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March 2006

Calling In Sick, Too Drunk To Drive

I am doing some research on an upcoming series of postings I am working on and came across a survey, Out of the Office 2005.

Wow, some of these you just can’t make up. A couple of my favorites:

"I'm too drunk to drive to work."

"I was walking my dog and slipped on a toad in my driveway and hurt my back."

"I accidentally drove through the automatic garage door before it opened."

Speaking Of Curling, The Calendar

Have you heard about the “calendar” yet? I think every cable news channel has had a story or two on it like this one from MSNBC, Curling hits big time with nude calendar.

Here’s a link to purchase the calendar but the site says it is “Temporarily Sold Out”.

From the site:

The Curling News is proud to support the global curling team fundraising efforts of Ana Arce, skip of the national women's team of Andorra (2002-04) and Spain (2005-06) and ace photographer, in her landmark calendar project.

Designed to raise much-need funds for curling teams in such locales as Italy, Austria, Poland and Spain, the calendar features 12 determined and beautiful athletes from nine curling nations -- including Canada -- in tasteful artistic poses around the world.

Shot in stunning black and white film, the calendar is produced on high-quality art paper for a true gallery look and feel.

“This is a tasteful, artistic product that will help the models raise much needed funds for training and competition,” says Arce.

“This proves that curlers are athletes -- strong but graceful, and of course very beautiful.”

My take on it, if this gives them greater exposure (no pun intended, really), allows them to raise funds to support their program, and was completely voluntary then power to them. I find it odd that so may of the European folks are having problems with this. I thought they were more “liberal” than us Americans.

Winter Olympics, Curling

Curling you ask? Yep, I got hooked during the last Olympics. Not at all like ice hockey, curling is more like a chess match.

There is of course a Minnesota connection to the curling teams.

The women’s team has also been called Team Bemidji as the Skip and her sister are from Bemidji, Minnesota. Unfortunately they did not play all that well and will not make it out of the preliminary round.

The men’s team also has been called Team Bemidji as the Skip and another member are from Bemidji, Minnesota. The men are 5-2 after their match today and likely will move on to the next round.

So why curling? Well there is a lot of strategy. Strangely a lot like pool, as in billiards.

I have been told that curling is slow and boring like soccer. This usually comes from a baseball fan. Baseball to me is a little boring but if it involves a nice day and a beer or two, I can live with it. Unless it’s a nice day and you walk into a domed stadium like we do for the Minnesota Twins. But I will leave my stadium rant for another day.

So I will continue to cheer for our curling teams and my fellow Minnesotans.

My baseball friends are reminding me that pitchers and catchers report next week. Oh goody…

Winter Olympics, Ice Hockey

Living in The State of Hockey I need to talk a little about the Olympics. The nice thing about having cable TV in the office is that I have been able to get my fill of hockey and curling. There is a lot of interest in Minnesota again this year because of our large number representing the United States.

The women’s hockey team has three skaters from our state and another two who went to school here. After going 3-0 in the preliminary round the U.S. lost to Sweden in the playoff round. After going up 2-0 The U.S. watched as Sweden scored the next 2. After a scoreless overtime Sweden in the shootout.

Some are calling the Sweden victory over the U.S. similar to the U.S. men beating Russia in 1980. The only goal scorer for Sweden was Maria Rooth who played for the University of Minnesota – Duluth Bulldogs.

The U.S. plays Finland for the bronze medal.

The men’s hockey team has three born in Minnesota and Brian Rolston who plays for the Minnesota Wild. Marian Gaborik of the Wild is playing for Slovakia. 

They have a couple of group games yet to play.

The nice thing is that all of these national teams have so many NHL players it is sort of like watching an All-Star game one after another. The difference is that unlike an All-Star game when they do not hit each other this is about national pride and the games are intense

Brrrr, Brrrr, Brrrr

Well I woke up this morning and it was “not as cold” as I had expected. That’s a relative phrase, not as cold, because the late news here in Minneapolis and St. Paul predicted a run at the all time low for the day, -20 F.

At 7:30 am it was –11 F but with a 6 mile an hour wind the wind chill is –26 F.

At 10:00 am it is –6 F with a 9 mile an hour wind making it –23 F.

When people think about Minnesota this is what they think we put up with every winter. Not lately, our last couple of winters have been pretty “wimpy” compared to historical averages.

But –11 F is cold and we are not used to it and it is not normal.

We let people talk about how cold it gets here as it reinforces in their own mind why they do want to live here. That’s fine by most of us Minnesotans. We like it this way. It really only gets “cold” from say Thanksgiving to March 1 and it’s not like you don’t get outside. You get used to it. Most years maybe two weeks of the winter at most is “snot freezing”. Now that’s cold.

Think about it, that’s about the same length of time Phoenix deals with the “heat” of summer time. They are indoors in the summer as much as we are in the winter.

You can’t beat the spring, summer and fall seasons here.

Here is a link to the weather page at KARE 11, local NBC affiliate, if you are curious about the temperature today.

Starting The New Search Firm

Besides working on the IT Volunteer Network there are other things to do like finding like minded recruiters, finding office space, and then all of the legal and accounting things.

I have been asked to share as much as I can about this process. Other than talking with a few colleagues little work has gone into this yet. I really want to get the IT Volunteer Network up and running soon.

My friend Jim Durbin, yes I am promoting him two days in a row, had a great post yesterday titled Setting up a Small Business.

While starting a business is a lot of work I am fortunate to have done it successfully once already and remember well the mistakes I made the first time around. Hopefully I am smart enough not to repeat them.

Developing The IT Volunteer Network

Very timely post from my friend Jim Durbin on referencing Guy Kawasaki’s post yesterday on developing online communities.

As my plan to form this volunteer network continues to be formed in my head and what I write down at 2 am when not sleeping it is almost done. This weekend I will be reaching out to trusted friends and members of the non-profit community and ask for their feedback.

Next week I will be contacting trusted friends in the IT community here in Minneapolis and St. Paul and ask they do the same.

I am getting close to launching this. In the mean time I have continued to post needs of non-profits, including a few full-time paying jobs.

I have a biased plug to give on behalf of Jim Durbin. He gets online communities. He gets networking. He gets building relationships. Most of all, he is a good guy. I wish him well on his new venture and look forward to his future writings.

More on the volunteer network next week.

Macy’s, Phone Sex Line And Customer Service

Last night KSTP TV Channel 5, local ABC affiliate, ran this story Macy's number leads to phone sex line” on how someone did not proofread their literature close enough to find that they had reversed part of the phone number on a customer service line.

Instead of getting a friendly Macy’s person they get this, “Hey, there, sexy guy,”

Now that is a whole new look on customer service…

Keeping The IT Staff You Have

I have been a little shocked lately. I have been meeting with a potential pool of new clients to start working with this spring and of course the focus has been on recruiting IT talent. In some cases their business is growing, new initiatives, new products, whatever the case they need to add to their IT staff.

We talk about my search methods and skill sets that I have a better network and track record with. I ask about their process, where they are finding candidates, and what their expectations are of me.

In every meeting some form of the following conversation is had. I ask from what companies do they like to see candidates from and if there are companies from which I should not be recruiting from. That’s the easy part, it’s the next one that gets to the point of this post.

What are you doing to retain your own staff? Normally the question gets a curious response including a “Why do you ask?” Well, somewhere in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or elsewhere another company similar to yours is talking to someone similar to me and your company name might have been mentioned as a place to recruit from.

That’s why.

Here is a link to Optimize Magazine, Are IT Retention Efforts Working, with a pro/con exchange on the effectiveness of retention efforts.

As the IT talent pool continues to tighten up and in a few years as the Baby Boomers start to retire and decrease the total size of the talent pool the old saying of “Your either a client or a source” will ring louder and louder. But understand your company will always be someone’s potential source.

I do not have a magic pill for IT retention. I believe that it will be some medium ground between the foosball tables and cappuccino of the late 90’s and the you should just be happy to be working here of the early 2000’s.

Graduates Going Online For Job Search

Yesterday Joel Cheesman had a post about the number of graduates going online to search for jobs and then those posting their resume on I agree with him that the number posting their resume on Monster seemed high but that number rings with me for all online posting.

As I am getting into my job search seminar season with students at the University of Minnesota I am shocked at the amount of them that are not using newspaper ads. The top two choices are the online career services centers and the online posting boards.

In fact when I suggest looking at old newspaper ads to see hiring patterns, to find contact names, to find email addresses I get weird expressions from them and the something like, “Newspaper ads, people still use those?”

Umm, yeah and if so few of them are using the paper they might have an advantage in the hiring process.

I agree with Joel that if these numbers are trends that the newspapers are in trouble.