Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ono Island's Most Wanted


Ono Island is the Hamptons of the Alabama Gulf Coast. Home to country and pop artists, comedians, actors, and sports stars, Ono Island is secluded, gated, and very private.  To the south of the island is The Old River.  This waterway serves as a moat against the wage earning vagrants and paupers who vacation along the Perdido Beach Road. A few years back, I was one of those paupers.  However, I wasn’t going to let a little brackish river keep me from potentially making friends with Britney Spears or Woody Harrelson!

What started out as a joke soon became a test of manhood.  June 6th, 2012 was the day that I would swim across The Old River. I remember the date because it was the same day that The University of Alabama defeated Oklahoma in the Women’s College World Series in the rain and the same day that we got a call from our social worker informing us of potential issues with the adoption of our daughter.

There were three of us guys sitting by the pool and a cast of other beach going rednecks under the cabana whose pot bellies, body hair, and cut off jeans made me feel a lot better about my fading physical appearance.  After listening to every Lynard Skynard song on the ipod, and the bottle of Fireball met its fortuitous demise, the stage was set for something big to happen.

“I bet I can swim all the way over there”, my friend Hut said pointing to Ono Island.

As the dozen or so people snickered and jeered at his presumption, I soberly advised to the contrary.

“Hell yeah, I can. And when I get there I’m gonna make out with Britney Spears on her boat dock”, he exclaimed to the now cheers from the cast of rednecks.  By this time they just wanted to see him give it a try and, if they were lucky, see someone drown-- Kind of like watching Nascar for the crashes!

“I’ll make you a deal. If you jump in first, I’ll swim it with you”, I said in a bluff.  My error in this bluff was thinking that rationality and the assessment of fear could be processed by my inebriated friend.

“Let’s GO”, Hut said as he flung his body off the wooden dock and splashed belly first!

A deal is a deal, so I jumped in directly after him. 

This is the point in the story that I should mention, in addition to an elevated blood alcohol content, Hut is seriously out of shape and more than a few pounds heavier than in his prime.

The next 500 feet could mean life and death for one, or both of us.  After about 50 yards I saw the fear in Hut’s eyes and his sobriety was instantly renewed.  He honestly thought he was going to drown.

Luckily, there was a sand bar shallow enough for us to stand up in about 50 more yards away.  All I could think about was the death crawl scene from the movie Facing the Giants.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4)

“A few more strokes , Hut. Kick. Kick. Kick.  You can do it! We are almost there.  Just a little farther now.  Hut, don’t stop moving! I think I can see the sandbar.  Kick. Kick. Kick!  I wonder what Britney is wearing?  Keep swimming Hut.”

After about 40 yards of fighting for every inch, Hut was defeated and stopped moving his arms.

“I’m done. Please don’t let me die”, he said in sincerity.

At this point I’m exhausted as well, but I know that we are 20 seconds away from being able to rest.

“Move your arms, one more stroke, now another. Kick. Kick. KIIIICCCKKKK!”, I shouted as loud as I could as I felt the sand between my toes.

“Now stand up”, I directed as he realized that he was safe.

Hut looked back at the pool side cabana and proclaimed, “I AM THE BADDEST MAN ALIVE”!!!

The crowded cabana erupted in cheers and began chanting his name in unison.

We rested for a few minutes before finishing the last 30 yards with fresh lungs and made ourselves temporary residents of Ono Island.  Britney Spears must not have been home that day, but it didn’t matter, because Hut was Ono Island’s champion distance swimmer for the moment and found a part of himself that he never knew existed.

Soon the alcohol replaced the adrenaline and he screamed at a pontoon boat passing by and hitched a ride home.

Being motivated during tough situations gives us a glimpse of what we have the potential to be.  Having a person that believes in you during adversity is something that every successful person has.  Nobody can do it on their own.  Maybe you are that person to someone. Maybe you’re the only person that supports them in their most difficult ventures. 

Help others to refuse to accept difficulty as failure.

Push them the last few yards of their journey and celebrate the victory. 

Allowing them to stop or pushing them to keep going could change their life.  When we motivate people they learn the importance of accountability in the process of mastering something new.  Hut may never swim The Old River again, but he knows he has the ability to do it.  Your employees will never understand their potential to change your organization until they see failure as an option in the face of difficulty and choose perseverance instead. The results are always life changing.

We write off motivation as an effective way to overcome tough situations with most of our employees because we assume they don’t have the ability to reach new levels of achievement.  SHAME ON US! It’s not for us to make this decision. Our job is to be a constant and consistent support system and motivate them to gain new knowledge and skills in their pursuit of development. Investing in our people means supporting them unconditionally through motivation and encouragement….. no matter what.

 

Where were you Britney,

 

Clint Hamner

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Commitment Gap


Pinky worked for an engineering company after the end of World War II.  Part of the overall recovery from the war that would ensure employment and curb inflation was the lowering of interest rates.  Because Federal Housing and Urban Development mortgages and regulations opened the market up to almost anyone to own a home, a building boom ensued.  Still today you can see the homes of the 1940s in neighborhoods and the countryside alike. Those homes couldn’t have been built without people like Pinky—sort of. 

The engineering company Pinky worked for was tasked with surveying and establishing lot lines for new homes to be built.  The subdivision had hundreds of homes.  Each day would be just like the one before.  Each morning upon arriving at the development, the boss would get out of the truck and look for Pinky, always still firmly seated in Surveying Jeep. 

“What are we gonna do today boss”, Pinky would ask?

Normally the boss would give Pinky the same answer as the day before, but this day he didn’t have the time or patience. 

“Dammit Pinky, he exclaimed! We are gonna do the same thing we did yesterday, and the day before that, and the God only knows how many days before that! Why is that so hard for you to understand?”

Pinky sat silent for a moment.

“Well alright then boss, Pinky mumbled. But if I kept up with all this like you, then I’d have your job!”

Pop Quiz! Which of the following statements best describes Pinky?

a)      Pinky is a dumbass

b)      Pinky is not committed to his job

c)       Pinky is competent and committed, but hits the reset button each day at 5 o’clock and assumes that the “boss” exists to fill the gap left after hours.

Judging Pinky starts with how you define employee commitment.  In some jobs, if you show up every day you are considered committed.  In others, working towards improvement or making contributions to maximizing the organization’s profit margins mean the most. However, no matter which definition you choose, a commitment gap exists in all employee’s minds; yes even yours! The commitment gap can certainly be problematic if it is assumed to be too large by any subordinate.  Let’s do some simple math to demonstrate:

Subordinate 1 Commitment = 50%                                     

Subordinate 1 Assumed Superior’s Commitment Gap= 50%                     

Subordinate 1 Total Commitment= 100%- BASELINE COMMITMENT

 

Superior 1 Commitment- 80%

Superior 1 Assumed Superior’s Commitment Gap- <20%>

Superior 1 Assumed Added Commitment from Subordinate 1- 50%

Superior 1 Total Commitment = 110%

 

Subordinate 1 Total Commitment 100% – Superior 1 Total Commitment 110% = -10%

 

The reality is that this 10% deficit at the first level of management in an organization will compound and, if left unbalanced, will result in perceptions of lesser committed lower level employees to high brass executives.  Oftentimes middle managers take the brunt of this commitment gap and overcompensate within their own jobs to satisfy subordinates and superiors alike.  This creates rapid burn out and resentment towards subordinates.  And in essence, if questioned by your superiors about those subordinates that have been letting you fill the gap and you know you’ve been doing so, you just self-implicated!

 

So if you have this problem at work, how do you fix it? Here are three starting points.

 

1.       Identify what commitment is and how it should be displayed on each level within your span of control.  If it is a simple hours worked metric, good.  If it is a function of service, then determine a way to measure it.  Always make sure that each employee understands what their contribution means to the end product.

2.       Encourage co-workers who may be overcompensating to maintain balance to stop doing so. This is a corporate cultural issue that will be recognized and adjusted to whichever way it is being balanced by supervisors.

3.       Don’t be scared to question commitment levels and understand that, as a manager, you will always have to fill a certain amount of commitment gap.  The concern is keeping a net zero balance between all levels of supervision. Times of emergency and urgency will always require managers to be more committed. These situations are the exceptions, but slowly creep in to become the rule if not monitored through self-awareness.

 

Inevitably, there will be employees who, under any metric or understanding of their contribution, couldn’t care less about their perceived contribution. These people are poison to the well!  Address the behaviors of these employees with them.  Behaviors are learned, reinforced, and thankfully can be changed.  Focus on the behaviors. 

 

Pinky wasn’t a bad employee, just presumptuous about what slack his boss was taking up. Next time you have an interaction with “Pinky”, stop and think about how you can close the commitment gap. Just like a river eroding the banks, sometimes it takes a while to see its devastating effects and the damage can’t be reversed. In the case of the Grand Canyon, it’s not just the river eroding the banks deeper and deeper, but the weak canyon walls left behind that fall making the gap wider and wider.  Commitment gaps in an organization will make other issues worse if left untamed.  A unified, committed workforce can create advantages for itself so stop trying to fill the gap!

 

Remember Pinky,

 

Clint Hamner 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spilt Ravioli- A Lesson in Rewards and Punishments


Payday means different things to different people. To a fat middle class ten year old kid it means “snack variety”!  That husky variety seeking lad was me.  Looking back from age 7-17 I never remember being full.  All I wanted to do was eat. Fruit, veggies, meat, ice cream, imitation meat, ice cream, pizza, ice cream, nothing could get me full, not even ice cream---I ate a lot of ice cream.  One payday my mom prepared my fat ass an entire tray of food. The main course for this pre-lunch meal was canned ravioli.  Chef Boyardee would have been so proud of my appetite for his mass produced Italian cuisine for my L’antipasto.  Like Will Ferrell’s character from Wedding Crashers, I yelled upstairs, “Mom, Ravioli!”—wondering to myself the whole time, ‘what’s she’s doing up there? Here I am starving to death and I never know what sees doing up there!’

After a brief standoff about whether she would bring the tray of food to me or if my starving, weak, fragile and frail body would have to make an Everest like ascent up the stairs, I gave in and drug myself to the kitchen where I saw the most beautiful thing even put in an old CoolWhip bowl.  The plastic tray should have normally been used as a laundry hamper, but for me it was just the right size to fill with food that would tease my appetite.  Happiness was all over me and my smile soon gave way to the real objective; get back down stairs and get your grub on.  With pure joy and high cholesterol coursing through my partially clotted veins, I got cocky and with two stairs left before reaching the bottom I tried to click my heels like a good spirited leprechaun.  Just one problem, I forgot I couldn’t jump and my body went one way while my prized ravioli went the other and painted the concrete block wall the most delicious shade of orange ever crafted.  The laundry hamper turned food tray broke my fall and knocked the air out of chubby chest. Trying to get my wits about myself, I hear my mom tromping down the stairway screaming at me about being careful and having self-control. When I looked up to see the food tray emptied and a pile of smashed beef sauce and a sleeve of crumpled saltine crackers I began to well up with tears.  At this point I’m sobbing uncontrollable, while my mom is still screaming at me about spilling my food because I wasn’t careful. She continues to pile on the verbal punishment even as she cleaned up the mess.  Meanwhile I was having a short memorial service in my mind for the lost Boyardee soldiers.  The entire time she was talking I’m wiping away tears. When I reconciled in my mind and vowed to never again go for a leprechaun heel click while carrying food downstairs I stopped crying and got up.  Now I was alone and hungry and would be forced to sit for the next two hours thinking about how tasty that ravioli and crackers would have been.  My mom, satisfied that her stern lecture had made sense to me, walked back upstairs.  Boy-ardee, was she wrong—This fat boy just wanted his ravioli.

Punishments and rewards are often times utilized to reach desired outcomes. (In all other instances consequences of outcomes don’t correlate to the actions of the behaviors that led to the outcomes. This is just a complicated way of saying sometimes we have no clue why we are punished or rewarded!) In a currency driven society, rewards are almost primarily reduced to cash compensation. But cash is not the cure for everyone.  Some people like to have paid days off, more creative freedom, or organizational poll position.  Punishments are more memorable because they tend to spark more intense emotions.  Think about the concept of risk aversion.  If I told you that I would give you $50 for cutting my grass and you never cut the grass, oh well, that’s just 50 bucks you never earned.  But, what if I gave you $50 upfront and you still didn’t cut my grass.  This time I’m coming to your house and getting my $50 back from you; essentially I’m taking it away even though you feel attached to it.  That creates negative emotions and research has concluded that we react more memorably to these situations.  The bank owns my mortgaged house and rewards me each month by allowing me the live there for another month after a payment is received.  However, if I fail to make enough payments, I’m homeless and the negative feelings associated with that are felt for a lifetime. 

Rewards and punishments are not a one size fits all model. Instead, they are more about knowing the individual and their motivations; even if these motivations have absolutely nothing to do with your organization’s mission. Aligning your rewards and punishments in a way that focuses on the individual’s core values is a surefire way to be impactful when distributing them. Most of us work within strict systems for formal reward and punishment processes. These are not necessarily the focus of my intent here.  Using corporate bureaucracy as a crutch for uniform distribution of rewards and punishments will leave you with the status quo. Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time!  Challenge yourself to not lose sight of the fact that policies are just a small percentage of opportunities to reinforce the consequences of behaviors. 

Additionally, pay attention to the response that you get when reinforcing behaviors.  Specifically, concerning punishment, if the punishment doesn’t evoke a change in future behaviors, you have either given the perception that you will not follow through with your discipline measures or the discipline is in some twisted way what they want. Also, like fat me, there are those times when the outcomes of the behaviors are enough and the dissatisfaction alone is punitive beyond any conceived reprimand. Behaviors, not personalities or inherently bad people, are what lead to the undesirable outcomes that affect profit margins. Finding the thing that most appropriately and quickly changes the behaviors in each individual has to be our focus.

Positive and Negative reinforcements are our best tools for modifying behavior, however, we underutilize them and, when we do give them a whirl, miss the mark with our people because we forget that consequences, whether rewards or punishments, have to be emotional.  Our human side of being managers has to remember that people have lasting memories of the bad times and everybody is motivated by something they perceive as good; think ravioli!

Still Crying over Spilt Ravioli,

 

Clint Hamner

Friday, November 14, 2014

JOB APATHY- A CRISIS OF NOTHINGNESS

What excites you at work? Anything…? Maybe nothing. The relationship that we have with our job is a lot more like a marriage than we might ordinarily consider. Assuming that you don’t completely hate your job for a legitimate reason, under which circumstance I would recommend you beginning a serious professional job search immediately, you should operate in your job like a healthy couple that you admire operates in their marriage. I’m challenging you to use this approach and I promise you’ll see the importance of battling the Weak Human Spirit of Nothingness!

What is a Crisis of Nothingness? It is the state of having a dullness or indifference for something that you once held in high regard.  With respect to marriages, nothingness creeps in over time when our focus becomes blurred with illusions of the truth and our motivations are selfishly skewed. Nothingness is not about resentment or anger, but is more toxic to a committed relationship because of its idleness and extinction for concern. Resentment and anger involve us using our emotional mind. Even when we think we could never forgive our spouse for a transgression against us, the fact that we become emotional about it means that we care on some level about that person.  The absence of emotions is a hallmark trait in all crises of nothingness.

So have you and your job lost that loving feeling?  Can you think back to the last time you felt passionate about your job? Is the only motivation you have when you punch the timeclock knowing that in eight hours you get to go home? Dullness, like in a marriage, can ruin the relationship that you have with your job.  I’m not saying that it will never happen, but I am saying that you need to know when the feelings you once had about your job and career have retreated. 

Now, think back to that married couple that you admire. The next time you see them ask the question, “What did you do to energize your marriage during those times when it became unemotional”? The answers may vary tremendously, but the point of the question is not to determine if the dullness crept in, but that the great relationships recognize it and fight back. Whether your career has stalled or you just need a little extra encouragement, understanding how to thrive in place is a great way to avoid an apathetic approach to you job.

Thriving in place in a humbling approach in a fast paced world of climbing corporate ladders.  To the world our worth is calculated in status and great accomplishments. But how reasonable is it for us to have an attitude of “all or nothing”?  160 Million American tax payers go to work each day and are led by 10,000 CEOs. That means that 159,990,000 of us have fallen short of the “World’s Expectations”! Crushing dreams isn’t my intent, but seeing people become defeated and disconnected in their current positions is a reality that needs to be addressed. The workforce is in a crisis of nothingness because of unrealistic expectations that anyone who isn’t the “top dog” is a lesser employee.  Perceived or actual, the result is a workforce that becomes apathetic and dull for the job that it once loved. The best married couples always bring out the best in each other, especially in the disappointing seasons in our lives.  Those couples always find a way remember the reason they are together and redefine prosperity and put disappointment into perspective for what really matters.

Marriages are all different and mature in different ways at different speeds. Our professional maturity in our jobs is dependent on having an attitude of remembering our love for our career decision, reminding ourselves to fight the apathy, and transform ourselves into employees that can thrive in place.  The crisis of nothingness is not new, but is infecting more and more people in the workplace.  It’s time for somebody to take a stand and fall back in love with their job.

Why Wait,

Clint Hamner

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Workplace Envy


 

Back in my younger days we loved to play board games; Pictionary, Balderdash, Cranium, and even Monopoly.  But one game stood out as my favorite. It was a quiz game called Trivial Pursuit.  The objective of the game was to complete the board by answering genre specific questions that were color coded to locations on the game board. The categories ranged from science to sports and even tested your knowledge of history and literature. Being a particularly arrogant intellectual, I loved this game and usually finished my board before most of the others.  The group of friends that I played this game with the most included a sibling group of two brothers and a sister.  We usually played the game at their house where the game was kept.  One night the game was very competitive and an extremely hard question came up in the Literature category. “What is the middle name of Thoreau’s grandmother’s childhood best friend’s neighbor’s aunt?” Of course, I know now that the answer is Nottingham! But I was a bit surprised when my friend’s sister spit out the correct answer all those years ago to win the board!

 

“Screw you Jessica! There is no way you should know that. Now everybody knows you read the cards when you’re taking a crap”, her brother accused!  The situation was tense.  The long assumed speculation had become truth---She had been cheating all those years, or had she?

 

Staying late, taking extra responsibilities, making small talk with your superiors, and following policies may seem like cheating to some co-workers. Self-promotion is probably the most hated co-worker trait that we could have if people were honest. It may even seem like the equivalent of Jessica reading the trivial pursuit cards on the can.

 

It took quite a few years for me to see the dedication and effort it must have taken on Jessica’s part to grab that stack of game cards and sit focused, gaining information while losing lunch.  When I decided in retrospect that the tactic was genius, I began to see those self-promoting behaviors as advantages that I wasn’t capitalizing on.  The best part about promoting yourself is that it costs very little and has the potential of huge returns.  The worst part is that the secret isn’t entirely out and that some co-workers mask their envy with back-biting.  The worst thing that can happen is when jealous behaviors take place without any reason. 

 

If your find yourself on the wrong side of this equation, the great equalizer to workplace envy is easily attainable by everyone.  Be a good employee, do extra without being asked, and act nicely to everyone and a lot of those feelings of resentment will disappear when you realize the opportunities and experiences that will come your way as a result.  The adage of “your hard work will be rewarded with more hard work” is 100% true.  But to those that hard work seems like a burden, they will never know the feeling of victory as a result of extra work and dedication. The truth is, you may feel like you’ve just ridden to the beach in the back of a garbage truck, but, remember, you’re at the beach! 

 

Don’t let the idea of others thinking of you as a suck-up or cheat change your dedication and effort towards self-promotion.  Tell the skeptics the secret, and be sure to tell them it’s free.  It may even be hard at first. I’m sure Jessica didn’t feel 100% sure about her bathroom study sessions, but you should have seen her face when it paid off!

 

High Fiber Success Story,

 

Clint Hamner

 

 

Project Management 2.0


Universal Project Management

 

Project Management has become an overcomplicated concept in recent years.  The reality is that the idea behind managing a project of any size or complexity is dependent on one or more key individuals doing what they can to complete the project.  Unfortunately, project management professionals in all industries are spending their days focusing 100% of their precious time worrying about the activity of the day.  Sure, the project can’t be completed without accomplishing each task, but managing with the end in mind has lost its practicality. Additionally, the drama and theatrics of making progress, along with “glory-hogging”, has led to extreme difficulties in being successful.  Remembering the goal, making each decision with the end in mind, and taking your pride out of the process will almost guarantee success for any project and bring any naysaying shareholders into conformity with your principles.  I have five tips for projects managers that will keep you focused on the end result and help you fight the urge to be lost in the problem of the day.

 


 

Misery Loves Company, But Companies Hate Misery

Why do we love being so miserably lost in mounds of paper work and correspondence? Because it seems normal and there is always someone who is in worse shape, right! The team approach to project management is just like little league baseball, you are only as strong as your weakest link.  When we are caught comparing ourselves to the ones around us who are just as miserable and behind in their work.  Project Management is about peer leadership. This type of leadership implies that a culture of purpose should exist in all tasks and positions. In the absence of leadership, misery sneaks in and creates a culture of its own. The destruction left in misery’s wake may take a too long to recognize leaving the project objectives unrecoverable.  Successful projects depend on Team leadership and an aggression against conforming into misery.

 

 

The 2-Minute Rule

Nobody is immune from losing control of the day. A simple way to help you own cause is to take care of any seemingly small or inconsequential item immediately.  If you have time to use the restroom you have time to return a quick phone call or order materials.  Where we really lose control of our days is when a “crisis” occurs and by time we resolve it the day is shot and those 25 two minute items either force us to stay late and drive us into misery, or begin the next day behind and allow the vicious cycle to continue, knowing tomorrow’s crisis will perpetually control us. The payoff isn’t in the urgency and importance of completing the Two-Minute Items, it’s in the assurance of knowing that our focus can stay on effectively managing our projects by keeping control of our day.

 

 


 

 Safe Vertical Communication

Force tough conversations to take place early to show that conflict should not choke off the flow of communication. Too often, as soon as the first show of dissatisfaction or criticism takes place between team members the project immediately begins to suffer. Again, team leadership in project management should be put in place because of the environment and culture that it creates.  One of the key components of team leadership is safe communication.  When you know that no matter what you have to say that it will be received and considered, the creativity and progression of the project will be enhanced. Each person matters, and the sooner that the concept of safe vertical communication is established great things will happen.

 

 


 


 

 Scope, Schedule, Budget, and Relationships

Rigid metrics like scope, schedule, and budget ultimately gauge the success of all projects to those peering in from the outside.  For those of us that are responsible for completing projects, the measuring stick that we should use is how excited the client and other team members would be to work with you in the future.  Building and maintaining relationships with everyone one involved creates a heightened concern for the role that task interdependence plays in all Project Management. The initial and continued investment in others through a relationships is a budget item that you cannot afford not to allocate. The schedule will never be met without the tough conversations that often get delayed because of personal preference about certain team members.  Eventually, all projects will fall victim to a deliverables issue, and without powerful positive relationships, deception will take the place of timely transparency. When people matter, the team is strengthened and the focus will stay on a project being on scope, on schedule, and on budget.

 

 


 

Oh You Know Why, Don’t You…?

Nothing is more frustrating than doing a task without knowing why you are doing it and what purpose it serves. Try to avoid assuming that each team member knows exactly what they are contributing to the overall project.  Imagine being slapped in the face by a stranger for no reason while they stare at you with disappointment. Sometimes the most obvious tasks can seem ambiguous without an environment that promotes the end result as a daily part of the project. Meetings are generally terrible things, but by having a strong kick-off meeting, quick progress updates weekly, and “job-box” site meetings at the production level the “why” of every task can suddenly have meaning—while building your team and accomplishing the goal.

Monday, July 21, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH A HIRING MANAGER


Obviously, there are lots of memories. It doesn’t seem right to have a favorite one though.  Sure, some of them stood out more than others, but the time spent with all of them taught me about the good and bad in this world and that no matter what I thought I couldn’t have them all.  The few that got away humbled me. The few that failed hurt me. The countless others that never got a chance left me thinking. Nonetheless, my job was to hear their stories and make a decision. If someone kept my full attention for an entire hour it didn’t necessarily mean they would be chosen—“time in chair” was not a contributing factor.  I was often repulsed by the smells of my company.  Rarely for foul odors, just for aromatic stimulation that distracted my brain from working as efficiently as it could.  Perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, lotions, shampoos, and even fabric softener derailed my thinking.  It’s as if I needed to offer them the advice prior to our first face to face meeting about how to smell or how not click their pens or answer their phones. Other inconsistencies that made it impossibly difficult to take people seriously were tardiness, a lack of confidence, poor communication, disingenuousness, and did I mention the perfume. Catching people in a lie was disappointing.  Explaining my expectations and seeing the fleeting enthusiasm leave their skin pale and clammy was a letdown as well. You are not selling me, I’m buying you!  I can recall one stretch of time when it was particularly tough.  For 40 straight days I watched set after set of desirous lips spew self-centered propaganda at me as I trained myself to actually care.  If they weren’t what I wanted I ended it quick and painlessly.  I sent them on their unsuspecting way—“Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.  Life is tough enough with those you love.  Spending your precious finite time with someone who doesn’t at least seem to care is a bit deflating, don’t you think?  That’s why I forced myself to smile and nod. And as a courteous final test I gave them a chance to quiz the quizzer.  I yearned to be exposed and tested in those final vulnerable moments. Overwhelmingly, the masses infrequently took the opportunity to reciprocate.  They were willing to change their life for me and they didn’t have one single question. Impossible! It’s the equivalent of getting married without knowing your bride’s middle name or her favorite color! For God’s sake why didn’t more of them just ask a question.  No one is exempt from extreme boredom, not even me.  Once I asked someone which of the NSYNC members they wished they could be.  Timberlake is the apparent leader, Joey Fatone was clearly the workhorse, Lance Bass represents growing diversity, and the other 2 dudes are, well, who gives a shit. Creatively I pushed the envelope of what the law allowed me to do. The law says nothing about overstating simple phases, asking leading questions, or sitting in silence knowing that its uncomfortableness will be broken with invaluable information that I will use to my advantage. My life existed to research, sit, listen, interpret, discern.  Don’t be nervous I told them, it’s just an interview. Without me, no one would ever have been chosen.

Remember, no matter how tough it gets, Every One Counts!

Happy Interviewing,

Clint Hamner

Post Script- This was Satire!