Thursday, February 27, 2014

Middle-Class Mediocrity

In a recent blog post entitled “HR vs. Innovation”, I made reference to the new world of work and added the comment:

“Adequate performance should be rewarded with a generous severance package.” 

As a follow-up to the post mentioned above, I felt an urge to address the challenging problem of the Middle Class. 

The mere term “middle class” implies average.  A human trait simply at odds with - and unacceptable to - constantly evolving mankind.  I have therefore decided not to support the concept of a middle class - as it pertains to my own lifestyle and career - i.e. this general principle of mediocrity has been abolished, gone forever!

From this moment forward, and for the remainder of the rest of my 25-30 summers on earth (assuming good fortune in health and longevity), I will be an ideas machine. And my ideas will either be brilliant or pathetic, with no middle ground.

To this end, the next time I share an idea with anyone I will expect either one of these two responses:

1. That’s the stupidest idea I have ever heard! or
2. That’s simply genius!

Any other response, like “that’s nice” or "Interesting" or “I like that” is no longer acceptable.  Our minds (or brains if you'd prefer), technology and the general industry that surrounds us are simply evolving too fast to accommodate a segment called the middle-class, in a thought leadership race. 

Mediocrity will lead the race to the bottom!  And don't tell me "you'll think about it," because thought is instant, and should not be postponed to some future date.

If you go to work everyday hating your job, watching the clock trying to get out of there as soon as possible, tolerating your boss - who happens to be an idiot - all because you need a paycheck… then please fire yourself immediately.  Because sooner rather than later, if you don’t, your boss will fire you!

For the past, oh, twenty years or so, work has more readily become what you do as opposed to where you are.  The simple concept of working 9-5 in one place, every day, is as redundant as adequate performance, in general, unless you work in a mine or a factory.  In fact, if I see you sitting at your desk, there's a good chance that you're not working!

The latter (showing up at work every day) was seemingly acceptable until large companies like Lehman Brothers, GM ($GM), Blackberry ($BBRY) and many more, either crashed and failed, or almost failed!


Because of mediocrity.  Bosses, much like their direct reports, go to ‘work’ every day pretending to do meaningful work. Really, quite often, they are just wasting their time and lives away!

Today, bosses (and employees) organize meetings where absolutely no work gets done; managers conduct employee performance reviews to e.g. reward autoworkers who are always on time for work, work overtime as required, complete all of their assigned tasks per day successfully, are great team members, etc.

Employees at Blackberry were doing the above while Apple ($AAPL) was busy creating an iPhone; GM workers were doing the same while the Nissan Leaf and Tesla ($TSLA) captured the electric car market; Apple is currently, seemingly doing the above in an environment of diminishing marginal returns, despite their global leadership position, record sales and a mountain of cash (reminder: just 10 years ago this last description was one befitting Blackberry).

If you’re adequate, average or middle class… and content with that condition, you’ve basically given up!  The good news is that it’s not too late.

You are an ideas machine as well.  Think of at least three new ideas for managing your life, love and work every day, and watch you career take off.  Try it… you’ve got nothing to lose… except perhaps your conditional mediocrity.