Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Free Lunch

Well I for one am relieved. There is no recession, well according to Pres. Bush there isnt. He is hopeful that consumer spending will drive new job creation. This, in spite of the fact that February saw the highest number of layoffs in America in 5 years. 63,000 Americans lost their jobs last month, not sure how they are going to recover those through consumer spending. While writing this article I was watching a news item on Medical Tourism, where a company is flying patients to India for medical treatment at a saving of 80% of the cost of having the treatment in the US. They compared a treatment costing $76,000 in the US and having the same treatment for $13,000 in India. Just how will this type of spending benefit US jobs ? It strikes me that the US economy is pricing itself into extinction. For years the US was seen as a place to come for bargains. Gradually as demand has increased, and as the sense of "right to" has increased, prices have risen. 5 years ago we were paying 89c per gallon, now we are approaching $3.50 per gallon. That has brought with it associated prices rises in everything that we consume. At the same time, companies are increasing margins by outsourcing jobs, not in an effort to pass on savings to consumers, but in an effort to offer more value to shareholders and to be in a position to compete for the workforce, who are demanding increasingly high salaries in order to keep up with a rising cost of living. This is not a rant against outsourcing. It is out of the box, you cannot put it back. We live with it, as certainly as we live with all of the other side-effects of driving greed. Lead in Toys, Hormones in Cattle, pesticides in crops. We blame the companies for "letting this happen" but continue to demand that we are provided with "bargains". Perhaps now we are seeing the truth of the adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Superpower ?

According to the latest Forbes list http://www.forbes.com/2008/03/05/richest-people-billionaires-billionaires08-cx_lk_0305billie_land.html America is no longer the economic superpower.

If you examine the Top 10 you will find only 2 Americans in the list - Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. Of the remaining 8, four are from India, one from Mexico, one from Russia, one from Sweden and one from Germany.

As interesting as these lists are, what is it really telling us ?
If we look at the source of their wealth we find that the richest non-american Carlos Slim Helu is a self made billionaire, making his money from his telecoms network.

The next on the list is Lakshmi Mittal, an India citizen though a resident of London, England. He inherited part of his fortune but grew it through his steel company, which just supplied the raw materials for the WTC memorial in New York.

The next two on the list are brothers, also from India, both of whom inherited part of their fortune. The first, Mukesh Ambani, credited with being the richest person in Asia, has grown his personal wealth through the leadership of petrochemical giant Reliance Industries.

His brother, Anil Ambani who also inherited part of the family fortune and has grown it through his stake in Reliance Communications, experienced the largest personal wealth growth on this years list.

Just examining these first few you can see the trend, they are either involved in industries in which the US used to dominate or they are providing services to the newly created middle classes in countries where outsourcing is now the dominant industry.

How many years until we see a Top 10 list that has no Americans in it ? Any guesses ?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Death of the Sales Hunter

How many times have I encountered the term "Hunter" in job postings for sales positions. Isn't it about time that recruiters and sales organizations joined the 21st Century?

The term is anachronistic, it always was, but in the aggressive environment of the 90's it caught on. It is reminiscent of the Michael Douglas character in the movie Wall Street - Gordon Gekko. But given the sophistication of the modern consumer, both private and corporate, the hunter is no longer a useful typing. For if organizations are still sending out hunters they are going to find that the "deer" are wearing body armor and are carrying AR-15's.

The information age has led to the commoditization of practically everything, comparison shopping from the comfort of the couch or the office is the norm.

In addition the term "Hunter" is often used as part of a scale, with "Farmer" at one end and "Hunter" at the other end - this implies that the salesforce are one-dimensional, only capable of one type of selling. If a salesforce is truly comprised of one dimensional employees then that salesforce is really in trouble.

As any freshman anthropology student will tell you, Hunters only provided 30% of the consumable products for the group, the other 70% was provided by the "Farmers", so does this bode well for a "Hunter" based sales organization.

I would like to promote the changing of these labels to be more representative of the multi-faceted people that are selling today.

I have a few ideas as to what we could call them... but the point of this blog is for it to be interactive so leave me your ideas.

Recruiter Burn-out

What ever happened to the "Human" in Human Resources ? Over the past year, having had various interactions with recruiters and hiring managers from companies across the US, I have come to the conclusion that whilst companies may talk a good talk the reality often fails to meet the theory.

I have recruited many employees throughout my career and have always made a point of maintaining contact with those candidates that make it as far as the interview stage. Obviously, given the number of resumes recruiters see for each post it would not be possible to reply to every application received, but having bothered to call a candidate to your office for an interview why would they then not have the common courtesy and professionalism to then advise candidates that they did not make the cut.

Are they scared of being sued for making a judgement? Are they really so busy that they cannot take the time to respond to an email? Unlikely, in my opinion, they simply lack the inter-personal skills needed to care enough about doing the right thing.

Has anyone else been a victim of this phenomenom?