A moments pause to reflect on things…

I was just cleaning out my inbox, when I came across an e-mail from a few months back with a timeline of upcoming activities for my company. It’s an amazing testament of faith to see that everything on the timeline has taken place exactly as planned. Some of the highlights include:
– Travel to the Philippines to set up business partnerships
– Lay the groundwork to teach a class in Analytics
– Expand our internship program to UC Berkeley
– Help small businesses develop a strategy through our consulting efforts
– Launch a BPO Elite Blog
– Finalize our business plan

I’m humbled by all that we have been able to accomplish in a few short months and now more than ever am empowered to set forth another timeline to outline the next few months in the adventure that is BPO Elite. Just thought I’d share this in the hope that it inspires someone else to reach for the stars themselves!

BPO Elite Blog Post #9 – It’s Time to Bring Manufacturing Back to the U.S.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/02/its_time_to_bring_manufacturin.html

To me this is the biggest threat to a manufacturing recovery… “Local talent and skills are essential to productivity and innovation. Long-term depletion of manufacturing skills will make it hard to reverse the trend.” We’ve gutted our education system and nothing going on in Washington or even the state capitals right now sounds like a solution to this issue! My previous post about the state of education speaks to that view.
So if the solution doesn’t come directly from the government, then it has to come from the businesses themselves. Ford did this. But how many big corporations can do this? Based on the recent NYT article, Apple surely is not in a position to that on a significant scale. The author asks if this is a trend or an anomaly. I sure hope it’s a trend, but in a lot of industries I fear it’s not.
As an educator, a businessman and an entrepreneur, I am constantly thinking about how best to make a living but empowering others with skills then need to succeed. Whether they are my students, my interns or my clients, I am always hopeful that my interactions with them leave them in better place than they were in before they met me. However, I have to also always be mindful of the costs of my doing business. Like any business leader, I want to provide high quality, but at a cost that is both affordable and still generates revenue.
SO how do we work within the confines of the current educational landscape of the U.S. to provide skills to workers here? That is the dilemma that we face and one that I deeply wish we were seeing more answers to.

BPO Elite Blog Post #8 – Recruiting Top Talent

As preparations for our Philippines expansion continue to move ahead at warp speed, I’ve been spending a lot of time increasing my knowledge of the recruitment industry in the Philippines. I know from personal experience that recruiting top talent is a lot harder than it might seem. So many hiring decisions are based on things that have nothing to do with being a successful hire. For those of you have seen Moneyball (and if you haven’t do so asap… its an amazing movie), the scene where the scouts are looking at all the obsolete way to judge talent and driving Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) crazy comes to mind.
To be sure there are many recruiting firms and HR departments that have figured it out, I’ve come across some really innovative ones in the past few days. In fact the level of talent currently employed in sourcing and placing candidates for the BPO Industry in the Philippines is pretty impressive. However, from what I’ve learned so far it appears that in general, the way recruiting is approached in the Philippines is on par the way the old school scouts in Moneyball value players. Watch the trailer here (http://www.reelz.com/movie/269136/moneyball/clips/) and you’ll pick up on several key concepts that are true in the world of baseball, are true in most professions, and appear to be true in the recruiting industry in the Philippines.
Online job boards, mass CV screenings, and large group interviews of candidates right off the street are still the primary ways to source new talent. Looking for candidates with experience over fresh graduates and not looking for red flags in previous positions are deeply ingrained in the mind set of the industry. With the lessons of Moneyball in mind, I’ve indentified several keys for success that I plan on implementing with BPO Elite-Philippines to take things in a different direction. They include:
1. Mitigate job hopping by screening out likely quick quits and potential bad hires before placement. Encourage self-selected termination.
2. Groom those with the right personality, expectations and career mind-set to succeed. Model and promote top talent and skills for success.
3. Focus mainly on fresh graduates and those with no pervious experience. Weave in veterans when and where appropriate. Use internships and volunteer experiences as likely indicators of trainability.
4. Tie-up candidates with jobs that match personality, work style, lifestyle and career plans. Teach them the agent life cycle and demonstrate career benefits. Use job previews.
5. Use assessments to greatly increase chance of success. Assess basic competencies, personality type, career expectations, critical thinking skills and communication skills.

Our goal is not just to recruit and place talent, but to educate and empower both employers and employees. In the end, we want to be judged not on the number of placements, but on the engagement and satisfaction our students have with their employers.

One final note, I owe thanks to one of my recently added LinkedIn connections and recruiting gurus, David Filwood, whose insights have been one of the primary sources of my key points listed above.

BPO Elite Blog Post #7 – Jingoism, xenophobia and the local news.

http://thesauce.net.au/2012/02/lets-put-a-stop-to-this-tripe/comment-page-1/#comment-19398

Outsourcing can be such a political hot potato and like any business practice has many pros and cons. However, after reading this post by Martin, I shared it and challenged all of my connections on LinkedIn to really question what they know about outsourcing and what they just hear on the news. I’ve found that quite often it’s just sensationalist and jingoistic journalism that can border on flat out xenophobia.

Often it’s an uphill battle to defend the merits of outsourcing in the public eye, so I find encouragement when reading opinions like these. I too will continue to make our case based on my deep convictions about the importance of outsourcing to both the global and individual national economies.

BPO Elite Blog Post #6 – INTJ

If you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, then seeing the letters INTJ means something to you. Per Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator, the MBTI is is a psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. It’s one of the most famous and widely used developmental theory assessments used across a variety of industries and professions. I’ve taken it dozens of times and I almost always come back with the same results; introverted, intuitive, thinking and judging. Each of these 4 attributes has a mirror image (extroverted, sensing, feeling and perceiving) given a total of 16 possible combinations. I’ve found that through the years of being and educator, manager and leaders, the MBTI is the most useful tool in understanding how to challenge, motivate and empower people.

For those that know me, they may recognize a lot these traits when they think of me, again borrowing from Wikipedia, “INTJs are analytical. Like INTPs, they are most comfortable working alone and tend to be less sociable than other types. Nevertheless, INTJs are prepared to lead if no one else seems up to the task, or if they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They tend to be pragmatic, logical, and creative. They have a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They are not generally susceptible to catchphrases and do not readily accept authority based on tradition, rank, or title.”

A lot of people are surprised when I say I am introverted by nature, because the above traits tend to propel me into leadership roles and put me in front of people. As an introvert, I’ve learned how to channel my energy and can turn on my extrovert self and at times be very social, engaging and witty. However, I am much productive when I am working alone, on a process or doing research that has a purpose.

Understanding my MBTI profile gives me a huge edge when it comes to knowing my strengths and weaknesses and using both to my advantage. And understanding other’s MBTI profiles allows me to determine the best way to get them to do things I want them to do. Challenging someone only works if you know what kind of challenges excite them. Empowering people only works if you know what it is that they need to feel satisfied and productive. Knowing the MBTI types and being able to identify them in others, is a skill that I highly recommend to anyone and everyone.

BPO Elite Blog Post #5 – Marketing by Sharing Content

http://mashable.com/2012/02/08/new-content-marketing-tactics/

I read this article and it really got me thinking. As a fledgling consulting business, getting our brand out in front of people is priority one. Social media has been a huge key in my efforts to share our story. Sharing articles and information across social networking platforms is actually a lot of fun. I’ve come across several other consulting firm CEOs who do the same thing. They have a blog; they are constantly posting on LinkedIn and Facebook. They have Twitter, are checking out the newest hot site Pintrest. All in All I feel like this is the way to go. However as CEOs, it’s not always the best use of our time. So we need to find trusted and competent evangelists for our services. Guy Kawasaki, who was one of the original evangelists at Apple, wrote an amazing book called Enchantment and I’ve been referring to it on a regular basis. It really helps someone like me explain to friends and family how to market BPO Elite. It’s not about being the cheapest or the most innovative, but its about providing our customers with an experience that they will never forget and will in turn even become advocates for your business. This kind of good will is something that I am trying hard to leave with every person I talk with about BPO Elite. What we are doing is so much more than just providing solutions and fixing problems. It’s about connecting people who need something with people who have that something to offer.
My job is like an amazingly huge connect the dots game. So what does all this have to do with Marketing by Sharing Content? Well, whenever one of my team talks about our company and what we do, it’s in the vein of sharing our story… and our story is about empowering businesses with strategic solutions. The key word is empowering… its overused and a lot harded to do then you might think. Empowering, which to me is closely related to enchanting, is all about taking some form point A to point B and then letting them get to point C. It’s like the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.” Those who are part of the BPO Elite team get this. When we share things with each other and with you, we are trying our best to empower you to take the information we have and make use of it. If we do that, then you will find BPO Elite to be an enchanting experience.

BPO Elite Blog Post #4 – Its Halftime in America -Clint Eastwood Video

Wow! This commercial made me tear up. Its so much more then a car commercial, its a statement on America’s virtues. It play right to the patriotic core most American’s share. Its well timed as the auto industry, unemployment and economic development are all starting to rebound in the United States. I’m sure there are plenty of doubters and cynics who were not impressed and many others who do not appreciate the arrogance that so many Americans have about our importance in the world. However, to a lot of people this commercial captures exactly how we as a collective nation feel. We have hope, we are resliant and we will find a way. All this talk of America in decline is important because its keeps us realistic and allows us to be pragmatic about solving our problems. It reminds us that we cannot be complacent and be victims of our own mistakes and poor choices. We have to step up our game and find new and creative ways to make a difference in this world. I’ve watched this video several times already and each time it stirs my soul, but most importantly it reminds me that I’m proud to be an American.

BPO Elite Blog Post #3 – Educational Programs

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on the state of education both here in the United States and in the Philippines. On one hand we have our continued assault on education with constant cutting services and rising fees and on the other we seem to have a commitment to educating tomorrows youth with actual job skills they can use to move their country forward.

Maybe I shouldn’t have just watched the amazingly depressing documentary “Waiting for Superman” (http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Waiting_for_Superman/70129364?trkid=2361637), but I don’t have a lot of faith in the near term success of our public school system. Combine that with the fact that when I was in college 20 years ago it cost $300 a semester to go to a Cal State. Tuition now is 10x that. Then you add the insane idea of deporting bright, promising leaders of tomorrow because their parents broke a law and brought them to the US when they were kids and they are now illegal. The Dream Act is a solution to a problem, yet its demonized by misinformation and racism. And the final piece I’ll mention is that sad state of my son’s middle school. Without parent donations they wouldn’t be able to have materials for art or science. The school library is only open one day a week because they share a librarian with 4 other schools. I know a lot of teachers and I am amazed how they are able to go on everyday with all the odds stacked against them.

And the on the other hand we have a consistent message coming from the Aquino Administration (http://miniphilippines.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/tesda-launch-7-new-programs-2012/) that for the Philippines to develop as a nation and move forward they need to invest in education. They seem to understand the problem and have a plan to solve it. How is it that the most powerful nation in the world, with the best education system every created is falling so far behind? How asleep are we that we have allowed this to happen? If you haven’t watched it yet, watch “Waiting for Superman”… its available in the instant queue on Netflix. And then decide what you can do to help. Me? I’ve stated and internship program to train college students with analytics skills to help them get some hands on training. We all need to do something because unlike the Philippines, our government is not only incapable of fixing the problem, but they don’t even know how to address it.

BPO Elite Blog Post #2 – A recent conversation

The article suprised me.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/biggest-holders-of-us-gov-t-debt.html

You hear so much in the news about how we owe so much debt to China. However no one ever seems to talk about the full picture. Its more sensational to just point the finger to China. Nothing like subtle racism and xenophobia to fuel an election campaign. The best thing about this article though is the conversation it started between myself and two friends. All smart and worldy men who are well read and articulate… wouldnt it be amazing if the Presdential debates actaully sounded something like the following and not a bunch of canned responses crafted to mislead and misinform?

TW: Also, If we Americans just stop selling most of our properties away, then we don’t get China or Japan owning our Country… So I’m all for getting rid of “Walmart” ….hahahaha

MH: The Fed is a privately held company,not a public institution. They purchased long term treasuries to keep interest rates low (Operation TWIST). China is the largest owner of US debt; the majority are short term (< 2 year durations). Selling our properties? We keep borrowing from them so they have a claim to us, that simple – lets wake up and stop pointing fingers when we’re the ones who continue to borrow.

TW: Unfortunately the only reason we borrow is because our dumb government can’t cut back on the spending it does. Weather it is in entitlement programs or anything they decide is a means to get a vote. Our govt. should at this point be spendin…g only 80% of what it takes in, save 10%, and use 10% to pay down the debt. Or something like that. The problem is they want to spend on projects so they need to raise taxes to do it which kills our ability to boost the economy. Cut useless and redundant programs, reduce the entitlements, reduce the number of govt. employees, figure out what the govt must provide and cut the rest of the crap. Then we wouldn’t have to borrow so much to begin with and you can’t spend your way out of debt.

MH:  Unfortunately it’s not as simple as cutting expenses and/or raising taxes. We have over 220 trillion in debt an unfunded liabilities…simple finance: we can never pay that back. Ever. In every view from a basic business analytic standpoint… we’re bankrupt and we’ve technically defaulted every single time we’ve raised the debt ceiling. The only thing that’s keeping us chugging along is we’re the reserve currency. That’s already going away as countries are moving to non-dollar transactions like baskets of currency or, you guessed it, Gold.

TW: you are correct that it isn’t that simple but you have to start somewhere. We know the monetary system and our banking system is nothing more that a ponzi scheme. Do you deal in gold?

MH :we continue to think that the US is going to endure as-is forever. This is not the case; all empires are born, grow, decline and some go away. We’ve just decided to accelerate our change. If you don’t think this is the case, remember t…hat the British Sterling was the reserve currency for over a century before we took it over…as for empires, Rome, Egypt, Africa – they’re all shells of their former selves. Things are already changing and we should just accept. As for Gold, yes, I have over a third of my portfolio in precious metals and have been buying since ’06. for transactions i convert it to US dollars.

Dan Meyer: I’m enough of an irrational optimist to think America isn’t done for yet. The data says we are in what appears to be an irreversible decline, but the data is missing one key element… Faith. I still cling to faith that America stills stand…s for things that no other country in the history of mankind stands for. And that fuels the faith behind my irrational optimism. This post as served its purpose.., it’s made all of us reflect a little more than we may have without it.

TW: I personally don’t believe we should just accept decline. The rest of the world isn’t exactly in a position to de-throne the US so to speak. China has enough political turmoil and isn’t exactly financially in the greatest position, Europe i…s having enough problems themselves. I believe if we as a country can effect enough change from the way we have been going and keep doing things that truly make sense we can resurrect this titanic but if our elected leaders keep doing the same thing with a different name or face then yes the band will just keep playing while the ship sinks. I also deal with gold which is why I asked. Dore gold out of Ghana and various bullion sellers and buyers.

MH: that’s the kind of mentality that keeps us from adjusting. The “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and “we can innovate ourselves out of a mess” or something of the same nature. Nowhere do i see that anyone has “written off” the US, …all i mentioned is that we’re changing. I’m all for positive outlook on things. Yet,  from an entirely objective standpoint we cannot choose to remain a superpower: others choose that now. We can not prevent China from dumping all of that debt causing an immediate jump in borrowing costs. We can not prevent oil from reaching $150/bbl. We can not use the world’s resources for x amount of dollars while other countries are locking in multi-decade deals to secure lines of energy… I would recommend actually using our expertise (process) and creating flexibility in our systems (personally and business) which will handle the change.

Dan Meyer I disagree. That’s the kind of mentality that had made this country different than every other one. I do agree though that our best chance of success comes from accepting reality and focusing on what we are good at. Thats my whole point… We as a nation need to wake up.

Could you imagine Romney and Gingrich and Santorum actually having a conversation like this? It sure wouldn’t make for great sound bites, but itd be amazing to get them to really talk about solving problems and not just trying to make political points.

I will continue to dream on!

Signs of Change

There are a so many signs, yet so few people seem to see them. Maybe they just don’t want to, but they are pretty hard to miss. We have been here before. As a historian, I know that most Americans have always turned a blind eye to the events of the world and spent their time worrying about their own lot in life. However for the past 100 years, we’ve been able to plow ahead without regard to those around us. Our industrial might, our ability to build and produce led us out of the Great Depression and to victory in both World Wars. Our ability to innovate and manufacture moved us beyond the Cold War and to the Moon. There have been thousands of Cassandras throughout this time, proclaiming the our shortsightedness as a nation and the end was near. Greece, Rome, the Ming, the Aztecs, England, the lessons go on about empires that crumbled and fell. There are countless books and articles about the pending fall of the United States. So now I’ll add my own observations to the mix.

I love this country and all it stands for. I still believe we are a force for good in this world and our kids still have a bright future ahead of them.  However, if we don’t learn from previous mistakes we are doomed to repeat them again. Combine this with new threats, a more interdependent economic landscape and the omnipresent realities of a shirking globe and we have a challenge on our hands greater than that of Hitler or Soviet nukes. This is what I’ll write about. I’m going to share with you my insights and opinions on things that we as American need to take note of to be more educated and better prepared as we navigate the increasingly chaotic path ahead of us. And for my friends, family and colleagues abroad, this will help you understand the mind and motivation of many Americans.