Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Should you tell the whole truth on your resume?

I interviewed a sales candidate yesterday who presented me with an interesting question - about whether he should have put an aspect of his life on his resume.

The "aspect" in question is that he is a nationally ranked triathlete. If this was you - would you have put it on your resume?

This came up in the interview when the candidate and I were discussing the culture at FirstRain and what it's like to work here. We work hard, but we also play hard and some of us like to find events to compete in together ... and the candidate had read this blog so he drew my attention to his interest in triathlons.

But at the same time he shared that he had had advice from friends not to put his interest on his resume - because a prospective employer might think the training would take up too much time and distract him from his work.

In the FirstRain case, being a traithlete can't hurt - and frankly I think winning in sales takes focus, discipline and mental toughness - some of the very same characteristics it takes to complete an ironman or a marathon so it's a positive to me.

And in the general case candidate's outside activities rarely hurt their chances with me. You can learn a lot about someone when you understand their passions and what drives them to perform - whether it is coaching their kids soccer team, rebuilding old cars, or running up the side of mountains. So I like to know color about a candidate if s/he is willing to share because it helps me assess character and individual's strengths and weaknesses.

Within reason of course. There are some things I also don't want to know...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fifty is just a number... isn't it?

Forty is the new thirty sounded like marketing, but marketing you could believe. Fifty is the new thirty-five (as my friend said me to last night) sounds like snakeoil salesmanship. Somehow fifty is not just a number, it’s different. It’s new uncharted territory.

As I grew up my father used to tell me that your fifties are the minefield of your life. Since, like any headstrong kid, I rarely listened I now find myself, on the morning of my 50th birthday, thinking about what he really meant.

He’s right in that there are new, dangerous mines all around. Maybe they were around all along and I was just too busy working and raising a family to notice; maybe I can see them now because I am (in theory) more evolved and able to handle what they mean. Either way, I see them now more clearly than ever and I have to decide what to do and think about them.

The mines come in many different shapes, sizes and strengths in their ability to wound me. Elderly beloved parents getting ill. Dear friends my age fighting - and sometimes losing to - cancer. Children leaving home (wait... is this bad?). The road warrior workstyle not being as easy as it once was. Facing serious illness for the first time and learning to live with it. More than one pair of close friends getting divorced as the husband leaves the wife for a younger woman. The endless, relentless pull of gravity on my body and wrinkles on my neck. And the many unspoken fears that come with now knowing I am not a vampire and so sadly not immortal.

So how to deal? Clearly only a healthy dose of humor and self-depreciation is going to get me through this.

My eldest leaving for college will mean I get my kitchen back – hurray! And won’t find dirty laundry on the bathroom floor every day. I ask my husband will I miss her – he laughs and says “yes, because you’ll forget what the kitchen looked like tonight”.

There is no funny way to get through losing family and friends, except to be sure to remember all the incredibly ridiculous things we did together and how funny they were at the time. And to hug my parents tightly every time I see them.

The aging body is indeed a humorous thing. It’s a tragedy so profound it turns into a comedy. Laughter is the only cure. Creams, injections, workouts, hair color all hold it at bay but we are like King Canute on the shore… the sea is going to come in no matter what we do. We worship youth in our society, especially in women, My male, single friends prefer younger women, one of my girlfriends turning fifty this year told me women become invisible over fifty. But not every woman right? Not women who work and play hard, wear bright colors and laugh most of the time -- surely? I know my close friends (ladies you know who you are) are not invisible so I’ll follow their lead with a smile and a sense of humor and red somewhere on my body.

I feel great about turning fifty really. Every minute with the people I love is so sweet. I am here for my friends as they struggle with divorce and loss. Every new wrinkle means I am still alive. And when all else fails I’ll just go out and dance.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The comedy of elegant product design - Apple vs. Microsoft

One of my team sent me this hilarious video on how Microsoft would have designed the packaging on the original 2005 iPod.

This is something we deal with every day in the design of FirstRain. We strive continuously to simplify, make our product (both visible and invisible aspects) more elegant and it is an ongoing, never ending discipline. There is Great Art in making something very complex (like a high quality digital music device and music store - or intelligent business search) deceptively simple. It is a wonderful thing to see.

And this is not something Microsoft is any good at!

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