Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Well, I’m back in the saddle (sort of) after my Incredible Total Knee Replacement Adventure. I’ll not bore you with the details, but so far my TKR has been a success and I am ahead of the curve on rehab. Since I’m still taking pain meds, I figure it’s a great time to make predictions about 2012. So here are my Top 10 predictions for 2012.

Prediction Number 1:
The Packers win the Super Bowl. They will beat New England in an epic game that goes down to the wire.

Prediction Number 2:
Big trouble in the Middle East. Things will come to a head this year and the results will drive up oil prices and cripple the global economy in the second half of the year.

Prediction Number 3:
President Obama gets another term. The Republicans blow it but retain a majority in the House.

Prediction Number 4:
The U.S. economy overcomes the impact of predictions 2 & 3, limps along and fairs better than many of our global competitors.

Prediction Number 5:
More crazy weather and rising commodity prices.

Prediction Number 6:
The “Occupy Wall Street” movement grows and becomes better organized.

Prediction Number 7:
Tiger Woods does not win a major.

Prediction Number 8:
The unemployment rate drops below 8% (but then edges back up).

Prediction Number 9:
We will add over $1 trillion more to the national debt.

Prediction Number 10:
The world will not end on December 21, 2012

Monday, December 5, 2011

They Shoot Horses Don't They?

I have an appointment outside the office on the 12th of December with a gentleman who plans to saw off pieces of my upper and lower leg bones. He says this is absolutely necessary and all part of a construction project known as Total Knee Replacment (TKR). A football injury from the dark ages of sport finally finished off my left knee. One can only get by with bone on bone for so many years. And for the past few of those years, the pain has gotten worse and worse. I finally had to give in.

So I will be spending two or three days recovering in the hospital followed by a week or two at home. Doing this during the holidays is just my way of avoiding unnecessary and boring social interaction with people who only come around this time of year (they know who they are.) I am told that barring complications I should be limping back to work the first week of January and will likely be back on the golf course this Spring. It remains to be seen if the artificial knee will be as good of an excuse for poor play as was the arthritic one.

I do feel like I am in the mainstream of the “aging baby boomer cost of rising health care” tsunami. For 30 years I never broke down. Over the last ten years, it’s been one thing after another. The good news is that they can really fix stuff these days. At this rate, I’ll feel better in my 60’s than I did in my 40’s. But it doesn’t come cheap (I’m sure my TKR will cost 2 or 3 times more than the first house I bought.) It also begs the question: At what point do we quit fixing old worn out people parts? If you leave it up to the old worn out people, the answer is never. So I guess the bigger question may be who SHOULD be answering it? And the other big question is what can we do to make the original parts last a little longer. Virtually all of my broken parts have been sports, exercise, over-use or accident related. I probably should have done some things differently, but I had a lot of fun banging this old body around.

Now I (along with the insurance company and society and my family) will ultimately pay for it. Frankly, I don’t see a major game-changing solution to this rising healthcare dilemma. We have a growing demand for health services/products/parts and a growing supply of health services/products/parts to meet that demand. As long as we can pay for them, the bill will keep going up. So just put this TKR on my tab, OK?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

22 Secrets...Part IV

This week we’ll wrap up the last of “The 22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting A Job.”

HR Secret Number 17:

“If you’re a candidate and the hiring manager spends 45 minutes talking about himself, the company or his Harley, let him. He’s going to come out of the interview saying you’re a great candidate.”

Yes, let him talk; but be very wary about accepting the job. Is this the type of person you really want to work for?

HR Secret Number 18:

“There’s one website that drives all HR people crazy: salary.com. It supposedly lists average salaries for different industries, but if you look up any job, the salary it gives you always seems to be $10,000 to $20,000 higher than it actually is. That just makes people mad.”

HR people and headhunters do get frustrated with the misinformation that is out there about compensation. I know this sounds like a self-serving comment, but headhunters who specialize in an industry probably have the most accurate information about compensation. Often times company HR people are more out of touch than candidates when it comes to compensation levels, especially if they are hiring for special skills or experience outside of their normal hires.

HR Secret Number 19:

“On salary, some companies try to lock you in early. At the first interview, they’ll tell me to say, ‘The budget for this position is 40K to 45K. Is that acceptable to you?’ If the candidate accepts, they’ll know they’ve got him or her stuck in that little area.”

This is probably accurate for positions in this compensation range. For positions with higher compensation, money usually doesn’t come up in the first interviews. It’s also different when a search firm is involved. We’ve already provided the company with the candidate’s compensation history and we know what the company’s pay range is for the position.

The real message here is be careful when discussing pay, especially early in the process. If the interviewer throws out a number, just respond with something to the effect that your decision will involve more factors than just pay and that you’re looking for an opportunity to contribute and grow with a successful organization, etc., etc.

HR Secret Number 20:

“You think you’re all wonderful and deserve a higher salary, but here in HR, we know the truth. And the truth is, a lot of you aren’t very good at your jobs, and you’re definitely not as good as you think you are.”

Whoa…this may apply to some small percentage of candidates, but the HR person who made this statement must be working in an industry other than transportation and logistics. Of course, we run across candidates now and then who have unrealistic compensation expectations. Usually they are younger, less experienced candidates. But most people who have 10+ years experience in an industry have a pretty good sense of their value.

HR Secret Number 21:

“Be careful if a headhunter is negotiating for you. You may want extra time off and be willing to sacrifice salary, but he is negotiating hardest for what hits his commission.”

Seriously? I guess some headhunters are so desperate for an extra buck that they work every angle. But I think this HR “Secret” reflects the HR person’s attitude about headhunters more than the reality of how headhunters actually operate. If you can’t trust your headhunter to do what is best for you as well as for the company, then you’re working with the wrong headhunter.

HR Secret Number 22:

“I once hired someone, and her mother didn’t think the salary we were offering was high enough, so she called me to negotiate. There are two problems with that: 1) I can’t negotiate with someone who’s not you. 2) It’s your mother. Seriously, I was like, ‘Did that woman’s mother just call me, or was that my imagination?’ I immediately withdrew the offer.”

We don’t run into this with the types of positions we fill, BUT sometimes we do get the spouse jumping into the negotiation at the last minute. My advice to any candidate is to make sure they’ve had in depth discussions with their family members BEFORE getting into the nitty-gritty of interviewing and negotiating. We’ve certainly seen offers fall apart when a spouse starts demanding too much, too late in the process.

So we’re done with the 22 Secrets. Interesting comments by some of our “friends” in the HR community and worth considering; especially if you, as a candidate, are faced with the daunting task of dealing with an HR person on your own.

With all due respect to HR people, I will leave you with this:

Question: How many HR managers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: None, but they all want to be involved.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to The 22 Secrets....Part III

Last week I had to rant about the Penn State mess. This week we pick up again on the “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting A Job”. Week before last we looked at the first 8 secrets. Now I’m ready to tackle Secrets 9-16.

HR Secret Number 9:

“Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.”

This is probably good advice if you are responding to a job posting with a large corporation. Just don’t put a laundry list of key words on your resume. It may get you past the ATS, but when a person looks at it they will not be impressed. Take the time to work keywords into your resume where it makes sense and if your actual work experience supports their inclusion to your resume.

HR Secret Number 10:

“Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.”

Agree. Me too. Ditto. Just don’t do it. Yes, it really is creepy.

HR Secret Number 11:

“It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.”

It’s even more amazing when a headhunter has taken the time to tell the candidate about the company AND the position AND provided links to the company website AND perhaps given the candidate even more information about the company’s key executives, competitors, financial results, etc etc….and the candidate still acts like he just landed from another planet five minutes before the interview.

HR Secret Number 12:

“A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.”

I don’t know about this one. I guess there’s still some bias out there, but this one seems pretty dated. I think most people realize that kids and families are part of the deal. And you can make a case that someone with young kids is very motivated to work and earn a living. There are probably some jobs and situations where young kids can be an issue if the employee is the primary or only caregiver. If you have young kids and you need some flexibility to handle kid issues, focus on jobs which can accommodate that need.

Now don’t walk into the interview with the “kid thing” as your number one talking point. Don’t even bring it up if you don’t have too. Just make sure that this potential job situation will fit your personal life requirements whatever those may be. Otherwise, you might get the job, but it won’t turn out well in the long-run.

HR Secret Number 13:

“Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Hiring managers make quick judgments based on stereotypes. They’re just following George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, who said ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.”

The bad news if you’re fat is that this is TRUE. The good news is that with so many people in our society now being significantly overweight, the odds are pretty good that the hiring manager is also fat. So it’s all relative. If the hiring manager is fatter than you are, you’re probably ok.

The real question is do you appear healthy and energetic? Weight is only one of many factors that can work against you. For example, if you smoke you smell like a smoker (and probably look like a smoker). In most cases a big negative. If you’re old AND you look a lot older than your age, it can be a problem. If you’re 50, but look 60, and you smoke, and you’re fat…you need to give some serious thought to a makeover. I know that sounds harsh, but it is what it is.

HR Secret Number 14:

“I once had a hiring manager who refused to hire someone because the job required her to be on call one weekend a month and she had talked in the interview about how much she goes to church. Another candidate didn’t get hired because the manager was worried that the car he drove wasn’t nice enough.”

There are a lot of reasons why hiring managers reject candidates. Life is not fair and the playing field is not always level. Prejudice is alive and well and cuts both ways. Sometimes you get the job for the wrong reasons and sometime you don’t get the job for the wrong reasons. This should not be a secret.

HR Secret Number 15:

“Don’t just silence your phone for the interview. Turn it all the way off.”

I’ll take it one step further. Don’t take your phone into the interview.

HR Secret Number 16:

“If you’ve got a weak handshake, I make a note of it.”

This is old-school and still relevant in the U.S. and Europe. But if you go global, just be aware of handshake customs and preferences in other cultures. A firm handshake might cost you a hand in some places.

Next week we’ll wrap up the 22 Secrets. In the mean time, have a Happy Thanksgiving.
If you’re reading this blog you probably have a lot to be thankful for. Chances are that you are living better than 99% of the people currently inhabiting this planet and better than 99.99% of those who have ever lived. So quit your bitchin’ and count your blessings.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Valley

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
-Edmund Burke

At first I said, NO, I’m not writing about the Penn State mess. It’s been beaten to death all week and I’m sick of it. But, I cannot ignore it.

The victims, the real victims, those boys who were molested; must be wondering why did it take so long? How could some adults know, and so many adults suspect, that something evil was happening to these children; yet do nothing about it? How can that be? I think it was because those adults decided that doing something would hurt more than doing nothing. It’s that simple. And the more one has to lose by doing something, the more it hurts and the less likely one is inclined to do anything.

Happy Valley, aka State College, aka the home of The Penn State University Nittany Lions, virtually the only big-time college football program that was still CLEAN; had a lot to lose. The Clean Football Program in The Happy Valley. Who wants to screw that up if they can avoid it? So they avoid it. But doing nothing always makes it worse in the long run. Ask the Catholic Church how well doing nothing has worked out for them?

If there is any lesson to be learned from this latest horror story, it’s that we cannot pass the buck when it comes to making a tough decision IF it’s the right decision. If you don’t make the tough decision today, you will always face a tougher decision tomorrow. Perhaps Happy Valley would not have been quite so happy for awhile had someone made the tough decision years ago. But recovery would have been quick and complete. Now the recovery will be long and painful and, perhaps never totally complete.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

22 Secrets...Part 2...and my pic for THE GAME

Last week I gave you the list of 22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting A Job.
This week we’ll take a look closer at the first 8 secrets.

HR Secret Number 1:

“Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.”

Unfortunately, this is often the way HR looks at unemployed candidates. It’s sad and has resulted in many candidates “fudging” on their resumes. Increasingly we see resumes reflecting dates that would make one think the candidate is still employed. Or people are just using the year employment ended rather than month and year. Anything to hide the fact that they have been out of work for several months. With managers and executives who may have received a severance package of some sort, they sometimes show employment through the severance period. Some of the “fudging” is recommended by outplacement firms or headhunters. I say don’t do it. Tell it like it is.

If you’ve been unemployed for more than six months, be prepared to tell your story IF you get an interview. There’s not much you can do if the company “policy” is not to consider unemployed or long-term unemployed candidates. But in many cases you will get a shot and you will be asked something like “why do you think it’s taken so long for you find a job”. How will you answer that one? I’m not going to cover the entire subject here, but there are certain responses you should avoid. For example, if you’ve been holding out for pay equal or above what you were making, don’t say that. Avoid saying anything that makes you appear inflexible, unreasonable or picky…even if you are. Another no-no, is saying that you’ve had dozens of interviews, but no offers. That just confirms the HR person’s opinion that you are probably unemployable. (If you’ve actually had dozens of interviews but no offers, you do need to figure out what’s going on.)

HR Secret Number 2:

“When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it’s all about connections.”

This is true. All things being equal the person with connections will get the job over the person without connections. The message here is network, network, network BEFORE you need a network. And, of course, network with a few select and highly competent headhunters…wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

Seriously, don’t underestimate the value of the headhunter’s network. If a headhunter knows that you are a high quality candidate who can bring value to one of his clients, he may be able to get you in the door, even if you’re unemployed or have had some recent job hops (through no fault of your own, of course).

HR Secret Number 3:

“If you’re trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager.”

I agree, but with the caveat that there is the potential that you could shoot yourself in the foot if HR is freaky about control. You’re generally ok if you know someone in the company. They can tell you whether you should go through HR and the best way to do it. But going straight to the hiring authority can be dicey. It’s actually less risky if you’re not responding to an specific job posting that has clear instructions about the application process. If you want to work for a certain company, contacting the hiring authority who is most likely to need someone like you is not a bad move.

HR Secret Number 4:

“People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.”

I’ll challenge this one. Very few cover letters get read BEFORE the resume gets read. But if the resume gets my attention, then I will glance at the cover letter. If the cover is just form letter BS, then I ignore it. But if it actually adds something to the resume and has an “executive bio” quality to it, then it is a positive. So if you have something valuable to say in a cover letter, use it. If not, don’t.

HR Secret Number 5:

“We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com.”

If this is a secret to you, then you may well be among the “unemployed for more than 6 months” crowd. C’mon man…common sense. Use a professional email address in your job search. And if you have a really bad one like “johnnylikestodrink”…get rid of it…that’s not even right for personal emails.

HR Secret Number 6:

“If you’re in your 50s or 60s, don’t put the year you graduated on your résumé.”

Good advice, but don’t go overboard trying to hide your age. I see resumes where someone only shows the last 10 or 15 years of experience. The positions one has held are usually an indicator of where one is in their career. So it’s fairly easy to figure out if a person is leaving off a big chunk of career history. If you are in your 50s or 60s, it’s ok to only list positions over the past 15 years or so, but I always recommend that the candidate include a comment to reflect something like “held prior (sales, management, operations, etc) positions in the such and such industry.”

The other option is to go way back but not all the way back. If you’ve got 35 years of industry experience, go back 25 years. Especially if the first 10 years of your work history isn’t really relevant to your current career path and the past 25 show steady progress. But the 35 year veteran who only shows the last 15 years and no indication of prior work experience just ends up looking foolish.

HR Secrets Number 7 & 8 are closely related:

“There’s a myth out there that a résumé has to be one page. So people send their résumé in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that.”

“I always read résumés from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page résumé, but three pages is pushing it.”

I agree with 7 and slightly disagree with 8. If you are well-established in your career, your resume will be at least two pages and running over to page three is acceptable. For me, a four page resume is pushing it. It also depends on the quality of information included on the resume. Long “career objective” statements or introductory lists of skills and accomplishments apart from specific positions are a waste of space in my opinion.

Next week, we’ll pick it up with HR Secret Number 9.

(As for the college football game of the year, I’m rooting for LSU because an LSU win over Alabama is potentially better for Arkansas….but if I were a betting man, it’s Alabama 27 – LSU 20.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

22 Secrets...

Earlier this year, Reader’s Digest published an interesting list titled “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting a Job”. That list is posted below. Starting next week, I’ll begin unpacking and commenting on the 22 Secrets. As a general statement, and this is unfortunate, I think the list is pretty much spot on. If that is the case and you’re looking for a job, then what do you do about it? That will be the focus of my blogs over the next few weeks.


1. “Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

2. “When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it’s all about connections.” –HR director at a health-care facility

3. “If you’re trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager.” –Shauna Moerke, an HR administrator in Alabama who blogs at hrminion.com

4. “People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm

5. “We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com.” –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

6. “If you’re in your 50s or 60s, don’t put the year you graduated on your résumé.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

7. “There’s a myth out there that a résumé has to be one page. So people send their résumé in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that.” –HR director at a financial services firm

8. “I always read résumés from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page résumé, but three pages is pushing it.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

9. “Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.” –Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area

10. “Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.” –Rich DeMatteo

11. “It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.” –HR professional in New York City

12. “A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential.

13. “Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Hiring managers make quick judgments based on stereotypes. They’re just following George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, who said ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.’”–Suzanne Lucas, a former HR executive and the Evil HR Lady on bnet.com

14. “I once had a hiring manager who refused to hire someone because the job required her to be on call one weekend a month and she had talked in the interview about how much she goes to church. Another candidate didn’t get hired because the manager was worried that the car he drove wasn’t nice enough.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

15. “Don’t just silence your phone for the interview. Turn it all the way off.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

16. “If you’ve got a weak handshake, I make a note of it.” –HR manager at a medical-equipment sales firm

17. “If you’re a candidate and the hiring manager spends 45 minutes talking about himself, the company or his Harley, let him. He’s going to come out of the interview saying you’re a great candidate.” –Kris Dunn, chief human resources officer at Atlanta-based Kinetix, who blogs at hrcapitalist.com

18. “There’s one website that drives all HR people crazy: salary.com. It supposedly lists average salaries for different industries, but if you look up any job, the salary it gives you always seems to be $10,000 to $20,000 higher than it actually is. That just makes people mad.” –HR director at a public relations agency

19. “On salary, some companies try to lock you in early. At the first interview, they’ll tell me to say, ‘The budget for this position is 40K to 45K. Is that acceptable to you?’ If the candidate accepts, they’ll know they’ve got him or her stuck in that little area.” –Ben Eubanks, HR professional in Alabama

20. “You think you’re all wonderful and deserve a higher salary, but here in HR, we know the truth. And the truth is, a lot of you aren’t very good at your jobs, and you’re definitely not as good as you think you are.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

21. Be careful if a headhunter is negotiating for you. You may want extra time off and be willing to sacrifice salary, but he is negotiating hardest for what hits his commission.” –HR professional in New York City (Oh it’s on now…I look forward to commenting on this one)

22. “I once hired someone, and her mother didn’t think the salary we were offering was high enough, so she called me to negotiate. There are two problems with that: 1) I can’t negotiate with someone who’s not you. 2) It’s your mother. Seriously, I was like, ‘Did that woman’s mother just call me, or was that my imagination?’ I immediately withdrew the offer.” –HR professional in New York City

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy This

“The ultimate decision about what is accepted as right and wrong will be made not by individual human wisdom but by the disappearance of the groups that have adhered to the "wrong" beliefs.”- F.A. Hayak


“Power to The People” is alive and well, boldly manifesting itself in the “Occupy Wall Street Movement”. It hasn’t quite reached Grayson County Texas yet, but down the road in Dallas I hear there are protests. Nothing so far in my hometown of Fort Worth where the local authorities tend to be less tolerant of free speech without a permit or at least a property tax receipt.

From what I can gather from various articles and surveys, it seems that the OWS crowd is mostly pissed about the rich being too rich and having too much influence on our government. Beyond that they are all over the place with regard to proposed solutions. As I pick through all the stuff they are throwing up against the wall, I find myself in agreement with them on three major issues: (1) The most wealthy among us should pay more taxes, (2) There is too much money going toward influencing political decisions and (3) Our Free Trade policies are not free, nor are they fair, nor have they been without negative consequences for many working Americans. Frankly, these are not new issues. They have been the subject of much debate and discussion for generations. And, I think most Americans are in general agreement about the need to address these three issues.

What concerns me about the OWS crowd is that they are, for the most part, advocates of socialism over capitalism. Again, this is a debate that has been going on since the middle of the 19th century. While we have bastardized our capitalist system to the point where it has major problems, it still beats the hell out of any form of socialism. Many of our problems are the result of government getting involved in areas they should not be involved in or bad policy in those areas where they should be involved. Many tea-partiers and libertarians would disagree with me, but government DOES have a role to play ensuring that we have a properly functioning economy.

I recently re-read F.A. Hayak’s classic book, “The Road to Serfdom”. It was written back in the 1940’s and remains one of the best books ever written in support of individual freedom and capitalism. Hayak, like Adam Smith, does an excellent job of describing the role of government in supporting a capitalist system. Moreover, like Smith, he eloquently describes the economic reality and power of individualism (capitalism) vs. collectivism (socialism).

I’m not sure how we bring the left and the right together to solve our problems. I’ve stated before that congressional term limits would be a great first step. We don’t need lifetime, career politicians running this country. I also think that our media has a role to play. We simply don’t get unbiased information. Much of it is leans left and what doesn’t is so far to the right that it’s even worse. Most Americans simply don’t know the facts when it comes to our economy or our government. Points of view tend to develop out of need and circumstance and are validated by ones channel of choice. Once developed they are surveyed and political strategies formulated to capture the votes. Our government has become the largest non-profit business in the history of the world and it is totally failing to achieve the purposes for which it was created. And that, my fellow Americans, is on us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

I hear that now over 46 million of our fellow citizens are living in “poverty”. I hear that our system is unfair. That poverty and unemployment are the result of the rich getting richer. In fact, the rich are just too rich. And to make matters worse, at a time when we should be spending to help the poor, conservatives want to cut spending. What are they thinking?

Probably the same thing I’ve been thinking for a long time. That over the past 50 years, welfare programs have helped create a “poverty” class of citizens having neither the hope nor the incentive to strive for something better. To get a perspective on this I suggest you read Robert Rector’s congressional testimony, April 2011, titled: “Uncovering the Hidden Welfare State: 69 Means-tested Programs and $940 Billion in Annual Spending”

Now admittedly, Mr. Rector works for The Heritage Foundation, an ultra-conservative think tank. And while his report certainly represents one point of view, I am inclined to believe that the information he uses is essentially correct, give or take a $100 billion. The reality is that a lot of those 46 million folks living in poverty are effectively living on the equivalent of $50,000 or more annual income for a family of four (assuming they have earned income near the $22,350 poverty line.) Do I want to trade places with them? No. Do I think they are living the “good life”? No. But do I think that the majority of these 46 million poor are suffering severe hardship and deprivation? No.

When you peel back the welfare onion and add in all of the other charitable programs (food banks, churches, charities, etc); what was once a “safety net” has become the subsidy for a marginal standard of living that is now a way of life for 1 in 7 Americans. It may or may not be poverty. But it’s not good and it’s not sustainable. Since LBJ started his War on Poverty back in the 60’s, we’ve spent over $15 Trillion dollars on welfare. No doubt some of that money has been well-spent. There are thousands of success stories out there. Children who grew up in poverty, survived with government assistance, succeeded and are now productive, tax-paying citizens. But I think it’s fair to say that we are still way “in the hole” with regard to a payback on that $15 Trillion investment.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.
W. C. Fields

This past week I was in Philadelphia for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional’s (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference. With all due respect to W.C. Fields, I enjoyed Philadelphia. I’d been there several times, but never really had the opportunity to see the city. It’s a great place. While it’s not New York City or Chicago, or even Boston for that matter, I’d still rate it as one of America’s best big cities to visit.

The CSCMP conference was worthwhile as well. Well attended, good networking opportunities and useful information. Mostly, the information just confirmed what we already knew. The economy is slowing down, but not as bad as the headlines would have us believe. In fact, there was general agreement that companies are struggling to find enough qualified people (not just truck drivers and warehouse workers, but managers and executives with supply chain management/logistics experience.)

However, the underlying and consistent theme of the conference was how to manage in the midst of so much uncertainty. Most firms have the tools and expertise to effectively manage their supply chains IF enough key variables have reasonable levels of predictability. Today we just don’t know enough to effectively plan for anything other than uncertainty. And that’s really tough.

As Donald Rumsfeld once said: “There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.”
John Stewart and other pundits had a lot of fun with Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns”….but the truth is that Rumseld was right. (I just wish he’d paid more attention to his own words of wisdom…but that’s another subject.)

We find ourselves in a world of uncertainty including “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. And to make matters worse, in some instances we are living with “unknowables” whether we know it or not. And some of what we know isn’t good enough for planning purposes. For example, it’s likely that over the next five years oil prices will be between $75 and $150 per barrel. For supply chain planning purposes, that range is too broad. I can also predict that governments, industries and individuals will take steps to reduce debt, but no one can accurately quantify what impact that will have on the global economy. And there are some really big “unknowables” out there. What if an earthquake and tsunami were to hit the western coastline of North America? What if the Mexican drug cartels gain control of their government (if they haven’t already)? What if the U.S. Congress becomes even more dysfunctional?

The supply chain models we’ve developed over the past 25 years have played a major role in creating a global economy. The world would be much poorer and much worse off without these efficient, global supply chain capabilities. Yet it would seem that the more we know about moving stuff around our planet, the more we have to be worried about. As a result, it is quite likely that our planning models will become even more complex. (Some scary smart people are using Game Theory based models these days in ways that will make your head hurt.)

But when it’s all said and done, humans will have to assess the risks and make choices. My greatest concern about the future is analysis-paralysis and fear of failure. There are always risks. Look at history. Many of the world’s greatest accomplishments were faced with overwhelming odds and incredible risks. In business, one cannot afford to ignore risks, but totally avoiding risks is even more expensive. I think that would qualify as “a known”.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Long Division, Wrong Division and Hilton Honors

I usually write this blog only once a week, sometime even less often. But, yesterday’s subject, “Snorks and $16 Muffins”, deserves a timely update. While the facts remain in dispute, it is becoming increasingly evident that the group auditing the muffin/cookie/coffee expenses got it wrong. The Inspector General’s (IG) office of the Department of Justice (DOJ) “stands by” their initial report of $16 muffins, $10 cookies and $8 coffee. The Hilton says no way. They note that this was a 5 day event with 534 people in attendance and the total bill for all refreshments including the muffins and cookies was $40,000. Still not cheap, but fairly typical of the expenses one would expect to incur for this type of event at a convention hotel.

(Now we really should have a discussion as to the purpose of the event and the number of attendees. Depending on how many traveled and how many actually stayed at the hotel, this hoot-n-nanny probably cost the taxpayers $750,000 or more. That’s not counting lost productivity. Oh wait, these are government employees. We may actually have derived a net benefit by having them doing something other than their jobs. The event was the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Legal Conference. Decide for yourself what the attendees would have otherwise accomplished if not at this conference.)

So let’s recap. A federal agency decides to have a conference and invite over 500 people which literally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This conference was in August 2009. At some point the IG audits the expenses and two years later we get the $16 Muffin headline. I don’t know how many people are employed in the IG’s office or how many got involved in this audit or how many are now involved in the re-audit. But folks, this isn’t rocket science. We have the cost information. We have the attendee information. If there were any questions, I’m sure that the Hilton could have provided more details. The whole story stands as a classic example of our government flailing around and spending money and remaining clueless as to how much was spent, by whom and for what.

As a Hilton Honors member, I owe Hilton an apology for accusing them of charging $16 for a muffin, $10 for a cookie and $8 for coffee. Those are Starbucks prices, what was a I thinking?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Snorks and $16 Muffins

“To fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality”
- Hilton Hotels Vision Statement

I just want to know the name of the person who sold $16 muffins, $10 cookies and $8 coffee to the Department of Justice. (By now you must have heard the story. If you haven’t, go back to sleep or playing Angry Birds or whatever it is you do.) I also want to know who bought this stuff. I mean who buys $16 muffins? Probably the same people who buy $5 corn chips and $8 beers from a hotel room mini-bar. (I have never, even in my weakest, hungry, stumbling drunk moments; purchased anything from a hotel mini-bar.) But someone sold and someone bought the $16 muffin/$10 cookie/$8 coffee deal. I read somewhere that it’s called the morning “Eye-Opener”. They should call it the morning “Bend-Over”.

The truth of the matter is that the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington looks just as bad in this as the Department of Justice. We’ve all read stories about government waste and crazy expenditures. But whenever the government is “buying badly” there is also a vendor who is “selling badly”. One may say that the Capital Hilton was just acting in the best interest of the Capital Hilton in selling over-priced muffins, cookies and coffee. But there is a point where maximizing profit in the short-run is not in ones best interest. This greedy, get-all-can-you-now way of doing business is a big part of our current economic crisis. In business and in politics, we want to win and win big. Don’t leave anything on the table. But it’s the wrong way to operate. Even if you are indifferent to the moral and ethical reasons for “doing the right thing”, you should consider that, strategically, “doing the right thing” is good business (and good politics) over the long run.

I guess it’s too late to do much about the $16 muffin fiasco. The DOJ will spend thousands of taxpayer dollars developing and communicating new expense policies. Perhaps the Hilton will give some money back to the DOJ and revisit their special event pricing strategies. Conservative politicians will rail about the $16 muffin and liberals will argue that it’s just another example of a greedy corporation’s price gouging. Until we acknowledge that there are two problems here, not just one, we will continue to go in circles. Sort of like a snork. You know, a snork…that seldom scene, nearly extinct bird that flies around and around in a circle, going faster and faster as the circle becomes smaller and smaller until finally, at the moment when the snork and the circle become one, the snork’s head goes up its own ass and the snork disappears.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lonesome Dove

I just had another birthday…THE Birthday…60. You can run, but you can’t hide from 60. So I decided to embrace it and in doing so thought about something I wrote a couple of years ago on the 20th anniversary of Lonesome Dove. I read it again and it made me feel better about being old and much better about being a Texan. (Just the opposite of how I feel about being a Texan when I listen to Rick Perry.) So here’s my birthday gift to myself…

Lonesome Dove has been with me since 1985 when I read the book for the first time. As a native Texan whose roots go back to the frontier days, the story grabbed me and I literally inhaled Larry McMurtry’s novel over the course of a summer weekend (getting a wicked sunburn in the process). The fact that he borrowed so liberally from Texas history and real events and real characters did not bother me one iota. Most of Texas history and all the hoorah is part fiction anyway so why not use it. (Just like my kin who swore that my great-great granddaddy, half Indian, rode the trail with Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving. Of course he did, that’s their story which makes it my story and I’m sticking to it).

Then I saw the mini-series and heard the music. They go together you know. God said so. By the time the mini-series came out, I was living outside of Texas for the first time in my life. And Lonesome Dove became my touchstone and my connection to home. A few years later I moved to Montana. Driving across the Montana state line from Wyoming and listening to the soundtrack from Lonesome Dove is as close to a heavenly experience as one can ever hope to have on this earth.

I just about wore out that soundtrack for the next few years as I spent weekends exploring the best places in the Last Best Place. And they are right, Montana truly is the Last Best Place, but it was not my place and with a few detours along the way I finally made it back to Texas. With a new Lonesome Dove soundtrack and the latest digitized version of the mini-series, I continue to enjoy and relive the story. It means more to me now as I approach my 60th year. It is the perfect tale about imperfect people in a world that is so beautiful and yet so cruel that it comes as close to the truth as one can get with fiction.

As John Graves wrote in his classic “Good Bye to a River”, I am unabashedly and unapologetically a Texan. Lonesome Dove makes me feel only more so and in a good way. I’ve had conversations with people from other states and nations who say they love Lonesome Dove. I nod and smile and affirm its greatness and its accuracy in portraying what Texas and the Old West for that matter, once was (or at least claimed to be.) But, I also know that no one loves the Lonesome Dove story more than a Texan. And no other Texan could possibly love it more than I do.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Was God on 9.11?

This question has been the title for numerous blogs, books, papers and articles.
Most of the answers I've read are of the cheesy "God is in control....we just have to trust him" variety. There are also those on the other end of the spectrum who put the blame on religion for the fanaticism that led to 9.11 and use the event as further evidence that God wasn't there at all. He either doesn't exist or he doesn't care.

The following response to the question, Where Was God on 9.11, is the best I've read:

by Dr. Ray Bohlin

The events of September 11th are indelibly etched in our hearts and minds. The horrible memories of personal tragedy and suffering will never really go away. As well they shouldn't. As Christians we were all gratified to see so many of our national, state, and local leaders openly participate in prayer services and calling upon people of faith to pray for victims' families and injured survivors.
What was lost underneath the appearance of a religious revival was the clear cry of many that wondered if our prayers were justified. After all, if we pray to God in the aftermath and expect God to answer, where was He as countless individuals cried out to Him from the planes, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? The skeptical voices were drowned out because of the fervent religious outcry seeking comfort and relief. But make no mistake; the question was there all the time. Where was God on September 11th? Surely He could have diverted those planes from their appointed destinations. Why couldn't the hijackers have been intercepted at the airports or their plots discovered long before their designed execution?
Why so many innocent people? Why should so many suffer so much? It all seems so senseless. How could a loving God allow it?
It is important to realize also that the suffering of those initial weeks is only the tip of the iceberg. There will be military deaths and casualties. The war on terrorism will be a long one with mounting personal and economic costs. The clean up will also continue to take its ever-mounting toll in dollars, lives, and emotional breakdowns.

Former pastor Gordon MacDonald spent time with the Salvation Army in caring for people and removing debris and bodies from the rubble of the World Trade Center. He relates this encounter from his journal of September 21 in Christianity Today.
"Later in the night, I wandered over to the first-line medical tent, which is staffed by military personnel who are schooled in battlefield casualties. The head of the team, a physician, and I got into a conversation.
"He was scared for the men in the pit, he said, because he knew what was coming 'downstream.' He predicted an unusual spike in the suicide rate and a serious outbreak of manic depression. . . . Many of the men will be unable to live with these losses at the WTC. It's going to take an unspeakable toll on them."
So why would God allow so much suffering? This is an ancient question. The problem of reconciling an all-powerful, all-loving God with evil is the number one reason that people reject God. I will try to clarify the question, provide some understanding, and make some comparisons of other explanations.

Psalm 73 and Asaph's Answer
The Bible answers the question of where God was on September 11 in many passages, but I would like to begin with the answer from Asaph in Psalm 73. My discussion will flow from the excellent discussion of the problem of evil found in Dr Robert Pyne's 1999 book, Humanity and Sin: The Creation, Fall and Redemption of Humanity.
In Psalm 73, Asaph begins by declaring that God is good. Without that assumption, nothing more need be said. He goes on in verses 2-12 to lament the excess and success of the wicked. In verses six and seven he says, "Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits." (Psalm 73:6-7). From this point Asaph lets his feelings be known by crying out that this isn't fair when he says in verse 13, "Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence."
The wicked seem to snub their noses at God with no apparent judgment, while Asaph strives to follow the Lord to no benefit. We have all experienced this in one form or another. Some things in this world simply aren't fair. In the last ten verses of the psalm, Asaph recognizes that the wicked will indeed realize their punishment in the future. God's judgment will come. He also realizes that God is always with him and that is sufficient.

18th century philosopher David Hume stated the classical problem of evil by saying that if God were indeed all powerful He would do something about evil, and that if He were all-loving He would want to do something about evil. Since evil exists, God must either not be able or not want to do anything about it. This makes God either malevolent or impotent or both. But Hume chooses to leave out the option, as Asaph resolves, that God is patient. Hume, like many before him and after him, grows weary with a God who is patient towards evil.

We long for immediate justice. But before we pray too earnestly for immediate justice, we'd better reflect on what that would be like. What would instant justice look like? Immediate justice would have to be applied across the board. That means that every sin would be proportionately and immediately punished. We soon realize that immediate justice is fine if applied to everybody else. Dr. Pyne quotes D. A. Carson as saying, "The world would become a searing pain; the world would become hell. Do you really want nothing but totally effective, instantaneous justice? Then go to hell." I think we're all quite comfortable with a God that does not apply immediate justice.

Evil and the Sovereignty of God
Next, I want to focus on God's sovereignty. We understand that God knew what He was doing in creating people with the ability to choose to love Him or hate Him. In order for our love for Him to be real, our choice needed to be real and that means creating creatures that could turn from Him as well as love Him. In order to have creatures with moral freedom, God risked evil choices.
Some would go so far as to say that God couldn't intervene in our evil choices. But in Psalm 155:3, Psalm 135:6, and in Nebuchadnezzar's words of praise in Daniel 4:34-37 we're told it is God who does whatever He pleases. However, God does perform acts of deliverance and sometimes He chooses not to. We are still left with the question "Why?" In the book of Job, Job basically proclaims his innocence and essentially asks why? God doesn't really give Job an answer, but simply reminds him who is in charge. (Job 38:2-4) "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" the Lord asks Job.

The parameters are clearly set. God in His power is always capable of intervening in human affairs, but sometimes He doesn't and we aren't always given a reason why. There is tension here that we must learn to accept, because the alternative is to blaspheme by assigning to God evil or malevolent actions. As Asaph declared, God is good!

This brings us to the hidden purposes of God. For although we can't always see God's purpose, we believe He has one in everything that occurs, even seemingly senseless acts of cruelty and evil. Here is where Jesus' sufferings serve as a model. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. (Hebrews 12:1-3) So then, we should bear our cross for the eternal joy set before us. (Hebrews 12:11, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18) But knowing this doesn't always make us feel better.
When Jesus was dying on the cross all His disciples but John deserted Him. From their perspective, all that they had learned and prepared for over the last three years was over, finished. How could Jesus let them crucify Him? It didn't make any sense at all. Yet as we well know now, the most important work in history was being accomplished and the disciples thought God was absent. How shortsighted our perspective can be.

The Danger of a Nice Explanation
But with this truth comes the danger of a nice explanation. Even though we know and trust that there is a purpose to God's discipline and His patience towards ultimate judgment, that doesn't mean we should somehow regard evil as an expression of God's goodness. In addition, we can be tempted to think that if God has a purpose to evil and suffering, then my own sin can be assigned not to me but to someone else, namely God Himself because He had a purpose in it.

Dr. Robert Pyne puts it this way.
We may not be able to fully resolve the problem of evil, and we may not be able to explain the origin of sin, but we can see the boundaries that must be maintained when addressing these issues. We share in Adam's guilt, but we cannot blame Him for our sin. God is sovereign, and He exercises His providential control over all things, but we cannot blame Him either. God permits injustice to continue, but He neither causes it nor delights in it.

Another danger lies in becoming too comfortable with evil. When we trust in God's ultimate purpose and patience with evil we shouldn't think that we have somehow solved the problem and therefore grow comfortable in its presence. We should never be at peace with sin, suffering, and evil.

The prophet Habakkuk sparred with God in the first few verses of chapter 1 of the book bearing his name by recounting all the evil in Israel. The Lord responds in verses 6-11 that indeed the Babylonians are coming and sin will be judged. Habakkuk further complains about God's choice of the godless Babylonians, to which God reminds him that they too will receive judgment. Yet the coming judgment still left Habakkuk with fear and dread. "I heard and my inward parts trembled: at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. . . . Yet, I will exult in the Lord." (Habakkuk 3:16-19.) Habakkuk believes that God knows what He is doing. That does not bring a smile to his face. But he can face the day.
"We are not supposed to live at peace with evil and sin, but we are supposed to live at peace with God. We continue to trust in His goodness, His sovereignty, His mercy, and we continue to confess our own responsibility for sin."

He Was There!
Though we have come to a better understanding of the problem of evil, we are still left with our original question. Where was God on September 11th?
While the Christian answer may not seem a perfect answer, it is the only one which offers truth, hope, and comfort. Naturalism or deism offers no real answers. Things just happen. There is no good and no evil. Make the best of it! Pantheism says the physical world is irrelevant or an illusion. It doesn't really matter. Good and evil are the same.
To answer the question we need to understand that God does, in fact, weep over every sparrow and grieve over every evil and every suffering. Jesus is with us in all of our suffering, feeling all of our pain. That's what compassion means, to suffer with another. So the suffering that Christ endured on the cross is literally unimaginable.
"The answer is, how could you not love this being who went the extra mile, who practiced more than He preached, who entered into our world, who suffered our pains, who offers Himself to us in the midst of our sorrows?"
We must remember that Jesus' entire time on earth was a time of sacrifice and suffering, not just His trial and crucifixion. Jesus was tempted in the manner of all men and He bore upon Himself all our sin and suffering. So the answer is quite simple. He was there!

He was on the 110th floor as one called home. He was at the other end of the line as his wife realized her husband was not coming home. He was on the planes, at the Pentagon, in the stairwells answering those who called out to Him and calling to those who didn't.
He saw every face, knew every name, even though some did not know Him. Some met Him for the first time, some ignored Him for the last time. He is there now.

Let me share with you one more story from Gordon MacDonald's experience with the Salvation Army during the initial clean up at the World Trade Center.
"There is a man whose job it is to record the trucks as they leave the pit with their load of rubble. He is from Jamaica, and he has one of the most radiant smiles I've ever seen. He brings a kind of spiritual sunshine to the entire intersection. "I watch him--with his red, white, and blue hard hat--talking to each truck driver as they wait their turn to go in and get a load. He brightens men up. In the midst of those smells, the dust, the clashing sounds, he brings a civilizing influence to the moment. "Occasionally I go out to where he stands and bring him some water. At other times, he comes over and chats with us. We always laugh when we engage. "I said to him last night, 'You're a follower of the Lord, aren't you?' He gave me an enthusiastic 'Yes! Jesus is with me all the time!' "Somehow this guy represents to me the quintessential picture of the ideal follower of Christ: out in the middle of the chaos, doing his job, pressing a bit of joy into a wild situation.

Raymond G. Bohlin is President of Probe Ministries. Dr. Bohlin was born and raised in Chicago, IL and is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S., zoology, 1971-1975), the University of North Texas (M.S., population genetics, 1977-1980), and the University of Texas at Dallas (M.S., Ph.D., molecular and cell biology, 1984-1991). He has been with Probe Ministries since 1975 and has lectured and debated on dozens of college and university campuses. He has addressed issues in the creation/evolution debate as well as other science-related issues such as the environment, genetic engineering, medical ethics, and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Bohlin and his wife Sue, an associate speaker and Webmistress for Probe Ministries as well as a professional calligrapher and Christian speaker, live in Plano, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, and they have two grown sons. He can be reached via e-mail at rbohlin@probe.org.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Happy Labor Day. If you are employed, congratulations. If you are not employed, don’t give up. Most likely you will find a job. Whether employed or unemployed, the following tips are worth reading. They come from Robyn Greenspan’s ExecuNet online newsletter (www.execunet.com).

1. Regardless of where you land, YOU need to take personal responsibility for YOUR future. Don't expect your employer to take responsibility for your career. Take advantage of opportunities to receive training in all areas. Your education is never over. You may be sick of books, but it is essential that you keep learning.

2. Although you want to give your all to your new job/employer, don't neglect development of your "personal brand." Get out there and join appropriate organizations. Make contacts. Network. Don't assume that you will stay in one place very long. From day one, keep a file on those you meet and stay in touch. Read about personal networking.

3. Learn to love change. Throughout your career you will need to manage change, both as one leading change and as one facing change. Nothing stands still any more. If you do, you will be run over. Read some books about change by John Kotter.

4. Be nice. Learn to get along. Help others. You may be real smart and extremely knowledgeable, but much of your potential success will be the result of whether people like you. That's just the reality of things. That doesn't mean being a phony, a suck-up, a brown-nose. People see through that. Learn to genuinely like people and see past the things that may turn you off. Be someone that people like to be around.

5. Do more than you have to. Don't try to just get by. Anyone can do that. Build a reputation as the one who goes the extra mile. And this isn't just for others to see. You will personally benefit when you approach things this way in all areas of your life, whether it be your career, sports, hobbies, relationships, etc.

6. Find meaning to your life. Take time to examine who you are and why you are here

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Great American Truck Show..For Real

Since I don’t live too far from Dallas, I decided to go the Great American Truck Show (GATS) this week. It was at the Dallas Convention Center. I usually try to attend a “truck show” every couple of years. The Mid-America in Louisville is held in March and it’s the biggest and the best. Las Vegas has a good one and there’s one in Iowa that’s pretty good (plus they’ve got giant pork chops on the menu).

I like going to truck shows. Many of our clients are trucking companies and some of their managers and executives go to the shows. So it’s a great opportunity to meet and greet a lot of folks in one place in a very short period of time. But the main reason I go is that I like trucks. I grew up around trucks and spent over 25 years in the transportation industry before becoming a headhunter. It’s amazing to see the new technology and innovations. All of the equipment just keeps getting better and better. From a “hardware” standpoint, the industry is in pretty good shape.

But, this equipment is of no value on its own. Equipment is only one part of the “Real World Truck Show” (RWTS) formula. The RWTS needs freight, capital, roads, energy and drivers. And it would appear that all of those elements are hard to come by these days. Freight demand is okay, but only because capacity is tight. Capacity it tight because the most important actors in the RWTS are drivers and there aren’t nearly enough them. When freight demand grows (and it will) and assuming capital for more equipment is available (and it will be eventually); there simply won't be enough drivers. Rates will go up and more money will be available for the drivers. But some estimates are that driver pay, benefits, perks and training costs may have to increase by as much as 50% in order to attract truly qualified and capable people into the industry. If that happens, the overall cost of highway transportation will increase 15-20%. That will push some freight on to other modes (rail or inland waterways) and, in some cases, result in certain products just not getting to market.

And then there are roads and energy. The RWTS needs fuel and right-of-way. It’s reasonable to assume that the cost of fuel and taxes will increase 25-50% over the next decade. This will add an additional 10-20% on to the cost of highway transportation. (That’s assuming we have a rational energy policy that includes aggressive petroleum exploration and production along with the development of alternative fuels. If we don’t do that, all bets are off and the rest of this discussion is irrelevant).

So now we’ve increased the overall cost of moving goods over-the-road by 25-40%. The North American economy is so dependent on highway transportation, that this type of cost increase would stifle economic growth for decades. We’re talking about major shifts in populations and production just to offset this cost increase. Lifestyles will change and not for the better. Some folks dream of going back to self-sustaining villages where we all walk or ride our bicycles down to the market every day for a loaf of bread and locally grown fruits and vegetables. (And forget about that cheeseburger, animals will only be allowed in petting zoos). A little bit of this “village” economy is a good thing. But, turning the clock back 150 years across the board would be a disaster.

So the time has come where we must look at better ways to transport products. Equipment technology must continue to improve. We need a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency over the next decade. We need to move larger loads and utilize all available capacity. A 25% improvement in capacity utilization (to include larger, combination trailer configurations) is a reasonable goal. Highway improvements are a must. We need more highway capacity, including truck only lanes connecting major markets. The entire pick-up & delivery, load/unload process has to be streamlined. Packaging and material handling has improved significantly over the past 20 years but we need to do more.

All of these issues have been cussed and discussed for years. We have made some progress. But we are falling behind, especially on highway improvements and the training and development of a new generation of drivers. I’m not a big fan of government involvement, but these are two areas where the government must take the lead. The issues are too big for companies or an industry to tackle on their own. How do we pay for it? It’s tough, but we’ve got to make meaningful changes to social security, medicare/medicaid and military spending. And we have to increase tax revenues. (Notice that I didn’t say just print more money). All of these steps will be painful. And the jobs created building roads and driving trucks won’t be nearly enough to offset the pain. But if we don’t step up and address these issues, life as we know it North America will cease to exist. A lot of people don’t realize it, but we really do need the RWTS.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

If I Had A Hammer....

….I probably wouldn’t have a job. If I was a registered nurse or a software developer with JAVA/J2EE or .Net proficiency or a truck driver with a clean driving record; I would have my pick of jobs. And therein lays the problem with the “Jobs Problem” in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 3.1 million job openings in this country. Certainly not back to pre-recession levels of 4.5 million but much better than the 2.2-2.3 million we saw in 2009. So why aren’t we making more progress on reducing unemployment? There are 13.9 million reasons (the number of officially unemployed) plus probably another 10 million or so we don’t count. Every story and situation is personal and unique. I get that and we should not minimize that fact.

HOWEVER, I think we have to be honest with ourselves and if it means being politically incorrect or insensitive, so be it. I think there are 4 major factors driving unemployment. I think these factors are so embedded in our society that it is likely we will continue to see a large number of our fellow citizens out of work or, at best working in jobs that will not support a reasonable standard of living without some sort of government assistance.

Number 4 issue: Mobility. Many of the unemployed are not living where the jobs are. If we can’t sell our home or we can’t afford to move away from our spouse’s job; we’re going to be unemployed, or at best under-employed, for a long time.

Number 3 issue: Skills. The politicians talk about creating jobs. I’m not sure what that means (and obviously they don’t either.). But I do know this, if you cannot produce a product or a service that people are willing to pay for, you are not going to have a job (unless it’s a government job.) We have to start with the demand side of the jobs equation. What do we need done? Who’s going to pay for it? And, how do we motivate/assist people in developing the skills necessary to do that work?

Number 2 issue: Downsizing. 92 million baby-boomers are going from spenders to savers. In addition, their kids have developed different values and are actually more conservative when it comes to spending money. Smaller homes, smaller cars, smaller vacations, fewer clothes, fewer “toys”. Sure at the high end, we see some big spenders among baby-boomers and baby-boomer offspring. But for the most part, I think there is a fundamental shift away from the “shop ‘til you drop” mentality. This downsizing, de-leveraging, payoff the credit cards, live within your means is a good thing over the long-run. But, for now it means much slower job creation.

Number 1 issue: Demographics. And here’s where it gets so P.I. The “Have Not” population is growing much faster than the “Have” population. Certainly there are some “Have’s” who have become “Have Not’s” or “Have Less’s”. But the real growth in the “Have Not” population is coming the old-fashion way…they are having more babies. This is not just a racial issue, although the statistics would say that race is a major factor. It’s not just a regional issue, again even though statistics point to regional differences and those have racial overtones as well. I really believe it is an across the board issue that is more related to economic and educational factors.

The Best and the Brightest among us are barely reproducing enough to replace themselves. If your parents are among the “Best and Brightest”, odds are that you have a good chance of becoming one of the “Best and Brightest”. But if you’re one of five kids growing up in poverty in SE Oklahoma with an “I’m going back for my GED someday”- occasionally employed for minimum wage, chain-smoking, food stamp shopping, watching Married With Children reruns, single parent….if that’s your circumstance…the deck is stacked against you. And these folks, the “Have Not’s”, whether living in rural poverty or the inner cities, make up the majority of the next generation. These and the children of immigrants, some illegal.

The good news is that those “Have Nots” who do beat the odds often turn out to be the “Best of the Best and the Brightest of the Brightest”. They have to be in order to beat the odds. But, they cannot do it alone. Better public education, more relevant and more invested in developing citizens who can fully contribute and participate in our society; not just pass minimum standard tests; is the key. If we do nothing, a generation from now twice as many people will be unemployed. And, at some point, society starts to breakdown. When the people fail, nations fall. That’s just how it works.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Someone Else's Tomorrow

“All the memories fade, send the ghosts on their way
Tell them they've had their day, it's someone else's tomorrow…”

-from the song Someone Else’s Tomorrow, written and performed by Patty Griffin

Back in the mid-90’s, we lived in Western Montana. It’s a great place. We often question why we ever left and why we don’t move back. (And when it’s 110 in Texas and it hasn’t rained in months, we ask those questions more frequently.) There are a lot of answers to both of those questions and most of them drift into the realm of TMI. We know why we left, but we always had it in our heads that we might move back someday. We’ve gone back several times and we just spent the last week up there. Western Montana is still a great place, but it’s not the same place we left in the 90’s. And for that matter, we’re not the same. Eventually all places become “Someone Else’s Tomorrow”. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. And this truth goes way beyond just places on the map. Change is inevitable and rarely do things change back to the way they were. This is what makes change so difficult.

Which brings me back to Montana. I love Glacier National Park, especially the eastern side. It is spectacular. It used to belong to the Blackfoot Indians. Then the Whiteman took their land. The life today’s Blackfoot lives in places like Browning, Montana is a big step down from how they lived before the whites came and took away their tomorrow. But, to keep things in perspective, the Blackfoot took the land from other Indians and not all that long ago. In the early 1700’s the Blackfoot invaded from the North and chased the Flatheads over the Continental Divide. And in less than 150 years those valleys west of the Divide along with most of Montana and Idaho also became “Someone Else’s Tomorrow” for ranchers, loggers, miners, railroad workers, factory workers, truckers, retirees and most recently the “rich and occasionally famous”. And today there are a lot of multi-million dollar homes for sell at reduced prices. Someone’s dream home will become someone else’s tomorrow.

Texas and the entire Southwest have gone through the same cycle. The Comanche Indians were late comers to the region. When they arrived, life changed dramatically for the Wichitas, Caddos and Tonkowas. Mexico then opened the door to Anglo-Saxon immigrants and everything changed for Mexico and for the Indians. And everything kept on changing, rapidly. Even now, the Texas I grew up in is not the Texas I live in today. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I may well live to see the day when Hispanics once again outnumber Anglos in this state. When the “all bidness” is no longer big business. When there is not enough water to irrigate West Texas cotton and communities can no longer afford to build multi-million dollar high school football stadiums.

Montana and Texas are just blips on the map of world history. When one looks at the bigger picture, change has always been and will always be. It can be hard to swallow, especially if a society has lived with the myth that children will always have better lives than their parents. I guess it depends on how one defines “better”. The truth is that the children will always have different lives than their parents. Just ask a Blackfoot Indian.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Money, Shoes and Taxes

In today’s edition of the NY Times there is a story about how the rich are doing so well in the recovery. It talks about how high-end luxury stores are actually “marking UP’ their merchandise, yet it's still “flying off the shelves”. The article includes a photo of this gorgeous young woman buying a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes at Bergdorf’s for the mere price of $1495. This “outrageous extravagance” was brought to my attention by the talking heads on MSNBC’s Morning Joe show. (Yes, I must admit that I watch MSNBC on occasion. Just for the record, my morning channels in order of preference are: CNBC, FOX-Business (only because Don Imus is there), CNN, ESPN, The Weather Channel, The Golf Channel, MSNBC, The Cartoon Network and FOX News.)

At any rate, this morning I happened to catch the discussion on MSNBC regarding this young lady’s purchase of a pair of $1495 shoes. There was outrage and expression of disbelief that our nation has come to this point. That the gap between the rich and the poor is too large. That the middle class has been virtually wiped out. That we are a nation of the wealthy, for the wealthy, run by the wealthy. That this again was a clear message that the wealthy should be willing to step up and pay higher taxes instead of buying designer shoes. (Wonder what the sales tax was on those shoes?)

Ok, I’m already on the record as saying that some sort of tax increase must be part of our long-term plan to push the federal deficit down to a more manageable level. And, I fundamentally agree with a moderately progressive tax system where higher income brackets pay marginally higher tax rates. But, if I could wave a magic wand, I’d rather see our young lady friend buy two or three or four pairs of $1500 shoes than give more of her (or someone’s) hard earned money to the government.

Where do the liberals think the money goes when a rich person buys something? Do they really believe that there is a members only economy where just the wealthy are involved in manufacturing, distributing and selling $1500 shoes? Is it just rich folks who build yachts and luxury homes and $80,000 automobiles? The liberals (who now prefer to be called progressives) really believe that $1500 given to the government is better than $1500 spent on a pair of designer shoes. That’s the issue. Plain and simple. When Rachel Maddow looks at the Hoover Dam and preaches that this is the type of super project that only a government can build, their argument makes some sense.
The problem is there are far too many government projects and programs which are not “super”. Frankly, I’m inclined to believe that $1500 spent on a pair of designer shoes does more good for the economy than $1500 given to the federal government. (I would even argue that $1500 given to your state or local government is better than $1500 given to the Feds.)

So if you have some extra money, if you’re one of the rich (whatever that means these days), don’t let the liberals guilt you in to not buying something. The most patriotic thing you can do is go buy something. At least then your dollar has a better chance of going to someone along the line who’s actually earned it. What a novel concept.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Night America...

In light of the events going on in Washington....may I refer you to my blog entries dated December 4, 2010 and February 19, 2011.

Before you go to bed tonight, hit your knees and say a prayer for our nation.

Good Night America....Sweet Dreams

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Under Pressure

“Life at the Top: Rank and Stress in Wild Male Baboons,” published in the July 15 issue of the journal Science, found that in wild baboon populations, the highest-ranking, or alpha, males have higher stress-hormone levels than the highly ranked males below them, known as beta males — even during periods of stability. The study was led by a Princeton University professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, Jeanne Altmann.
The findings have implications in the study of social hierarchies and of the impact of social dominance on health and well-being, according to a statement released by Princeton.
Princeton researchers worked with researchers at Duke University, the University of Nairobi and the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya, Altmann said.
The stress, researchers suggested, was probably due to the demands of fighting off challengers and guarding access to fertile females. Beta males, who fought less and had considerably less mate-guarding to do, had much lower stress levels.
“We’ve known for decades that alpha males have an advantage in reproduction, but these results show that life at the top has a real downside, and that being an alpha male comes at a real cost,” said study co-author and Duke University biology professor Susan Alberts.
So how much application does this study have for humans? In my opinion, it all depends on the human and the situation. We know that NOT having control or NOT having the necessary resources for that “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” thing is very stressful. So being at the “bottom” has plenty of stress. Now we’re told that being at the top has more stress than being farther down the ladder. In general, that’s probably true. Being a “highly ranked” person just below the top is indeed sometimes the best place to be.

But is stress really all that bad? Again it depends. For those at the “top”, stress comes with a lot of perks. Power, status, control, money…it’s good to be the king. For those at the bottom, stress is literally about survival. Survival stress is really what the baboon’s stress is all about. The fact that the Beta baboons have less stress than the Alpha baboons may just be because the Betas are too stupid to realize that their survival is also at risk.

It comes down to this. The more you have to fight for survival the higher the stress. Stress is nature’s way of telling you to get off your ass and do something before a big and hungry Alpha-type has you for dinner. If you’re lucky enough to have one of those Alpha-types around for protection, go ahead and be a Beta. Perhaps the Betas, like the meek, shall one day inherit the earth. In the meantime, I’m betting that the stressed out Alphas will own the land and the mineral rights.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What Was Said, What Was Heard...Part 3

Well, we skipped a week. I spent my blog time planning a trip to the mountains. Need a break from 100+ degree weather. This is getting ridiculous.

So on to Part 3 of What Was Said, What Was Heard. This time the Headhunter speaks and the candidate listens. What Was Heard often depends on the Candidate’s outlook? Is it one of sunny optimism or dark pessimism?

What the Headhunter said:
“We are waiting on the client to give us interview times”
What the Optimist heard:
“We’ll have interviews nailed down in a day or two.”
What the Pessimist heard:
“Don’t hold your breath waiting for an interview.”

What the Headhunter said:
“In addition to a competitive salary the position also offers a great bonus plan.”
What the Optimist heard:
“It’s a great paying job.”
What the Pessimist heard:
“The salary is low and once in a blue moon you might get a bonus check.”

What the Headhunter said:
“The company will assist with relocation. That will be part of the negotiation.”
What the Optimist heard:
“Company paid relo. Woo-hoo”.
What the Pessimist heard:
“Hello U-haul”.

What the Headhunter said:
“There have been several people in this position in recent years. But the company now acknowledges that they didn’t reach for the right level of talent and experience. They are upping the ante and want someone like you.”
What the Optimist heard:
“This is a great opportunity.”
What the Pessimist heard:
“This job is a career killer. You are being hired to be fired.”

What the Headhunter said:
“Your chances of being hired for a job like this are one in a billion.”
What the Optimist heard:
“So you saying there is at least a chance that I’ll get the job?”
What the Pessimist heard:
“Finally, an honest answer from a Headhunter”.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What Was Said, What Was Heard...Part 2

When the Candidate speaks, what does the Headhunter hear? Well that depends a lot on the headhunter. This week, we’ll consider what the Rookie Headhunter hears in comparison to the Old Veteran Headhunter. These are only slightly exaggerated.

What the Candidate said:
“I’m making around 100”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I’m making 100”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I’m making less than 100, actually a lot less and I like to add my bonus potential (not actual bonus earned) into my compensation since I really think I’m worth at least 100”.

What the Candidate said:
“I just decided it was time for a change.”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I’ve really evaluated my situation and decided that working with a search professional like you is the best way to advance in my career.”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I quit before I got fired”

What the Candidate said:
“I went to State U”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I graduated from State U”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I went to State U for a couple of semesters, partied, ran out of money, had to get a job and dropped out.”

What the Candidate said:
“My company does not make counter offers and I don’t see myself accepting one if they did. Once I accept a new job, that’s it”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“No way I’m taking a counter offer.”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“If my company surprises me with a counter-offer, I’ll consider it.”

What the Candidate said:
“I don’t include the month with dates of employment on my resume because I don’t recall the exact months on some of my old jobs”.
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I honestly don’t remember the exact months I was employed with XYZ company back in the 90’s”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I’ve got some significant gaps in my employment and it’s easier to cover them up if I just use years without months.”

What the Candidate said:
“I’m just not comfortable having you contact references.”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I’m concerned about confidentiality and nervous about you speaking with any of my references.”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I really don’t have any legitimate references who could verify the BS I have on my resume”.

What the Candidate said:
“I’ve only sent my resume to one or two other search firms and responded to a few job postings.”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I’m haven’t gone very far in my search efforts.”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I’ve blasted my resume out to dozens of search firms, it’s posted on multiple job boards and I’ve responded to virtually every job posting for which I am remotely qualified. It will be a freakin’ miracle if you have a client who doesn’t already have my resume.”

What the Candidate said:
“I have dotted line responsibility over several departments and functions.”
What the Rookie Headhunter heard:
“I have a lot of responsibility”
What the Old Veteran Headhunter heard:
“I’m a staff person.”

Next week we’ll flip it around. The Headhunter we’ll speak and the candidates will hear. We’ll see what the optimistic candidate hears in comparison to the pessimistic candidate.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Was Said, What Was Heard...

The following is from a recent article by Robyn Greenspan. Robyn is the Editor-in-Chief at ExecuNet, the leading business network for senior executives, where she is responsible for setting and driving the editorial content strategy across ExecuNet's online and offline publications and webinar programming. She also writes and produces the company's widely cited and highly recognized research project, the annual Executive Job Market Intelligence Report:

Things are not always as they seem, and the same can sometimes be true on job interviews.
My colleague Laura Magnuson, who works closely with our recruiter members, and I were recently talking about the typical phrases said at job interviews and what might have been heard. Hope you find a few laughs ahead and nothing that hits too close to home.

Candidate to Interviewer:

What was said: I'm a very fast learner.
What was heard: I don’t have the experience you're looking for.

What was said: I would change positions for the right opportunity.
What was heard: Make me an offer.

What was said: I've been an independent business consultant for the past two years.
What was heard: I’ve been out of work for two years.

What was said: I'd rather not talk about salary yet.
What was heard: I’m hoping you make me an offer before I have to disclose my low salary.

What was said: I left my last position because I wasn't being challenged enough.
What was heard: My last company didn’t trust me with the higher level responsibilities.

What was said: I'll get back to you with the names and contact information for my references.
What was heard: I have to call around first and tell people what I want them to say.

What was said: My leadership style is very honest and very direct.
What was heard: I' m abrasive, have no tact and don't get along well with people.

What was said: I'm a perfectionist and very detail-oriented.
What was heard: I'm a micromanager and don’t trust anyone on my team.

Interviewer to Candidate:

What was said: This is a very hands-on position.
What was heard: You'll have limited resources and be expected to do things that are beneath you.

What was said: You have an extensive work history and are highly overqualified.
What was heard: We're looking for someone younger and less expensive.

What was said: Thank you for coming in today; we have a few more people to see and then we'll get back to you.
What was heard: You won't hear from us again.


Over the next couple of weeks I’ll add some of my “What Was Said, What Was Heard” personal favorites….only these exchanges will be between the Candidate and the Headhunter or the Hiring Authority and the Headhunter.

For example:

Candidate to Headhunter:
What was said: I might be willing to consider relocation for just the right situation.
What was heard: I’ll move if there’s enough money to offset my spouse giving up their job and I can afford to put my kids in private school.

Hiring Authority to Headhunter:
What was said: We have interviewed a number of people for this position but just haven’t found the right fit. So we thought it was time to utilize your services. You guys are the pros.
What was heard: My boss won’t let me hire anyone unless they are the perfect fit and are willing to work cheap. Now I'm using you to show my boss that I've actually interviewed really good candidates and we just need to offer a better compensation package in order to hire one of them. I think you contingency fee recruiters are suckers.

More to come next week….

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Living on The Edge

Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself at all

Congressman Anthony Weiner now takes his place in the line up of Dumb and Dumber public figures. I never liked the guy or his politics, but I sort of feel sorry for him. Not as sorry as I feel for his pregnant wife, the rest of her family, his family, all of their friends and his constituents.

But back to Weiner, the man. Why feel sorry for him? If you’ve ever been drawn to the dark side, if you’ve ever tasted the forbidden fruit, if you’ve ever been to “The Edge”; then you know why I feel sorry for him. Maybe you got caught, maybe not. But he definitely got caught and in front of the whole wide world. I’ve never tweeted my weiner or weinered my tweet; but I’ve done things for which I am very ashamed. Why did I do them? In some cases, I rationalized that my behavior really wasn’t all that bad. At other times, I knew it was bad but did it anyway. As the Aerosmith song says “You can’t help yourself from fallin” …. “You can’t help yourself at all”.

The Apostle Paul says essentially the same thing in his letter to the Romans:
Ch 7, Verse 19 - “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Paul goes on to talk about deliverance and salvation, but I remain haunted by his words…”the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing”. The battle is real. All religions speak to this issue, the struggle between Good and Evil, the Light and the Darkness.

So what are we to make of all this? For every politician or celebrity who publicly falls over “The Edge”, there are thousands of everyday Joes and Janes who do likewise. In some cases the results are badly damaged relationships that ultimately heal but never fully recover. In others, the results are broken families and children who grow up living on “The Edge”. Living on “The Edge” can lead to disease, crippling injury, imprisonment and death. And no one lives on “The Edge” alone, even though they may die there alone. Actions have consequences and there is always collateral damage.

The answer is painfully simple, but too many of us never learn it or learn it too late. Stay away from “The Edge”. “The Edge” is where you hear the Sirens’ songs, you think all things are possible and you feel invincible. “The Edge” is where lies become truth, it's always someone else's fault, you deserve to be happy and there are no absolutes. “The Edge” is where you ultimately get permission to launch and the final invitation to fall. Stay away from the “The Edge”. Just ask Anthony Weiner.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Uber Recruiting

First of all, my apologies for not putting the two little dots over the U in Uber. It’s too much trouble. If you haven’t picked up on it, Uber (OOO-burr), is the cool German word all the cool people are using (or at least was the cool word until someone like Donald Trump or one of the House Wives of New York used it.) So it’s probably not cool anymore, but since I’m an old redneck Texan, I don’t care. I like it. And Click is actually a German surname (Gluck or Glueck in the old country), so I get to use Uber if I want to. And besides, how many cool German words are there?

With today’s technology it’s easy to be a Recruiter. So there are a lot of recruiters out there. But most of them are Durchschnitt, few of them are Uber. Let’s take a look at a few things which separates the Uber Recruiter from the Durchschnitt Recruiter…the Super Recruiter from the Average Recruiter.

Durchschnitts cast a wide net for jobs and candidates. Ubers focus on their special areas of expertise when it comes to accepting jobs and candidates.

Durchschnitts know how to find prospective candidates. Ubers know how to evaluate and determine if candidates are a good match for the position.

Durchschnitts sell candidates on the opportunity and then sell the hiring authority on the candidate. Ubers tell candidates the good and the bad about the opportunity and are even willing to recommend that a candidate withdraw from consideration. Ubers are willing to speak the hard truth to candidates and hiring authorities even if it cost them a placement.

Durchschnitts only spend time with candidates and companies who can be of value to them immediately. Ubers invest their time in developing long term relationships.

Durchschnitts believe that if you throw enough s--- on the wall some of it will stick. Ubers believe that you just end up with a wall of s---.

Some Durchschnitts MAKE a lot of money. Most Ubers EARN a lot of money.

Durchschnitts think about making the NEXT placement. Ubers think about making the RIGHT placement.

So whether you are a candidate or a hiring authority you have a choice to make when it comes to working with a recruiter…..Durchschnitts or Ubers?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Heroes Unaware

By Mark A. Wright, HMC(SS)

I first saw him on a park bench
I've seen him every day
Sitting in a shady grove
Where my children come to play
Sometimes he feeds the birds and squirrels
Or whittles little toys
Sometimes he just sits and smiles
At the laughing girls and boys
And I never paid him any mind
'Till one day just this year
I noticed that he wore a frown
And on his cheek ... a tear.

Well I asked him why he seemed so down
He looked up, began to say
I lost half my friends 60 years ago today
He told me of the terror
As he fought to reach dry land
By the time the beachhead was secure
Half his friends lay in the sand

That was just in one long day
He fought on for 4 years more
And the 60 years from then to now
Have not dimmed His sights of war

He said they have reunions
Just to keep in touch and share
And for each comrade who has gone on
They leave an empty chair

Well, His park bench has been empty now
About 6 months or so
And if I'd never took the time
Then I never would've known
That sitting on that simple bench
With bread crumbs and little toys
Was a man who gave his all
To guarantee my daily joys

So give thanks to all the men and women
Who're still here or have gone before
And made the highest sacrifice
In both Peace time and in War
Because they bought our freedom
Paid their own blood, sweat, and tears
Then endured the heartache of those empty chairs
For all these years

So please do not ignore them
Or speed by without a care
'Cause you never know
When you might pass by
A hero, unaware

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End of The World as We Know It

Well if you are reading this after 6 pm eastern time May 21, 2011 you must be among the 97% of humanity that did not get raptured. That’s rapture, as in being carried away. Not rupture, as in conflict or the tearing apart of tissue. According to the modern day Prophet Harold Camping, if you did not get raptured, you probably are ruptured and suffering through the first wave of Apocalyptic events. But, I’m betting that old Harold missed it again. (He had previously predicted that the end of the world would come sometime in September 1994. That was Barry Switzer’s first year coaching the Dallas Cowboys, so I actually gave the prophecy some credence.) At any rate, when September 1994 came and went and the world kept turning, Harold reminded us that he had said he might be wrong in his calculation.

This time around he says that he nailed it. May 21, 2011 6 pm eastern time. It’s over. Take that all you Mayan calendar freaks who claim the world will end December 21, 2012. (But if the world doesn’t end today, at least Harold has a fallback position. He can say that he failed to include the numerological value of the ancient Mayan word for bullshit in his calculation. Easy mistake to make. Same thing happened to Jim Jones).

I just find it fascinating that a significant number of grown people actually believe this stuff. I suppose it’s the ultimate escape. When drugs and alcohol and sex and money and reality TV and high stakes poker don’t work for you, I guess all that’s left is to go large and bet on the end of the world as we know it. If you’re right, you get to wave at the rest of us chumps bobbing up and down in a lake of fire. If you’re wrong, you just say God decided to give the world one more chance to vote for Sarah Palin and get rid of that Lady Gaga person.

At any rate, I’m not worried much about today or December 21, 2012. Even Jesus said that only God the Father knows when the End of the Age will come. So I’m sticking with Him on this one.