An (Updated) Career Desire History

Earlier this year, I wrote a few posts talking about searching for — and ultimately finding a new job. I originally had written this post as an extension of those posts, meant to go up in May of this year. But that never happened. So I’m putting it up now.

The main idea for the post below came from a post I wrote in the summer of 2013, wherein I discussed my career aspirations throughout life as a response to a blog post that did the same1Said blog is apparently now dead, as the domain is up for sale.. I’ve kept most of what I wrote on the original post, which accounts for about 800 words of this article, though I have added to that content to help it make more sense here and there2Such as footnotes like these.. I’ve also updated the post to include more information about how my career aspirations have changed since 2013…not that it’s happened at all or anything.

Age ??? – Second Grade – A professional wrestler AND a football player

As a young boy, I fell into the stereotype of wanting to grow up to be a professional athlete. Despite being the smallest kid in my class, I was convinced that being a wide receiver in the NFL was the optimal life choice I could make. My idol at the time was Brian Blades, a diminutive wideout for the Seattle Seahawks who put up four 1,000 yard seasons during his eleven years in the league. When I later played football in middle school, I wore the number 89 because of Blades3I was blissfully unaware that Blades was on trial for murdering his cousin, a charge he was later acquitted of.

At the same time, I was convinced I could also be a professional wrestler. I loved watching pro wrestling, particularly mesmerized by the acrobatics of Shawn Michaels4Oddly enough, my favorite childhood wrestlers — Edge and Christian — weren’t even the ones that first got me into wrestling. and the sheer power of The Undertaker. I even had a gimmick thought up for myself. My ring name was going to be The Jukebox Hero (blatantly lift from Foreigner’s song by the same name), and I’d be a musician who hit people with guitars as his finishing move (basically a tolerable version of Jeff Jarrett/The Honky Tonk Man).

Second Grade – Third Grade – A history teacher

My first experience with public school came midway through second grade, thanks in large part to my parents getting divorced. I was an incredibly shy child — the only two people I talked to in second grade were my homeroom teacher and the school counselor, with third grade not being much better — though I did find that I loved learning. My favorite subject of all was social studies, primarily because I was the only kid in class who could spell Czechoslovakia and knew that the former Cold War nation had dissolved in 1993. When the third grade class did a musical based off of careers, I was first in line to sign up for the part of being a teacher. My interest in actually teaching history didn’t stick around long, however.

Third Grade – Seventh Grade – Sports Statistician

Despite not having a television or internet in my house throughout most of my childhood, I was exposed to computers for the majority of that time. My dad had a Macintosh LC 520 that he used for work, though I mainly used it to play Monopoly and Spectre5It might have been Spectre VR that we had. I’m genuinely not sure at this point.. After he replaced the LC 520 with a new computer, I got the old desktop and started fiddling around with some of its other programs. A spreadsheet program caught my eye, and from there forward I routinely started keeping statistics from kickball and football games that my cousins, my brother, and I would play after school. To this day, I still think it would be pretty cool to work for the Elias Sports Bureau, though I’m content with not working there as well.

Seventh Grade – Ninth Grade – Anaylst

I had no clue what I wanted to analyze, I just knew that I wanted to analyze things. Most of the time, my desire to be an analyst fell into the realm of watching for changes in stocks and bonds, or attempting to forecast future athlete performance based off of past trends. Had Bill Barnwell, Jayson Stark, or Matthew Berry’s writing been easily available to me in middle school, I’m fairly certain my career path desires wouldn’t have changed. The start of high school signaled my next change in career choices, all prompted by a sudden increase in my skill level of something I did every day.

Ninth Grade – Early Senior Year – Jazz Trumpeter or High School Music Teacher

I started playing the trumpet (very poorly) in the fifth grade. For the first four years I played, I was horrible at the trumpet. I really wanted to get better, and I’d try to practice when I could, however my stepmom was pissed off I didn’t choose a manlier instrument like the drums6She also told me I had a vagina and that “I might as well get gay married” when I told her I didn’t want to play football anymore., so I wasn’t allowed to practice at home. My dad divorced my first stepmom midway through my eighth grade year, and I began practicing trumpet every day at home7My dad was a trumpeter himself, so he didn’t mind..

In less than a year, I went from being 14th chair (out of 15 trumpet players) to 4th chair of all grade levels (1st in my class). The emotional and ego boost of succeeding made me strongly considering going into music for a career for a couple of years, though soon enough my desire to work in sports would resurface.

Early Senior Year – My Final Semester Of Undergraduate College – Sports Radio Talk Show Host

At one point, I wanted to be a journalist. Well, more accurately, I got pissed off at how certain members of my high school’s staff had a shitfit when I told them I didn’t want to work in science for the rest of my life, and it caused me to go even harder towards considering journalism or broadcast media in college. Though the more I look back at my decision to go to school for communications, the more I think it was a ploy for me to get out of the house and get a college degree more so than what I actually wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working at a radio station in college, however the longer I talked about sports, the more I realized it wasn’t a viable career path thanks to my strong distaste for anything baseball or basketball related. Fortunately, a class during my final year of my undergraduate degree changed my career direction.

Last Semester at State Tech – Mid 2015 – Curriculum Designer

In my final semester working on my communications degree, I took a filler class to get my course load to a full-time schedule. The class was meant for upperclassmen to teach incoming freshmen how to deal with the stresses of college, including everything from study habits to handling alcohol (seriously). Each of the four upperclassmen was responsible for creating lesson plans for two classes across the semester (in addition to the class sessions created by the graduate assistant teaching the class), then they would teach the content they created. I found that I loved creating lesson plans, going so far as to go to grad school a year later with the intent of learning to develop curricula for college students.

While I no longer work in higher education, I still have a passion for creating plans to help individuals learn and grow within their fields. The problem isn’t that I dislike doing curriculum development. It’s that it’s not all I want to do for the rest of my life. I actually got to be a curriculum designer as a component of my job from mid-2014 to mid-2018. And it’s enjoyable under the right circumstances. In designing curriculum for various departments in the company I worked for, I began to realize that there was something I wanted to do even more.

Early 2015 – Present – Author
Mid 2015 – Present? – Human Resources Professional

Something changed in 2015. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was, but something made me have a drastic change in desire of how I wanted to make a living. A few of my friends began to share that they thought my writing was good. Really good. To the point where I should take one of my NaNoWriMo stories and turn it into a book. I did something along those lines in 2016, publishing a book of short stories I’ve written. That said, I’m still working toward getting my first novel done. I’m hoping that to have it in decent shape by the end of 2018.

As for those changes to my career desires thanks to my job I mentioned? All of the training I created helped me to realize that most of the things I had an interest in fell under the realm of human resources. So I started doing everything I could to point my career in that direction. In recent posts, I’ve covered why this hasn’t worked out so far. That said, with a new start, I’m hoping my career trajectory begins to take me that way.

What are some of the jobs you’ve wanted in your past? Do you have any career desires that you look back on now as being silly or amusing? Share them in the comments.

Everything Millennials Are Killing

As a millennial, I’m continuously shocked to learn how many things I’m killing. I don’t have the time in the day to kill anything, let alone to kill all the things ever. It’s bad enough that Know Your Meme is even making fun of it. And while there may be plenty of think pieces online written by people who aren’t millennials trying to explain why millennials are killing entire industries, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to give you objective journalism.

And video game posts. And short stories. And shit posts. But mostly objective journalism.

Without further ado, here’s a list of everything millennials are killing, according to newspapers, magazines, and other major publications8I refuse to refer to this amalgamation of sources as “the media” not because it’s inaccurate, but because people who use this term are often doing so out of a derision towards a particular set of news sources that don’t agree with their personal or political world view. Doing so is not only childish, but also embarrassing for those who speak that way, even if the terminology they choose to use has some basis in reality (depending, of course, on the adjectives they use to describe “the media”).. This list is ordered chronologically, as I’m just trying to retrace my steps to figure out what all I’ve killed. I have chosen to exclude items that random sites not tied to publications have stated that millennials have killed, otherwise this post would be 50,000 words. If there are other things I’ve killed that I’m missing, leave me a link to the article you’ve found in the comments.

Note: A massive thank you is due to a pair of articles I found on Buzzfeed and Mashable that gave me a good start to this list. That said, I went down some weird rabbit holes to find some of these articles.

2012

June 8 – Payscale says millennials killed the corner office

2013

July 22 – Slate says millennials are killing the religious right

2014

July 16 – Unwritten says millennials are killing manners and class

July 24 – Forbes says millennials are killing golf

August 1 – Wired says millennials killed bad advertising

August 25 – The Gothamist says millennials are killing McDonald’s, but only those of us who are promiscuous

September 8 – NBC News says millennials are killing credit cards

October 2 – Forbes says millennials might be killing Home Depot

2015

February 20 – Mic says millennials are killing the terms boyfriend and girlfriend

March 24 – Market Watch says millennials are killing Macy’s

May 27 – The New York Times says millennials are killing thongs

May 30 – Tech Crunch says millennials are killing banks (though to be fair, banks started it)

August 13 – Quartz says millennials killed General Electric’s performance review process

September 2 – Business Insider says that a millennial owned company is trying to kill Victoria’s Secret

September 24 – Refinery29 says millennials are killing TV sitcoms

October 2 – Digiday says millennials have killed focus groups

October 28 – Entrepreneur Magazine says millennials are killing the cubicle

November 10 – Time says millennials — with some help from baby boomers — killed retirement savings for Gen X

2016

January 8 – Philly Magazing says millennials are killing working

February 3 – Forbes says millennials — in a coordinated effort with baby boomers — killed the Toyota Scion

February 9 – Boston.com and Deloitte partnered up to say millennials are killing company loyalty

February 25 – The Atlantic says millennials attempted to kill the wine cork, but it’s unclear if they’ve succeeded

March 4 – Mashable says millennials are killing expensively furnished hotels

March 21 – GQ says millennials are killing breakfast cereal

March 23 – Entrepreneur Magazine says millennials are killing the 9-to-5 workday

March 28 – Business Insider says millennials are killing paper napkins

April 14 – Bloomberg says millennials killed the McWrap

April 15 – The New York Post says millennials are killing the movie industry

April 26 – Elle Magazine says millennials are killing the stiletto heel

April 27 – Vice says millennials are killing fucking

May 5 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing running

May 8 – The Globe and Mail says millennials are killing the Canadian tourism industry

June 21 – Market Watch says millennials are killing face-to-face interaction

June 29 – The Economist says millennials are killing diamonds. They followed up a day later with their infamous diamond tweet.

June 30 – Quartz says millennials are killing the myth that they’re entitled

July 16 – The Caribbean News Service says millennials are killing the cruise industry

July 19 – USA Today says millennials are killing the bra

August (Date Unknown) – Call center company Evaluagent says millennials are killing call center culture.

August 3 – The New York Post says millennials are killing sex. Again.

August 10 – Market Watch says millennials are killing home cooking

August 19 – NY Magazine says millennials are killing the Olympics

August 22 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing home ownership. Also on this day, research firm Mintel said millennials are killing bar soap.

August 26 – Inc says millennials are killing vacations

September 6 – Indiewire says millennials are killing the DVR

September 21 – Business Insider says millennials are killing light yogurt

September 29 – Time says millennials are killing traditional baby names

October 10 – The LA Times says millennials killed big spending and risk taking.

October 13 – Reuters says millennials are killing their parents’ retirement plans. Again.

October 17 – The New York Post says millennials are killing gyms

October 27 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing grocers

December 16 – The Wall Street Journal says millennials are killing fabric softener

December 29 – The Journal of Hand Therapy and the National Institutes of Health say that millennials are killing strong handshakes. Also on this date, the New York Post says millennials killed the dinner date.

2017

February 17 – Fortune says millennials are killing department stores

February 28 – The Metro says millennials are killing marmalade

March 23 – The New York Post says millennials are killing brunch

March 25 – USA Today says millennials are killing cable

March 28 – USA Today says millennials are killing lunch

April 4 – Bloomberg says millennials are killing marriage

June 3 – Business Insider says millennials are killing casual restaurants

June 15 – Nylon Magazine says millennials killed J. Crew

June 22 – Autoweek says millennials are killing automotive marketing

July 10 – USA Today says millennials are killing college football attendance. Also on this day, Yes Lifecycle Marketing published a study saying millennials are killing malls.

July 12 – CNBC says millennials are killing Harley-Davidson

July 21 – Business Insider says millennials are killing the oil industry

July 24 – Business Insider says millennials are killing the beer industry

August 15 – NPR says millennials are killing Applebee’s, marking the second time Applebee’s has died by our hands

August 16 – Business Insider says millennials are killing ‘breastaurants’ like Hooters

August 25 – Business Insider says millennials are killing traditional education

October 2 – The New York Post says millennials are killing postcards

October 13 – Vice says millennials are killing lotteries

October 31 – Business Insider says millennials are killing Halloween…kind of.

November 30 – Forbes says millennials are killing salary secrecy

December 7 – The Weekly Standard says millennials are killing office holiday parties

2018

January 4 – Fortune says millennials are killing being imperfect

January 13 – Wired says millennials are killing capitalism

January 19 – The Washington Post says millennials are (possibly) killing Costco

March 11 – The Financial Post says millennials are killing malls again. But this time it’s Canadian malls.

March 24 – Forbes says millennials killed both youth sports and Toys ‘R Us

March 27 – USA Today says millennials are plotting to kill the top sheet, though they haven’t acted on it yet

May 1 – The Guardian says millennials are killing the living room

May 14 – Metro says millennials are killing Club 18-30 holidays

May 24 – Carbuzz says millennials (or Gen Z…they’re not sure which) are killing subcompact cars

June 26 – Forbes says millennials are killing kitchens. Again.

July 2 – CityLab says millennials are killing country club membership

July 12 – The Comeback says millennials are killing Millennial Night for minor league baseball teams. This one isn’t important at all, but did make me laugh.

August 6 – Business Insider says millennials killed a beer specifically created for them

August 9 – Maxim says millennials are killing the razor industry

August 11 – Philly Magazine says millennials are killing mayonnaise

August 21 – Bustle says millennials killed dress codes

September 15 – The Washington Post says millennials are killing Washington DC’s metro

September 20 – KARE 11 says millennials are killing resumes

September 24 – The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says millennials are killing post offices

September 26 – USA Today says millennials are killing divorce

October 8 – USA Today says millennials are killing relationships

October 9 – Fortune says millennials are killing the primary care doctor

October 10 – Bloomberg says millennials are killing American cheese

October 11 – The Guardian says millennials are killing getting drunk

October 24 – Sports blog Saturday Down South says millennials are killing the University of Miami’s smoking Ibis mascot

November 1 – Jezebel says millennials are, shockingly, not killing funeral homes

November 19 – The Daily Mail says millennials are killing large Thanksgiving turkeys

November 22 – Metro UK says millennials are killing Christmas traditions

November 30 – A study by the Federal Reserve (via NPR) says millennials are killing things because they’re poorer than previous generations. We finally have a motive!

December 3 – Business Insider says millennials are killing canned tuna

Current Millennial Kill Count

Confirmed Kills: 95

Repeat Kills: 5

Possible Kills: 4

Total: 104

Other (Failed Kills and Motives): 2

The Fallacies of Training

I talk quite a bit on this blog about the freelance work I do, as well as the fact that I’m an author. That said, it’s not common that I bring up my day job. I generally don’t feel like this is the right place to talk about it in most circumstances. While there are some exceptions, the more I can keep my work life and my blogging life separate, the better I think the content I create is in both places.

My day-to-day for the past four and a half years9Across tenures with two different companies. That said, I’ve also been tasked with running training at multiple places before I officially got a trainer designation. has been a combination of training instructor, instructional designer, technical writer, and (occasionally) professional development coach. When taken as a whole, I’m going to classify these responsibilities as training, not just for ease of explanation throughout this post10As referring to it as Learning and Development or L&D is just silly., but also because training is more than just the act of standing in front of a room and telling people how to do their job. I find training to be a generally fulfilling job, however not everything about the role is particularly gratifying.

In my time as a trainer, there’s a handful of common fallacies about training that I’ve encountered regularly. These items tend to come up regardless of the company I’ve worked for, independent of departments of subject matter experts (SMEs) I’m working with, and commonly arise regardless of the nature of the project as well. I wanted to take some time to talk about them at the request of a friend of mine who recently stated she was considering getting into training, as well as to serve as a critical thinking exercise for myself about how corporate adult education is handled.

1. Your leaders and employees have very different perceptions of employee knowledge.

One of the first things I learned when I moved into a training role was that no one can agree on how much employees know about a given topic. Let’s say you’re a trainer for The Business Company11aka my favorite fictional company to use in pretty much any example thing I do.. Your first training task is to retrain your customer service team on supporting your primary product — Business Widgets. Your employees, on average, will say that they know 80-85% of everything they need to know about Business Widgets. Your leaders, on average, will say that your employees know 30-35% of everything they need to know about Business Widgets. While there will be individual employees and leaders who will have different answers for you (some objective, some not), you’ll find that this will be the general range you’re in.

The reality will be somewhere in the middle. Your employees, even the well-trained, long-tenured employees likely won’t know every single thing they need to know to do their job. Likewise, the leaders that assume your employees know little to nothing about their job are likely greatly underestimating the ability of those employees to do their job. This disconnect is common, if not expected. After all, employees are (generally) so focused on the minutia of their job that they don’t see how the mistakes they make impact the larger picture for the company. Similarly, departmental or divisional leaders are typically so disconnected from the reality of a front-line employee that they misinterpret a downtick in performance as a downtick in knowledge12There’s a separate fallacy that causes this issue as well, that being the use of small sample sizes to make training and staffing decisions rather than trended or longitudinal data.. Even leaders who used to be front-line employees fall into this trap, particularly the longer they’ve been separated from that role.

As a trainer, the key way to manage these expectations is to do your best to remind both sides of this debate that training is a process that everyone goes through. For leaders, remind them that their front-line employees are the experts in their role for a reason — and while they may need refinement on certain topics or in particular pieces of knowledge, there’s a reason they were hired to handle the hard work of their role. For employees, a lesson on the concept of an asymptote is probably the best way to get your point across. No matter how much those employees learn, there will always be more to learn. Even though they’re getting closer and closer to perfection, it will always be just out of reach because there’s something new that can be learned in all situations.

2. Developing quality content takes time.

So you’ve determined that you need to train your front-line employees on how to support Business Widgets. Great. Now it’s time to create the training content that your training department will be delivering. In a best case scenario, this will likely entail gathering all of the content you need from pre-existing materials and conducting your training. More likely though, particularly if The Business Company is a technology organization or if the company has not created training materials before, you’ll have to create this training largely from scratch. Any learning and development professional will know that this takes time, as you have to consider numerous factors. What’s the best method of delivery for this training? Who is your audience? How long does this training need to be reusable for? How much time are your leaders going to allot to training13Spoiler: The answer is usually “less than you’ll need”.? How will you assess learning and knowledge retention from the material covered in the training14We’ll talk about this point more a little later in this post.?

That said, individuals who don’t have a background in training or instructional design will commonly assume that all that needs done to make a training is to slap a PowerPoint together, get people in a room, and start talking. That takes, what, a couple of hours, right?

Hearing that previous statement happens more often than you might expect. Leaders: making that statement is the quickest way to drive your learning and development staff to insanity. Yes, we could throw something together quickly for whatever content needs taught. But in order to create training materials that will last, that will teach employees well, and that will ensure they’re retaining information, your learning and development staff needs time. This is to say nothing of if that content also needs to be created for a learning management system (LMS), if audio or video recordings are needed, or if there’s other mitigating factors that will delay the content from being created quickly. The creation of learning materials is not instant. If you’re a training professional, be sure to set clear and reasonable expectations with your leaders about this point.

3. Everyone will agree on assessment — until assessment is ready to be conducted.

Assessment, in my estimation, is the most critical part to a comprehensive training program. Assessment allows you get a gauge on how your employees are doing in terms of knowledge retention, as well as the ability to identify areas for future training where your employees are currently struggling. That said, assessment is more than that. Assessment allows you to turn training from a one-way interaction where your training staff teaches employees what to do and changes it into a two-way interaction where both your trainer and your trainees gain valuable insight and provide critical feedback to one another.

That said, the level to which assessment will be accepted within your organization will largely depend on how much buy-in you can generate from your leadership team. At a previous job, I spent a ton of time creating this comprehensive technical assessment for technical support representatives at the behest of leadership. This assessment was to be a three hour long assessment conducted yearly in order to get a full look at what areas an employee may need training on. We went through the design, planning, and beta testing phase of the assessment, getting all the way to our launch date with no concerns from anyone in leadership. Then, three days into our assessment cycle, our director announced that he was changing roles effective immediately. The new director felt that knowledge assessment shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes of a rep’s time, so the project was shelved, only to be rolled out again nearly a year later after a massive redesign. Unfortunately, one hole created by that redesign was that the partial set of data obtained before the project was shelved was no longer relevant, due to changes in the technology the reps were supporting in the time that had passed.

While I don’t have a ton of advice for how to handle a massive organizational leadership change like the one described above, it does highlight the fact that the way assessment is viewed varies drastically person to person. Everyone agrees that you need to understand what your employees are struggling with. But while some folks want to determine that all in one fell swoop, others will want to break that judging up into bite-sized pieces. Whatever length and depth your assessment needs to be will vary based on your circumstances. I will note that no matter how much time I’ve budgeted towards assessment in my training plans, I’ve nearly always received push back from those above me saying ‘that’s too much time’ or something to that effect. If your knowledge assessment for your training really matters, be prepared to fight for it. It’s likely the first thing that non-training professional will look to cut from your training program.

4. Your leaders need to learn too. And not just leadership training.

One of the easiest sells I’ve ever had to make when pitching a training program was to say that organizational leaders/managers/leads/supervisors/etc need to receive the same attention in training that front line reps do. Everyone wants to feel like they’re getting attention from other groups, so hearing that training had an interest in them made the managers I’ve pitched training to ecstatic. What was a much harder sell, however, was to tell them that the training they needed was not solely management exclusive training.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of leadership training topics that are critical components of any leadership development program. Whether it be teaching your managers how to coach more effectively, how to be more discerning interviewers, or even how to apply their interpersonal skills more successfully to work with their managerial peers, you’ll find there’s a lot managers want to learn about15And this isn’t even when considering common managerial courses like sexual harassment training, legal compliance like Sarbanes-Oxley, or IT security training.. But in most cases, your leadership team likely needs a limited amount of training in the skills, product or process knowledge, or even job-specific functions that their direct reports need to know. Getting your leaders to sign onto this training is challenging. Getting them to show up — or to take an online course, if that’s the modality you’re using — is likely just as challenging, if not more so.

Although there will be a certain subset of leaders who will feel like any training not directly made for them is beneath them and is not worth their time, the best way I’ve found to present this type of training is to push it as a way to further a connection with their team members. Seeing their manager in a training with them can foster conversation on the topics covered in training with the employee’s manager. It serves to show that even though an employee may report to a manager, that manager is still human and looking to learn just like the employee. For online courses, managers can take advantage of the self-paced nature to allow themselves time to complete the training, take notes over whatever they’d like to discuss, and potentially review in team huddles or meetings. It’s a great way to make managers part of the training process, as well as to reinforce content while you’re at it.

5. Someone with a higher title than you will make you redesign your training and make it worse.

This is just reality. While learning and development professionals often have some level of creative control over the content that they’re creating, designing, and facilitating, these professionals do reports to someone higher on the corporate food chain than them. And occasionally, someone higher up on that ladder is going to force you to change your training in some way and it will make it less effective. This could mean you’re not training the full cohort of people you intended to train. It might mean that you’re now forced to train a module that is much more effective online in a classroom because that leader doesn’t want to have to do the training at a computer. There’s a chance that the person above you has decided to fully change the program you’re designing.

While these changes are rarely, if ever, meant maliciously, it can be frustrating, particularly when you’ve dedicated a lot of your time to making your content the best it can be — only to have that program changed by someone who doesn’t have the same expertise as you. My best suggestion for dealing with this problem is to go with the flow and try to accommodate these requests the best you can. After all, such changes are generally coming from someone higher up than you. While you certainly can (and should) make an effort to explain why you’re conducting your program in the manner that you are, it’s often better to lose a single battle and make a few small changes on a single training than to jeopardize your entire training program16I’d love to say this isn’t the worst case scenario, however I’ve seen it happen first hand before..

6. Someone with less experience than you will give you ideas that’ll make your training better. Listen to them.

I recognize that this point is essentially a corollary to the previous point. That said, it’s also a reality that took me a long time to learn once I started doing training in any capacity, be it internal employee training or external customer training. You’re going to have ideas thrown at you on how to do your job better in nearly any role, however these seem to come at you faster and more frequently in training than in nearly any professional role aside from customer service.

As you might expect, some of this advice is going to come from those above you, regardless of their experience level with learning and development. That said, they’re not the main focus of this point, as we’re more likely to take advice from those who have influence over us (and reporting to someone is by its very nature, a form of influence). Where the ideas you’re most likely to ignore are coming from are from those that you, as a trainer, would be viewed as being the expert towards. Said another way, your trainees, your customers, or even your co-workers that aren’t training professionals may give advice as to how to improve your work. Be willing to listen to them. While not every idea you’ll be presented with will be beneficial to your training — and if you get enough feedback, some of it is bound to be contradictory — having an open mind to the ideas you’re presented give you the opportunity to grow within your role. If nothing else, examine each idea for what it is, determine how you could (potentially) take that advice to improve on your work, and then choose to act on that improvement you’ve identified. This can work well even if you’re choosing not to act on the idea itself.


I might do more columns like this in the future for the blog, as this was quite fun to write. That said, I’d like to know what those of you who read this blog thing, especially if you don’t have a training/learning and development background. Let me know your thoughts on this post — or even your own experience with training and development in your career — in the comments.

The Great Big List of Business Jargon

Business has a ton of words that are jargon-filled and yet empty at the same time. Weird Al wrote a song about it. We know these words when we hear them, but what do they actually mean? I’ve collected a list of business jargon terms and phrases from numerous people around the internet and attempted to give definitions to them.

Have your own words and rough definitions to them? Leave them in the comments. I may add them to the list (either directly or with modified definitions).

Thank you to the numerous people who contributed ideas including (in no particular order) Mike, Brandon, Stephanie, Katie, Tim, Eve, Jason, Brian, Patrick, Mike, Steven, Liz, Chris, J.P., and the CEO of Uber.

Actualize Your Potential – The action of developing onto the career path that management desires for you.

Bandwidth – Something that your manager will ask you if you have enough of before they attempt to give you extra responsibilities. This is usually followed by the addition of new work to the employee in question’s workload regardless of their answer.

Big Block/Big Rock – A giant obstacle in the way of progress. Big rocks are identified by leaders with the intent of the rock being moved or solved by many people or processes, though this rarely happens in practice.

Bringing X to the Table – A fancy way of qualifying someone’s skill set when they’re not in the room with you. In reality, you can only say someone brings X trait to the table when they’re not physically at the same table as you. Not to be confused with who is, in fact, going to give it to ya.

Business Casual – Hahahahahahahahahahahhahahahaha. Hahahahaha. Ha. No one actually know what this means.

Calibration – The act of getting everyone on the same page on a topic for just long enough that everyone stops realizing that said topic is the source of a problem.

Collaborative – Any project where two or more individuals or teams are tasked with working together by their managers or directors.

Consulting – Freelancing, only with better pay guarantees and less responsibility.

Cost Marginalization – How pompous people and/or mathematicians refer to opportunity cost changes.

Creating Buy In – The act of getting someone to care enough about your job or project that they won’t act as an impediment to you getting your job done.

Cryptokitty – Keyboard cat for hackers.

Crystallize – Any idea that is clear in the head of the person explaining it, but murky in everyone else’s minds.

Culture – Your company has a good one if you’re happy. Your company has a bad one if you’re angry.

Dedication – An employee’s willingness to do exactly what they’re asked or told to do for long enough that they can be awarded with a certificate or a plaque.

Deep Empathy – Like regular empathy, only with more business jargon. South Park did a picture perfect explanation of deep empathy.

Design Ninja – Someone who can convince shareholders, the public, or a graphics designer that Comic Sans is superior to all other sans serif fonts. Which it is17Save for Tahoma, of course., though good luck cleaning up the brains of a visual designer when their head explodes from telling them that.

Disconnect – A term used when one person thinks another person or department has a major problem, but is trying their hardest to be polite about the severity of that issue. See also: Pain Point.

Dynamic Workforce – What a manager’s workforce believes themselves to be when they can still meet their quotas despite upper management constantly changing goals. See also: Moving the Goalposts.

Experiential Training – Another way of saying hands-on training. A learning model that is rarely effective even with the most engaged learners, and a potentially catastrophic one with a disengaged learner. See also: Shadowing.

Friday Eve – Whatever day is the next to last day of your work week.

Get My/Your Head Around It – A diplomatic way of telling someone you don’t understand what they’re trying to say without offending them.

Hitting The Wall – A polite way of telling someone that you/they/their project is running out of steam.

Incentivize – The action of giving prizes as a method to increase productivity, sales, or other positive behavior you wish for your employees to exhibit. Pavlov’s dog was a nard dog.

Intentionalize – A word used to explain that you meant to take an action and you’re trying to sound smarter than someone in the process.

Integration – When used in the context of software, this is the interactivity between two or more systems. When used in the context of mergers and acquisitions, this is the action of the acquiring company picking and choosing what they want to keep of the acquired company, usually as dictated by the board of directors.

It Doesn’t Pop – Phrase used any time a presentation, design, or marketing material doesn’t have the exact type of pizzazz that a major stakeholder who has zero design experience wants. This is nearly always remedied by RANDOM Capitalization of MEANINGLESS words and Letters, extraneous use of font style changes, or by placing said presentation over and endless loop of Dave Matthews music18AKA the holy trinity of ways to get me to make fun of your presentation..

Millennials – A generation that is killing everything according to people who don’t understand how either economics or generations work.

Move the Dial – Progress on a project as viewed from a high level. Usually utilized by someone that does not have a direct connection with said project.

Networking – The act of making business connections without developing any actual friendships. These connections are most commonly used only when it is of a professional benefit, such as when searching for a job or selling.

Optics – The phenomenon wherein something you’ve done always looks far worse to you than it does to other people. Even when you know that, you still can’t help but feel like you made a mistake. Like that one time where you were cleaning out a desk that you’re moving to and you instant messaged the former office owner asking if he wanted a stash of candy wrappers you found in the desk, thinking that he had managed to get personalized peanut butter cups because you didn’t realize that Justin’s is a candy company. SHUT UP BRAIN! WHY ARE YOU REMINDING ME OF THIS AT TWO IN THE MORNING ON A TUESDAY! I JUST WANT TO SLEEP!

Overqualified – What you totally are when you don’t get a job you feel you should have.

Ownership – The act of taking responsibility to solve a problem, even when you weren’t the one to cause that problem. A trait that’s strong in customer service and information technology professionals, but weak in other fields.

Partner (v.) – To work with someone. More specifically, the person saying “I’m happy to partner with you” or some variation of the phrase is assuming that the other party will do the bulk of the work, but that both parties will receive equal credit.

Pop Up – Any computer notification, instant message, new internet window that opens when you click a link, or other computer function that does not perform as expected. Commonly used by non-IT professionals.

Self-Starter – An employee who has the ability to both do work and slack off at will without their direct manager noticing the difference.

Shareholders – A nebulous concept that leadership of public companies use to place blame on when a decision negatively impacts employees.

Sign-off – The natural conclusion of buy-in, wherein you’ve gotten enough people to care about your project that you either get funding, get manpower, or get left alone long enough to actually complete that project.

Streamline – In the context of a project or dataset, this term roughly means to make more efficient. In the context of employees, this loosely means to lay people off in an effort to increase profits to please shareholders.

Subby/Subbie – Shorthand for subcontractor. Can be a term of endearment or one of derision, depending on the quality of the work provided by said subcontractor.

Synergy – Something that your meetings have if the highest ranking person in the meeting thinks that meeting is going well. See also: Momentum, It.

The D – According to the CEO of Uber, this is apparently the power to make decisions in meetings. According to literally everyone else, this is a thing you say you need when the marketing team misspells ‘extraordinary’ in your building’s faux-motivational graphics.

Thinking Outside the Box – To propose an idea that is just different enough to everyone else’s but similar enough to your boss’s that it gets selected as a plan.

Up and to the Right – The direction the profits chart moves for a profitable business. Generally, this is a good thing. In some cases, your company’s senior leadership may profess a desire to have sexual intercourse with such charts. It’s just as creepy as it sounds.

Your Job Rejection Emails Suck

(or But At Least You Told Me That I Didn’t Get The Job)

I recently went through a very lengthy job hunt. This is the same job hunt that prompted this mental head clearing rant I posted a few months ago (though I wrote the post back in February…I didn’t want to talk about the search while it was going on though), as well as the epitaph to my job from a couple of weeks back. Truth be told, it’s something I have no intention of going through again at any point in the near future. Even though I learned a lot during the job search process — some things good, some not — that would help me in future job searches, those things weren’t the thing that stuck with me once the search was finally done.

Of the 392+19As I mentioned in an earlier post, I received emails confirming my application submission for 392 jobs. There are at least 2 — likely quite a few more — jobs that I applied for that never sent a confirmation email. jobs I applied for between finding out our office was closing and when I was offered my new job, I received rejection emails for 108 positions. These rejection emails came at various points in the interviewing process20Most came before even a phone screening, but I had some phone screenings and a handful of interviews in there too., though all of them told me I wasn’t, for whatever reason, getting the job.

Just because I got 108 rejection emails out of 392+ jobs applied for doesn’t mean that I got offered 284 jobs. That would be ridiculous. What it does mean, however, is that 72.4% of jobs I applied for didn’t even bother to send any sort of communication letting me know that I didn’t get the job. Some of the companies that didn’t reply back didn’t mean much to me. They were just jobs I found on job boards that sounded interesting, so I applied. There were three companies that I applied for that were dream companies that I would have considered leaving a great job for. Of those three companies, only WordPress took the time to send me a rejection email21Nothing against the other two companies, hence not sharing who the other two companies are. But it was incredibly disappointing, particularly considering how both companies present themselves to their client base..

That said, there were still 108 rejection emails that I got. Most of those emails were form emails that looked something like this.

Dear Timothy,

Thank you for your interest in 55555EX – Business Worker at The Business Company and for the time you took to submit your interest in this position. We carefully review hundreds of resumes daily, and while your skills and accomplishments caught our eye, we have decided to pursue other candidates.

However, this isn’t goodbye! Just as we value our customers, we also value you and appreciate that you considered The Business Company during your job search. We invite you to keep checking our careers website, as new opportunities are added daily.

We wish you much success as you continue your job search.

Best wishes,

The Business Company Talent Acquisition Team

I understand that large organizations receive countless resumes on a daily basis. If that organization is telling me no without even giving a phone screening for the position, as the email above was for, I find this to be an acceptable email. Sure, it’s impersonal. And after you’ve received 12 of these emails from the same company22The company who wrote this particular form email employs a ton of people in Northern Ohio. As such, they have numerous job postings year round., it does come off as disingenuous. But that said, it’s not a bad email, per say.

On the other hand, there’s emails like this.

Dear Timothy,

Thank you for submitting your application for the Business Worker position. We appreciate your interest in The Business Company.

We received numerous applications for this position and were not able to consider them all. Unfortunately, your application was not reviewed for this position.

We look forward to speaking with you in the future as new opportunities become available.

Thank you again for your interest and good luck in your job search!

The Business Company Talent Acquisition Team

While this wasn’t the worst rejection email I received23It wasn’t even the worst form email I got., it is representative of some of the most frustrating ones I got. To tell a candidate that the time they took to apply for your job was so wasted that you didn’t even look at their application is an embarrassing way to represent your company. Not only does that deter someone from applying to work for your company in the future, it also deters them from being one of your customers.

I recognize that not ever employer can take the time to give a personalized response to each and every applicant that applies for a job with a company. I also recognize that not every applicant to a position will meet the basic qualifications for the position they’re applying for24Oddly enough, I was better qualified for the job in the second email than the first one., hence complicating individualized candidate review processes. So how does a company make a rejection email better? Oddly enough, I think another form rejection email I received can point us in the right direction.

Dear Tim,

Thank you for your interest in the Business Worker position at The Business Company. Although you were not selected, we wish to thank you for presenting yourself for candidacy and encourage you to continue to review our employment opportunities at [website redacted] and apply for any position that meets your qualifications as they become available.

We sincerely thank you for your interest in becoming a member of the Business Company family and look forward to you presenting your candidacy again.

Cordially,
The Business Company Human Resources Group

When I got the email above the first time, I didn’t think much of it. I had applied for a position that was a massive reach for my qualifications and experience. I applied for three more roles with this company at various points in early 2018, only to get the same form email back each time. That said, this one never got on my nerves. If anything, I felt a bit uplifted when I read it. I think the main reason for this is one small section of a giant run-on sentence.

“Apply for any position that meets your qualifications as they become available.”

To me, this specific sentence reads as “hey…you didn’t get this role…but you should apply to the roles you feel you’d succeed in as you continue your job search”. After reading repeated form emails where I was told my qualifications didn’t exactly fit the role’s requirements25If I had a dollar for every “entry level” job where the job poster wanted 3-5 years or more of experience, I wouldn’t have needed a new job., seeing this sentence was a welcome light in the sea of frustration that was my job search. If you can’t, as a company, find a way to review every application26You should. or give a personalized rejection email to every candidate who isn’t considered, at least give them some encouragement to continue their job search on their terms.

Oh. And if you’re one of the companies that can’t be bothered to send rejection emails to people you’re not considering for a job, get your shit together. People don’t spend two hours filling out an application that has five essay questions to be ignored.

Update: Since writing this post in May, I received an email from a company I applied for back in February that was apparently just getting through their resume review process. It holds a special place in my heart because of this post, as you’ll see once you read it.

Hi Tim,

Thanks for your interest in the Business Worker position at The Business Company. We have reviewed your application. I must regretfully inform you that the position has been filled. However, we will maintain your resume on file for a one-year period. We will contact you should there be an opening that matches your profile during that time.

We wish to thank you for your interest in our company and wish you great success in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,
via email only