What Makes a Great Employer?

I ask myself this question all the time, for a number of reasons. What makes a great employer?

Is it how well they pay? Vacation time? Benefits? Culture? Is there a magic answer to this question?

I’ve thought about it quite a bit, and I think the answer is…yes. There IS a magic answer, or at least a simple one.

At the end of the day, what makes an employer truly great is defined by how they see their employees, and consequently how they treat them.

But what exactly do I mean by “see” and “treat”? Let’s take a look at Zappos.

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5 Ideas for Cool New Restaurants

As anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows, I love food. I’ve eaten at hundreds of different restaurants, and tasted thousands of different dishes. So, after much eating and thinking, I’ve come up with a few ideas for some very innovative end awesome restaurants.

I have no intention of starting a restaurant of my own, but if anyone chooses to use one of these ideas to start one, all I ask is that you invite me in for a free meal 🙂

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Time – Your Most Valuable Commodity

It’s true. Time is by far your most valuable commodity. You have only so much, and once that time is gone it can never be regained. In fact, you never really know just how much time you have, making it that much more precious.

So, knowing that our time is so valuable, why on earth do so many people settle for so little compensation for their time? I mean, seriously, minimum wage is $7.25, which means that if you worked full-time from the age of 15 to the age of 65, earning minimum wage, you would have made $754,000 in your working lifetime (in 2010 dollars). Even a salaried employee working from 25-55, making the US median of $45,000/yr would bring in only twice that in 2010 dollars. Is that what the best days, hours and years of your life are worth?

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In with Efficiency – Out with Mindless Tradition

In my mind there are few worse things than clinging to a tradition or system without a clear, justifiable purpose. Along the same lines, I’ve always been a huge supporter of finding new and better ways to do things, and I’ve never been content with the words “just because”. From the time I was a child I’ve clung tenaciously to the maxim “Work smarter, not harder”, and this post will endeavor to explore the art of efficiency while identifying the woes of mindless tradition.

I consider myself to be an efficiency expert, and the fact that the last three employers I’ve had have needed to hire two or three people to replace me when I’ve left supports that claim 🙂 So how is it that I am able to be consistently efficient, regardless of what type of work I am doing? Simple…I test and then seek to improve the existing process for every task I’m asked to do. If no process exists, I create one.

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Remote Working and the Virtual Office

For me, July 17th, 2009 was an incredible day…it marked the last day that I would ever spend working in an office.

Yup, that’s correct. For almost a year I have been a remote worker, working quite literally from a virtual office (my office consists of an Acer netbook, a Sprint MiFi cellular router, an iPod Touch and my HTC Mogul). And, bar none, it has been the best year of my adult working life, not to mention the most productive!

Let’s begin with a story: Once upon a time, long long ago, there was this little thing called the industrial revolution. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? It involved factories, lots and lots of workers, and brilliant leaps in efficiency. It completely transformed our country, our economy, and the world. Unfortunately, it had some negative side effects.

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Separation of Church and State – A Twisted Tale

Despite what some may say, this is actually a very simple issue. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states quite clearly that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”. This means, quite simply, that no issue of religion is to be determined by the United States Government, nor any State government (14th Amendment).

So, if we accept that, then that means that no body of government at any level has the right to say where you can and cannot pray, where a cross can and cannot be placed, where “God” can and cannot be written, or anything else in regards to religion.

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Pareto’s Law and Client Stupidity

I read a quote yesterday from Albert Einstein that says “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Working as a consultant in the Internet marketing industry, I can tell you that the latter is absolutely true.

Vilfredo Pareto was a genius, and his 80/20 rule is as applicable today as it was in his time. Case in point, SEO clients.

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Employers vs. Employees – A Broken System

Over the years, I have worked for many different companies, from tiny start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. As I’ve worked for such vastly different companies, and observed many others, I’ve been both fascinated and disgusted to see a common theme, what I like to call The Employer vs. Employee Mentality.

As author and speaker Seth Godin would put it, the vast majority of companies seem to see their employees as nothing but cogs in a machine, easily replaced and of little real value. This can be seen at every level of almost every business, in the hiring processes, employee handbooks, management tactics, and turnover rates. So here’s the thing…why? Why is it this way?

In my experience, companies seem to have the attitude that we, the employees, should count ourselves lucky to work for them, the employer. They also seem to assume by default that we, the employees, can’t ever be trusted, and treat us accordingly. This is incredibly wrong.

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MMORPGs – Gangs and Drugs for Gen Y?

Last night my wife and I watched a very interesting documentary called Second Skin, which was all about the addictive world of online gaming, MMORPGs in particular. It followed the lives of a handful of different gamers over the course of a few years, and I have to admit it was fascinating to watch. Unfortunately, it was also sad. I don’t play online games…I never have, and I don’t think I ever will. I’ve known a few obsessive online gamers over the years, and honestly, sometimes it is hard not to laugh at them…but I digress.

As per the title of the post, I’ve given this plenty of thought over the years, and watching Second Skin was the final piece of the puzzle. I was quite shocked, as I watched, to see an incredible number of correlations between gangs and drugs, and the gamers and games they play (such as EverQuest 2, World of Warcraft, even Second Life). Don’t believe me? Read on 🙂

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Starting a Business – 5 Things Not to Do

I spend a good bit of time doing research, staying up-to-date on the latest happenings, reading about new studies, finding and reading new books…all in all it’s time well spent. However, I come across a lot of “to do” type books and lists that walk you through things step-by-step. There’s definitely a place for those, but what I rarely see is a “not to do” list…

So here it is, my personal not to do list: 5 things not to do when starting a business

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