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Ryan’s Journal: Are Companies Replacing Governments?

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdsteam/26584933684/I was on LinkedIn today reading a post by an employee of a company that I was unfamiliar with.

In the post this guy wrote about how great his company is. They allow you to work remotely, pay for all insurance premiums for the entire family and also give a $150 credit towards a monthly gym membership. I’ll be honest I was a bit jealous at the perks and thought about the possibilities there. At the same time, I thought about how companies have come to exert great influence as well.

Governments are designed to keep us safe, build roads, ensure proper regulations and so on. Depending on who you ask and what generation you are speaking with there is also an expectation for access to proper education, low cost or free healthcare, and perhaps a living wage. Government has not really lived up to those dreams, though, and companies have stepped in.

Is this a bad thing? From a free market perspective it is the natural next step. As economies mature the workforce demands greater amenities. Of course a lot of these higher end perks are limited to one industry, tech.

So maybe the free market isn’t responding at all, this is merely a bubble. And if we take it one step further these companies we hear about with great perks are the outliers. Even most run of the mill tech companies do not offer unlimited vacation and in-house yoga classes.

As I ponder all this I think it can go a few different directions, because I really do not see government stepping up to the plate anytime soon. Companies that are offering these great perks are on the cutting edge and leading a sea change.

The next generation will take these amenities for granted and time will march on. The flip side is we determine these amenities are unsustainable and companies wind them down. As a result greater pressure is put on government to reform.

Without stepping into the hell called politics today, I will say this.

I like a path where we can chart our own course. We can choose the company that we want to work for based on our value system.

That way, as we mature as a society, we can learn to accept different beliefs of value and realize it is the differences that can make us good.

Image credit: gdsteam

Ryan’s Journal: Uncomfortable Situations Can Bring Comfort

Friday, September 15th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/521768141/Last week I wrote about Hurricane Irma bearing down on my home state of Florida.

It was a scary time and brought a dose of reality to life that is not often seen. Through the experience I had a chance to view the before and after effects on people and thought I would share.

In my post I mentioned that there was a mad dash at stores for food, water and fuel to prepare for the arrival of the storm. It tended to be everyone for themselves and as a result was a bit chaotic.

In the interest of safety and because I have lived through several hurricanes, I took my family and left.

The trip we took normally calls for about 8 hrs of driving, but in this case it took 12. Roads were clogged, gas stations were packed, when they had fuel, and everyone was heading one way, north.

The trip was not scary, but it was surreal.

We took a back road highway as the interstates were turning into parking lots. We also drove in the dead of night and it was still packed.

Small towns with one open gas station had traffic jams. People were driving in emergency lanes and all toll roads were suspending payment for evacuation purposes.

This all added to the overall discomfort.

I knew my family and I were safe, but when I left I did not know how my house would fare or if I would have a home to return to.

The great news is we suffered minor damage to a fence and that is about it. Others weren’t so lucky.

How does this bring comfort though?

I spoke to my friends throughout this experience and truly felt closer to them.

Strangers have been open and people are helping.

Now that the panic of the storm has passed folks are banding together. Because I was gone my neighbors that stayed watched over my home and sent picture updates after tot show the results.

It has been rewarding to be surrounded by a sense of community and love.

Now I know times like these are sometimes short lived, but the memory of it can last a while.

I would never suggest that you suffer a major tragedy to experience this sense of belonging.

But I will say I am grateful that I was.

Image credit: Taber Andrew Bain

Ryan’s Journal: Culture Is A Reward

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gotcredit/32943610593/

I attended an AA-ISP* event tonight and heard something that struck me, “culture is a reward.” What a profound statement.

I’ll back up and explain what transpired tonight. I am in B2B sales and I have found that I must constantly sharpen my mind.

Sales is, to some degree, a game, but one requiring confidence. There is a lot of rejection and stress. Add to that the fact that most folks view sales as a negative field and it makes for a combustible result. I attended an event tonight that focuses on improving sales and the profession.

With all the negativity that surrounds the role, I have found the absolute opposite when actually at work.

Yes there is rejection, but there is also a lot of positive outcomes. I meet with clients that are trying to solve massively complex problems and I get to somehow help. My clients are usually more knowledgeable than I am, so I also learn something new.

That said, let’s get back to the statement I made earlier regarding culture as a reward.

Have you ever started a job thinking it was one way when it the reality turned out much different?

You felt like you got the rug pulled out from under you? I have and I hated it. The culture was negative and nothing was as it seemed. From the outside it was fine; from inside terrible.

On occasion, though, we luck out.

We stumble across an opportunity that delivers as promised, whether Google or some local shop that has a great team.

Doesn’t it feel like it’s a reward to just go to work? That is it!

A good culture is its own reward. I could not add to it because it is so true.

Now I just need to surround myself with it and never let go. 

* American Association of Inside Sales Professionals
Image credit: GotCredit

Ryan’s Journal: Culture Of Extremes

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

This past week has been unfortunate. There have been violent, racially charged protests, attacks and murder. All committed in the name of one cause or another. As an American I am ashamed. As a human I am saddened.

I never thought I would need to publicly state that I am against Nazi rhetoric or white supremacist views, but I am.

As a white male I find the fact that this thought still exists to be abhorrent and disgusting.

The thing that bothers me most about this is not that it exists; there will always be people that think a certain way. It’s the fact that the reaction of some leaders was to place blame on all, including the victims.

I never feel comfortable wading into race relations dialogue. I typically feel inadequate and too uniformed to truly understand the challenges that minorities feel. As a result I seek to learn and absorb.

However, in the case of Charlotte, Virginia the stance is clear. If you are an individual who claims that your so called purity as a white man/woman means you have more value than those of different colors, you’re absolutely wrong. Science does not support you, nor does history.

I failed to mention the train wreck that is Google right now.

One engineer writes a manifesto claiming women are emotion-driven and as a result are not as capable at STEM careers as men are. Google fires him, there is a major uproar and everyone now has an opinion.

One article I read showed how Google is acting as thought police preventing any idea that is not approved from being made public. Other articles I read show how, if we appease intolerant viewpoints, we risk allowing intolerance to abound and have extreme cases, such as Nazi Germany.

What does all of this say for society? I believe it shows that we are now on the margins of culture.

Only the extreme survive.

If you have an easy going and inclusive view on society then you are not to be trusted. However, if you take a hard stand on either the left or right, you are to be championed.

When did this culture of extremes become the norm?

Image credit: Steve Snodgrass

Ryan’s Journal: What Do You Do When You’re In A Funk?

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ljguitar/4025554381/

Have you ever had one of those days where you just can’t seem to get it together?

You drink your coffee, go on your run, or perhaps your moment of zen. Yet that doesn’t get you out of your rut. What do you do about it?

I am in a stage of life where I am building. 

I am building my sales practice, building my family (up to five now), and building my wealth. I have found that those all keep me busy and I have little time for me. When I compare myself to my friends, though, they are in similar circumstances.

The ebb and flow of emotions is normal. Low points happen and should not be feared. However, if we allow ourselves to dwell too long, it can become more than a rut, it can be a lifestyle.

I have a new little girl at home and she is amazing. She also is a night owl and I have found that sleep deprivation and feeling down are directly correlated. My wife and I are walking around in a fog and I am not at my best.

I have started to become aware of this in the past week and have actively worked out ways to overcome it.

Currently my little one likes to wake around 5:30 in the morning. I have found if I just get up to go for a run I get the added bonus of watching the sun rise. That’s an amazing feeling.

I have also found that she likes to cry a bit so we stay up rocking her. This has led to my wife and I having genuine conversations because our phones aren’t attached to our faces. This has also been amazing as I actually like my wife. (To be clear I love her as well).

I say all of this because it’s on my mind. I know I am a bit low and I know others are too on occasion.

Ultimately it is our choice on how we proceed.

How will you proceed?

Image credit: Larry Jacobsen

Ryan’s Journal: What Motivates Us?

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hypophyse/4019712420/

I touched on this a bit last week with regards to what motivates people. It’s different for all of us of course, but there is something that drives us.

Whenever I am particularly candid with myself, I find that fear of disappointing others is always high on my list. But I also have a drive to be unique.

Sometimes I look at lists that show how only a few people have achieved something and I make it my goal to join that group.

A bucket list item of mine is to climb the seven summits. These are the highest peaks on each continent. Very few have done it as it requires an immense amount of time and money. I figure if I can accomplish that then I have done something right in other areas if my life. Enough about me though.

What motivates others?

I had a conversation today with a fellow sales rep. She has been successful in the past couple of years and has accomplished some life goals. One was paying off debt. That’s a big one. She also had her eye on a few personal objects, one being a Rolex.

Last year she said she had the ability to finally buy one and not feel guilty. I realize most out there probably have other priorities, but this was hers.

As she began her search for a Rolex that would fit her tastes she was surprised to learn that her company had went ahead and purchased one for her as a gift.

Her boss had overheard her saying how she wanted one and decided to reward her hard work by giving the Rolex as a gift. My friend said this was the most meaningful item she had ever received in her career.

When I asked why she said it wasn’t because of the watch. It was the fact that someone took the time to listen to her, remember what she said and care.

Her boss didn’t have to give the gift, but they understood that we are all motivated in different ways. For my friend that motivation was to feel validated.

As I go about my week I am going to take the time to see what motivates those around me.

What motivates you?

Image credit: hypo-physe

Ryan’s Journal: When Is It Enough?

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archive-history/114082837/

Some of you may know that I work in software sales. I enjoy the work along with the highs and lows that come with it. Something else that comes with the territory is money.

I have found money brings out the truth in people. When you have enough money where the opinion of others is not important, the true colors shine. Sometimes the result is great, other times not so much.

I had an opportunity this week to spend some time with some successful sales people who are climbing the mountain of corporate success and doing well. I was able to observe the behavior of a few different folks and see their true colors.

In one case there was a guy who has risen up the ranks and I was actually looking to him as an example of what to do. I was utterly disappointed. His main drive was money, sure that’s fine, but there was nothing more. In fact, I am unclear of what he cared about other than that. His only other hobby appeared to be drinking. I don’t mean that to sound negative; he is a connoisseur of fine wines and spirits.

I met another guy who grew on me. I met him three days ago and my first interaction was him asking me for a favor. During that moment though he was honest with why he needed it; I was in a position to help and it got him out of a jam.

As we spoke through the next few days I realized this guy had substance. He was rising up, but not there yet. He was humble, truthful and eager to learn. In addition, he handled the first guy I mentioned with grace. In this case the first guy was this person’s boss.

Throughout this journey I asked myself, “when is enough enough?” The first guy just wanted more and more money. The second writes screenplays, enjoys hiking and tries to give back.

In both cases you can never have enough. There is not enough money, but also not enough hikes, to find fulfillment.

Perhaps there is never enough.

Perhaps all that matters is what you are filling up that hole with.

Image credit: stop crap

Ryan’s Journal: Perhaps We Could Bring More Love To The World

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/149902454@N08/34776732853/

This past week has been a whirlwind for me. My wife and I had our third beautiful baby girl and as a result I am sleeping less than the required 11-12 hours that I prefer.

My wife has handled this whole event with grace and I have been humbled by the respect I have for her.

Those of you may already know, but if you don’t, I have three girls now. It’s a true joy and I feel privileged and honored to have them in my life.

Being a parent can be tough today. There is a lot of pressure to be on top of the right trends, expand your baby’s horizons and ensure you’re not feeding them the wrong foods.

Of course all of this is captured on social media for the chance for the world to judge in realtime. What a time to be alive!

I say all of that a bit tongue I cheek as there are some things I have learned as well.

Mark Zuckerberg posted a stat today that towns that have a disproportionate amount of men to women have higher crime rates.

I say that to highlight something that comes from being the father of three girls, love. It is unfiltered and abundant.

If I am having a bad day I can walk in my door and be surrounded by girls that just want to hug me and spend time. Now this is more of a personal lesson but I believe it can be expanded to the business world.

If you look at the latest company scandals you tend to see some common threads. Hyper masculinity, extreme competition and a zero sum attitude towards life.

These tend to be hallmarks of a male dominated organization that lacks balance.

This post is more about observations than solutions.

My observation in my personal life is that the unfiltered love helps me to try and be my best self. It also builds up self esteem which leads to more creativity, problem solving and so on.

Perhaps if we incorporate that trait, love, into our daily lives it will have a profound effect on those around us.

I may be saying things that have been said before, but all I can share is my experience and try to build upon it.

Image credit: Hamza Butt

Ryan’s Journal: Veteran Culture

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Folks, I thought it fitting to have something veteran related as America just celebrated Independence Day. While the holiday itself is about the founding of the country, I think we can all agree that the actions of the men and women who fought helped secure the independence. 

My goal here is to not make this a political blog, but sometimes folks who I respect speak out and I like to highlight them. 

I had the privilege to read “Tribe” recently and found the book to share a perspective on PTSD and culture that I had not heard before.

I may have shared in the past, but when I was a younger man I served in The United States Marine Corps. In that capacity I lost several Marines while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq and it’s still something I keep with me.

With that said, I am fortunate not to suffer any serious effects, physical or mental, but I found the book to be a breath of fresh air.

I say all of this to say that Junger is well respected in the community and a voice of reason.

Below my post Junger is quoted as stating the current divisive political environment is causing moral injury on the troops. Moral injury could be very true. In the current conflicts young men and women are thrust into confusing situations that have no clear objective.

 For us, we had to contend with the so called enemy, but also the locals; all while trying to explain that we were there to provide peace (while holding them to the gun).

It was confusing and as an introspective guy I had a hard time rationalizing what I was doing. My response was to just not consider the socio-political ramifications and focus on the day at hand. 

What Junger says though is true in my opinion. As politics have become more divisive, it is tough for the folks in harm’s way to truly believe in the cause. The homeland is secure and we fight most wars now for no clear reason. 

One takeaway from Junger’s book about PTSD I found can be applied by anyone.

He says we should embrace veterans, but not in such a way that you isolate them. Most veterans do not want adulation and praise, they just want mutual respect and the ability to remember, but not dwell. 

I have included the full text of his interview below

An award-winning journalist says people who claim Trump isn’t their president hurt US troops

Sebastian Junger has a message for lawmakers: the partisan warring of politicians in Washington DC is hurting the American military more than they realize.

“Unity is all soldiers have when they face the enemy, and you must do everything in your power to make sure that it is not taken away from them,” the noted war journalist and author, who has written and directed extensively on war, told members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee during a hearing on post-traumatic stress disorder on June 7.

Junger used the opportunity to rail against the toxic influence of partisan politics among the armed forces.

“When it became fashionable after the election for some of my fellow Democrats to declare that Donald Trump was not their president, they put all of our soldiers at risk of moral injury,” he told lawmakers. “In order for soldiers to avoid something called ‘moral injury,’ they have to believe they are fighting for a just cause. And that just cause can only reside in a nation that truly believes in itself as an enduring entity.”

The issue isn’t just about the unusual nature of the Trump presidency, or Democrats’ resistance to it. “When Donald Trump charged repeatedly that Barack Obama [ …] was not even an American citizen, he surely demoralized many soldiers who were fighting under orders from that White House,” he said.

Junger, whose career as a war reporter began covering the Kosovo genocide in the 1990s, most recently penned a book called         “Tribe” in which he wrote about the fractionalized America that troops face when they return home.

“For the sake of our military personnel, if not for the sake of our democracy, such statements should be quickly and forcefully repudiated by the offending political party,” Junger said.

“If that is not realistic, at least this committee — which is charged with overseeing the welfare of our servicemen and women — should issue a bipartisan statement rejecting such rhetorical attacks on our national unity.”

The military, which serves the president as its commander-in-chief, has become increasingly politicized in recent years.

The Center for New American Security reported a trend of more politicization of the military’s ranks by observing speeches given by retired generals at both Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2016.

What’s more, a study by the National Defense University found that more military personnel are sharing their political views on social media.

After surveying 500 West Point cadets and active duty officers, the report found that 75% of respondent said that they had seen their contemporaries shared political links on their personal social media accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In “Tribe,” Junger writes, “Soldiers all but ignore differences of race, religion and politics within their platoon.”

Read the original article on Task & Purpose.

Image credit: Sebastian Junger

Ryan’s Journal: Can Culture Be Flow?

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sjdunphy/2369009987/

If you’re reading this I am making the assumption that you’re a knowledge worker. You may be in an office, a coffee shop, or perhaps some hillside retreat. Regardless of where you may be you have work to do and it needs to be done in a timely manner. When I am truly engrossed in something that has all my attention I get a hit of dopamine that channels my energy. Some call this flow.

Your brain is being fully maximized, distractions fade away and creativity takes place. When I am in this state it feels like work takes less effort. I am satisfied with the results and I feel accomplished. Truth be told I wish I could achieve this state more often and for longer periods of time.

As I was thinking about the concept of flow I was thinking how it could be applied to culture. If we are looking at flow in a way that reduces effort and gets faster results than perhaps we can apply that principle to culture as well.

I read a quote from Steve Jobs where he said, no one individual accomplishes something great, a team does. As I thought on that it occurred to me that the culture of Apple must be one where the team comes first, rather than the individual.

In my mind that is culture at work.

Any new hire would quickly see that belief in action, mimic it, and before they knew it they would assimilate without any conscious thought. That’s not a bad thing, since our brains have so many other things to worry about.

I think the same could be said of the military. You read stories of folks who did heroic things and their reasoning was that they didn’t want to let their team down.  As a former Marine myself I can assure you that peer pressure is real and the last thing you want to do is let your buddies down. As a result you see some extraordinary actions on the part of service member, first responders and others. In my mind that is flow at work.

As always, though, we need to figure out how to iterate and expand our culture to a point where flow is achieved and it seems effortless.

I have found that surrounding yourself with folks that have passion for life, push themselves past their comfort zone, and care for others is a terrific foundation to achieve success.

Image credit: ReflectedSerendipity

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