iMeet Requires Deep LinkedIn Permissions? Uhh. No Thanks.

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I was invited to an iMeet meeting (yet another web conferencing tool) and clicked the “LinkedIn” button to sign in using oAuth only to find not only that it wants to see my first and second connections but also wants to send messages and invitations to conenct with people as if its me.

Uhh. No web sharing app should need to do this.

No thanks.

Ancestry is Opening Our Doors to #NewCoSF 2014

Ancestry's SF Offices are Functional and Cool

Ancestry’s San Francisco Office Space in the SOMA neighborhood

Last night, I attended a cool kick-off party reception at the Salesforce headquarters hosted by John Battelle and Brian Monahan, the founders of Newco.co, which was founded on the idea that “what if all these cool companies just opened their doors for a day and let people come see what it’s like there?” “That would be awesome!”

I concur.

Just seeing, touching  and feeling what a company is like–from the inside–speaks a thousand words more than any job description, friendly referral or even job interview can.

But even though people outside of the Bay Area talk about the San Francisco tech startup scene with the kind of awe and wonder my kids use when talking about Disneyland, I’m learning that even though the cool kids around here work at cool companies with cool office-spaces, that’s not really what it’s about.

(But, we have a pretty amazing office space we’re excited to show off though)

What I am learning is that the tech elite in this city are deeply passionate about improving the world around them and leveraging their black-magic talents to drive real change–be that social innovation, food production/consumption (I’m learning about slow-food and love it), fashion, and yes, technology.

Excitedly, I think Ancestry fits right in with these kind of challenges. Our employees are driven and passionate and bold about their desire to make a real difference.  Time is fleeting, and they want to make their mark.

We are already the world’s largest online family history resource, but we are consistently renewing and revisiting that objective as if we were the new, scrappy startup on the block.

We have a relentless talent selection process that is determined to employ only the best people… both in terms of intelligence and capability, but also in terms of deep drive and passion for what we are doing and why we are doing it… not just how we are doing it.

It turns out, accomplishing “awesome” in the world of family history is complicated business.

To help people discover and get excited about their own legacy and the personal legacies of people they know is an exciting proposition, but beside the myriad technical challenges of hosting billions of genealogical records and millions of family trees–and making them accessible in milliseconds from your mobile app, tablet or multi-screened PC device–the entire genre of “family history” as a service is associated with user experiences that are, frankly, boring.

  • How do you bring people’s family history alive before their very eyes?
  • How do we help people access, document and share their personal legacies–or preserve them for their children and grandchildren and great, great, grandchildren in a way that is visual, immersive and exciting?
  • How do we encourage users of our mobile platforms to open our app while they’re waiting at the doctor’s office rather than another round of Candy Crush?

To accomplish these challenges, we need to bring people to work on these problems that are willing to challenge the status-quo and really get inside the challenges of accessing and displaying these intensely data-heavy bits of information in a way that captures interest and engages people in new ways than have been done before.

This is one reason why we hosted the XX+UX event earlier this year inviting local women in UX Design to hear from one of the leaders in their craft in the comfort of our offices.

This is also one of the reasons we’re opening our doors again today for the NewCo SF tour. We look forward to the guests and visitors who will join us and anticipate new partnerships, community and awareness to come from the event.

Looking forward to seeing you here.

How do I sign up?

Register for a NewCo.SF general admission pass for free here.  Then sign up for the session at Ancestry’s office: http://sched.co/1pbfVb3 (get on the waiting list if you have to)

Are there perks to coming aside from listening to the speaker?

Yes. Enjoy free appetizers, beer, and wine. We’ll also be giving away ten AncestryDNA kits, each paired with an Ancestry.com membership.

Finding your Purpose in Work

Finding purpose in your workWhat do you think of this graph from Todd Russell?

I like this. It appeals to me that finding purposeful work is a combination of these areas.

Does this accurately represent how

Personally, I wonder if the range for the star in the middle is too small. It assumes there’s only one thing or a small range of things that can be identified as your “purpose”. I think there’s a wide range of work that most smart, diligent, driven people can do that would solve these areas for them.

Secondarily, I’m watching a striking group of millennials and others who take the liberal approach of working for work (even doing several part time jobs) and then going and doing volunteer work, charitable work or other things to make social or spiritual impact without forcing “work” to solve their desire to make impact in the world.

Finally, what happens when the thing you can be paid for pays significantly less than what you were hoping to be earning?

What do you think? What’s most important for you?

5 Rules of Networking Relationships

Rules of Networking Relationships

I was asked recently about how to network. You know, that smarmy slimy act of swiping someone’s business card so you can endlessly harass them until they buy your stuff.

Or… there’s a better way…

Way back in 2008, I wrote up a (rather chatty) blogpost where I included the “rules” of networking relationships because of a situation that happened where I was working with a new account manager at a recruiting agency. He asked me some interesting questions about networking and adding people to my “network” (like its a jar of butterflies or something)

After a bit of thought, I replied to him that while I am very open about adding people to my network, I build my network very carefully and treat it not as a means to an end, but as a thing in-and-of itself, to be developed, cultivated and nourished for the value it inherently has.

“These are people,” I told him, “with hopes and dreams and passions. If you can tap into that, without violating some simple rules of relationships, you will have an inexhaustible supply of resources at your disposal.”

And, those Rules of Networking Relationships?

  • GIVE 10x to your network before you ever ask.
  • SEEK to become known as a Super Connector — the one people go to when they need to know people.
  • ENRICH the experience of those you are in contact with.
  • CLEARLY INFORM people in your network that you’re asking for something when you do. Sneaking a favor into a conversation is hardly the way to go. Being shy about it doesn’t work either. Call or connect with them, tell them you need help, and ask them precisely for what you need, and then LISTEN and DO what they recommend.
  • THANK them gratuitously for their help. (Yes, I used gratuitously on purpose… look it up)

I’m Proud To Be American (But Not Arrogant About It)

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In America, we’re celebrating our Day of Independence (July 4th) remembering our Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1776. Its a day of patriotism, remembering fallen heroes domestically and overseas, and a day to pause and be grateful for our blessings as a great country–and I believe America is a GREAT country.

A few years ago, when speaking to several hundred middle school students, I told them three key things I wanted them to take away:

  1. The United States has the strongest economy in the world.
  2. GOOD OLD HARD WORK, Education and Entrepreneurship are the keys to staying ahead of the regular downturns in the economy.
  3. You won the Lottery–You’re in the United States! Whatever you had to do to get here, you’re LUCKY! You’re in the country with the most opportunity, the most freedom to choose and the most powerful infrastructure to find good, meaningful work anywhere in the world!

The thing I don’t want them to do is be arrogant about it!

As a recruiter, I see people over and over again coming to me expecting me to provide them something–as if the world owes them a paycheck!

In 2001, I was laid off and broke at the age of 25 with a small family and no future except I lived in AMERICA!

  • As chance would have it, I met people who knew life could be better than what I had.
  • They knew people like Jim Rohn and were willing to introduce me (and help me become a person who could appreciate the things life can offer).
  • I took advantage of the strongest economy in the world — the AMERICAN economy and changed my life forever.

Now, 13 years later, every single piece of my life is different… but I know it’s because, first, I live in America, I took hold of an opportunity and I worked hard… I changed.

And you can too… whatever your situation is, if you are lucky enough to be in AMERICA, you can have anything you really want (more than all other distractions).

And, like Jim Rohn, I invite you to come on that journey.  It’s a wonderful and fascinating one!

My wife and I with Jim Rohn, 2004

My wife and I with Jim Rohn, 2004

On Managing Expectations

Great Expectations by Sanithna Phansavanh
Life is full of expectations. And, if we’re not careful, they can get the very best of us.

It’s been said that “expectations are premeditated disappointments” and while Sam Walton is quoted as saying “High expectations is the key to everything”, another competing quote claims “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” (The Internet thinks this is by Shakespeare, but it’s not.)

In recruiting, we are constantly managing expectations:

  • Expectations from hiring managers who want and need the very best people
  • Expectations from candidates who want the jobs we’re offering and see no good reason not to get it (or why not to get the pay they’re asking for)
  • and expectations from ourselves (among others) to perform our craft with speed and efficiency yet at the very high bar of finding “top talent”

In each of these areas, the best recruiters I have seen have become experts at managing their own and others’ expectations.

Constantly, they are setting and resetting expectations.

In fact, it might be said that all the negative connotations out there about the craft of recruiting and headhunting likely boil down to a recruiter not adequately managing expectations on an item–knowingly or unknowingly–and then not having the courage or strength to make it right.

I read the fantastic book recently, Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the second in a series still being written called The Stormlight Archive, and it’s really delightful reading.

Wit, a character in the books that seems to have some man-behind-the-curtain strings he’s pulling finishes book two with a rhetorical conversation he’s having with some plants and crab-like animals while waiting to meet someone.

“Expectation. That is the true soul of art. If you can give a man more than he expects, then he will laud you his entire life. If you can create an air of anticipation and feed it properly, you will succeed.

“Conversely, if you gain a reputation for being too good, too skilled . . . beware. The better art will be in their heads, and if you give them an ounce less than they imagined, suddenly you have failed. Suddenly you are useless. A man will find a single coin in the mud and talk about it for days, but when his inheritance comes and is accounted one percent less than he expected, then he will declare himself cheated.” – Wit, Words of Radiance

How many of us fall into such personal traps with our personal or professional lives? Have you felt cheated 1% and stewed on it for days (or years) and therefore lost the joy of the ninety-nine percent?

And yet, with our candidates, my personal philosophy is to carefully yet always honestly weave delicately the fabric that is a possible job offer. The tapestry can’t be spun all at once. Yet, if the image is woven in a way that is unclear or misses expectations, the deal will more-than-likely be off.

Never, ever tell a half-truth to your candidates about their positioning in the process or their overall skills compared to the job requirements or the competition. It sounds easier to tell them a pacifying lie to get them off your back or delay them, but being truthful about things is always the way to go.

However, remember your first job is to represent the company, too. Telling the truth and telling everything you know are not the same thing by a far measure.

So, here’s to trying hard to get it right. Keep setting and resetting expectations–for your candidates. Managers and yourself! Be truthful and honest to each of these stakeholders and the dividends will (eventually) show.

Tree

Time to Make Some History — Why I’m Working at Ancestry.com

Why bringing people to work for Ancestry.com seems to be in my DNA

After the dot-com crash of 2001, I was not the only person forced to reevaluate my career plan. Prior to that, I had accidentally fallen into the hottest job of the late 90’s–web development–and had the seeds of a fairly decent career as a JavaScript, HTML hacker with above average SQL database design and query skills (I totally undervalued myself to the market by the way).

Through the next several years, I began to verbalize something that had been silently nagging at me for a long time: I love technology, but especially when it enhances people’s lives.

In the years that followed, one thing led to another and I worked into a career I never had have imagined (or really knew existed), but have developed a deep, full passion for and happen to have a good knack for doing well–recruiting and talent acquisition.

In the last ten years, I’ve recruited people for some of the biggest and smallest, established and disruptive companies in the world. Everywhere I went, the job to find great people and help them make career choices that would change their lives and the companies we worked for has been a thrill. And, as of this week, I have begun a new chapter in my life with Ancestry.com, managing the talent acquisition function here and around the world.

Work for Ancestry.comWith more than 1,400 employees worldwide and a blossoming set of business lines developing new and exciting ways to help people manage their family history and discover relationships with living relatives and past ancestors, it’s not lost on me that my job, and my team, are finding people to create brilliant technology to help people find people and preserve their own family history.

It’s like the perfect combination for me of why I love technology, business and recruiting–to improve peoples lives in a way that’s meaningful, bridges generations and families, and has lasting value beyond even the length of our own lives.

There’s a lot of work to be done here and when I think of the volume of work to be done, I think of one of my favorite quotes:

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing” (Theodore Roosevelt, 1903).

At Ancestry.com, we’re changing people’s future by helping them uncover their past.

I love that.

Now, it’s time to make some history.

LifeChapter++

Hanging with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and member of Fusion-io's Board

Hanging with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and member of Fusion-io’s Board

Today is my last day with Fusion-io. This has been an exceptional two years and four months.  I can’t express how excited and thrilled I am that I was able to be here.  It has been an amazing ride!

I came to Fusion-io in order to be a part of some of the world’s most disruptive storage technology, and that was absolutely what I got to take advantage of.  The rock stars that I’ve recruited still amaze me.  I know that it’s not about me, either, but it’s simply about the great technology and problems we have to solve that brings brilliant minds to work here.

I am leaving because an opportunity came knocking. I wasn’t out looking and I will repeat over and over that there is no reason I need or want to leave Fusion-io, but Monday, I will start a new adventure, in a new role, at a fantastic company doing some amazing things as impactful to human families as Fusion-io has been to digital storage… but I’ll talk more about that when the time comes.

For now, I am excited to leave behind:

  • A company with an expanded technical footprint across Salt Lake City, San Jose, and Boulder.
  • An exciting campus recruiting program working with more than 10 top-tier engineering schools around the country and some of the most-brilliant students I’ve ever met
  • A fantastic recruiting and HR team that I wish I could spend every day with still, even though there’s other fields I need to plow.
  • Terrific hiring managers that know how to really recruit and hire and retain great people.
  • The chance to meet and hang out with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Computer and member of the Fusion-io family.

I believe fully in what Fusion-io has done and is doing.  I have absolutely no regrets for leaving other than I constantly wish I could have done more to support the technology and the great people I worked with.

There are GREAT THINGS coming from Fusion-io. I will be watching from the sidelines now, but can not wait to see our great work come to full fruition.

“Do more, faster” is the company motto. I will forever be changed because of this culture and the way everyone at Fusion-io has an insatiable desire to do more than believably possible.

LifeChapter++

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