Future Friday: How to make the future a calmer place

by Michael Haberman on April 29, 2016 · 0 comments

If you are anything like me, and I am betting you are, your day is constantly interrupted by the technology that surrounds you. Email notifications, automatic downloads, pop-ups, even your alarm clock are all aspects of what is called interruptive technology. You can do somethings to mute these interruptions but you can’t get away from it all. What if technology was designed not to be interruptive, unless it really needed to be, like your fire alarm? That is the premise of cyborg anthropologist Amber Case.

Interruption versus calm

Ms. Case studies how people interact with the “smart” devices that now fill our world. She is an entrepreneur and researcher helping Fortune 500 companies’ design, build, and think about connected devices. As she said at a conference in early April “We thought that with technology and automation we would have more time in our day and more freedom, but instead the difference between work and play is blurring. When we’re at home, we’re answering email, and when we’re at work we’re doing something silly like playing on Facebook… It’s an issue because we don’t have reflection time. We don’t have down time.”

Some countries, France and Germany in particular, are considering legislation that eliminates employers contacting employees after work hours. Of course that is unlikely to occur here in the U.S. anytime soon, but as an enlightened employer you might consider having such a policy.

I can’t talk about calm technology as eloquently as Ms. Chase can. I will let her talk about this. The first video has been viewed close to 1.4 million time. The second one is much newer. Both are very interesting and well worth the time because of the thought processes they will stimulate about your world at work and at home.

YouTube Preview Image


YouTube Preview Image


Do you have the habit that makes people successful?

by Michael Haberman on April 28, 2016 · 0 comments

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” ― Mark Twain

“The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”
― Mark Twain

In his article 10 Habits of Ultra Successful People: The Secret Sauce to Success, Charley Mendoza divulges to us what has made Bill Gates, Elon Much, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Cuban and others so successful. The list is excellent and I try to apply  many of these, regrettably somehow missing the wild success mark, but that is a tale for another day. But I do follow the habit that was listed as the NUMBER ONE habit.

Read a lot

Many very successful people read books every day. Mark Cuban reads three hours a day. Bill Gates reads an hour every night before bed. Elon Musk said he read biographies all the time. He considers them to be “self-help” books because he said people don’t write about you unless you have done something very well or very bad. Either way the is something to learn. As Mendoza writes “Reading helps you learn from the mistakes and successes of others.  Instead of just diving in; relying on your guts and motivation to lead you, reading gives you a mental map to bypass rookie mistakes people make in life.” One writer said the 19th century authors provided a great lesson on human behavior.

Lesson from Tom Peters

The inspiration for this post came from reading Tom Peters’ The Little BIG Things, which I take inspiration from often. Tom has a section titled Out-Read “Em! from which I offer you the following quote:


Read Wide!

Surprise yourself with your reading picks!

Read Deep!

Read Often!

Out-READ the “Competition”

Take Notes!


Share with others what you read!

(Not to impress them, but selfishly, because there’s no other way to imbed what you learned.)

Create/Join a Reading Salon!


I presented that just has he wrote it in order to convey the emphasis he puts on it.

Other Quotes

I have come across another couple quotes that I think are good ones about the value of reading.

A book is a device to ignite the imagination.” –Alan Bennett, a successful playwright, author and actor.

Following that is one from Haruki Murakami, a successful Japanese author, who said “If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” This echoes Peters’ statement about the necessity or reading widely.

Lastly one of my favorite motivation speakers, Jim Rohn, says “The book you don’t read won’t help.”

I try to follow Peters’ advice of sharing by writing reviews of books that either end up here on my blog or in Amazon’s book review section. If interested in what I have reviewed you can visit there.

How it enhances your career

Having the habit of reading will enhance your career in many ways. These include:

  • It allows you to learn from the successes of others
  • It allows you to learn from the failures of others
  • It stimulates thought and creates ideas
  • It gives you a broader perspective on the world
  • It gives you a broader perspective on human behavior
  • It will make you a better conversationalist
  • It will make you a more interesting person

Kevin Eikenberry says reading gives you “mentors at a distance.” How very, very true.

That combination of factors is guaranteed to enhance your career. So read, read more and pass on what you have learned.





Curt Schilling, former superstar turned ESPN announcer, was prominent in the news last week because he got fired for comments he made about the North Carolina “bathroom” law. (If you are not familiar with what that is you click here.) Many people may have thought that Schilling was protected in his comments, so what is the deal?

NLRB protections

Many of us have read time after time how the National Labor Relations Board has protected employees for making comments on Facebook by ordering their reinstatement after they were fired. Shouldn’t Schilling be afforded the same protection?

Unfortunately for Mr. Schilling the answer is “no.” The NLRB deals with protecting people for exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act which protects people engaged in “protected concerted activity” around “wages, hours and working conditions.” Since Schilling comments did not involve these things he was afforded no protection.

What about free speech?

Surely Schilling was protected by the right to free speech you may think. The answer there is NO. The right to free speech deals with an individual’s action as it relates to the government. Schilling could have stood on the North Carolina capital steps and protested as much as he wanted and he could not have been arrested because his right to free speech, but that does not apply to companies. There is no right to free speech in a company and you can be terminated for saying something that embarrasses the company.


What got Schilling fired was the common law concept of employment-at-will. Barring an employment contract an employee can be fired for anything that does not violate some federal or state law. Not all states recognize employment-at-will so be sure you are aware of the restrictions in your jurisdiction.

The result of all this is that Schilling is out of work for embarrassing ESPN and supposedly going against company policy. He expressed an opinion they did not agree with and they fired him for it. Perhaps not the best way to have dealt with it, but certainly within their rights to do.

If you wish to exercise you right to fire an employee under employment-at-will make sure you are not violating the NLRA or federal and state statutes before you proceed.

Hat tip to attorney David Barron for the inspiration.


The logical answer to that question would normally be “yes.” Unions are groups of employees that have gathered to provide them the opportunity to deal with wages, hours and working conditions, but if you have been paying attention you know the National Labor Relations Board has been working hard to extend their domain into non-union companies. Attorney Richard J. Reibstein, of the firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, now reports that the NLRB may now be stepping into the independent contractor arena.

The fight

Unfair Labor Practice

According to Reibstein this move stems from a case in which the Teamsters were trying to organize a group of truck drivers around the ports in California. One group of truck drivers were not employees of the company being organized, rather they were independent contractors. The Teamsters filed a complaint that these drivers were misclassified as ICs and should more properly be classified as employees. This would give the Teamsters the right to try to organize them. The Regional Director for the NLRB agreed with the Teamsters and issued an unfair labor practice saying the company “has misclassified its employee-drivers as independent contractors, thereby inhibiting them from engaging in Section 7 activity and depriving them of the protections of the [National Labor Relations] Act.” Yes, you read that correctly having independent contractors could be deemed an unfair labor practice.


This case is not yet settled and there were some other circumstances that lead to the ULP charge, however, there are some significant implications with this action if it were to happen to your company. If the NLRB finds the drivers to be improperly classified as independent contractors the door is opened to the IRS, USDOL and state agencies to come in and charge the company with FLSA, tax and insurance violations. This company could end up with huge back pay issues, back taxes issues and lack of workers’ compensation coverage, plus now having more workers potentially covered by a union contract.

On-demand workers targeted

Attorney Reibstein feels that this case is a direct result of stated targets of Richard Griffin, the General Counsel of the NLRB.  Reibstein said Griffin “issued a memorandum to all Regional Directors listing the types of cases that are required to be submitted to his Division of Advice where they ‘involve the General Counsel’s initiatives or policy concerns.’  One of the types of cases he listed are those ‘involving the employment status of workers in the on-demand economy.’  Thus, it appears likely that the issuance of the complaint was at the specific direction of the General Counsel.” The USDOL and the IRS have been on the warpath against the use or misuse of independent contractors for a couple of years now. (See Do you know the penalties for improperly classifying employees as Independent Contractors?) Thus, it is no surprise that yet another agency of the government would take up the banner.

The remedy

The fix for this situation and the best way to avoid problems with the government over misclassification is to make sure you have workers classified correctly. I provide some of that guidance in this post Do you know the penalties for improperly classifying employees as Independent Contractors? Take a look and make sure you are doing it correctly.


The ADA interactive discussion is a two-way street

by Michael Haberman April 25, 2016

Tweet Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) there is a requirement that employers have interactive discussions with employees (and candidates) to determine the extent of their need for an accommodation to perform the essential functions of their job. This discussion needs to be documented in order to show that discussion occurred and […]

Read the full article →

Future Friday: Cognitive Computing and the employee experience

by Michael Haberman April 22, 2016

Tweet An age of customization is coming due to the power of cognitive computing. What is cognitive computing you ask? I am sure you have heard the term it is filtering into many discussions today. IBM introduced the concept to me last fall at a conference I was invited to attend. (See Future Friday: Cognitive […]

Read the full article →

I was a Millennial in the 70’s and the 80’s

by Michael Haberman April 21, 2016

Tweet I have been doing some preparation work for a panel discussion that I will be moderating in May at Thrive2016. The panel will be discussing, the still very hot topic, of Millennials. In this case we will be talking about developing leadership skills in Millennial employees. As I went through my research I came […]

Read the full article →

Is “driving” in the job description as an essential function for employees who visit clients?

by Michael Haberman April 20, 2016

Tweet When you hire someone to be an outside sales rep you assume the way they are going to get from customer to customer is by driving, but do you specify that in your job description? Have you made that an essential function of the job? What about other jobs that require the employee moving […]

Read the full article →

The importance of internal networking to the employee experience

by Michael Haberman April 19, 2016

Tweet I watched a video by Jacob Morgan called Why HR and IT Need To Get Married. He talks about the importance of these two departments working together in order to improve the employee experience. He says that providing employees new technology, usually a combined effort of both HR and IT, is not just about […]

Read the full article →

HR manager can be held personally responsible for FMLA interference

by Michael Haberman April 18, 2016

Tweet Dragging your feet in responses to employees can land you in significant “hot water”. A New York federal court found an HR manager personally responsible for how an employee was dealt with in an FMLA case. Lack of response Initially in this case the HR manager did provide the employee with FMLA instructions for […]

Read the full article →