Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dodgeball for the 21st century

At least once a day, I avoid a collision in some public corridor. 

I've been working in a busy, crowded building, filled with professionals. And nearly every near-collision (a near-miss would be a collision) results from the other person gazing intently at a smartphone as they walk.

Is this the new normal? Professionals transfixed by a handheld four-inch screen?

By PeterLigerry (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
/3.0) or GFDL (],
via Wikimedia Commons
I was away from the business mainstream for about 20 months. In that interim, smartphones have become an inseparable extension of many people's lives. Perhaps a substitute for authentic human interaction. 

And while I own a tablet-esque device, I intentionally didn't bite on a full iPhone, because I wanted opportunities not to be drawn to stare at that screen. 

It feels like we're a few steps away, as a culture, from becoming hypnotized by these devices. 

I'm not delighted by this cultural change. I'm not thrilled at having to re-learn long-forgotten dodgeball skills just to walk down a busy corridor. Or sidestep pedestrians on sidewalks who are having a too-intimate relationship with a little box full of circuits and LEDs.

My recommendation: once a day, you should schedule yourself for a disconnect. A respite. Turn off your gadget. Remove your Beats or Skullcandy headphones. Maybe go find another companion for your walk. 

Two- or four-footed. Your choice.


Monday, April 6, 2015


Most of Easter Sunday was given to divesting of items amassed during my 17-year corporate career. This included a quantity of publications specific to a former employer's diversity and inclusion achievements. 

Which failed. 

When the company's balance sheet collapsed, diversity went from "must do" to "nice to do." The outfit needed diverse employees to design and market innovative products. But those employees saw the corporate commitment falter as cash flow ebbed. They knew their market value as executive men and women of color. And they fled. 

When you have black and Hispanic directors on your corporate board, and your CEO and chief of diversity are people of color, you should be able to make diversity work. But membership in the external organizations that validate your commitment to diversity isn't free. And those expenditures were among the first to be cut. 

I've saved those publications as professional samples of how diversity can be done well. Professionally, however, they haven't impressed would-be hiring managers. Diversity as a career skill seems less valued if you're not a candidate of color.