Archives for February 2014

The Inspirational Story of Richie Parker

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One of the best 7 minute inspirational stories I’ve come across, Richie Parker.  The video tells the story better than I could, but here are some thoughts that came to mind.

  • Parents Matter
    • What would the world look like with more parents like Richie’s?  Shouldn’t every kid have the opportunity to ride a bike?
  • Attitude Matters More
    • What if everyone had the ability to NOT let adversity bring them down, not accept no for an answer, and had the optimism and ingenuity to just simply figure it out?

What if every organization was open minded enough to give a person like Richie a shot, a real opportunity to contribute?  

Do you think Richie is a massive difference maker in all ways at his organization?  
I bet the competitors are kicking themselves for not having Richie, I know I’d want him on MY team.  

Game-changers in Life are hiding in mysterious places.  Being open minded to the new and more importantly, DIFFERENT is the first step to a new world of opportunity.  

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Your 2am Friend

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Nobody tells a story like Bill Cosby.

This story of breaking down at 2am is so fitting for our times, where “connections” at time are collected like business cards, vs. developed for the long haul.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a long list of Eds….that FRIEND you can call at 2am when your back is against the wall?  

If you’re lucky to have that kind of Friend, then you will relate to Cosby’s reaction at 1:27 on the video.  

I can’t think of more positive adrenaline that can get injected into the body when you realize there is an Ed in your life. Maybe 1, when YOU play the role of ED for someone else.  

I often wonder if The New School generation with social media and all of its power understand if there is a means to an end with all of thier time spent “networking?”  

If an  “Ed” is nirvana in the relationship space, I’d like to suggest a couple of posts that talk to moving from loose on-line connections towards more meaningful relationships.  This may not move you towards a 2am friend, but that’s a journey that only starts with a deliberate step #1.

One of  my favorite quotes from Ted Rubin sums up relationships perfectly:

“Relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them the stronger and more valuable they become.” 

Wishing everyone the good fortune of having at least one Ed in your life.

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Assessing Organizational Culture: Start With Relationship Churn

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Culture is viewed by some as “soft,” hard to measure, difficult to quantify, but most will begrudgingly acknowledge its importance.

Organization Culture - 7s model

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Culture is not something to be acknowledged, it is EVERYTHING about a business.  

It may not be easy to pinpoint and understand, but it’s there.  Culture will determine what is acceptable/not acceptable behavior better than an employee handbook.

Culture as they say, “Eats strategy for breakfast.”

There are many aspects of a business where you want to assess an organization’s culture.  It is most critical to focus on culture when you are UNFAMILIAR with the organization.  A few scenarios come to mind:

  1. A business acquisition
    • You are looking to assess the culture relative to your objectives, and ultimately shape it over time to become a competitive advantage.
  2. A change of employment
    • You are looking to see if you can adapt and thrive in the culture, you’re not looking to CHANGE the culture
  3. You want to establish a new business relationship (sales or any other form of networking)
    • You want to understand the culture to POSSIBLY adapt; you always need to be aware, but may not need to alter your natural style to conform to their culture.

So the million dollar question is “HOW” to assess the culture?  

Here is a starting point to understand Culture:

The Relationship Churn Rate

A measurement of critical organizational relationship change.  The higher the churn, the more “change” in the number or impact of relationships.

  • What is the “tenure” of people that come into contact with the business?  Do they stay long (greater than 5 years?) or are the relationships more transactional with lots of churn every year?  
  • You need to get a feel for the Churn among the organizational stakeholders as there could be different dynamics within each.  Organizations have both internal and external stakeholders.  
    • External Stakeholders
    • Customers
    • Suppliers
    • Financial institutions:  Creditors & Investors
    • Internal Stakeholders
    • Employees:  Both hourly and salaried employees

If you think about 2 comparable businesses, each with very different churn rates, couldn’t you start to draw some conculusions on culture?

Said differently, if one business has a crew of key employees with an average tenure of 12 years with the business, and a different company is closer to 3, isn’t that worth understanding why the differences exist?

  • Is turnover an issue?  Why?  Is it driven by compensation/benefit rates, environment, or management practices?
  • What about customers?  Are the top 20% of customers a revolving door, or have they been stable over time?  Why?  Are service levels, pricing, new product offerings, sales approach, etc. driving the churn rate to be high or low?  Is there one dominant factor or a combination of all elements driving a churn rate?

Like all analyses, the magic is not knowing a churn metric, it’s understanding the WHY’s behind what drives it to begin with.

Keep in mind:  Low turnover, stable customers, suppliers and stakeholders is on the surface a positive sign, indicator of stable culture.  What you need to do is put that stability up against the business results and asses cause and effect of the low churn rates to the end results of the business.

If your goal is to dynamically CHANGE the end business results, the existing culture needs to be considered as to how best to make that change happen.  Keep in mind; cultures are built over time, not overnight.  Changing a culture is therefore a process, not an event.

Culture matters.  Get to the Churn rates at the stakeholder level.  Then get to the Why’s behind the Churn Rates to paint a picture for the culture.

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Motivational Shorts: What’s Your Theme Song?

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Remember Ally Mcbeal?  The quirky comedy show in the late ’90’s that featured an interesting cast of characters.  The most quirky of them all was “The Biscuit,” whose personal theme song became his entire office’s theme song as you’ll see in the video.

Something simple like someone’s “motivational kick” can be turned into a culture building tool for entire organization, as you’ll see here.  

Music has a way of connecting to memories and emotion.  How many times have you heard a song and immediately it flashes a “mind’s eye” picture of a day from many years ago?

I-Pods make it easy to create playlists for various uses: workouts, unwinding, entertaining, etc.

The daily grind can throw you many rough patches where you productive zone can hit roadblocks. Keep you tunes on stand-by for an easy snap back into the productive streak.

Work-outs tend to be my catch-all motivational playlist.  A couple of my personal favorites are below.   

Prior to jumping on a plane to NJ I often get “in the zone” with Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind.  My wife, the constant “NY is better than NJ” antagonist reminds me of this.  For more on our banter, see “Where are you from? The Question that Matters.”

A merge of the Old School & The New School:  Eminem + Rocky  # ROCKMINEM MASHUP.  Something about The Grit of Eminem and the classic orchestra of Rocky.  Musical Fusion at its best.  

[Continue Reading…]

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Johnny Meatballs: A Case Study in Branding & Launching A Business

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There has NEVER been a better time to pursue your entrepreneurial passions than TODAY.  

Back in the Old School it was hard to create awareness, branding and communicate a message.  It was all about good old fashioned elbow grease and generating word of mouth buzz. Some call it HUSTLE, one of the top traits from the Old School.    

Today’s New School technology affords everyone the opportuntiy to…..

  • Live your passion, and share it with like minded people

  • Build an audience

  • Replicate your message to thousands or more…..assuming it’s worth spreading.  

Everyone has the opportunity to create a Brand, both personally and for their business.  And like all things worthy in life, it takes real, hard, consistent work.  It’s not easy, but it’s within everyone’s grasp.

Here’s a great example I discovered over Superbowl Weekend:  Johnny Meatballs.

I’m biased, he’s a NJ boy and building a business on one of my favorite foods.  And I wouldn’t bet against him.  Enjoy the videos and I think you’ll see why.  


The lead up to a big event, Superbowl and “big announcements.”

And great Superbowl press coverage

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Old School: Living in the Past, Or Rock Solid?

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I love the Old School.   “Old -school” has a negative connotation in some circles.  Context is everything, and if Old School is used in a negative context like “old fashioned” or behind the times, than I certainly understand that. I simply refuse to yield to those connotations.

Here are my Descriptors of the Old School

  • Work Ethic:  Discipline, nose to the grind-stone, paying your dues.
  • Methods: Embrace of proven fundamentals that are time tested to flat out work
  • Communication:  Straight shooting over polish and/or politics
  • Rock solid integrity, won’t be compromised.

One of the great things about social media?  When in doubt what the vibe is, simply ask your network.  Mine never ceases to amaze me when I asked what comes to mind when you hear “Old School.”

  • Robin Ewaska Stalsitz Oh, you didn’t mean the movie? Well then I suppose I think of the “olden days” like my oldest sons refers to when talking about when I grew up. I think of “white out”, word processors/typewriters, not cutting corners, doing things the right way… 
  • Mark Olivito Didn’t know there was an OS movie Robin! Thanks for thoughts, exactly what i was looking for. thoughts of mr. click!
  •  Robin Ewaska Stalsitz  Sorry, typing always come to mind. The rhythmic motion/sound I suppose. Everything now seems so easy though. For instance, I make my own birthday cards. It’s easy, saves money and people are always surprised at the effort. Old School example? Makes me feel creative and shows that I cared to take the time for the person. Pinterest is a new take on Old School. Uses social media to get back to basics: cooking, crafting, etc. I personally love it and am utilizing it to show my children how to do do basics things that I had gotten away from. Returning to simplicity.
  • Dan Criscuolo mr click: f, d, s, a……j, k, l, ; he said over and over and over and over and over
  • Rachel Hermann Solomon Wait a sec….Mark you didn’t know there was an OS movie? Run don’t walk to your nearest blockbuster and rent it. Oh wait…that’s too old school. I mean get it off netflix or on-demand. Now!

    Cynthia Bright Salem Old school to me is more of a way of thinking…a mindset. I consider a person old school if they have the work ethic of my generation and those before me. Old school folks view life as an obligation to leave a legacy as opposed to taking a free ride. On the flip side, it also means that one refuses to accept better and more efficient ways of doing things, like using the tools available to us today to get a better and more efficient process or result.
  • Steve Jones Joe Theismans one bar face mask … The buttons on a blackberry … Any color members only jacket … Pete Rose is old school …
  • Mandy Xa “Well, the way I used to do _____ in my past lives was like ____.”
  • Amy Allison Urban dictionary defines it the way I think of it:
    Anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect. Can be used to refer to music, clothing, language, or anything really.
  • Mandy Xa ^that was for the blog. The MOVIE called Old School teaches us to trust our leaders!
    Old School Movie Clip – watch all clips click to subscribe ht…See More
  • Mark Olivito Hey Dan Criscuolo check this out from a year ago….F-D-SA…/old-school-fundamentals…/

    Jill Herman-Wiernik Problem with old school is that it has become the new school. Some things shouldn’t be brought back #justsayin 
  • Bill Schneider To me it is an attitude, a better work ethic, showing up 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes late. Working until the job gets done. Having a clean car when the boss is riding with you, stopping for gasoline before you pick up your boss. Respecting authority and your elders. I think of former great, legendary coaches when I think of old school (Lombardi, Knight). Fundamentals, short basketball shorts, Cinverse High Top bball shoes. taking notes on a notepad with a pen. Calling someone vs emailing, texting, Instagraming. Shoveling someone else’s sidewalk. Cleaning up your plate. Should I go on?!? I like old school.
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The Market For Talent & The Missing Element

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This week I spent some time in the “talent market” after posting a job on Linked-In for a fairly senior position, specifically called out as the “Go-to” person for the functional area of the company.

Here’s my notes.

  • In less than a week a flood of people posted, I lost track of the total, so let’s call it 50.
  • About 80% of the total came within the first 24 hours of posting.  Fatigue set in fast.  
  • Only 3 people chose to attach a cover letter.
  • I printed every resume’ and put them in Pile A & Pile B.
    • Pile A:  Do they have key paper credentials (degree & relevant experience) that would allow them to do the job?
    • Pile B:  No qualifications, toss.
    • Pile A wound up with about 40 resume’s, only 10 were tossed.

The Sub-title of Hustle or Bust is:  “Where Old School Meets New School.”  (OSMNS)

I am fascinated with the pace of change that is happening around us, and those that CHOOSE to stay out front, those that do not, and how it all comes together for competitive advantage.  Here’s some thoughts I had relative to OSMNS.

  • The cover letter is a lost art, or at least < 5% chose to attach one.
    • Note:  The 3 I received were OK, not breath-taking, but the fact is with the majority choosing NOT to do it they certainly stood out.
  • Resume’s, at least in my experience serve one purpose: Get you to a LIVE conversation quickly.
  • They will be scanned fast!
    • I spent < 10 seconds on each one.  I bet I’m not alone.  To a job seeker, this could come off as “unfair,” which I understand.  Fair or not, it’s reality.

The Brutal Market Reality:  80% made the cut as being credentialed, with a 10 second scan.  Said differently the MARKET is telling me that there are plenty of choices. Lots of capable talent, in fact more that post CAN vs can NOT perform.

When there are PLENTY of choices, alternatives and diversity of options, that is great (although a bit overwhelming) for buyers.  It can be hell for sellers.

Is there a more critical “Market” than the market for Talent?  One more competitive, and maybe subjective?

  • For the seller (job seeker), they are looking to either put food on the table, or advance their  standing in life.  All sellers are “selling” for different reasons, but the moment they hit “apply,” the selling process has begun.
  • For the buyer, they are looking to fill a series of need for their business.  Like Sellers, all BUYERS are different.

Building on the “Market” analogy, think about your grocery store experience.  Have you ever walked down any aisle, pick an aisle and get the overwhelmed feeling?  You can’t decide because there are so many choices of Soda, Chips, etc?  You either can’t tell the difference or you can’t size up the differences in flavor, price, size?  You may even give up and abandon the aisle all together. Brands fight this war daily, and it’s why Packaging is so important.  At least it gives the product a CHANCE to be picked up and stand out.

This is not a story of Packaging, although if some were slicker than others, I may have made different decisions for who to reach out too, so it does matter.

There’s plenty of competence out in the market place.  Lots of great educated people, with great diversity of experience.

However, there’s a formula required to enable that competence to stand out.

hustle + competition = opportunity

Leave out the Hustle and you are gambling.  You’re at the mercy of a 10 second review and being put in a stack with 40 others.

The good news for those that are competent, but may be lacking on the other side of  the equation?  There are plenty of them. Make the choice to add a little Hustle and go after it.  Your odds of standing out are HUGE.

Rarely does a market exist where a 100% controllable choice, that only costs time will allow you to stand out.  Talent is that market.

Competence will put you in a pile. Hustle will yield opportunity.  

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