Author Archives: Ann Spoor

The Dojo is coming, the Dojo is coming!

We are getting ready for our Fall and Winter sessions of CoderDojo and wanted to bring you up to date on some changes and additions. We had an opportunity to meet the co-founder of CoderDojo, Bill Laio, early this summer and wow, it was great! Bill launched CoderDojo in Ireland a few years ago and it has grown explosively all around the world. We learned so much in our morning with Bill and are going to be more closely following the model that the rest of the world is following so we can grow and be more effective in helping your kids.

  • CoderDojo Denver begins the Fall Sessions on September 19.
  • The Dojo at the Denver Public Library will remain and continue to hold classes on Saturdays from 11-1.
  • We are adding a second Dojo on Saturdays from 1-3pm at Regis University (52nd and Federal).
  • There are a few VERY IMPORTANT changes to the format for CoderDojo to follow the Dojo’s being held around the globe, which will enable us to grow and be more effective.
    • Dojo’s will be held every Saturday
    • Within the CoderDojo Movement there is a focus on community, peer learning, youth mentoring and self-led learning. So, rather than instructor led sessions, we are moving to peer to peer learning. The instructor lead portion of each Saturday will be minimized and kids will be learning from each other.
    • We will be started the kids out on CSS, HTML and Java Script. They can work at their own pace. There are no tests and no deadlines. Once they have gotten through these, they will start to work on their own projects. Every Saturday there will be a newbie table, so new kids can join the Dojo anytime with no pressure that they are behind.
    • We are combining the age groups. What they learned in Dublin and has been replicated all around the globe is that age doesn’t matter. Young kids are even mentoring the older kids.
    • A parent, guardian, grandparent, older sibling must stay. As Bill says, we are providing CoderDojo for free, but this isn’t a free ride. What he means by that is that in order for us to succeed, we need parents or guardians to get involved, help, organize pot lucks and hopefully help us grow by starting new Dojo’s around the Denver Metro area. A fun fact: the first Dojo in Dublin meets every Saturday and has an average of 200 kids in attendance. Parents have started 30 more Dojos JUST in Dublin alone! So cool! Anyone can start one and we can help.
    • We need more mentors so if you are willing to donate your time, please let us know.
    • We also need donated items like laptops, arduinos and raspberry pi’s. Please email us if you can help!

See you at the DOJO!

GETTING BACK TO THE FACE TO FACE

Is the day of the face-to-face meeting dead?

It seems that so many people would rather email, text or tweet. I for one, am a fan of the old school face to face and when that’s not possible, a real-time, phone conversation.

It is way to easy to volley a shot via email or send a quick text. And, there are many circumstances where that is just fine. Examples:

Joe- “Will you be at the 2pm meeting today?

Ann- “Yes, see you then!”

Joe- “Have you had a chance to review my white paper?”

Ann- “Not yet but will do so this evening and get back to you.”

But when we are trying to make decisions, debate a topic, especially when it could be a harder conversation, when people don’t agree or there is a problem to be solved, face to face is critical! There is far too much context. Tone can be mis-construed. The list goes on and on!

I will always push for a real time, real live, meeting. Old school maybe but I’ll always be old school in this realm. I can text, tweet and email with the best of them but there is a time and place for everything!

Communicate Much?

Ahhh, communication. There are so many directions I could go with this post. I have my pet peeves like everyone and I am sure I make my fair share of mistakes so, I apologize to my Mom and all of my English teachers out there but, I digress. This isn’t a grammar lecture!

My thoughts today are on how to be warm and friendly without being too friendly before you’ve gotten to know someone. Or the opposite, being too stiff and formal even after you’ve gotten to know someone. The tone of communication is important and in today’s environment of social media communication, email included, there are blurred lines or at least the perception of blurred lines.

I’ve had 2 recent experiences on both sides of this coin. The first in response to a message I sent a potential candidate for a search we are conducting. When I first received this, I couldn’t decide if I should respond and if I did, how to respond. It read like this, “you are giving me everything, hunnie…” Was this a joke? What did it mean? So, being curious I messaged back to make sure this person didn’t accidentally respond to me rather than a BFF. Nope, it was meant to for me. The second response was almost as odd as the first.  First and second impression, well, hmmmm.

The second experience is with someone I met in person and thought I had gotten to know. Most times when I received an email from, they started with: “Dear Ann.” Now, I don’t know about you, but I find this really odd. In a cover letter with a resume attached to an unknown person, I have no issue with Dear so and so. Once you’ve gotten to meet someone and have gotten past the formalities, “Hi Ann” or “Hello Ann” or just “Ann” would be great.  When I receive a “Dear Ann” email, it’s very stiff, unfriendly and formal. It simply doesn’t feel right.

My advice is to avoid being overly familiar or casual with someone you don’t know. It’s a gray area and if you’re not sure, ask someone to read your email before you send it. Err on the side of being professional and with complete sentences. And, on the flip side, just don’t do “Dear Ann” if we’ve met, had a conversation or exchanged an email or two.

 

 

Were you worried about the Millennial workers? Don’t be!

I just returned from Loyola Marymount University graduation. The kids (they are actually young adults but I’ll always think of them as kids) I have gotten to know from the class of 2015 are not the people I have read about. I read an article not long ago that described them as “Needy, Entitled and Self Centered.” What??

The kids I know are incredibly motivated, hard working, and passionate. They want to make a difference in the world, make positive change and give back to their communities. I am absolutely inspired by them.

Do they want feedback? Yes, absolutely. They aren’t afraid to ask for it and they’ll expect it. I think we all want feedback but many of us don’t ask often enough and when we don’t get it, we just accept it. These kids aren’t afraid and they aren’t very patient. As hiring managers, I don’t see this as a bad thing. Let’s harness that energy, passion and desire to achieve.

These kids have also grown up in a world of mobile technologies and that world is only becoming faster paced and more immediate. They will expect us to operate in that same world. They are the ‘now’ customer. As an employee they will want the same ‘now’ access to information and data.

Self centered? I don’t see it at all. They care about so many issues. They are involved and curious. The majority of them donated hundreds of hours to local non-profits and some even created non-profits.

The out-going president of LMU, David Burcham, was the commencement speaker. Some were disappointed that the University didn’t select from the local celebrity community, until he started speaking. He was a great president and the students loved him. He was accessible and a terrific role model. He talked about not being cynical in a cynical world. I am not cynical about the future and what these kids will do to change the world we live in. I believe they will be great assets and great leaders.

Ann

LMU15 Hal Genna Paige

 

 

Who’s the Customer?

I’ve been thinking about the customer. Recently we worked on some roles that had a specific focus on customer experience. Customer experience means different things to different people and companies.

If you are a B2B company, your customer is a company. Right? Well, yes and no. You are providing a service or product to a company but there are many people and individuals who are buying into what you are selling. These people come from many parts of the organization. From the receptionist who takes your first call to the CFO who might ultimately sign the check. Forgetting about the receptionist and making a lousy first impression could be a deal killer.

If you are a B2C company, and you are selling anything from shoes to scissors to tablets, your customers are everywhere. Literally everywhere. You’re buying a smoothie from a college student working part time in the smoothie store. They’re a customer. The copier technician fixing your copier in the office. They’re a customer. A candidate you are interviewing. They’re a customer. Of course, there is the customer who walks into your store, that’s an obvious one.

So, what is a customer experience? I think that it is defined throughout your organization, by everyone who interacts with another human being. Is the culture you create, part of the organizational DNA and does everyone live and breathe it? It should show up in team meetings, vendor meetings, candidate meetings and in the user interface on the eCommerce website or customer portal. It should show up in the contract negotiations when you are working with a buyer or if you are a buyer, with the vendor.

We are all buyers and customers, everyday.

Talent Lattice was an invaluable partners with me, to prepare me to hit the ground running.  They found a great fit, not just looking to my background.  They had a special focus on my soft skills, understanding how my management style was a match to gently challenge the organizational culture.  Secondly, their coaching in the days leading up to my start date prepared me well.  I knew what to expect, what the biggest challenges would be, so I was prepared for success.  Most important, though, was the fact that I always looked forward to talking with them!  Throughout the process, from the initial cold call through post-hire follow-up, I enjoyed their company.  Keith Wildenberg,

Should You or Shouldn’t You – the headshot on LinkedIn

I am actually a little surprised that I am writing about this. But I continue to see people on LinkedIn with no headshot. Well, I don’t ‘see’ them, I ‘see’ a little gray shadow figure, pretend headshot. Is this a real person? Of course it is but why are people still resisting this?

I find that my eye goes to the profiles with the headshot and my eye skips over the ones with no headshot. I’m not looking for beauty, I just want to put a face with the name, get a glimpse of a personality. I can’t help it but I care less about the profiles with no face.

So, really, this is a no-brainer people. Put a picture up. It’s not hard. You can get a professional picture taken or have a friend or colleague take one with the camera we all carry around that also happens to make phone calls. Unless of course you are still carrying this around

Old-Cell-Phone-Douglas

Where Does Talent Acquisition Belong?

There is a groundswell of conversation around how to make Talent Acquisition more effective in the corporate culture. Does it belong to HR? It always has. After all it’s all about human capital and people. That’s the status quo. Does that make it right for business today and into the future? Let’s look at what Talent Acquisition does—

  1. Identify and source for people who fit the culture of an organization and have the right skills to enable them to be successful and grow within that organization now and into the future.  RESEARCH
  2. Sell those people on why they should join that organization. SALES and MARKETING
  3. Manage the process of interviewing and selection. ADMINISTRATIVE
  4. Manage relationships. This one falls into many categories but I put it into a SALES function of building trust.

The process of Talent Acquisition is all pre-employment. Once the candidate is on board, it’s all about Talent Management – HR.  But before they are on board, it’s mostly about selling. In order to be successful a recruiter must be able to FIRST understand the requirements of their business partner and SECOND be able to HUNT for the candidate, SELL them and CLOSE them. This process of selling and closing requires a great ability to build relationships and build trust.

Are your recruiting partners (either external or internal) great sales people?  By having Talent Acquisition part of HR are you as a company creating and fostering that great selling philosophy and style?  HR is process driven. Laws, regulations and rules drive decision making.

I believe that there is an argument to be made that Talent Acquisition should be a stand alone organization. Peers to their business partners. Peers to the HR organization. Talent is one of the biggest challenges most CEOs face. Competing for it and retaining it. Innovation is required. It’s a war out there! If it is one of the biggest challenges to growth and survival, keeping it boxed into HR doesn’t make sense in today’s hyper competitive climate.

Ann

“Talent Lattice was instrumental in helping us recently re-build our company with the very best talent for our organization.  They are persistent, creative and tenacious, even with those hard-to-fill positions in our unique industry.  Talent Lattice has very high standards, as do we, and they were able to understand and meet our expectations immediately. They function as true partners and I greatly look forward to working with them again!” Courtney Adams, former Director HR, Vantage Data Centers

My First Job: You are not the Boss of Me! Ummm, Yes I am.

It seems everyone is writing about their first job. I love these stories. We should be making all of our teenagers, pre-nagers, emerging adults read these stories. First, I’ll tell you my story. Then I’ll connect the dots.

I had my first real job when I was 16. I worked at a candy store in Manitou Springs, Colorado. We made cotton candy, hot dogs, served up pounds and pounds of Taffy, Toffee, Ice Cream and created health problems for people for years to come. Every evening, we cleaned the place, locked up and went home literally covered in sugar particles, sticky and smelly. To this day, I’m not much of a candy person and I HATE taffy. Side note: When my kids were in elementary school we had a school fair every year right before school ended. Games, booths, and the dreaded cotton candy machine. I always volunteered to make the cotton candy and relived the feeling of being covered head to toe in sugar by the end of the day. Ahh, the memories…I can’t believe anyone can eat that stuff! But I digress…

Cotton-Candy-300x195

I thought my bosses were pretty tough on me. I didn’t like it. I ended up quitting before the summer was over so I could take a vacation and go see my best friend who had moved to Southern California. What teenager doesn’t dream of the beach, boys, ocean, and let’s face it, a little freedom from home. My bosses were incensed because I quit early and I didn’t get it. I thought, it’s my life, and you aren’t the boss of me. Wow, what a teenage ego. I learned how to count change, learned how to serve up a beautiful ice cream cone and perfect swirl of cotton candy on a paper stick. I got to work on time and was an honest employee. What I hadn’t yet learned was that they depended on me to be there all summer. They were indeed ‘in charge’ and had built and run a successful small business. They were the boss of me and everyone else who worked there. They had earned and deserved my respect.

I think every kid should work. And, those first jobs shouldn’t be glamorous. Hard, menial work is good for a kid. There is value in SO many ways.

I hear so many people complaining about Millineals. There was a great video I recently say called, “Millennials: We Suck and We’re Sorry”  I had to laugh. Every generation is different. We can’t expect them to be us. I think we all strive to be different from the generation before us. I don’t find many lazy millineals in the workforce. Their work style if different. They want more flexibility. They work at crazy hours (I work with a bunch of techies). They care about the planet. They are passionate about causes.  I do think that they’ll figure it out. We all did…well, most of us…

Ann