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Crusty “Older workers”…

This topic (near and dear to my heart) surfaced recently while attending a webinar on how to coach high performing sales reps.  For some reason the presenter credentialed himself at the beginning as a “younger worker”.

I’m not sure how it happened, but we side-tracked away from the topic of high performing sales reps to motivating what the presenter termed “older workers”.  I think he was simply trying to cite a few examples of difficult coaching situations – but the examples he cited were those tired, old, sound tracks about we Baby Boomers.

His negative comments spurred me to the chat box.  Coincidentally there were quite of few of my Baby Boomer colleagues online.  So, when he said “older workers” are not coachable anymore; not technically savvy; not wanting to “go the extra mile”; his chat box filled up.  Unfortunately, things went downhill from there.

This “older workers” topic was featured in a recent article about Baby Boomers.  The main point of the article was older workers are not retiring at age 65.  Longer life spans; lower retirement savings; and higher cost of living were cited as reasons.  Our skilled productivity was barely mentioned.  The writer suggested we’re in the way; clogging up promotions and the advancement of younger workers.  I wondered if he just expected us to go away?

Look… (How’s that for a direct word we Baby Boomers are notorious for?)  When people write these articles or use such clichés to besmirch minorities; women; or other protected groups of people – FBI investigations, #movements, and woke responses are initiated.  But if the group in question is comprised of sexagenarians, people easily make wrong (and very hurtful) statements about us, seemingly without remorse.

I can’t speak for every profession in any industry but believe me; those of my generation still in technology sales are here because we want to be; not because we have to be.  We’re good at it.  If we come across to our managers as a bit “crusty”, it might just be that said manager does not know what motivates us.  A lot has been said about managing Millennials. When was the last session you attended that focused on motivating Baby Boomers?

True, we’ve already mentored, managed, led, coached, trained, hired, fired, promoted, parented, and grandparented others.  Even so, motivating us isn’t a bad thing.  A little respect for our knowledge and experience goes a long way.  Talking with us vs. avoiding us is greatly appreciated.

Permit me to offer three more tips that might help if you’re managing one of us crusty, “older workers”:

  1. False team hype doesn’t work very well – we prefer genuine comradery to contrived cheer leading and faux claims of company culture.
  2. The “if we don’t hit our number the sky will fall” hyperbole doesn’t move us.  We came up on draw vs. commission comp plans – no salary – no sales – no dinner.  If we made it this far, we’re already wired to hit our number.  If we don’t fire us; we’ll be OK.  You will be too.
  3. “Career progression” carrots are not carrots to us – at this stage we want career fulfilment not career advancement; there’s a huge difference.

Try discussing your concerns with us as if we were adults – after all, that’s how we used to do it when we were the boss.  BTW – many of us don’t want to be the boss anymore because we have learned, managing people is messy; especially those crusty older workers LoL!

GAP

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Common enemies…

Posted Dec 4 2019 by in True North with 0 Comments

“OK Pokorn”, you might be thinking… “How will you correlate that title with peace and positivity?”  Well, there is actually great power found in emotional negativity that can be harnessed for the greater good.  And it is the appeal to the greater good that we will be reminded of this weekend.

Saturday we will recognize Pearl Harbor Day.  On December 7, 1941, an emotional, negative event occurred that summoned a powerful, driving force for the greater good.  From a factual standpoint according to Google:

In total, 2,335 Americans died and 1,143 were wounded.

Nothing remarkable in the annals of bloody combat, or even the bloody headlines of today, true?  But the highly-charged political discourse that followed, epitomized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Infamy Speech”, (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infamy_Speech ) united our country against a common enemy.

Negative emotions can be a powerful, driving force.  But always a force for the greater good?  With the difficult events that have occurred almost daily throughout 2019…where will we find the greater good from “impeachment”; “tariffs”; “homelessness”; or “global warming”?

The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. 

Albert Einstein

The hyperbole of current events seems similar to the highly-charged political discourse that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor.  But today, have we become our own common enemies?  Or, are we willing to think differently?

I always feel good when everyone says I’m nuts because it’s a sign that we’re trying to do something innovative. 

Larry Ellison

Thinking differently may offer us hope, but different does not have to be radical; dis-uniting; mean-spirited, does it?  Our thinking should create more friends and allies than it does enemies, shouldn’t it?  Back to Larry:

On the other hand, when people say you’re nuts, you just might be nuts… You don’t want people saying you’re nuts too often – once every three or four years is good.  Any more than that, and you should be worried because no one’s smart enough to have a good idea more than once every three or four years.

In the business world we often see evidence of power when a company unites against common enemies.  Steve Jobs continuously crusaded to be taken seriously – until Apple rose to dominate personal, technology devices and the way we all consume entertainment and information today.  The common enemy was their adversity when facing marketplace disrespect.  And that negative, driving force drove Apple to astronomical heights.

“ADVERSITY”:

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. 

Horace

The American Red Cross inspired from the carnage of our Civil War, formerly launched in 1881 in Washington D.C.  This powerful organization is also untied against common enemies – the devastated; the wounded; the needy; the destitute; the hungry.

Yes, there are many common enemies that coupled with the negative, emotional reactions they stimulate give rise to harnessing power for the greater good:

In every community, there is work to be done.

In every nation, there are wounds to heal.

In every heart, there is the power to do it.

Marianne Williamson

Here’s to Pearly Harbor Day and all the power it generated to propel our country forward in the face of common enemies.  What lessons have we learned?  How will we propel America and our fellow Americans, forward this December in the face of our many common enemies?

In every community, there is work to be done.  And in our hearts, we all have the power to do it!

GAP

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Thank you again and always…

‘Tis the season of thankfulness.  Not that we should wait during the rest of the year to say, “Thank you”, but certainly November and December remind us of our blessings, don’t you agree?  So before going any further – permit me to say, “Thank you”!

Thankfully, I am blessed with family, friends, clients and colleagues who enrich my life beyond count.  Thankfully, smart people have put counting in the proper perspective:

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted. 

Albert Einstein

Thankfully, I have readers who accept my periodic posts and reciprocate with responses of appreciation towards my little ditties.

I can’t count all that I am thankful for; nor all of the times I have wanted to thank someone for their kindness.  But I am thankful for sure.  I’m thankful for living in Denver – most of the time anyway:

Welcome to Denver:

The morning rush hour is from 5:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM.  Friday’s rush hour starts on Thursday.

Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere.  Denver has its own version.  The car or truck with the loudest muffler goes next at a 4-way stop.  The truck with the biggest tires goes after that.  Blue-haired, green-haired, or cranberry-haired ladies driving anything have the right of way all of the time.

North and South only vaguely resemble the real direction of certain streets.  University and Colorado are two boulevards that run parallel.  Geometry evidently not working at altitude, these streets intersect south of C470.

Highway 285 runs North, South, East and West and every direction in between; it can be found in every section of the Denver area making navigation very interesting.  You can turn west onto southbound 285; you can turn north onto westbound C470; and you can drive southeast on the Northwest Parkway.  This is why Denver uses the additional driving directions of “out”, “up”, “in”, “down”, and sometimes “over”.

Construction barrels are permanent, and are simply moved around in the middle of the night to make the next day’s drive more challenging.  When you see an orange cone, you must stop and then move ahead slowly until there are no more cones.  There need not be construction, just cones.

If someone has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been accidentally activated.

If it’s 70 degrees, Thanksgiving is probably next week; if it’s snowing, it’s probably the weekend after Memorial Day.

If you stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended or cussed-out.  A red light means four more cars can go through.  Not three; not five.  Four.  Never honk at anyone.  Ever.  Seriously.  Never yield at a “Yield” sign.  The yield sign is like an appendix; it once had a purpose but nobody can remember what it was.

Just because a street on the east side of town has the same name as a street on the west side of town doesn’t mean they’re connected. 

Unknown Sage

Thankfully we will spend time with family, friends, food, and fun with a little football during the Thanksgiving holiday.  We will take a few quiet moments to reflect on all we have to be thankful for, too:

Thank you Lord.  I may never have a lot; but I have always had enough. 

Gary A. Pokorn

Thankfully we can give thanks and experience the peace and power of a positive perspective this Thanksgiving.

GAP

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R U Paying attention?

I’ve paid attention recently to how much attention my team is paying to the topic of paying attention.  We are very concerned that our audience won’t pay attention if we don’t offer some sort of mental break, exercise, or change of pace every 20 minutes.  One of my colleagues suggested adult learner attention spans are equivalent to TV entertainment attention spans.

TV entertainment attention spans!  In my case, that’s channel surfing; DVR’ing to fast-forward through commercials; and cell phone multi-tasking.

But in the sales profession?  Making a living to pay the cable TV bill?  I sure hope we still have the ability to pay attention.  How about you?  Do you need a quick break from reading this 600 word post?  Yep, it’s exactly 600 words.  Welcome to my world LoL!  (A Peek Inside).

OK – may I regain your attention, please?

Did you see the story recently about the Silicon Valley high school that requires students to store their cell phones in an individual, locked bag when they arrive in the morning?  The bags are unlocked by the administrators and the phones returned to the students at the end of the day.  The time in between?  Two expectations: (1) Pay attention and (2) socialize.

When the students were interviewed for the story it was surprising (and refreshing) to hear them say that after a short adjustment, they actually like the approach; they even said they enjoy conversing with the other students.  Imagine that!  Oh, and from a learning standpoint, their academic performance is up.  It’s amazing what can be done when we pay attention, true?

What’s that?  Can you take a quick mental break?  Well, if this little ditty isn’t holding your attention for 600 words that’s my fault; not yours.  It’s OK.  You wouldn’t be the first to say, “Gary, you’re killing me!”

Permission to resume?  Thank you.

My company’s leaders are fully vested in addressing adult learning and behavior change tools, tactics and techniques.  But truth be told, when we get into a deep dive discussion around eBooks; micro-learning; just-in-time video training; etc. I have a hard time paying attention.

As a career sales professional I guess I have been programmed to operate like my prospects operate; if the topic is relevant and the discussion interesting, I will pay attention.  As soon as either departs from things I feel are important, my attention departs too.

I suppose it boils down to the difference between “have to” vs. “want to”.  Those high school students have to go to school.  The educators (and parents) want them to want to go to school.  Therein lays the challenge.

At my company, our sales reps have to be trained; leadership wants them to want to be trained.  And therein lays the challenge.  It’s not unique to my company nor is it unique to the sales profession.

Attention spans can and do fade quickly.  As one example, it’s interesting to me that the once popular, mega-trend of gamification; touted as the do-all and end-all in getting sales reps to pay attention to their daily prospecting tasks and quota performance, is now out of vogue.  Guess the reps got bored with the game.  Maybe they decided the game benefited their overseers more than it benefited them.

What’s that you say?  You haven’t heard about the downward trend of gamification?  Perhaps you weren’t paying attention.

Congratulations!  If you’re reading this you have made it through exactly 600 words, including my signature line below.  Thank you for your attention!

GAP

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Eureka!

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary©, the word eureka is used to express triumph on a discovery.   Ah “discovery”… how much has been said and written about sales rep discovery in particular?

Recently, I had my “eureka!” moment about sales rep discovery.  It was a bit more modest than their history of the word:

When people exclaim Eureka! they are reenacting a legendary event in the life of the Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes. While wrestling with the problem of how to determine the purity of gold, he made the sudden realization that the buoyancy of an object placed in water is equal in magnitude to the weight of the water the object displaces. According to one popular version of the legend, he made his discovery at a public bathhouse, whereupon he leapt out of his bath, exclaimed “Heureka! Heureka!” (“I have found it!”), and ran home naked through the streets…

No, I didn’t run naked through the streets.

During one, 5-day span I finished reading the book GAP Selling © by Keenan; had breakfast with my friend and former colleague, Gary Givan; and attended a SMM Connect webinar about the lack of value selling.  Then… Eureka!  I discovered (in my own mind anyway) why sales professionals do such a poor job of discovery.

It’s not just my opinion.  During the SMM Connect webinar, research was cited from the article published all the way back on August 29, 2012 by the research firm Forrester, “Executive Buyer Insight Study: Defining the GAP between Buyers and Sellers” by Scott Santucci.  The conclusion?  Most business executives feel meeting with sales reps is a complete waste of time.  They don’t believe we are trying to understand their needs.

Kennan’s book and the SMM Connect webinar both offered intricate (aka overly complicated) training approaches to sales rep discovery.  I believe little of their training survives “game speed” when we’re in front of a prospect.

During breakfast with Gary Givan, we were “talking shop” about sales rep discovery.  If Gary is not the most skilled sales professional I have ever met, he’s in the top 5.   I discovered his perspective on what trainers and authors offer on sales rep discovery – they always over-complicate things because they have books or consulting engagements to sell.

Eureka – that’s it!  We’re making it too complicated.  That’s why I advocate a simplified, repeatable approach consisting of 4, count ‘em, 4 things:

  1. Listen to what the prospect is trying to accomplish.  It may sound like this, “Gary, the business problem we’re trying to solve is…”  They will tell us IF we will simply listen.
  2. Take good notes.  Customers speak in customer language.  Sales people may not understand right away. That’s OK.  If we are truly listening, the prospect will be patient with us; often help us to understand.  When we get to this point, they WANT us to understand.
  3. Ask clarifying and NEVER “qualifying” questions.  Prospects hate to be “qualified”.  You and I hate to be “qualified” by some sales schmo when we’re buying something!
  4. Don’t try to solve during the discovery meeting – no “pre-mature selling”.  Let’s offer them the business courtesy of giving their situation some thought.  They will respect our efforts to match their level of thought.  This earns respect (if not trust and a relationship).

That’s it.  Be patient and don’t sell during discovery.  Easy to say is some social media post, I know.   But be patient and keep things simple nonetheless.  The prospect might just find your approach refreshing.

GAP

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High School Sweethearts…

Fall; October; football; high school; Homecoming – do you remember your first high school sweetheart?  High school is a very special and memorable time for teenagers; it certainly was for me.  And I always enjoyed the autumn season when I was in high school – Homecoming; Halloween; dating; parties (most chaperoned, some not).

Forty-nine years ago, this very time of the year, I asked the prettiest girl in my high school out on a first date.  I guess it went well enough because here we are forty-nine years later, and I’m still awe-struck by the glow of her beauty.

I hope you enjoy this opening to Chapter XII True North, of my book, The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective © as much I enjoyed writing it:

Dedicated to… a crisp night in October; with a slight breeze blowing through bare trees – waiting for the coming winter.   Close your eyes.  Can you smell remnants of autumn leaves burning?

To winning the homecoming football game.  To being carefree. To a Saturday night party at the teenager’s house whose parents are away.  Can you hear the kids having fun in the kitchen; the basement; and the backyard, all to the beat of the Rolling Stones?

To couches, blue jeans and sweaters.  To the floor lamp reflecting on her blond hair making it shimmer with silvery streaks of light.  To the nervous small talk of a teenage boy in the presence of a varsity cheerleader.  To the patience of the teenage girl sitting on the couch with the captain of the varsity basketball team.  Can you remember when you could actually hear your heart throbbing?

To throw pillows, which come in handy when the small talk runs out – what else can a young boy do?  And to playful pillow fights; which lead to gentle wrestling and ultimately to that first kiss. Remember how delicate she felt in your arms – the hint of her perfume – the taste of her lips?

To first dates – dinner and a movie.  To the movie Catch 22 and the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago.  To dating the prettiest girl in your high school; to falling in love; to asking her father’s permission for her hand in marriage.  Were you ever so nervous?

To the tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this short memoire.  To all those emotions; all the happiness; all those hopes and all those dreams; some fulfilled, some yet to be; and all that I can remember today as if it just happened yesterday – that I will remember everyday, as long as I live.  How can someone be so lucky?

To 1970 – and that Saturday night in October in Elmhurst where I kissed Debbie for the very first time.  And to the friend’s house whose parents were out – to their couch, their floor lamp, to their throw pillows; and to the Rolling Stones music.  Can you imagine being so young, so infatuated, and so in love? 

I still am.

GAP

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Giving our best…

Football is my favorite sport.  A bit ironic I suppose, because football is the epitome of a time in my life that I did not give my best.  Actually, it was worse than that.  It was the one time in all my competitive pursuits (in athletics or in business) that I quit.  I’ve lost many times; won my share too; quit once.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of my junior year season.  It was the only time in my life that my Mom told me I disappointed her.  I can remember going into the head coach’s office to quit as if it was yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even planning to play my junior year.  I planned to focus on basketball.

The coach called and asked me to reconsider.  I agreed, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  He and his coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up either.  At the age of sixteen, I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it to this day.  A bit ironic I suppose – it’s not the not-playing that I regret; it’s the not giving my best.

I bet there have been special coaches and mentors who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of styles and techniques.  I bit ironic I suppose – some coaches resonate with us; some don’t.

Here’s a 6 minute video about a high school, an underdog team, and their coach’s expectation about giving our best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world today – but the message does, true?  Yes, the sporting world is different than the business world.  Nonetheless, we don’t have to go it alone.  Even the best-of-the-best have coaches.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers this:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace:

“Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.

“Coaching requires giving up power and control” – The manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.

“Coaching takes too much time” – Coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.

“Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.

“Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.

“Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.

“Coaching is like therapy” – To be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading.

Coaches enjoy occasional accolades, too.  The best I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, head coach of the then, Houston Oilers.  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his.

A bit ironic I suppose, but his players had no quit.  They gave him their best.  Imagine – what could we accomplish today if we just committed to giving our best?

GAP

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Elements…

A LinkedIn connection of mine (the Global Business Unit Leader of a multinational company – meaning he’s higher up the corporate food chain than me) liked a LinkedIn article.  That was influence enough to catch my attention.  (I like hangin’ with the higher ups; read what they read; don’t you?)

The article was posted by a Vistage Chair.  Vistage is another organization that has great influence with me because of their renowned work with business owners.

The content was slightly dated (2017); and admittedly, the title of the article was suspicious, “The Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Seen All Year”.  I mean, how many times do we read bold claims only to be disappointed when we get past the headline?  Nonetheless, I pressed on…

In the article, Dave Gerhardt laid out 5 Elements of a compelling, strategic story in a specific sequence.  I liked the premise – a “step by step” approach.  Simple, clear, concise – exactly the qualities I believe Buyers prefer, but don’t usually receive.  Sales & marketing people continuously complicate things (in my opinion).  I got to element 3.

Element 1: Acknowledge (and then attack) the status quo most Buyers have, and most Sellers cannot overcome.  This totally aligns with my experience and opinions about why Buyers don’t buy.

Element 2: Suggest “name the enemy”.  I liked that technique too.  Buyers want a simple answer to their question, “Why should I buy?”  Most Sellers struggle to avoid offering an overly complicated answer.

Then came Element 3: Tease the prospect.  Houston, we have a problem… and just when I thought I was about to learn “the greatest sales pitch”…

The article’s premise was Buyers want to simply have a (simple) business conversation on why they should buy.  The author’s proposed solution?  An always-on chat bot connected to real-time email(s) and the ability to schedule a product demo via access to the Seller’s calendar.  So, once you have captured the Buyer’s interest (similar to the way my interest was captured as outlined above); you hit ‘em with artificial intelligence and email automation?  Ouch!

Look, I know it ain’t easy out there.  But I really do believe Buyers want to have simple, effective conversations on how they can improve their business situation, whatever the product or service in question is.  Putting yourself in their position, wouldn’t you want such a straight forward conversation if you were buying from you?

Permit me to propose an alternative “3 Elements”.  In my arena, I believe every Buyer has 3 fundamental questions – sequenced exactly as listed below (there’s that “step-by-step” approach); that the successful Seller must address.

Element 1: “How would I know if I needed a new system?”  Most Buyers don’t.  As a Seller, I’m not in the business of convincing the unwilling.  If they don’t believe they need a new system, say “Thank you” and move on.

Element 2: “If I do, can it wait?”  It usually can.  It’s OK if we follow their time-table.  I’m going to have quota next month and next year.  When Sellers “press”, Buyers usually retreat to “No Decision”; but not until forcing us to play that dreaded game, “the looooong looooose”!

Element 3: “How will I pay for it?” An objective, financial justification will be made.  The only question is whether the Seller has earned a “seat at the table” to participate in the Buyer’s calculations.

It’s not “the greatest sales pitch of the year”; but if you think about it, it might just be closer to how Buyers actually buy.

GAP

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Unstoppable…

Peter Drucker, famous management consultant is credited with positing:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks once explained the origin of his competitive fire:

There are two types of owners; those who want to win, and those who can’t stand to lose.

Mark Cuban can’t stand to lose.

If we believe in the importance of company culture that begs the question, “How is it created”?  Charismatic leaders might be credited, but after setting the direction employees must become the engine to power the progress.

In the best cultures I’ve worked in or witnessed, leaders become followers and followers become leaders.  I know the military adheres to a strict code of tops down command, but business is not war.  Servant Leadership was once revered.  I don’t know if it still is.

I enjoyed this article shared by a friend and former VP of mine; Startup Success: Why You Should Hire Unstoppable People.  “Unstoppable”, I like the sound of that.  The author suggests most companies focus on job related skills when hiring people even if they claim a people-first culture.  How are things done at your company?

If you want to be unstoppable, you have to hire people who are unstoppable. 

Steve Rowland

In my personal, professional experience leading companies have hired ordinary people and led them in a way that they achieved extraordinary results.  I’ve written about the honor to be a member of DFoA  Among the vast supply of seemingly ordinary people exist many that are unstoppable.  How do we find them?  How do we lead them?

Steve Rowland offers us his “recipe” starting with what every employee should have and then extending to the extraordinary level; the unstoppable level:

Core Traits

Collaborative: Our best candidates work well with others inside and outside of their function and take into account the perspectives of all of the stakeholders involved in any problem.

Integrity: These candidates also show consistency with our company’s principles, values and behaviors. They have the courage to do what is right for the customer, the company and the team.

Accountable: They should set the bar high for themselves and take full ownership of their commitments, whether or not they’re able to deliver on them.

Unstoppable Traits

Humble: They should be authentic and selfless, and know their own strengths and weaknesses. They should also be able to effectively relay their own perspective while remaining open to the feedback and perspectives of others.

Creative: We want all of our employees to create unique visions, explore possibilities and develop outcomes that others may not see.

Adaptable: Unstoppable candidates can absorb, navigate, adapt and successfully execute in a dynamic and evolving customer, company and market environment.

Curious: These employees should continuously seek to learn about our technology, customers and the broader industry, and demonstrate pragmatic intelligence and an unwavering desire for self-improvement.

Driven: The best candidates also proactively deliver with energy and quality. We expect these candidates to push through adversity with a positive attitude, focusing on what can be done instead of what cannot.

Challenger: Great hires are confident enough to challenge norms. They never take things at face value and ask hard questions which get at the root of the idea in front of them.

Many companies want great culture; getting there is the “trick”.  Steve Rowland reminds us:

It might seem as if this should go without saying, but we are a company of people — not products or technology.

What do you think?  Are you unstoppable?

GAP

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Dates never forgotten…

September 11, 2001 – we still remember.  What other dates are never forgotten for you?

In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities © is the contrast, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” both occurring at the same time.  For Americans, 9/11 2001 seems like a demarcation point between the best of times before that morning and the worst of times after.  That’s when terrorism literally collided into freedom.

Do you remember where you were when news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centers in New York was broadcast?  I always will.  In a flash our generation was tested on what we can endure during the worst of times.  December 7, 1945 tested my parent’s generation; October 24-29, 1929 tested my grandparents’.  On a more personal level April 20, 1999 was the worst of times for my home town.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish during the best of times; and what we can endure during the worst of times.  The bad times help us appreciate and enjoy the good times even more.

Our ability to gain strength from adversity should come as no surprise, though.  Our ancestry is made of up generations who endured and then grew stronger.  Much of today’s adversity pales in comparison to theirs.  Here’s what Ernest Hemingway said:

Life breaks us.  And when we heal, we’re stronger on the broken parts.

For many of us who did not suffer a direct loss of loved ones from these tragic events, our hardships now come in the form of inconvenience and economics.  We work harder today to keep up than we did before; travel has become more difficult; guns are all too prevalent in our society; in our schools; at our churches, malls, and theaters!

Things we once dreamed of seem further from our reach.  We have extended our resources close to the breaking point in defense of our country and our way of life.   But for America, that’s nothing new.  Our country has been on the brink; had parts broken; and healed back stronger for as long as we have been a country.  Were the hardships of the Revolution, the Civil War, the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights Movement, or any other national, local, personal, or family crisis less hard?

We are up to facing today’s challenges.  We are strong because we come from generations of strength – families who struggled to make for this country, for their families, and for themselves the best of times.  Like past generations, Americans today have the opportunity to earn and enjoy the better things in life.  And we know why they are the better things:

To really enjoy the better things in life, one must first have experienced the things they are better than. 

Oscar Holmolka

So today we reflect on that never forgotten, life-changing event now known as 9/11.  Like the day an American walked on the moon, or the night the USA Olympic hockey team won the gold medal to Al Michaels’ famous words broadcast around the world, “Do you believe in miracles?”,  let’s turn to our favorite, Unknown Sage once again for this reminder:

The First Rule of Life:

The best things in life aren’t things.

Our country endured October 24, 1929 and the Great Depression; grew stronger after the December 7th, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack; my home town stands firm following the 4/20/1999 Columbine shooting; and I believe Americans remain united following the 9/11/2001 attacks.

Dates never forgotten.

GAP

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