Men, ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?

This is a cross post. Please comment on “Men, ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?” on

Yup, I’m calling the men out on subtle sexism. A lot of men, probably me too when I was younger, have a problem with their women making more than them. Rachel, my wife, made more than me for YEARS after we first got married. This was in the early 90s and I would argue that we have made a lot of progress reducing sexism over the last 20 years, although certainly it still exists.

So here we are in 2011. And if you ask a guy “would it bother you if your significant other made more money than you?” they will, based on my small sample survey, still say “YES!” It bugs them. They feel that men SHOULD make more than women. No particular reason, just because. If you follow the first question up with “Do you consider yourself sexist?” They say “NO!” – but they are. And I’ve wanted to say this to them, but I just didn’t have the data and really I have other battles to fight. Then I saw this editorial in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle.

Scott Burns: A bad decade for jobs — especially for men

Hey, guys, I’ve got to confirm some tough news: Women have become the new men.  While the Atlantic Monthly went a bit overboard last year in an article titled “The End of Men,” the economic statistics aren’t encouraging.

Truth is, the gals we like to impress so much with our manliness have wiped us out when it comes to the game of Bringing Home the Bacon.  That’s not hyperbole. In the first decade of this century, U.S. Labor Department figures show that women have gained 2,119,000 jobs.  During the same period, men gained a piddling 54,000 jobs.

This is the kind of score you’d have if the Yankees played against a Little League team, or the Dallas Mavericks played against a very small high school.

Basically, we guys never had the ball. Women got 97.5 percent of all the new jobs created between 2000 and 2010.


In the 1990s, men won 46 percent of the 18.4 million new jobs created. In the 1980s, men won 41 percent of the 19.5 million jobs created.

and apparently this is particularly true for cities like Houston.

One group of women out-earns their male competition. Researcher James Chung of Reach Advisors found that unmarried women under age 30 and without children who lived in large cities made more money than their male counterparts. Specifically, he found that this group of women earned more in 147 of 150 major cities, with the premium reaching as high as 17 percent in New York

and this one has gotta sting a bit if you still think “he-man-caveman-should-make-more-money-than-girl

“One way in which college-educated married men have gained financially is that they increasingly are likely to be married to the highest-income wives.” Now men can go to college in hopes their B.A. or B.S. degree will lead to a coveted “MR.” degree.

At my son’s recent High School graduation honors ceremony, there were probably 20 women to 3 guys who achieved the highest honors in the senior class. The guys have checked out. But somehow they don’t think this is going to relate to the real world when they get a job later. And the men are really insecure about this, and I have written about insecurity and the dangers that go with it in the past.

If America is a meritocracy, if business works like it should, then women SHOULD be making more than men. Because they are EARNING it. And if men have issues with this, let’s call it what it is; insecurity and sexism. So ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?

This is a cross post. Please comment on  “Men, ask yourself, are you still a sexist pig?” on


Boomers and Millennials – 3 Reasons the USA Will Recover Our Sanity

A few things to consider when observing the needs of benefit programs (Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment, etc) for Americans. I believe the current strain on the system may be particularly bad at the moment, which means it will improve for future generations. The added stress is temporary. Here’s why.

strengthThree one-time events have occurred over the last 70 years that have led to American families being more spread out than ever before. And more politically polarized. So instead of Social Security being supplemental income for our parents who move back into the house when they retire, it is now expected to support two households. One in Connecticut or wherever your parents live. And another household must pay its way entirely, hopefully through employment, in a different city. This is just a theory, but here goes:

First – The American Interstate Highway System

The Interstate System has been called the Greatest Public Works Project in History.   From the day President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the  Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Interstate System has been a part of our culture””as construction projects, as transportation in our daily lives, and as an integral part of the American way of life.   Every citizen has been touched by it, if not directly as motorists, then indirectly because every item we buy has been on the Interstate System at some point.   President Eisenhower considered it one of the most important achievements of his two terms in office, and historians agree.

And for the PR people out there, don’t forget that Edward Bernays’ work with Mack Trucks was a precursor.  Bernays, always humble, states  “One single idea changed the economics of a country.”

Second – Indoor Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is largely credited with the migration of Americans from the North to the South. From a book review Salon on AC. Note – some of the article is behind a pay-wall but this OTB review of the salon article on air conditioning has more quotes from the book “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World

But as science writer Stan Cox argues in his new book,  “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer),” the dizzying rise of air conditioning comes at a steep personal and societal price. We stay inside longer, exercise less, and get sick more often “” and the electricity used to power all that A.C. is helping push the fast-forward button on global warming. The invention has also changed American politics: Love it or hate it, refrigerated cooling has been a major boon to the Republican Party. The advent of A.C. helped launch the massive Southern and Western population growth that’s transformed our electoral map in the last half century.

It was only in 1947 that “Mass-produced, low-cost window air conditioners become possible.” Figure 10 years for adoption and you’re looking at late 50s and 60s for things to be  livable  in a city like Houston. And another source on the role of AC in the South. Basically New Yorkers invented air conditioning and then used it to get the heck out of Dodge.

The Interstate Highway system and AC making the South livable created a virtual land rush with youth moving south and families spreading out across the country. And the migration, like the Sooners, was largely a one-time-event. Sure people will continue to move around, but not like they did over the last 50 years. It just makes more sense for humans to stay near our support network. It takes a gold-rush to lure us to new territories. Then we settle down.

Third – The Baby Boomers in Power

They have brought us many great things. Boomers invented  the Web, DNA fingerprinting, lithium-ion batteries, the artificial heart and much more. Yet  this is also a generation that has been fighting with itself for as long as I have been alive. Even the Wikipedia page on baby boomers is covered with conditional statements because they can’t agree. From Wikipedia:

In general, baby boomers are associated with a rejection or redefinition of traditional values; however, many commentators have disputed the extent of that rejection, noting the widespread continuity of values with older and younger generations. In Europe and North America boomers are widely associated with privilege, as many grew up in a time of affluence.[2] As a group, they were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time.[3]

So they are known for rejection but the commentators on the Boomer wikipedia article reject that they are known for rejection. Very meta. My point here is at this moment in time the baby boomers are running the country. And they grew up in a time of great social change.

Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic social change. In the United States, that social change marked the generation with a strong cultural cleavage, between the proponents of social change and the more conservative. Some analysts believe this cleavage played out politically since the time of the Vietnam War to the mid-2000s, to some extent defining the political landscape and division in the country. – NABBW

Boomers are in charge and they don’t like each other. Period.  They are polarized. Is America becoming more polarized right and left and screaming at each other? Or is it just this one group? I believe the divisions in our country are not as great as portrayed in the media and it is more an inner-generational rift than an inter-generational rift. I just don’t hear the vitriol when two Gen-X-ers are talking. Their beliefs on most issues simply aren’t anywhere near the country-is-being-torn-apart feeling of the 60s and 70s.

The Boomers have made what we have in this country today possible. I appreciate that as I type this on the laptop they invented for me. But they have also buried us in debt and polarized the two party system George Washington, our only Independent President, hated. Like a good coach I am saying I loved seeing the points on the board, but you are fouling out. This is a generation that needs to do better. But they can’t because people don’t think and act as generations. They do so on beliefs and it is unlikely, possible but unlikely, people in their 50+ years will change their ideology. Rather than agree they will take their ball and go home, the future be damned. Thus we literally have to wait them out to save the country.

The Good News is the Future Will Be Better

The ramifications of these three one-time events is that we are spread out across the country without immediate family nearby. And we are screaming at each other because of ideological differences.  Yet give it 20 years, yes I realize that is a long time, but when time goes by I predict it will get better. Specifically:

  1. Stabilization of the American extended family. Humans naturally stay with their tribe. Fewer children will move to far off states which means more family in the same location. We need this support network. When you lose your job, as so many have these last few years, it is much easier to move into the guest room if your extended family is in the same state, or (gasp!) the same part of town.
  2. Reduced costs to society for entitlement programs – when family is nearby, Social Security and Medicaid aren’t expected to fully support an entire household. They are needed to supplement the income of an elderly parent who is supported by their nearby family as well.
  3. Reduced political rhetoric and infighting among Americans. As the boomers age out, the Millennial generation will move into power. The Millennials are a diverse group, but they are not divided like the boomers. Diversity does not equal divisiveness and I am quite optimistic about the Millennials long term. Perhaps “entitled” and “soft” like the doughboys currently, but the Millennials will emerge strong leaders as they enter the real world and mature past the overly-protective cocoons they grew up in. I have seen this growth in our employees. They can and will step up. And we as a country will be saved by these kids.

That’s my two cents anyway. It gets better. It’ll just take a while. Hang in there y’all.


look up

sky“Let your feet touch the ground. Let your eyes touch the sky.”

“I recently realized why people, why there is this saying, you kinda need to look up more. Only now ya, am 28, only now starting to realize a couple of important things in my life. And one of them is looking up. And why do you look up? Because when you look up you connect to the bigger universe. The universe that surrounds you on the level of galaxies even.

Indre Rapalaviciute, Hear our Houston, 12:16 (via Carrie Schneider)


best places to work? not my goal

NOTE: This is a cross post. Please comment on the main post on the  Houston Chronicle on Best Places to Work by Ed Schipul.


Every year Houston has a Best Places to Work contest. I offer my congratulations to the winners. But we don’t enter them. And every year the new employees will suggest we enter. My position frustrates many of our team because, I am told, they do enjoy working at the company. Our clients are awesome. The people who work here are diverse and all share similar values and believe in our vision. We have a lot of “great places to work” type of cred. But I refuse to submit. Why?

It started years ago after a university asked to do a study of our company. Our communication and how we interacted with each other. Sort of a cross between a NodeXL chart and a VENN diagram of the company based on interviews of all employees (I think we had maybe 10 or 15 employees at the time). The study results came back and they said we had one of the most interconnected and hyper-communicative companies they had ever seen in all of their years of study.

Later that year the Best Places to Work survey came out and I agreed to have our company submit. My guidance to the employees was simply “I don’t care much about awards, but I love the idea of getting a score card of how the company is treating y’all so please be absolutely honest in your assessment of our work environment.”

The results were very positive. Perhaps between an A and an A+ based on the feedback. And I liked the fact that I got the report back as a self-assessment. So I figured we might make the list.

swimming with the sharksThat same year another agency I know of had laid off about a third of their employees. When the list came out, the agency with the layoffs was near the top of the list and we were not even on it. Now, how is it that the remaining two thirds of the employees who are wondering if they are about to be fired are going to score their company as a “best place to work”? They aren’t even sure if they will be working there in a week! I found this puzzling.

I had a few beers with a friend who also runs a company later that year and the subject came up. His point was

“You are being  naive  Ed. Look, if you want to win you have to tell your employees to rank everything at the top across the board. Or you have to give them more crazy perks.”

Um, what? We are a culture of candor. I am not going to tell my employees how to score an evaluation, and with the people we employ they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. I like that about them. And what crazy perks are you talking about? I googled it for you. Forbes tells us:

And the winners are… There’s a new No. 1 in town: tech powerhouse SAS. Yes, even in a tough job market, some employers dole out perks like on-site saunas, discounted massages and classes on Wii bowling. Meet this year’s top 100; profiles include maps, contact info and more.  More

(Side note: if you need a CLASS on Wii bowling we may have a whole different set of problems. But back to the topic at hand.)

Now, this is definitely NOT the fault of the people running the contests. Nor the honest companies who win. But how do you compete with companies that are telling folks to score everything perfectly for the PR value? Well, you can’t. And should you really be spending investors’ money on discounted massages? I’m sure there are a LOT of honest companies on the list. But this dictate-to-or-bribe-the-employees explanation from my friend burst my bubble a bit. I wasn’t fully discouraged though. I considered entering again.

About those perks. As our company grew I found I received more and more requests from employees for very expensive “selective benefits.” The type of thing that “best companies” offer. They were usually prefixed by “My friend works at this Fortune 500 company and they give away…. Can we do that?” Examples:

  1. Free child care
  2. Pay 100% of health care for all families
  3. Massage-Friday’s where everyone gets a free massage
  4. Pay for employees to join a health club
  5. A  jetpack (ok, they didn’t ask for that. I want the jetpack. But they once really did ask for Segways)

Those are all great requests. I can definitely see the benefit of them. People would be happy. Well, the ones who benefitted would be happy. And the others probably wouldn’t notice. But I would notice.

You see most of those requests are selective. Only the employees with kids benefit from the first two, effectively giving those select employees a huge raise as compared to other employees who might be just as valuable to the company. The massage one sounds cool, but if the employee is unwilling to pay for their own massage, why should their coworkers pay for it? And the people who don’t want a massage are not receiving (again) this selective benefit. And the gym membership? Look, if people are too cheap to pay $30 to join a health club then paying for it isn’t going to get them to the gym. That just gives the people who do go to the gym a small raise. But skips the others who don’t receive the benefit.

Of that list, if I were to do any of them it would be the Segway because it is an asset that employees could check out and that would likely benefit the most people. (if any of my team is reading this – no, we are not getting a Segway right now.) We do have a big pool of checkout DSLR cameras. To me this makes sense because a pool of assets the employees can share meet the following criteria:

  1. We need the cameras for work anyway. All I did was say “y’all can borrow them whenever you want” so no extra expense
  2. Everyone takes pictures
  3. Employee use varies so a few expensive assets benefit a bunch of employees who use them at different times
  4. It saves the employee the expense of an asset they rarely use, and is something they appreciate when they DO want to use one
  5. By using these technical cameras for personal use, they learn them, which means they are better trained to use them at work

2009 plasma car racesExpensive assets that can be shared, to me at least, pass the litmus test of a benefit that helps the employees. Another weird thing we have is a costume closet. People rarely want to wear the same halloween costume, so why not have a closet so others can check them out? Cost? Next to nothing because employees donate their costumes. The benefit is cost savings for employees should they go to a costume party. Not all employees benefit, but they ALL didn’t pay for it either.

We purchased an AED for the office. So far no one has benefited from it. Everyone paid for it. But I didn’t see any of the comments on the best places to work lists mention “I’m really glad our CEO is safety focused and has an AED, First Aid Kits, Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Backpacks, etc on site.” (Don’t judge, I was a Boy Scout. I can’t help it.)

Look, I get it. Who doesn’t want stuff for free, right? If your company pays for your gym membership then great for you. Just realize it is on the backs of your coworkers.

Do you really need a corporation to incentivize you to stay healthy? Really? Now, if the company brought someone in to teach a class on healthy eating, I can see that. We paid to have the Red Cross do CPR training for everyone. I can see that. But a recurring gym membership paid for by the company for you? No. That isn’t a “best place” to work for me. That is an executive team that wanted to offer a benefit to employees so they could justify having the company pay for their country club memberships because that is their “gym.”

My job as CEO is to make sure our clients are getting greater value than cost. Without the clients, we don’t have a company. I completely get that. But after that, I must fight to increase income for all of my employees. And fight I do. We have a great profit sharing plan that even my attorney recommended I not implement (I did anyway). That money should go to the employees of a meritocracy and THEY DECIDE how they want to spend THEIR MONEY. It’s none of my business.

So I don’t think we’ll win a best places to work contest any time soon. And I’m ok with that. OK, now I have to get back to work.

NOTE: This is a cross post. Please comment on the main post on the  Houston Chronicle on Best Places to Work by Ed Schipul.

youth, ideas, and bureaucratic resistance

kebabI received two very interesting questions from a young man I met several years ago, passing through Houston on the way to some romantic big city (go ahead, get the whole NYC/LA/SanFran/Boulder/places-you-can’t-eat-but-feel-sexy/thing out of your system.) He asked for lunch and had two questions for me:

1) How do you personally influence people to take ownership of your ideas in order to gain support and momentum to implement change?

I’m going to try to answer that one in a future blog post as my notes for our meeting were a bit too direct for public blogging.

Question number 2!

2) What advice would you give me, a high-energy, optimistic, and idea-generating young guy, operating in a inefficient, bureaucratic, and change-resistant large corporate company?

Listen. Listen. Listen. For both the employee and the employer, almost all of this tension is eliminated if BOTH groups master the art of listening. So to the questioner, my first question is are both you and your managers TRULY listening to each other? If yes, keep reading. If you aren’t actively listening first then none of this matters. Listening is a beautiful thing. One of my favorite quotes.

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Jimi Hendrix

OK, so you are listening. Then here goes a two part answer from different perspectives.

From the Employee perspective:

Q:  What advice would you give me, a high-energy, optimistic, and idea-generating young guy, operating in a inefficient, bureaucratic, and change-resistant large corporate company?

An answer for the employee with the company’s best interest at heart perspective:

As a young employee I found great resistance to my ideas. I read like crazy. I love learning from the mistakes of others. But at 25 few 50 year olds wanted to listen. They had 20 years + experience but I believed had been ingrained in 20 years of outdated experience. So I had a problem. I tried. I pleaded my case. I used logic. No luck. I was a very frustrated employee trying to do the best for the corporation.

I found three magic solutions that worked for me.

1) Accept the burden of communication and go 100% to make your case.

So you are saying youth is a handicap in getting your ideas heard? Well tough. Deal with it. People have burdens and it is their job to overcome the burdens. And in this case the burden of communication is on YOU. The burden of communication is always on the communicator, not the listener. Have you created visuals to explain your point? Have you done dry-run-explanations to others to practice and prepare to communicate your point? Have you created a prototype to prove you believe in the idea so much you will invest your own time on behalf of the company? If you do those things, and back it up with short but direct facts, most ideas, even in a big bureaucracy will be heard. If you aren’t a good communicator, document your idea and recruit a stronger communicator to make the case for you. Still not enough?

Join Toastmasters. Study Tufte for visual communication. Ask your parents how they would handle it even if you are 35. (Seriously, who else besides your parents has your best interests at heart no matter what?) My point is if you give up on trying to express the idea, well, you didn’t believe in it very much either so why should the higher-ups listen?

They shouldn’t because you are the communicator and you aren’t committed to it. Weak. Man up and accept the burden of communication even if it is a taller order for your age group. Or as Covey says; “Any excuse no matter how valid is still an excuse.”

If your response to the above is “Ed, I promise I did all of that and I’d like to show you what I showed them.” then I’d love to see it. And if it really is a good idea. And you really are fighting for the corporation as you should. And you have exhausted every other option of making your point with data and rationality and visual communication then you do have a few more options. These linger near the line of machiavelli, but they do work and if your goals are pure can be executed ethically.

2) Quote old dead people.

Yes, really. I found so much resistance to my ideas from reading Demming and TQM, and getting Microsoft Certifications before my peers, for my constant study. So I found out pretty quickly that you can overcome the prejudice against youth (it’s there, it really is, and sometimes for good reason) by QUOTING PEOPLE. (It was an Excel file that became a database. True story.)

If I said “I have some ideas that I think the corporate office hasn’t taken into consideration” then my store manager heard a punk-25-year-old saying he knew more than the 60 year old CEO of a multimillion dollar publicly traded company. That wasn’t going to happen. BUUUUUUUT, if I said,

“wow, I really like district-manager-x’s ideas. They remind me of a quote from Total Quality Management on systems defining quality. Like the marble experiment. Can I show you the marble experiment and see if you think it might apply to our problems? I could really use your help and I’m not sure I understand Demming completely. I’m just curious and really want to help the company. Can you help? Meet Thursday?”

– if I did that. I had a shot. It worked. It is true that with a good management team you should not need to do this. You should be able to make your case logically above and beyond politics. But if that fails, you do have a plan B. You get no credit, but the company and therefore you benefit. It ain’t perfect, but it works.

3) Convince someone else it is their idea.

This is manipulative and should be avoided. But if you must, it does work. And it is clearly plan C. And if you are executing plan C either your communication is poor (see “1” above) or you didn’t integrate “2” with “1” above. Or maybe you just have a bad management team. But if you must, here goes.

Find a manager or a “chosen one” among the employees. Take a slightly similar idea or remark they made and emphasize it to make them think the primary idea is their idea. Then reinforce it. Whenever you mention that change it is

“I really like Tracy’s idea to improve the warehouse systems and improve on-time delivery for our customers.”

– this worked for me because I didn’t care who got credit. I wanted my employees working in an efficient system. I owed that to them. If my employees were happy who got credit for the idea was irrelevant to me.

If enough awesome stuff happens AROUND you some of the glory gets applied to your personal brand regardless. So get over your ego and give others credit even if you think you guided them to the point. And isn’t it possible they were already headed that way and your reinforcement just pushed them over? Listening for thoughts aligned with your idea might break YOUR bad habit of not listening too. So, good for all, right?

In modern times with programs like Google Desktop or Copernic, I’d probably search my emails until I found one from a higher up that made a salient point along the same lines and use that as my launching point. And to be fair, quite possibly that executive DID have the idea and the company (YOU!) didn’t execute on it. Regardless, get in front of the cart, give credit to the exec if she is ego driven, and start pulling in the same direction.

Again, who cares?  You get no credit, but the company and therefore you benefit.

But to be clear. Using this method in anything other than as a last resort will out you as a manipulative bastard and is a CLD. I recommend you focus on (1) and add a few quotes (2) in your arguments for greater persuasive power.

From the CEO perspective.

If you are close minded in your youth, stop reading now. But let me flip this around and point out that you may not be the only person with a brain and the higher ups may not be fools. So here goes.

Q: What advice would you give me, a high-energy, optimistic, and idea-generating young guy, operating in a inefficient, bureaucratic, and change-resistant large corporate company?

1) Listen

Leaders got there because people are willing to follow them. They are usually right. They inspire confidence. Sadly this can also lead a leader to think their ideas are always the best. They aren’t. Frequently the person closest to the customer has the best data and therefore may make better decisions or have better ideas than you. So listen. Listen carefully and don’t just “hear” the idea, but be sure you “see” the employee and truly “see” what they are proposing.

Take the time. Be respectful. And listen at a level that causes you to almost wince at the intensity. This is hard for me. So I work at it. I try hard to be Mindful.

The exception is if you know an employee has not studied, worked with, has no domain knowledge, and they are emphatically arguing a point they know nothing about (ie haven’t done their homework) then perhaps listening isn’t a good use of your time. Remember, they aren’t your only employee so your time is valuable. The idea might be good but the employee can’t express it.

A derivative of listening is to TELL EMPLOYEES HOW TO TALK TO YOU. Be explicit. For example, I like facts. I tell employees this right up front so I don’t get a fully wishy-washy this-might-work-kind-of-hug-a-thon email. But even if they don’t express the idea perfectly, I still make sure I focus on listening. That is a HUGE part of my job. And it’s fun. It is awesome when you find a diamond in the rough who is willing to take risks within your own ranks. It is truly humbling. And it starts with the leader’s obligation to listen.

2) Second – hire on attitude and intelligence.

A person with the right attitude can learn. It sounds funny, but do NOT hire on skill. Skill is over rated and can be learned. Yes there are exceptions for people who have put in their 10,000 hours of mastery of a subject and those people are very valuable. But if some applicant has 50 hours of learning in technology X you are best to ignore it. 50 hours is insignificant. 50 hours is little more than a week and they might have had a bad teacher. 50 hours of learning and they have a “great idea” and it is probably crap. Maybe not, but probably. Skill is over rated.

No, you should evaluate hires on attitude and intelligence. (And ethics, but ethics are baseline so lets assume evil people are out from the beginning.) Young employees don’t get this. They feel you should hire skills first. But if I wasn’t prevented from discussing HR issues about former employees, I could show them the trail-of-tears of promising people who knew technology but  didn’t truly understand the client comes first. Their attitude sucked and it ruined any advantages of their “skills.” Keep toxic people OUT of your company. If they sneak in, fire them fast.

OK, so you’ve hired on attitude and intelligence. Now you have people with the possibility of a decent canvas. In six months, you are wrong. Yup. About half of these folks will start saying things like “we’ve always done it that way” after a mere six months. Yes really. They were “open minded” during the transition, got a partial view of the company, locked on to either a bad process, or a process that needs to change and they fight letting go. First have them read Who Moved My Cheese. Then, sadly, educate or terminate if they can’t adapt.

I have never said  “gee, you know, I should have waited a few more months to terminate that guy who is pissing everyone in the company off with his refusal to change, his negative attitude and snide remarks.” Nope. Get the bad eggs out NOW. I don’t care if they are profitable for you as an individual. A strong leader must be willing to terminate their top salesperson if that salesperson doesn’t live up to the company vision, mission, values and honor code. The collateral damage is greater than what they bring in.  Get the negative-nelly’s out and your profit WILL go up. Maybe not this month, but it WILL go up when the bad karma is gone.

2) Understand that Change is Risk

You now have just the good eggs. Good.  Yet they still resist and fear change. That is human nature. And it is HEALTHY. Remember that change is risk and if our ancestors all decided that storing water in lead pots was a good idea we’d all have lead poisoning and crooked spines. Change is risk. It is healthy and natural for people to resist risk. Thus it is up to you the leader to make the case. THIS IS YOUR JOB AS A LEADER.  If this fails, it is your fault.

As far as convincing people, younger employees have the most energy but also have a lot of trouble with change. While they think they are more flexible, this has not been my experience. They do things differently, but are locked in to these “different” ways just as much as your team is locked into their “different ways.” Experienced people have seen change before and frequently adapt more willingly.

Millennials want to know EVERY reason for a change to be bought in. In fact they challenge you with

“OK, but just explain to me all of the reasons why we are doing this?”

The leading “OK” means they think it is a negotiation. And frankly to a CEO it is a request to brain dump 25 years of business experience so they can feel better about your decision. And they couldn’t consume the info that fast anyway. (Nero meet Morpheous. It took you a while to beat him in the arena.) This transfer of knowledge might be a great conversation while you pay them to listen to you for months on end, yet they don’t believe you anyway until they relearn the same lessons. That is no way to run a business. That is how to raise a child, but it isn’t how to make a profit.

As a leader you make the best call with the data you have. And you never have enough data. And the employees work for you. Sometimes you just have to be like Nike and say “Just do it.” The employees that can’t handle it will be the same ones who fold in a crisis anyway so best to have them gone too. (sorry, but it’s true.)

For a loyal employee, try saying  “Trust me on this one. Put your shoulder into it 100% and lets talk about it after the plan is  implemented. I believe you will see then.”

For the pups – try explaining. I typically try asking

“So you are pretty smart and a great employee now. Right? If  you were debating with  yourself,  current-you debating  you+20+years, who would be smarter?”

Of course they say “well, future me is just as smart but with more experience so they are probably right.”

Now, if I am feeling sarcastic, I say  “so just how amazingly much stupid-er must I have been at your age for me+20+years to be less knowledgeable than you right now?” I don’t mean it disrespectfully, and save this for the really  belligerent-you-are-thinking-of-firing-them employees. But it is a shock-treatment that just MIGHT save you a truly valuable employee who can’t see through the fog.  And YES, it is better to shock an employee with potential than lose them.

If you are a weak leader you can just let them walk. But I’d rather try hard to get them to see the light before letting them go. They have to fight for the company.  But YOU also have to FIGHT FOR THEM! And sometimes that includes tough-love I guess.

The bottom line   if you lose someone is that IT IS YOUR FAULT. You are the leader. You controlled the hiring. You controlled the training. You controlled the leadership. You controlled the management. The one thing you absolutely can NOT do is blame the employee. Nope. It is your fault. If you made the mistake you still have to fix it. But no excuses. LISTEN TO THEM! Who knows, the young bucks idea might be your next million dollar product!

Closing thoughts

This is a natural tension between younger employees, businesses, leaders and knowledge. It’s OK. The key for the employees and the leaders both, the one thing that will reduce this tension 90%, is to first master the art of listening.

Your question, to the young man who asked me, was specific. I gave you specific answers. But as I said at the top, my one wish is that all of us would listen to each other more. If we listen. If we “see you” and truly “hear” your idea, much of this tension dissolves like sugar in water. And you have indeed made a brilliant cup of lemonade.

a CEO and the productivity of the firm

“we found this very strong correlation between the number of hours spent at work by a CEO and the productivity of the firm” (defined as revenue per employee) “and also the profitability of the firm.” Every one percentage point rise in hours worked meant firm productivity rose by 2.14 percentage points.

How Many Hours Should You Work

Ramsay Gillman Obituary


Ramsay Gillman, born in Houston, Texas on the 1st of February 1944, the son of Frank and Lula Gillman, died on Friday, the 3rd of June in his home in Houston. He was preceded in death by his father, mother, and brother, Barton Gillman. He is survived by his beloved wife and companion of 35 years, Stevie Gillman, daughter, Stacey Gillman Wimbish and her husband, Frank; son, Jason Gillman and his wife, Brittany; and son, Christopher Gillman. Grandchildren include Grace Wimbish, Frankie Wimbish, Jace Gillman and Cavan Gillman.

At the time of his death, Ramsay was serving as Chairman of the Board of the Gillman Companies, one of the largest privately held automobile dealership groups in the country.

The son of a pioneer automobile dealer, Ramsay began his automotive career working in the parts department of his father’s Pontiac dealership in downtown Houston. After attending the  General Motors Dealer Management Institute and other specialized schools, he became an authorized dealer in 1967.
Ramsay served as a Director for the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) from 1989 through 1999. He was elected as President of NADA in 1997. During his years as a Director, Ramsay was a member of the NADA Industry Relations Committee, the NADA Regulatory Affairs Committee and was Chairman of the NADA Government Relations Committee in 1993 and in 1999. At the time of his death, Ramsay was serving as a Trustee for the NADA Charitable Foundation and for the NADA Dealers Election Action Committee.

Ramsay served as President of the Houston Automobile Dealers Association and Vice President of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. In 1984, Ramsay was appointed Vice Chairman of the Texas Motor Vehicle Commission by Mark White, then Governor of Texas and served for 3 years. At the time of his death he was serving as a board member of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles appointed by Rick Perry, Governor of Texas.

Ramsay received the 1996 Sports Illustrated All-Star Dealer Award, presented by the American International Automobile Dealers Association, for his lifelong contribution to the automotive business and commitment to numerous charitable organizations.

In 1997, the State of Texas House of Representatives passed House Resolution No. 350, officially commending Ramsay for his “outstanding achievements” and years of dedication to the State of Texas, the automobile industry, his community, and charitable organizations. In 2009, The Texas Automobile Dealers Association honored Ramsay with the lifetime achievement Automotive Legends Award.

Charitable organizations that receive support from the Gillman family include the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Youth Scholarship Program, the Fort Bend County Women’s Center, which provides shelter for abused women and their children, the Earning by Learning Program, which rewards young children for reading books, the Ronald McDonald House, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Sickle Cell Association.

Ramsay was an exceptional storyteller, always with a moving or humorous tale for every occasion. He lived life over the top, was a true friend, a great mentor, and enjoyed every phase of living. An expert golfer, ardent outdoorsman, an extraordinary fisherman and proficient hunter, he packed over 100 years of living in the 67 years we were privileged to enjoy his companionship and company.

A Celebration of Ramsay’s remarkable life is to be conducted at eleven o’clock in the morning on Wednesday, the 8th of June, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Road in Houston, where the Rev. Peter Miller, Pastor of Caring Ministries, is to serve as the officiant.

For those desiring, in lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions in Ramsay’s name may be directed to the Fort Bend Women’s Center, P.O. Box 183, Richmond, TX, 77406; the Houston Automobile Dealers Association Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 16550, Sugar Land, TX., 77496-6550; the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 9133, Tacoma, WA., 98490-0133.