In the moment, even best friends who share the same values can completely miss the bullseye. Here’s an example.

John values politeness and health. He also values caring and kindness. He values Jane’s friendship. He wants to be there for Jane. So here he is sitting at Jane’s meeting, on time. 

Unfortunately, he’s been stuck in back-to-back meetings all day due to an urgent client request. He missed lunch and drank a big bottle of water to fend off hunger. He’s jittery and hungry. It’s hard to think straight when nature calls.

What he should do is apologize, excuse himself, relieve himself, and return to Jane’s meeting. He should tell Jane he didn’t have a chance to eat. But he doesn’t want to leave her meeting. He doesn’t want to be seen as impolite. He doesn’t want to offend her. He cares about her.

He’s completely distracted by the urge to urinate, so he speeds up the conversation, and engages in bursts of dialogue. When Jane’s meeting ends, he’s thrilled! The bathroom break afterwards feels like a reward for making it through the day. He rushes out of the office to grab a sandwich.

Jane hangs her head. She is disappointed with the confusing mandates that arose in the meeting, and the dismissive attitude she received from her close friend John.

As you can see, there are a slew of factors guiding how we prioritize. Some situations demand immediate action–like the call of nature or a phone call you receive from a client who says he’ll pull the plug on your business if you don’t provide a solution in an hour. Others don’t. Sometimes we prioritize our values well. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we don’t have the fuel to think straight.

I don’t know a single person who has not experienced a similar situation. So remember, empathy matters. We all make mistakes. We’re all imperfect beings.  

Lesson Five: Addressing observations leads to self-awareness. 

When you draw attention to your observations, you create an opportunity to address them.  By saying, “I’m experiencing a sense of urgency. Let’s step back. What am I missing?” you create an opportunity for others to self-correct or share. You provide an opportunity to confirm observations.

Either the urgency is real (e.g. the client called  and demanded immediacy) or the urgency is false (e.g. “oh, sorry, buddy, mind if we break for a few minutes so I can run to the little boys room and grab a sandwich? I was slammed earlier by that client thing.”). You may even realize you’re slower today than usual… You were up all night with a sick child.

Where there is awareness, there is realization. Where there is realization, there is transformation.

I hope this helps. Good luck! You got this!

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References

http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2475 

http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131734718/just-breathe-body-has-a-built-in-stress-reliever

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323608504579022942032641408

http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/9547823/13-027.pdf?sequence=1

http://jamesclear.com/body-language-how-to-be-confident

http://www.inc.com/noah-breslow/beware-of-the-false-deadline.html

Whether you’ve realized that you can do your boss’s job or that a 4-hour daily reverse commute to an office overlooking a park-n-ride isn’t your idea of a satisfying career, lots of people will tell you that there is no need to quit your job. That a job is a job is a job is a job. And it all comes down to what you make of it.

True, you can wisely devise a plan to create a new role for yourself in your existing org; discuss new options with your boss to telecommute; find a new gig; or you may even go so far as to launch a formal complaint with your HR department to get that internal bullying issue resolved. But let’s face it, you, the only change you have control over is “you”– whether you’re going to own your life or be a jackass in someone else’s.

And that’s a pretty tough dilemma, particularly when around every nook and cranny is another white-faced lie disguised as opportunity.

How do I mean exactly? Say you create a new role within your org or land a new gig, here are some common lies disguised as opportunities.

They say: “We don’t care how you do your job as long as you meet our goals.”

You think: “Autonomy! Perfect!”

What they mean is: “We can’t be held responsible for remedying any of our own mistakes. Good luck finding that unicorn! Have we mentioned we don’t care about you?”

They say: “We are looking for thought-leadership from our employees.”

You think: “Hooray! People who think!”

What they mean is: “We need to trick others into believing our leaders think. How would you like to ghostwrite for our illiterate sales team?”

They say: “We’re thrilled to have you on board!”

You think: “My dream job!”

What they mean is: “You don’t mind doing something other than what we hired you for, right?”

Sure, everyone takes one for the team sometimes, and on occasion (though far less often than one would assume) an honest pitch comes along. But if you find yourself reading countless articles filled with corporate smog about how you can be a successful mogul by leaning in some more, or by throwing one more giant to-do onto your list of already equally important competing to-dos for people who don’t share your values, and you’ve leaned in so hard you’re flirting with a merman, you, my friend, may be a closet…

Entrepreneur.

What I mean is, pack up. It’s time to come out of hiding and forge your own path. If you’re gonna put your head down and work till you’re dead-tired or half-dead, it may as well be toward your own vision, your own goals, under your own values, and dag-nabit from your own mistakes.

So here’s a shout-out to you, you closet entrepreneur. May you take a leap of faith. May you scramble to make a living worth your dignity. May your goals belong to you, and your belonging to your loved ones and your clients. May you over-promise and over-deliver. Who knows, you closet entrepreneur, maybe YOU are the unicorn.

And heck, if it doesn’t work out, there will always be another carrot out there for us well-deserving donkeys!

If you like this post, you may also like: I’m a Millennial, Focker, Can You Milk Me?

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Connect with me on LinkedIn

I love rainy days.

When I was a child, my teachers would ask the class, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

I would tell them, “I want to be a peacemaker.”

The students would laugh.

I would return home and see the desperation in my mother’s eyes. The longing.

Even if you could get away from it, the Iran-Iraq war was always on television. Taunting us in its journey of suffering.

In the beautiful land where I was born, bombs fell outside my nursery room window. I was a baby floating in love. I am lucky. Perhaps that is why my heart always beats so fast.

Rainy days, the violence stopped. At least, I imagined it did.

Gurus and scientists say consciousness is a matter, like the air you breathe, and the water you touch. Just think, your thoughts are swimming fish in a fast-moving ocean. You are part of a wave. You can stop wars. You can part seas.

Do you notice how so many people call in sick from work on rainy days?

Maybe it is true. Maybe you are sick. You numbed it until nature told you:

“Temporarily Down for Maintenance. Your Soul Needs Repair.”

I wonder, how many reflective thoughts come from a rainy day?

Two. Two Trillion. The ripple of infinity.

How much innovation germinates? How much floats? How many old ways degrade, leaving space for new?

I wonder.