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Archive for Blogging – Page 2

On the Bright Side

It is lousy out there today.  Bitter. Cold.  It is the kind of cold that beckons me inside, to lie under a heavy blanket near a warm fire, and do a whole lot of nothing. I’m really bad about wussing out when it is cold, needing inspiration sometimes to snap out of it.

I’ve always thought it is interesting that when it is this cold outside, typically it is bright and sunny. It is a reminder that there is a bright side to everything.

Bright sides aren’t always easy to see in the face of bitter cold. After all, at this point in winter, it can be a very dark place for those in the HR Profession.

Our people are facing their credit card bills.

With daylight at a premium, it is insomnia season.  Sleepy people can be very grumpy. We bear the brunt of this.

Their kids are cooped up and fighting, or worse, sick.  And they are going to bring it to work. Ugh.

It is T4 season, RRSP selection season, benefits renewal season, performance review season, and all the paperwork that drives us nuts season. By the way, isn’t it also the “aren’t we supposed to be getting rid of paperwork” season?

Photo Credit: Tony Brown, Flickr

But then there’s the bright side.

It is a new year.  After last year, there’s truly optimism in the air.

The days are getting longer every day.

Some people got some sleep over the holidays and came back fresher.  They even say hello more often, or at least their e-mails start with the words “Hello” or “Hi”.  That’s something.

Even better, some people have worthwhile and inspiring resolutions.  They’re infectious. I love reading these resolutions.  The ones for 2017 seem to be less diet focused and more activity/balanced focused.

There is time to achieve new goals.

There is a new budget.

Family Day is just 6 weeks away.

There are a lot of good indoor activities that need doing.  You know, changing the furnace filter and such.  Maybe even re-organizing a closet or two.

If you’re looking for a few ideas to look on the bright side, look here:

Me personally?  I’m putting everything on that groundhog.


Photo Credit:  Niklas Hellersted, Flickr

Photo Credit: Niklas Hellersted, Flickr

During the summers of the late 1970s, I would hop on a school bus in front of City Hall in downtown Woodstock, IL and take the long hour plus ride to Wrigley Field to watch a Cubs game.

Strangely, I don’t think I ever attended a Cubs game with my parents. Back in the day, home Cubs games were played in the afternoon, my parents worked, and the bus and the seats were cheap. I recall making this trip down to Wrigley several times with my friends in those years.

As a kid, I liked baseball. I especially liked the Cubs and the magical feeling of Wrigley Field.  My personal passion for sports was swimming, but I got hooked on baseball because I could watch it on television in the afternoons before swimming meets.  You see, on swimming meet days, we weren’t supposed to hang out at the pool, and the best air conditioned location to veg was in front of the TV.

Cubs games were broadcast on WGN.  The game would start with Jack Brickhouse moderating The Leadoff Man, and then the game would start at 1:15.  By the time the game was over, it was time to start thinking about packing up to go to a meet.

I had another passion back then, statistics. Ask anyone and they’d tell you I was a walking Guinness Book of World Records.  Baseball was good for someone like me because there were ERAs, batting averages, and all sorts of statistics to memorize. Plus, almost all the kids my age in the neighbourhood were boys, and baseball helped me to fit in with them.

And then there were the players.  I knew them all, or at least all their stats. Manny Trillo, Ivan De Jesus, Bill Buckner, Bobby Murcer, Larry Biitner and the legendary home run king, Dave Kingman.  At the beginning of one season I acquired a roster with all their pictures on it, and by the end of the season I had most of their autographs.  It wasn’t hard to get autographs if you were a kid.  You just took your roster to the top of the dugout and the mascot or a representative would hand it over the top to the players, who would sign and hand back.

I loved those guys.

I moved away from Chicagoland in the early 1990s, but I never lost my passion for the Cubs.  And I never will.

I’m certainly not alone.  This week there have been crazy stories going around about people listening to the winning game with the long departed (including one person who spent the whole Game 7 in a cemetery next to his father’s headstone).  What makes a team so wonderful that people take that warm feeling with them to the grave?

In the context of work, how do we earn this sort of loyalty in workplaces?  You know, staying the course even when things aren’t perfect. I’ve thought about this a lot recently.

Really, it is about the type of people you hire.  The ones who care about their co-workers, who have a passion for having fun even when the work is hard.  The ones who value comradery.  It is about the mutual commitment the company has toward its people.

The Chicago Cubs organization has faced a lot of significant challenges over the years. Sure, there are all the superstitions involving goats and cats, but the one that sticks out for me is Wrigley Field itself.  While I think Wrigley is the coolest thing with the ivy, the old scoreboard, and the homes and apartment buildings across the street with their rooftop seats, it is a less than optimal ballpark for a business that needs to make money to meet a very expensive modern payroll.  In my lifetime, Wrigley has gone from a day game stadium to one that can manage night games, despite a bitter “no lights” campaign in the 1980s.  But to date, they’ve managed to keep the Cubs out of the suburbs, maintaining an icon that draws people back like the Pied Piper.

There’s something to be said about consistency.  Certainly for the Cubs, that has helped to breed its fans’ loyalty.


Shooting from The Tragically Hip

Photo Credit: Dave O, Flickr

Photo Credit: Dave O, Flickr

Ask any person who has resided in Canada for at least ten years and chances are that this Saturday you’ll find them somewhere in contact with a Tragically Hip event:

     **Schlepping out to Kingston to see their final performance

     **At a party at home, watching the CBC

     **Standing in front of one of dozens of Jumbotrons in communities all over Canada

The Tragically Hip is Canada.

And Canada loves The Hip.

And the rest of the world has absolutely no idea what the fuss is about.

To explain, The Hip is on a farewell tour. Their lead singer, Gord Downie, has terminal brain cancer.  We’ve collectively decided to have his wake while he is still alive, and raise money for cancer research.  The party, which has been going on most of August, has eclipsed the Olympics in terms of interest here. The final concert is in their hometown on August 20th and the CBC is broadcasting it.

That’s right, some rock band from Kingston, Ontario that has had virtually no airplay on U.S. regular or satellite radio is having their farewell concert broadcast live nationwide in Canada, on regular television.

One of my nephews, a literal walking library of music and lyrics, has never liked The Hip.  It’s OK, he lives in the United States and doesn’t understand the music.  I find it funny though that every time I see him, he has to make some comment about whether I’m still listening to the Hip or not. He says that when he thinks of me, he thinks of them.

He once told me that Gord Downie sounds like he’s got a goat in his throat, which is true, but beside the point.

Ok, so this is an HR blog, why The Hip?

I find it to be the coolest thing that we have something that we all love together. The Hip is our music.  It tells the story of Canada, of a place that can be in the middle of everything and far away at the same time, of a place that is beautiful and natural, and commercialized.  It is a place of its own history, with what would be otherwise forgotten stories like a hockey player who dies in a plane crash or a major prison break. Or, a place where it is so calm and quiet that you can get lost in your thoughts.  It is the culture of the north, being performed by the generation after Gordon Lightfoot.

One thing The Hip are known for is mishmash; evolving a new song from an existing one, from experimentation, often done live.  In their honour, I spent a little time and created my own Hip story, using lyrics from fifteen Tragically Hip songs.    I encourage you to try this with your favourite Hip lyrics and see what you come up with.  Feel free to post it in comments.


Watch the band through a bunch of dancers
Quickly, follow the unknown
With something more familiar
Quickly, something familiar

It gets so sticky down here
Better butter your cue-finger up
It’s the start of another new year
Better call the newspaper up

Twelve men broke loose in seventy three
From Millhaven Maximum Security

Looking for a place to happen
Making stops along the way

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, “We always knew that he’d go free”

You just hit me where I live
I guess it looked quite primitive

I had this dream where I relished the fray and the screaming filled my head all day.

Then I found a place it’s dark and it’s rotted
It’s a cool, sweet kinda place
Where the coppers won’t spot it
And I destroyed the map, I even thought I forgot it,
However, everyday I’m dumping the body

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn’t win another till 1962
The year he was discovered

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with will and determination, and grace, too

Sometimes I feel so good I gotta scream
She said Gordie baby I know exactly what you mean

And that’s when the hornet stung me, and I had a feverish dream, of revenge and death

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me,
They bury me some place I don’t want to be,
You’ll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously,
Away from the swollen city-breeze, garbage bag trees,
Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity
And lower me slowly, sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

It was in Bobcaygeon, I saw the constellations
Reveal themselves one star at a time

And the rest of the world
Becomes a gift shop