Why You Should Hire a 23-Year-Old to Run Your Social Media

The Design4Change folks I’ve had the privilege of working with this summer got a bee up their nose last week, and rightly so. Being a bunch of hard-work, smart, passionate twenty-somethings they took umbrage at reading an article that argued new graduates were not to be trusted with your company’s band.

They disagreed, and eloquently make their case here: Why You Should Hire a 23-Year-Old to Run Your Social Media.

I can only repeat what they already said: It comes down to hiring the right people.

If you have the right strategy – you’ve put the time and effort into thinking about and planning where you want to take your company and how to get there, and you have the right leadership – you spend the time and effort making sure the right people are doing the right things to get you there – then the age of the person doing the job doesn’t matter.

If you don’t take the time and effort to set strategy and provide leadership you might be very busy doing the wrong things. Then it doesn’t matter who you hire for any position because they’ll be doing the wrong things. Hiring on the basis of age (or ethnicity, or religion, or political belief, or gender, or sexual orientation, etc.), for me, is stupid and another example of lazy thinking.

Question for the Comments:
Who’s the youngest, sharpest person you have working for you? What are you doing to make sure they have what they need to do their best everyday at work, and keep learning and growing?

Other Articles You May Be Interested In:
Who Are Your Best Employees?
How To Empower Your Employees

Bernie works as a leadership and business coach, consultant, and facilitator. He believes there are simple things outstanding leaders do well, and that not to do anything about bad leadership once you know about it is abuse. Check out what he does with RESULTS.com

How to Make Your Meetings Suck Less


Doing nothing is very hard to do … you never know when you’re finished.” — Leslie Nielson

Here’s a game you can play during your next meeting.

Estimate the average hourly salary of everybody in the room. Take your own as a baseline if need be, and multiply that by the number of people in the room.

Now calculate how much the meeting is costing the company in combined salaries and wages per minute. That is, multiply the average salary by the number of people and divide by 60.

That’s how much it’s costing you to run the meeting. Which is fine, if the meeting is being productive. But if it’s not, then why are you having it? Why are all those high-priced people locked in a room with you when they could be doing other, more valuable work?

Some signs of a time-wasting meeting:

  • No agenda, no purpose, or you don’t know why you in particular are there
  • It starts late
  • One or two people dominate all discussion, or nobody talks, or everybody is talking over top of each other. The person running the meeting has lost control
  • It gets side-tracked on trivialities, drama, and details instead of being focused on problems, solutions, and strategy
  • Decisions from previous meetings are revisited, sometimes over and over again
  • You leave the meeting not knowing what was decided
  • You leave the meeting not knowing who is supposed to do what by when
  • You go to all the meetings because you’re afraid you’re going to miss something
  • The meeting takes longer than scheduled
  • The meeting continues after the meeting, with attendees politicking in the hallways, because they didn’t say what they should have said in the meeting

If you’re in charge of running a meeting, how do you run a meeting that doesn’t suck? Read the list above, and do the opposite. If it’s your meeting, you have the power as to set the when, the how, and the who. Including when to start and stop.

If it’s not your meeting, you have the power to go or not go. To value your own and the company’s time, and not waste it.

If it’s your bosses meeting, well then you may a problem. Take notes, and start your own “don’t do this” file of all the things that don’t work. One day, when you’re the boss, you might need a reminder of what does and doesn’t work.

Why Are You Hiding Your Values?

I was in Rogers on Tuesday (they’re a local  cell phone service provider), on the 29th anniversary of my engagement to my bride, trying to get her a phone upgrade.  I thought it would be a simple process, and a nice gesture on our “asking” day.

Silly me. Three hours later we walked out with a new phone, bitter and disappointed at the service we received from Rogers. The only reason I didn’t switch was because the clerk couldn’t get through to her own customer service to cancel my contract, and I didn’t want to spent my entire anniversary waiting for this to get sorted out. But that’s not really what I want to talk about today.

While waiting I noticed the Roger’s one-page strategic plan lying on the counter. It seems I’ve inherited my grandmother’s faculty for reading upside-down. At least somewhat.

That skill had something to do with why she spent a few years living in Argentina after the war. There’s also something about her burning her then-dead German husband’s papers on the roof of the apartment in Switzerland under cover of doing laundry before fleeing. That’s also another story.

I asked the clerk if I could take a look at her company’s values, and she said no. She hid it furtively. As if she’d been caught doing something wrong.

This puzzles me. If a company is going to go through all the time and effort of discovering a set of expected behaviours for the company, then why can’t its customers see it? Are they embarrassed? Are they afraid that customers will laugh? In Roger’s case, given my treatment by them that night, that might realistic.

I began wondering how many other companies have values that they’re not willing to share with their customers, suppliers, and partners. Are they afraid to be held accountable to them? If you set out values and expected behaviour for everybody in your company, and you know that that’s not who your company really is, then I might understand your reticence.

I challenge you to publish your values. I dare you to make a public commitment. Commitment that is necessary for accountability and results. If you’re not willing to make that commitment, maybe you need to go back to your executive retreat and have another think.

If it turns out you don’t have any values, besides just making money, which I doubt, then don’t make something up. You’re not fooling anybody. Share who you are as a company, and be willing to be held to it. Otherwise the public will make up its own stories about why you behave the way you behave, or treat them the way you do.

Then make sure there’s a way for your clients, staff, suppliers to tell you when you are – and aren’t – living up to them. Listen. They’re already talking about you anyway. If you’re not hearing them it’s because you’re not listening.

If you’re not willing to fire employees behaviour that  consistently violate your core values, or you’re not willing to fix internal systems that consistently violate your customers humanity (such as making a phone upgrade a byzantine, three-hour gauntlet of bizarre rules and contractual obligations that require approval from an unreachable customer service representative in some overwhelmed call centre), then don’t waste your time.

There is a direct line between integrity and execution. If you don’t understand the this linkage between vision and engagement, values and execution, purpose and urgency, then stop wasting your time. Don’t waste it on “values” and “strategy” if you’re not going to follow through, or are doing it only because all the other “good” corporations are doing it.

That’s how I got started smoking – because the “cool” kids were doing it. It took me more than 29 years to quit and permanently damaged my health. But that’s another story.

My Own Personal Values

For the record, here are my own personal values:

  1. I will keep my word
  2. I will not lie, steal, cheat, hate, nor tolerate those who do.
  3. I will leave this world better than I found it.
  4. I will deal with reality, and face my fears. The only easy day was yesterday.
  5. Family first and last

When It’s Time to Let Go

Taking a break at the cowboy coffee house in Cochrane, Alberta

I was talking to my motorcycle mechanic about my latest acquisition, when a quote from Drucker came to mind:

If we did not do this already, would we go into it now?” If the answer is no, the reaction must be “What do we do now?” Very often, the right answer is abandonment.

I spent two years rebuilding my last motorcycle’s carburetors. I’d never done it before. I figured it would be a fun project to do with my buddy. It turned into an epic trial spanning multiple spare parts, nested layers of mechanical failure, and mishaps such as screws dropped into the engine. I could have taken that time, got a weekend job driving a cab, and bought myself a new bike.

The upside was that I did get to spend time with my buddy, mostly in an unheated Canadian garage. So when he found a $100 bike last fall, and it ran well, I jumped at it. Cosmetically it looked bad, but I’d rather be riding than busting my knuckles turning wrenches.

Third ride out, however, it started backfiring, stalling, and losing power. I took it down to my local mechanic who, after a quick inspection, identified about $2000 worth of work. Only two out of four cylinders were firing, the chain rusted out, there was an oil leak, and the carburetors were also leaking. This last one got my attention, as memories of busting knuckles in a cold garage came flooding back.

So I sold it to him for $200 in trade. He’s going to break it down for parts. For the money I would have spent fixing that one up I’d still have a bike that was only worth $100. I’m better off saving my pennies and spending that money buying a new, better looking, mechanically sound bike that I can actually enjoy riding. Sometime before another two years elapses.

As leaders we have to ask ourselves the tough questions:

  • What parts of your business are sucking up more time and energy than their worth, draining the life and joy from the rest of the company?
  • Which employees have you kept because you have an emotional investment in them unsupported by performance or results?
  • What opportunities are slipping away from you because you’ve been focused for too long on fixing something that’s not working and that isn’t your core business?

The Definition of Business Focus

The question has to be asked — and asked seriously — “If we did not do this already, would we go into it now?”  If the answer is no, the reaction must be “What do we do now?”  Very often, the right answer is abandonment.

~ Peter Drucker

Try This:

Spend the next week noticing when you’re spending time on activities at work that do not directly align with your role or goals. How much time do you spend on “non-core” activities? What did you learn? What do you need to do about it, if anything?

Other articles you may find interesting:
Why Managers Get Fired
Simple Criteria for Choosing a Mentor
How Your Body Language is Hurting You


How Are You Fantastically Different? Voodoo Doughnuts!

Strategy in business comes down to two questions:

1) How do I make money?

2) How do I beat the competition?

A variation of the second question is “How do I get noticed in a crowded market place?” Voodoo Doughnuts has figured it out.

What makes you fantastically different from your compititors?

Strategy and Execution

Good entrepreneurs find strategic opportunities.

Great entrepreneurs create strategic opportunities.

The New PEST Analysis – Add Culture, Stir

When taking stock of your company’s management strategy a common tool is the PEST analysis (Political, Environmental, Social, and Technological). We can now add Cultural factors. Cultural factors include cultural trends, current events, and consumer interests. Think social networking and the rise of geek culture, for example.

Aligning Your Value to the Company’s Strategy

I come from a technical background, so this conversation kind of leapt out at my face and latched on:

Business leader: “I can’t believe the nightmare of trying to get funding for my project. Everyone hates working with IT.”

Me: “Did you tie your project to a strategically important objective or initiative?”

Business leader: “I’m paid to do my job, not manage IT.”

Me: “How would your boss respond if you told him that you’d rather focus on getting your job done and not on managing your people or your financials?”

Business leader: [thoughtful silence]

So, do you think we leaders should put some thought into how our value aligns with the company’s value, goals, and purpose?