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Happywork TV Episode 13: Employers May Have Skillsets That Employees Do Not

In Episode 13 of Happywork TV, I introduce yet another commitment contained in the work code of conduct I’ve created called “The Happywork Agreement.” (which is in the book!)

Here it is: “I will remember that I may possess certain skillsets that my employees do not. Therefore, it may not be reasonable to expect from others sterling performance in areas where I excel. I will be patient. There was only one Michael Jordan on the Bulls.”

In the video, I bring up the example of Magic Johnson. He excelled at just about everything on the court – he was tall, he could pass, he could shoot, he was an amazing floor general and leader. However, when he was handed the Lakers coaching job, he didn’t do so well.

Why? One reason bandied about was that he got frustrated when players didn’t execute plays that he was so able to make himself during his playing career. He wasn’t patient with his players, and it shoed. Jordan did the same thing during his playing career, and it didn’t seem to affect the Bulls’ performance. However, I have to question whether or not it was fun to be Jordan’s teammate. Kobe Bryant is finding out right now how lonely it is when no one wants to come play with you. Guys, it’s Los Angeles. It’s the Lakers! Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to play in L.A.? Here’s your answer: NBA players who don’t feel like putting up with Kobe Bryant’s management style.

Owners and managers will more often than not possess a deeper skillset than the people who work for them. Yes, it’s a generalization, but it will be true more times than not. When I was a CPA, I certainly possessed more skills than junior accountants. It would have been unfair to expect them to be able to do all of the cool accounting things I was able to do. (did I really just say that?)

Smart owners and managers will hire the best people they can, and will then train them, coach them up, send them to seminars, and give them as many chances to acquire the skills necessary to excel. Before you know it, those employees may be ready to shoulder more responsibility. But until they are, you need to be patient, and you need to teach, teach, teach. If you’re riding some junior person’s ass because they can’t do it as well as you, you’re just being a short-sighted jerk.

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Watch Episode 12 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 12: Owners, Take Your Arguments Behind Closed Doors

In Episode 12 of Happywork TV, I introduce yet another commitment contained in the work code of conduct I’ve created called “The Happywork Agreement.” (which is in the book!)

Here it is: “I promise to take arguments between owners, or between owners and upper management, behind closed doors. Employees do not need to see or hear such things. Often, such strife can hurt employee morale, and can even make employees fear for their future. I need to keep that in mind.”

When upper management and owners fight among themselves out in the open, it’s just an ugly scene, and you’re adversely affecting employee morale. When you guys fight, we’re scared for our jobs. We live in fear when we work in such situations. If two or three owners aren’t getting along, which is bound to happen, take it behind closed doors. Or take it offsite. Don’t fight in front of us. Yes, disagree with each other, but do not be disagreeable. It unnecessarily adds stress to the workplace (unnecessarily being the operative word there).

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Watch Episode 11 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 11: Don’t Keep Dead Weight Around

In Episode 11 of Happywork TV, I introduce the next commitment in my work code of conduct, “The Happywork Agreement.”

Here it is: “I will not keep dead weight around … One should not have to pick up the slack for underperforming employees … And we’re not going to use Jack Welch-style stack rankings. Annually firing 10% of one’s workforce is an apathetic, lackadaisical way to build a team.”

When running a company, there’s the fun stuff – plotting and executing strategy, making big sales, opening new locations, notable PR breakthroughs, and such and such. What’s not fun? Firing people. Even if they deserve it because they’re big jerks, it’s not fun. Sometimes you have to fire a nice person because they aren’t performing, and that’s even less fun.

So you know what happens? Sometimes, those people don’t get fired. They stick around … for years. And you have great employees who get to work with these under-performers, and that’s arguably unfair. In fact, I’ve noticed that the good workers sometimes get more work assigned to them, because their managers know they’re so good at what they do, they’ll get it done. Those high performers will eventually leave, because no one wants to be overworked because under-performing employees aren’t pulling their weight.

So yes, managers and owners – please build us a strong workforce, and don’t keep dead weight around. As mean and cutthroat as that sounds, it’s actually the fairest way to build a great team.

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Watch Episode 10 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 10: Hire People Smarter Than You

In Episode 10 of Happywork TV, I discuss commitment 8 in the list of 46 commitments in my book Happywork. Here it is: I implore you, Mr. Manager and Miss Owner, to hire people smarter than you! As I say in the video, it’s the sign of a great owner and a confident manager.

Reasons why this doesn’t happen more often? Control and ego, I think. Ego = for some entrepreneurs and leaders, it’s difficult to fathom that anyone is more talented than them. It’s this bravado that might allow them to take the risk of starting a business in the first place. Control = in certain situations, you don’t want to bring in someone who could challenge you for control of a situation, or worse, control of a company. It would be like LeBron and Kobe on the same team – they’d win tons of games! Or would they? Who’s the alpha dog? Who’s more talented?

We enjoy when ESPN pundits get into such sports discussions, but you may not have realized that this same situation happens (perhaps on a slightly smaller scale) in businesses every day! It’s not just about accomplishment as a team. It’s WHO accomplished it. Some of us are constantly scratching and clawing for recognition – we don’t want to merely succeed. We want the credit for the success of the business. And we absolutely do NOT want anyone else getting ANY credit for stuff we did. So, to avoid this, we consciously or subconsciously ensure that such situations do not rear their ugly heads – we don’t bring talented people who could challenge us for supremacy.

So that’s my take on this. However, guys, this is the episode I need some comments on! I can speculate as to why a person in power wouldn’t want to bring in someone of similar ability and intellect, but WHY would that person decide not to do so?

(By the way, at the beginning at this video, I explain something that I probably should have already explained. I keep referring to these commitments and this “work code of conduct.” Without giving too much away, this work code of conduct is used to fix Vunorri Inc., the incredibly broken company in my story. My two main characters write the code of conduct, and they call it “The Happywork Agreement.” My book was almost titled “The Happywork Agreement,” but we decided on Happywork instead.)

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Watch Episode 9 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Ello? I Discuss the Fledgling New Social Media Platform on Fox 2 TV with Angela Hutti

Ello was all the rage a few weeks ago. Invites were like solid gold, which only spread the word further that there was a new social media kid on the block (ready to take on Facebook, of course). People were even auctioning off invites on eBay. Now we’re not hearing as much about it. A few hot weeks, and now the place makes Google Plus look like Times Square? (yes a stretch, but I was on a caffeine-fueled rage when I wrote this).

Such is the way when we’re searching for the next big thing, the next viral phenomenon, and frankly, that’s what Ello’s up against as they face off against Twitter and Facebook for mindshare and human time. (You can say these sites are not in competition, but humans have 24 hours per unit, so those hours are what a social media platform has to capture. Yes, they have to compete for our time).

Ello is a new social media platform, designed and built by a group of graphic designers, and they’re trying to do things a bit differently, including making a few, shall I say, bold promises. No ads (EVER), and they’ll never sell your personal data. They recently reorganized the company as a Public Benefit Corporation, which tells me they’re serious about keeping their word.

Learn more here.

Do they have a chance? Honestly, who cares? That’s not a negative sentiment. What I mean to say – why not give these guys a chance to do something differently. I think the pundits ask the monetization question in a sort of “gotcha” way. Must everything we do be monetized? Maybe the founders are trying to shift our thinking on privacy, on data collection, on human communication. Maybe they’re trying to change the world. Hell, I’d love to change the world, and would require no compensation in return should I succeed. Guys, maybe this isn’t about the money. Maybe it’s about doing something amazing.

Thanks Angela for having me on.

Good luck, Ello.

CLICK HERE IF THE VIDEO ABOVE DOESN’T COOPERATE

Happywork TV Episode 9: Listen to the Ideas of Your Employees

In Episode 9 of Happywork TV, I introduce the 7th of 46 commitments in my upcoming book “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will listen to the ideas of my employees.” And there was more, but this is all you need to know.

Why not listen to the ideas of your employees? They’re out on the front lines, dealing with issues hands-on. It is highly probable that they’re going to have a better solution to the problems they’re dealing with each and every day.

I can think of one reason why an employer or manager wouldn’t listen – ego. If someone else solves the problem you’re supposedly smart enough to solve, that’s not always going to feel good. Never mind that the company is better off because the problem is solved. If YOU didn’t solve it, bummer dude.

Another reason? Front line workers don’t have the big picture, and don’t write the checks, so their solutions are short-sighted and unrealistic. Of course this is sometimes true.

But why not listen to them? At the very least, an employee who feels listened to is going to be happier and more engaged in their job. At best, they may provide an idea that’s awesome! Working together is better than working individually.

Listen to your employees! They’ll surprise you sometimes.

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Watch Episode 8 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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R.I.P. Rizzo Tees (2008 – 2014)

I Hate Pants Forever

Hi everyone. This is going to be a weird blog post, perhaps too little too late, but I’ll do my best to make it interesting, understandable, and fun.

Today, October 30, 2014, on the 6th anniversary of the birth of Rizzo Tees, I announce its death. Happy 6th birthday, old friend, and I hope you don’t mind being shut down! Today is your official last day.

This is not meant to be dramatic, and at this point, how could it be? To anyone observing, it has been readily apparent for at least two years that the business was no longer getting my attention. I haven’t debuted a new tee design in years. There are probably some steps I should have taken earlier to make something great happen with the business – either ramp it up, or sell it. I got so busy with transitioning to a new career, with trying to learn to be a great ad agency salesman, with trying to write a book, with finding a publisher, with actually writing a book, and now with trying to sell a book … there was no time for Rizzo Tees.

And really no desire either. For the first few years, I loved concepting tee designs, working with amazing tee designers to bring them to life, and I loved debuting the designs. Some sold amazingly well. Some barely sold. I quickly learned what success and failure felt like. But that list of stuff I mentioned in the last paragraph – especially the book – captured my imagination and didn’t let go.

I’ve had several people ask me if I wanted to sell Rizzo Tees. I don’t know … whatchoo got? I sheepishly told several interested parties that I don’t even have time to sell it right now. All of my energy is going into my current job, and my book marketing efforts. I have no cranial capacity to think about selling the business. I don’t feel like dickering over price, and don’t want to be told it’s not worth what I think it is, or whatever.

Anyway, the death of this business is OK with me. Even with a mixed record, I can say I accomplished everything I wanted to with it. I learned so much, met all of you, and left my old CPA career. Knowing that a career change was the goal from day one, I say “Mission Accomplished.” For any of you who have known me since 2007-2008, you know that’s what I wanted to see happen. I even made this video outlining my dream of leaving accounting by July 1, 2011. I beat that date big time, and I’m proud of that.

And now a new mission has begun. This book of mine, Happywork, seems infinitely more important than the tee biz ever did. I know that’s not true, that my feelings are being temporally affected. But yes, let’s just run with it – the message of this book is important to me now, and now is now, so it’s the most important thing going on in my life. I think my message of happiness at work is going to be my number one priority for years to come. We’ll see where life takes me.

Gary Vaynerchuk Props to my TweepsEpic Meal Time

To all the people who bought shirts, especially the bacon ones – after all, I was once known as the Baron of Bacon (TY Shelley Niemeier for that moniker) – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. It was a joy to make you fun shirts. It was a thrill to see the Epic Meal Time guys and Gary Vaynerchuk wear them in their videos. Mostly, it was just fun making things. There is glory in making stuff (and I draw a direct distinction between this and being a “social media guru”). When I talk to my two young daughters about their future, I tell them to never shy away from making things. Making food (chef), making living spaces (interior designer), making coffee (barista), making art (artist), making clothing (fashion designer), making buildings (architect), or making stories (author). Whatever you do, I tell them, please make something for the world. I’m happy that I did that with Rizzo Tees, and I think the greatest chapter to come will be written by my first and hopefully not last book.

Thank you everyone for being a friend of mine. In 2015 and beyond, let’s make great things happen.

 

SUPER-AWESOME POSTSCRIPT

This sort of thing makes it fun to be in business. I mean, how cool is this?

Happywork TV Episode 8: Give Your Employees Variety in Their Work Day

p.s. Really sorry about the sound on this one. I was using my shotgun mic, but it was quite windy. Some gusts of wind really cut into the audio quality a few times. My bad!

In Episode 8 of Happywork TV, I discuss the sixth of 46 commitments in my upcoming book “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will try to provide some variety in my employees’ work days. Working at Vunorri does not have to be like some Henry Ford assembly line. Cross-training would be helpful. I respect my employees’ curiosity to know how things work, even in other departments.”

If you’re running a company and you’re not giving your employees a little variety in their work day, or you’re not cross-training them, I don’t think you’re committing one of the cardinal sins of management. You’re not firing someone because they’re the wrong color, or sexually harassing them, or threatening them, or sabotaging their work. As I say in the video, providing some variety to your employees isn’t completely necessary. Let’s admit that.

By the same token, let’s also admit that, if we want to cut down on turnover — keep our good employees — and have a workforce working to excel on our behalf, we might do well to keep those employees engaged and interested in what they’re doing. If you don’t care about this, and you just want to keep hammering the square peg into the round hole, you can do that. But please don’t! Boredom is one of the big reasons good people leave their jobs.

So consider the notion that we can build a more cohesive workforce by keeping our best employees, and we can do that by respecting their desire to learn and grow.

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Watch Episode 7 here!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 7: Provide Performance Reviews to Your Employees

In Episode 7 of Happywork TV, I discuss the fifth of 46 work commitments in my new book, “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will give my employees constructive feedback, taking both their career advancement and feelings into consideration. Such feedback will be provided during the course of everyday business, or in an official performance review, or both.”

Some businesses don’t provide official performance reviews, which I’ve always found odd. Some people are scared to get reviewed. Maybe that’s because they’re doing a poor job, or maybe they think the system is rigged, or maybe the advice isn’t that great.

Here’s a real tough one – I’ve worked at businesses that only told me what they thought of me after I quit. I once quit a job and the damn meeting took three hours. What???? Only after I resign do I start hearing about all the crap I’m not doing right? This is a business that’s being mismanaged.

And when it comes to feedback, if you’re not going to do annual reviews, try to give some feedback every now and then. Note: doing this via email is very dangerous. The intended tone of the emails you send is often completely lost.

Employees don’t just come to work to get their job done. Many of us want to excel at work. We want to achieve. Managers and owners, help us get there!

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Click here to watch Episode 6!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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Happywork TV Episode 6: Give Your Employees a Chance to Improve and Succeed

In Episode 6 of Happywork TV, I discuss the fourth of 46 work commitments in my new book, “Happywork.”

Here it is: “I will provide my employees the tools and training they need to have a chance to succeed … I will remember that it’s not just the business owner who comes to work everyday to achieve great things. Employees want to get better at what they do without having to leave our organization.”

How often have you or someone you know left a job because, “There was no room for advancement?” True, not all companies are large enough to offer robust options for promotions, pay increases, and advancement. However, too many companies have owners and managers who don’t take their employees’ careers into account AT ALL. It is inefficient to have great people leave your employ. If you have an HR department, it keeps them unnecessarily busy. If you don’t have an HR department, who is working to hire new people to come in and replace these great employees?

You might think most employees just want to do their jobs, but I would submit to you that most of them also want to achieve great things at work. It is only the hardest soul whose heart wouldn’t be warmed by a huge success at work.

Owners and managers, give your peeps the tools they need to get the job done, and take a genuine interest in their careers and lives.

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Click here to watch Episode 5!

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Happywork is available for pre-order on Amazon – HERE!

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