Halloween Costume

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Company Culture, What HR Really Thinks

Inappropriate Halloween Costume

Great costume for the workplace

Inappropriate Halloween Costume

Not just Halloween costumes, but Inappropriate Halloween Costume is today’s topic du jour. It is the middle of October and some of us are thinking about costumes for the company Halloween costume contest. Remember, it is a Halloween costume contest. It is not an Inappropriate Halloween costume contest. In HR we don’t just worry about payroll budgets and sensitivity training. Oh no, my little innocents. If there are two holidays HR looks forward to, (and takes bets on) it is Halloween and the Holidays, AKA Christmas, AKA Hanukkah, AKA Kwanzaa, AKA “Holiday party”.  

Bets you ask?

Yes, Bets!  Financial odds are played and predictions are made on who will wear the inappropriate Halloween Costume. HR isn’t just a bunch of stick in the muds trying to keep alcohol off the premises. Behind these closed doors, we have a rabid betting pool on who is going to get drunk at the holiday party and make a fool of themselves. Money is on the line for who is going to be inappropriate in a creepy way and who is going to wear something too short, too sheer, or too low. I personally have never bet on naked Xerox body parts, but I have seen the aftermath. It ain’t pretty folks. Why is it on my shift, that the Sears Roebuck granny panties are turned in and not the Xerox copies of Victoria Secret thongs? 

1st time to an Open Bar

Do we bet on who is going to get drunk and make a fool of themselves during the holiday / Kwanzaa /  Hanakkah party? Abso-Fricken-Lutely. We all pride ourselves on identifying and predicting the individuals who provide our job security. 

Employees early in their careers are not used to the open bar concept and suddenly feel like they are working at the best place on Earth! All the booze I can drink?  Bartender, another one of whatever this is! For the record, these hires rarely come through HR. They are usually the nephew of someone in the ivory tower. Oiyyyy Veyy!   

Predictions are a HRNasty Halloween Tradition

For the past number of years, I have tried to predict what inappropriate Halloween costume will show up and result in a career that is cut off at the knees. Some poor sap who thinks it is cool to show with an inappropriate for work costume doesn’t realize they just committed career suicide, AKA CLM, AKA, Career Limiting Move. Unfortunately, that employee doesn’t realize they have been cut off. This dumbass will show up to work the next day like it is just another day bragging about their costume at the water cooler. Everyone in management is whispering behind the closed doors. Even peers are rolling their eyes behind that employees back. Make no mistake, that career with the current company is has stalled. Actually, the battery is dead and the tires are flat.

News from prior years has shown that some clown has shown up as a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing. I feel insensitive for even mentioning it here, but with the recent Las Vegas shooting, I feel compelled.

Inappropriate Halloween Costume

Showing up as Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice and bruised wife, simply not cool.

2017 Predictions   

This year, with all the politics in play, Trump and Kim are prime candidates for an inappropriate Halloween costume. I recently posted that the times have changed and being over passionate about your political choices can surface a number of haters. We never know where are managers politics are so buyers beware.

Harvey Weinstein, the movie tycoon is in the news for using his power to take advantage of actresses. I wouldn’t go here either.  

I won’t go on. We have all seen these eyeball rolling costumes. I am only speaking to the workplace, but these costumes are not appropriate. Wear these costumes after hours if we must. Take the opportunity to show you are engaged with the company and your team. We need to demonstrate that we have good common/business sense. Even though our department MIGHT be OK with your costume, we need to keep our customers in mind. If there is a chance our customers might be offended, we should think twice.

Just because no one complains, doesn’t mean they are not offended. 

Themed costumes

I love when children and parents come into the office with themed costumes. This isn’t because I like the little crumb snatchers who become even more grabby this time of year. I am a “turn off the house lights on Halloween” kind of guy. For me, employees who bring in significant others or children show they are engaged with the company. Arriving to work in themed costumes is next level engagement. 

This is just a classic. Look at the attention to detail, the stitching, and attention to fonts

I really like the teamwork involved when a department comes in with a group theme. Last year, I participated with our Test group and we all came in dressed as circus members. Me, I came in as the guy that shovels up the circus poop. I bought a few large sponges, trimmed them up and then spray painted them. The department was decorated in the circus theme and it showed the rest of the company and leadership that we cared about company engagement and knew how to work as a team.

So if you are going to come dressed up, think about your career and the little grabby kiddies running around the office trying to fill their pillowcases with sugar.

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Career momentum

Momentum will mean the difference between a career that moves and a career that stagnates.

Career Momentum

Wondering how you establish credibility and career momentum as a new hire? Whether you are a recent graduate or a veteran of the corporate game, credibility is the one thing that doesn’t take any special skills to acquire. If you just landed a job and feel like you have no credibility in a sea of experienced peers this post is for you. HRNasty is here to guide you through your first couple of weeks on the new job.

The goal on the first day and with the first couple of weeks on a new job is the following and not necessarily in the order listed:

  1. You have a great opportunity. AKA, “Don’t fuck it up.”
  2. Get on your team’s good side. AKA, Don’t piss anyone off.
  3. Build momentum with your career.
  4. See rule number 1

Number 1 and number 2 should be obvious. If they aren’t obvious, god help your company and your new manager. If number 1 and number 2 are not obvious, god cannot help you. New hires have momentum coming into a new job. The hiring team just went through a lot of work to hire you. The team sifted through 100’s of resumes, conducted phone screens, interviewed candidates in person. When they found you, they pitched your candidacy to the finance department for budget and the VP of the department. They wouldn’t have gone through this effort if they didn’t believe in you. You have credibility. 

Momentum in sports

When two sports teams are playing against each other and one of the teams makes a couple of big plays, there is an electricity in the air that doesn’t just run through the entire team, it runs through the stadium. Michael Jordan was an electric player that could get on a hot streak and literally change the momentum of a game. When a team has momentum, you can see it in their performance and you can feel it. It is the exact same team with the same players and the same coach but they are unstoppable. The difference between a team with momentum and a team without momentum is the emotional tide in the air.  Momentum can be built to where the team can do no wrong. They are literally creating their own luck. The team with momentum can get lucky breaks and more importantly, will seem to magically capitalize.

Momentum in your career

Career momentum can be both positive or negative in your career. There can be times when you can do no wrong and there can be times when you do no right. When you have forward momentum in your career, managers will give you more opportunity. Your name will come up in closed doors meetings as someone who will make a difference.

All employees have momentum when they are hired and the trick is to capitalize on this momentum and turn it into credibility.

Even if you lack experience in an industry or a job, you have momentum. You may not have credibility just yet, but you have forward momentum and momentum can be turned into cred.

As a new hire, the team is excited about you joining them. Don’t worry about if you are personally liked or not liked. You are an extra set of hands that can help make their lives easier. If they didn’t have the work for you to do, they wouldn’t have opened up your position. They need help and you are there to provide it. This means:

  • The hiring team is looking forward to you starting.
  • After going through the interview process they have a high degree of confidence you will not only do the job but do the job well.

During the interview process, the interviewers are wondering if you can do the job and be successful. This is the reason you are asked so many different types of interview questions. Once they conclude that you CAN do the job successfully, their mentality turns. They believe in you and convince themselves you will be the next “best hire.” No one is going to say “We offered the job but we don’t think they will be successful.”

Why your hiring team believes in you

No one wants to admit they made a bad decision. No one wants to admit their interview skills are lacking and they made a bad hire. To the contrary, they move away from a mentality of doubt and towards a mentality of confidence in their decision. The manager owns the decision to hire you. As a group of interviewers, the team owns the decision to hire you. The tribe doesn’t just own the decision, they celebrate it. And this is the forward momentum you can capitalize on.     

Build momentum with your career

We have momentum. The hiring team is excited for you to learn and help. More than likely they were short-staffed. There are several moves you can make to build on that momentum.

Dress code

If I can see up it, down it or through it, it is inappropriate. If I can see a tattoo up it, down it or through it, it is inappropriate. 

Even if you are going to a small tech startup, dress appropriately. Dress a half step above the company’s dress code. Like most candidates, you showed up to the interview dressed professionally. This was the first impression you made with the hiring manager and the team when you interviewed. If you show up in flip-flops and a baseball cap is worn backward, you will be giving the team a shock. They will feel like they got a bait and switch. Continue to dress appropriately for the first week and let the illusion of the first date continue. Don’t worry, the team will tell you to dress down.


As a new hire, we are not adding much value until you are done with training. Once we are done with training, we still need a babysitter to answer our questions. Not only are we NOT adding value yet, we are taking time away from other team members productivity with our questions. Volunteer for all the grunt work and bring some value to the team. No job should be too small for you at this point in your learning curve. Department birthday party? Volunteer. Need to pick up sandwiches for a lunch and learn? Volunteer. You may be making $15.00 an hour, $50K a year or more with this first job, but relatively speaking, compared to the rest of the team, grunt work is what we are good for at this stage.  

Build relationships

No one wants to have a new hire on the team that doesn’t talk with anyone, eats alone or doesn’t take breaks with the group. When ANYONE asks you to go to lunch or take a break, you participate. No hesitations. Just smile and get out of your chair.

 You are working with this team for 8 hours a day, so it is in your best interest to be known as someone who gets along vs. someone who doesn’t want to put in the effort.

Ask questions

A lack of questions is the equivalent of a lack of interest. I take that back, it is worse. A lack of questions is equal to “I don’t have any questions because I don’t care”. Ask questions during training. Ask questions when you meet with your VP or your manager. In the least ask for advice on what successful employees do at your new company.


No company or team wants to hire a naysayer. Having a positive attitude may not build us credibility but having a negative attitude will crush it. We are hired to solve problems. Problems are not solved by people who don’t believe. Your initial goal is to be trained quickly. It is tough to train someone with a negative attitude. No one wants to train someone in a new skill if they have a downer attitude towards life.

None of the above require specific training or specialized talent so we have no excuses. As a new employee, remember that you are NOT expected to solve any complicated problems. You are NOT expected to know the in’s and out’s of the company’s products. We do have an expectation that you will chip in where we can, make lives around us easier and have a great attitude.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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body language

Sit like this during an interview and you will send the wrong message

Body language and the interview

Body language during an interview is the topic of today’s post. We might be saying the right things, but if your body isn’t communicating a consistent message, we might as well stay at home. If your body is communicating disinterest, the person conducting the interview will pick up on it. Interviews are about building relationships. Positive body language can reinforce weak interview answers. Weak body language can blow a strong interview.

I am not sure what it is. Maybe I am becoming like my colleague GOM (Grumpy Old Man). Maybe the new generations are just a little more relaxed, but I am noticing a lack or “mindfulness” during the interview.

Decision makers have different values

Interviews have definitely become more casual over the years. If you are a recent graduate, remember the decision makers are usually a generation or two older. These hiring managers have a different set of values and beliefs and make their hiring decisions based on these values. Body language is as loud as the answers to the interview questions. 

I will cover the normal body language points like eye contact and the handshake, but I will also add a few you probably haven’t heard of.

Turn off your phone

When you are waiting in the lobby for your interviewer, stay off your phone. There is nothing worse than the first impression of a candidate than seeing someone hunched over their phone. Actually, there is something worse. Waiting for the person to finish typing their email and hitting send on their phone, and yes, it happens. Sitting up straight and reading the company literature is a much stronger move.

Walk next to your escort

Years ago, I blogged about walking side by side when being escorted from the lobby to the interview room. Too many times, I have escorted a candidate from the lobby to the interview room and found the candidate walking 3 steps behind me. There are a couple of things wrong with this.

  1. As a candidate, it is tough to build rapport with our host when we are walking 3 steps behind.
  2. It signals that you are NOT an equal to the recruiter. It signals that we are weak and not very confident in our selves.
  3. Did I mention it just looks dumb when I am escorting someone through the building and they are walking 3 steps behind me?

Body language matters and in the above situation, the interview was over before we even made it to the interview room.

Below are a few simple ways we can telegraph we are confident and want to be in the interview because we are excited about the new opportunity.


I can’t stress this one enough. People that smile just telegraph a very different message than those who frown. I blogged about the importance of the smile in the job interview here.   You can set a completely different tone for the rest of the day if I come out to the front lobby, you as the candidate stands up to greet me and gives me a big smile. Sitting down and waiting for me to introduce myself is a no go. 

Firm Handshake

The handshake is meant to be a gesture of peace, showing a hand that is not holding a weapon. It is used to start a relationship off on the right foot. Take the handshake seriously. Don’t be afraid to take a firm grip. You only hear about this so much in interviews because so many people get it wrong. The bar for handshakes is low and you be a bar raiser very easily. Firm yes, but avoid the death grip and avoid shaking with two hands.

Are you leaning in or leaning back?

I worked with a guy who used to lean back in his chair with his hands behind his head and his feet stretched out. It was a little offensive. He came off like he was too cool for everyone else. This is not the posture you want to take in an interview. Sitting straight, facing your interviewer, leaning forward and showing interest will always send the right message.

Eye contact

This one seems straightforward, but maintaining eye contact is one of the big misses for candidates early in their career. When you begin your answer and when you end your answer, look your interviewer in the eye.

Panel Interviews

When being interviewed by more than one person, be conscious of maintaining contact with all the interviewers. There is nothing worse than sending a candidate in to talk with two interviewers and the interviewers say that the candidate ONLY maintained contact with one of the interviewers.

College recruiting fair

I blogged about the candidate’s presentation layer at college recruiting fairs here.  Coming to the booth with a jacket, a backpack and a bag full of free swag from 12 other booths isn’t the way to show sincere interest in the company. It looks like we just came to the fair to pick up free stuff. Optimally, we have done our homework on the companies attending the fair and picked one or two companies and are making a beeline to these booths.

Accepting the offer of coffee or water

When you are offered water or coffee, take it. Declining the drink can make you look submissive and as if you don’t belong. If we went to our friend’s house and they offered us a Coke, we would take it. In war times, when two enemies start a negotiation, a cigarette is always offered and even though the other side doesn’t smoke, they accept, light up and cough up a lung full of smoke. It is obvious that the person who accepted the cigarette doesn’t smoke but the gesture of accepting the gift is appreciated.

If you are the recruiter or hiring manager

Try to sit at a 45-degree angle to the candidate. Sitting across from the candidate on the opposite side of the table gives sets the wrong tone. It gives the impression that this is a negotiation and two sides are ready to do battle. Sitting at a 45-degree angle (on two sides of a corner) will create a more inviting atmosphere and make the interview more relaxed.

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Use the Gallup Q12 questions to manage your manager

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Manage your Manager

Gallup Q12

Manage your manager using the Gallup Q12 questions

Gallup Q12 for employees

This week’s I want to blog about how we can use the Gallup Q12 questions so that you, as an individual contributor, can set yourself up for success. I believe that employees should take control of their careers. If we wait for our manager to get us promoted, give us a raise or talk about our successes, we could be waiting a very long time. Manager have large teams and their own careers to worry about. We shouldn’t count on our manager to take care of our career. The Gallup Q12 questions can be used as a foundation to set individual contributors up for success.

The Gallup Q12 questions are used by corporations to measure employee engagement. The premise is that an engaged employee is a productive employee, a happy employee and someone who will stick around. For reference, the questions are listed below and companies want their employees to answer each of the question in the positive.

Gallup Q12 questions

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?

Gallup Q12 for new manager training

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my perspective on how the Gallup Q12 questions could be used as a basis for new manager training. To be clear, the questions are not intended to be used as a new manager training course, they are intended to measure employee engagement. I believe these questions can be used as a foundation for:

  • New managers who have NOT received new manager training
  • New managers who realize they are probably NOT going to receive new manager training
  • Individual contributors who want to become managers. Being able to lead your peers and answering positively to the Gallup Q12 questions will get your name in the hat and at least qualify you for promotion.

If you fall into one of the above three bullets, that manager training post is here. 

Individual Contributors

If you are an individual contributor and want to take control of your career, we are getting into the meat of the post.

If you read the 12 Gallup questions as an IC and are NOT able to answer in the positive, there is a problem.

Whether we believe it or not, your manager wants you to be able to answer the Gallup Q12 questions in the positive. Your manager’s behavior may not represent this intention, but if we want to be successful, we need to LOOK, SMELL and SOUND engaged.

Put another way

The employees that have their managers support and ARE successful appear engaged in their manager’s eyes. We are NOT going to wait for our manager to pay attention to us. We are going to take the initiative so we look, smell, and sound engaged.

So, for those of you that are thinking:

  • My manager hasn’t come to me with any new opportunity
  • I have a manager that doesn’t care about me
  • My manager hasn’t asked me for my opinion

We are going to change that.

Gallup Q12 number 1

Do you know what is expected of you at work?

You would be surprised how many people do NOT know what is expected of them at work. They THINK they know what is expected, but they don’t really know.

If you are a bank teller, you know that your job is to help people with their banking needs. Your responsibilities include:

  • Cash checks
  • Deposit money
  • Withdraw money
  • Help customers with safe deposit boxes

All well and good. If we show up at 9:00 AM, perform the above and leave at 5:00 PM, we would think we are doing well. If we are getting the occasional customer raving about our service, we probably think we are doing great.

Quantifiable results

  • But do we know how many transactions we should be conducting each day compared to the rest of the tellers?
  • Do we know if the rest of the tellers are closing out their tills to the penny at the end of each day? Or are they short or over in their receipts and if so, what is the banks average on accuracy when closing out the tills?
  • Do we know if other employees are coming up with new procedures or modifying current procedures to save the bank time or money?

If our manager is not sitting down with us and sharing quantifiable, number driven feedback with us, we really don’t know how we are doing. What employees think and managers think can be two very different story lines.

As an individual contributor with a manager who may not know how to engage their teams, we can take the initiative by turning question number 1 around.  The initial question from the Gallup Q12 is: Do you know what is expected of you at work?

We would ask our manager:

“Am I performing to the expected level of performance and is there anything I should be improving on?”

“You are doing great” isn’t enough

Don’t settle for “Yes, you are performing to the level of expected performance”. That is the easy answer that most managers will give. This cop out answer doesn’t move you forward. We need to show that we are the engaged employee that WANTS to improve. Insist on feedback for improvement.

If you really are perfect in every way and there is no feedback, ask for a raise or more opportunity. Asking for a raise will generate opportunities for improvement. The point being, we need to start the hard conversations that our manager may or may not thinking about, or worse, may not want to have.    

Gallup Q12 number 4

In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?

If you have NOT received recognition, then this can be a problem. We want our manager in the mindset that we are doing a great job. You want to do such a solid job, your manager takes notice and comments on our performance.

We are NOT going to tell our manager that we want positive feedback on what we are doing.

What we do instead is to update our manager on what we are doing. Updates usually generate a response and feedback, and this my friend is “Nasty”.

The conversation looks like:

“Hey manager Mikey. Last week, I handled 25 customer transactions a day and balanced out my till to the penny all 5 days.  This week, I handled 27 customer transactions a day and balanced my till to the penny all 5 days. Next week, I am shooting for 29 customer transactions.  For my level of experience, am I on the right track? Is there anything else I could be focused on because I would like to learn about creating cashier checks.”

The point is that we are showing improvement and showing a desire to learn more.

Some folks may think that this sounds braggadocio, but if you do this for 3 weeks and remain consistent, the reports will become routine in your managers mind and it will be hard to NOT see improvement.

Gallup Q12 number 11

In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?

Most of us have probably not talked about their progress with their manager. Per my Nasty way, my thought is to make moves SON! Do NOT wait for your manager to come to you. We should take the initiative and schedule the appointment. You should bring the talking points.

We want our manager to play the role of consultant to our plan of action. You do not want to put your manager into a position where they need to come up with a career plan. Our career should NOT be their responsibility. Our career is OUR responsibility.  

Again, this does not mean we are going to approach our manager and ask, “Can you tell me how much progress I have made in the last 6 months?”

It’s just a progress update

What this should look like is a progress update. This update would generate feedback.

“Hey manager Mikey. I am currently a bank teller 1 and I want to be a bank teller 2 in the next 6 months. This is what I plan to do (this is the progress I plan to make) so that I qualify for bank teller 2.”

  • Learn how to process cashier checks and process 35 of them without errors.
  • Learn how to open a safe deposit box account and process 20.
  • Have 99.9% accuracy in closing out my till
  • Train a new teller in opening and closing a till

Just get your manager to agree to a list

Your manager will agree or disagree with the list, but the goal is to negotiate a list that WOULD qualify you for your next opportunity. Forget about the timeline, just agree on a list and start ticking them off.

Meet with your manager on a regularly scheduled interval and give them a progress update. The point is that we do not have to wait for your manager. If everyone on your team was doing this and getting promoted, your manager would look like a super manager. The point is, your manager will not be offended.

As you can see, taking a pro-active approach and updating your manager on what you are working on, what you have done, and how it helps the company is more of a clarification for your manager. It doesn’t have to be a braggadocio event for yourself. 

Take a look at the Gallup Q12 questions and leverage them to start a conversation so you can manage your manager.

See you at the after party

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

If you felt this post was valuable, subscribe to weekly updates here, (I promise, no spam)  “like” us on Facebook, and leave your comments below. Thank you!

New manager training

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Manage your Manager

Manager training

We have all been told to inspire, coach and motivate. But how does that translate to management behavior?

New manager training

Disclaimer: The following is not a preferred new manager training course. A new manager training would actually have a start and continue throughout the entire career. Even CEO’s receive management training. Most new manager training consists of their manager pointing to the team and providing the following encouragement: “There’s your team, don’t fuck it up”. The below is what I shared with a newly promoted manager over coffee. I was looking for the most bang for the buck I could provide while catching up over coffee. (We don’t work for the same company)  

I was just talking with a newly promoted manager who came to me because he didn’t know what the new role entailed. He didn’t receive any new manager training. There were no expectations set. So, in line with my Nasty style, I suggested we take responsibility of our destiny.

6 steps to success

  1. Create a job description by combining similar job descriptions from Monster or Indeed which they believe matches their managers expectations.
  2. Approach the manager and explain, “If I look good, you as MY manager – look good. I want to make you look good. This is what I think you want out of me, but I want to make sure we are both on the same page so I am set up for success. I don’t want to focus on the wrong projects for the next 3 months and fail because I didn’t know what I should work on”
  3. Get agreement on the job description and the priorities.
  4. Set up a weekly check in where we explain’s what we are going to do next week and what we did last week against prior predictions.
  5. Rinse, lather, repeat 
  6. Check in with HRNasty on a quarterly basis

Only a starting point

Obviously, there is a LOT more to being a manager. I think this is a s good a starting point as any. Let’s face it. The absence of new manager training program is pretty common. The initiative shown in the 6 steps isn’t a bitch move. This is a pro-active move and a move any manager can appreciate of their newly promoted protegé.

But my 6 steps to success got me thinking. All I provided was what our newly promoted manager could do to protect HIS career. And frankly, this is advice I give to individual contributors. It didn’t help him become a better manager of the team. Of course we talked about soliciting advice and making it easy on his manager to manage him, but how much guidance can a guy provide in 1 hour over coffee? The above was strictly bang for the buck.

Student of the game

I work with an up-and-comer HR colleague who is a real student of the game. She just returned from an employee engagement presentation where the Gallup Q12 Index was discussed. Yes, she puts in the work! In our debrief of the session, I specifically asked her about the “Do you have a best friend at work?” question and explained it’s intent. (Which I will dive into below)

I like the Gallup Q12 Index because it is a measure of how engaged employees are. Best Place to Work surveys have VERY similar questions. Engaged employees are usually more productive and easier to manage. It is proven these employees add to the company’s bottom line. Engaged employees are also much less of a pain in the ass to the HR team and you know the elliptical path of the sun and the moon revolves around me! Managers who are NOT engaging their teams are usually losing employees. The employees they do hang onto are usually less productive. Below is the list of the Gallup Q12 Index. A manager with a team that answers in the positive to the below questions is on the right path to enlightenment. 

The Twelve Questions

  1. Do you know what is expected of you at work?
  2. Do you have the materials and equipment to do your work right?
  3. At work, do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have you received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does your supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about you as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages your development?
  7. At work, do your opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of your company make you feel your job is important?
  9. Are your associates (fellow employees) committed to doing quality work?
  10. Do you have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?
  12. In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?
  13. But at the end of the day, if a manager can strive to have their employees answering positively to these 12 questions, I would say “Winner!”  If I only had 1 hour and 30 minutes to train a new manager, I would go over 6 bullet points above and the Gallup Q12 Index.

from www.Gallup.com

Minimal collateral damage

The questions are not rocket science and a manager can have direct impact on how they are answered. If a new manager is striving for positives on these questions, we can be assured that there will be minimal collateral damage. In the least, the newly promoted manager has a guide on what to ask for further mentorship. My personal advice is not to attack all questions at once. Prioritize and pick one or two questions and make an effort to move your team’s responses on just a couple specific questions. Build off of these over time a few questions at a time. 

Of course, every company culture, ever team, every manager and their direct report are a little different. With this in mind, we can modify any of the parameters to our personal situations.

  1. “In the last year, have you had opportunities to learn and grow?” (Can be shorter or longer.)  
  2. “In the last seven days, have your received recognition or praise for doing good work?”  (Not everyone gets a trophy folks! 1 compliment a quarter is more than plenty)
  3. “In the las six months, has someone at work talked to you about your progress?” (Depending on your company, this could be shorter or longer.)
  4. I was kidding on item number 3!!

“Best friend at work” question demystified 

When testing the wording, Gallup found this was the best way to discriminate between groups in which friendships are sufficiently supportive and those that have only surface relationships that are unable to withstand adversity.

I personally stuck through a start-up after being laid off a number of times including a lay off on my birthday because I was so tight with the team. (The CEO hired me back on my birthday as well) Ten years later, we still hang out on a regular basis. Just this morning, the CEO from that company reached out with a recruiting question. I keep in constant touch with the HR team from that company. A few weeks ago, I introduced one of the team members from that company to a Chief Human Resource Officer I know. That HR peer just accepted a position with the CHRO.

Can your entire team answer “Yes” to the questions?

The point is that we were “next level” engaged at that company. It’s easy to do a good job when deals are being signed and the money is flowing. Will your employees continue to work when times are tough? When you have great relationships at work, your employees will last longer. I can honestly say we answered “yes” to all 12 of the questions. 

Here is how I usually explain the “Best Friend” question. We may have a significant other at home. Sharing our work trials, and celebrations with someone who isn’t familiar with our work isn’t as fulfilling. When I shared my hard times with my prior CEO and he understood and could help. When we celebrated a win, he knew the effort needed to score that win. Working in HR, I just do not share my work with folks outside of the company. Even within the company the pool is very limited. A best friend at work makes a big difference. I will sacrifice for a tribe of best friends. I won’t abandon them.

New Manager? Manager who hasn’t received training?

Are you a new manager and haven’t received any new manager training? Check out the first 6 bullets and the Gallup Q12 Index. It’s not a guarantee of success, but it will increase your odds and give you a starting point to ask further questions.

Corporate life is a game, you don’t have to sell your soul to the man to win it!


PS. Next week, we look at the Gallup Q12 Index from the individual contributors view-point and use it as a tool to win the game of corporate life. 

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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Dream Job

Are you willing to “do”

Find your dream job

Today’s post is a success story of a candidate going from frustration to dream job. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of this guy. He worked his ass off and he deserves every bit of his success. He went from frustrated fishing guide to Exec Director in his field of study.  #DreamJob 

Several years ago, I was drifting down a river in Southwest Montana, fly fishing with a couple of good friends. This wasn’t a working trip. We all have different backgrounds and all of us work in very industries, but eventually talk of work comes up.

The three players:

  • Angler 1: Played college football and is the founder of his own very successful business. He’s a Ballah’.
  • Angler 2:Fishing guide: Early 30’s, Masters degree working as the head guide at one of the most successful fishing lodges in Southwest Montana.
  • Angler 3: HR Flunky


Dream Job

Which position would you like to be in for 8 hours a day 6 days a week? Angler #2 in the “middle of the boat”

Angler 2 was our guide for the day, consequently in the middle of the boat. The middle of the boat means you are the person rowing the two anglers down the river, AKA, you are doing most of the work. (OK, you are doing all of the work. Rowing, untangling knots, making lunch and cleaning the boat at the end of the day.) Depending on the people in the front and the back of the boat, you can be the bitch or the best friend. In our case, we consider Angler 2 to be a mentor and best friend. The days are filled with cigar smoking, shit talking, and more shit talking. We have all known each other a long time. We have had enough adventures together you could call us all Brothers. I know these guys would give me the shirts off their backs and they have.

The conversation

Angler 2 (fishing guide): “I am never going to get out of the middle of the boat.”

Myself and Angler 1 were both thinking: WTF is he talking about. He is living the dream. He lives in the best trout fishing country in the United States and is a Pro for a number of great fishing brands. This is the guy that makes paying yuppies like us anglers. Without him, we are nothing but 13 year old’s fumbling around trying to unfasten bra hooks. In other words, without him, catching fish probably isn’t on the agenda. If it happens, it will be because of dumb luck and a lot of alcohol.

I got no skills

Growing up, I dreamt about being in the middle of the boat, but didn’t have the skills, the strength to row two anglers or the local knowledge. Zero out of three does not get you to the middle of the boat.

But I get it. Angler 2 went to school and post grad so he could do civic work like his parents. Solid American stock this guy. He supported his wife while she was getting her Masters. He wanted someone else to untangle his knots and clean up the gear at the end of a hot day on the water.

The motivational speech

HR Flunky: In my most motivational voice, “WTF are you talking about dumbass? You have a Master’s degree, you can get out of the middle of the boat.”

Angler 1. “Yeah dude, you are living the dream. We both wanna be you!” (Seriously)

Angler 2. “I probably could have gotten a job if I found one right after I graduated, but I have been guiding for so long now, employers are going to look at my resume and wonder why I didn’t start earlier.”

HR Flunky: “Dude, you can get a job. You are a good-looking guy (under that baseball hat and scruffy beard at least) You are articulate, and you have the post grad degree.”

Angler 2: “It’s too late, I missed my window.”

Angler 2 is one of the most positive guys I know. Now he sounded like the hunting dog he grew up with since childhood just died. I was beginning to understand his frustration. He didn’t want to be doing this when he was 50, he wanted a retirement plan. He wanted to do his civic duty.

HR Flunky: “Dude, I know you can find a job. I will help you. I KNOW you can get a job.”

Angler 2: “I know I can get a job, but I want to use my Masters in my field of study. I don’t think that is possible anymore.”

Angler 2 wasn’t convinced but over the next couple of days, we continued to talk about the next steps in his journey. Some of his hesitations:

  • No relevant experience
  • Not sure I can afford to take a cut in pay. I am going to have to start with recent grads and as the head guide, that would be a significant cut in pay.
  • I have been fishing for years since my graduation. Employers will want to hire fresh graduates.

HR Flunky’s hesitations

  • Does this guy have a suit he can wear to an interview? I have only seen him in fly-fishing clothes and waders, and this stuff isn’t meant to be pressed.
  • Will this guy shave his curly-haired beard or even trim it up some?
  • Here is a video of our civic-minded leader from back in the day. He starts casting at 1:30 and rocks the beard at 2:00.

Obviously my concerns are easily solve-able, but that is what was running through my mind.

HR Flunky’s pitch

“Dude, let’s get on the phone when I get back home. I have an hour-long commute and we can go over resume’s, job search strategy and interview questions and answers. We are not going to go with your perceived weakness of being in this boat for too many years. We are going to go with your strengths.

“Dude, you have what no one is able to train. You have social skills at the highest levels. The sports in your boat are all CEO’s and rich successful dudes. At $650.00 a day, they are the only guys who can afford you.” (I was coasting on Angler 1’s coat tails)

You got skillz!

“All day long, you are directing C levels, execs and guys who run their own businesses and industries. I have seen these guys roll into Montana with their 125K plus SUV’s and sports cars. You taught me what Long Moneyis. You instruct these CEO’s, you joke with them and you are stern with them. Your voice literally changes when you are in the middle of the boat. You are their friend, their mentor and coach. As a guide, you not only help them fish, you help them decompress and deal with their professional AND family lives. You can’t train that skill. We can train the civic duties. You can NOT fricken’ train what you have!”

And here is what was holding him back. 

Angler 3: “But who is going to hire that? That isn’t a job.”

It’s not a job, it is THE interview

HR Flunky: “That isn’t a job, it is an interview and it the networking. You have these C levels trapped in your boat for 8 hours a day. You have been doing this full-time for years and have an extensive network of C levels. Hell, a C level bought you this $8,000.00 boat as a fricken’ tip! Do you know how many people would LOVE to be trapped in a boat for 8 hours with these CEO’s but wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation for more than 20 minutes? That skill will sell itself.”

To put this into perspective, how many of us are hesitant to be trapped in an elevator with our VP or CEO for just a couple of floors. How many of us would TELL our CEO what to do, joke with them or get stern with them. Not many folks under the age of 30 could do that and even fewer would. I am talking 8 HOURS STRAIGHT bitches! 

Putting in the work

Over the next few months, Angler 2 did the work. We got on the phone, he sent me versions of his resume and we practiced our pitch. He worked on his blog to show off his passion for the state of Montana and his writing style. 

The truth of the matter is that after Angler 2 completed his post grad, he continued to guide because he was making great money. He was supporting his wife while she was going to school working on her Masters. He wasn’t guiding just because it was fun, he was guiding because he was taking care of his family and his responsibility. That is the story we told.  

The first real job

Soon there after, Angler landed his first corporate job doing civic duty for the State of Montana in his field. He took a cut in pay but he continued to guide on the weekends and was able to make up the difference. He knew that it would be a temporary setback and frankly, he knew when he was making great money, he would continue to guide. Catching fish for him is too easy. Watching his clients have fun and success on the river gets him high. He had attained enlightenment. We call him a Jedi.

Middle of the boat

When he landed that job, he called me up and I couldn’t have been happier for him. On that call, he told me I am coming out to Montana and he was taking me fishing. “You are never paying for fishing in this town again.” I didn’t do it for the fishing, but I have to say that fishing with Angler 1 and 2 over the years have been a lot of fun and very meaningful. The three of us make it a point to fish on my birthday every year and I couldn’t ask for a better gesture. He is in the middle of the boat with us, but it is completely his choice. He is now able to fish internationally in far away destinations and he is an angler and not a guide.

Continuous learner

Over the years, he has asked me for a list of books he should be reading which resulted in this blog post.  

Angler 2 didn’t stop there. He asked me what classes he should be taking. Angler 2 flew to New York to take a Facilitative Leadership course which he swears by. This leader is also sending his team to these sessions. Yes, he is running a team at work.  

The point is, he took the initiative, he had the curiosity and he did the fricken’ work.

Men want to be him, companies want him with them

Twice, he has been offered high level jobs with well-known brands in the fly-fishing industry. Both times he was able to turn the offers down. 

About a month ago, he was juggling 2 offers. The first offer was for one of the top positions with one of the biggest names in Fly Fishing. The other with the State of Montana doing what he loves to do. To find out which job he took, click on this press release.  

Yeah, he cleans up well. Not just the quiet confident dude, he also has a great presentation layer. And yes, he still guides on the weekends for fun.

Just do the work

The moral of this story is that we all get down on our careers. We have all been at a point where we thought it was over. But it doesn’t have to be. With work, initiative and a positive attitude / positive spin, it can happen. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or what your situation, things can improve. It’s our choice. A guy that I am proud to call a friend made the choice.

Corporate life is a game. Win it!



nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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HRNasty’s business podcasts for the corporate lifestyle

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Networking

business podcasts

Commutes are a great time to listen to business podcasts

Business Podcasts

I receive requests for a list of recommended business books on a regular basis. If my parents knew that folks were coming to ME for a reading list they would be rolling over in their graves. Growing up, they were big on the classics and I was more into Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Anarchists Cookbook. There are PLENTY of great lists out there put out by a lot of smart people so I tried to take a different spin on it.

Not your traditional list

It isn’t your traditional list of MBA reading material. The attitude that I used in putting together this list is that it would provide insight into what other execs are reading. It would also provide some background on the terms that executives use like “10,000 hours”, “bottom 10%” and “KPI’s”. I also included some personal favorites that showcase dedication to a craft and next level commitment. HRNasty’s list of reading material is here.

Late entry

One book I would add to this list is FYI, For Your Improvement by Lominger. I seem to be talking about this book a lot lately and everyone that has picked it up after our conversations has appreciated it immediately. It is expensive, but really worth it. It is so expensive, I recommend folks buy an earlier used edition which is what I have been working from for the past 10 years. My birthday was a few weeks ago and a longtime friend and colleague just gifted me the most recent edition. I couldn’t believe it! I want to just carry it around and perpetrate that I am a ballah’ and a shot callah’ / HR nerd just to show off. This book is my new pair or Louboutin’s. Thank you, Lotus!

FYI lists out specific business skill sets and what they look like when they are demonstrated effectively AND in effectively. It is a great resource if you want to improve or help someone improve business skill sets like professional courage, active listening, communication, etc. Highly recommended. 

Magazine recommendation

Lastly, I would add a subscription to the Harvard Business Review. It is common knowledge that a lot of folks subscribe to this magazine so they can look smart and name drop the rag. But I read this before I read 4WD and Flyfishing Magazine every month. It is that good. This magazine not only contains business articles but case studies as well. HBR informs me on what I should be paying attention to. I blogged about the HR issue of the Harvard Business Review HR issue here. 

In the new age of the interwebs, I am updating the book list with a few business podcasts that I am addicted to. I have an hour commute into work every day so this is the perfect time to for me to keep up to date, learn about entrepreneurs and expand my knowledge. I may sound like my parents recommending the classics, but I wish I listened to them earlier in my career. Hopefully, I can inspire the reader to “THINK” about expanding the knowledge base. I have listed a few of my favorites but I would love to hear what others are listening to.

How I Built This

How I built This is hosted by Guy Raz and an NPR based podcast. Each episode is about 35 minutes and each episode, Guy interviews a successful entrepreneur. I have listened to every episode and even enjoyed listening to the sessions of entrepreneurs I wasn’t familiar with. Recent episodes include interviews with folks like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban. But they also include episodes with the founders of RentTheRunway.com and Toms shoes.

I have shared the Rent the Runway episode a half a dozen times because of all the learnings on tenacity. The trend that I have noticed is that all of these entrepreneur’s sound like really nice people. For the most part, they are humble, have a positive outlook on life and entertaining. Guy asks a consistent question to each of the guests. How much of your success was intellect, hard work or luck. I won’t spoil the fun.

20 minute VC

The 20 Minute VC is a business podcast which discusses the VC world. The host, Harry Stebbings interviews well-known VC’s. At prior roles, I held the role of head of HR for a company that did a lot of M&A work. More recently I held a COO role where we raised a number of rounds of capital, and conducted M&A work. I just find these sessions really interesting. Harry has an English accent and is energetic so it doesn’t sound stuffy or stiff upper lip. Harry also edits the interviews with these VC’s so you hear what I would imagine is an hour long interview condensed to 20 – 25 minutes.

There is very little pause between the question and answer. Harry has edited it out. Think speed listening instead of speed reading. Even if you are NOT involved in M&A this is a good one. VC’s consistently share the WHO, WHAT and WHY they invest in.

Joe Rogan Experience

Joe Rogan is probably more famous for being the host of the reality television show Fear Factor and most recently a commentator for the UFC. Don’t let that turn you off. This guy goes DEEP and WIDE. When I talk about the Joe Rogan Experience with my colleagues, they say they don’t listen to him, but their kids do. Each podcast is close to 3 hours and I just listen to them in chunks. He interviews a wide range of individuals from conspiracy theorists, to theoretical physicists, to ex CIA cover agents to coffee experts. Even when I don’t think the podcast is going to be interesting based on the preview, I always find myself listening to the entire episode. The guy is VERY smart and very articulate. He just interviewed the GOOG engineer Jame Damore. Yes, I am a big fan.

Hardcore History with Dan Carlin 

Dan goes DEEP into a series of events in history and his podcasts are really well done. It may not sound like your traditional business podcast but what we learn from the past we can apply to the future. Dan is articulate. He knows how to speak with credibility.

I just listened to the series Khan of Khans. This series is in 5 parts and part one is 2 hours long.

We all learned about Ghengis Khan in school and we all saw the a movie about Kubala Khan at some point in time. Dan goes deep and behind the scenes so you understand not just the story but the WHY. He explains the mentality and the beliefs of the people at that time which puts the history into perspective. This is the one of the few podcasts I pay for. Each session is about 1.99 and well worth it! I am not a history buff and my past doesn’t show me paying for history lessons. Money well spent!

Dirt Bag Diaries

The Dirt Bag Diaries isn’t a podcast which focuses on entrepreneur’s per se. This is more of a story telling podcast, but I really the enjoy the format AND what they are doing here. O know many of these stories could be shared with corporate America during a motivational speaking event. For those of you who are wondering what “dirtbag” means, let me explain.

A “Dirtbag” in the outdoor lifestyle is a person who dedicates her or his entire existence to the pursuit of climbing. They are barely making ends meet. A dirtbag will get their food out of a dumpster, get his clothes from a thrift store, and live in a tent or vehicle to save money. They don’t have a job because they would rather climb. The vehicle of choice is a Subaru Outback, never new, but a later vintage. Big enough to sleep in full-time and easy on the gas as dirtbags travel to cool destinations. Often found living near major climbing destinations the dirtbag is a rebel with a cause who finds happiness in nature.

There are a number of dirtbags that have left successful corporate jobs and exchanged the cubicle walls for the mountain cliff face.

Flyfishing dirtbag

Every outdoor sport has their version of a dirtbag. I love the outdoors and my outdoor passion is steelhead fly fishing. A few years ago, I took a year off from work with a dream of being a fly-fishing dirtbag but couldn’t quite pull it off. I found I needed a regular hot shower, hair conditioner and didn’t want to eat rehydrated food, let alone eat out of a dumpster.

I missed my Origin face moisturizer and Clinique face scrub. #FirstWorldProblems to be sure, but doesn’t mean I don’t have a passion for the lifestyle. 

The Dirtbag Diaries has a format where listeners submit their personal stories and share adventures. The host tells their story through narration and mixes in soundbites from an interview with the “dirtbag”. Usually the stories involve an adventure that inspired personal growth, or overcoming a challenge. This podcast has a bit of an outdoorsie, hippie vibe. It sounds professionally done and holds big name sponsorship. I can relate to most of the stories because the fly fishing lifestyle has similar challenges and offers a journey of personal growth.

It’s a new era

It’s not just books anymore peoples! It’s a new age and Barnes and Noble is no longah! Learning about new business podcasts and news sources is a great topic when networking. 

What business podcasts are you listening to? Anyone listening to a podcast that interviews restaurant chefs? Please leave your recommendation’s below!

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

If you felt this post was valuable, subscribe to weekly updates here, (I promise, no spam)  “like” us on Facebook, and leave your comments below. Thank you!

Corporate Team Building

Corporate Team Building that REALLY is safe. Everyone holding red hot metal ready to be made into a knife.

Corporate Team Building

We have all been to corporate team building events. Trust falls, Kum Bah Yah and sharing personal stories. Yuck! Bah Humbug and bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about team building activities and work on employee engagement like a mother f@#$%er everyday within our company. I blogged about employee engagement and how an office space can help build a team here.

When it comes to corporate team building I have planned and participated in many. From entire companies attending professional baseball games in nose bleed seats to overnight camping trips to boat cruises. Whiffle ball in bumper cars and Go Cart racing come up time and time again. The real challenge is to come up with something unique and fun. 

Building support and camaraderie

At a prior company, any time someone was having a tough day, I would treat the team to a Dove Bar break. This wasn’t necessarily corporate team building as much as it was team supporting. Five colleagues taking a walk around campus eating Dove bars to provide a distraction and a “reset”. It was a way the entire team could support an individual. When we finished up a larger project we would share a couple of desserts at a local high-end restaurant with an emphasis on “shared plates”. There is something about doing the same, small thing with the same team that builds camaraderie and cohesiveness. We all had shared these unique experiences together and we were the only ones participating.

Some of the most memorable events were an off-site with the team on the cheap $$ CHEAP which I blogged about here. Another memorable team building event was an overnight white water rafting with a prior HR team. We all paddled our asses off together to keep the boat in the right direction and then relived the story around a camp fire with s’mores that night. We bonded at a richer level.     

Team Building Parameters

Corporate team building events usually have a couple of conditions which can make them tricky. The team building events need to be something all genders, all age groups and all levels of skepticism can appreciate. Of course, the team building event needs to fit a specific budget and transportation needs to be taken into consideration. Most of all, you want the event to be memorable and unique. One thing most team building events miss is adding a dimension of providing a personal challenge. (Nothing a couple signed waivers won’t take care of.) That is why I liked the river rafting. It was something not many of us had done and most of us were scared to do.

The other memorable team building event I participated in was getting mani’s and pedi’s with a prior HR team. I am not going to say it was my favorite, but I did have fun because of the team I was with. It was new for me and I am pretty sure the team bonded at my expense. When you work with a high maintenance, all-woman HR team think twice before you say “Hey ladies, lets figure out a team building event you would like and I will make it happen”. Afterwards we bonded over chocolate truffles. I am glad I put a time limit on it because we would have probably ended up at a Target White Sale pushing a red shopping cart comparing shams and thread count.   

Mother of All Team Building Events     

This past week, I participated in the Mother of All Corporate Team Building events. This event fit all the parameters: Affordable, challenging and unique. This was a completely new experience for everyone and pushed us mentally and physically. But on top of all that, we walked away from this event with great memories, stronger connections and a souvenir. A physical reminder of the event and proof that we experienced something completely new.

Last week I went to Lawless Forge to forge a knife from a hunk of metal with a couple of great friends and we all had a blast. Even as friends, we bonded over this experience. Before any skeptics wonder about female participation, the group just before us consisted of 7 women . In addition to knives You can forge a bottle opener, hair pins, flower vases, wine bottle holders and numerous other goodies which insinuates less Game of Thrones. Max Levi, the owner says if someone gets tired, he has smaller / lighter hammers. And if you are skeptical about female participation, does that make you a sexist?

Lawless Forge: A unique experience

Lawless Forge is a blacksmith shop focused on corporate team building / bonding. Having chosen to locate his business in the industrial neighborhood of Seattle. Max Levi (owner and operator) has really come up with something exciting and unique. I have never been to a forge and didn’t know what to expect. It was in a VERY industrial part of the city. The part of town that gets noisy with trains passing by and highways overhead—all adding to the gritty feel of the experience. Max’s place is super clean and tidy and shows an eye for design. If yuppies and hipsters are going to get dirty in style, they want to do. I went with a bunch of successful CEO buddies who can literally buy anything they want. These are the kinds of guys who are very hard to shop for because they have multiples of everything. (I am just trying to score a few singles) I don’t say this to brag, but to emphasize the point that this was a brand-new experience to them and I was excited to be able to connect them to something new. 

Team Building

Max Levine of Lawless Forge. Mentor, instructor and guide

Confidence builder

Max worked in two of the largest tech companies in the world so he gets corporate life. He is a good looking guy who’s passion for his craft is infectious. You can tell from the work space that he is a purposeful individual. He has antique anvil stations set up from different era’s and different countries. This gives the space a very hipster and industrial look. Think Game of Thrones meets AIA. These qualities make a great recipe for the role he plays as host, instructor, and mentor through the 4-hour session. Think of him as a golf caddie or a fishing guide. He is there to motivate and inspire. I doubted myself before I arrived but as soon as the session started, all fears faded away. He instilled confidence.  

Worried about injuries

For those HR folks that are thinking about the dangers, liability, injuries, and employees out of control, don’t. Max runs a safe place. He discussed safety prior and throughout the afternoon. A HRNasty favorite, he had us sign easy to read waivers. If you are still worried about your employees, maybe you have the wrong employees. DOHHHH!!!!!  

Lawless Forge

Gloves? Check. Apron? check. Eye protection? Check Red hot metal? Check. Is it safe? Absolutely

Prior to the event, Lawless Forge sent out a set of notes explaining what we should expect and what to wear. Max provided eye protection, gloves, aprons and had extra jeans and shirts for those that didn’t read the pre-work. (Wrong employees)

The session started with each of us receiving half a horseshoe. Over the course of 4 hours, we heated that metal up to cherry red, pounded, hammered, grinded and sanded. Max walked us through each step prior with a verbal explanation, a chalk board demo and then he demo’d the procedure. In corporate speak, we heard each step three times, three different ways before we handled the hot metal.

Lawless Forge

Sharing experiences and learning about each other. AKA Team Building

Not just all hard work  

Graciously, Lawless Forge provided snacks and beers as well. Half way through the process we took a break with cold beer and cigars. I could picture other groups having lunch at this time, but for our group, it was the perfect way to take a break. We all come from progressive / tech companies so beers were welcome. Max having worked with Fortune 100 companies understands corporate guidelines and customizes the session to the group. 

4 hours later, we all had knives of our own design, pounded from raw steel. Sweaty and tired, but feeling accomplished, we compared blades like prison Shot Callers admiring shiv’s. We couldn’t wait for the next riot.

Team Building

Shiv’s of various design ready for handles.

Feeling accomplished

From an HR perspective that  last comparison probably isn’t very funny, but the experience puts you into a very different mindset. We all felt very accomplished. With our 4 inch blades in hand, we were ready to go into battle with John Snow and The Knights Watch. We probably looked more like the Monty Pythons Knights of Ni but you get the idea. We were jacked. I know this is an experience we will talk about. One of the CEO’s has already planned an event with his group that would include women. 

If you are in charge of putting together a corporate event, check out Lawless Forge. He handles groups from 1 to 20 and I am confident that unless you have a bunch of Vikings in your department, this will be a new experience. 

Max, thank you for a great afternoon Brother.

Corporate Life is a Game, Win it!

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

If you felt this post was valuable, subscribe to weekly updates here, (I promise, no spam) “like” us on Facebook, and leave your comments below. Thank you!

HWE, Hostile Work Environment

Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Company Culture, What HR Really Thinks

Hostile Work Environment

It’s not what we say, but how we say it that will avoid a Hostile Work Environment

Politics in the workplace, the new Hostile Work Environment

Today I am making some predictions as it relates to the Hostile Work Environment. If you have been pissed off about topics in the past, stop reading and check out one of my favorite podcasts “How I Built This”, with Guy Raz. Guy interviews entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to learn about their journey. His podcast is filled with great stuff. The common theme that I have noticed in all the podcast are these entrepreneurs sound like great people with positive attitudes. Hmmmm. . . .    

I have blogged about Resume Racism and why candidates get flushed out of the interview process based on ethnicity. That post received the most hate mail and commentary of any posts. I have blogged about tattoos and the unspoken opinions that managers can hold in some corporate cultures. Again, more hate mail. Today is more of the same, so I know what to expect. Bring it.  

HRNasty Disclaimer

Today I take it a step further. Understand that just because I am writing on a topic, it doesn’t mean I think it is OK or fair. My goal is to provide insight so employees know about the unspoken mentalities they work with. More importantly I provide solutions so employees can overcome these career blockers. I am not commenting on these topics because I am a fan. I am commenting as an analyst.

Within this site, I recommend you stay away from visible tattoo in the work place. I don’t make this recommendation because I don’t care for tattoos. I recommend you stay away from tattoos because I know how many executives and decision makers frown on tattoos. The dangerous aspect is that decisions makers know they shouldn’t express their prejudice out loud. Consequently, you will never hear it. You will be judged for your tattoo, but you won’t know it.   

Let the games begin! 

I believe that differences in political beliefs will be the newest source of the Hostile Work Environments. At the rate the country is going, I see it happening in the near future. I started this particular blog post before the election because I saw a lot of  passionate conversation ignited in the workplace. I mothballed the post, but with recent world events, I am seeing the passion re ignite and thought I would wave the flag.   

HWE? “HRN, WTF is that? You always talk about the CLM (Career Limiting Move), but this is a new one!”  HWE stands for Hostile Work Environment and is a real, legal term. I predict that employees have the potential to feel uncomfortable in the work place because their manager or someone up the reporting chain holds differing political beliefs. Opposing opinions in the workplace is nothing new, but the ferocity of political opinions has escalated in the last few months. I predict that in some instances managers will talk so strongly about their political beliefs that employees will feel threatened or intimidated. I can see a situation where an employee expresses a strong, emotional political opinion which differs from their manager (or someone in their chain of command) and that employee’s career suddenly stalls. (Read that last sentence again.) I want to provide a way to avoid the CLM’s. I want to avoid managers unknowingly creating a Hostile Work Environment.      

Definition of HWE, Hostile Work Environment

The Hostile Work Environments happens when an employee experiences:

  1. Offensive conduct which becomes a condition of continued employment. 
    • If you do / don’t do “X”, you won’t be employed. (If you want to continue to work here, you will go out with me)
  2. Conduct which is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile or abusive. The environment is difficult, offensive or uncomfortable for a person to work in. (A manager has a habit of sharing inappropriate jokes, language or opinions in the workplace)

This type of unwelcome conduct is usually directed at race, gender, age, or religion. I predict that at the rate the country is going, the category of “political beliefs” will soon be joining the list.

If a manager continued to voice the following:

I can’t believe someone would vote for that dumbass. Anyone that votes for that candidate is a complete idiot and doesn’t deserve to be an citizen.  (notice the lack of named country or political party)

The idea of identifying and recognizing the Hostile Work Environment was put into place to address MadMen – esque days where women, minorities and other protected classes were treated “differently” in the workplace. In modern times, our intention is to treat people of different ethic backgrounds, religion, gender etc. in an equal manner. Shouldn’t we treat folks with different political views the same? Isn’t that what America is all about?  

We don’t know how our managers REALLY think

I open the kimono with this blog to provide transparency on the unwritten rules so employees have a glimpse into the mindset of managers and HR. If you think that you are not being judged because of tattoos in the work place think again. If you think that resumes with ethic names are called as often as mainstream names that are easy to pronounce, think again. And if we think that managers won’t hold it against you because of your political beliefs, think again. I am not saying ALL managers hold these beliefs, I just want you to know that this is a passionate topic and we should be mindful.

First workplace rule of 2017: Don’t argue politics in the workplace. 

The second rule of the workplace in 2017: You do not argue politics in the workplace!

Remember, one persons passion is another persons argument. 

Most HR people will not admit to the following. In many traditional companies, employees with visible tattoos will have stalled career paths because of the ink. We also know that when a hiring manager has two resumes in front of them and one resume has a name that is easily pronounceable and the other is different, we can predict who will receive the first call. (notice I didn’t mention the ethnicity of the hiring manager)

Extremes exist

The above are extreme cases, but any mild flavor of these examples can be a career breaker. What’s worse is that the employee has no idea why their career stalled. In some instances, the career didn’t even take off. For the record, if this mentality were to take place at a company where I was in charge of HR, I would speak up to leadership. I have spoken to leadership.

I think that the same potential if we have a manager who passionately thinks one way about today’s politics and their employee is passionately holding a different opinion.

Nation divided


The internet is providing our news and updates in a very different way. Sound bytes are changing how we form our opinions.

The nation has been divided in the past on politics, civil rights, wars and other serious topics in the past. I realize that as a country will get through this.

I am not saying it is right, I am saying it can boil down to emotions and human nature.

At an individual level, I just want to raise a flag and give folks insight. For those that think I am on crack, many employees who are in same-sex relationships still feel a need to hide their true self.  

It’s not what we say, it’s how we say it.

I believe we can avoid tough situations around politics and still express our beliefs

Effective Communication Style

If you are passionately vocal about anything, the only people who appreciate hearing your opinions are those who are as passionate or MORE passionate than you. It is usually the folks who are the most passionate on a topic that make it offensive for others.

Gaining support on our ideas doesn’t start by putting others down.

Emotional shouting and raising of our voices will not convince others to listen. It will turn folks off.

When we are TOO passionate about a topic, even folks that are interested in that topic will be turned off. Expressing our passion can take several forms and any one of the below can turn someone off:

  • Talking too fast (When we are excited about a topic, we talk so fast others are not able to keep up, especially listeners who are not as familiar on the topic)
  • Talking too loudly (It is easy to increase the volume to be heard when we become passionate.) I have found that when I really care about something, if I talk softer, folks lean in to listen.
  • Profanity: Profanity to emphasize a point can dilute the message and the listener focuses on the inappropriate use of profanity vs. the message.
  • Pointing figures and the use of the word “You”. (“You don’t understand!” Sounds like an accusation)

If we can turn down the passion and remain calm while delivering our message, we avoid coming across as offensive and increase our chances of an effective delivery.

For Managers

There will be people on our teams that hold differing opinions than our own and we need to respect this. Holding a different opinion on a work process or business idea is different from rousing opinions on politics or religion. There is a time and a place for everything. Work isn’t the place for getting high and mighty on politics. Hostile Work Environment lawsuits happen.      

For Employees

If you have an opinion on politics, I would hold them back in the work place. I am not saying it is right, or fair. We know prejudice in the workplace happens. Candidates with easy to pronounce names are called more often than those with names we are not familiar with. Employees with tattoos can be stigmatized in some industries. (In some industries, you won’t have credibility if you are tattoo-less).

If you are going to share your opinion, share the opinion in a calm and diplomatic manner. You never know when a coworker without restraint is one step away from letting you know what they really think. And you never know when a manager or executive is biting their lip and making a judgement.  

Corporate life is a game, win it!

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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manage the job interview

Take control of your job interview and your career. Avoid a car crash / multiple car pile up

Manage your interview part 2

As a candidate, you need to manage your interview. Last weeks post was on the topic of overcoming a recruiter that didn’t make use of follow-up questions. Many candidates have a solid skill set that fits the job description. Unfortunately, if the candidate doesn’t know how to control the person conducting the interview, they may not move them forward. The recruiter needs to leave the interview with proof points that you can do the job. Candidates are passed over on a regular basis because the interviewer asks a question and not knowing the meaning behind the question the candidate provides the wrong answer. The interviewer doesn’t follow-up with additional clarifying questions and assumes the worst. I received a number of great questions via email regarding last week’s post and thought a second post with an additional example would be helpful.

The goal of last weeks post was to point out that a number of great candidates are declined because the person conducting the interview isn’t asking follow-up questions. The question isn’t asked a second time in a different manner in an attempt to bring clarity to the candidate. We don’t want the interviewer to stand in the way of a great opportunity so we need to take control of the interview. We don’t want to leave the results of the interview in the hands of the interviewer. 


A typical example of a great candidate failing an interview answer is below. Based on the candidates answer, this candidate would probably be passed over. This phenomena isn’t limited to this particular question. It can happen with any interview question. 


How do you handle stress?


Handling stress isn’t a strength for me.

At this point the interviewer is thinking: “Well this candidate isn’t going to work out. We have a stressful job. Why does the dumb ass recruiter keep sending me these candidates who are not qualified?”    

This short exchange is a typical conversation during an interview and frankly, the candidate let it happen. The candidate shot their self in the head. As candidates, we need to manage the job interview.

Hypersensitive manager

Because the last person in the position didn’t handle stress well, the hiring manager wants to make sure that the next person in the position does handle stress well. The hiring manager is focused on this qualification and hyper sensitive to it. As soon as they hear an inkling that there is a deficit in this particular skill, the interview is over.

Boyfriend  / Girlfriend example

Lets say we have a couple that has been dating. They have gotten serious but there is one problem. The girl REALLY likes to watch football and the guy just isn’t into sports. The girl wants to watch football on Sundays in her jersey and wants to spend a lot of money on season tickets. There are football pools at work and Fantasy Football leagues with friends. Finally the dude says “enough”. Your football is more important than I am. Your football BFF’s spend more time with you than I do.” He walks. You can bet your ass that the NEXT boyfriend is going to check the “I really enjoy football” box. ” Her dream guy will have Seattle Seahawk sheets and pillow cases, tailgate in season and have a life-size poster of a player in their room. This candidate won’t just say “I like football”. You are going to get the idea pretty quickly that this guy REALLY likes football. 

The behavior to surround ourselves with folks who will help us become successful is just human nature. This is why we need to be pro active with our interview answers.  

An effective recruiter has a different conversation


How do you handle stress?


I don’t handle stress well.


Can you give me an example of when you were stressed?


I am stressed now. I just graduated and am looking for a job. My mom has cancer and I am still trying to work 30 hours a week. It’s just stressful now. My mom will be OK in the end, but I just don’t like to see her go through the treatments. I used to go to the gym 4 days a week and now I just go on Tues, Thurs to relieve stress. Under the circumstances, I am stressed but in the grand scheme of things, I know that I am doing as much as I can and there are some things out of my control.

This interviewer uncovered someone who is having a tough time and is in a stressful situation. The interviewer also used Behavioral Interviewing techniques to dig deeper. In this case, the interviewer found an example of prior success with a potentially strong candidate who is taking extra measure to handle stress. This answer paints the candidate in a very different light versus the first conversation.

The above is an actual conversation from an actual interview. That candidate was hired and because they knew how to deal with stress. They proved to the hiring manager’s that stress is relative and they took steps to handle stress.  

Why is this interview question being asked?

As candidates, it can be easy to feel like we need to be respectful of the interviewer’s time and provide short concise answers. This type of answer tends to lack emotion. Short answers that are straight to the point usually do not build any repport. As candidates, we need to anticipate that if someone asks about the following, it is important. Ask yourself  the following about all interview questions:

Why are they asking this question? They wouldn’t ask the question if it wasn’t important? What do I need to show them as it relates to this question? 

If you are asked about your Excel or Microsoft Office skills, we need to elaborate on what we know. Just saying “Yes, I know Excel” or even “On a scale of 1-10, I am a 10” isn’t enough. Your “10” may not be another person’s 10. You may be an expert at graphs and sorts, but the hiring manager may need formulas and pivot tables. If you are asking “A pivot what?”, we are not a 10. The way we answer this question is by being more specific. “On a scale of 1-10, I consider myself a 9. I am good at graphs, pivot tables, and joins. I feel good about my Excel game”  

Corporate Life is a Game, Win It!

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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