Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Who's An Expert? - The New Work & Marketplace

I start my day going through the blog postings and articles I've starred as favorites so I don't forget to read them. Today's postings  began something like this........... "Experts Finally Reveal" or "The Experts Weigh In On" and "Expert Opinion Says....."

Maybe its because I battled a foot of snow yesterday and I am looking at sub zero temperatures for the next few days but this morning after being told by the "experts" what I am supposed to think, feel and eat, I got annoyed.

Really annoyed.

The article that raised my blood pressure over the legal limit was written by an expert on leadership and communication skills who told me how to lead other people while readily admitting they had never been in a position, career or otherwise that afforded them the privilege to lead other people.

Experts please not that it is "privilege" to lead. 

They never fought over what time you went to lunch, where you parked your car or who got to choose the prime vacation weeks.  They KNEW a leader when they saw one and proceeded to tell us how to lead and how to manage and how to do all sorts of things they'd only heard about or read about but if you wanted to be a good one in the new workplace you'd better heed their advice.

They are, after all, an expert.

Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

How can you be an expert in leadership if you've never lead anyone...........anywhere?

We've confused having an opinion with  having expertise.

I'm one of those opinionated people. I'll readily admit to you that I'm not an expert on anything, at all. I market my services by telling you I have 40 years experience in leading, managing and coaching. I'll show you what I've done over my life to back up those opinions and then you can choose to believe and act on them.

Experts write blog postings and articles and when they get enough people to agree with what they are saying they morph into an expert. People will pay them until they discover that they don't know much more than they do on the chosen topic.It's kinda like all those honors you garner playing World of Warcraft - They mean what?

I'm fairly passionate about this topic because I see so many good people - People like you - get hoodwinked into believing that anyone who has an opinion can help you do whatever it is you want to do in life.

Shoot, even people like me can write and self publish a book or two.

The exhortation in the marketplace "Let the buyer beware," still holds true no matter the medium or its pitch. Before you make a purchase whether it is for a service or a tangible item read all the fine print and find out whether the person before you, virtual or otherwise, is the real deal. A mentor of mine put it this way:

It separates the pretenders from the contenders

Finally, I'll bet by now, just like me, you are tired of seeing the word expert in bold. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Living With Ghosts

Section 8, Block 10 Lot 80-s, Grave 6

It didn't seem right to be there much less snap a picture of the grave marker. It was weather-worn and untended with weeds growing out it where the lawn mower couldn't get close enough to trim.

There weren't any flowers or signs that anyone had visited in a long while. It registered his name, his date of birth and date of death. It added "Beloved Son." There were hundreds, maybe scores, of markers like his, all young, all forgotten.

August 28, 1970

I saw him a few weeks before he died. He was sitting on the steps of a school facing it's playground while his sister bounced a ball off of a wall. I was walking across the playground with a friend. Our eyes met. He looked away and so did I. That's how I'll always remember him.

"Its a mad mission under difficult conditions and not everybody makes it to the loving cup."

His locker was adjacent to mine when were in the 9th grade. While the rest of us were blossoming into man hood he was still prepubescent and he paid the price. His voice was still high pitched, he hadn't lost his baby fat and when we showered after gym class you could tell........... well you could tell.

"They gotta secret they're getting ready to tell. It's fallin from the sky. It's calling from the graves." 

He was teased without mercy. They'd break into his locker and stack his books up so they'd fall out on him when he opened it. They pushed him and tripped him. He ate lunch by himself, walked to the bus stop alone and looked out the window until it reached his stop.

Yeah, I know 14 year-olds are cruel. They are mean. They are merciless.

His name was Eugene. Eugene Wanta

The boys would walk by him in the showers, look at him and say "Wanta-Blow-Me" They'd goad an attractive girl into talking to him for a few minutes and then she'd yell "Wanta-Eat-Me" as she ran away giggling.I remained silent. The cool kids ignored me (Thank God.) I wasn't about to play John the Baptist and offer my head on a platter to them. Let Eugene fend for himself. Survival of the fittest and all that rot. 

"You know you're coming to some kind of understanding when every dream you've dreamed has passed and you're left still standing."

There were days when they terrorized him that he'd look over at me and his eyes begged for assistance. I'd look away, grab my lunch and scoot. He went on to a different school the next year and until that day on the playground I hadn't ever given him any thought.
He looked alone and he looked vulnerable. That' s how I'll remember him - alone and vulnerable.

It's been 45 years. There are nights he haunts me.

I had one last opportunity that August afternoon to stop and recognize him, acknowledge him and the most painful of all ghosts, apologize to him. I didn't. I could have told him, on the cusp of our senior year in high school, that I should have told those other kids to leave him alone and that "Hey Eugene, it's okay."

I've tried to crawl inside of his head all these year and tried to figure out why, on the 28th of August, just a week before we'd start our senior year of high school that he'd throw a rope over a beam in his basement and hang himself. I always get the same answer.

Like the guards at Buchenwald and Auschwitz, I stood silently by while other people pushed and prodded him towards that noose on that August afternoon
In his mind there was no hope, no faith, just sitting on those steps and watching his sister bounce a ball off the school wall and live with an emotional pain so deep that it caused him physical pain. It was, for him, the end of the line.

Somewhere inside of me there is a flame burning, some days not too very brightly, but burning none-the-less. It encourages me. There are times I have felt someone with me, someone just out of my field of vision or ear shot and when I need it most reassurance.

When I began this post I wasn't sure where it was going. It's taken close to 4 hours to write. I keep stopping and staring out the window. sometimes I've sat for as long as 20 minutes and silently cried, wishing I could turn the clock backwards. I'm not even sure why I began but as I prepare to wrap it up I understand.

I may not be your brand, tribe or niche. I never have been nor will I ever be one of the cool kids. I don't sparkle or sprinkle fairy dust or turn every moment into a positive platitude. I'm awkward and uncoordinated at best. (Who else falls in the parking lot of a health food store and breaks his back.) I'm sincere, enthusiastic and very loud at times.

I got your back

My brand is compassion. My niche are the forgotten, the lost, the challenged and the people who want to be like us ad don't know how to get there. They are bright, creative and maybe they don't always fit in with everyone else. They will never make me rich. I dont know if they are on oe in social media, Google+ or Facebook. 

"Ain't a soul on this entire earth ain't got a burden to carry he don't understand, you ain't alone in that... But you been carryin' this one long enough... Time to go on... lay it down... Bagger Vance"

I paused for a moment and closed my eyes. 

Somewhere I could hear my accountant, my lawyer, my social media consultant and my family murmuring "What are you doing!?!  People will thing you are crazy."

Being real. 

And then, like out of nowhere, I saw Eugene sitting on the steps looking out at the playground. He turned his head for a moment, he winked and then he smiled and then he left. 

"Don't blame you for leavin' here baby. It's cold here living with ghosts."

Take care of each other

All quotes in this posting are from songs written by Ms Patty Griffin on her 1995 album Living With Ghosts, with the exception of the quote attributed to Bagger Vance from the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance

Monday, February 9, 2015

Authenticity, Integrity, Transparency and Being Alone

The host looked over at me and asked if I had any final words of wisdom.

"My intention isn't to offend anyone by what I'm about to say.............."

I went on to make an observation about something I don't even remember. But here is what I do remember. In the green room after the broadcast was finished the host said this:

"You know John, if you don't offend some people some of the time you are not being authentic.  You are just playing to an audience." (Or words to that effect.)

Might as well have taken a machete and cut me off at the knees. Wow!! I always know when you've hit upon something because I get this clammy feeling inside of me and this little voice says "See you ain't as wonderful as you think you are."

Lets clarify here. I'm not talking about crossing a line, dissing on anyone or a group of anyone's. I'm not talking about being racist, sexist or any other "ist."

I'm talking about being real, about being authentic and being transparent. Real integrity comes from looking deep inside, admitting you have fears and reservations about your life and the world around you and not being afraid to share those doubts and concerns. It means that you admit to yourself and to others that life isn't about standing on a hill top somewhere and putting your arms around the person next to you and singing "We Are the World." At least it isn't for me.

It's about following your path, the one that was created for you long ago and far away. Maybe you stumbled a bit and fell in a ditch. Maybe you wanted the path next to your path. It looked cleaner and straighter and everyone on it had margaritas in their hands and were having a blast!!! Maybe you couldn't find your path if it were highlighted in shimmering blue magic marker. Maybe it came to you late in life. Maybe you knew it all along and were so afraid to walk on it, so you piggy backed on other peoples backs.

The phone rings and I hear about a business thats 2.5 inches away from falling into the toilet bowel. They are run by good people with good ideas who do not represent a substantial revenue stream to other coaches and consultants. They are left to their own devices. The SBA's and EDC' s of this world don't see them as a positive PR opportunity so they slow play them until they get tired of coming in with questions. They need some guidance or everything they have is going to go floating down the Ohio River during the next hard rain. They don't have advanced degrees, never taken a leadership seminar and think social media is still AOL. These people are struggling to simply survive. You don't see them on Ted Talks, inspirational videos, G+ Hangouts or the like.

Before Joan and I got married over 40 years ago I sat down looked in her eyes and said; "You need to know something about me - I collect strays."

"Oh, she said. I like animals,you needn't worry."  

"No Joan I collect stray people."

She's been in my corner 1000% of the time. I cant say that for the rest of the world. I've put my faith and trust in people who didn't think they'd make it another day and they rose to the occasion. I've been burnt to.

Been called a fool.

Been told I am wasting my time and talent.

There were times I  probably was.

My path gets lonely sometimes because I just don't think outside the box; some days I don't know what galaxy the box is in. Sometimes it's dark and I cant hear the sound of another soul.

But it's my path and it's the path I've chosen to walk.

I'll always be honest

I'll always be authentic

I'll always be transparent.

I'll always be me

How bout you?


Sunday, February 8, 2015

What Do You Fear More: Success or Failure?

 Please join us for this special, free Scheduled Hangout On Air event 

Monday, February 9, 2015  
1:30 PM EST, 12:30 PM CST, 11:30 AM MST 10:30 AM PST. 

I Hope You Plan On Joining Us

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hey You!!! Quit Hijacking HOA's (Please?)

I'm troubled by a trend I've noticed lately. Someone schedules an SHOA (Scheduled Hang Out On Air) The SHOA host or guest may be talking about a subject in which they are knowledgeable and low and behold from the peanut gallery comes something like this:

"I agree with ***the host or guest***.  I am in the same business. If you want to know my take on all of this you can contact me or add me to your circles." or "Here's my profile page or community and if you want to learn more...."

Okay, I hear the rumblings off in the distance. 

It's a free world. you can say or do whatever you want, within reasonable boundaries, and if you are here to monetize your business I applaud you. The more the merrier.

But please do it credibly and not on the backs of other people. Here's a suggestion

Set up your own SHOA.
Don't know how?  Join the User2User - Live. This community is managed by +Andrew Hatchett. There are some guidelines for joining, mostly to assure that no gremlins or trolls infiltrate. (A gremlin comes out of the woodwork and trolls live under bridges)

+Ronnie Bincer (The Hangout Helper) manages two communities. One is free, with general information on SHOA's and one, a master community, has a fee.

I'm sure there are more fine folks willing to lend a hand.

Please don't poach someone else's SHOA, please? If you do, after awhile you'll find a lot of your messages are "not deliverable." It means you've been blocked.

I recently joined a a community called 28 Days of Love Challenge managed by +Karen V Chin. I like one her conditions for belonging to the group - No Self Promotion, in your introduction  It helps keep things real.

I hope it doesn't come to that in SHOA's. I really do.

A point of clarification: I am all for panelists in the film strip proudly hawking their services. Most SHOA hosts give you a minute or so at the end of the broadcast to talk about what you are doing. You are giving your time and expertise to make the hangout a success and as long as you abide by the hosts terms and conditions I am cool with it.