SLIM4LIFE OR SIN4LIFE?

I heard a Slim4Life commercial on the radio recently, and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The narrator explained that in this tough job market, you had to do everything possible to gain the edge on your competition.  Therefore, by enrolling in a Slim4Life weight-loss program, you would become more physically attractive.  And let’s face it, the narrator concluded—The hiring manager will favor a good-looking candidate over a less attractive candidate every time. 

Reason Number One For Not Knowing Whether to Laugh or Cry:  Last time I checked, in the general business community, it is still illegal to hire on the basis of physical appearance, sex, marital status, religion, or any other characteristic not specifically related to skills and merit.  Slim4Life was flat out telling the listener they should fully anticipate being hired or fired purely on the basis of physical appearance.  Why would Slim4Life even go there?  It boggles my mind!

Reason Number Two For Not Knowing Whether to Laugh or Cry:  The fact that Slim4Life chose to take this sorry direction in its advertising underscores the nonchalance among some businesses about not following the law.  Slim4Life seems to accept this sad reality and use it to its advantage.  “Sure, we know these hiring practices are illegal, but because we know they happen, we want to capitalize on that to sell more of our products and services.”  Someone please help me out: Are there really that many businesses out there that hire purely based on physical appearance?

Reason Number Three For Not Knowing Whether to Laugh or Cry:  Some consumers are going to believe this pitch and act on it.  In so doing, Slim4Life will be complicit in the dysfunctional sick attitude among so many people that their value to society is based purely on their physical attractiveness.  People who are already walking around with a warped understanding of what makes a human being valuable are going to be reinforced in their faulty thinking.

Reason Number Four For Not Knowing Whether to Laugh or Cry:  If in fact, you wiled your way into a new job primarily based on your physical appearance, would you genuinely be comfortable working for a company that demonstrated such shallow professional, ethical values?  Remember, you’ve got to live with your newly won position!  Can you?

Slim4Life has innumerable noble opportunities to market their products and services.  Sadly, Slim4Life instead chose to stoop to an indefensible, shallow appeal to gullible, struggling consumers predicated on illegal hiring practices.  Perhaps Slim4Life should change its name to Sin4Life.

And just when you thought advertising couldn’t sink any lower!








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WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

For a couple of decades or more now, increasing numbers of United States companies have been making the smart move of outsourcing various work segments to India, China, Ireland, the Philippines, and several other locations.  In the early days of these endeavors, many stateside sectors cried “foul” on the basis that these maneuvers were unethical, inappropriate, and damaging to the US economy.

Less knee-jerk reactionary minds prevailed.  The counterpoint was made that capitalism means business owners are free to engage vendors wherever and however they so choose, provided those choices are legally allowable.  The business owners decide how to run the business and who to hire.

In 2005, Thomas L. Friedman wrote his famous book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.  In it, he fully analyzes all angles of the outsourcing movement.

Friedman makes a compelling case based on business globalization’s irreversibility.  Simultaneously, Friedman demonstrates compassion for those negatively affected by outsourcing.  He explains:

The great challenge for our time will be to absorb these changes in ways that do not overwhelm people but also do not leave them behind.  None of this will be easy.  But this is our task.  It is inevitable and unavoidable.  (pp. 46-47)

Now that we have been outsourcing for a long time, an interesting development has been occurring.  As business globalization’s irreversibility continued, various countries began to prosper as a result.  For example, China’s workers’ wages have risen about 15% per year for the last decade.  Similar trends are occurring in India and other typical outsource locations.  Although this is good for China and India, it makes the outsourcing deal less desirable for the US.

Finally, outsourcing costs and benefits are more than meets the eye.  Having a worker in Bangalore at $3.00 per hour looks quite compelling compared to a stateside union worker at $30 per hour.  Nevertheless, having been on many international conference calls to manage outsourced vendors, I know from personal experience that all kinds of hidden costs eventually add into the situation.  You sometimes expend significant resources just managing the process when your charges are separated by half a world.  Quality control can be a challenge given the distances, and international travel isn’t cheap.  Increasing fuel prices don’t help either.

The current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek has an excellent article on these developments (link below).

Exactly how these arrangements continue to evolve will largely be market driven.  Outsourcing is not always the best solution.  More labor force adjustments will occur in all affected nations.  Business partnerships will likely become more diverse and unique as all parties continually aim to strike the deals that make the most sense (and cents) for them.  And all of us will do well and prosper when we wake up and realize it’s a whole new world out there.  Indeed, the world is flat.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/for-some-us-manufacturers-time-to-head-home-02022012.html








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WHO ARE YOU?

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have invaded our lives . . . at our invitation.  With that invasion we have seen a blurring of the border between the personal and the professional, the private and the public, the home and the office.

Some have decried this evolution as intrinsically evil, encouraging you to tighten all your privacy settings to the maximum level.  After all, we must protect our privacy now mustn’t we?

Then again, maybe not.  There was a day and a time in which you did business with someone because you knew him or her.  Partially because you did know him or her, you were willing to invest in a business relationship.  What you knew about the person contributed to your judgment of the person’s business.

Social media has redrawn the map.  Perhaps in redrawing the map, social media is taking us back to a time when you will know more about every person.  That knowing will contribute to your business relationship.

Some folks don’t like the new cartography.  I can’t argue that.  But I do suggest the new cartography just might introduce a new era of integrity and wholeness in us and in our relationships.








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SUPERMAN NO MORE

Superman often had a difficult time juggling his day job with his Clark Kent persona.  Conflicts of interest, multiple priorities, and too many things to do are challenges you fully understand!  Don’t we all?

Businesses today usually talk a good talk about how their employees must maintain a good work/life balance.  The message sounds good: “You have a life outside of work!  Enjoy it!”  That message is politically correct.  And at its core, it genuinely is a valid practice for everyone’s benefit.

Nevertheless, some businesses interpret the work/life balance as a one-way street instead of a two-way street.  If work/life balance means you are always on call for your boss(es), you are connected 24/7 via technology, and you frequently go above and beyond the call of duty with no corresponding direct compensation then something is wrong.  Your employer is not showing you the opposite lane on that road.

Life/work balance is a great thing when done correctly and fairly.  That means life/work balance is a two-way street.  Just as you have made accommodations in your personal time for work duties, likewise, employers must understand the occasional accommodations in your work time for personal duties.

Please do not misinterpret me.  I have observed many organizations today that have this one down pat.  Cheers to them for being progressive, fair, humane, holistic, ethical, and kind!  I love it.  Unfortunately, there are many places where much work (pun intended?) remains to be done on this topic.

What do you think?  Is the life/work balance dynamic getting better where you are or worse?  Do you see progress in this area?  For the companies that handle this well, are you seeing improved employee retention as a result?  What do you do when you believe the situation is being abused?

My guess is the answers to those questions will be quite diverse and interesting.  Let’s see what we can learn.








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DOING IT RIGHT: GENESYS SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR

The current edition of the Kansas City Business Journal has an excellent article by James Dornbrook about Genesys Systems Integrator (“Genesys Engineers Comeback,” January 3-9, 2012, pp. 3, 30).  Genesys understands how important employee engagement is.  Without employee engagement, you cannot build long-term stability and success, especially in and through the recession from which we are still recovering.

Genesys has executed a number of well-timed initiatives helping it to spring into the future.  An employee stock ownership plan has been implemented.  When employees know they own an equity position in the company, that changes how they approach their jobs.  Genesys projects the ESOP will put 20 to 30% of company equity into the employee’s hands by the end of 2012.

Genesys refined and expanded its business strategy, partly as a result of an employee planning session.  These outcomes will render the company more recession proof; a win for the company, the customers, and the employees.

Finally, Genesys understands its employees truly are its greatest asset.  That understanding informs every aspect of the hiring process and the corporate culture.  Genesys President Patrick Perry describes it this way:

If you hire the best people and treat them exceptionally well, they treat your customers well, and then your customers repay that with more business, and you need to hire more people.

Thank you, Genesys, for doing it right!








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