Mar 252017
 

DiversityThe current struggles across our nation and around the globe brings me back to the same thoughts I revisit often.

According to the constitution, the five purposes of government are unity, justice, domestic tranquility, defense, promotion of the general welfare of its citizens and securing liberty for all. I ask you to consider the the enormous savings in grief and funds if we were to simply stop legislation that has no purpose except to control others.

Remember that we are a country based on freedoms. Freedom of religion and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness is defined as a fundamental right in the Declaration of Independence — to freely live in a way that makes you happy, as long as you do not infringe on the rights of others. Does it make sense then that no act should be illegal that does not infringe on the rights of another? That is the only place it makes sense to draw the line. Not where something offends my sensibilities and those of some of my neighbors, but because it damages someone else. Let’s clear the slate of any law that is on the books because we deem the act it regulates “wrong.” The act in question may be incredibly stupid. Or, it must may make us cringe. But, if it affects only the offender, we have no right to stop his or her participation. That applies to many laws that have permeated our society for so long now that these “crimes” are just part of its fabric. We’ve tried to legislate morality. It’s costly. And it’s useless. In most cases, the mere fact such is not legal harms far more people than if the act were legal — because it creates the real crime of theft, death, and destruction.

I cannot take your life or property. I cannot break your bones. These infringe on your rights and should damned well be illegal. However, I don’t get to control what you do in your personal life based on my sensibilities. If I make football illegal because it can hurt you, I’ve diminished the life of athletes and fans, though their participation does nothing to affect me. Doing so prevents their right to their own pursuit of happiness. Compassion says we can educate the players on potential problems, but not forbid them to partake.

For example, I wouldn’t want to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I could show you what your head might look like after an accident by smashing a melon on the pavement. Still, the choice to wear one or not should be yours. Go live your life. I have no desire to do drugs. It isn’t smart. I am willing to spend a few tax dollars for the Department of Health and Education to warn you about the results of various drug use. But I don’t care to babysit you. Nor should the government. It’s expensive. And it doesn’t work.

Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s and had to be repealed. The war on drugs work doesn’t work either. The fact that recreational drug use is illegal clearly doesn’t prevent it from happening. There is far more crime and loss of life due to the fact it is illegal than there would ever be otherwise. The cost of finding, prosecuting, and housing these “criminals” is enormous. Since 2003, $383 billion dollars. Decriminalizing drugs would put an estimated $41 billion back in the federal budget each year from savings in government expenditure on enforcement of prohibition. The only people who win in this war are the real criminals because the illegal status of drugs makes them highly profitable.

Alcohol abuse causes great damage, yet we could not prevent its use. Was there not much more crime when it was illegal? Of course, there was. Prohibition was very lucrative for organized crime. Is drug use worse than alcohol abuse? Recreational users don’t get violent. And they don’t typically get behind the wheel of a car under the influence as happens with alcohol. Yet we feel the need to make it criminal. Soft drug users (as with marijuana) are typically chilling with friends and music or maybe a movie and plenty -of snacks. Heroin users are laid out somewhere. Now, don’t start with me — I know! Drug addiction is sad. Sad as hell. It should never begin. (Honestly, I think over time it would lose its glamour by the mere fact it is available and so there would be far less use.) Let’s educate users. But should we go to such lengths with billions of tax dollars and hundreds of lives in futile attempt to prevent it? The real crime is committed in acquiring the drugs. Robberies, and murder occur due to the high price criminals charge. About 18% of prisoners said they committed their crime to buy drugs. And what was the additional cost of those crimes? Connecting the dots from illegal drugs to border control issues (a key rationale for “the wall” at this moment), prostitution, and more will give you brain cramps.

So, why are drugs illegal? Gambling? Prostitution? Because many of us believe they are not right. Still, it is simply not up to us in a free society to attempt to control citizens in their own pursuit of happiness, however misguided or however it may offend our individual sensibilities. When you add the cost of prosecution and imprisonment for these lifestyle crimes to the cost of the war on drugs, it becomes too much to fathom. You say you want to ease your tax burden? Or see Social Security replenishment?

What about same-gender partnerships? There is zero place in government for addressing this whatsoever. I don’t see any role for government in the marriage of men and women for that matter. Relationship laws. Really? Regulating any lifestyle is clearly legislating morals. Morality — beyond clear acts of violence, theft, or murder — is open to interpretation and not an issue for government. These things do not run a country. Nor does abortion. The reasoning is typically based on religion. Remember, the United States of America was founded because people fled the religious climate of England with its national church.

The toughest question of all is abortion. Is it murder? Is a fetus life before it breathes independently and, if so, at what point? This will never be agreed upon. Let’s assume for the sake of those who seem to want a Christian nation that we each accept today’s Bible, with all its translations and contradictions, as an authentic authority. Two critical messages emerge: 1) everything that happens is God’s will, so let us concede that if God wants a soul on earth it will be here, in one vessel or another, and maybe those involved are to go through some trial, 2) it is not for us to judge so if what you want to abolish in society is in fact punishable, the offender will get his or her due, not from their neighbors, but from the only one that is to judge. It is said that aborting a child is playing God. Consider that the role of deity is instead being played by those trying to prevent the abortion.

Now, imagine, as John Lennon said. Just imagine. The quiet. The peace of not pushing against that which we do not choose for ourselves. We do have choices. Participate or don’t. Chastise or do not. Is it so important to our own identities to be right that we must make others wrong? Why on earth should we only be okay with people who look like us and live as we do? We have the opportunity to live day to day in joy as we choose it. I want to dance. You want to play golf. Or bridge. She wants to live with horses. He wants to run with bulls. Many want to make music and art. We are not all required to like their results. Some want to thrill in the love of another of their own gender. Who are we to mar that? Others choose to ingest cocaine or gamble to excess, no matter what the potential consequences. Let’s try to show them another way. But let’s not force hands and punish. Let’s not forbid in a free society what we cannot control by law or otherwise.

Religion? There are around 4000 of them on this planet. If we were born in India we would likely be Hindu. Christianity, founded in the Middle East, is the largest yet represents just 30%, with non-believers falling in third of all. Each of us believe our theology, or lack of, is correct. What if we all got over ourselves — stopped trying to force others to conform to our model? What if God is love — and love, itself, God? It would be a good thing to practice. I do think — again with The Beatles — that love is all we need. It is, at least, much more pleasant than hate. It is not too grand a notion to experience peace on the planet. We can’t start on the other side of the globe. But we can start here.


 Posted by at 6:47 pm
Apr 282015
 
Have you been lulled by a soft job market in recent years? Beware. Bad habits will damage the quality of your team. It is critical to keep sharp edges on your process.

We’ve seen sloppiness of epic proportions lately – and unfortunately watch as they lose talent. It seems hiring managers believe they have an infinite amount of time to get from the first meeting to the next step and that their candidate will be on the shelf waiting when they get around to making a decision.

Our best client experiences are when our contact is C-level. In every case that process has momentum. It crackles and pops – from resume to phone screens to on site meetings and hire. When they like what they see, they respond quickly. They call from the airport to arrange movement to next steps. In short order they have set a final slate of candidates. Hires get made.

Too often when the process is with mid level management or HR, it drags. This increases the cost of hire tremendously. And lowers morale as staff remains short.

Could it be, with mid managers and HR, the many touch points required to connect dots drag it out? Maybe. The fix is for all players to be clear about the weight of the issue and handle it accordingly. Staffing is not an incidental. It is, of course, essential. Respond to those introductions. Rearrange things to accommodate interviews. Don’t dilute the process. Strong candidates will fall away and you’ll be left with a far weaker pool. As one top tier contender said to me recently, “I don’t want to work for a company that can’t handle the details.”

Could it be the efficiency of C-level is because of who they are – that this is an example of how they got to their post in the first place? We think so.

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” – David Ogilvy

 Posted by at 6:53 pm
Nov 272012
 

If you’re a hiring manager who has worked with the model recruiter that is “broker” who merely fields resumes of active job seekers – take care not to paint the entire category with the same brush.

Find a recruiter with a specialty in your profession who is not working with low-hanging fruit by way of merely handling job hunters or posting open positions. Ask them how they work. True headhunters diligently seek out talent on behalf of their clients. They make those first time contacts with talent busy in their industry and on the job – not posting resumes on job boards.

Good recruiters are not interested in dealing with a manager, HR person, or in-house recruiter who will not be responsive to their efforts in a timely manner. Nor will they waste your time. Long-term relationships, not single transactions, are very important to quality third-party recruitment firms. When you find such a firm, do not handle them like a casual vendor. They’ll cut you. That is, they’ll cut you from their client roster. And if you’re not a client, you’re a source. Good headhunters drop bad partnerships all the time. Because some hirers will somehow not understand the work being done on their behalf, and so

  • are slow  to respond to introductions
  • lack follow-through (it’s expensive for recruiters to start anew when candidates lose interest – the process must have momentum)
  • hire their candidate down the road and ignore the source (“Recruiter ownership” time lapsed.” What? You just told them their work has no value because a few months passed. Are you really going to lose a good recruiter on a technicality?)

Top drawer recruiters (we believe “recruit” is a verb) find quality candidates by going to trade publications and organization rosters, by referral etc. These recruiters’ client contacts are often C-level participants who pick up the phone to discuss the assignment with them and stay on top of the process. Those clients appreciate the working partnership and understand their recruiters invest the time it takes to do the tough sourcing, have years of practice at qualifying, and  have developed a vast network of industry talent they can tap for referrals.

Abuse these relationships and find yourself at the mercy of lazy “recruiters” that churn out has-beens, wannabes and job hoppers with the hope a few will stick – not the way to get successful fills of course. Unfortunately, contingency recruiters all have to find out the hard way which companies (those who believe we just pull resumes out of drawers) will not become long-term clients. They ask us to engage and agree to terms, yet disappear for weeks when great effort to comb the market on their behalf and qualified introductions have been made. They mistakenly believe the recruiter has breezily swept a candidate from a shelf in the storage room maybe – and can go back for another any time. Not the case of course. If that individual is not available when the client response, the process begins anew. But guess what? The recruiter has lost interest in you, your search, and your company.

By all means, if that candidate you hired was in your system because of a recruiter’s effort and introduction along the way, pay for their work. How is there no value to the work because a few months passed? At Witzig, we count on our clients’ basic integrity. And we never work job boards. Ever.

 

May 282012
 

From original article of our May 2008 newsletter –

Many of you will recognize the title here as a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In this scene a man walks through town with a cart calling “Bring out your dead!” as those so-fated are brought forth and piled on top of the cart. An elderly gentleman thrown over a younger man’s shoulder is pleading, “I’m not dead yet.” He is promptly shushed and it is explained that he will be “stone dead in a moment.”

McCain, at 72 this year, is too old to be president. Obama, 47, is too young. That must mean Clinton at 61, like Goldilocks’ choices, will be just right. If so however, why is it that at 60 – at 55, at 51 even – most are deemed unemployable? This is rarely spoken or printed of course, but it is often experienced.

Does it seem that Larry King is just hitting his stride at the age of 74? Jimmy Carter, who will be 84 this year – eighty-four – is writing books and interviewing on talk shows. The 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner (78 at the time) is still has the gonads to trot the globe working toward peace in the Middle East! Why then in the 9-5 weekday world does being 50 carry such stigma? Particularly when between jobs which happens also to their more junior colleagues. These people, it seems, are held at arms length as though they will “be stone dead any minute.” By pushing them away, are we giving them that fatal assist as the character gets in the Python film? The agency business is particularly tough; if one isn’t heading a department, at the very least, before age 40 their career seems to wane from that point on. I have often said it’s a good thing I work for myself because no one would hire me at this stage. Joe Tilli’s Minneapolis agency is called G reybeards, Inc. In his brochure he cites a fascinating study on the aging brain and excellent examples of great works achieved by notable “creatives” at ages 55-90. I just saw Leslie Nielsen in the recent release “Superheroes Movie!” Okay. It was no Grandma Moses painting, but the point here is – not that I actually sat through that movie, but – that Leslie is 82 years of age.

I am personally 54 going on 27 with plenty of juice to spare. I tend to work circles around some who are much younger. I am also closely related to a 55-year- old woman who fossilized many years back. A 76 yr old friend is very current with the world. She is so “with it” and quick-witted she puts me to shame. My stepmother, in her late 70s, moves swiftly through her days and is constantly on the go. Some of the oldest people I know are in their 30s –I wonder if that may be because of their focus on nurturing a growing family. We are all very individual. It seems that’s how we should be assessed. Yet conclusions are too often drawn on age alone. Perhaps if appearance (are we really so shallow as a culture?) or résumé history didn’t give us away we could be judged solely on merit. Many of us are so much wiser than our dewy- skinned fresh college graduate selves and more tolerant than our younger counterparts. We often take ourselves (not business) less seriously. That means we don’t ruffle easily with co-workers and are apt to work well with clients. Many at 50+ also have less angst about a career path. Because their families are often grown, they do not always insist on greater and greater salaries with each employment change. Nor are they as keen on title as many mid-career people. It’s okay to be an account director, supervisor even. A copywriter. They just want to contribute. To think. To be productive. In past decades age denoted wisdom; elders were revered practically by virtue of their age.

There is much talk about diversity these days – at least regarding ethnicity. It seems people “of an age” as well as “of color” should contribute to that diverse mix of staff. All this is not to say one should be hired because they’ve reached an age. If the work is not contemporary and the individual is not current with their industry, or a job-hopper, they should not be hired at any age. It’s our contention though is that age, like heritage, should be removed from the hiring equation. Many of these mature workers have much to contribute. They have history. A deeper and broader perspective. According to the study Tilli cites in his brochure for Greybeards Inc., “Older people get the big picture faster and are less inhibited.” The 50+ set, particularly in these times, are relevant to their world. In fact, they are the lion’s share of the population of the U.S.; conversely, the number of “working age” people has been shrinking. These baby boomers are great in number and are now aged 44-62. Births were much fewer in subsequent years. Business needs us.

If you are an employer, try not to resist having an “older” worker in the ranks. If you are a 50+ job seeker, be clear about your aims as well as your current and recent contributions.

IMPORTANT POST SCRIPT May 2012:

“Psychology Today” on creativity and the aging brain.

 Posted by at 10:24 pm
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