“Give us your huddled masses … or maybe not!”

On the forefront of political discourse, again – is immigration reform … or should I say what’s the best way to keep out or kick out the Mexicans. And intertwined into this dialogue is jobs. The two seem to be forever at odds with each other. “Them damn foreigners are taking away our jobs!” can be heard far and wide.

Nothing could be further from the truth. But then again I don’t live in Arizona or watch Fox News, so maybe I don’t know what the real truth is.

Regardless, one thing I do know – jobs are created primarily by small business and small business requires creativity. Yet all our “standards-based” public education system has done is to stifle creativity and new business development. It seems the most creative Americans ended up that way only by resisting the conformity of conventional American schooling and its “lock-step” rote memorization curriculum.. Even our large corporations, hardly a haven for entrepreneurial thought, say they often have to look overseas to find creative thinkers.

In addition, information tech positions, the employment drivers of the economy and the exact type of jobs our schools are supposedly training our students for – remain unfilled. And it’s not just high-tech jobs. Crops rot in the fields, because migrant workers are afraid to go to work for fear of being deported, rightfully or wrongly … because of the Draconian racist immigration laws passed in numerous states.

And we continually complain about balance of trade issues. “China is beating us at our game,” beats the drum! Yet when we invite the best and brightest of other countries to go to college here, we kick them out when they’re ready to be productive members of our communities. And then we’re surprised when they go home and start the businesses they wanted to start here, only to “kick our butts” further exasperating our balance of trade problem. And on top of it, the “insane clown posse” wandering aimlessly throughout the halls of Capitol Hill, refuses to acknowledge that immigrants are co-founders of 40% of Silicon Valley firms, a prime sector of the American future. I guess that’s what happens when your vision carries you only as far as K Street. At least Sarah Palin could see to Russia.

Our jobs problem is not about unemployment … it’s about the unemployable. There are jobs out there, they’re just not the jobs the American unemployed can perform (at least currently). At present, there’s a gap between education and the available positions. Unfortunately this problem isn’t going fix itself overnight. But in the interim, poaching the best talent from abroad seems to be a pretty good solution. Any coach will tell you the best offense is a good defense. And whoever has the best players is going to have the best team. Goes for sports, and goes business!

What is a small business supposed to do if it needs talent … engineering and programming and even farm workers – and can’t find it state-side? Nothing … that’s right, they’ll do nothing. They can’t hire anyone and they can’t grow. Give one for the racists and paranoid over small business and the economy!

What if we ran our country like the NBA or MLB? 18% of the NBA is foreign-born and 28% of Major League Baseball comes from abroad. Imagine if professional baseball spent the time and money, often years, to season a prospect – only when they’re ready for the big leagues … kick them out of the country. Yet that is exactly what we do in the business world.

“Should we kick him out too?”

The hypocrisy of the clowns in government is bewildering. You don’t see a New York Senator complain when Mariano Rivera (Panamanian) takes the mound in the 9th for yet another record-breaking save. You don’t see Phoenix Suns fans, elected officials included, complain when Steve Nash (Canadian) shreds the defense with another game winning assist. And you sure didn’t see U.S. Representative John Culberson of Texas’s 7th District yell “commie” when Yao Ming (Chinese) of the Houston Rockets slammed down another dunk.

In the beginning of the international integration of professional sports you heard, “those foreigners are taking away jobs from good Americans.” But quickly the jingoistic “hoots and howls” wained as people realized the quality of the games was better with these “foreigners” … a lot better.

And not only did they not take away jobs, they made the leagues much more profitable – creating more jobs for all types of American born workers. For example, the NBA juggernaut extends well past the court into corporate boardrooms and into the closets of males and females ages 8 to 78. This produces jobs, lots of them. And this is just one of many examples. The list is endless.

I believe the one main obstacle to this country’s economic prosperity is our immigration policy … not trying to keep them out, but just the opposite – not finding ways to bring them in. Contrary to what the government believes, there’s really very little they can do to alter the fate of the economy. All I ask is they abandon their paranoid self-defeating immigration policy – and allow business, especially small business to hire the talent they to make our country competitive.

If our businesses don’t hire them … someone else, somewhere else will. And we may not like the result.

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I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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What’s your personal Venn Diagram?

I’m a graphic information freak.  My idol in Edward Tufte.  I don’t how many times I’ve read his books about graphically displaying nouns, verb and adjectives.

I’m also a database freak.  This probably stems from my headhunting days when my life was dependent on my databases.  I was always in pursuit of the proverbial “Black Box” that would automatically find the right candidate for the right position and would render the best relationship for me.

Those days are gone.  But new days have arrived, and Twitter is an integral part of them.  And I’m back in the same game – the pursuit of the “Black Box.”  “The Black Box” has a different purpose these days though.

My current professional endeavour is my 1:1 marketing company, the bleedingEDGE.  And part of the “Black Box” will definitely be identifying and furthering the proper connections in that genre.  Unlike recruiting, the bleedingEDGE will need relationships much more in-depth and longer term.  The people I work with have will essentially be partners and collaborators.  This means connecting on more than just a business front but also personal.

I want the “Black Box” for more however.  Life is more than just business, and longer I’m around, “the wider I cast my net.”  But I don’t want my life to be segregated.  I don’t want to be a salad bowl.  I want my life to be a melting pot – my relationships multidimensional.  Our most scarce resource is time .. so my time needs, as should yours, be spent to its fullest (that sound very cliché – but it’s true).

Getting back to Tufte and graphics.  At the core of my “Black Box” is going to a Venn Diagram.  You remember those things we had to make in high school math class.  Those circles that we didn’t think had any practical application;  those circles, where as we got older, we tried to find a use for … just because they looked neat.  Well, I’m going use them.

This is where Twitter comes.  Twitter as great way to get in contact with people in a myriad of disciplines with a myriad of interests.  Now the key is to find for where the overlap is.  Who is a good business prospect, that say likes antique lamps and is a Led Zeppelin fan.  On Twitter, you’ll find, categorize and follow who you want – how you want.

For example,  here’s some of my interests:

  • 1:1 database marketing
  • communication theory
  • generational analysis
  • wind energy
  • education reform
  • Pop Art
  • sociology
  • Minnesota Twins baseball

To maximize my time, productivity and fun … I need to find people who share more than of them and how they intersect.  How do I represent that.  With a Venn Diagram, that’s how.

Now I’ll be able see, using my right brain, the people I have the most in common with.  It kind of sounds like ‘match.com’ but without the marriage stuff.  Imagine the potential as a time management / productivity tool.  You’ll find the people you have the highest likelihood of connecting with … business or personal.

You can use the concept for whatever you want.  It doesn’t make any difference.  It’ll also provide a great tool for 1:1 marketing.  Just structure a campaign, any campaign, around not just one interest variable but several.  Neat!

I suppose you don’t have to actually make a Venn Diagram.   Nobody says you have to run out to the school supply store – you  probably had enough of that recently.  But as long as you get the concept, you’re good.

Our time and resources are limited.  We have use them best we can.  And that means choosing and maximizing our relationships.  Too many times we have a tendency to be reactive.  Who ever comes our way, professionally and personally – is who we end up spending our time and effort with.

I know being reactive is easier.  We just have to … well, react.  But where does that really get us.  Does it put us on “The Road to our Perfect World?”  Maybe … maybe not.

The best way ensure you get where you want to go is drive yourself  And when you drive, you need a map.

Maybe you can thank your high school math teacher after all.

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If you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg

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Falling leaves and the opportunity of change

Yesterday was  not the best day I’ve had recently.  It wasn’t terrible, just not productive.  One of those “take one step forward, two steps back” times … only without the one step forward.

A lot of this has to deal with the fact we are embarking upon another holiday this weekend.  I have this love hate relationship with holidays.  Living the proactive life I have right now, launching my new company, is in direct conflict with holidays.  If you need to talk to somebody, anybody – you can’t.  If they’re not gone physically, they’re gone mentally.  And this is a fact I have to come to realize.  Switch gears and focus on internal productivity.

Fall in Minnesota

For me Labor Day is a time of thought.  The summer’s done … a season I’m not particularly fond of.  And fall is here … a season I am.  I love autumn’s weather, no matter where I’m at.  And being in Montana, the first time I’ve been outside of California for the fall in twenty years, I something I’m looking forward to.

Labor Day represents change, probably more than any other time.  Leaves are changing, school’s starting and the summer’s lack of focus excuses have expired.  I know everybody’s all into the New Years and its resolutions.  But how much do things really change from December to January … well, except for changing the year when writing checks.  But who writes checks anymore.

When was planning out my next day, which I do the night before, I decided to embrace Labor Day what it means for me, contemplation … looking at back at the last three months and looking forward at what’s possible in the next three.

I look forward to the new arrivals of a few select bloggers.  One was in my inbox this morning when I got up. It was a post by from Life Literacy Labs and my buddy C.A. Kobu.  It was titled “Do you know how to be like Janus?” It was like I channeled her last night when I was “agendazing.”  Read it.  It’ll get you thinking.  All of C.A.’s work does.

As you get ready for the long weekend, anguish the end of summer and relish the fact that the kids are back to school … think of Janus and look a the changing leaves.

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Gladwell’s 150 rule … how does it apply to social media?

In his 2000 book, “The Tipping Point,” renown author, Malcolm Gladwell, cited the example of a manufacturing firm on the East Coast and its adherence to relationship building and numbers.  This firm determined that having more than a certain amount of people in one building or facility would actually prove detrimental to building teamwork and camaraderie.  In other words … the employees wouldn’t get to know everybody and they would form cliques instead.

The magic Tipping Point number

Their magic number was 150.  Up to this point everybody, more or less, would exist like a large extended “work family.”  Any more contacts than that was beyond the normal person’s ability to maintain let alone nurture.  Once they got to 150 in one building (due to expansion), they would split that facility’s workforce and build another building.  They had done this several times and Gladwell was amazed at the teamwork throughout the company.

Further research by Gladwell found that this wasn’t an isolated example.  It was a sociological phenomenon across many disciplines.

I noticed the same situation when I was recruiting.  I may have had a database of over 6000 candidates … but really only communicated regularly with only about 100 to 150 of them.  I actually flagged these as “preferred.”  This was in the nineties well before the “Tipping Point.”  Some faded away over time, but others took their place in the regular call rotation.  However, the number of my core group stayed about the same, 100 to 150.  When I tried expand the number – my rapport with the core suffered.

Now, this brings us to social media.  If you look at the numbers;  Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers – you’ll see numbers well into the hundreds if not thousands for some people.  The question is, “Is having this number so high beneficial or detrimental?”  Social media is not like working in a company or having real life contacts though.  The difference is how many of these people are active in your life.  How many make comments, tweet your stuff, receive your replies, etc.  And how many are wallflowers – just out there to unilaterally receive whatever you choose to send them.

I suppose a person’s social media “group” is pretty much like my recruiting candidate database.  A certain amount will be your “core group,” those that will be a regular part of your life.  And the rest will be … well, just will be there – being just a number.

What can we learn from this.  Everybody’s situation is different … but is it really?  We use social media to make and further relationships (for the most part).  These relationship are professional, personal or in some cases just conduits for information.  But they are still relationships that involve time and attention.

Maybe we should look at our social media strategy first in terms of numbers.  And maybe that number is 150.

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If you like this … please Tweet it and follow me on Twitter @clayforsberg

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The morning … the key to a productive day.

I’m a morning person.  If I don’t get my butt out bed before the sun does … I feel like I’m behind the eight ball.

Yesterday I read posting by Jennifer Good, “Killer Habits For Starting Your Day.”   It’s a tremendous guide to “getting out of the shoot and down the track” first thing in the morning.  I already do a lot of things suggested, but there’s a couple I implemented this morning; such as getting something done before checking email and descending into the social media abyss.

I could get into detail here … but why when you can read it yourself.

You’ll thank me – or should I say thank Jennifer.

P.S.  This is for you Alex.

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I can be reached on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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