Succession – Conan vs. Leno Part 2

Back in June in the post  Conan vs. Leno I blogged about the succession schmozzle over at NBC that resulted in Jay Leno moving to a 10PM timeslot and Conan O’Brien taking over the Tonight Show. This was all part of a succession plan to attempt to retain the then hip and cool Conan O’Brien at NBC once Jay retired. Turns out, Jay is not retiring. And NBC doesn’t much care for Conan anymore (apparently neither do we – the ratings are dismal). TMZ has just announced that Leno’s 10PM show is being cancelled and he is moving back to 11:30PM.  Conan’s fate is unknown.

Tisk tisk…People – succession plans built years in advance (this one was developed in 2004) don’t tend to work… And they cost a lot of $$$ when you screw them up!


Peoplestuff recognized as best of the blogosphere!

Peoplestuff has been recognized!  Check us out on Fistful of Talent which is a fab HR blog. Only issue, they call Vancouver “dismal”. Ahem, I beg to differ. Been skiing lately?

What we have learned from Elin (Mrs Woods) and the Tiger

So I am a bit late commenting on this… The car “accident” was in November, but alas better late than never. Three cheers for Elin Nordegren, wife of Tiger Woods, who chased a barefoot Tiger out the house (yes, he was driving barefoot-  illegal in the state of Florida) and smashed out the windows of his car. Who then went and bought herself a private island in Sweden, is rumoured to be in discussions with Puma (Nike’s archrival), and continues to look absolutely gorgeous whilst pumping gas in the midst of a worldwide public humiliation. So what does one learn from such grace under fire and such a shocking fall from grace?

  • No one, I mean no one is squeakly clean. I’m still holding out for Barack Obama, but nothing would surprise me now.  
  • When paying millions/billions to a celebrity to endorse your brand, a couple of nifty background checks are well advised. Shame on you Accenture – I mean really, “Go on, be a Tiger” and you didn’t check him out?
  • When caught with your pants down, best not to disappear/run. Face the music, pull a Letterman and get on with life.
  • Never underestimate the power of a humilated spouse/employee. Such strength.
  • Treat people with dignity and respect. If you don’t, the rest of the world won’t like you very much.

Now onwards. The beauty of this whole scenario is that we all have fantastic small talk for at least another couple of months. And GO ELIN!

Travelling as a gal on business…

Is always fun… or not. I have moments when I can’t quite decide if I love that I can access a gazillion movies at the touch of a button while under a duvet, or if the idea of being murdered by some creepo snake in a suit who followed me up in the elevator spoils the moment…

So after a recent trip, a couple of tips  on embracing and enjoying travelling as a gal on business:

  • If you are on a BC Ferry (cuz you ain’t getting a float plane these days) – the SeaWest Lounge is the greatest thing since they started selling smelly soaps in the gift shop. Pay your $10 dollars, grab a tea, a magazine, some cheese and crackers and enjoy your “exclusive and all-inclusive” environment. Trust me, I’ve done the math – you will drop $10 easy just buying a newspaper, tea, pack of gum and some jolly ranchers. A no brainer.
  • Stay at a hotel with a decent restaurant and enjoy it! Instead of retreating to your room at the end of the day, grab yourself a book and make your way downstairs for dinner. Most good hotels are accustomed to serving and making individual diners comfortable and most will provide a magazine.  But take your own, it creates privacy – no random dude (unless you want him to) is going to attempt to make contact. And embrace dinner – have some wine, a couple of courses… 
  • Stay at a hotel with a gym and bring your headphones. It will get you out of your room and provides some stress relief and also works off any dinner indulgence from the night before. And you may meet some fellow female business travellers…
  • Ask to be located close to the elevator. Long hallways remind me of The Shining. Perhaps just a me thing. But I always request it.
  • Get breakfast served in your room. I always do – I like having privacy in the AM and time with a newspaper. Hotels tend to only have women servers deliver room service to single women travellers, so you can open the door in a robe and feel a-ok.
  • And on a practical note – try to stick with one hotel brand (i.e. Delta) and register in their rewards programs ASAP. The rewards add up and you will soon receive room upgrades and other benefits.

Go forth and conquer.


‘Tis almost the season

We are on the cusp of the holiday season. As of next weekend (American Thanksgiving), George Michael will start singing “Last Christmas” at The GAP and a barrage of invitations to attend parties, purchase stuff and donate things will appear in your life.

Alas – as the HR professional I felt the urge to post on the topic of company and business community holiday events, both of which are inevitable during the “season”. I will not preach to you on the need to avoid getting drunk on the company dime… Rather I am inspired to share my thoughts on how to enjoy yourself at these events; as most of us know that we need to go to the party, but don’t actually look forward to it.

So a couple of thoughts:

  • If it is the company holiday party, consider hosting a pre-drinks get together  for your team. I used to do this and found it reduced anxiety and created a feeling of “team” as we all headed to the party together.
  • Feel good about what you are wearing. You don’t want to be fidgeting all night. Wear shoes you know can last the night. And in these recessionary times, consider borrowing evening wear from your friends and colleagues.
  • If an event with nametags, ladies try and wear a collar or jacket so that you can attach your nametag to something.
  • Enjoy meeting the spouses. This can be the most fun of the evening. I find you learn a ton about someone by meeting their spouse, and it is a nice way to avoid any political or office talk. Instead you get to talk about their dog, renovation, kids etc…
  • If a business community/networking event, try to go with someone that you know. Get a wingman or wingwoman and agree that you will help each other out by introducing one another and by being each others “safe haven”.
  • When meeting new folks, work to find something you have in common. Often asking someone what they do/where they work is a good start as often you will know someone in common.
  • If a poor soul is standing by themselves, for heaven’s sake, go over and introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. You will have a new friend for life.
  • Take a deep breath and just do it. You may be surprised by how much fun you have. And if you don’t, well you can leave and feel smug about actually making the effort to go in the first place.

Now let’s go party!

Ahh Sarah Palin…

Ok I admit it. I PVR’d Sarah Palin’s interview yesterday with Oprah. I just find this so compelling. This woman is writing a whole new book on how to be a woman in politics. During my blogging hiatus (sorry readers), I attended a fantastic event called “Women on Board” here in Vancouver. The keynote speaker, Avivah Wittenberg Cox spoke about how increasing the participation of women in business is not an HR or a diversity project. It is a business imperative as women represent the “other half” of the population. And that businesses with gender balanced executive teams outperform their non “gender balanced” competitors. Core to her argument is that women have spent the last thirty years adapting to a business structure developed by men. Cox’s argues that modifying this structure is key to business success.

And then Sarah Palin went on Oprah and I just had to write about her as I find her an interesting example of a woman who is restructuring the role of a politician.

Here are some things that make Sarah Palin an interesting case study:

  • She is a pro-life woman (with the kids to prove it) on the American right. For years, men have been the political spokespeople for the pro-life movement.  
  • She is savvy and thumbed her nose at the Republican establishment. She secured a $1.25 million dollar advance for her book “Going Rogue” that was released today and you would have to be under a rock to not know about it. The book widely denounces the McCain campaign.
  • She has five kids and and was a Governor (Ok Alaska is not the biggest state in the world – but still impressive).
  • She lost in the election, was widely widely mocked (SNL had its best ratings ever thanks to Katie Couric, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey) but yet, there is a good chance she will run for President in 2012. I  mean is anyone talking about Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee?
  • She represents a different type of woman in politics. She is not a Hilary Clinton who achieved through her intellect and ability to get on with the establishment (read men in politics). She just is who she is. Take it or leave it.

What to say more.

Communication breakdown…


Have you ever heard one of your clients or executives state: “what we need is a change management program”; or “we need a strategic workforce plan”; or “we need moreHR metrics”… One of my business partners recently shared a very useful framework for how breakdowns in communication can lead us astray and result in impulsive HR program design. It goes something like this:

  • We start with the actual business problem/opportunity; i.e. if we get more effective at implementing new systems we will gain market share.

There is often an understanding gap of what the actual business problem/opportunity is, and the executive/client’s understanding of what it is, which results in:

  • The client/executive’s misunderstanding of the problem/opportunity; i.e.”we are not good enough at managing the implementation of new systems”.  

There is then a communication gap that impacts the way the client/executive communicates the problem/opportunity which results in miscommunication:

  • i.e. “we need a change management program”…

There is a listening gap between what your client/executive says and what you hear which results in further miscommunication:

  • what you hear about the problem/opportunity; i.e.  “we need to train our managers on change”

The communication gaps multiply from there…

The gaps are not caused by stupidity, they are created because none of us are perfect at understanding, communicating or listening. These gaps are inevitable and mean that if you are trying to solve the problem that you heard your client / executive tell you is the problem; you are almost definitely working on the wrong thing. So take a moment to reflect, ask some questions and work to get to the root issue.  At the end of the day, most of business communication is one big game of telephone.