Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I have a confession.

I have a confession to make, I'm an internet stalker - sort of.  I've been doing a lot of interviews over the last few months.  In addition to researching the company and the position, I've also been researching the individuals I'll be interviewing with.  It's amazing, and a little bit scary, what can be found on the internet.  With one perspective boss I was able to find his personal twitter account, his religious activities, his political point of view, that he likes basketball and not football, he has three kids, his address and even the value of the house he's living in- thanks to public tax records.  For another I was able to find some publications he did at a previous job, pictures of his wedding and even that he was a big fan of Dr. Who.  (I didn't get the chance to ask which doctor is his favorite - I'd go with #5 or #11, but didn't want to get to controversial in an initial interview.)  And a third, I read his wife's mommy blog and probably found out way to much about his family.

Through LinkedIn I'm able to find out about a persons background, and also their network.  I've been able to successfully use this to get my resume in front of someone who's a 'friend of a friend of a friend'.  I'm also able to keep tabs on who else they're connecting with recently, which may be my competition for the position.  While I was at my last job, I was able to predict with a fair amount of accuracy who was about to leave based on their activity on LinkedIn.  Someone who suddenly updates their profile and starts connecting with people senior to them in the industry is probably interviewing or at least looking at moving on.

I'm working on my addiction - not sure if there's a Professional Internet Stalker's Anonymous.  In the meantime, I thought I'd use my little piece of the internet to warn others.  There is a ton of information about you on the internet.  Whether you're the one being interviewed, or the one interviewing, expect to be Googled and searched on LinkedIn at a minimum.  Candidates are regularly advised to clean up their online profile before applying to any new position.  Those on the other side of the table don't get similar advice.  You may not want your perspective employee to see that you like to dress up in Cosplay and attend ComicCon annually before they know what color of carpet is in the lobby.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finding the Lesson

Any long time reader knows that I'm a big fan of finding lessons in everything I can.  My personal motto (thanks to a wonderful uncle) is 'You can learn from a jackass what not to do."  When you're working in a professional atmosphere there's no shortage of opportunities to put this motto in to practice.  I've been lucky enough to be able to learn a bit about everything in corporate operations from HRIS to finance from some very qualified and patient co-workers.  I've picked up bits and pieces of other area of law from great friends and outside counsel to the point where I've become very comfortable doing basic employment, IP, litigation management, marketing and both sales and procurement transactions for a variety of different industries.  I've been incredibly lucky so far to have this opportunity.

Over the summer I've taken a break from the professional world and have been spending more time with the kids at home.  I'm finding that I'm not quite as adept at seeing the lessons from a two year old. With him, more often than not I am playing the role of the jackass.

A couple of weeks ago I was reminded by a post on LinkedIn that lessons are everywhere if we just open our eyes to them.  So with that in mind, I've been going through my summer looking for the lessons I missed - and since I love lists so much here are my top 3.

1.  Perseverance and creativity will pay off in the end.  I spent the month of July potty training my autistic four year old.  He has limited communication skills and is quite stubborn.  He didn't respond at all to the reward technique that we used to very quickly train his big brother - he loves M&Ms but couldn't quite get the correlation between going and getting more.  So I had to get more creative and be very, very patient.  After about 3 weeks he finally got it, and while we're still working on the finer nuances (boys and aiming is quite a challenge!), we're there.  In my working life, sometimes the first approach doesn't work.  Maybe it's a lack of effective communication, maybe it's a wrong assumption of underlying facts.  What matters is that we keep looking for an effective resolution and not be afraid to use a methodology that hasn't been tried before.

2.  While perseverance is king, sometimes you just need a break.  My two year old is learning something new everyday - new language, new physics, new abilities of his body.  It can be overwhelming.  He's as stubborn as his brothers so he'll keep trying to get it right for as long as it takes.  However, he's two and sometimes he needs a nap or a rest before he can focus enough to get it right.  I've realized that I'm not much different.  I may not need a nap everyday (although wouldn't that be nice!).  However sometimes I do need to step away and take a fresh look at the problem after I've cleared my mind.  So put down the contract that you're struggling with the wording for 30 minutes.  Go for a walk, work on some trademark/marketing stuff instead.  Get your mind thinking about something completely different and then approach it again.  You'll be amazed at how taking a break gives you a new perspective and makes that huge issue seem a little more manageable.

3.  You can't control everything.  As any young kid can tell you, there's only so much in this world that you directly control.  You can be on your best behavior, eat all your peas and still have to go to bed at 7:30.  The world is made up of rules and conventions that may sometimes bend but are best if not broken.  This is true for adults too, although we often maintain a self-delusion of having complete control over our lives.  Afterall, we can go to bed anytime we want.  But we can't make the judge rule how we want them to, or make our boss like that proposal any more if he's already decided on a different option.  Sometimes, we'll get farther by accepting the things we can't control and working more effectively in the confines of those conventions.  After all, for all the time my 6 year old spends complaining and fighting about going to bed too early, he could actually be spending that time playing and accomplishing what he wants to do after bed time.

I'm still learning the lessons these little overlords are trying to teach me.  In the meantime, I think I might pick up my job search a bit more - these three are more demanding than any CEO or GC I've ever worked with! I could use a vacation. ;)