I started this blog as a challenge to myself, to get better at writing and comfortable with tech. I now use this to dust off ideas, share thoughts, and generally have fun.
My day job? I'm a management consultant. I enjoy learning about technology and how to make the best use of it. So, it is fitting that I've built my career around helping others leverage technology and improve work for the people who use it.
I'm a pretty safe person to share thoughts with; I try not to be judgy; I enjoy a good sense of humor and don't take offense to much. I appreciate open minds, and do my best to assume positive intent. I love to hear about ideas and thoughts that differ to my own. If nobody ever disagreed with me, I'd never have the privilege of being enlightened, nor the chance to learn and grow!
Purpose is a funny thing. People say it a lot; we hear it a lot; we reference it a lot… But I’d argue we don’t understand the effects of “purpose” a lot.
If we are lucky, our goals will align with our stated purpose. When that is true, good things happen… actually, GREAT things happen. We don’t often state our purpose, and I bet many of you reading this couldn’t give me your purpose this very instant.
Still thinking about it? YOUR purpose. Not your company mission statement; not your professional goals; not your health goals. What’s your purpose?
It’s hard to say it, even after identifying it. Why? Because you become very vulnerable when you admit to your purpose. There is a natural defensiveness in us all – to not allow ourselves to be “vulnerable”. It’s a survival instinct. Stephen Covey is world known for conflict resolution – what’s at the base of, The 3rd Alternative? Purpose. Get past the superficial and get to what really matters for all parties, and there is almost always a 3rd, and better, alternative.
What have you done lately to identify your purpose? Reflect lately? I mean truly reflect. Not brag at yourself for accomplishments, or complain about those “other things” that keep getting in the way of what’s “yours” – but reflect.
For me, I think it’s a huge question that I don’t know if I can answer. But, I’ve figured out how to identify short-term purpose. They’re called, “goals”. You can endure anything if you have a purpose to do so. Nobody I’ve ever spoke to would go to Boot Camp or Officer Candidate School if it didn’t result in becoming a military service member. I didn’t go to Boot Camp for fun – I went to become a Marine. I didn’t go to OCS and trade my “rockers” for “butterbars” because I wanted to be a “Boot” again and enjoyed PT and getting yelled at; I wanted to be an Infantry Officer and lead Marines at the ultimate test of leadership – the world has ever known.
Take a look at what you do each day, and answer yourself: Does this fulfill my purpose?
Four Block Alumni Organizes Veteran Suicide Awareness Event in NYC
New York City, NY – On Sunday, October 11th, hundreds of people walked through the streets of New York City wearing heavy packs, “silkies” shorts, and flags. They were participating in the 2nd Annual VETHack Ruck March to End Veteran Suicide and were joined by many veterans organizations, including Four Block, Team Rubicon, Team Red White And Blue, The Mission Continues, GoRuck, and the Bob Woodruff Foundation…
I may share opinion pieces on LifebyDamien.com – but I do refrain from taking a political position. If I may have disappointed you by breaking that rule, just continue reading and find out why this is about Marketing. I am not nearly involved in Politics enough to make any political analysis of any given candidate. But I can tell you why Donald Trump is the Anchor of the Republican Party – and his effect is already established.
The “Anchoring Effect” in marketing describes the effect of manipulating consumers/buyers decision making by presenting them with a new “anchor” or baseline to make their decisions when deciding to purchase or act. This can be better explained in the Inc.com article published in January 2014. Let me set an example, first read the following two statements:
Statement One: I paid $800 for my roundtrip plane tickets to L.A. (from NYC) last month.
Statement Two: I am looking for tickets to make my next trip – they are looking expensive.
How much do you think tickets are selling for? Odds are, if you didn’t go to a booking site before answering, you assumed the tickets are more than $800. If I’m an airline marketer, I’m also hoping you’ll find that a price that you’ll accept to paying. When looking up info on the anchoring effect, I find most writers also referencing this great TED Talk by Dan Ariely – he is able to speak through the examples well.
Donald Trump, be it through choice, intent, or not – is making statement one. Donald Trump has already made a case, that is followed enough to effect the decision making of voters – particularly those who will not vote for him. Let’s set some assumptions for the sake of making this easier to explain:
the extreme Democratic position as the “Far Left” and the extreme Republican party as the “Far Right”
the point at where both parties meet is the “Moderate Middle”
Democratic Presidential candidates are somewhere on the “Left” and Republican candidates are somewhere on the “Right”.
Speaking from a Marketing perspective, Donald Trump has established a newly visible point of reference… effectively making the “Far Right” even further to the right, than before his campaign. If the Republican Party stays its position in the “Right”, then the moderate middle is then pulled to the right to some extent… closer to the (hat is now considered) “moderate” republicans. Think of it similar to the average or “mean” of a data sample being skewed due to an extreme value.
Without an Extreme Right, or polarizing candidate like Donald Trump – the “extreme” boundaries are held by the Republican Party. I am not advocating any candidate, but I thought seeing this, somewhat hidden, example of the Anchoring Effect was too interesting to not mention.
Yes, we’re all dumb – enough to make mistakes – and then we learn. In a way, that is a part of the self-deprecating culture I miss about the military. We are all very hard on ourselves, and while also served with an occasional dose of – ahem – “confidence” we also ridicule ourselves more often than anything else. Well, ourselves and each other. I have grown to realize there is a productive measure to that ridicule that improves individual, collective and team performance.
When a working team establishes a communication environment that allows for straight, sometimes brutal, but honest and even more often comical, communication – there is very little left unsaid. Why is that helpful? Because it ensures that all members of a team are voicing their observations when they thinks something is awry. If you are doing something that can be done better, you’ll be told. If your performance is good, but can be better – you’ll be told. If someone disagrees with you – you’ll be told. The guess work is taken out, and the perceived friction point can be addressed. This reduces what I’ve been introduced to as “office politics”. If we’ve learned anything in a democratic society, it’s that “politics” and “efficiency” often get in each other’s way.
Of course, there needs to be moderation. No team should suddenly start verbally lashing out at each other (nor should they ever really be “lashing out”). First, everyone has to believe that everyone else in the team is more concerned about the TEAM’s goals and objectives than any individual’s objectives. Team-orientation over self-orientation is a topic of its own, and gets into the foundations of team building. But that will be it for today – let’s keep it short. How honest have you been with your team lately?
*You might have noticed the title was intentionally, incorrectly spelled as “were” instead of “we’re”. It’s a play on words… making “dumb” only temporary, until enlightened.
Recently I’ve been tossing around this idea of a “Third Identity” for Veterans when referring to career and life, post-military. I call it a “Third Identity” because Veterans typically had an identity of who they were before the military; they then assume a new identity in the military (as their life and experience in uniform would warrant). Finally one exits the military and who the Veteran identifies himself to be post-military is rarely the same person he was before or during his time of service. With all the variables that come with it – there is one common trait that builds the person, and should be minded: Integrity.
I don’t mean just integrity as in honesty; I mean “integrity” as in the consistency, or truancy of behavior. For this, I’m going to attempt to weave a common thread through the theories, observations and expertise of three gentlemen far smarter than myself – as I’ve interpreted from their books.
What do Jim Joseph, Joe Navarro, and Charles L. Allen all have in common? They’ve all stressed the importance of consistency in behavior. Why?
Jim Joseph is the largely successful, global branding guru – who has experienced success as an entrepreneur, corporate leader, professor, father and author – penning 4 great books (of which I’ve finished three and am due to order his latest “Out and About Dad”). Jim’s series of “The Experience Effect” reiterates the need for consistency in business, employee, and personal behavior in order to gain positive rapport with a target audience (That is a gross over-simplification, but feel free to read up yourself J). Jim says it best when wrapping up “The Experience Effect for Small Business”:
“Live life consistently with the brand you’ve established for yourself and link it to your small business. Make personal choices that are consistent with your brand, and make personal decisions that reinforce and support the decisions of the business that will aid in its success.”
Joe Navarro is an acclaimed FBI Interrogator and Investigator and has literally, written the book on detecting deception for the FBI. You can read his work in “What Every Body is Saying”. When Joe goes deeper into identifying deception, he repeats both the difficulty in doing so – but also, the importance of “Synchrony”.
Synchrony is as it sounds, when all elements of communication are synchronized in delivering a consistent message. But, when the verbal message doesn’t match the non-verbal message (body language) something is off. As Joe will explain, seeing this sort of “asynchrony” will cause discomfort in both the communicator and who the person is communicating with. It makes sense – how uncomfortable is it to just say the word “No” while nodding your head yes?
Lastly, Charles Lawrence Allen is a published Psychotherapist and Counselor. In his book, “Why Good People Make Bad Choices”, Charles describes the constant argument all people face. The argument between stated (and ideally behaved/demonstrated) values, and one’s ego. The ego, as Charles will tell you, has a purpose that contributes to human survival. It also has a strong penchant for questioning one’s integrity.
In his book, Charles emphasizes, that peace within one’s self is found as consistency is established with stated values and demonstrated behaviors. It’s a good read for anyone thinking about how their own brain operates, or why they keep grabbing the King Size candy even though they know beach season is coming up.
The common thread? Consistency is good; Inconsistency is not. Inconsistent brand experiences will end up losing your company money; enough so to constitute a national shutdown to commence a day of training (like Starbucks did). Inconsistent body language – or non-verbal communication that doesn’t match what your mouth is saying, will result in discomfort and distrust with whom you are speaking. Inconsistent actions that do not agree with your own stated values will cause stress and hyper-tension, discomfort, and lack of happiness. These are all issues that we all face – and issues that Veterans must face in a condensed timeline when searching for their Third Identity.
That search will likely take longer than your savings account will cover. However, making it through that identification phase as you find your identity will be much more likely if you take a moment to establish your priorities, and make conscious decisions to reinforce those priorities. It will be visible with friends, families and on interviews; and to someone searching for a sense of purpose – it will be most importantly visible – in the mirror.
Every college graduate, and every transitioning Veteran (hopefully) face a million dollar question before finding their first job after college or the military: “What kind of career do I want?”
It seems that many times instead of answering that question, time, demand, opportunity (or lack thereof), and pride result in the answering of a substitute question: “What job can I get that pays enough?”
Today, Four Block Veterans visited LinkedIn and heard from LinkedIn employees mixed of both Veterans and Non-Veterans. The first theme – no brainer: They all loved working at LinkedIn. I was happily surprised to hear two different, yet consistent and related themes.
The panel all discussed what they enjoyed about working at LinkedIn, and they all described the things they like by comparing it to the things they didn’t like at previous companies. I should point out, that half or more, worked at rather big named companies previously – companies that many of our Vets, and college grads would hope to work at. In making the comparison and exposing the contrasting company cultures – it was enlightening to see what came up.
All of the panelists described an empty feeling they had while at previous employers, that has been filled while at LinkedIn. While there may be many reasons for why they feel, well, filled – it seems all agree it’s the culture of inclusion, creative thought, and ambitious greatness all tied together with enjoying the people they spend most of their waking hours with. They all also noted – while I am confident they all make fair wages – that their initial concerns of wages upon finding their first job may have misled them to their first companies and ultimately the empty feelings they had before joining LinkedIn.
We heard a lot of great things from the panel, and are incredibly grateful for all of the panelists to take their time to share their experience with our Four Block students.
As the economy, or more importantly the labor market, begins to shift in favor of the employee, keep in mind that you should make no substitutions when answering your million-dollar career question:
What kind of career do I want and what do I need to get out of it?