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A life worth living

01/19/2011

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A few weeks ago now I heard a news story that has been weighing on my mind ever since.  Something that I can’t really get my head around. I was going to write about it before but I couldn’t….I still can’t….really understand the meaning and the implications.

The Department for Work and Pensions, based on the Office of National Statistics data, has suggested that the number of people reaching 100 is ever-increasing, to the point that 1 in 5 people could become a centenarian. The initial instinct is to feel positive….I mean that is good right? We are all more likely to live longer….and none of us really want to die.

But this is where I get stuck.  Is it good?

I just don’t think so.

A little while ago I was talking about grand parents with my kids, the boy told me that his best mate had never met one of his. Apparently she was too “confused”.

I had two wonderful and lovely grandmothers. Both were different, both were kind and both were loved by me from the bottom of my heart.  One lived a long and relatively healthy life before dying in her 90s. The other…..well sadly…..very sadly she too became “confused”.  Like many, many people she developed dementia.

To this day I feel the guilt about not being “able” to go and see her in the later stages of her….illness? disease? deterioration?  The fact is, the fact was that she was with us, but she was no longer with us.

But once again and as is my way, I digress.  The thing that I don’t understand is this, is living longer….is living to 100 a good thing? If we accept the dream about us being fit and healthy until the day we die then ok but what about:

– The pressures on the health service

– The costs to tax payers

– The impact on families and friends

Do we want people to live forever? Do we understand the implications for us socially, economically and emotionally?

And when…when does a life become………not worth living?

You never get a second chance…..

01/18/2011

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Chances are that if I meet you, I’ve decided within the first three minutes whether or not I’m going to like you.  Whether I thinkyou are someone who I want to talk to or not.

I probably should tell you that I take a load of time to try to get to know a person and that I believe everyone has some good inside. Maybe that is true, but frankly I don’t have the time to look for it.  In fact scrub that, I don’t believe that and if you do, you probably also believe that people ARE our greatest asset, that we ARE customer focussed and that packets of Maltesers ARE the same size that they were in the 70s. You’d also be a deluded numbnut that should have your  rose-tinted spectacles removed and shoved so far up your backside that the arms reach to the back of your tonsils.

First impressions are pretty much, if not always correct. I have never regretted not getting to know someone who I didn’t like, nor in most cases (other than you) have I regretted getting to know anyone that I did like. Because guess what…..I’m normally right.  Not only do I choose my friends like that, I also recruit like that. No competency based fuckwittery has ever proved more reliable than instinct and that is a FACT.

Does that make me an arrogant judgmental man? No, it makes me human.

The last laugh

01/17/2011

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Today is officially Blue Monday….the most depressing day of the year, where more people seek counselling than others.  You have no money, you’ve failed on all your new year resolutions (which were a crock of shit anyway), you’re fatter than you want to be, your boss is an arse, it is pissing down and in my case you have a hangover that if it were an earthquake would be off the Richter scale…..

The answer my friends? Stick two fingers up and tell Blue Monday to jog on. Laugh in the face of adversity, stand up (those that are capable) and be counted…..be a man……or woman/boy/girls or transgender like person who gets stared at on the train…..

With this in mind, I give you the best work place related joke ever….

An employee with a terrible history for taking time off phoned in again on a Monday morning, “I’m sorry, but I’ll not be able to come in today…….I’m too sick.”

On hearing this his exasperated boss could barely conceal his anger and retorted in a rage, “just how sick are you?”

“Well” the employee sighed, “I’m in bed with my sister!”

I bet you’re smiling now…….

The disposable consultant

01/13/2011

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The Mafia have known for years that some people are expendable.  You want something done with high risk? Send someone who you don’t mind losing. The military of course had cannon fodder…the people it was accepted that were likely to die. Businesses? Well we have consultants.

Difficult project or programme? Something high risk? A job to be done on someone or something?

Get a consultant.

Then when it all goes badly, as it inevitably will (because you don’t know what you’re doing and neither do they), you blame it on them, turf them out and move on to the next one. Simple.

And of course on the back of this the consultant gets their pound of flesh, they articulate the value that they added and go on to fleece work with the next client.

There is no value add. There is no upside. There is no win-win.

There is only the pointless fuckwittery of the onward march of the idiot HRD and his best friend the disposable consultant.

And all because…..

01/12/2011

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I reckon I probably spend too much time blogging (hold the jokes until later) given that I don’t do this for money.  Some people play golf, some people knit and some people dress up as babies. Me? I blog.  But why? That was the question that I was asked this week.  I should emphasise at this point that it wasn’t in a desperate and pleading way, “oh why, oh why, oh why do you blog????” but a genuine question.

Why do I blog?

There are a number of reasons, but mainly because I like to write.  The creative endeavour. I realise there are people out there who write for a living and who, if they read this, would want to punch me until I resembled damp quinoa. But that is the difference isn’t it? This is a hobby. In the same way the amateur golfer will never make the Ryder Cup squad.

Then there is the fact that I like to be read. Yup, I said it.  I could give you some malarkey about doing it for myself and not caring whether I had one or one thousand views a day. But that would be crap.  What do I do when I log on to the internet? a) check the comments b) check the visits. Because that is the affirmation that I sometimes need.

If that makes me weak or pathetic, then I’ll take that and wear it with a smile.

But that is just me and I’m interested in two things here. From the bloggers, I’d like to know why you blog, why you started and what is important to you? And from the readers who may also be bloggers, why do you read blogs, what do you look for in a blog and what makes you convert a visit to a comment?

If you were going to give one piece of advice to a would be blogger what would it be?

PS. I know that makes three, I call it HR math…..

Air heads

01/11/2011

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So I know I’m not the most up to date of souls when it comes to all things popular culture.  I’ve never seen the Sound of Music, I have a one man campaign to never EVER watch Titanic and whilst I’ve got Avatar waiting to be watched, I have no overwhelming desire to do so.  That said, over the holiday period I did watch “Up in the air” mainly I think because it contained George Clooney and Mrs HRD was having a moment.

What I didn’t realise as I sat down to watch the film was that the plot or sub plot, or in between plot (as in the thing that it wasn’t really about, but was about)….if you follow my drift…..was  HR management. Now I’m making an assumption that most people have watched the film and know the story, but then again….looking at some of you I’m thinking the last film you watched was maybe Rollerball or in your case…..yes you…no, not you….behind…yes….in your case I’m not sure you actually know what a film is.

Anyway, George Clooney flies around America laying people off as some sort of outside sub contracted redundancy making machine. And I was agog. So maybe this is my naivety, maybe I’m living in some hermetically sealed bubble, but the fact that anyone would actually do that astounds me. (NOTE: OK, so I know this is a film, but people actually seem to offer this service).

I’ve not, to date, been made redundant but I have, sadly, had to be present when a lot of people have been told that they are losing their jobs.  I have a very simple approach: If you are the person that would be responsible for telling that individual that they would be getting a pay rise, you are also the person responsible for telling them they are losing their job. For me it is a matter of common decency. In the past I’ve had managers tell me that it should be HR’s job, my response, “so when someone in my team is made redundant, who tells them?” And of course it is, and should be, me.

I’m not sure whether this idea of outsourcing is a new idea, an old idea, a niche idea or a growing trend. Whatever it is, I advise against it.  People will bang on about the reputational impact but I think it is simpler than that.  Whatever happens, the people who are leaving your company are that, they are people. As such they deserve to be treated with honesty and respect and if you don’t have the balls to look them in the eye and tell them the bad news yourself, then quite simply, you’re pond life.

I seated ugliness on my knee, and almost immediately grew tired of it

01/10/2011

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I wanted to write about beauty. I wanted to write about beauty because I write about ugly so much that sometimes when I sit down at the keyboard that is how I feel and think and see.  Ugliness just comes easier.

 The fact that I’m in London at stupid o’clock and the commuter train being cut from 8 to 4 carriage, my wife not being around to answer the phone this morning when I rang, kids making a racket in the house all weekend and fears about future security and prosperity and dealing with the incredible uncertainty of life.

But……

If I stop. If I turn and look over my shoulder I can see the most amazing sunrise over the Thames. When I phoned, I spoke to my beautiful little girl who makes my heart ache with love.  Yesterday I listened as my son and his friend laughed like lunatics in the lounge, a sound that brings warmth to any home. In the evening, I sat by an open fire and discussed our “big project” and our future with my wife and partner of 15 years.

Nothing is certain. Nothing is forever.

Everything is real.

Sometimes you just have to be ok with that and see the beauty.

I can guarantee you’ll find it.

It is easier to play around with a man’s wife than with his clichés

01/06/2011

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Would you choose a driving instructor who’d never passed their test?

Or a vocal trainer who was half deaf?

How about a vegetarian butcher?

An English monolingual French teacher?

So why the fuck would I as an HR professional with 15 years experience in some of the biggest companies within their fields take advice on HR from people who have done no more than sit on their spotty arses and profess to be experts in everything that I do to put food in the mouths of my children? And why the fuck would you?

Ok, so some of these people have recruited one or two people….or they’ve maybe tweeted once or twice about people….or they may even have been a person at some point…but do they understand HR? How many Union negotiations have they done? How many strikes have they managed? How many bonus schemes have they designed? How many RemCos have they presented at? How many times have they sat down and told a person that they would be a) made redundant b) be dismissed c) have to retire d) not be eligible for PHI?

How many times have been the lone voice in the room, rather than the cheerleader in the corner?

The internet and social media give a platform to a whole host of ill-informed, under educated, over inflated egos to spew forth their nonsense over subjects they know little or nothing about…and of course because they have “social media Klout” people listen to them and they are somehow allowed to spill forth their self aggrandizing, blinkered and pathetic views of a profession they know nothing about and will never understand.

So next time you tell me how to do my job, I’m going to tell you how to please your partner and what he or she really likes, the places they want to be touched, the fantasies that they have and the things that they want to do to send them through the roof……but they are too shy to tell you…..

You think I don’t know? Well you’re right and to suggest that I do would be insulting don’t you think?

Hold that thought……it might help you to understand what I mean….

Price, Price, Baby

01/05/2011

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All of sudden price is everywhere. I sit and watch the television and the adverts are Price Crunch, Price Crash, Smashing Prices, Price Slams and Prices we are going to tie you to a table and squeeze you until blood comes from your ears…..

So yesterday the Government increased VAT to 20%…for those of you that don’t know, VAT (Value Added tax) is basically a tax on the price of most consumer goods. And of course in response the retailers are all showing how they are reducing prices rather than increasing them whilst of course the brightest retailers HAVE been slowly increasing prices since the announcement of the changes so that at the application they can show they are holding or reducing prices. Don’t believe me? Bet you I’m right.

I’m not sure how much of this actually makes a difference to be honest. VAT has been at increasingly higher percentages over the years, 15%, 17.5% does 20% really change our attitudes? Short term maybe…medium term, consumers will just suck it up and get on with it. I really don’t think we’re are that price sensitive anymore.

So I know times are tough and I know that we are all watching what we do, but is price the all determining factor? I just don’t buy it (geddit?).  We have income and we have out goings and we make decisions based on a set of values that we hold….we place them in value of importance to us. Each and every person is different.

Of course if something increases by 25%, by 50% we take note….but a few pence here, a few cents there, the odd centime or deux do we really take notice? I don’t want to sound insensitive or arrogant…I know that I am luckier than many. I just think consumers are more savvy than just the price game.

We take a whole range of things into account….but maybe I’m wrong…..

Resolution Revolution

01/04/2011

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Happy new year, I hope this finds you well?

Have you made any resolutions? Less drink?  Less food?  More exercise? To find the perfect man? A cure for cancer?

Good on you. I mean you’ve only failed to deliver against them every year of your miserable life, but still you persist…that my friends takes balls…..balls and a freakingly tiny brain.  Ask yourself why you are making a resolution….because it is New Year, right?  And that is what people do, right?

And then they FAIL.

Because it is a stupid, fuck-headed, naive and totally pointless thing to do.

If you have something that you want to change in your life, that you REALLY believe you need to take action on, something that is so important to you that you’ll break the shackles of habit and inaction then you will already have started to do it. You haven’t because either you don’t want to or you are just plain incapable of it.

I don’t blame you for that…..I don’t think it makes you weak. I think it makes you human. Humans are beautifully imperfect. And that is why we lemming like follow traditions that we know are pointless and absurd. The 1st of January is no different to any other day of the year. Resolutions made at New Year are statistically more likely to fail than those made at other points in the year, but hell everyone else is doing it so why don’t we?

You want my advice? If you’re ready to make a change, you’re ready regardless of the time of the year. If you’re not, don’t fall for the commercial pressure and the dumb witted group think. Wait until you are, wait until you know what you want to achieve and you have the resources to do so. Not only will you feel more like you own the change, you’re more likely to stick at it and be successful.

And after all….that is the whole point of it, right? Or am I missing something…..?