Just Wait – Marissa Mayer Will Have Gen-Y Shouting Yahoo in 3 Years

Certainly there are plenty of Yahoo! employees (and freelancers) cursing Marissa Mayer’s name after her decision that no Yahoo! employee can work remotely.

At the risk of being ostracized by my fellow Gen-Y’ers, I’ll go on record as saying: it’s a smart move. It’s the exact thing Mayer needs to do right now to save that company.

What is one thing that new mothers are really good at that CEOs need in droves? Ruthless efficiency. That’s precisely the reason I like her decision.

Marissa Mayer may have just saved Yahoo and countless jobs for 3 more years and all it cost her was the temporary displeasure of all but one Gen-Y and, of course, every last one of Yahoo!’s remote workers.

Even so, my cheering of her decision probably comes as a surprise to those of you who’ve read Psychotic Resumes.

I’ve long been a proponent of working from home. From noisy chewers noshing at their desks (seriously – can you be productive next to a cow chewing in your ear?) to irritating managers who don’t give you any leeway to perform your work, I only found TWO office experiences I enjoyed. As a Gen-Y (Millennial), this is to be expected – a whopping 37% of us say we’d take a pay cut to get more flexibility at work.

It took me two short, awful years after graduation to amass 13 distinct jobs and an irrational loathing for working for anyone else. I can’t say I’d like to join Yahoo!’s ranks any time soon. I don’t even particularly like or use Yahoo’s services, besides Flickr.

But let me give you some food for thought: Yahoo!’s core market – they’re less than tech savvy, usually older, with established jobs . They’re not going to see this as a negative, in fact – it may instill loyalty in the brand for these old fogeys even more than it did before.

More than that, though – Yahoo! has been declining in relevancy with geeks (you know, the people blogging, tweeting, and writing for the media) for a long time. This is thanks in no small part to a huge, unfocused work force.

Remember Delicious? Gone. Flickr? Well – it’s precariously poised to take back some market share thanks to some mis-steps by Facebook and Instagram. Even so, without serious thought leadership and focus it’s unlikely that Flickr will survive as a household name to 2015. Yahoo.com email addresses are the bane of most web-savvy individuals everywhere as they ar the harbingers of spam as well as “you’ve got to be kidding me”-level tech help requests.

So why do I like the decision to kick the remote workers to the curb? Much like Nicholas Carlson points out – Marissa Mayer has found a work-around to announcing layoffs. There are plenty of remote-working lazy asses – folks who clock-in and turn off. While productivity for some folks does turn way up at home, it’s just not universally true.

Rather than a long, arduous process of figuring out who your best, most committed Yahoos are, Marissa made the choice crystal clear. If you’re committed to Yahoo, no matter what, you’ll stick around. Granted, she’s going to lose a LOT of really good (if not ‘in for life’) employees who work from home. Her memo was also pretty staunchly anti-family (“don’t wait around for the cable guy if you can help it”) – but it will balance out in the long run. To me, this sounds like a shot across the bow to the unproductive “sick-time abusing” employees of any kind.

Moreover, this is most likely a temporary inconvenience that most folks will forget about by next week. If Chick-Fil-A is still shilling chicken sandwiches while making $2m in donations to anti-gay groups after the whole controversy, I’d say this whole stunt with Yahoo! will blow over.

Not only will it blow over, but Mayer will be poised to make a miraculous change of heart once the dead weight has been shed from Yahoo’s ranks. She’ll be in the position to offer her best and brightest employees some additional benefits.

All the dedicated Yahoos have to do is wait for the pendulum to come back around to “OK, if you’re really good, you can work from home” and stick out their obnoxious cud-chewing cubicle neighbors in the meantime. Be strong. Noise canceling headphones help!

Mayer has made an unpopular decision, for sure – one that will cost her some Gen-Y loyalty in the short run. In the long run? She’ll still be at the helm because Yahoo will still be in business rather than broke.

(Header Photo: Nom Nom Nom)

Let’s Get Real: This Economy Requires New Rules – Part One

In Fort Collins, we get a lot of trains these days.

They’re the kind of trains that take 10-15 minutes to move past – and we don’t have any tunnels or bridges or ways to get around them, really.

So, today – I’m heading down the main thoroughfare and traffic stops. Not for 10 or 15 minutes.

It stops for 45 minutes.

was on-time for a 9 AM meeting, when suddenly I wasn’t. Now, don’t worry about me – I had plenty of fun practicing for my big moment on Season 8 of Glee.

In case you’re wondering: I’ll be playing a run-away Priest, singing the only song left in the universe that they won’t have sung yet: Jewel’s Who Will Save Your Soul – belting it out while holding up a boombox outside of Quinn Fabray’s window.

Where was I? Oh yeah: the train. held hostage. an. entire. city. 

The only problem: there wasn’t a train. The crossing guard had malfunctioned. And for 45 minutes, we sat and waited for the train.

And the only thing folks could do was sit there and wait. And fume. And check their watches. And practice their Glee auditions to the dismay and delight of their neighbors.

That was, until one enterprising individual decided to break what I’m sure is a whole slew of city, state, and federal laws, and lift the arms of the cross guard so cars could pass.

An entire city brought to its knees by one malfunctioning safety measure. An entire city rescued by someone willing to break the rules. He’s fucking Batman, got it?

The economy is a lot like what happened this morning with the train. It’s like a lot of us are just sitting around waiting for the train to come. So here’s the deal: we need to break a few rules. The old rules no longer apply, because they regulated a system that no longer exists.

Now before you get all sweaty, I am not encouraging you to riot, loot, plunder, or rob banks. None of that. Here is what I want you to do: I want you to stop thinking about all the shit you can’t do – all the things you know you can’t do. That job you can’t get. That promotion you can’t have. That project you just can’t finish. I want you to change all those can’ts to will.

Day after day – we can’t do the things we need to do, and it just keeps getting worse. Nothing changes until we convince ourselves that it’s possible (or, better yet – that we don’t know it’s not possible). It starts with you. Bruce Wayne had to make the choice to put on that mask and break the rules.

Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook give you a platform for mass publication. It’s easier than ever to create something meaningful – and only you can make the choice to use the tools you’ve been given.

What are you waiting for? The Bat Signal’s lit.

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Personal Branding makes you a Liar – The Tiger Woods Story

Please attempt to only be 30% of who you really are” is the lesson of Social Media Mullet, today’s article from Jessica Miller-Merrell on Brand-Yourself.com. “Business in the front and party in the back” is the basic premise, that your social media profiles should consist of 70% business interaction and 30% personal. She cites Tiger Woods as an example.

Let me ask you a question. Does the fact that Tiger was aiming for holes that weren’t on the course make him a less-proficient golfer? If I’m hiring him to speak on marriage, maybe I pause. If I’m hiring him to play golf (what he does), then that’s not a problem.

In today’s workplace, would you rather be an interchangeable cog, whose only real differentiation from someone else is how much you charge per year? Or would you rather be the piece so unique and intricate that your misshapen ass barely fits into the machine?

Jessica will be the first to point out that you can be passionate and professional and unique while using social media. Common sense dictates that unless you’re applying for a job as a dancer, stripper, or porn star, you don’t publish naked pictures online… and let’s assume for the most part that aside from the occasional stupid mistake, most people are “within reason”.

If you’re muting your personality to the point where 70% of your interactions are “strictly business related”, you’re not being the real you, now are you?

What happens if you only present 30% of yourself when you’re 100% douchebag? (bad for the company) Or 100% pure awesome? (bad for your job search)

Either way you are a liar, you’re ruining the economy and you’re an idiot. And you’re going to keep being a liar until you’re 100% you – the only you there is.

Tiger is a good example of personal branding gone wrong. He does what he loves, no qualms about it. Occasionally, he f*cks up. Personal Branding made it worse – he couldn’t be professional “Tiger” and honest, truthful “Tiger” at the same time. He’s still Gandhi on the golf course. Some day, he’ll remember who he is and that you can’t be sane and two people at once.

Your professional self is your personal self, one in the same, one person, growing over time.

What kind of company would want to hire someone they knew only 30% about? What kind of company would penalize you for having a complete, unabashed social media presence if you were a wizard at your profession? Why do we reward people who want to work for a company that only wants 30% of us?

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Many Hiring Managers are Shallow, Daft Pricks

Many hiring managers are shallow, daft pricks. If you don’t believe me, then believe Ladders – who surveyed 500 UK senior-level executives. I sometimes come across figures so startling that they raise my blood pressure to unsafe levels, and the UK-based Sirona Says blog run by @AndyHeadworth had something pretty damn startling. According to the 500 surveyed UK executives, how an applicant dresses for the interview is more important than how the actual interview goes.

For Men, the fashion-based interview killers are:

  1. No tie (52% say fire)
  2. No jacket (50% say fire)
  3. Chinos (50% say fire)
  4. Polo shirts (66% say fire)
  5. Jeans (82% say fire)
  6. T shirts (88% say fire)
  7. Leather jackets (70% say fire)

Leather Jackets and T-shirts are reasonable – no one should be so casual unless it’s requested. But no tie? No jacket? Polo shirts? Please. The expectations on women are even worse – check out those high %’s!

  1. Short skirt (60% say fire)
  2. Low necklines (95% say fire)
  3. Sports shoes (91% say fire)
  4. Dangling jewelery (99% say fire)
  5. Bare legs (94% say fire)
  6. Big shoulder pads – ala 80′s style – (97% of bosses say big shoulder pads are wrong for interview)

Okay, so Andy had one more figure from the survey which confirms my “daft prick” theory. “95% of interviewers said orange was an inappropriate colour to wear to an interview, with red (84%) and pink (83%) coming in closely behind orange.”

Pink is many women’s favorite color and, to my knowledge, has never been considered “not businesslike”. If it’s good enough for the First Lady, it’s good enough for a freakin’ job interview. Not to mention pink is increasingly promoted as an alternate to white in Men’s fashion.  Red has always been a color associated with confidence, something which is important to demonstrate on an interview. You’re telling me that 83-84% of you morons would think less of a brilliant prospective employee for wearing pink or red? Moreover, if a woman shows bare leg, as opposed to wearing tights, 94% of you would turn her away?

Time the hell out, you spoiled, soft-brained, suspender-wearing morons.

Are you really so shallow that the best loser wearing the “perfect suit and tie” will get a job over a more qualified, better suited, better matched, but less fashionable prospective? This is why our economy SUCKS. This is why only 20% of 2009′s graduating class got jobs after applying. This is why 71% of those under 30 want to flee their current jobs when the economy recovers. When the “Best dressed moron” gets a job over someone who is better suited to the job, your company loses and good people get disheartened and go jobless. Your company languishes, destitute while the more qualified, yet un-hired prospect wastes more productive time appealing to the “better natures” of other daft pricks.

Screw you, corporate world.

You want the economy to recover? Let’s start simple. Stop looking down on people for what they wear – I’d take a talented hobo dressed in soiled clothing ANY DAY over a well-dressed, but arrogant know-nothing Harvard business grad. I’d take an artsy, hippie-styled graphic artist in thrift-store clothing who would fit the position better over a suit-and-tie designer with 20 years experience and an excellent resume. Dress codes encourage conformity – conformity discourages creativity – no creativity = no innovation, growth, or profitable future.

Every business must catch up and realize that shallow, vapid lusting over well-dressed candidates at the expense of better-suited but less fashionable candidates has facilitated our current economic problems.  Until then, we’ll keep on putting our talents to use at more enlightened companies where the hiring managers aren’t shallow, daft pricks.

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Unemployment Recap – I guess I’m a lifeguard.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the people I look up to… specifically Captain James T. Kirk.

James T. Kirk does not believe in the no-win scenario… and for the last 23 years of my life, neither have I.  No situation has been so desperate that there was no way out of it.  I learned by watching Star Trek at a young age that you can always win, but it all depends on your definition of winning.

Kirk was also able to laugh at himself and get through situations with a modicum of humor – also one of my guiding principles.  Which is why I wanted to share with you my job search results.

When you file for unemployment, you are *required* to create a job-searcher profile with the local unemployment services office.  Mine shows my skill as a computer programmer, marketing, and  audio engineering.  The ONE and ONLY job they found which matches my profile?

Lifeguard.

April’s numbers for the state of Colorado put us at near 8% unemployment.  Nation-wide, we’re almost at 9% unemployment.

I’ve heard somewhere that perseverance is one step away from desperation.  I haven’t gotten to desperation mode yet.  You’ll know if I do.

Last week I made the decision to pull out my IRA so that I could pay the bills.  This wasn’t an easy decision, but I had planned on having more time than I do now.  It seemed like the logical thing to do, considering that unemployment doesn’t seem to be working very well for me.

I had been trying for a week to contact the unemployment office after re-opening my existing claim from this time last year.  After two weeks of busy signals and a two-hour hold, I finally got through.  They told me that my claim had to be updated, which could take anywhere between 5-10 weeks before I get paid.  What’s worse, since my claim is almost a year old, the money I was entitled to goes away in July.  More than that, if I’m still unemployed in July I will have to file a new claim, which will take an additional 5-10 weeks from when I file it and be for an uncertain amount.

I’m not going to wait around for that.  I will not sit by with my hands open waiting for a payout.  My plan is to make an honest living before June ends.

I’m going to find a position in my career or build up my own business before this becomes a bigger problem.

If all else fails, I guess I could always go into life-guarding.

When Dishonesty Is Helpful

I hate white lies.

Dishonesty – especially dishonesty in business – is usually bad form.

But there are times when lies of omission can be helpful.  A lie of omission is one in which you leave out an important fact or detail.

Lies of omission can be helpful in business – for example, when you are looking for another distributor or another business partner.  Lies of omission keep information from people who don’t need to have it at the moment.

A lie of omission can also save you from awkward conversations with your boss or co-worker.  If a co-worker asks how much money you make, for example.  Or if your boss asks an overly-personal question that you’d rather avoid.

It’s always best to be honest in your dealings – if your current business partner is not meeting your needs, they might be able to turn it around if you give them the chance.

But, when you sense that the negatives of sharing the information outweigh the positives of sharing it, you might be better off omitting the truth.

Looking for a Job? Look Harder…

Times are tough and jobs are sparse.

There seems to be two distinct lines of thought about what the unemployed should do.

One line of thought says, “The Spice Must Flow” – in other words, go out and get any job you can that will keep the roof over your head and food on the table.

Another line of thought says, “Every Person Has A Calling” – that is, you should get a job you like since that’s the job you’ll be best at.

My personal thought on this is that if you take on a job you don’t like, even if it pays well, you’re going to bring yourself and the company a whole lot of hurt.

First, the company has to pay to establish your benefits – and they have to pay for a month after you leave.  More than that, if you qualify and participate in COBRA (a program to continue your benefits after you’ve been laid off/leave the company) the company will pay for a portion of those benefits or at least partially share in the cost increase for any healthcare you receive (in later years).

Second, the company has to pay the costs to train you.  This is time and productivity lost on their part – especially if you don’t like the job or take longer to train for a position that could have been better acclimated to than someone else.

Finally, lets say you are completely bored with your job and end up working only 90% as hard as you could have.  The company is losing that productivity from you – you’re, in essence, cheating the company because you chose poorly.  Even if you swear that you’re going to do the job, do your best, give 100% – you’re eventually going to slip.

Not to mention, if you’re dissatisfied with the main task you’re responsible for, you’re more likely to make mistakes and less likely to correct mistakes when you make them.  Middle school dance lessons, anyone?  We’re not a nation of ballroom or square dancers.

You might feel differently when you have to buy ramen noodles rather than the spaghetti noodles at the grocery store, but you will most definitely like your job and be happier with your life.

Spoilers: You’ve Got Your Vulcan in my Romulus… 3 Consequences of the new Star Trek Movie

***Spoiler Warning***

I went to go see the new Star Trek movie – twice.  Once on a regular screen and once on an IMAX screen – and I loved it both times.  As a Trekkie, I was definitely satisfied – but as a hobbiest Star Trek writer, I was a little disturbed. Continue reading Spoilers: You’ve Got Your Vulcan in my Romulus… 3 Consequences of the new Star Trek Movie

Packing in the Projects – Millennial Superhero Speaking, Podcasting, Networking

It’s been a crazy couple of days!

Before I was laid off, I had purchased a Flip Ultra with the plan of making a “Superhero” series of videos in the style of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.  My superhero name – Nick The Four-Eyed.  My “costume”? The WiFi shirt from ThinkGeek.  The only thing standing in my way at the moment: scripting.  I don’t like making one-offs, so “Nick The Four-Eyed” is going to be a two-part series, at least.

I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll be singing.  If I do, it’ll probably sound something like William Shatner’s version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (see the YouTube video at the end).

I created a topic for Ignite Fort Collins – and my topic, “Digital Frontiers – Psychotic Resumes and WTF Marketing” was voted on pretty heavily.

It’ll be a great topic if it’s chosen – how to turn yourself into a digital gunslinger and brave the “digital frontier” of social media and the internet.  Sounds like a goofy topic but I hope to make it really funny.  I’d really like to get a millennial presence at the event and anyway, public speaking has always been something I enjoy.

Dan Schawbel also graciously accepted my invitation for an interview for thePsychotic Resumes podcast.  We talked for about 15 minutes on his new book, Me 2.0, what personal branding is, and what graduating college students should focus on.  It ended up being a really good discussion, which I will put together in podcast form and publish for Wednesday.

I had the opportunity to meet with Amanda from DolphinFeet this week.  We had a great time talking about life, jobs, social media and general nerdery.  I’m looking forward to teaming up with her for some branding-based shenanigans!

Last night I went through all two hours of audio auditions for new Star Trek: Dimensions parts.  We’ve selected the players for the new parts and I’m very excited to have *real* voices to complement the ones I had in my head.  At least now the dialog sounds much less creepy. Ha!

Lots of fun projects to work on in my “spare time”… including my Twitter eBook, which I hope to finish by the 20th.