Tag Archives: Michael VanDervort

A bunch of Mike’s, including The Professor, but no Gilligan

Who am I?


It depends, according to Google.


Bob Denver as Gilligan on Gilligan's Island
Bob Denver as Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


For the most part, I own the Google rights to “Michael VanDervort”, including my oft delayed but still forth-coming new blog site Michael VanDervort.  There are even sites set up by strangers that use my Instagram pictures for reasons that escape me.


What’s most fun is to find the alter ego Michael’s mixed into my Google awesomeness.   Say hi to them with me:


  • The rock and roll guy
  • my great, great, great, great, great, great, really super terrific ancestor
  • some other dude named MIchael who sued a bunch of other dudes
  • all the Michael’s belong to Spokeo (157 to be exact)
  • another list of Michael’s found in public records (83 to be exact)
  • the Professor, but no Gilligan alas
  • “Michael VanDervort” wanted in Shenzhen
  • Michael the Coronoer
  • Michael’s Florida mugshot
  • Mike, Mike, Mike…LinkedIn


It was fun getting to know myself….well, not my selves a little better.




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Complex Convoluted Catalyst

Getting autobigraphical

David Byrne
David Byrne (Photo credit: marcel maia)

I posted something on Facebook the other day about a seven word autobiography technique from Brain Pickings.  It generated a fair amount of interaction on Facebook, and a clever little blog post from my UK blogger friend Doug Shaw.

I am sharing his post below, but you should go over and check out the comments. They are pretty fun.

Mine was only marginally pretentious.

“Complex convoluted catalyst, I’m still searching.”


Michael Vandervort recently shared with me an excellent article from the brainpickings website, which is showcasing seven word autobiographies by famous writers, artists, musicians and philosophers.

I am particularly enjoying David Byrne’s selection, partly because he has chosen to ignore the seven word rule. Here’s his contribution:

unfinished, unprocessed, uncertain, unknown, unadorned, underarms, underpants, unfrozen, unsettled, unfussy

As much as I like the article, I like the idea more, and it strikes me that you don’t need to be famous to play with this little challenge.

So – without further ado, here is my seven word autobiography, dreamed up with haste over a coffee.

Restless, in love, taking courage from uncertainty.

What’s yours?

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Books from the business library of Michael VanDervort

Cover of "Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: ...

My business library
My business library (Photo credit: mvndrvrt)

Books titles from the business library of Michael VanDervort

I read a lot.  I consume information on a lot of different topics. I am a packrat when it comes to books.  Therefore, I have a lot of books sitting around, collecting dust until I need them for some research, or to share with someone.

Today’s post is the launch of an occassional feature – 10 titles from Michael VanDervort’s business library.  

The premise is simple.  I’m going to take you on a tour of my dusty library shelves, ten books at a time.   There will be no topical listings, no lists by author name, no Dewey Decimal system.  We’re just going to wander randomly down the shelves until I run out of books.  Maybe you will see something useful here that you haven’t seen before.  If so, be sure to let me know!

10 titles from Michael VanDervort’s business library for 9/21/2012

  1. The Little, Brown Compact Handbook by Jane Aaron – answers questions about writing, technology, style, grammar, punctuation, research, and documentation.
  2. The truth about getting the best from people by Martha Finney – covers employee engagement and building self-motivated, innovative passionate teams. I’ve blurbed for MArtha.
  3. The CIGNA Healthcare Little Teal Book of Health, Fitness & Well-Being by Gary Savage, Terry Jarvis, and Sara J. Henry – title is self-explanatory.
  4. Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the Box by The Arbinger Institute – How self deception can kill performance.
  5. Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership fable by Patrick Lencioni – deals with destroying the barriers that turn colleagues into competitors.
  6. Seven secrets of managers who avoid employee lawsuits by Stephen D Bruce PH.D. – tips on avoiding employee lawsuits.
  7. The Automatic Millionaire: A powerful one-step plan to live and finish rich by David Bach – common sense advice on financial savings, investment and retirement.
  8. HRCI Certification Guide,  Eighth Edition by Raymond B. Weinberg, SPHR – out of date study guide for SPHR prep.
  9. Reversing the Ostrich approach to diversity: pulling your head out of the sand by A.S. Tolbert – I bought this a long time before I ever met Joe Gerstandt.  I like Joe’s approach better.
  10. Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A fable about being true to yourself by Peter Weddle.  I got this book when I first met Peter Weddle. This was the same event where I first met Laurie Ruettimann.

Here are a couple of general observations about this list.  I have met and even worked with a couple of these authors directly as a result of writing this blog.   I also seem to like book titles that have the word “fable” in the title.



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The Complete Compendium #NoFearHR

#NoFearHr on Drive Thru HR  

Jay Kuhns and I are going to be on Drive Thru HR on Tuesday of next week.  Yeah, that’s 9/11/2012.

We’re going to talk some social media, and maybe even a little bit about our sometimes collaborations on a project we titled #NoFearHR.

What the hell is #NoFearHR, you might ask?  It’s not very complex.  It’s a straight up ripoff of Talent Anarchy, but without all the anarchists.

Actually, what we did was borrow the approach that Jason and Joe use on their blog, which is an on-going conversation about their work and the things they are passionate about, As they say, Talent Anarchy, with their unique tag-team style will make you think, make you laugh, and make you better.

Jay and I are using #NoFearHR to present an on-going dialogue about social media as an HR tools, and the lessons we have learned putting that tool to work in our respective workplaces.  We haven’t set up a separate site yet, so the #NoFearHr articles bounce back and forth from our own sites.  I realized today that this could make it kind of difficult to follow, so I am putting together a complete, in-order set of links to all of our #NoFearHR articles that have run thus far.

The Complete #NoFearHR (so far)

Are you an HR practitioner looking for some help in dealing with the a real world implementation of social media?  Check out the on-going dialogue between Jay and I, and follow the #NoFearHR hashtag on Twitter.

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Klout sucks

Klout makes great blog fodder

Image representing Klout as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Over the past few weeks, it seems like a lot of prominent bloggers like Jim Connolly and Erica Napoletano have written about why they deleted their accounts from Klout.   Here is a bit of perspective on Klout from each of them.

Erica Napoletano – “And today, I’ll tell ya — it’s all a bunch of noise.”

Jim Connoly – “One thing that has come back to me again and again, is that Klout is the darling of smoke blowers.”

This past weekend, I posted a specific thought about Klout on Facebook and received several comments from several people I respect, most of them negative.

Karla Porter You may already know but I think Klout and similar are a crock and don’t take part at all. I see my reach on the social networks and websites via their analytics and engagement.

Rayanne Thorn Klout is Krap.

Lisa Demmi Not sold on Klout honestly.

Buzz Rooney Klout schmout.

Patrick Barbanes Mike, I  see Klout as a distraction, a metric dreamed up and cobbled together to present data that is less important to me than other metrics.

All in all, not a very encouraging set of comments about a tool that purports to measure the social influence of those who use it, and this is a pretty small cross-section of the Klout user audience.

This quote from the Wizard of Oz pretty much sums up Klout for me.

Dorothy: Oh please, Professor, why can’t we go with you and see all the Crowned Heads of Europe?
Professor Marvel: Do you know any?

Here is the thing I find most interesting and perplexing about Klout.  I don’t know about 75% of the people who list me as one of their influencers on the site.  I guess this means they read what I write about on Twitter and Facebook, but we don’t talk,  or I am not paying enough attention.

I honestly don’t care about my score. It hovers at 61 all the time, no matter what I do.  What bothers me a bit is the thought that a group of people out there who don’t really actively engage with me on any of the various social platforms.  Yet they think enough of me to take the time to list me on a website that most people I know seem to despise.  I know I can reach out to these people through the same platforms.

One thing Klout lacks is a good method for users to engage with members of  the quasi community they have created around me and my alleged influencer status.  This is not the only thing they lack.  Check this  Facebook comment from Rayanne Thorn.

If they had the “right” formulas/algorithms, they wouldn’t keep changing… My score has dropped to 45 and peaked at 71. I hover at 61, too. It is a waste of time worry about your “social influence” – It cannot possibly measure what your followers do with what they have learned from you online once they go offline.  THAT is influence.

I agree with Rayanne.  I am still interested in knowing more about people who think enough of me to mention me on Klout. Not for the fame, but to understand what interests them and to further that relationship.   That is probably the greatest value of a site like Klout.  Given the resounding negative feedback I mentioned earlier, it seems like Klout has a lot of work to do.

Klout really isn’t much more than a game / marketing tool / revenue stream for its creators. They appeal to our ego and our competitive nature and use those traits shill products.  It concerns me that when someone takes the time to mention me, Klout doesn’t help with much with furthering the connection.   The one thing Klout seems to be really good at is being great fodder for blog discussions.

They aren’t very good at connecting with their customers, especially for a site that trackss the social reputation of its users.

To close out my Facebook conversation, I posted the following  question to Klout:

“By the way, does anyone from @Klout read the comments and dialogue about your brand on Facebook? Please feel to reply and let me know.”

So far, no response.  The question and the offer remains open.

Klout?  Klout?  Bueller?   Anyone?

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The missing ingredient to #NoFearHR social media implementation: Data

Three key steps for rolling out your corporate Social Media program

Jay, I think your first three steps for rolling out a corporate social media program are on point.

  • Step 1 – Make sure you understand and use the social tools you’re going to be asking the questions about.
  • Step 2 – Build the internal organizational relationships necessary to demonstrate that you are not a rogue leader jumping on the newest bandwagon. As the relationships grow stronger internally it will be easier to build the business case necessary to execute on a social media strategy.
  • Step 3 – Now ask those questions from a position of strength => big difference as compared to going it alone!

Jay, in looking at those steps, I realized we were missing one key ingredient in the equation to meet the needs of those leaders who need more support than just testing the tools and going on faith.

We’re missing data and metrics.  Here’s how to get started working with social metrics.

Now it may seem like a conundrum – how do you measure a conversation that we aren’t taking part in?   Here are some basic ideas, and some tools that might help get started for free.

  1. If you have a corporate website, find out how you can get your Google Analytics data.  It lets you see where your traffic comes from, including social.
  2. Set up a listening post for your brand name on Twitter using Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.  You can do the same with your competitors, and gauge their success.
  3. Investigate potential costs of things like content development, IS time, staffing requirements and give estimates on this.  It adds credibility.
  4. Find successful case studies from organizations similar to your own and show their numbers.  It provides perspective.
  5. Steal shamelessly from all the free content that is out on how to do this process right. Read it. Learn from it. Put the knowledge in play!

That’s what I think, Jay.  How about you?

Bonus information:  Here’s a resource list to jump-start your success:


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SHRM working to connect the social media dots

SHRM and Social Media

I was going to write a post with some detail about the #SHRMconnect task force I took part in last in Washington DC, but that has already been done in great fashion by Victorio Milian.  You should be sure to check out his thoughts on “The Rebirth of SHRM Connect“.  

Along with Victorio and myself, others in attendance at the meeting or a related event included Ben Eubanks, Jessica Merrill, Sharlyn LaubyBryan WempenJohn JorgensenPamela J. Green,  SHRM CIO Heidi ByerlyCurtis MidkiffLaurie McIntosh,  Gary Rubin, Steven Williams, Anne-Margaret Olsson, and several others.   I was especially pleased to see SHRM CEO Hank jackson attend a dinner for the team, and speak to us about the importance of social media to SHRM, and share with us that it is one of his goals for 2011 to figure out social media and get it done right.

This was the most important thing that I took away from the SHRM Connect task force meeting.   As our professional organization, SHRM has social media directly in their headlights.   They are working hard not just to figure out how to manage it, but also how to put it work strategically.  In this, they mirror many of our own organizations.   In essence, they are going through the same struggle many of us are, and we can all learn lessons from the experience.    I hope SHRM remembers to share the organizational knowledge they are gaining with their members.  Based on my experience with this task force, I firmly believe they will.    It would be a great experiment in real time learning.  I hope many HR professionals will pay attention and share in the learning.

I am proud of our professional organization for stepping up to meet this challenge head on.  I am grateful for a chance to be a part of the process.   Thanks, SHRM!

I also heard about HR Talk, and visited that bulletin board for the first time ever.  What an experience that turned out to be!

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Day two at #SHRMLEG11: HR has a new attitude on social media

HR interest and use of social media on the rise

Social media panel at #shrmleg11 on Twitpic

There are about 550 people in attendance at the Legislative Conference this year.    They are offering 3-4 concurrent sessions at a time.   This morning, the social media panel hosted by Curtis Midkiff was a standing room only venue.  Along with Fistful of Talent superstar Jessica Lee and Shana Glickfield, the panel offered expert advice and recommendations on dealing with the issues facing the HR profession today.

I am not going to try and recount everything they discussed.   The panel members shared great advice,much of it the same advice any seasoned users of social media in the HR space can provide today.    Things like:

  • Social media is increasingly useful for recruiting and brand promotion.
  • Social media is a great way to promote increased employee engagement.
  • Social media really can’t be locked down or shut off, even when your company fears the productivity drain.

HR pros aren’t resisting social media anymore

What I found refreshing about this session, and the social media sessions from yesterday is a new attitude towards social media on display among the HR practitioners in the room.     There are changes on many fronts.

Attendees at the concurrent sessions are no longer fighting that idea that social media has entered the workplace, and is a topic that they have to deal with as HR professionals.   They are asking questions about developing policies, and how they can get more information about social media.   People are seeking advice on how to put platforms to work, rather than crying in despair that they couldn’t possibly find the time to work with social media.

SHRM is laying down the “SMAC” on social media

Even SHRM is going places.   Curtis discussed the fact that March is social media month at SHRM headquarters.  They are rolling out a social media policy, and providing training on how SHRM employees can become social media ambassadors for the organization.   He also discussed how no one department in SHRM owns social media, but rather they all put the tools to work in different ways.    He also talked about their Social Media Advisory Committee (SMAC) at SHRM, which oversees the development of policy, and provides guidance on other issues.

It is much more fun to write about how our profession is moving forward in using social media than it is to rant about how more people need to step up.

Keep up the good work, HR!


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Inside Washington DC at #SHRMLEG11: SHRM, Social Media and Balance

Society for Human Resource Management
Image via Wikipedia

2011 SHRM Employment Law & Legislative Conference coverage

This is the second straight year that I have attended the SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference here in Washington D.C.   Last year, when sat down to write about day 1 at the Conference,  I posted a  rant called Inside Washington SC:  SHRM, Social Media and Fearmongering that complained about the very unbalanced and negative sessions that were presented at the Conference.

SHRM and their scary lawyers

In part, I wrote:

You turn to your industry professional organization, and you attend concurrent sessions that offer lawyers discussing those risks.   At this conference, that would be attorneys Michael Cohen and Cynthia Gibson.  Both gave competent presentations on the risk factors employers can face through from social media.  In my opinion, both presentations were designed to incite fear about social media and did very little to explore the potential benefits that social media can offer to companies as a tool.  Frankly, neither presentation did much of anything to put social media in a positive light.

If you were an HR practitioner who is already reluctant or ambivalent about social media, these sessions could easily provide another check point on the litany of excuses.    “Social media is too risky for us to use here at XYZ Company.  I heard it at SHRM!”

This is dangerous and unprofessional.

SHRM: not afraid of social media anymore

I am very pleased to be able to report that this year, the presentation of social media in general is much different.   SHRM has worked hard in the last year to “get” social media, and are making great strides in that respect, internally and externally.  In fact, I am attending a meeting later in the week to assist SHRM in making some changes to SHRM Connect, their on-line social networking community.  More on that later.  Let’s look at the 2011 coverage of social media here at the Legislative conference.  The Hashtag is #SHRMLEG11 if you want to follow the tweet stream.

Social NOTworking — How HR Can Help Protect the Company

This was the AM session I attended today. The presenter was Jody Katz Pritikin, an attorney and consultant from California who according to her web site Proactive Lawsuit Prevention recognized early in her legal career that almost all employment lawsuits are preventable.

In her session, Pritikin said she wanted to provide information on organizations could protect themselves from various types of social media abusers within the company, to help teach HR about the litigation landmines inherent in a workforce which uses or permits social media.
Unlike last year,  the advice from Pritikin was fresh, and acknowledged both the positive and negative aspects of social media.  Her advice was concise, and based in common sense.  Put simply, Pritikin recommends handling social media like any other workplace concern:
  • 1) develop an iron-clad social media  policy
  • 2) communicate the policy to your employees
  • 3) enforce the policy consistently.
Pritikin also provided  a nice overview on several recent social media cases including Pietrylo dealing with employer cybersnooping , Quon dealing with the expectation of privacy and the AMR Facebook case dealing with concerted activity and organizing.
Great job by Pritikin in covering the legal risks of social media in a fair and balanced way.   Kudos to SHRM for coming a long way on this in a year, and for paying attention to the feedback they got on this topic from a lot of people this year.  I’ll see some of you at theSHRM Legislative Conference VIP Reception and
Tweetup at the Library of Congress this evening!
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Michael VanDervort: Where I’ll be – March/April 2011

Image representing Bersin & Associates as depi...
Image via CrunchBase

Speaking and Live blogging events for Michael VanDervort 

I have a few speaking engagements, and blogging events lined at different conferences over the next couple of months.  Here are the details for conferences or events that I will be attending in March and April.   If you will be attending any of these events, please let me know so we can be sure to connect!

March 2011

Starting  Sunday March 12, I will be in Washington D.C. for a week attending several different events, all revolving around SHRM.

I will be attending my first live meeting a sitting member of the SHRM special expertise panel on labor Relations, which I am very excited about.

I will be attending the 2011 Employment Law & Legislative Conference at the Hyatt Regency, where I will be tweeting, blogging, and reporting from some sessions for Smartbrief.

I was also invited by SHRM to participate as part of their social media task force.  On Friday March 18, we will spend an entire day developing a new direction for the #SHRMConnect community.  In the words of Curtis Midkiff aka @SHRMsocmedguy, “Working with a great group on the SHRMConnect Task Force. Send us your thoughts, ideas and feedback on what’s next for #shrmconnect.”  Let me know if you have any ideas on what SHRM should be doing with social media.

On Monday March 21, I will be in Savannah GA, speaking at the spring conference of the Georgia Employers Association.

April 2011

On April 6, I will be in Philadelphia at an HR tweetup with some friends. Details still TBD.

On April 7, I will be in Philadelphia taking part in the Social Networking Breakfast Series being sponsored by the law firm of Dilworth Paxson LLC.   Many thanks to Eric B. Meyer for inviting to me to take part in this series.   Eric has a terric blog called the The Employer Handbook that is great source of information for matters related to employment law and labor relations.

Finally, April 27-29th,  I will be in St. Petersbug, FL blogging from and speaking at IMPACT 2011: The Business of Talent.  IMPACT is the annual conference put on by Josh Bersin and his company, Bersin & Associates.    Many thanks to Sarah White for getting me connected!


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