Personal Biases: Attend a Pearl Jam Concert

A dear friend recently invited me, along with a large group, to join him in a suite to attened the Pearl Jam concert at the American Airlines center.  Never passing up a good time, not to mention a seat in a suite, I accepted the invitation, although I’m not sure I was looking forward to the concert.  There were about twenty people in attendance at dinner beforehand and, like me, a few of us couldn't name any songs Pearl Jam sang.  The other attendees, big Pearl Jam fans, assured us that we would know some songs once we heard them. 

None of my dinner companions were heavy metal rockers or tattooed groupies.  In fact, there were a couple of Doctors, a CFO and the President of a highly successful local company.  I wasn't worried; I just attributed the lack of Pearl Jam familiarity to a few years difference in age and a lack of exposure.  However, I was certain that Pearl Jam was not going to be my kind of music based on what little I knew of them.

As all concerts go, the band would play a few notes and the crowd would sigh with excitement as the band launched into a fan favorite...None of which I had ever heard before or since.  Initially, this was frustrating and I was overall uninterested.  Who were all these goof-balls.  The music was loud, unfamiliar, and had a bit of a heavier beat than I was used to.  I started fiddling with my phone.  After checking e-mail, posting a pic on Facebook and tweeting something that made me sound cool to be at the concert, I was done.  I found myself looking at my watch.

Bored, I slowly started listening to the music and watching the crowd.  The music wasn't ghastly, just not what I was used to.  The crowd actually dressed somewhat like me and I could see everyone bobbing their heads to the beat.  Next thing I knew, I'm bobbing my head to the beat.  The music as it turned out was interesting.  Even though I knew none of the songs, the music and fans were growing on me.  In fact, by the end of the concert, I was up dancing with the rest of my group...  Laughing and having a good time getting into the music.

As the concert ended, I reflected on what had just happened.  In the span of a couple of hours, I had gone from a disinterested outsider to a head bobbing Pearl Jam fan.  Laughing at myself internally, I thought this odd.  In actuality, I had just committed the very un-progressive trait of being somewhat biased against Pearl Jam fans because of what I thought they would be like.  In other words, I used my idea of what I thought Pearl Jam played and what type of people I thought attended Pearl Jam concerts to bias my initial attitude of the event and those who would attend it.

Although pleasantly surprised, this whole affair was a little disturbing.  Surley,  I wouldn’t allow my biases to color my judgment of people would I?

Now, I’m not beating myself up over this.  I suppose all of us have preconceived notions that color our attitudes towards things.  Like knowing you will not like brussels sprouts even though you’ve never tasted them. [I actually love brussels sprouts.] But I would encourage you to stop, and think about Pearl Jam the next time you turn your nose up at something or someone, because of what you think you know.  This was a little life lesson for me.  Now punch up Pearl Jam on Pandora and enjoy.

Looking for Work in Today's World

As some of you know, I've spent the majority of 2013 looking for a new career.  One where I can make a meaningful contribution to a worthwhile organization.

I thought I had found, or actually re-found, a good career with a former employer in the Consulting field.  I knew the business and many of my peers, having been employed by this company six years prior.  I even had a six-week project waiting for me when I signed on...Nirvana. 

Unfortunately, an acquisition made before I started wasn't providing the revenue required to make plan, so all of us not currently staffed on a project were let go in an across the board layoff.  I had been with the company for four months total.  Thus, the realities of business today.

Before you assume this is a rant on the unfair practices and employers’ lack of commitment to employees, read on. On the contrary, I believe this is a wonderful time to explore employment opportunities and to work for great companies. 

Reasons:

2013 Annualized Unemployment Rate  Bureau of Labor Statistics

2013 Annualized Unemployment Rate

Bureau of Labor Statistics

  1. It's the economy, stupid.  All signs are the economy is improving and getting stronger.  The DOW recently closed above 16,000.  I hear from all my friends in business that revenue opportunities are improving.  I'm seeing building cranes dot the skyline of the DFW area.  We all know that coming out of a recession, businesses are hesitant to rekindle hiring, but they need good people to remain competitive.  Hiring will surely follow this economy and I'm excited to be on the forefront of that wave.
  2. Linkedin and other employment and networking sites are flourishing.  If you haven't looked for a job in a while, it's a whole new world for job seekers.  It is easier to make a statement and post your information to employers than ever before.  Personal web sites, social network profiles, and job boards make your information and aspirations available to anyone with a browser and a good search engine.  Still, more jobs are found through networking than any other method.  Again, this is where sites like Linkedin shine.  Reach out to those business and personal contacts, and provide them a good reason to check out your profile.  Invest a little in the Job Seeker package and get increased exposure to potential employers.  No one hires talent without first checking them out on Linkedin.
  3. The employer and labor market paradigm is changing.  The average annual turnover in 2011 was 13% according to SHRM Human Capital Benchmarking Database (2010-2011, 2011-2012 & 2012-2013).  In addition, employers are reaching more for “Just in Time Skillsets” through consulting and contracting engagements.  For example, companies today hire full-time employees to maintain their existing business processes and meet their customer’s needs.  Few employers hire, and pay for, spare employee capacity for the occasional project.  So where does the specialty knowledge and resources come from to select and install that new CRM system?  It comes from consulting and contract help.  I believe that soon, we will all be working independently for ourselves and selling our knowledge and expertise to companies to perform specific, measureable, and discrete tasks.  This paradigm shift will force us all to get better at marketing ourselves.

After my short-term employment, I found an opportunity to work on a contract basis for one of the world’s best consumer-focused companies.  This engagement pays well and provides me an opportunity to see the interworkings of a great organization while allowing me to stretch my skills.  I'm still looking for full-time employment, but in the interim, it’s a win/win for everyone.