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Decisions decisions

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" - Yogi Berra

What the great Yankee was referring to was directions to his house. It's the same distance whether you keep to the right or left.

But the lesson applies to our careers as well. Opportunities will come and go. You'll face difficult decisions. You'll come to forks in the road—one leading you in the right direction and the other, the wrong. Sometimes, you might have to go down the wrong path to know for sure the other one is correct. But, sometimes, both paths lead you to the same place.

Either way, you'll never know until you act. Pick a road, be confident in your decision, and know that (regardless of how many times you have to redirect yourself) it will all work out in the end.

On emails

It's your job to answer emails.

And getting a lot of emails every day is no longer an excuse for not replying. In today's world, it's how you show you care—interestingly enough, it's now something that sets you apart if you're really good at it.

Sure, have boundaries, but even a short reply is better than none at all.

Perks are not culture

Values are culture.

Work environment is culture.

How employees behave is culture.

It starts with hiring better (having a defined process). And it's cultivated when you clearly communicate that culture on a daily basis (in 1:1's, meetings, and through your actions).

More than just rewards, employees are looking for respect, role models, and growth opportunities.

So the next time you're tempted to buy a new ping pong table, consider what steps you've taken already to build a place where people feel valued

Questions to ask during interviews

Instead of asking, “what’s your culture like?”
Ask, “I noticed on the job description, you describe your organization as being a ‘flat’ culture, what does that mean at your company?”

Instead of asking, “what made you want to join the company?”
Ask, “on your LinkedIn, I see you come from a financial services background, what made you want to make the switch?”

Instead of asking, “who are your main competitors?”
Ask, “I read the case study on your website about how your tech differs from ‘x competitor,’ what went into that decision to invest in those specific features?”

Point is, do your homework. Most of the questions people typically ask during interviews can easily be researched. Ask something you can’t find out on their website. Preface your question by mentioning a fact you learned, then dig deeper to gain more clarity. Actively listen to what the hiring manger is saying, show you’re listening by following up with a relevant or related question.

Deadlines on offers—

Love them? Or hate them?

To me, it shows that you know how to make a decision quickly. It says, 'you're our number one choice, are we yours?'

When green meant stop

Until 1925 in NYC, people were used to driving through red stop lights but stopping at green. It was the norm and people were used to it. Until that changed and red became the international color that meant ‘stop.’

That’s the power of an idea. It started when people put their heads together and realized that our brains respond differently to various colors. Then they approached some influential people with viable solutions and, before you knew it, green meant something different than it did a few years earlier.

Ideas are the the lifeblood of organizations and societies alike. Ideas that spread can make or break your current system. And ideas become greater when others build on them.

A hunch

“A feeling or guess based on intuition rather than known facts.”

As recently as a few hundreds years ago, most decisions were based on hunches along with a little bit of data. But now the pendulum has swung to the other side. Now, we are more analytical because we have more access to data. With this reliance on data, however, it seems like we haven’t quite mastered the art of applying the right data to the correct situation. We love data, and that love blinds us (sometimes) to accurate information and, as a result, wisdom. Just because we know what works, statistically, doesn’t mean it will work in this context under these circumstances.

Human judgement, therefore will not and should not ever be replaced. And data certainly should not trump all. The two work hand in hand. Data leads to information which leads to knowledge; as does experience and intuition. Data informs. It improves our judgement which allows our hunches to yield more promising results.

Just because you ‘know’ something doesn’t mean you know it. Trust in something beyond what the data says, what the odds are, or what is popular or widely understood. Believe in something greater—the universe, God, your gut, whatever it is, it somehow already knows.

Deciding where to work

Go where you’re celebrated, not just tolerated.

The average person spends 13 years—over the course of a lifetime—at work.

That’s way too much time spent at places that don’t value what you do. Sometimes, it’s about doubling down and going the extra mile to show your value. Other times, it’s as simple as the decision to choose a new place where you feel like you belong, where you matter.

“Tell me about yourself.”

What they’re really asking is: “why should we hire you?”

Talk about what you are doing right now as it pertains to the role you’re applying for. Dive into some of your past experiences and the skills you’ve picked up along the way. Remember, the hiring manager already has your resume. Keep your stories brief, relax, and tell them why you’d be an irreplaceable member of their team.

The most important part of your interview tomorrow:

Your questions.

Spend more time on thinking of, researching, and crafting well-articulated questions than on any other part of your interview prep.

Engaging questions are what separate the great Podcasters, Interviewers, and Salespeople alike from the good ones. They show you’re interested. They show you know how to prospect and close. They show you care.

Finding a new job is like dating

And sales -

Swipe left, swipe right. Build the top of your funnel by initially scheduling calls with a broad range of prospects.

Until pretty soon you have a good idea of what you’re looking for. Then you find someone that meets most of those requirements you’re hoping for in your next relationship. And they like you back!

What else are you waiting for? At some point you don’t need more data, you need to make a decision.

No job is perfect. No candidate is perfect. Sure, you might find someone with a little more experience or a better background, but they might not like you back as much as this particular opportunity.

Go through whatever process you have to go through to make the right choice, but then decide and love your decision.

Feedback

When a recruiter or hiring manger gives feedback, letting you know they’re moving forward with other candidates, the next move is yours. How will you react? Will you get bitter? Or choose to get better?

News travels fast, especially in tech. If you freak out because you were passed on because of XYZ, don’t be surprised if you start seeing less and less opportunities come your way.

Be humble. Move on. Get better.

Medium matters

Sometimes, all it takes is a change in medium.

For the past two years I’ve been posting (almost) everyday on my blog. My goal never has been to generate revenue or gain a massive following, but rather, write about the things I observe on a daily basis. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at the analytics. Because one day I’m going to start selling stuff and, of course, I’m going to need people to sell to. Long story short—this week I saw an awesome spike in subscribers, followers, page views and traffic in general. All it took was a shift in how I produce content. I simply started writing my posts onto Linkedin (in plain text) and hit publish. Some of my posts saw 100x the engagement of my next-best performing posts. It’s been really fun and I’ve already seen some great opportunities come in.

Moral of the story here, location matters. You might be an incredible singer, athlete, actor, writer, coach, but if you never use your talent, no one will ever know. And, even if you are using your talent, but in front of an unappreciative audience or in a close-minded environment, you may never see real improvements or exciting opportunities come your way.

Medium also matters. You might be doing all the right things but just using the wrong tools. A/B test it. Experiment. Keep failing until you get it right.


On a related note, it’s taken us a few months, but Hannah and I are finally starting to take more advantage of living in the city. We are visiting more museums, going to more events, and trying new experiences. But it’s exhausting. New Yorkers love work. They take great pride in working hard and long hours. That’s the environment we are in so we, too, are ‘keeping up with the New Yorkers.’ But we have also realized that that’s where we are in life. This is our NYC/work phase. And we’re embracing it.


What I’m reading and learning:

Book I'm reading: The Liar in Your Life: The Way to Truthful Relationships. I’ve been on this psychology kick recently. I find these kinds of books fascinating. It’s about deception. But it’s also about the culture in which we live. A notable quote so far: “strangers lie to each other about three times in the first ten minutes of meeting each other.” It makes you think about how ‘we’re all just playing the game.’

Something I’m trying: Doubling down on my content creation. Linkedin is for tips, tricks, and trends in the world of hiring, recruiting, and organizational culture, my blog will continue to be focusing on ‘goals, mindfulness’ and ‘getting really good at what you do.’

All motivation is self motivation

It has to be, eventually.

You can coach yourself. At least, that should be your aim. Because the sooner you can get to the point where you know what motivates you and what doesn’t, the quicker you can not only coach yourself but begin to lead others.

What I’m getting at here is that we are becoming too reliant on external motivation. Make 30 phone calls today or your boss will hound you. Continue working late so that you can get a promotion. But if we’ve learned anything from Coach Knight or Chef Ramsay it’s that our current system isn’t built to depend on external motivation—and neither are we. If you’re constantly looking for rewards and recognition, you’ll never find enough to fill your cup. If you feel the need to cc your manager on every email so that they trust you’re working, then you’re missing the point (and so is your organization if that’s what they expect).

The point is, the world needs people who would do what they do even if it wasn’t their job. It also tends to favor those who can find that motivation inside.

All hype

Showing up is great. It gets you noticed and builds the hype. When you keep showing up, you start to build a reputation—for better or for worse, depending on how you show up.

But after you keep saying yes and volunteering, what happens next? What do you do after you fail a few times? Do you still keep showing up? Do you bring that same level of enthusiasm you had when you arrived the first time?

By all means, keep making promises. You’ll continue to grab attention. But gaining that kind of attention is easy because raising your hand is easy. Keeping those promises is how you build something special. It’s how you earn trust.

What aren't we talking about?

It’s just as telling (if not more so) as what we are saying.

If we communicate in order to solve problems, then when we aren’t, we aren’t.

When someone asks a question, do you get frustrated? Do you feel defensive? Is your culture conducive to those questions?

Talking is your job. Talking is the point. It’s what we do!

If something goes without saying then you can bet that you’re missing out on a lot of important stuff.

That wasn't in the job description

Either was:

  • Saying hi

  • Putting other people’s dishes in the dishwasher

  • Figuring out something that works (or doesn’t)

  • Planning an activity

  • Leading a discussion

  • Actively engaging with your peers

  • Asking tough questions

  • Offering a helping hand

  • Being curious

  • Smiling

Best in show

Everyone’s got something to say. Opinions. Criticisms. Feedback. How do you sort through the noise? What is credible? What isn’t?

The first question you’ll need to answer is ‘where is it coming from?’ What are the intentions of the person delivering his/her opinions? Is it to spite you and push their agenda? Or are they well-intentioned? Because if you confuse the two, you just might be missing out on a lot of valuable information.

You may not agree with someone’s opinion, but what if they were right? Would it kill you if you experimented with different tactics or tried implementing a minor tweak to your strategy?

Here’s the thing, criticism is not advice, but you’ll have a hard time telling the difference if you constantly come across defensively. Try being a little more agreeable and a little less combative. Your opinion still may not change, but you might.

A world without quotas

What motivates people to perform better?

Is it monetary value? Or is it a genuine desire for personal growth or education?

But sales reps are different, right? They need incentives, metric-centric goals, and quotas! But what if they weren’t? What if they didn’t? What if we don’t give them enough credit? What if instead of having quotas, you paid your reps a base salary of what they would normally make in OTE?

It’s an interesting idea. I can’t think of any companies who have tried it (granted, for good reason-possibly), but I genuinely wonder what would happen if a company had the guts to eliminate sales quotas. Without a quota, reps just might be motivated by other things like being more engaged with product managers. They might want to spend a few extra hours a week helping the new hiring class learn the ropes. They might stop padding their stats just to win a spiff and instead focus on driving value to clients and co-workers. Sales leadership could now focus on training and developing their talent rather than talking quotas (and rearranging comp plans) and attainment every so often. Reps might be given the freedom to experiment with new methods and systems. Can you imagine? Innovation coming from the sales team?

It’s just a thought. Maybe one day I’ll be in a position to try it out.

Showing up

Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Sometimes.

True, showing up is the crucial first step. In fact, it’s been said that ‘showing up is 80% of life.’ If that’s true then the other 20% comprises of how you show up. Which sounds a lot like the Pareto Principle, meaning—20% of how you show up makes up for 80% of your results.

So show up to serve, show up to impact, show up to love.