2018: Why your Company Needs a Code of Conduct Now More Than Ever

With the tumultuous workplace climate expanding in 2018, a Code of Conduct can help your employees conduct themselves in a way that is appropriate and professional for your organization. It helps with decision making on a day-to-day basis and showcases a benchmark on which to judge someone’s performance.

Several years ago one of our new clients, a large professional services firm, called us and asked us to assist them with the enforcement of their Code of Conduct. When we started our discovery we realized two things were present. First, they had an exceptionally written and well-presented Code of Conduct for their workforce. It included all of their expected behaviors:

Respect the individual

Integrity and accountability

Impartiality and objectivity

Compliance will all law and governance for our business

Quality and professionalism

Courtesy, consideration, be prepared, listen first, never attack another member of the team, disruptive or disrespectful behavior could lead to suspension or dismissal. You get it, but one individual didn’t and didn’t care to, these were applicable to everyone else.

Second, they had never trained, enforced, or acknowledged that their code of conduct existed, until … Yes, you guessed it, someone stepped way out of order. The challenge wasn’t just what they had done or how they had, but more importantly, this was a very high ranking and long tenured executive. As we were discussing the infamous “last straw” it became evident that several things had been occurring. This behavior was omnipresent. This individual had always behaved in this manner. No one had ever addressed it. Also, because no one had ever addressed it, the culprit was emboldened to continue to stretch the limits of their actions. There was a wake of former employees who had decided that any organization who would tolerate such behavior, especially from such a senior member of the executive team, did not deserve to retain their expertise or client service. And then the individual came upon their David; someone willing to stand up to Goliath.

Cut to the chase, the client decided to terminate Goliath. For good reason. But all of this should have been corrected years in advance. The number of careers that this individual affected were numerous, the cost of replacement hires outweighed this persons value by a factor of 10X, (yes 1,000%) and the harm to the firm’s reputation was nearly irreparable. Think Jerry Sandusky, Harvey Weinstein, without the strong sexual overtones. You see, although the Me Too movement has brought significant attention to abhorrent behavior, it’s not just sexual in nature. It’s about operating and enforcing high standards of professionalism, integrity, respect and accountability, not just compliance.

We have been seeing more and more of these types of events happen with our clients these days. Individuals who may have tolerated actions and behavior that are completely out of line with their company/organizations Code of Conduct. How do you address it? Consider reinforcing your Code of Conduct. Train all of your supervisors and managers on your expectations and their responsibility to enforce them. And most importantly, support them. There is a place for civility in the workplace. It starts with each of us.

P.S. I am happy to say that no stones were thrown or slingshots exercised, but Goliath was taken down on the plane of the executive suite. Slain by the loss of employment, reputation and significant personal income. It is highly unlikely that this person will ever recover the status, value, or salary that they had with this firm. Sad to say, it was long overdue, and well deserved.


Opioid Crises in the Workplace

Drugs are an essential part of my life. I use some form of them every day. Vitamins every morning, statins at night, and I typically look for nutrient rich foods, snacks and drinks. Rarely, but on occasion, I’ll even take some Ibuprofen to reduce inflammation of some overused muscles after a workout, or long workday in the yard. My wife and my daughter are both pharmacists. Two of the best – in fact – they are absolutely the best I know. Smarter than most people, both should have gone to medical school. I’m blessed that I’ve got my own private counselors on all things that are drug related.

Unfortunately there’s a much larger challenge in our country today. Almost everyone I know knows of someone who has overdosed and some who have died from opioid addiction. We live in a rather vanilla middle class neighborhood and attend a rather conservative church in a quiet little town. We know of three individuals who have died recently here all of whom went to grade school years ago with my kids. One just died a few weeks ago. These are good kids from really good families who somehow got caught by this epidemic. And it’s an epidemic. The number of deaths that are happening from this scourge are staggering. Something has to be done.

As such, the local, state and federal officials are now starting to turn to employers and asking them to educate their employees on this challenge. The hope is that those employees who can become informed and trained on what to do will then be able to take this knowledge back to their homes and communities to address and help anyone and everyone who might have a problem with this addiction. So, if you are an employer, or can have some influence within your place of employment, please help join the growing movement to help all employees become aware of the challenges and some of the solutions that are available to help address this major problem. Because of the extent of this problem, your effort very likely could save not just one life, but several. Turn to your health care insurance companies and ask about their employer based programs on this topic, reach out to your employee assistance program and get their resources, turn to local community hospitals and clinics and ask about trainings, seminars or speakers who could communicate solutions to your employees. If this hasn’t affected you yet, these resources and solutions will be critical to you the moment this comes into you or your loved ones lives. -Dave

Memorial Day 2018

Back in my venture capital days I was fortunate to travel to a number of cities where our technology company investments were located. During one of these trips, within a few years after 9/11, I was flying out of an airport somewhere on the west coast, I don’t remember where I was, but travel was highly cautious then especially in light of the terror attacks. I was conducting a nationwide research project on the best executive search firms in the country and what made them so (a little of that in a moment). I was feeling a little self-pity being away from home and missing my wife and kids and all of the things that were going on back in the ‘Burgh. This was a particularly crowded airport concourse. Hundreds upon hundreds of passengers waiting across at least a dozen gates. Kids running around, lots of people on their phones, some people working on their laptops, some people reading books or magazines. I had sat down with quite a long wait for my flight and was concentrating on writing. Then something profound happened. The entire concourse got eerily quiet and off in the distance I heard a group of individuals clapping. All of a sudden everyone got up and started walking, some rushing towards the center aisle through the concourse.

I too wanted to see what was going on and why now there wasn’t just clapping, there was a rather raucous thunder of cheers and hollering. As I got to the main aisle I realized what was happening. A rather large group of desert war soldiers, still in their fatigues, carrying duffle bags and other military issued backpacks had just deplaned from the very end of the concourse and were walking through the airport on their way to their loved ones – or perhaps their next flights. I remember thinking to myself – these individuals – were living heroes walking just feet away from me. It was a very touching and very uplifting event. Lots of love and good wishes where heaped down on those men and women who walked through that concourse that day and it was one of my proudest moments as an American. We have so much to be thankful for with the men and women who protect us and our allies and freedoms we attempt to enforce here and around the world. Unless you’ve traveled to other countries, unless you know the plight of some of the rest of the world, if you pay attention to anything that happens around the rest of this great big planet we live on we should all be thankful for the freedoms and the systems that we govern this country. It’s not perfect, we all know that, but this republic is the best thing that’s ever been created in the history of the world. And it’s all because of the best trained and disciplined military the world has ever seen.

This Memorial Day take a moment to reach out to and thank any veteran or active military person for their service. Let them know you appreciate what they do and the sacrifice they make for their families and for each of us. Please also remember the tens of thousands of military personnel who have lost their lives as a result of their service to our country. I personally would like to thank Virg Palumbo, Ernie Taormina, Tom Medovitch, Brad Ayer, Lou DeSanzo, Clyde Ayer, Josh Keener and all of the other active and retired military who have served our country, including both my dad John (World War II) and my father in law Ernie (Korean War). Our Human Capital Advisors’ family has loved ones serving as well including our Human Resources Professional, Mary Del Rossa’s son Antonino Del Rossa, currently attending the Air Force Academy and our Marketing Director, Lauren Fozard’s boyfriend, Donald Knorr currently serving as a pilot in the Air Force. And, if you would, please say a special prayer for Luke Sciulli, one of my former players, who was hurt by an IED in Afghanistan in the past few months. I’m sure he and his family would greatly appreciate it!

One final thought, given the chance to hire a veteran or a civilian, hire the veteran. They already know about sacrifice, discipline, selflessness, leadership and have been trained by the best. The investment you make will pay off in ways you could never calculate using traditional workplace values. -Dave

Las Vegas Golden Knights

Lessons learned from the world of start-ups. About one in ten survives the first five years of existence. There are two highly understood reasons. My guess is it’s not what you think.

As many of you know almost 8 years of my career was spent as a partner with one of the largest venture capital firms in the country. I was hired there with an ominous first year assignment. Bring a set of human capital best practices to our portfolio of companies (30+ at the time) or your position will be eliminated. There were 635 venture capital firms in the country at the time – about a dozen had tried this model. The premise was that the partners knew quite a bit about technology and financing and market analysis but they didn’t do one thing very well – hiring or managing people. We set about creating an entire set of tools, processes and procedures for the portfolio companies to use to clear the path of compliance and people challenges and allow each company to concentrate on the disruptive technologies they were creating. Some of those were very successful, others not so much. But we could tell early on which would be successful. They concentrated on one key process. Hiring an exceptional team with great leadership with a unified focus and then commence building their story. In each successful investment this was the common theme. Assembling a great team all focused on the same mission. Today our firm helps our portfolio of companies do the same thing – with a very disciplined and defined selection process that brings the right people together based on their unique defined role.

There’s a great example of this same model on display with the upcoming NHL playoffs. A start-up team decided to implement a very similar model. They were given the opportunity to select the best talent from across the entire league and build a new team. They did it exceptionally well. Today, less than one year in existence, they lead the NHL in wins and are a high odds favorite to go deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Who are they? The Las Vegas Golden Knights. Our beloved Marc Andre Fleury is in net there and the owners assembled a group of exceptional talent experts (human capital) and leaders (aka coaches, trainers, nutritionists, equipment experts, etc.). It’s a great model we can all learn from.

This formula of human capital is paramount to success. It is evidenced throughout almost all successes. Develop a great idea, hire an exceptional team to execute it, clear the path of obstacles and noise, and watch what happens. There are a number of great examples here in our region. One that comes to mind is when Glen Meakem was putting together the team to create Free Markets he assembled an all-star team of very smart, highly motivated, individuals who understood the vision and couldn’t wait to implement the plan. Their execution was extraordinary. And those companies that became their clients saved millions of dollars as a result. Eventually they went through an exit cycle and much of what was the original cast has gone on to do an entire host of different things. But they followed the same formula when they were starting – at its core it was about understanding human capital.

Here’s a few to think about. Loyola Chicago and the NCAA tournament. Dante DiVincenzo – a kid off the bench becomes the tournament MVP. A backup quarterback for a team in Philadelphia defeating one of the greatest teams in NFL and playoff history to win the Superbowl. And my favorite – 300 vs. 100,000 in the greatest battle in history. Thermopylae. Some would like to say it was the technology, or the systems, the software, the timing. Some of that is true. But there is one thing that is certain. Smart people with great skills, motivation and belief who execute have changed the world. There are a dozen great ideas already being created today no one has heard about – yet. They’re all destined to success. Why? They understand this universal truth – People, the foundation of any success – are going to make it happen. That’s the Power of People Realized.

I wish you well!


Shipwrecked? Or Smooth Sailing?

Happy Easter everyone!  Although for those of us in the ‘burg it still feels more like hockey weather than baseball weather.  In any case spring is just around the corner – although that prognosticator from Punxsutawney should be sent back to training!

The business side of sports – why some teams will never actually win a championship.

For those of you who love sports, especially in a town like Pittsburgh where we’re just one play away from being rabid about all sports, our beloved Pirates are about to start their first home game of the season.  Not without  controversy, the owners there have one thing they know better than most.  Baseball in Pittsburgh is never going to be a championship contender.  They know multiple things about owning a professional sports team in Pittsburgh.  First, with revenue sharing they’re automatically going to make money owning the team.  As such they don’t really have to put a championship team on the field, they can be content to generate revenue simply having a team on the field.  Truth is they’ve got a great coaching staff – so, like any company, they’ll be fairly competitive, because this coaching staff will keep them on the winning side of the ledger.  And, the city built one of the most beautiful parks in the country.  Very easily as nice, if not nicer than almost any of the others in the league – smart business move back then.  What’s that line – if you build it they will come.  Hmm???  Has some truth to it doesn’t it.  As such, the fans are going to come to watch a game or possibly several during a typical 80+ game home season.  It’s a night out or an afternoon away to do something different with your friends or family.  You hope they win, but if they don’t you’re really going to go about your life, job, school, activities tomorrow just the same as yesterday.

Truth is the owners are approaching this team like most owners approach their business.  We need to do things right, put a decent product out for our customers, and continue to be innovative.  To them it’s just a business – it’s never going to be a championship team.  They are never going to make the kind of investment necessary, or spend the money to bring the top talent to this team that will win a championship.   They don’t need to.  They just have to be good enough.

Perhaps that’s the challenge with a lot of businesses today.  Is it ok to be good enough?  As many of you know I spent almost eight years of my career leading the human capital practice for one of the largest venture capital firms in the country.  We never looked for talent that was good enough – only the best in their field got through our screening methods.  But our interest was very high risk – only investing in disruptive technology.  Something that would be so revolutionary customers would beat a path to get to your door.  That world is always high risk, as only one in ten is lucky enough to make it.  But the ones that do become the next Amazon, Facebook, or Google of the world.  The key to success – having really smart and motivated people as part of your team – being patient and persistent – and most importantly – knowing your market.  You can have the greatest product in the world – but without a market it won’t make a difference.  Ever here of the Qube?  Brilliant innovation in the early days of cable television.  Two way interactive technology – but the problem – it was 10 years ahead of it’s time.  Time Warner bet the house on it – and lost a lot because of it – not because it didn’t work – it did – it was just way ahead of it’s time.  Every once in a while an innovator comes along that is ahead of the curve – Think Gates, Zuckerberg, Jobs, Bezos, and Elon Musk.  Considerably ahead of their time, but committed to innovation and success.  Not the first to do what they’ve done – but disruptive enough to make a difference.

We’re blessed here where we are.  Thank goodness for the innovators who never accepted ‘good enough’ as their operating mantra.

Remember – it’s the Power of People Realized that really makes the difference!

I wish you well,



There’s never been a stronger case – nor a period of time – where the need for exceptional Human Resource leadership was front and center.  If your organization has cases similar to those highlighted in this month’s newsletter – look no further than the leadership of your people.  That leadership isn’t just the HR Lead – it’s every executive in every organization – we all manage people – it’s our responsibility.  Strong human capital practices can address and reduce the liability, but only if they can lead, and if the workforce has a means to access them.

I love March Madness – the exhilaration of college kids playing with the chance to win the national title – to be recognized as the best in the country!  Someone will win an unexpected game, someone is about to become famous.  Some colleges do it in a way that is exceptional!  Unfortunately this years tournament will have more than a little tarnish!  Why?  Pay attention – we’re surrounded by it – and it will soon be noted that a very high percentage of people either have been the subject of or a witness to despicable behavior by very important leaders.

It’s not surprising – is it?  Harvey Weinstein, Rick Pitino, Jerry Sandusky, and soon to be hundreds more.   The list is long and now infamous!  Leaders who are personally responsible for – or who quietly condone the type of behavior that in most organizations would be considered at minimum abhorrent, and more appropriate – illegal.  Yet those actions by powerful supposed “leaders” should have been corrected decades ago.  A couple of years ago I wrote a newsletter about the failure of Human Resources at Penn State to have addressed and resolved an issue like Jerry Sandusky.  The fact that this esteemed organization could turn a blind eye on those allegations – and worse – the eye witness account by a fellow coach to be ignored by any and all powers to be – the fallout and long term effects will last a generation.  So far the price to the institution has already exceeded $260 million in real dollars.  It’s the hidden cost of a tarnished reputation that you cannot calculate.  That very likely is priceless!

So how many people will look at anything that Harvey Weinstein’s company ever produced without thinking – what seedy pathetic behavior or actions happened behind the title of this production.  The same tarnished image will follow Penn State, and now Louisville, and the Dallas Mavericks, and – when the FBI investigation results are released shortly – dozens of others.

Perhaps it’s time that every organization look at their HR leadership.  Are those people strong enough to lead your organization through this type of controversy.  Better yet, is your HR leadership capable of preventing it from happening in the first place?  Mark Cuban is pleading ignorance on the actions of his President – possible? – yes –  likely?? – absolutely not.  The guy was there for years.  Somewhere someone brought those actions to Mark’s attention, most likely in a confidential quiet manner to avoid the potential ramifications of such a statement – but nothing happened to stop it.  Just ask the three top leaders at Penn State that Joe Paterno went to regarding Sandusky!  Not one will ever work in such a position again, ask them about their federal jail time when they get out, and ask them if, given the chance, they’d take a different action today then they did a few years ago.  Hmm – Not to hard to guess – but let me ask you – what have your ignored and what could it cost you???

Have you seen it?  Do you know anyone who has?  What action did they take?  Unfortunately most people don’t do anything – because their HR department doesn’t know how, or doesn’t have the authority to stop it.  I know a young pharmacist who was recently threatened by her general manager with an act of severe action, including aggressive physical outward motion, to intimidate her from voicing her concerns, in a meeting with a dozen other employees.  Her solution?  She quit on the spot.  What did HR do?  Nothing.  A pure sign of HR ignorance and weakness.  Forthcoming consequences – an exodus of most likely 8 of those witnesses – the physical threat was that palpable.  The cost – 2x the annual wage of each lost employee – the cost of turnover of any employee with two years or more experience.  Don’t take my word for it – read  Dr. Bradford Smart’s book “Top Grading” – the metrics and costs speak for themselves.

Please stop the madness!  Hire exceptional HR leadership.  And then build a system and set of processes to prevent any of these actions from happening in the first place.  But, if or when they do, take immediate and corrective action.  It could very easily save your company!

I wish you well!


The Business Behind The Olympics

The Business Behind The Olympics


The Olympics – the purest form of all things Human Capital! I can’t wait for the Olympics to come around every two years between the summer and winter games. I’m a little partial to the summer events, maybe because by February in Pittsburgh I’m just about over the bitter cold and snow fall. And true to form, this winter has lived up to its yearly torture. Thank goodness I didn’t go to Punxsutawney! Poor critter has to be the most hated prognosticator on earth. There are more than 170 countries competing in this year’s games. Each country sends their best athletes in what to me is the purest form of Human Resources. Only the best get through via a rather simple form of Performance Management. You do better than everyone else in that you are competing against and you get to go compete against a lot of other individuals who did the same thing for their organizations. You could insert country, team, organization, association, or even company here if you’d like, but each of them is sending their best. This also points to a critical HR skill- the science of recruitment and selection. When everything is all said and done it’s a little simpler than most people understand. Define exactly what the ideal candidate looks like, including skills, training, education, and demonstrated history of success (you might call it a resume here…) and evaluate each individual against a set of standards that you expect them to perform against and a set of goals you expect the position to achieve while that individual is in that particular role. The problem with this ‘science of selection’ is that most hiring managers don’t define the job, or the skills knowledge, education or experience and worse, don’t set goals for the position to accomplish before the person is hired – and then when they hire someone that doesn’t live up to those expectations – they blame it on the individual – instead of their lack of recruitment and selection discipline. At this next level we will witness another amazing demonstration. Exceptional coaching and managers. After all, have you ever worked for someone you couldn’t wait to go to work for every day and motivated you to do more each day than you thought possible. These athletes have some of the best personnel, team and sport managers there are. Each sport relies on those individuals to get the most out of their staff – the athletes. They won’t get much praise and none of the limelight, but each of those individuals will be more than slightly responsible for the success of those competing. There’s another HR element to the Olympics that can’t be overlooked. The results of years and years of constant and ever increasing training and development. Companies that outperform their competitors do so because they’ve trained their employees to do so. If you want your employees to be the best shouldn’t you be training them with the best techniques, processes, and solutions. Shouldn’t they have the best tools, equipment and technology? Some will come to you having prepared at the highest level possible, but look and screen for the ones with not only the technical skills, but the soft skills, those intangibles that set them apart from all other candidates. And, to some extent we’ve already had the chance to get a glimpse of some succession planning – did you see the athletes that didn’t make the team that were so very close? Some of those individuals are certain to be on the next team in 4 years. There is one thing that is certain to overshadow all of that selection, training, mentoring and coaching. and it is sheer will. Have you ever hired an employee that you thought, well, maybe they’ll be OK, but I’m just not sure. Then sure enough through some almost mysterious outcome they turn out to be one of the best you’ve ever hired. I can’t wait to hear those stories from these games – human interest – yes. But to me it’s more about the ability of one individual to overcome an unbelievable set of odds to compete at the highest level on earth. (With the Super Bowl fresh over and Philadelphia’s parade yesterday – I’m sure Nick Foles has one heck of a “Personal Will” story to tell his kids – in the face of unbelievable odds – just ask the odds makers in Vegas!) I’m not sure if the some odd 3,000 athletes know it, but given that there are more than 7 Billion people on earth, these individuals make up a microscopic number of elite individuals – demonstrating outstanding human performance. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about a very touching display of employer loyalty that is not far off from the Winter Olympics – in the sport of Hockey. This week, the Pittsburgh Penguins had the opportunity to host the Las Vegas Golden Knights. In one of the greatest displays of affection for a former player, an individual who helped this team win the ultimate trophy in the sport, true to form, the Penguins honored their former goalie – Marc Andre Fleury. If you haven’t had the chance to see the video on Facebook or You Tube look it up. It’s a ‘burg thing. And they’ve got class. Remember, the best Human Capital requires discipline, science, training, and the positive will to make a difference! Go Team USA!!! I wish you well, Dave

2018’s HR Crisis: The Talent Shortage

2018’s HR Crisis: The Talent Shortage

Dave Baker’s Take on the Issue:

When John Hoerr wrote the seminal work ‘And The Wolf Finally Came: The Decline of the American Steel Industry’ in 1988 he outlined exactly how and why the US Steel Industry crashed. In its wake are dozens of desolate little towns scattered all around western Pennsylvania. Aliquippa, Homestead, Monongahela, they’re everywhere. It doesn’t take much to find one. Just take a drive up and down the river valleys around Pittsburgh. More than 300,000 people relocated away from Pittsburgh from those days. You wonder why the Steelers represent so well in other cities – the Black and Gold moved there! How unusual is it to have a Steeler bar in so many other major cities in the country? There’s even a Steeler bar in Rome! Fortunately there is a significant resurgence in our fair city, most brought on by the likes of our great Universities, CMU, Pitt, Duquesne, Chatham, Carlow, and the scores of others in the nearby suburbs (as you know I’m a little biased towards the Bearcats at Saint Vincent College). Drive up through the miraculous recovery of some of the newest hot spots like Southpointe (thank you Marcellus Shale), Millvale, Lawrenceville (thanks Children’s Hospital) and soon to be Monaca (thanks Shell Oil ethane cracker). That said there is one major crisis that has already started to take root. And it isn’t just here, it’s across the U.S. There is a major talent shortage in this country! Those of us who’ve been watching the demographic trends and forecasts of the effect of Baby Boomers leaving the market are finally seeing the impact. In a booming economy, and this is as robust as it gets, there is an unbelievable demand for talent. And it’s going to get worse. For decades you could always count on some sort of an economic downturn to level set the supply and demand. But only a few companies prepared for where we are and what is ahead. Some company executives are not paying attention. A few won’t care. Even worse, they won’t have a strategy to fix it. To some, employees are a commodity. That pool is drying up fast! You can’t reverse mismanaging employees in a matter of weeks or months. Candidates are in the driver’s seat right now and can pick from different job offers. With the social media available today from the likes of Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook, etc. employees will naturally favor going the company with the best reputation. Those that are known to take care of their employees and have employment practices that demonstrate it. What are these best practices? Just call Liz Lamping or Deven Snyder at the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association (www.pittsburghhra.org) about their “Engaging Pittsburgh” awards. These awards, formerly known as ‘The People Do Matter’ awards, are best practices demonstrated by some of the best employers around this region. It’s a treasure trove of innovative programs and practices by companies large and small, with both local and national brands. Just like the innovations at CMU, UPMC, Allegheny General and scores of other leading edge companies and organizations in our region, these companies in Pittsburgh are leading the way in the war on talent. There is an opportunity to adopt and adapt. Some will not. But the path to success is fairly clear from this vantage point. In order to retain your employees and attract new ones you’ve got to be competitive – and that competitive edge today is being a great place to work! In the world of human capital employees are either an asset or a liability. How do your employees perceive working for you???

Dear Santa, All we want for Christmas is…Amazon?

Dear Santa, All we want for Christmas is…Amazon?


So our fair city is now one of the finalists for the next AMAZON headquarters. Is this a good thing or a bad thing??? Almost everyone says it’s Santa Clause while a select few think this might be the GRINCH. First, why this is a GREAT thing! To bring somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 jobs to one city in a matter of a few years could easily be transformative for all the right reasons. Jobs, collateral support businesses, increased tax payments to the local governments that allow increased services and solutions to our infrastructure, increased skill sets to the overall population and, did I mention JOBS – A LOT OF THEM! If I was a business analyst with AMAZON (let me exercise my M&A experience) Western Pennsylvania makes total sense. Our work ethic is second to none. All you have to do is look at all of the unbelievable successful people that have come from Western Pennsylvania. They’re from everywhere here. Why? We have a tendency to know that success requires hard work, and sustainable hard work – i.e. we work had – constantly and continuously. Some say it’s because of our DNA. I say it became a part of our DNA because of our values, diversity and that fact that we really do care about everyone here. Just ask the little old lady trying to drive out onto the four lane highway I saw last night, and the 5 other cars that stopped – TO LET HER OUT! It’s just who we are. Sure we have our share of knuckleheads here, but they’re a much smaller percentage of this population than most places. I credit knowing and appreciating what work means, and growing up that way, does for you. Ask your G-MA T – and how she pulled no punches with anyone, including her kids and grandkids. Most of us grew up with one of those individuals of significant influence in this region. I’d also look at the much lower cost of living here, which requires a lower cost of wages here. In the long run that’s going to save you billions of dollars that you can put right back into your employees, facilities, and future. I’ve had offices in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Boston, Minneapolis and Austin Texas. All great cities and I’ve loved every one of them. But do you know what it cost to own a house in Palo Alto or Boston, or most of the others. Can you imagine having to spend $1 million on a 1,800 square foot home in a modest neighborhood like most do in Palo Alto. This is not something that overlooks the ocean!!! We also have an unbelievably high number of colleges and universities in our region – more than 40 by my count – led by a number of rather world class prestigious scientific universities – Carnegie Mellon leading the way. More than 40% of the students there are from other countries – attracted to Pittsburgh from around the world – it is that well renowned – as is the medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. Those schools automatically force the other schools around them to up their game – otherwise they could not compete. I’m a little biased towards Saint Vincent’s, Duquesne University, and Saint Francis University – but those are for personal reasons – Go Bearcats! Personally if I’m an advisor to Jeff Bezos, I’d suggest the eastern side of Beaver County. Much lower taxes than Allegheny County, quick access to the airport (pretty important for their business!) and easy access to everywhere!!! Planes, trains, trucks and even a river barge or two if you need it – although that probably would delay the quick AMAZON PRIME delivery I’ve gotten so used to and spoiled by – thank you Jeff! On the other side of this GREAT thing are some challenges everyone needs to be at least cognizant. AMAZON is going to be a huge magnet. This isn’t a magnet that hangs on your refrigerator, this is a magnet that will attract planets towards it – kind of like Neptune attracting asteroids and meteors. That magnet, especially because this is a really well run company, is going to attract the best and the brightest in dozens, no wait, hundreds of professions and did I mention this is THOUSANDS of jobs. That magnet will cause a significant exodus from a number of local companies of some of their best talent. So any of you companies out there who haven’t stepped up your game on employee retention, you’ll be the first to lose those high performing, highly valuable employees. You think competition is healthy? I DO!!! But this will force everyone here to compete for talent. In a market that is already at full employment – (in labor economics 4.1% unemployment IS FULL EMPLOYMENT) finding replacement personnel for all of those individuals is going to be a significant challenge. You do have time, it will take more than a few years to build the new Amazon city (e.g. did you see the television interview of the proposal made by Curtis Kossman of Kossman Development- just visionary!!!). But once they land everyone here should take keen notice. If you think those tremors of a positive change from the Marcellus and Utica discovery and now the advent of the new SHELL Ethane Cracker had an impact. AMAZON will be TECTONIC! I’m pulling for them to pick us – quiet little western Pennsylvania. You want a passionate place to build a company? A place rooted with a work ethic like no other, who treat each other with respect, but love to win, to be the best??? Just go over to Heinz Field when the Rooney boys bring out their employees. Those towels aren’t flying because they’re cold – it’s a signal to the rest of the country – there’s something special here! NOTE: The Marcellus/Utica companies and supporting businesses have already added more than 10,000 new jobs to our region! Although the SHELL Ethane Cracker plant will employ less than 1,000 when it is complete, the collateral companies that will build up around it could add more than 5,000 jobs. We at Human Capital Advisors wish you and your families Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Dave, Lynn, Angie, Mary, Jim, Lauren, Laura, Lorrie, Maureen, Grant, Kate and Jared,




The Biggest HR Disaster of 2017 They say that 85% of an iceberg is underwater. If that is so we are only seeing a mere fraction of what is to come. It’s amazing how this is only now front page news and finally causing change – significant change. Politicians (presidents past and present) and sports figures (think Jerry Sandusky) and now finally Hollywood. Perhaps it took a lightning rod like President Trump to bring this full circle, but the sad thing about all of this is that it should have been stopped by strong HR policy and even stronger HR Leadership a long time ago. Harassment policies have been around for decades, but to what avail? Without credible investigative support, followed by strong action and penalties, these complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Some of these individuals are (soon to be were) very powerful in their companies and in their jobs. It reads like a who’s who – unfortunately this one is a Hollywood Walk of Shame. What do you need to do? Train your entire leadership team. Be immediately responsive to complaints. Investigate claims beyond the first interview. When validated, take immediate and strong action up to and including separation. Why? These actions by the perpetrators violate the law. We at the watch have a responsibility to enforce those laws and protect every employee, and even those who are one off – where employees come into regular contact with clients, customers or contacts. It’s our responsibility to every individual that works – wherever they work. Please note that the training for this is very serious. Imagine this – you are about to open Pandora’s box. If those in leadership roles are not prepared to deal with what is about to be revealed, you are already in trouble. As such this training is critical to protect your employees and your company. Harvey Weinstein went from powerful to pariah in a matter of weeks. And it was his company. Ask the former President and Vice Presidents and the Board at Penn State if they wish they had taken this topic more seriously. Not only are they in jail, their careers are ruined and it has cost an otherwise exceptional educational institution more than $300 million dollars – and tainted their reputation for at least a generation. Be vigilant. Remember you can only see what’s on the surface. It’s the ugly underside that sinks the unsinkable. Training, policy, enforcement, investigations. We can help. Just give us a call.