Awards are overrated!
I received an email “sorry to bother, but would you mind voting for me? I’ve been nominated for an award!”. They were serious. I went and voted for their competitors out of spite.
In all honesty, it’s 2017.Who sends an email asking for a vote?
Ask on social media sure, maybe text or talk to your close friends.In my eyes the more people you have to ask to vote for you, the less you deserve the award.
I do realize this comes off as a rant from someone, who doesn’t win awards. Ha! You’d be right if you thought that, but I don’t think awards matter! Here are four individuals, who have put award winning on the back burner and focused on doing things that matter.
For every winner, there must be a loser. Every time you show, talk about, or mention an award you won, it’s simply your ego rearing it’s ugly face. Don’t do it. Don’t buy in. Don’t talk about awards you won. There’s a time and a place for it. During a job interview, on your LinkedIn Account sure, but in your social media bio? No!
In the words of Seth Godin, “Don’t tell me what you invented. Tell me who you have changed.”
Humility is a virtue.
When you send an email asking someone to vote for you to win an award it makes you seem desperate. Awards are special, meant to celebrate something remarkable you did. If you ask others to “vote” for you via email, personally, I don’t think you deserve the award. With all the commotion about the awards out there, I thought something had to be said.
In the business community when you find out the vast majority of “awards” companies and people win, they had someone close to them apply for it, it doesn’t really seem like awards matter. Literally, an agency nominating their own client work for an award? I get a part of it, I mean, it makes them look great, but eventually unwarranted awards will ketchup to you. Results will always matter more than awards.
If you could afford to buy an award would you?
Five years ago a client asked about an ethical dilemma she was having.
“Do you think we should keep advertising in major Canadian magazine, they’re the ones who decide on Canada’s 50 Top Employers.We seem to be on the list if we advertise, but we won’t be if we pull our budget. What do we do?
If you automatically throwout the notion on advertising to win an award ask yourself, why? Sure it feels unethical, but all the major companies do it.Well at least the ones winning the awards anyway… You can choose to be a part of that world, or you can choose a different path.
How the holy hell did he get an award?
I always find it fascinating to look into the criteria for winning awards, generally someone has to apply for it. This reminds me of my 3rd year University. The Business faculty always had scholarships for “the top students”. This made no sense, because the top students were usually the kids who didn’t have to work, had school paid for, and could focus all their attention on class. Myself, on the other hand struggled to pay for school, had a terrible average and would have LOVED a scholarship. I just didn’t agree with “applying for it”.
As the story goes, my arch nemesis, the know-it-all kid, who never wanted to help out with the Business Students Society, who actually quit on us, applied for the BSS funded scholarship. Then he won. I couldn’t believe it. Why the hell would you pick the guy that was doing fine to give a scholarship to? Here I was struggling to get through classes (though I never failed one!) volunteering my ass off and the goodie two shoes just got a free ride, because he had a high average?!?
That’s when I began to mistrust “school” and any awards given away at school.
Life’s about being able to do your art, not winning awards.
Eddy introduced me to an amazing designer that he looks up to, Aaron Draplin. I’ve written about him before, You don’t need to win awards to be amazing. But I think you should watch his Ted Talk. He doesn’t care about awards, he cares about being able to do his art every single day.
What good is an award if you aren’t happy?
Aaron is a happy guy, my favourite part of his talk is when he talks about how lucky he is to just be able to do his art every day. How often we all take for granted what we do for a living? Here’s a guy, who is one of the most amazing designers of our generation and he is very open about not winning awards. I look up to people like Mr. Draplin. He could apply for awards and put that on his website and proposals, but I think his work speaks for itself.If you’re good enough you won’t need awards to make you feel better. Plus, putting syrup on shit doesn’t make it a pancake. Stop worrying about awards and start worrying about results!
What about BIG awards like the Nobel prize?
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis tells the story of the remarkable relationship of two brilliant Israeli Psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. Amos wasn’t a fan of awards. For every winner there had to be a handful of losers and that just wasn’t fair to Amos.
When the Nobel committee called Amos to notify him he was on a very short list to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, Amos didn’t even take the call. He was quoted later saying winning the Nobel prize wasn’t one of the things he was going to miss when he was gone. The Nobel Prize comes with a $1,000,000 cash prize. Not a small prize to be walking away from. Amos died far too early, the behavioural economics community and the world lost a brilliant mind on June 2, 1996.
This was coming for a guy that was offered a job for the rest of his life from one of the top Universities in the world. Amos, was one of the greatest thinkers of our time! On his deathbed when the President of Stanford was preparing a last lecture and celebration for Amos, he quickly called and negotiated out of the big celebration. He never wanted to credit for what he did, it just wasn’t important to him.
How smart was Amos Tversky? Really?
The Tversky Intelligence Test.
In 2013 in Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, Gladwell tells a story about how highly Amos Tversky was regarded among his peers. As told to Gladwell by psychologist Adam Alter, the Tversky intelligence test was, “The faster you realized Tversky was smarter than you, the smarter you were.”
Don’t take credit for what isn’t yours.
Shep Gordon never needed the credit. (I’ve written about Shep Gordon, the Supermench before). When a music manager works on an album or with an artist they are entitled to royalties for perpetuity of the sales that album makes. Shep never signed contracts with artists to guarantee royalties. He never thought he needed to, he trusted the people he worked with. This created loyalty with the artists and groups he worked with. Shep’s reputation proceeded him, after he is referred to as the Supermench. He did admit there was a fine line between smart and stupid when using contracts though. Not to claim royalties on an album like the Beatles Anthology (he worked on it) would fall into the category of the later.
Shep is still doing fine, instead of all that money he’d much rather have Mike Myers refer to him as “the nicest person he has ever met”.
Being a good teammate is better than winning an award.
From the book Give and Take, Adam Grant tells the story of George Meyer a habitual ‘giver’ that has never worried about receiving credit, even though he was involved in some major television productions in the past 30 years.
If his name – George Meyer doesn’t – sound familiar, the shows he’s worked on will; Saturday Night Live, Late Night With David Letterman and The Simpsons. Many people involved with The Simpson’s production agreed that Meyer was a pivotal part of the team, a linchpin really.
Your reputation is far more valuable than receiving credit or an award.
Seeing your name in the credits is an ego boost.
Many people in the entertainment industry thrive off the mention of their name in the credits. To be a part of a major production even as a small role, most people would demand their name appear in the credits. George Meyer was not one of those people. Meyer was a writer and producer on over 300 episodes of the Simpsons and was only mentioned Twelve times in the credits. Having his name mentioned in the credits wasn’t important to him, being an integral part of the team was. We should all strive to be a little more like George Meyer.
Congratulations StratLab! You won an award!
Finally if you don’t believe me that awards are something you should never focus on or put time in to, because you never know when someone just makes something up. Look to the top right hand corner of this page (sorry not on mobile). “Canada’s 50 Most Inclusive Employers” was an award I made up to celebrate the first 50 companies participating in the 4to40 initiative. See even you can make up an award and give it to whoever you choose.
Thanks to Aaron, Amos, Shep and George for setting an example for future leaders.
I look up to these four individuals for the courage it took to focus on what really mattered to them. Instead of idolizing pop, culture icons or TV stars try putting up a poster of Amos Tversky in your office. Or maybe it’s a Draplin original, to keep yourself humble at work. I love looking up to people like this, people I want to be like some day. After all, we become our hero’s in the end don’t we? Just make sure you pick the right hero’s to emulate.
“Be weird. Be awesome. Be loved!”
This was the latest sticker COR had printed and left out in a container on a table just inside their office. A circular container that has the likes of stickers, postcards, magnets, stress balls, pens, you name it. All with similar bright colours and uplifting messages. The table they are on is located by the pinball machine, just down the hall from the coffee bar and to the right of the foosball table, and PS4 complete with beanbag chairs for optimum gaming comfort.
This isn’t your regular not-for-profit organization
I’ve never met anyone with the same consistent energy. COR has its own unique culture and brand. Talk to their
employees family members, even people who don’t work there any more, you’ll hear nothing but amazing stories about how gentle teaching has changed their life. They don’t run the organization like a regular non-profit, they do things different and they don’t apologize for it. COR is a breathe of fresh air in an industry that was getting stuffy.
COR is an inspiring organization. You don’t have to go far to hear some of these stories:
Or check out one of their “COR Cribs Episodes”
In Ricardo Semler’s Maverick he tells the story about the first few times he came in on a weekend. The first thing he noticed “people dress differently when they come in on the weekend, why is that?”. They did it to be more comfortable. But don’t we want everyone to be comfortable when they are working all week long?
The dress code era at Semco was ended.
The executive dealt with the obvious backlash. “What if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way someone is dressed in a meeting?” Ricardo’s answer; “if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way one of our employees ‘looks’ then that’s probably someone we shouldn’t be doing business with”. Wow, that’s leadership.
Isn’t that simple? Why do you try to make your staff conform? Because you’ve always done that? That’s not a good reason why. Ask your staff, what they think, you may stumble upon a smart way to make your company culture better.
From John Mackey’s Conscious Capitalism he sums up what the vast majority of people are looking for when it coming to work.
A job, a career, or a calling.
We’ve all had a job. We’ve all hated a job.
A job is what we first want when we’re young. Mostly for means to an ends. We want cash money. We treat the job as such, we don’t get too attached, we try to do just a good enough job not to get fired. There are many people in this world that simply work at a job. It’s not fulfilling, they don’t love the organization they work for, and when another “job” comes along that seems similar but pays better, they’re gone fast than you can say “do you want fries with that?”
A career is a little different. Like a longer, well-paid boring job. Read more
….is to give you my recommendation. It’s not to pay you, it’s not to hire you, it’s not to give you an A+ on an assignment, it’s to tell someone in my life how I honestly feel about you.
Isn’t that the best thing anyone can do for us? Give their recommendation of us to someone they know?
Think about it. An old Manager talking to a business owner who offers you your dream job? An interview while in school for a co-op placement and your Volleyball coach give you a rave reference? (This happened! Jeremy who worked with us for a little while and who I coached with for a couple years had me as a reference for a job placement over the Summer, I had so many positive stories about that boy they HAD to hire him after talking to me).
The best thing anyone can do for you is to give an honest recommendation of you to a peer or colleague. There’s no higher honour than someone saying, “oh, you want good cupcakes? You MUST talk to Jeph, he makes the BEST cupcakes!”. No advertising could ever be better than honest word-of-mouth. Read more
“You can either fit in or stand out but you can’t do both.” -Seth Godin
Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you Alex Painter. I met Alex years ago on a Realtor competition. He wore a bowtie then and he still wears a bowtie.
Yes he IS Gumin’ At You!
Alex is a different character, he’s creative, well spoken and generally the type of guy you want to be around. Alex was moving to Banff and wanted a job in the hospitality industry, but not just any job, an awesome job. Thinking there would be a lot of competition for jobs in Banff, Alex wasn’t going to make a resume like a shmuck, Alex needed to show potential employers who he really was. He needed to show them he was “Gumin’ at them!”.
He’ll tell you the idea came from a friends Dad who was trying to help him standout amongst all the other boring job applications.
“Chews Me!” it reads along with Alex’s contact information and a picture of himself. If you cut open the pack, his references are on the inside. To cap it all off included is actual spearmint gum*(see the comment section for the type of gum).
Off to Banff he went with several packs of “Chews Me” gum in tow.
So the real question is did it work?
You better believe it. Of the first three places he dropped off “gum” at, two places offered him a job on the spot. Wow.
The next time you want a “cool” job, remember how many people are handing out resumes. If you want to standout to a potential employers don’t be afraid to do something that shows who you really are. Alex is a one-of-kind gentlemen who isn’t afraid to push the status quo of resumes and job applications.
In a world where we’re dying for creativity, it’s ideas like this that get talked about and shared. When you risk doing something different, usually you get the reward you were never expecting.
You want to keep people around you who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries on what is possible. You never know what the real benefit is until you try.
* – I actually have no idea what kind of gum he used, I assumed it was spearmint but who knows! See the comment below…
Presented at the Disrupt HR event put on in May 2016 in Regina, SK. My very first Human Resources Presentation.
HR Sucks & What To Do About It
Organizational charts suck.
Company hierarchies suck.
The traditional HR part of business sucks.
No one loves dealing with peoples problems, so HR is the hardest department in any company. Think about it, they have the hardest job out of anyone!!
HR Sucks the traditional business model sucks.
But it doesn’t have to suck.
HR doesn’t have to suck.
You can do it differently.
You have to do it differently.
You don’t have to be traditional at all.
Break the rules.
Don’t have a company hierarchies.
Use the Virgin Model of company hierarchy (one visionary at the centre and everyone else a spoke in the wheel).
What if everyone is equal?
Stop trying to tell people what to do. It’s annoying. Who actually likes being told what to do? NO ONE! So why do we do it? Ego. Instead of telling people what to do, inspire them to want to do it. This is a lesson that took me 8 years of coaching volleyball to learn. You can’t tell anyone what to do….for very long. Sure you can do it once or twice to correct bad attitude or behaviour, but if you keep doing it you’re pushing your staff away.
There’s a better way to manage in 2016 and it has nothing to do with managing at all. It has everything to do with leading. Leaders do the right thing even when no one is looking. Leaders serve others. Leaders do the hardest job possible and never look for credit. Leaders never boast, leaders care for others. Leaders build you up and give you confidence. Leaders allow you to fail because that’s how humans learn. Leaders are what we all strive to be.
Pay people for what they do not the title they hold.
What if we got paid for what we do not what title on the door or letters behind our names? Yes it’s much easier to hide behind a title or be lazy because you have 10 letters behind your name. But in the new world no one cares how many degrees you have. That’s not a definition of intelligence anymore. A degree simply means you have an above average memorization skill. Ones’ number of acquired University degrees tend to have an inverse relationship with ones’ social intelligence.
Use policy with caution. No great company was made because of a “policy”.
Have a strong set of values and stick to them. All successful companies have a strong set of values.
We don’t need factory workers anymore!
Be more flexible with your people.
Be friends with your staff.
Have mental health days.
Don’t have a limit on holidays.
Talk about culture or no one else will.
HR is nothing if it’s not a mission. (thanks Hugh)
Don’t wait for someone to do it for you or your organization. Step up, take initiative and do something.
Be the change you want to see in your HR department.
“I now appreciate public transit.” –Conrad Hewitt, 2016
Trying to see peoples’ points of view isn’t something that comes natural to humans. As we’ve evolved, the softer skills in life have become much more important to our survival than the hard skills (fight or flight) as of the last hundred years. In business it’s even more rare. Empathy is a word that is not often discussed in the board room. Love, Kindness, generosity, all words never uttered in the corporate world. Until now.
There are many unforeseen benefits of seeing the world through another persons eyes here are three.
- It’ll cause you less stress. You don’t need to constantly be “right”. It’s counterintuitive when you think about it. Usually we go into a discussion to be heard or to get our way, but if you’re smart about it you’ll go in trying to learn and adapt your point of view based on the new knowledge you discover.
The next time someone tries to argue with you try and agree with what they’re saying and come up with a better solution all together.
The smartest people in an argument will change their mind, one of the hardest things to do, on a topic to see the issue through a different lens. This take willpower, empathy and some mental Jujitsu but it a very powerful tool.
- Your clients perspective is a great reflection of your business. Your brand is what your customers say about you. Every interaction is showing others a reason to like or dislike your organizations brand. Smart organizations are asking customers what they think, how could they do better, and what they love about their service or product.
You gain empathy when you show empathy to others, when you truly know how people feel about you.
- You’re not the most important person in the world. The sooner we all come to grips with this the better. It’s easy in a moment of lost baggage rage to freakout on the airport attendee, afterall, you needed your bag for tonight! Get over yourself.
Nothing can happen to you that is so bad that you have to ruin someone else’s day over it.
Remember, you aren’t the most important person in the world and that service worker that you’re about to reem out about an over charged phone bill could be having the worst day of their life. You never know when showing someone kindness could mean the wo rld to them.
The next time someone thinks you’re about to get really mad at them do the opposite. You’ll see it in their eyes, that priceless look of a genuine human ‘thank you’.