Praise what you want more of

My first management job was as assistant manager at a 14-Screen cineplex for Cinemark. I worked my way up from fluorescent bow ties, visors and suspenders to a suit and tie in under 10 months. It felt great to know that my Manager Delibra Wesley trusted me with so much.

I was good at many things. There were aspects of management that came naturally to me.

But, there were 2 things I sucked at: giving praise and saying I’m sorry.Read More »

Are young mothers capable of balancing work and family?

As you begin, I ask one thing. Please read this post in full. Then, feel free to react.

And so we begin—

Women simply aren’t equipped for leadership. The signs are clear.

Women are more emotional than men. You can’t ignore biology.

Women don’t make decisions in the same objective ways as men. Their choices are tainted with emotion. Sure, there are exceptions. But, you don’t set policy for the exceptions.

This reality is amplified in young women. Older women at least benefit from a life of experience that prepared them for more objective decisions during emotional business situations. However, young mothers with young children at home make poor leaders. That is a fact.

Being emotional creatures, they are less able to adapt to the demands of work. Imagine a job that requires travel. How can one expect a woman to compartmentalize time with her young children to travel on behalf of a company? Maternal instinct is at odds with the demands of the job.

Simply put, women are not suitable to certain positions of leadership.

Are you angry?
You should be immensely angry.

I am a man from a traditional, conservative, Christian background. I am thankful for life experiences and beliefs that forged who I am today.

I have a wife and three children—all girls. One day my beautiful, smart, creative, assertive girls will find their callings and realize how they will make this world better and brighter.

My wife is a champion. At one point in our 15 years of marriage she was simultaneously pregnant, working full time, volunteering at church, raising young children, and toiling toward her Ph.D. Did I say my wife is a champion?

She was emotional at times. I was emotional at times. There was conflict at times. Emotion and conflict are human—neither male nor female.

Women are emotional creatures. Often, anger and frustration are manifest through tears. Tears are uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Men are emotional creatures. Often, anger and frustration are manifest through aggression. Aggression is uncomfortable and inconvenient.

I started my first management position at 18 years old. Through the last 20 years, I have worked with men and women—each different—each valuable. I have enjoyed the challenge of diversity–the push and pull of points of view. They make us better. They make us stronger.

It is empowering to acknowledge differences. I ask my team to push back. I ask my team to be honest. When team members leave, I enjoy writing a letter that I read aloud to the rest of the team extolling the contributions of that person. Everyone I have worked with has made me better in some way.

Among them, the most impactful to me were the strong women.

I don’t use “strong” in a masculine sense. I use “strong” in a smart, committed, persistent sense. In management, I have had many conversations where I needed to meet with my team to discuss opportunities for improvements in their work. In reflecting on those conversations, I found one difference between men and women. Men were often better able to compartmentalize or disconnect. Work was work. For women, work was deeply personal.

Whether writing, designing a magazine, or raising children, the work was deeply personal. When they didn’t hit a deadline, they were harder on themselves than any words I could utter.

Therein lies the beauty.

They cared. They did what was necessary to get the job done.

I don’t micromanage. I expect professionals who take ownership and lead with their words and actions. It has been my pleasure to work with amazing men and women who have contributed in exceptional ways.

But, today I am angry.

A close loved one with high credentials and a world of experience, who happens to be a young mother with young children, was in an interview and received the question: “You are a young mother with small children at home. This job requires travel. How would that impact your family?”

Illegal? Certainly. There are at least a half-dozen other ways for the interviewer to answer questions about whether someone can balance travel.

But, how myopic is that question?

The pain in the ask is this—what biases do you have that hold others back from feeling valued, empowered and able to achieve? We all have them. Is it an outdated view of male and female roles in the workplace? Is it a believe that wisdom of age is better than zeal and creativity of youth? Is it a failure to understand the value of diversity in persons and points of view in the workforce? Some folks may even read this article and equate my identification as male, traditional, conservative and Christian as backwards or flat-earther.

I do not believe it is altogether possible to avoid biases and stereotypes. We all hold them to some degree.

It is in the not caring and not trying that we fail to make our world and those around us brighter.

Is email holding you hostage? Use these 6 steps.

There you are. You open your email on Monday morning and see the count—hundreds of emails. That badge of unread messages says, “You know you can’t do anything else until you deal with me.”

You spend hours skimming them. You trash some. You keep others thinking, “I’ll respond later.” After all of the new emails are read, you try to move along to other work.

Of course, you leave your email open. Across the organization others are doing the same thing as you as they try to catch up on cluttered inboxes.Read More »

What I learned from a yellow loogie on a windy morning bike ride

It was a chilly morning in Texas. The cloud cover was low. The temperature was around 50 degrees, and we set out on a 42-mile bike ride.

It was a short ride by most accounts. I have completed several 100-milers, and I prefer to stick near the 60-mile range. As I tell people, 60 miles is the dividing line between fun and work.

In my time as a cyclist, I have endured a broken humerus, mended by plates and screws. It wasn’t funny at all. I took another spill when my front wheel was pinched in a crack over a rickety wooden bridge. I slid across the grassy slope and might have ended up in the creek if not for a sapling that I gripped with one hand.

Despite all my stories from cycling, none of those are the ones that prompted a blog post.Read More »

If you don’t write, you’re wrong.

Back in 1995, as the world was beginning to wake up to the potential of the World Wide Web, I sat in a high school computer lab. Rather than spending lunch outside, I would bake in the glow of that RGB screen.

It was heaven — far better than listening to the honk and hiss of our dial-up modem at home.

I spent endless hours in Dos typing commands to download games by FTP.

I found chat rooms to troll.Read More »

What I learned from angry bees in the Valley of Fire.

It was the tail end of a 26-day camping trip that took us from Texas, to New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada and Home again. It was at the peak of the 2017 Phoenix heat wave — 117 degrees outside — and we were journeying toward a place known as the Valley of Fire.

I opened the car door at a gas pump 15 miles from camp. The wind blew the door wide — as if it might rip it from its hinges. I stepped out into what felt like a giant hair dryer. I might have looked like Beaker from the muppets if not for my shaved head.
Read More »

past and ethics

Are marketers evil?

We have all endured them — jingle-ridden radio commercials, intrusive television ads, billboards, logos, product placements in movies. We are exposed to hundreds of commercial messages each day. Estimations range from 247 (Consumer Reports ) to 3,000 (Union of Concerned Scientists ). By the most common estimate of 600 per day, we are exposed to more than 200,000 messages per year.

Behind each campaign, each piece of copy, and each painstaking photo, is a mad marketer who consumes research about why we buy. They read white papers exposing how tweens influence the purchases of their parents. They use color to influence behaviors. They create new car smells in a laboratory so that they can make sure that car triggers the right feelings of newness, or pipe aromas into the lobbies of bakeries to increase our hunger and our impulses to buy more than we should.Read More »

It’s ok to be better, not best

Do you have any goals that have been sitting on your to-do list for far too long? Staring at you, like that creepy dude in the background of all of your selfies.

All of us have those things. The things we overthink. The things we can always find good excuses not to do, because we can’t do them as perfectly as they should be done.

An Italian proverb reads, Il meglio è nemico del bene. From that origin through time we get the contemporary phrase perfect is the enemy of good.Read More »

Ugly design, great personality

Let’s face an unfortunate truth — American culture is fixated on beauty.

That obsession carries into marketing and design. Some privileged souls work in organizations steeped in a planning culture where a project never begins without a clearly defined creative brief. Others wander a busy highway of squirrel-chasers.

You may relate to the idea of a GMOOT. It’s that moment when your supervisor leaves for a conference or has lunch with a colleague, and you know to expect an urgent email or text message telling you to get me one of those (GMOOT). They are convinced that impressive new feature or innovative design style will translate into higher sales.Read More »