Robert Godden’s musings and rants

I muse. I rant. This is my outlet!

Archive for May 2008

One Vision

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Sometime, throwaway lines can have a profound effect on your life. In my last blog, I wrote this about LinkedIn Answers at a moment’s whim:

Because I believe that you have to give as well as receive, for every answer I receive, I’ll go to LinkedIn answers and find a question to answer – that’s being the Person 2.0 I wish to be.

The blog before that was related to a LinkedIn Answer, and over the process I was amazed by the generosity of spirit of those who responded. However, even more amazing was the reaction I got to the little sentence above.

I received dozens of messages telling me what great idea it was from that pool of LinkedIn users. And the momentum didn’t hurt my network either, with growth still pushing back the barriers of belief. I’m at nearly 800 now – I was on 61 on April 12th after about 5 years in LinkedIn.

So, the idea of giving as well as receiving. It’s central to Web 2.0, Here’s my thought process:

  • Passive Web 1.0 only offered the chance to take, and we all took.
  • Interactive Web 2.0 offers the chance to give AND take. Person 1.0 still just takes. But Person 2.0 gives and takes. And enjoys it. And benefits in so many ways.

So, in a return to the temperance idea of the early 1900’s, I’m taking the pledge. Obviously, since I’ve written it, and here it is. (It doesn’t stop you drinking)

I pledge that Web 2.0 has inspired me to become ‘Person 2.0’ & I should give at least as much as I receive. I therefore pledge that when using LinkedIn Answers or any site similar, every time I get an answer to one of my questions I will find someone else’s question and give a thoughtful answer.

It sounds pretty simple, but to be honest, it can be a bit of work if you get a lot of answers. As I write this, I’m about six behind due to a great response to my last question. I’ll answer two a day until I catch up, I promise!

I’ve setup a LinkedIn Group, along with truly dodgy logo, so that others can join the pledge. It’s at http://www.linkedin.com/e/gis/109061/513273580568 . I’d love to see you there.

I’m keen to see whether this crazy little idea has any currency. I guess I’ll find out. 

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Written by robertgodden

May 26, 2008 at 6:59 am

Friends will be Friends

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With a LinkedIn network that has grown over 1000% in about a month, it was time to test out these new-found friends. Are they the sort of friends who will willingly spend upward of a minute and a half helping me?  To paraphrase Roger Waters, I decided to “test the water of their friendship with my toe”, Besides, I really needed some help.

The last post to this blog “We Apologise for this Break in Transmission” outlines a request for help and it was sent to 200 LinkedIn contacts that I selected on the basis of likely expertise.

Even though I sent it Sunday morning and write this on a Monday morning, replies have come pouring in. My favourite so far – sent just a few minutes after I sent the question:

Robert, I don’t think you’re there yet.  1) spell check!   2) clearly show the value that you’re offering (letter sounds like just a sales pitch for the book) 3) proof read this!  4) from what perspective are you coming from?  sounds a bit too familiar in tone to be promoting professionalism.  5) hang in there.

I love this reply because, though succinct, it shows that some guy somewhere took the time to read my email, read the blog and then reply. In particular, I was heartened by item 5. What a nice touch. I’ll try to make my answers more encouraging from now on.

Because I believe that you have to give as well as receive, for every answer I receive, I’ll go to LinkedIn answers and find a question to answer – that’s being the Person 2.0 I wish to be.

So, thinking about the whole concept of networks and on-line friends, I can’t help but think back about three years, when my then 16-year-old was always talking on-line to people he had never met in person.

He was of the opinion that because they had all been introduced by mutual friends, and that had likewise happened before;  somewhere in the chain was someone he knew in the real world, and therefore this was OK. As his parents, we where very concerned about the fact that every Goth, Emo or vampire (not as many, but enough) in Adelaide was talking to our son about God knows what. He was even starting to listen to my CD’s by The Cure and Pink Floyd for God sake; a sure sign of a descent into madness.

I’ve actually met a bunch of these people since, and though terribly earnest, philosophical and in some cases not terribly in tune with personal hygiene; they an alright bunch of kids. They’re not exactly rabble-raisers – they’re more likely to spend Friday evening arguing philosophy over cigars and scotch (you can thank Boston Legal for that).

For me the point is that you can sharpen an on-line instinct like you can in the flesh. You won’t pick every bad apple; but you’ll have a reasonable handle on those who aren’t rowing in the same direction as you.

I’ve recently become enchanted with Twitter; and some of my on-line contacts such as TalentSynch and InfoSourcer are proving to be incredibly generous with their pearls of 140-character wisdom.

It’s now the age where the “loner” tag can be thrown off. Those of us a little different who don’t make friends easily in social scenes can add a whole new dimension to our lives in the glow of the LCD screen.

Written by robertgodden

May 19, 2008 at 6:52 am

Posted in Business, Family, Musings

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We apologize for this break in transmission

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This is not my regular Sunday/Monday-ish weekly blog. That’s on it’s way. 

This is here because I’m seeking opinions from amongst those who are kind enough to comment about a letter I’m about to send to HR managers. It’s based on ideas from several trusted friends, and I believe I’ve written it well. I’m just not sure it presses the HR hot button.

So, please comment. Rip it to shreds. I value all input.

Here it is:

Hello <Name>

HR is often seen as operational and transactional, with no strategy, no flair, no insight, no pro-activity.

Unfair? Of course! But too often true.

If you are in an organisation that believes that, you probably want to challenge that perception.

If you aren’t, you’ll want to continue to emphasise your strategic functions so that your organisation continues to treat HR the way it needs to be treated.

Sometimes, simple ideas are the best. Here’s one that’s simple, cheap and noticeable.

Buy all the other senior executives a book!

It seems a simple thing, but if the book is good enough and adds enough value, it makes a clear statement.

Of course, it needs to be the right book.

1001 Nights in the Trans-Arabian Corporation‘s Boardroom is a work of fiction that is crammed with insight into business ethics, career development, marketing, business management, and of course, goo HR practice. It’s witty and enjoyable enough to be read as a pure work of fiction, but its real benefit is to unleash the creativity of the business manager. Reviewers have raved about it.

Best of all, it’s just a book. No DVD to buy. No series of seminars to sign up for. Just a book. With a corporate rate of less that AU$30 per copy.

It would be hard to explain how this book works in this short note – it’s a big story made up of little stories. To get an idea of how the little stories work, take ten minutes to read the free chapter “The Jentacular Experience”. It can be downloaded here.

If you’re keen to explore the book, then buy a copy on-line. Send a note that you’re a HR Manager, and I’ll send you an extra copy free, so that you and you’re team can assess it quicker. If you don’t enjoy it, let me know and I’ll refund the purchase price.

It’s a pretty simple idea. Change perceptions – just a bit, but positively – for an amount that will barely register on your budget, but with a book that your organisation will remember for a long time.

Check out the site here.

So, that’s the letter. Please, comment in any way. I intend to send it in about two weeks time.

Written by robertgodden

May 18, 2008 at 8:39 am

Posted in Business

What was that? That was your life, mate!*

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I’m sure many people in my industry hear the question as often as I do: “So, why do you work in recruitment?”

The glib answer that falls off of my tongue is: “because you can change people’s lives”.

There’s no more satisfying feeling than when you ring that superb candidate to tell them they have the role that they really wanted – as a matchmaker, you’ve consummated a successful relationship: one that may last many years, if not virtually forever.

But like matchmaking, that’s not always the case.

Nevertheless, if you’ve done your job well, you feel the world is a better place.

It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in our own self-importance. “Thanks to me, that company has gone from strength to strength since I appointed the new General Manager/ CEO/ Chauffeur/ Accountant/ Washroom Attendant” is a pretty comfortable thought pattern.

You have a lovely smug feeling about the great job you did for your client. But for me, it’s always about the candidate. I like to think that a brand new, better paying, challenging role; particularly for a nice candidate, is a massive life-changing event.

I fell into recruitment after spending the early part of my career in PC sales, primarily to families. I loved the feeling that the PC was for many people (and we’re talking late ‘80s, early 90’s) one of the most significant and expensive purchases they would make. I loved being part of that commitment.

So, that paints a picture. I wonder how many out there are like me. 43, happy with life, feel like you’re making a difference.

At 17, I had different ideas. I was about to conquer the rock world and explode onto the world stage. I was sure of it! As part of a three-part post-punk band who were almost certainly the best or, at worst, second best band in the country town I grew up in; myself, Paul and Charlie were destined for big things. But unbelievably; something slipped ‘twixt cup and lip. Perhaps it was my overwhelming lack of talent.

The other two guys were very important to me, but after high school we scattered across Australia, and until last year, I had not much idea where they were. Then Facebook happened.

Thanks to Facebook, I’m now in semi-regular contact with various people I knew 20, 30 or more years ago.

That’s how I know that Charlie – my best mate in the world for maybe 2 years in the early ‘80s – graduated with two degrees from university a week or so ago – at the same time as being diagnosed with a condition that the words “life-threatening” hardly do justice.

In another hour I’ll be in the office, struggling to tell myself that the sourcing exercise I’ll be working on is as important today as it was on Friday.

I’ve often heard people use the phrase “Get some perspective”. But to quote the late and great Douglas Adams “if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion”

*(The title for this blog post is a quote from Monty Python’s meaning of life. I was tossing up between that and “Vale of Tears”; but if you’re looking for a quote, Monty Python wins every time.)

Written by robertgodden

May 12, 2008 at 7:00 am

Be daring: Approve of Social Intercourse at work!

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The title of this blog, if read too fast, might cause some consternation.

Whilst it might then seem less problematic; on a second read, it probably isn’t.

In Australia, we have a jobs boom. It’s pretty tight for candidates right across the board in every state. Smart recruiters are having a great time. I certainly am!

What makes it  difficult is outdated management theory in both general management and HR.

One of the types of management thinking that is really at issue is outdated attitudes to flexibility. Technology offers so much freedom – and yet management can’t pass that on. However, that’s the subject of an article I’m penning, so let’s move on.

Social Intercourse: Oh yes! That’s what every workplace has that is unique. If you are addicted to The Bold and The Beautiful or Neighbours,you can find people in every workplace that share your tragic obsession. But if you’re addicted to the ebb and flow of friendships, the achievements and the highlights, the scandals and the office politics at work; then how can you leave?

Of course, it’s best to avoid the aforementioned scandals and office politics, and good employers add good stuff that is remarkable so that their staff share a common experience that is outside of the ordinary.

Psychologists say that shared experiences bond us. That’s why eating a meal with a client is a damn fine thing.

The best bonding experiences have been found to be dangerous situations, or wacky and absurd ones. Since tying your staff to the railway lines is likely to cause a stir in OH&S circles, why not try something wacky?

Institute the 15-minute weekend catchup – from 9am to 9:15 on Monday, staff may not do anything else but gather in the kitchen and talk about their weekends. Have a big clock that counts down and then emits a loud chime to send them all scurrying back.

Have a theme every casual day. I once convinced a new starter that on Fridays you could only dress in colours that occur in Liquorice Allsorts. (She turned up in black, pink and lime green!). Offer a prize for worst tie day (customer contact people may need to bring two).

Encourage staff to eat together by sponsoring themed lunches every fortnight. For a few bucks per head experience something different each time. For example, a Mexican meal (unless your office is in Mexico) or a build-your-own-sandwich buffet

There is a lot written about having fun at work. But as more places get switched on to this, companies can race to outbid each other in the ‘fun’ department. The trick is to get your people interacting.

Is it dangerous to office discipline to encourage office friendships? How can it be? Millions of companies have a “refer a friend” policy. so how can it be acceptable to be friends before you work together, and not form a friendship in the workplace? And office discipline is a bit of a myth – set clear boundaries on confidentiality and professionalism, but understand that staff talk, whether you like it or not.

I’m out to collect great examples of social interaction at work, and your comments will be a great start. My stats say 64 people read this blog – so two each gives me over a hundred!

Now that is is genuinely a once weekly-ish blog, and since the title is “Musings and Rants”, next time I’ll provide a full bore rant! Tune in then.

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May 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm

It’s not Web 2.0

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Web 2.0 is here, and entrepreneurs and marketers are rushing to cash in.

And most of them just don’t get it.

Web 2.0 is often described as interactive information on-line. And for those people who want to describe it as such, then go ahead. Because it’s also about diversity of opinion. About welcoming that diversity, and airing those opinions.

No longer is it the loudest or strongest that can have an opinion.

Take web star Dave Mendoza. Dave is a humble, quiet, thoughtful sort of guy. Ten years ago, in any group of three, Dave would be the one who would struggle to get his point across.

Yet with sheer hard work, he has built sixdegreesfromdave.com into the world’s most respected recruitment blog, opened up great possibilities for himself and built a dream business, can now travel and have everyone else in the room – virtual room or real room – hang on his every word.

Is it just a geek phenomenon? Is thoughtful and insightful, or just plain clever, the newest fad? Take Shally Steckerl, Sourcing Guru, who specialises in deep web searching within recruitment. He seems uncomfortable in front of the huge crowds that flock to his seminars, and it’s easy to imagine him happiest in a dim room with a double screen and a bottle of water, typing away and looking satisfied as the magic he weaves brings forth the results.

So, is it just the rise of the geek, as foreshadowed by Bill Gates many years ago?

No; I don’t think so. Take Kevin Wheeler.

Kevin’s smart, but he’s no geek. A serious entrepreneur; a passionate advocate for change; a polished performer. If it wasn’t for the complete lack of arrogance, he’d be like so many before him.

But Kevin’s different. Shally’s different. Dave’s different. Yet they are all Web 2.0 stars. So where’s the connection?

It’s easy. They are all incredibly generous of spirit. They are passionate givers, providing information in the second information age. They all believe that if you give enough of yourself; people will see that and reward you with front-of-mind status – you will be the only logical choice when there’s serious consulting to be done.

Which brings me to my point: Web 2.0. It’s really not about the web at all. It’s about people.

The web is a refection of twenty years of collaboration. It’s bringing together people who found their PC was the place to care and share; to find stuff out and to help others.

People are changing. Web 2.0 is just a symptom; a necessary technological mindshift.

Henry Ford. Neil Ludd. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. That guy from IBM who predicted there would be no market for home computers. None of these people are famous just because of who they were – rather because of the technology that changed in a manner that was intermingled with people; and the way they embraced or rejected it.

I’m not sure that in 100 years people will tell Dave, Shally or Kevin stories. But they will tell stories about people who broke the rules, who gave their time and expertise freely; who transmuted that into a business and personal opportunity that those who merely try to sell content – without giving – can only dream about.

It’s the rise of the individual; the winds of change for the corporation; it’s a wakeup call for politicians; theocrats and ideologues: You won’t change people with the Web – the Web is changing to suit the will of its user-base: it’s the ultimate democracy and its leaders don’t represent a party; they represent the kind of person many of us would like to be.

Written by robertgodden

May 1, 2008 at 6:40 am