Be careful what you “Like”

I’ve noticed recently that Facebook has been heavily promoting “Like Walmart” in my timeline. Facebook helpfully not only shows me which of my friends “Like” Walmart, but it also provides a link to their timeline, I guess so I can hop on over and ask them useful questions about Walmart?

Well Facebook, you are not going to socially shame me into liking Walmart. Sure I shop there when I have no alternative. I bought my current Netgear router there, it was the only place in town that had one when I needed it; many people in small outlying areas use Walmart as they no longer have an alternative and 90% of Americans live within 15-minutes of a Walmart. Except, many of them have forgotten or didn’t know that when Walmart came to out of town, it killed main street and many if not all the small, often local businesses, run by local families. But still, Walmart “always [has] low prices” so thats OK.

Rather than “Like” Walmart, I’m left wondering why my friends like them? Really, a company that has a GDP bigger than 169 countries, many of which provide healthcare; Walmart is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, est. profits $34,800 profit EVERY MINUTE of EVERY DAY, and won’t provide healthcare for its’ employees. How can you like that?

Of course the Facebook promotion of Walmart isn’t just an act of kindness, its almost certainly driven by payments from Walmart itself, or an agency acting for Walmart. It’s also likely that you are seeing other “Like” promotions, and if you are not seeing Walmart, maybe either none of your friends “Like” Walmart or you already do. Anyway, Statistics Brain has some great numbers on Walmart, here.

Remote working…

A lot has been posted online about the decision of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, to end remote work at Yahoo!

As usual the interwebs erupted with a lot of people not involved, spouting out their opinion on why she was wrong to do this, and their opinions on the effects. Even I just replied to a comment in my last “balance” post wondering how it would work out at Yahoo. Then I read this, a great piece on the Business Insider War Room. Bingo. It makes perfect sense, when the system is broken, you need to fix it and I’ve worked on a number of distributed teams and find this quote nailed it for me.

“Camaraderie is built by working together. You wouldn’t have a basketball team and have 5 players working in separate gyms on their jump shots.” Gimbel said. “They might be better shooters but they wouldn’t know how to work together.”

Apparently, Best Buy have followed suit, they are certainly facing similar problems at a business level. Who next?

Balance, or lack of it

One of the things I commonly say to high performers is

When you live on the edge, sometimes you’ll fall off

it’s from a lifetime of trying to succeed.


One of the things that was a recurring theme of my work 5-10 years ago, as a senior technical leader at IBM, and as part of the professional review board for both Senior Consulting IT Specialist, and IBM Distinguished Engineer, work/life balance. Google has thousands of links to blogs, articles and books on it.

One of the most interesting experiences I had on work/life balance, was down in Australia. After presenting on professional development, and high performance engineering, I was asked about work life balance. What the questioner said was, and I remember it clearly to this day:

Australians work to live, they don’t live to work, how do you see us being able to achieve the same results?

I was floored. Truth is I didn’t know. Gladwells book Outliersmost people focus on the 10,000 hours as a total, but miss the point that for many, that 10,000 hours that Gladwell calls out, comes in a short period of time, often at a huge impact to other aspects of our lives.

This week I came across this blog by Chris Oxford, CEO of the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. Oxford says:

It is not just the hours you put in at work; it’s that it owns your head. You think about work in the shower and on vacation, and you get lost in all of the ideas while you are sitting at dinner. It is exciting and dangerous.

and nails it when he says

 I loved my family, I felt good about what we were doing at work, and I assumed I could maintain the balance. Five years later, I had three Inc. 500 plaques hanging on my wall — and I was divorced. This is the danger of the balance propaganda. You think you can have it all, and you wind up losing what means most to you.

Think you are different? Think you can have it all? Think again. Those that appear to have it all, especially politicians who are held to some higher value, don’t. They are either cheating their constituents, cheating their family, or cheating on their partner. Cheating doesn’t require another person, it requires a mistress called work.