The Great Gretzky vs. Big Brother

It’s not often one puts Wayne Gretzky and George Orwell together in the same post, but stick with me on this one.

I heard this morning that Orbitz has a scientist working for them who has deduced that people who log in from Mac’s tend to book pricier hotel rooms than people who log in from PC’s. So now Orbitz shows more expensive options to people logging in from a Mac.

Talk about a job that didn’t exist ten years ago?

Much has been said about the fact that many of the jobs that today’s high school students will do don’t exist today. Earlier this year I wrote that the hot job for 2012 is Online Customer Retention Specialist as websites scramble to hold onto customers who can browse the competition with the click of a mouse. But did you ever think that someone would be tracking and analyzing your buying habits based on your access device?

Wayne Gretzky said one of the secrets of his success, along with lots of hard work, was “skating to where the puck was going, not where it is.” Most hockey players couldn’t anticipate that way, hence his nickname, The Great Gretzky.

To be great at crafting your career, you need to get good at anticipating where the jobs are going (and let’s not have any snide remarks about Bangalore, okay?). What will the economy and businesses demand you know how to do in the future? What will they need you to provide? How will work get done? Will you skate to where the jobs are?

We may not all get to do what we like in the future, but those who want to maintain steady employment will get better at identifying the trends and riding the wave to the next job.

As for Mr. Orwell, I’m not sure I like the fact that I’m not going to see the lowest priced options simply because of the computer I use. It’s a little too “Big Brother-y” for me. It’s sorta like a social media website changing my contact information without asking my permission (but Facebook would never do that, would they?). Orwell was a futurist who foresaw a dark future for a world in which the powers that be had too much information on everyone. So what hot job might he envision for 2013?

Social Media Privacy Consultant?

Where are our priorities?

I was told something very interesting while presenting a workshop for an HR group in the health care industry.

98% of companies do reference/background checks on at least some of their applicants.
76% of companies do reference/background checks on all their applicants.
69% of people will check out a restaurant online, or ask a friend, before dining there.

But only 3% of people  check out a hospital before undergoing a procedure. Now I’m not talking about the ER. If I’m in an accident get me to the closest hospital you can. But we’re talking about planned or elective surgery and procedures. Most people choose the one that’s closest to home, easiest to get to, has the best visitor parking (really!), or that their physician is affiliated with. But they don’t take the time to investigate the hospital’s record themselves. I found this very surprising.

Why is it that we’re so particular about who we work with or where we eat but not as much when it comes to people who will be probing around inside us?  Why do we choose this part of our lives to operate on blind faith in our physician? If doctors were always right they wouldn’t need so much malpractice insurance.  But they are human.  And we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to be just as diligent when considering healthcare as in other areas of our lives.

I’ve worked in HR for over 25 years now and these human beings we hire, interview and interact with never fail to amaze me. Summer has begun and it’s a season of injuries, at the beach, on hiking trails, on ballfields. Take care of yourself. And if you do need medical attention that isn’t in a crisis, maybe you’ll look twice, or even once, before you cross that hospital threshold .



Continuing the Conversation

Got a comment recently from a reader who asked about the name of this blog,
Continuing the Conversation.

“This is the first time I’ve written and we’ve never spoken. What conversation are we continuing?”

I believe in the power of communication. We need to keep the conversation going if we are going to resolve our differences and solve our problems. Mark Twain said, “There are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met.” Or maybe that was Annette. (readers, if you don’t know who “Annette” is ask your parents.) We may not have conversed before but if you’ve read anything I’ve written, or you know me, you know there are few things I like more than a good conversation. And I’ll keep talking into the wee hours. Because I believe that if we continue the conversation long enough we will find common ground. Or at the very least we’ll agree to disagree. That’s fine too. We don’t have to come around to your or my way of thinking except to agree to continue the conversation.

Because as long as we’re talking there is hope.

That’s why whether we have spoken a hundred times or never at all, I want to Continue the Conversation.

Only the best,

Let’s Retire “Minorities”

I heard another report this morning about the effect of the recession on minorities. They were talking specifically about African Americans and Latinos, as the report later explained. Now I’m not going to comment on the economy today but I do have some thoughts about the word minorities. Can’t we retire that word?

In the first place, if you’re reading this in parts of the U.S. such as California, Texas, or Florida, it’s completely inaccurate to refer to people of color as minorities. Look around people! Have you noticed that birth rates among people of color, while slowing from where they were in the last century, are still higher amongst people of color than among caucasians.  In many parts of the country, caucasians are the minority. So we need to be a lot more specific in describing people when we use the word “minority”. And maybe in a future post I can explore the use of the word “caucasian”. Most white people I know can’t trace their heritage to this small section of southern Russia.

My second beef is that minority is a divisive word. It separates people instead of connecting them. It screams “Them” and “Us”. And for decades the word was used as a not-so-subtle putdown. If you were a minority you were clearly not part of the power elite. You weren’t one of the cool kids. It was code. And people use code to hide things, like their true beliefs. People use code to withhold information from those who are different. This is why minorities is such an awful word and one we need to retire. It’s divisive, inaccurate and insulting.

Use inclusive, people first language. Refer to people by who they are instead of who they’re not. People of color, not minorities. People who use wheelchairs, not the disabled. People who were incarcerated, not ex-cons. If we continue to focus on the differences, and people’s perceived shortcomings, it’s going to be awfully hard for organizations to get people working together.