Lance Haun Mon, 19 Oct 2015 23:11:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Three Quick Observations from HR Tech Mon, 19 Oct 2015 23:07:25 +0000

This is it. The HR Technology Conference is off and running and, no surprise, I have a few observations about this year’s show so far.

1. Rise of the machines for real?

We’ve heard all about big data for the last several years at this conference but whether it was truly big data or just a beefed up reporting function, the real world applicability of these innovations have been lacking.

This is the first year I’ve started to see big data, machine learning, and natural language analysis being used in ways that could actually drive deeper insights and decision support. The Marcus Buckingham Company’s StandOut and Glint seem to be doing work that I could see myself using and integrating into my workflow when I was an HR professional.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this but the big data hype is still just talk, for the most part. I’m more hopeful that 2016 will actually turn the tide on this.

2. Product category overlap is getting crazy

What used to be pretty clean breaks in product categories has become more muddled, as providers expand functionality. Some of it is expected. After all, if you want to provide a full HCM or talent management suite, you’re going to keep expanding until your suite is complete.

Other combinations make sense for individual players, but create a bit of confusion and inefficiency in the market. Benefits administration moving into core HR and payroll? Job boards creating software? Talent management systems bringing in engagement solutions or diving into payroll? Payroll providers moving into benefits administration? It’s all happening.

It’s not surprising. HR professionals have too much software in most cases. They have multiple systems across the HR function. If you can cut out a solution and consolidate, that’s great.

The caution is that the message has to be clear to the buyer. In many cases, the way these overlapping offerings are communicated are difficult to parse without a more in depth conversation.

3. That trade show floor

I was a bit shocked about the size of the trade show at HR tech. It seemed like a similar footprint to last year’s show but everything has expanded upwards.

The 20×20 booths, even in the back, have superstructures and signs that you could read from the front of the hall if it weren’t for the dozens of other signs in between.

Software companies are spending on marketing and it shows. The cost to get attention is going up and it isn’t going to let up. HR Tech has always represented a significant investment, most of which isn’t the cost of actually securing the space on the floor. Between booth design and construction, staff costs, and everything else, providers need to look at making smart decisions at a show of this magnitude to put their best foot forward.

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How To Change A Person’s Mind Tue, 11 Aug 2015 12:40:09 +0000 photo-1433185000771-ec45c869c61b

I’ve been thinking about my Facebook news feed lately. Like many of you, I have friends of various political and religious persuasions who make it their life’s work to make you aware of their views on issues.

Some of it is spice of life stuff. Something you might have found interesting, interspersed between pictures of adorable pets, or children, or feet on a beach in some desirable place. For others, it’s a calling and they spend their time either preaching to a handpicked, self-selected choir or trading comments with the chronically argumentative or bored.

These are good people, I think. They want to help educate the world. If that’s what you want to do with your free time, more power to you. But there’s some bad news that you should know before you spend too much time on this endeavor: People don’t want to change their minds.

A year old article in The New Yorker lays out the crux of the issue associated with the challenge: Any logical approach to changing minds simply doesn’t work.

In one such study, a team of scientists followed around a group of 2,000 parents for three years. Could they affect their views on vaccines based on a variety of methods?

Each household received one of four messages: a leaflet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating that there had been no evidence linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine and autism; a leaflet from the Vaccine Information Statement on the dangers of the diseases that the M.M.R. vaccine prevents; photographs of children who had suffered from the diseases; and a dramatic story from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about an infant who almost died of measles. A control group did not receive any information at all. The goal was to test whether facts, science, emotions, or stories could make people change their minds.

The result was dramatic: a whole lot of nothing. None of the interventions worked.

Oof! And not only did they not work. In some of the cases, they made matters worse!

Logically, you would think that one or all of these besides the control group would have a positive impact on vaccination rates and attitudes. The fact that not a single one did speaks to a greater issue at hand: Beliefs can be very difficult to change, especially if they are closely held or part of our identity. In fact, the most difficult beliefs to change are those that are embedded in our sense of self.

You are, at a very basic level, trying to change the identity of an individual when you are trying to change their mind. When you challenge people with appeals to facts or emotion, you are also challenging who they are at their very core. The more important an issue is to the identity of the person and the longer they’ve held that point of view, the tougher it is to change their mind.

Study after study has shown that facts and stories are processed incredibly selectively based on how you identify as an individual. For example, people with high racial biases persisted in racially profiling crimes negatively against a minority, even after being corrected. Conversely, people with low racial biases persisted in racially profiling crimes positively toward a minority, even after being corrected.

There’s even a more problematic issue here: These studies dealt with mostly assessing views on factual information as it relates to a person’s identity or belief structure. The difficulty in convincing people on issues where there is no factually correct answer is even fuzzier. There is no factually correct minimum wage, or tax structure, or government subsidy for women’s health. It leaves more issues up for interpretation and a conclusion that can be taken in many different directions.

What’s the solution? Are we to think that it is utterly pointless to try to change minds?

Not exactly.

For one, people who haven’t firmly chosen or identified themselves with a particular issue are fairly easy to reason with. While you may not be changing a mind, you may be helping illuminate an issue they don’t know about.

For bigger issues, trying to present them in ways that don’t address political affiliation, ideology, or a reflection of who you are is a start.

That may seem like a Charmin soft approach to discussing and challenging issues that are near and dear to us. It certainly runs counter to the “punch you in the face” headlines and the “punch you in the nuts/ovaries” comment sections and social media commentary that seems to be the norm.

But that approach isn’t working. As someone who has had a closely held belief changed, it wasn’t through a pan slapped to the side of my head or some sort of lightbulb moment that made it happen. It was a culmination of years of being exposed to new information and people, and ultimately came to a true change in my own self and beliefs.

I don’t expect my social media feeds to change anytime soon. For some people, the exercise of political or ideological thought isn’t about discussion or changing minds. For some people, discussing issues isn’t about thoughtfully moving people in a positive direction. I don’t know anybody’s motives besides my own.

If you do care about changing people’s minds, you should know that it’s generally not easy or quick. The place it happens the least frequently is probably the comments of any website.

But, it’s a start.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the end, too.

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It’s Too Late For Us: Why the Fight for Parental Leave in the U.S. Should Continue Wed, 05 Aug 2015 13:16:10 +0000 photo-1437623889155-075d40e2e59f

I’m 33. Many people in my age group are having kids and are realizing just how bad family leave policies are in the United States.

Me? I’ve known it my entire professional career.

  • The US offers just 12 weeks of job protected, unpaid leave for many, but not all, mothers
  • Out of 185 countries, the U.S. is one of three that offers no mandated paid maternity leave
  • 70+ countries even offer paid paternity leave for fathers
  • Three states offer paid leave and a joint study with CEPR, UCLA, Rutgers, and CUNY showed that for 90 percent of businesses in California, the law had a net positive or neutral impact on their profitability

The thing that is shocking to most people our age is that our mothers didn’t even have job protected unpaid leave. The Family Medical Leave Act only became law in 1993. In fact, depending on when you were born, your mother could’ve been denied or released from employment just because she was pregnant with you. That protection didn’t pass until 1978.

I’ve heard all of the arguments against paid leave. I don’t buy that the U.S. is in the right on this issue, along with Suriname and Papua New Guinea, against 182 other countries. It’s a global economy and it’s easier to be mobile than in any other time in history. At some point, it’s a competitive issue that’s likely to hurt the U.S. in the long term.

Obviously, I would’ve loved to have paid leave as would’ve my wife. She had always planned to go back to work after having our child and it wasn’t going to be a long time.

We had it better than almost everyone in our country, though. I had three full weeks of paid paternity leave. Plus, I work from home and spent the first year seeing her on demand just steps away. My wife spent 11 weeks at home getting almost her full paycheck and banking on some savings, along with a job that has her working four days a week most of the year.

We could’ve gone longer with our leaves but we chose not to. Most people don’t have that choice. Most people don’t have the advantage of substantial dual income, a parent working from home, and a wonderful nanny. People choosing between finding care for children who are just days out of the hospital are closer to the norm than our situation.

The fact is, it’s too late for people in my current generation: We’re not getting paid leave for our friends who are having kids tomorrow or next week. Just like it was too late for our mothers to get the job protection that almost everyone universally agrees is a good thing today. Maybe individual companies will continue to adopt more family friendly policies primarily catering to people who already can afford to take leave. I don’t see the tide turning that fast on any national legislative level.

So this isn’t about me or my friends anymore. It’s about our country. It’s about our daughters, sons, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. It’s about creating an environment that’s more friendly to women leaders in their 20s and 30s.

It’s about doing what’s right for people where 8-12 weeks of paid leave is the difference between taking hardly any time off for their pregnancy versus taking every single second of paid leave to soak up that time with their kid. Maybe they work in retail or hospitality. Maybe they work in an office or on a construction site. We want them back to work, sure. But according to the National Center for Health Statistics, 16 percent of mothers taking one to four weeks of time off and 33 percent taking no formal time away from work at all.

It’s an indictment on us all and it’s time to change this.

Of course, paid leave will be a pain in the ass to deal with it from the employer’s perspective. I know administering these programs come with administrative costs, the possibility of abuse, and real legal risk. I also know that paid leave schemes will likely cost companies hard dollars and cents. These are important issues which are worth acknowledging but aren’t insurmountable.

But the cost and hassle is worth it. And hopefully people in my generation will fight for it the same way our mothers and grandmothers fought for employment rights that protect pregnancy and parental leave today.

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Why I Travel for Work #WorkHuman Tue, 09 Jun 2015 12:13:45 +0000 11393408_10101920296203083_7029247468777681599_oI travel for work. Not as much as some people but a lot more than most people. I’ll spend a month or two on the road per year.

  • I don’t have to travel as much as I do. I choose to travel most of the time.
  • I don’t have to do work that requires me to travel. I could choose to do work that I spend nearly 100 percent of my time at home.
  • I don’t have to speak. I don’t have to go to conferences. Most of the time, I don’t have to go meet clients in person.

So as I travel to Orlando this week to attend Globoforce’s WorkHuman, a neat conceptual HR conference that goes beyond what most user conferences try to achieve, I’m forced to examine why I chose the schedule I follow.

* * * * *

Every time I talk to people who don’t travel that frequently about my travel schedule, there are a few predictable responses:

  • Wow, that’s a lot
  • I couldn’t do it
  • How do you leave your family behind?

So I say, in order:

  • It is, but most of the time, it doesn’t feel like that much
  • You could but most people don’t have the decision to make
  • I kiss them goodbye and know I’ll talk to them on FaceTime while I’m gone

For that last one, it isn’t an either or decision. I love my family a lot and I love traveling for work. I don’t like leaving them behind. I listen to music to keep my mood strong, I text them, I get pictures from Jen and from school, and I focus on what’s between me and my trip home.

I don’t have an office I go to, I live in a place that’s a bit isolated, and I have a community of people I call colleagues who are scattered across the world. I wish I could bring my family with me when I travel but they would be bored most of the time.

Another wrinkle here is that people’s perception about my decision is driven by my gender. It’s easier for me to travel because I’m a man. I resent that point of view while acknowledging that it’s true, mostly because perceptions like that still exist. After all, when Jen travels, very little changes operationally in my household. Being out of town for me means Jen has to adjust her schedule significantly to do drop off and pick ups.

* * * * *

So I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to choose. And if my choice ever changed, I could probably find a career that accommodated that change. I’ve meticulously engineered a really good situation for our family that has compromises and fulfillment for everyone.

WorkHuman isn’t for me. Most don’t get that choice. They are thrust into careers and situations that may not be ideal. They probably don’t think about it much. They probably don’t even know what to ask for.

There’s an opportunity for organizations to do something about it if they want.

Can everyone find meaning at work? No, I don’t think so. But we can do a much better job at instilling meaning, whether it’s working at a great company or working with great people. That might be enough, or it might be a start.

Either way, I don’t think it’ll hurt to add some humanity into work.

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Work/Life Balance and Lessons from Managing Two Careers Mon, 18 May 2015 13:24:49 +0000 My wife and I both work. We’re not alone, obviously. But since we had a baby last year, we’ve thought a lot more about our careers. There seems to be a growing group of people who look a lot like us: two people who want to not just continue working because they need to, but two people who would like to keep moving up in their careers.

After baby arrives, some couples choose to have one spouse stay at home. We’ve had a few friends who have done that and it’s seemed to work out well for them. We know others who spent some time away from work but ultimately returned. For us, we knew early on that we’d both be returning to work.

It’s not always a perfect arrangement, though.


A little backstory

Jen and I married somewhat young compared to most of our peers (23 and 24, respectively). We’re going on ten years of marriage. Since being married, we’ve moved a lot (almost as many moves as years together). Nearly all of those moves were due to Jen’s job.

You see, Jen works in wine production. She started off as an intern in Walla Walla, became a cellar master in Portland, moved to the lab in Seattle, and then finally an assistant winemaking position in Kennewick. She didn’t have to move. But, being able to move lets you consider more opportunities. We were young and we didn’t have any kids.

Meanwhile, I started off my career in HR but after our first move from Walla Walla to Portland, I started looking at alternatives. Since 2009, I’ve worked primarily out of a home office in six different zip codes. It’s worked out really well for everyone.

It didn’t make much difference where I was or if I was even home before a kid. Now, it definitely does.

Career Compatibility

Jen’s job is fairly predictable. Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, we don’t have much of a life. Jen is working 70+ hours a week plus a 1.5 hour round-trip commute for wine harvest. When it was just us, I would schedule time for me to be away constantly. We barely saw each other, anyway. The rest of the year, she works 4-10s most weeks and has a fairly light travel schedule. As she moves up, her travel schedule increases.

file3241282942100While I don’t travel to as many conferences these days, I have other trips scheduled either out to clients, for business development, or to visit headquarters in Texas. These are less predictable but seem to typically happen most heavily around the spring and fall (+/- a month).

Outside of wine harvest and some dates for travel that are set in stone for me, our work is pretty flexible. So, for a week I am out of town, Jen is able to get off early, grab the baby, and take care of business. When Jen travels, I’m able to mesh my schedule with the needs of the baby too.

So, last week and this coming week, I’m the primary parent. Jen went from a full week of out of town work, to a weekend class, to a week of out of town guests for blending and tasting. She said to me, “I’m feeling very work/life unbalanced right now.” No kidding!

The thing is, in June, we’ll be reversing roles. I’ll be out of town for a week early in the month and then on shorter trips over the rest of the month.

Work/life balance isn’t fair

When I look at some months, I know I’m relying on Jen a ton. She has to spend less time at work or the baby has to spend more time with someone else. Other months, I carry the torch. By the end of November, I’m spent.

It’s not fair. There are a series of compromises that take place every week to make it through successfully, though. Some weeks, it feels like I’m doing too much and others, too little.

We’ve made it work, just not always perfectly and fairly. But after more than a year at this, I can tell you the keys to success are pretty simple:

  1. Good employers – When you think work/life balance, you probably think of flexible schedules, generous parental leave, and the like. Although a winery can’t be managed remotely (yet!), having an employer that is understanding of some of the issues that come with being a parent (in and out at flexible times, sick kids) helps take the stress out of that week to week management.
  2. High level of awareness – Your workplace is just like any relationship, though. If you take advantage of understanding managers and coworkers without putting the work in yourself, you’ll find your career stunted. You have to be aware of what’s going on at work and at home, and make decisions based on that awareness. Sometimes, that means telling your spouse no or talking through and seeing who has the bigger priority.
  3. Common goals – I want her to be successful, she wants me to be successful. We’ve been pretty good at simply raising the tide rather than one of us succeeding over the other. If you are honest with your spouse about your career ambitions, it’s much easier to figure out the types of jobs that will mesh well with that path as well as the awareness needed to help make him or her a success.

How to identify career compatibility

When I talk to other unmarried people who ask how you find out if someone might have a compatible career path, I shrug my shoulders. We got married in 2005, and we met and dated off and on since 2001. There is no way I would’ve been able to predict that we would’ve worked together this well. Essentially, we grew into the balance we found and the trust we have in each other to say yes and no at the right times.

BeachBinoculars_8x10The problem is, as you get older, your career becomes a bit more refined or nuanced and it’s more difficult to find someone out of the gate who might be close to perfectly compatible for your career. You add in kids, and it can become even more complicated.

Outside of a few jobs (like members of the military), I don’t think career compatibility is on the short-list of concerns for most couples. For us and many of our friends, having a spouse that takes a complementary career role when the kid comes has become one of those sneaky issues that can create a lot of stress when things are out of balance. It can create resentment from the spouse who gives up part or all of their career or from the person that would like to be spending more time at home.

It’s not just a one time conversation to figure things out, either. As careers change, priorities change as well. I don’t know if we’ll always be a two career family forever (even we both still work two jobs).

What companies can learn

What I do know is managing work/life balance is more than a slogan or a slate of benefits that an organization offers. It’s a posture that’s ever shifting to the needs of both parties.

For example, we go to great lengths to not tip over the apple cart during the fall for Jen. We try to keep her healthy, as stress-free as possible, and at work every single day. As work slows down there, her ability to flex in and out increases dramatically.

Having a manager who understands what it means to support a spouse in that situation is critical too. We’re both lucky to have smart managers who understand the demands of the job our spouse is doing. Only on the rarest occasions does a situation ever come to a head where we can’t find a solution and when she isn’t tied up, I can flex up into more work as needed and have her step in.

It isn’t always easy, perfect, or fair. But being on the same page as everyone else, with clear communication of priorities and expectations makes it about as easy as I think it can be without being independently wealthy.

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#HootHROS and Why Best Practices are Broken in HR Wed, 13 May 2015 13:20:02 +0000 hootsuite_logo_owly_detailWhen I started in corporate HR, I was pretty lost. I leaned heavily on my manager, a network of local practitioners I established quickly, a scattered, online group of talent professionals, and every resource I could find to read. It was haphazard and the phrase, “fake it till you make it,” rang through my ears loud and clear on my walk or ride home from work.

It was a different time. One that we shouldn’t have to repeat again.

Yet, time and time again, HR practitioners are starting the same things over again. They search forums and blog posts for things like:

  • How can we recruit better people?
  • Alternatives to traditional training
  • Choosing a talent management system

What they get bombarded with are best practices, case studies, and other pieces of content — some more helpful than others.

How do you engage top talent? How do you increase learning in your organization? Follow these tips and you’ll be successful, they promise.

These resources might be okay. If you downloaded one I wrote, it probably kicked ass. I can’t vouch for anybody else, though.

But the limitation of best practices is that it doesn’t give you a true view of the problem, process, and solution (or especially, failure). It drops a problem and solution in your lap and let’s you figure out how to make it work.

That’s why I’m excited for HootSuite’s Open Source HR project. The Vancouver-based social media management technology provider is just up the road from me. The initiative is being driven by Hootsuite’s VP of talent, Ambrosia Humphrey and Amplify Talent’s founder, Lars Schmidt. Here’s an excerpt from what they say in their post announcing the initiative:

Over the coming months, we’re going to be experimenting with new approaches and platforms, like Periscope, and sharing ‘behind the scenes’ look at things—including how projects came together, how we executed the ideas, the intended outcomes and actual outcomes with metrics, what we got wrong, and what we learned.

If you know me, you probably know the part that I’m excited for: what they got wrong.

That’s not because I think it’s going to fail, either. Instead, I think sharing failures is something that best practices and case studies nearly always omit — and hopefully, how Hootsuite Open Source HR will be different.

You see, everyone reads a sanitized and simplified case study — or listens in on a conference session or webinar — from an organization that apparently went through some sort of change management initiative without any issues whatsoever and doubt creeps into their minds.

It’s bullshit, of course.

Normal people in HR who don’t have magical abilities to implement new ideas with little issue wonder what they’re doing wrong, why change is so tough, and if they should just give up. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, you never know about all of the warts that pop up when you’re bringing new technologies, processes, or ideas to the table.

Talk with someone like Mark Stelzner at IA for 15 minutes and you’ll understand the challenges that a lot of organizations face during change become strikingly similar when they are boiled down into core issues.

My hope for Hootsuite’s project is that there will be some moments that seem very familiar for anyone looking to innovate in HR: the good, the bad, and the “could be better but it worked.” Mostly though, I hope that at least one HR person doesn’t have to start from scratch and can iterate and improve on what Hootsuite is doing.

That’s what open source is all about and what HR should be all about. You can follow all of the action using the #HootHROS hashtag.

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The Disease of “Nobody Believes in Us” Mon, 04 May 2015 12:29:01 +0000 rugby-78193_1280Tell me if you’ve heard this before:

  • They said we couldn’t do it
  • Nobody thought we would win
  • It’s us against the world

Or a hundred different variations of the same theme. Nobody believed in us. We had to do it on our own to prove the doubters wrong. We were successful when everyone else thought we wouldn’t last.

Let’s acknowledge one thing: It’s usually trope. It’s a figure of speech. Most of the time, it might be a couple of people against you and seven billion people who didn’t even know you exist. There is no “they” or if there is, you can call them out by name.

Here’s the problem, though: The “nobody believes in us” mythology comes off as petty when exposed to the light of the truth.

Consider Michael Jordan. The myth that gets told is that he was cut from his high school basketball team. I hear this one all the time, from motivational speakers to casual observers of Jordan’s career.

Jordan wasn’t cut from his high school basketball team, though. From a Sports Illustrated profile on Jordan’s high school coach:

He was still Mike Jordan then, not Michael Jordan, just another sophomore guard among 50 eager boys competing for 15 spots on the varsity and 15 more on the junior varsity. There was no doubt that Mike Jordan could handle the ball, but his shooting was merely good and his defense mediocre. Mike Jordan was seven or eight inches shorter than Michael Jordan would be, only 5’10” at age 15, and at least one assistant coach had never heard of him before that day.

“Michael—well, Mike—Jordan was placed on the junior varsity level. Uh-huh? He was placed on the junior varsity level. He wasn’t cut away from the game that made him.”

He was placed on the JV team because he was the same height as I was at 15 years old. Yet Jordan, master of taking slights — however minor — and making mountains into molehills for competitive fuel, convinced himself that he was cut.

When you look back at his hall of fame induction speech, it’s hard to get past the myth that he created. You get the sense, even after being recognized at the pinnacle of basketball’s greatest players, that it wasn’t enough. It was never enough.

* * * * *

I talk a lot about competition with our clients. It’s definitely something to pay attention to, of course. But most of the time, when I chat with your competitors, there is a good chance they don’t think of you the way you think they do. That’s if they even think about you at all.

More often, it’s your organization against:

  • Macro or microeconomic business pressures that affect everyone
  • Market awareness of the problem you’re solving or alternative solutions
  • Yourself (whether cash flow, processes, prioritization, or a hundred other possibilities)

Nobody may believe in what you’re doing, but conversely, nobody is probably working against you either. At least in any active or conscious way.

Instead of being head down, focused on what you’re great at, and getting the word out, you’re spending precious mental energy and time on beefs that don’t exist, scores that don’t need settling, and working towards something your clients don’t care about. In the process, you look like someone who’s priorities are out of whack or whose pettiness interrupts their own success.

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My Personal Technology Stack Wed, 08 Apr 2015 14:55:47 +0000 I’ve used a variety of personal technologies over the past few years. Everything from Apple, Windows, and Chromebooks for laptops, to Android and iOS for my phone and tablet. Usually, I’ve had multiples of all of these things at once but for the past year or so, I’ve been pretty consistent with what I’ve used to the point that I’ve sold all of my other devices. 

Since I will often get questions about what I’m using, here’s what’s currently in my bag as I’m traveling to LRP’s Benefits conference:

  • 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina – A great performance machine with the right combination of power, battery life, and, to a slightly lesser extent, size. I love the 13″ size, as I’ve tried both larger and smaller models. It just feels right for every day use. I’m never too stressed about the battery life on it, as I’m able to get about 6-10 hours of usage, depending on my tasks. The keyboard is phenomenal, as is the screen. My gripe is the weight, which I wish was a little closer to the Air but I’ll take the extra pound for the performance. 
  • iPad Air (9.7″ model) 16gb with cellular – I’ve gone back and forth on the mini and the full size iPad. Eventually, the full size won out as my every day tablet because typing on it is so much better and the weight difference wasn’t as big of a deal. The reason I’ve been writing more is because I’ve been able to do it on my iPad instead of my laptop. It sounds silly, but as a person who works out of his home, the separate screen makes a big difference to keep me out of work tasks. The iPad has multi day power, is what I read every book on, and is my primary movie machine if I’m not at home. I got the cellular model because I found that I used it more when I knew I could connect anytime and it also doubles as a beefy wifi hotspot for my laptop, rather than carrying around a separate device. 
  • iPhone 6 Plus (5.5″ model) 64gb – Probably the only device I’d trade if I could, if the trade offs weren’t so bad. I would like a smaller device and honestly, I liked the iPhone 6 the best size wise. But the battery is so mediocre compared to the Plus that I’m willing to carry the extra bulk because I’d be carrying a battery case or charge kit all the time, like I did with my iPhone 5. I trade this off by having a card case attached to the phone, which means most days, I’m only carrying keys and a phone in my pocket. I carry most of my music library, as well as my podcasts on it, but I might opt for the 128gb model if it wasn’t an additional $100. I loved my Android for a long time, but I haven’t minded the switch that much. If Android had a flagship that was under 5 inches, it might make a difference but the Moto X is the last one I used and that thing had a terrible camera. 
  • Other accessories – Two other things I carry with me, nearly always: Skullcandy headphones and a stylus. I’m not a loyalist to Skullcandy, but they make affordable, foldable headphones with inline microphones that are durable. I listen to music a lot, and I’m on FaceTime, Skype, or Hangouts constantly. I also use a stylus for writing in Penultimate. Lately, I’ve been using an active stylus that seems to capture handwriting a little better. To be honest, I prefer to type most of the time and am getting enough speed on the iPad where it’s better and more easily searchable. I’m not super interested in any of the Jot stylus models as my handwriting isn’t that great to begin with (and it’s atrocious on the iPad). 

So, yes, today I’m mostly Apple. If you asked me a couple years ago, my primary road machine was a Chromebook and Android phone. 

What’s in your go bag?

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Year One Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:26:56 +0000 Dear Elida,

1236574_10101232659796953_162843595_n365 days ago, at this exact time, I held you for the first time.

I cried.

You see, your mom got you all to herself for nine months. My connection to you was through occasional viewings through creepy looking ultrasounds that just made me feel like I was watching terrible sci-fi or through putting my head to your mom’s belly. That can be uncomfortable for both of us.

So when I held you, I didn’t want to let go. Not for your mom. Not for nurses. Not for grandparents.  Unfortunately, letting go is what I’ve done a lot of over the past year.

I’ve let go of the idea that I can turn back time. I can’t relive the times when you snuggled up on my chest for hours at a time while I watched NBA games, Sportscenter, or 3am infomercials.

I’ve let go of the idea that I can be there all the time for you. I’ll always try to be there for what’s most important but I’ve already missed out on moments.

I’ve let go of you being some combination of your mom and me. You’re an individual who already expresses herself in unique and new ways.

I’ve let go of the idea that I can protect you from the terrible things in this world. The best I can do is prepare you as best as possible for it.

I’ve let go of the notion that I know how to parent better than anyone else. I have learned that I’m good at improvisation and that might be better.

I’ve let go of comparing you to other kids. Okay, that one might not be entirely true. I still believe you’re smarter and better than every other kid out there but that’s hardcoded into my biology. I can’t help it.

I’ve let go of this idea that we’re running a perfect ship here. We still haven’t done professional pictures of you (oops!) and we don’t have cute little stickers showing how old you are on a per month basis.

I’ve let go of being in control. I’ve never been in control, but know how schedules change or how things work with you on a particular day have made me less of a schedule freak.

I’ve let go of thinking that you’ll always be that adorable apple of my eye. Kids can be little turds sometimes. At least right now, I know it’s mostly not intentional. Still, can’t we agree you can sleep through the night already?

IMG_0712Finally, I’ve let go of being a perfect dad. There’s no such thing. I wish I could tell you that I’ll always have the perfect response to every situation. I won’t. I’ve spent the last year trying to figure out how to be the right dad for you at any given moment. Whether that’s giving out snuggles, boundaries, encouragement, independence, sage advice, or trying to out stubborn you at your own game, I’m just trying to figure out how I can be what you need me to be.

I’m still figuring that last one out. Luckily, we’re in this together and if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past year, there’s no challenge too big for us to take on.

Thank you my Boo for a wonderful year that’s helped our family grow in both literal and figurative ways. I can wait to see what our next year holds.



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Looking for Truth in a World Looking for Validation Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:45:45 +0000 The internet is a great place. It’s also, of course, awful. 

Everyone talks about how the Internet has rewired our brains or made us lazier. Whatever. I worry more about the instant validation people can find for, quite literally, almost anything. 

Elvis lives? Sure, there is a place you can congregate and talk about how you saw him in a Kroger in Texas buying chips. 

Man didn’t land on the moon? Yeah, you can find a forum where you can tell everyone that your uncle’s buddy worked on the stage where it was all filmed. 

Those are extreme examples, of course, but there are more worrisome examples of communities of people that go against widely accepted scientific or economic consensus. These communities of people can damage society and innocent people. 

Before the internet, these groups had a tougher time getting a voice. Unless you lived in a community of likeminded people, it would be tough to feel validated. 

Now validation is a click away. 

Of course, there have been positives. For example, people who have diseases can easily connect with people who are also being treated. Even relatively rare diseases with only a few thousand diagnosed cases a year can have robust online communities that can provide support and informal information. It can take a relatively lonely aspect of coping and humanize it in ways that would be impossible before. 

There’s obviously nothing we can do to stop an Elvis lives group from finding places to meet online. Obviously, the government and other international organizations try to take care of the unlawfully dangerous groups out there. 

What can we do about the other groups? 

I don’t have a good answer, but I’m trying to do my part. 

For one, I want to look for truth rather than validation. I’ve built a network of people I trust and admire but I don’t have to agree with the, to earn their respect. In fact, some of the people I admire probably viscerally disagree on some really irritant issues. Validation from both parties is impossible. I must find my own truth. 

The other one I’ll try is to teach my child that just because someone agrees with you, even if it’s me, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Only the truth is the truth and she must find it. 

What else can we do? Advocate for education that pushes for more critical and skeptical thinking? Maybe, but who knows how feasible or universal that can be. In any case, it’s one of the greatest and worst things about what technology can do for us. 

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