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Ducks in a Row: EMANIO is Hiring the Right Stuff

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/2313158742/The results of a new survey of 500 business leaders drives the home the importance of personality, which makes perfect sense, since it is “personality traits” that underlay “cultural fit.”

78% cited “personality” as the most desirable quality in employees, followed in importance by “cultural alignment,” and then finally “skill-set.”

“Skill-set” as a distant number three makes perfect sense considering the speed of change, especially when technology is involved.

Skills can be learned.

For a prime example, consider Declara CEO Ramona Pierson.

In 1984, at age 22, Pierson was hit by a drunk driver. The car tore her body apart, slicing open her throat, gouging her chest, leaving her heart and lungs fully exposed.

Pierson was in a coma for 18 months. She was totally blind for 11 years, though she has regained partial sight in her left eye thanks to a corneal transplant. It was the process of having to learn just about everything from scratch (including how to breath and walk) that made her realize how important it was to be a lifelong learner.

Which shaped her approach to hiring.

“We don’t hire people for a job. We look for very smart people and look for roles that let them continue along their path.”

KG Charles-Harris has a similar attitude and since I’m helping him with staffing I thought I’d share his Hiring Manifesto with you today.

It’s one I hope more managers/companies adopt.


EMANIO has used AI technologies (natural language processing & machine learning) to create the technology that enables natural language querying and analytics of structured and semi-structured data sources.  We believe this will change the analytics and enterprise software markets.   

We are seeking programmers to join our team who are willing to work for options until we are funded.  We expect funding to be in the coming 3-4 months.

Our compensation plan is completely transparent and we are happy to share it once we establish mutual interest.


Most companies, especially startups, look for “stars” with extensive experience in specific skills sets.

EMANIO has a different approach.

We seek people willing to work hard, constantly learn new stuff and who are diligent and dependable. People who perform at their peak because they care and constantly strive to improve. Our current team is truly world class and we plan on maintaining that standard as we grow.

We are a company of experience; our current team members are all over 40 with extensive and varied backgrounds. While their knowledge is deep they love learning; they know multiple languages and operating systems, are familiar with many others and have learned new ones as needed for our product.


Programmers with

  • Ruby or related knowledge
  • Ruby on Rails
  • HTML 5 & CSS3 & JavaScript


  • willingness to learn them coupled with a viable technical base on which to build.



  • If your experience comes from a formal background, working/OJT experience, self-taught at home or different tech background, but strong desire to learn and branch out;
  • where you live (current team includes Seattle); or
  • what you are.

One or another of our current team has faced and overcome every prejudice that is/was active in the workplace.

First and foremost, we care about getting the work done, so by hiring your mind and attitude as opposed to your body and proximity we have the luxury of finding talent that many companies miss. For example,

  • wounded warriors and others with disabilities;
  • minorities, including extraterrestrials;
  • mothers re-entering the work force;
  • “old” people;
  • women;
  • people with no interest in relocating to Berkeley.

In spite of the current prefunded status I honestly believe that EMANIO offers a unique and real opportunity or I wouldn’t post it here.

Yes, along with the right attitude you need to be willing to take the risk—but everything is a risk these days. And you owe it to yourself to take the time to evaluate this one.

I also hope you will share this post with your friends and network wherever they may be.

Please write miki@rampupsolutions.com or call me at 360.335.8054 for more information to discuss the opportunities.

Flickr image credit: Tim Green

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News, but No Surprise

Monday, April 21st, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aryaziai/8740433362/I get it. I get what’s going on in terms of women in the workplace is news.

I get it that it is important to remind people that for all the progress that’s been made some things haven’t changed.

It’s still assumed that it’s OK to ask professional women, such as lawyers and marketing execs, to do stuff that would never be asked of the men in the organization.

“…plan parties, order food, take notes in meetings and join thankless committees…bring cupcakes for a colleague’s birthday, order sandwiches for office lunches and answer phones”

By the same token, it’s news that board diversity is moving at glacial speed, primarily because boards only want people with experience and to have experience they need to serve on a board.

“Recruiting women and minorities to boards is being slowed because of boards’ unwillingness to look at candidates who have not yet served on boards,” said Ron Lumbra, co-leader of the CEO and board services practice for Russell Reynolds. “There’s a premium on experience.’’

So while I have no problem with these subjects being presented over and over in the news, there is one thing I don’t understand.

Why are so many people surprised by the information?

Is the general population so naïve that they actually believe women are no longer asked to do tasks that are closer to house work than business work?

Do they really believe that the lack of board diversity is a function of the lack of experience as opposed a desire to spend time with people like themselves who are well within their comfort zones?

The sad part is that while it’s still news, it’s certainly not a surprise.

Flickr image credit: Arya Ziai

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Does Your Staffing Reflect Your Audience?

Monday, March 10th, 2014

How many men claim to understand women?

How often do you hear a man say about his mom/spouse/girlfriend/plain friend/other female ‘I know exactly what she wants?’

Rarely? Never?

Then why do they assume they know what women want when it comes to user experience in technology?

No, this isn’t about hiring more female programmers; it’s about hiring women from backgrounds not typically associated with technology.

People such as Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist hired as director of user experience at Intel Labs, the company’s research arm.

She runs a skunk works of some 100 social scientists and designers who travel the globe, observing how people use technology in their homes and in public.

Social scientists (of both sexes) look at the world differently than your typical tech employee, whether in development or marketing.

It’s even more important when it comes to social media, where many companies are/were started and/or run by guys.

Guys who are often younger and being younger know more (if not all) about creating great user experiences—and when they do want help they tend to ask guys who are a lot like them.

Guys who tend to think of their audience as people similar to them in gender and age.

Not intentionally, but the unconscious bias is still there.

The problem for these guys is that women are a giant presence in social media, consuming more, interacting more, and in more ways, than guys; not only that, but average users are in their 30s.

social media review

It’s pretty much a given that women and men are different.

And that one of the benefits of age is experience and experience changes how people think, react and interact.

Knowing all this you may find it beneficial to hire a more diverse workforce, including people who have lived long enough to understand a variety of people from a variety of perspectives.

Image credit: Designed by http://reviews.financesonline.com | Author: David Adelman | Our Youtube


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Ducks in a Row: Actions are as Thinking is

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


Microsoft has done a lot of dumb things over the years and they haven’t stopped yet.

A recent ad campaign for Windows Azure implied it was “so easy, even an older woman can do it.”

This on top of an earlier tweet from @WindowsAzure.

“What do you do when your 68-year-old secretary needs Active Directory Multi-Factor Authentication? Ask Dear Azure.”

Social media wasn’t happy and Microsoft ended up apologizing for its “poor judgment.”***

However, Microsoft’s apology doesn’t cut much ice when viewed in light of the dynamics that drove/are driving the development of Windows 8.

According to a person who claims to be on the Windows 8 design team this is the thinking behind Metro.

It’s designed for your computer illiterate little sister, for grandpas who don’t know how to use that computer dofangle thingy, and for mom who just wants to look up apple pie recipes.

I have a low opinion of Win8 based on hearsay and the bad reviews I’ve read, but that’s beside the point.

Assuming what the programmer shared is even relatively accurate it shows that the ad was more business as usual than an error in judgment.

It reflects a corporate MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy™) grounded in the C suite and begs the question of whether it will continue in a world sans Ballmer and Gates.

***In fairness, Geek Feminism says this gaff is common.

No phrase expresses the meme of female technical ineptitude more neatly than “So simple, even your [grand]mother could do it.” This is a very commonly encountered form of condescension.

Flickr image credit: Metassus

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Ducks in a Row: Is Culture Dependent on Hiring?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lennox_mcdough/5081250083/I read an interview with Cognizant CEO Francisco D’Souza and several things stood out that would be useful in hiring and juice your corporate culture.

Juice your culture, because, as you grow, your culture will assimilate and mimic the traits of those you hire.

D’Souza was a diplomatic brat whose family moved every two years. The result was an ingrained learning curve and appreciation for those different from himself.

We learned how to love the world. There’s this great richness of diversity, yet people are far more similar than they are different. You’re not as likely to learn that when you grow up in one town, in one environment, in one culture or in one country.

This applies as well to those who change companies, since every company has its own culture and every manager a subculture.

Culture is a reflection of values, so the trick to good hiring is to know what which values in your own culture are truly critical.

It’s not important if previous cultures were similar to yours; what is important is understanding in which cultures the candidate thrived and how they compared to yours. As discussed Friday, skills and performance are not independent of environment.

The lesson I learned is that when you have to evolve that quickly as a person, you need to be aware of two things. One is personal blind spots and the other is personal comfort zones. Those two things can be real gotchas.

Good cultures foster personal growth, which requires personal awareness and a willingness to recognize what needs to change.

Finally, talent and attitude are far more important than current skills.

And you need somebody who’s got just raw smarts and talent and an innate ability to learn. Because the thing about functional expertise is that unless you’re in some very specific area, almost everything that we need to do our job becomes obsolete quickly, and the half-life of knowledge is becoming shorter and shorter. So do you have the personal agility to continuously renew those skills, to reinvent yourself?

Your team and therefore your culture are stronger when people crave new challenges that not only stretch their current skills, but are outside their comfort zone.

People who aggressively drive to constantly learn, grow and change are only a challenge to management when they aren’t given those opportunities.

When that happens everyone suffers; the individual; the team; the company; and you.

Flickr image credit: ennox_mcdough

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If the Shoe Fits: the Myth of Meritocracy

Friday, August 30th, 2013

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mThose who believe that tech is a utopian-like meritocracy need to wake up to reality.

Silicon Valley is indeed a meritocracy for those to whom these criteria are not hurdles. But others—the blacks, women, and Hispanics whom it overlooks—find it an elite private club from which they are excluded. – Vivek Wadhwa (see the entire article series here)

According to Mitch Kapor, who founded Lotus and (for those of you who are too young to remember) sold it to IBM in 1995 for $3.5 billion, the idea that all it takes is hard work and a god product to be a success in the Valley is pure fantasy.

“There’s an admirable belief about the virtues of meritocracy – that the best ideas prove the best results. It’s a wrong and misguided belief by well-intentioned people.”

The idea that merit matters goes further down the drain when you see comments, such as the most recent one from Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame.

One quality that’s a really bad indication is a CEO with a strong foreign accent. I’m not sure why. It could be that there are a bunch of subtle things entrepreneurs have to communicate and can’t if you have a strong accent. Or, it could be that anyone with half a brain would realize you’re going to be more successful if you speak idiomatic English, so they must just be clueless if they haven’t gotten rid of their strong accent. I just know it’s a strong pattern we’ve seen.

Or this comment.

I would be reluctant to start a startup with a woman who had small children, or was likely to have them soon. But you’re not allowed to ask prospective employees if they plan to have kids soon…Whereas when you’re starting a company, you can discriminate on any basis you want about who you start it with.

Kapor now runs Kapor Capital, a for-profit venture firm focused on funding minorities whose ideas are focused on improving opportunities for the poor through education, sees the world very differently.

“We have a responsibility to give people opportunities to do what they can do. It’s a fundamental tenet of democratic society. Libertarians who believe in a completely minimalist state, and don’t feel we have that responsibility, are harming humanity.”

Choosing a role model is a private decision.

Who will you channel? Mitch Kapor or Paul Graham?

Image credit: HikingArtist

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When Will They Ever Learn?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wissenstransfer/7648831920/I was going to call this post “How to Make Money,” but then I remembered the lyrics from Peter, Paul and Mary’s hit song and decided it was a much better title.

After all, diversity of all kinds is a war and it’s one being lost in companies every day, whether they are old line industries or the supposed meritocracies of the tech world.

And not just diversity in the form of race and gender, but in terms of management.

Funny how so many companies that don’t “get” the need for a great culture that spawns a happy, therefore productive and innovative, workforce also don’t get diversity in fact.

They all get happy and diverse in theory and in talk, but unfortunately theory and talk frequently never make it to fact.

The facts, however, speak for themselves.

Analyzing the performance of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” over a 28-year period, the author found that these firms generated higher yearly stock returns than comparable companies not on the list. They also systematically beat financial analysts’ earnings estimates, an indication that job satisfaction is an important variable that the market does not fully value. –strategy+ business (free registration required)

And the real numbers of the future carry their own warning.

The figures highlight the rapid growth in the Hispanic and Asian populations, both of which have surged by more than 40 percent since 2000. Hispanics were 16.7 percent of the population in July 2011 and Asians were 4.8 percent. The black population has grown 12.9 percent since 2000 and makes up 12.3 percent of the nation. Non-Hispanic whites rose only 1.5 percent from 2000 to 2011, slower than the national growth of 9.7 percent, and are now 63.4 percent of the population.

It also turns out that hiring those pesky females in senior positions and putting them on your board pays off handsomely.

Over the past six years, companies with at least some female board representation outperformed those with no women on the board in terms of share price performance, according to the latest study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute.Credit Suisse

But the stats I really love come from Dr Genevieve Bell, a Social Scientist/Anthropologist at Intel Corporation.

So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So if you wanted to know what the future looks like, those turn out to be the heaviest users of the most successful and most popular technologies on the planet as we speak.

So for all those stuck in the command & control past or believe, as Carl’s and TV advertisers do, that the world actually turns on 18-34 years old males I suggest you update your prejudices and get with the program.

Flickr image credit: Tanja Föhr

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Ducks in a Row: Bias—a Four Letter Word

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/brighton/8201654745/I had a solid dose of déjà vue when I read yet another article about the cancellation of Yahoo’s work-from-home policy, but this one from a different angle.

What about all the single people? And all the people without kids? We need to stop acting like they’re not part of the work-life conversation.

Some things never change.

I never married and after five decades in and around the workplace I find it dispiriting that almost nothing has changed.

The original version (before my time) was “Jim won’t mind, because he’s single”; the great improvement is now it’s “Jim or Judy won’t mind, because s/he’s single.”

Back then companies/managers assumed that singles were easy to relocate, because they didn’t own homes and moving costs would be minimal, since singles don’t own furniture or much stuff.

There are plenty of managers who still think that way.

Males were given hiring preference, because “they had families to support,” and while it may be 2013, that attitude still exists, however deeply buried.


Unconscious or not, it has the power to taint, damage and even destroy anything/everything.

Bias drives homophily, not just in people, but skills; is grounded in assumptions and negates the diversity that leads to success.

Bias can lay waste to your culture and, in doing so, destroy your company.

Bias is a four letter word.

Flickr image credit: Jim Linwood

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Smartphones and Customer Engagement

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Customer loyalty is a top priority no matter what you are selling—especially in retail.

Just ask Tony Hsieh, whose focus on Zappos’ workforce created the platinum standard of customer service that yielded a storied (and envied) level of customer engagement and loyalty.

The most important component by far is customer engagement. “Retailers should ask themselves, ‘how do I create a partnership with the consumer?’ instead of pulling one over on them,” says Harvard Business School senior lecturer José Alvarez. Many customers see loyalty programs as a way of being ambushed by the retailer.

Many retailers see smartphones as a successful way of engaging customers—but are they?

I have to wonder if they are taking into account the real numbers.

50.4% of the US population uses smartphones

  • Asian Americans 67.3%
  • Hispanics 57.3%
  • African Americans 54.4%
  • Whites 44.7%

Now take a look how the money breaks down.

48.5% of all smartphone handsets are Android, while Apple is at 32%, yet I constantly see product and service offers that require an iPhone.

Stop & Shop recently rolled out Scan It! Mobile, an app that turns a customer’s iPhone into a mobile scanner and checkout.

Gender-wise, smartphone use is nearly identical, 50.9% women 50.1% men, but age is a different story, with two out of three 25-34 year-olds having smartphones.

Marketers consistently target the younger demographic, but do they really have the money or are “Millennials the most screwed generation?”

The median net worth of households headed by someone 65 or older is $170,494, 42 percent higher than in 1984, while the median net worth for younger-age households is $3,662, down 68 percent from a quarter century ago, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.

I’m a long way from being any kind of expert, but it seems to me that basing a loyalty/customer engagement model on smartphones, let alone iPhones, doesn’t make much sense when viewed through the lens of actual usage and related income stats.

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Expand Your Mind: State of Gender in the Workplace

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

A couple of weeks ago we took a look at the State of the Workplace; today we’re taking a look at the state of gender in the workplace.

There is no question that the workforce is changing and many of those changes are along gender lines.

In the last decade, men, especially working-class and middle-class men, have had very different experiences in this economy from the women around them.

However, in case you hadn’t noticed, bias is alive and well in the workplace in many ways.

Considering the tremendous shortage of science and technology grads, one might think that bias would be a thing of the past. Ha! Think again.

Science professors at American universities widely regard female undergraduates as less competent than male students with the same accomplishments and skills, a new study by researchers at Yale concluded. (…) Female professors were just as biased against women students as their male colleagues, and biology professors just as biased as physics professors — even though more than half of biology majors are women, whereas men far outnumber women in physics.

Companies and higher education talk a great deal about diversity and many have diversity programs in place, but what they don’t (can’t?) address is the subtle bias that happens before anything happens.

Much of the talk about ending workplace discrimination focuses on gateways (…) But some of the biggest barriers to a truly diverse applicant pool and workforce may actually be occurring at the stage just before that…

Research has proven that, male or females, attractive people have an edge when interviewing; new research shows that certain actions can change perceptions—such as shaving your head if you’re going bald.

Specifically, men with shaved heads were viewed as more masculine and dominant than other men. But it doesn’t end there: Two of the experiments showed that such men were perceived as taller (by an inch, on average) and stronger (that is, seen as being able to bench press 13% more) than those men who were well-coiffed. They were also viewed as having greater potential as leaders. (…) “The broad take-away is that perceptions about leadership and related traits like dominance can emerge from peculiar characteristics that aren’t really related to leadership at all. (…) There is evidence, for instance, that unconventional dress in women is viewed as status-enhancing. So women may have more of an impact just by engaging in unconventional behavior.”

Enjoy your Saturday!

Flickr image credit: pedroelcarvalho

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