Monday, February 23, 2009

Harvard Learns What it Means to be Mormon

I am Mormon.
Being Mormon means a lot to me. It is my faith but also a large part of my heritage, culture, and lifestyle. I, as many Mormon young men do, served a two-year proselytizing mission when I was 19 years old. I served in Toronto, Canada where I was able to share my faith with thousands. Most are cordially uninterested, some are mean, few even cruel and ill intentioned, while yet some others find in the faith God and truth and are joined to it.

Even after two years of evangelizing, or after a lifetime of living it, faith is not always an easy thing to articulate. Mitt Romney, himself a Stake President in the LDS (Mormon) faith, did not always explain the faith or himself as a Mormon that well. It is difficult, especially in a world that often engages one's religious views in secular context.

It's easier to talk religion to the religious. Much harder to talk religion to the political, or religion to the academic, or religion to the media.

But this last Sunday I was shown this video of Rachel Esplin, a Harvard undergraduate studying East Asian Studies, and president of the Latter-day Saint Students Association, being interviewed by Washington Post journalist, Sally Quinn.
It was for a panel of five students explaining their diverse religious backgrounds--Presbyterianism, Mormonism, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. Esplin is articulate, informative, and direct in her responses, giving a solid introduction of what it means to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, traditionally called Mormons.

Esplin succeeds at the challenge of engaging the religious in secular environment and lays a terrific groundwork in what it means to be Mormon.
If you want to view the other four students, you can find them here: Harvard Hillel "Day of Faith".

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Movie Design That Wins

Because creating something truly fresh, a little bit awe inspiring, that moves the industry and our expectations forward is hard to do, it is worth noting when it happens.

Three incredible feats of late:

(1) Australia. Because making every shot postcard worthy is not easy.

(2) Coraline. The mix between stop-and-go animation with real materials (mud, water, etc.) mixed with the 3D rendered graphics was a lot of fun to watch and truly a first-ever, gutsy kind of move .

(3) Perseopolis. The black and white design and animations from this movie made for many shots I would consider framing as art.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

St. Valentines Day

The story of mine and Mikel's love is that great things often come together last minute and unexpectedly. That's a lot of how this weekend came together--after having all of our initial plans not pan out, this weekend came together, last minute with tons of fun.

Friday night, @mikelb and I hit up the dance party with @mickhagen @rachelhagen @bradhagen @krommenhoek. It was a lot of fun and @mikelb suprised me with her sweet moves. Here is a short clip of @mickhagen doing soulja boy (tried getting footage of all the single ladies but turned out too dark):

On Saturday we went skiing at Sundance. Sundance is often regarded as the runt of the Utah ski resort litter, but it proved to be a great day. The canyon was a mess and they turned us away after getting almost all the way to Sundance because of an accident, but we braved the weather again an hour later and made it up. Good snow and not too crowded. Here is @mikelb tearing it up on the double blacks:

Afterwards we grabbed a quick bite, switched babysitters (thanks grandmas), and went to Thanksgiving Point to see shopaholics. Meh.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mining Talent & Employee Generated Content

Extracting value from people is not that different from extracting minerals and resources from the earth. Not that the process is ever simple, but there are some simple truths to mining that can help us relate to how we yield the most powerful results from our teams, companies, and organizations.

There are two basic types of mining targets: placar and lode.

Placar deposits are when minerals are distributed through gravel or sand; think panning for gold in a river bed.

Lode deposits are when minerals are found within large veins or layers within the earth; think of a gold mine, with mine carts and pick axes.

Think of people as having both kinds of resources, both placar and lode. When we are trying to fill a job within a company, the process is like trying to find lode deposits--you look for a concentrated pool of talent. Or, said otherwise, when you are trying to fill the job of accountant, your primary objective is to find someone who is first and foremost fantastically talented at accounting.

But people hired for their lode resources bring placar resources with them as well. These are the resources that in many cases we didn't hire them for, but if we can extract, can yield additional value for the company or team. In our example, our accountant might also be a great strategic thinker, know some html, have a powerful network, or have previous experience in PR--whatever the case, people bring with them a variety and breadth of ancillary skills.

There are two trends emerging that are putting more emphasis on this process of extracting the placar resources from individuals:
  1. Insourcing. I define insourcing as the delegation of tasks or operations to an organizations' current talent pool. In many cases, and how I most often think of the term, this means that tasks are being delegated to people who would not traditionally field the task or who it is beyond their job description to do so. It is much talked about these days and has become a mainstream buzz word.

    But to share an example of the power of insourcing, my brother Taylor recently told me of a BYU Marriott School lecture he attended where the CEO of a young company spoke. This CEO recounted the story of being hired to turn around this small, and at-the-time flailing company. The company was not profitable, high burn, and if things didn't change would not survive.

    The first thing that the CEO did was to gather all employees and ask them to list everything they thought was wrong or needed fixing with the company to make it profitable. He then reviewed and summarized the list, assigning a dollar amount to every item on the list. The following day, he posted the list with the accompanying dollar amounts, and told the employees that he would pay for every item on the list that the employees could create a solution for--didn't matter the task or the employees role--whoever created the solution got the cash.

    This CEO said that within a month and a half, everything on the list had been fixed, paid out on, and within only a few months more the company became profitable. Powerful. A much fresher trend I am really excited about is...

  2. Employee Generated Content. All are familiar with the concept and term UGC (user generated content), which today yields 27.9M google results, but just emerging is the concept and emphasis on EGC (employee generated content) which today yields only 421,000 google results.

    I define EGC as non-paid content created by employees of a company, regarding the company's product or services. This is content that is created outside of their paying role; content created on blogs, twitter, videos, etc., because these employees like to talk about what they do or believe in the product or company that they work for. This is often powerful and passionate content.

    And innovative companies are starting to capture this value by creating EGC portals where they aggregate all/some of their employees' content.

    Two fantastic examples of this are (1) The University of Chicago Law School's TweetChiacgo and (2) Best Buy's Connect.

    These portals bring all of the evangelizing that their internal people are doing into a hub that allows for an immediate, personable, and very real look into the company, or in these instances, the U Chicago Law experience and the many products of Best Buy.
I am a believer that most peoples' talents are rarely fully utilized a anxious to see how these trends will continue to shape the way that companies value and use their employees. Is EGC something that would be valuable to your company? Stay tuned to Zinch to see what we do with it...