Marilyn
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Sometimes you wanna go…

stock-illustration-54894124-beautiful-girl-in-winter[1]I am writing this from Detroit Metro Airport, waiting for my plane back to California. Home. Silicon Valley. But, I must say, this trip really changed me, and my view of visiting sub-arctic Middle American cities.

A few years ago, when my friend and client “R” suggested that we consider Detroit for our next geographic expansion, of course I smiled and nodded. But, behind the rolled eyes I tried to hide, I hid my belief that he was thought he was crazy to suggest any such location.

Fast forward to Fall of 2015, and he calls me as he’s departing Silicon Valley, to let me know he’s taken a role as CIO of a hot, fast-growing Ann Arbor-based company. Now, will I open an office, he asked? I jumped on the next plane (exaggeration or poetic license?).

While the November trip was informative, this week’s trip was life-changing. In November, we toured, we saw, we took in. We were almost too busy to take anything in. Oh, and it was 70 degrees. So, the anomalistic weather made it a non-reality-based experience, as well.

This week, Kevan, my regional director and I went on countless meetings – including meeting R, and his newest Director. I’m not sure words will do justice to how at home I was. The personality from every snarky, fast-paced, quick-witted person I grew up with in New York, was somehow transplanted into the work ethic and mindset of the hard-charging Silicon Valley crowd I love. The “if-they-mated” final output, was the Greater Detroit tech management.

Immediately, I was at home. I would stay forever, but for the high of 27 degrees, and the reality that even the cutest of winter boots are still slipping on black ice, or getting stained by salt. Plus, red (my new nose color) is not my best look. Back to California I go. Richer, and excited for my next trip. You know, in June.

Marilyn
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“But They Worked Hard” – Reasons to Analyze Your KPIs in January (and Every Month)

stock-illustration-82541387-financial-analystFirst, let’s define KPIs. Key Performance Indicators, or “KPIs” are, by definition, the metrics and measurables a business examines to determine how effectively a company is achieving business objectives. At the department level, it is how the department evaluates its success at reaching targets.

All too often, company and department goals are set – perhaps, annually or quarterly – but no thought is given to the real way in which to analyze performance against those goals. Oddly, many use the term “KPIs” – from project managers through department managers, through executives, board members and analysts. But, did they simply select a measurable unit, without really stopping to determine if the unit itself is a true indicator of how the company is doing in meeting its objectives?

So, my fellow managers, I challenge you: don’t blindly agree to measure your department/division/team based on pre-defined metrics. Read each measurable unit. Ask yourself, “does meeting this goal drive business targets?”, and “do I know the true business objectives as they pertain to these numbers?”

Say What?
OK, let’s start with a simple example – call center KPIs. If you are the call center manager, did you – on behalf of your department—agree to spend less than 60 seconds on all Level 1 calls or something similar? If so, then each week, you log into the phone or ticketing system, and run a simple report showing success or failure against this metric, right?

Now, this may be fine. But, keep in mind what you are measuring. You have agreed that a good indicator of the level of service your team is providing is the number of calls handled, and/or the speed by which calls are handled. When it comes time for your team members’ reviews, this is when managers try to argue that “my team handled some really important issues this quarter”, or perhaps, “we got 4 customer reviews commending us for excellence.” Or maybe even, “we stayed on calls longer, which enabled the Level 2 team to spend their time on more complex issues.”

But again, you agreed to measure time spent on calls, and by doing so (perhaps inadvertently) agreed that this – and not quality of call, not complexity of calls, not level of service given – was important to the business achieving its goals. Conversely, let’s say this is the most important criteria, and that there is a business objective that requires speed of call handling, above all else. Well then, you as manager do not really have the right to change the rules and argue for a different measurement. If your department goal was to reduce time on calls, then it is your job as manager to hit that mark.

So What?
All of this is really to say that it is your job as a manager to know what is being measured, understand the business aims for the specific performance goals, and to educate your team on the same. The time to suggest that a different item is more important to the business and should be measured to determine department success, is when that change occurs. It is not a hindsight test, and will not bode well when the “but they did do well in this other area” argument is made, come raise/bonus time.

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Laugh! Find Humor Everywhere.

Never afraid to laugh at ourselves, in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets, we had a few Vivoers read some love notes from our anonymous frenemies. Take a look, get to know us if you don’t already, and judge for yourself.

Vivo
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Vivo Expands to Michigan

Detroit, Michigan – December 16, 2015 – Vivo, the Silicon Valley-based company that specializes in IT consulting, staffing and executive search, opened an office this week in Detroit, MI on December 14, 2015, marking the company’s fifth geographic region.

“The greater Metro Detroit area is home to some of the world’s best known companies, making this a great choice for our latest expansion,” according to Marilyn Weinstein, Chief Executive Officer, Vivo. “Southeast Michigan has become a home for numerous technology start ups. We are excited to help our clients grow,” said Kevan June, Regional Director at Vivo.

According to Automation Alley, the Southeast Michigan business accelerator and association of technology professionals, the Metro Detroit area is the fastest growing region for tech jobs in the nation with a diversified and significant high tech talent base.

When compared to the 14 national tech hubs (including San Jose, Seattle, Austin, Chicago and Boston), metro Detroit ranks first in the number of advanced automotive jobs, the number of engineering degrees earned, and the number of engineering and architectural jobs available.

About Vivo:

Vivo was founded in 2006 and initially opened doors as iTalent Solutions—with a primary focus on IT staffing. Today Vivo provides clients with trusted, mid-to-senior-level IT consultants, and uniquely tailored solutions.

Visit Vivo on the web at: http://vivoinc.com

Contact:

Vivo
Attn: Sarah Kesher, Marketing Director
7901 Stoneridge Drive, Ste 440
Pleasanton, CA 94588
Sarah.Kesher@vivoinc.com
http://vivoinc.com

Vivo
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Consultant Corner – Meet Peggy Florence!

f74f2298-0724-4b6b-89ba-14aa8eb25045Peggy lives in San Jose, Ca and is an avid traveler. This year she went to Cuba, Cancun and Switzerland. This Vivoer also enjoys biking from winery to winery in Santa Cruz, Livermore and Mendocino.

 

Peggy has ventured all over the world, including having raised her children for 4 years in the Netherlands. She notes that kids there have more independence and are not made to learn in a specific manner, as they are in the US.  The best benefit of having lived where kids are taught in this particular manner is seeing her own children, Ashley and Jay, growing up and making better independent decisions themselves.

 

Peggy has also worked abroad, aside from travel: in the Netherlands for 4 years and Israel for 7 months. She venerates these life experiences, which really taught her how to have a better understanding of cross cultures, work styles, and work ethics.

 

Now for some fun Q and A. We asked Peggy some very important, life-altering questions:

 

Q: Who should be cast as you in the movie of your life? 
A: Sophia Loren (when she was my age)

 

Q: Do you have a theme song? What is it? 
A: What have you done for me lately, by Janet Jackson

 

Q: Who was your first celebrity crush, when you were a teen or tween? 
A: Markie Mark’s calvin Klein underwear ad. That was HOT!

 

Q: Which is worse – finding out the chicken you ate wasn’t chicken, or the place you ate at wasn’t a restaurant? 
A: Finding out the chicken wasn’t chicken, I think that would keep me from ever eating chicken!

 

Q: What do you do when a baby aggressively stares you down in public? 
A: I’d make faces at the baby.

 

Q: Who is your favorite person at Vivo, other than yourself?
A: I have many favorites, but Harp is the ultimate!!

 

Thank you for indulging us in this month’s Consultant Corner, Peggy!

 

Send us your fun interview questions and we will ask them in the next Consultant Corner.
Marilyn
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Do you Like Loud and Conceited, Over Calm and Understated?

iStock_000000652065_SmallA recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that we don’t know the difference between confidence and competence. Ignoring the gender argument, is there something to be said for this claim? According to the article, common traits associated with leadership are synonymous with those found in personality disorders, such as narcissism and psychopathy personalities.

Is it a male vs. female thing? Is the article suggesting that women should be more psychotic, or celebrate their normalcy in order to become more successful? Perhaps more fascinating to us all, is the thought of why we are so attracted to loud, rude, headstrong, and oftentimes abrasive personalities. Female or male, we really do tend to back the bully and belittle the calm and collected types, as they attempt their rise as leaders.

Vivo
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Small Business Management Tips from Marilyn Weinstein, Vivo CEO

dba-small-business-show-logo-300x273Marilyn Weinstein, founder and CEO of Vivo, says “When you’re the owner, you don’t have the confidence that somebody else’s money gives you.” One trick is building a small business management team so that you’re the “other person” with the money, and delegating those decisions to someone else. Having a partner can mitigate that from day one, so long as you start your partnership correctly.

Listen to Marilyn’s lessons and anecdotes on all of this … and more!

Harpreet Singh
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Did Your Internet Persona Walk In The Door Before You Interviewed?

unnamedMuch has been said on this topic, but it bears repeating: prospective employers with even the slightest interest in hiring you will have looked you up online – sometimes even before your first in-person interview. Many candidates first begin thinking of this and covering their Internet tracks – so to speak – when their active employment search begins. But, did you know that it might be too late?

The online search, to which I am referring here, may be something as simple as:  Entering one’s name into any generic search engine, and simply sifting through the yielded search results.

In a perfect world, the yielded search results should only showcase the candidate’s positive attributes.  Everyone by now is aware that scandalous posts from a misspent weekend in the Sin City or bad-mouthing a previous employer could leave a negative impression of you and may even cost you the job.  And again, many candidates feel like they are covered if they have remembered to set all social media settings to “private” or “friends only”. But in today’s overly-connected world it is growing increasingly difficult for people to keep track of all of their connections, and remember everyone they’ve friended/followed/allowed to follow/etc.

So what should you do? Go Page One Positive!

I am by no means suggesting that one should be a ghost.  But, why not make your first search results your best?  Studies show that people rarely go past the first page when Googling. Most admit to accepting the first few results they uncover, and moving on.  So, instead of only remembering the “social” aspect of social media when posting, spend time building a professional profile. Make sure that when someone Googles your name, they see your employable qualities on page one.

How to have your hireable persona show up on page one:

  • Show off!
    • Build a website that showcases your professional skills and interests.
    • Share relevant business content on LinkedIn
    • Blog your impressive (read: relevant) opinions
    • Tweet your impressive (read: relevant) opinions
  • Respect others with similar career interests.
    • Like relevant content on LinkedIn
    • Retweet others’ impressive blogs
    • Link back to others’ blogs on your website
    • Participate in networking groups, online discussions, etc. (Carefully!)
  • Ensure that all public images are professional
    • Have a great, clear, and professional LinkedIn profile picture
    • Consider that most default profile pictures are set to “public”, so keep yours neutral at worst, professional at best.

Other things to keep in mind:
For some employers, a social media presence or an Internet footprint of an employee is a must – not having any online presence leads some employers to believe that the candidate may be hiding something.

Remember that not everyone uses a search engine. Many employers will go straight to the source, and more than likely look up potential candidates on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, so that they can get an indication of the candidate as a person.

No matter what platform you choose to expose your personal skills/interests, keep in mind…
1. Do not post anything that you would not want a future employer seeing. You’re working for a super “cool” company now, but when times change, is anything you’re saying online likely to be a deal-breaker for a future workgroup?

2. DO NOT and I repeat once again, DO NOT depend on your Facebook privacy settings since they are constantly changing. Also, today’s friend can be tomorrow’s future employer’s sister. Do you know all of your friends’ friends?

3. Remove or un-tag yourself from anything that could be seen by an employer as unprofessional. Enjoy the moment. Laugh with your pals. Then, untag.

4. Have a heyday sharing/posting/tweeting content which highlights your accomplishments and qualifications in a positive way!

If you like my blog, feel free to share it. Of course, only after you Google me and tell me what you learned!

Marilyn
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A New Spin on Sexism in the (Tech) Workforce

This article certainly caught my attention. I can admit that I’d never really thought about these subtle differences in communication styles, and how they may be impacting career movement and growth.

I have noticed that women resist words they consider “bragging”, and are (usually) less comfortable embellishing on their achievements.  But, I can now say that I will make a concerted effort to look for what this article calls more “feminine” adjectives, like “nurturing” and “supportive”.  I’m not entirely sure that I have seen either on someone’s resume, but will report back, if I do.

Bill
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Top 3 Mistakes When Hiring an IT Consultant

We all make mistakes. I know I do. What matters is how we learn from them. Often I hear clients say that they are struggling to get the most out of a new consultant. Without the right approach, hiring consultants can be complicated. When troubleshooting consultant issues, quite often I see the same issues crop up. Many of these issues transcend companies and most of them could be remedied by a change in perspective.

1. Consultants are people too!
The biggest mistake hiring managers make is a lack of empathy, so to speak. More times than not a consultant is thought of as an object; a tool used in the execution of a project. They are there for a reason and you have taken the time to interview them for the job. You have assessed their skills and expertise that you need but once on boarded communication comes to a halt.

My suggestion: Treat them like one of the team and get better results.

2. Consultants are as welcomed as a skunk at a lawn party.
All those things that happen when a person joins the team, not so for a consultant. Understand that the consultant will not be going through an orientation process that covers everything from “access permissions” to scanning. These tasks may seem insignificant but when amassed, it may actually be cutting into your consultant’s ability to be efficient.

My suggestion: As a manager/supervisor, think through and arrange for equipment, provide any special instructions, and give them all the tools they need to succeed.

3. Expectations: establish them.
This sounds simple, but more times than not the interview was not enough for your consultant to fully understand the job. Setting expectations first requires planning and communication skills. The more time you invest on the front end, the more effective your consultant will be in operation mode.

My suggestion: Take the time to set clear expectations and to make sure that they are understood.

In summary, really, it all comes down to taking a little time in advance to set your consultants up for success. That time will pay off with a positive and productive engagement.

For more quick tips follow me/Vivo on LinkedIn.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/4billmarshall