The MBA Meathead: Hiring, Mentoring and Networking in Doucheville

 elitefts™ Sunday edition

Hiring, Mentoring and Networking in Doucheville

After posting last month’s MBA Meathead article, there were a few comments around hiring, networking and mentoring. These are related concepts, so I thought this would be a good place to discuss them all. Many will disagree with my conclusions and that is fine. But after a couple decades in the fluorescently-cubicled world, this is what I’ve concluded.

Hiring

This is the most important aspect of building an organization. The trouble is that the conventional process is totally puckered up. Someone sends a resume overflowing with exaggerated/fabricated tales (or worse, has it forwarded by a friend, relative or acquaintance from an awful professional group that meets three times a year for hors d’oeuvres and drinks so they can add yet another meaningless line item to the resume in question). Then some HR person who knows next-to-nothing about the job at-hand screens resumes based on their interpretation of what a hiring manager explained over a phone call. A screened stack of resumes ends up on hiring manager’s desk where he/she, and possibly one or two others, sifts through scanning for a few select terms to determine who gets on the interview schedule.

Now, there’s a full schedule of who was the best at exaggerating their real achievements. This is where things really get good. There are panels, lunches, video conferences, one-on-ones and other means to determine which candidate is the best bullshitter over a 30-60 minute window.

I vividly remember my first year of graduate school when internship interviews came around. After over a semester of sitting in classes all day with the mostly-over-privileged prospective MBA’s, it was clear who was smart and who should’ve rode the short bus to school, were it not for Daddy being VP of Sales at GloboCorp. It never failed – the high-quality but plain interviewees were constantly passed over in favor of a handful of mental midgets, but who could weave fantastic tales about a time when they needed to ‘persuade superiors to their line of thinking’ or ‘gain a team consensus across multiple functional areas.’ The questions are utterly preposterous and have no correlation with how the interviewee in question will actually perform.

There are two options that I found to get past the failure of the traditional HR hiring manual. Option 1 is to interview them, interview them more and then finish up by interviewing them some more. Cover every nook and cranny. Test them for hours to see where their demeanor breaks down or when they run screaming. Over 12 hours of direct Q&A will surely reveal whether they are padding the truth or can truly walk the walk. While this is the most reliable, it is not practical.

Option 2, and one I defaulted to given time constraints of a typical interview schedule, is to probe on a couple very technical areas that are a few layers below the surface of common knowledge and then spend the rest of the time trying to get picture of how they live their lives in order to glean whether they will (1) work hard and (2) be ethical. For example, if hiring for a finance job, I’ll ask how Beta is derived or what they think about when determining a weighted average cost of capital. If they can talk intelligently and off-the-cuff about specific technical subject matter, they have at least been paying attention in school or on the job. If they work hard and are ethical on top of that, they can probably fill the role successfully.

Mentoring and Networking

Disclaimer: this section refers to an internal corporate setting. Dealing with external parties (vendors, suppliers, trade associations and the like) requires a more extroverted approach.

These two concepts go hand-in-hand. Mentoring is just a formal version of networking. And I think both, when forced, suck. Strong professional relationships are built over time based on performance. You do good work, you help someone solve a problem, you take responsibility instead of chucking something down the line and over time, the people you interact with begin to respect you. The more often you perform well, the more your reputation grows and your Rolodex expands with people who want to work with you. Along the way, you find mutual respect for others who are like-minded and bonds are formed. This is how to network. This is how to ensure that when talent review sessions are held, your name makes the list of top performers.

Compare that to calling some VP or Director of so-and-so, inviting them to a lunch in the cafeteria that they don’t want to attend and generally being a bother because it is obvious you are trying to stick your nose in their brown hole without any history between the two of you. I can assure you that is how I feel when approached from within for ‘mentorship’ by someone I don’t know.

Now, I do understand when people of like-minded interests want to discuss life in another world (i.e. powerlifters discussing life in business). The trouble is that there are just too many variables to make specific recommendations about something as important as how someone handles career decisions. The advice becomes cheerleading in nature and mostly relies only on one side of the story. Business interactions are complicated and given the enormous insecurity of the average corporate asshole who knows he’s in over his head thanks to the Peter Principle, a wrong step based on misplaced advice can have severe consequences. This is why unless I spend a fair amount of time around someone and I’m comfortable my opinion will be adequately informed, I generally avoid giving it.

Training

Weeks 2-6 of 15 for the meet training cycle is in the books. The first four weeks of programming were shown in last month’s MBA Meathead article. Weeks 5-8 are shown below…and so far, so good.

As usual at the beginning of meet prep, the first couple weeks were like a punch in the gut from a conditioning and muscle mechanics standpoint. But, things are starting to settle in as the body adjusts to the new program. I haven’t yet needed a deload, but fear that some unplanned deloads will be coming soon as work, travel and family responsibilities collide.

Strength is coming back and the bloat is coming along nicely. My body weight is up to around 260 pounds from what was a sickly 245 prior to the training cycle. I’m currently five pounds from being classified by BMI as Morbidly Obese, so I’ve got that going for me. Plus, the constant red/purple tint to my face makes it appear as though I have a healthy outdoor lifestyle.

As for training partners, outside of my wife occasionally running the monolift on squat days, I’m going it alone in the garage this time around. The solo training is OK so far. I do miss having a handout for heavy benches and the occasional bar roll during a big squat makes the re-rack with no spotters moderately unsafe. I’m still safer now than when I was training at the commercial gym with its moronically designed contraptions.

WEEK

DAY

EXERCISE

5

DE Lower

  • Box Squat – 45% for 8 sets 3 reps
  • GHR – 3 sets to failure
  • Flat Leg Raise – 2 sets 30 reps
  • Reverse Hyper – 3 sets of 15

DE Upper

  • Bench Press – 44% for 9 sets 3 reps
  • JM Press with Fat Bar – heavy for 2 sets of 6 reps
  • Machine Rows – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Face Pulls – heavy for 3 sets 15 reps
  • 15 minutes of free time to do whatever you want but keep rest low and reps between 8-12

ME Lower

  • Reverse Band Deadlifts (average band) – max single
  • Belt Squats – Heavy set of 10, rest 5 minutes and then try to get 20 reps with the same weight. After this, cut the weight in half and do as many reps as you can in 2 minutes. Rest at the top or sitting on the box but don’t rack or lock the weight.
  • Step Ups – 2 sets to failure on 20” box
  • Abs – Anything

ME Upper

  • Incline Dumbbell Press – max set of 15; rest 5-10 minutes and try to break the rep record you just set
  • Vertical Pulls – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • 15 minutes of free time

6

DE Lower

  • Box Squat – 50% for 8 sets 3 reps
  • GHR – 3 sets to failure
  • Flat Leg Raise – 3 sets 15 reps
  • Reverse Hyper – 4 sets of 8

DE Upper

  • Bench Press – 48% plus 2 chains per side for 8 sets 3 reps
  • JM Press with Fat Bar – heavy for 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Machine Rows – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Face Pulls – 3 sets 35 reps
  • 15 minutes of free time to do whatever you want but keep rest low and reps between 8-12

ME Lower

  • Yoke Bar Suspended Good Morning – max single
  • Belt Squats  – 2 heavy sets of 20 reps
  • Step Ups – 2 sets to failure on 20” box
  • Hanging Leg Raises – 3 sets of 30 reps

ME Upper

  • Shoulder Saver Bar Bench Press – 2 heavy sets of 5 reps
  • Vertical Pulls – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • 15 minutes of free time and go for huge triceps pump

7

DE Lower

  • Box Squats – 40% for 12 sets 3 reps
  • GHR – 3 sets to failure
  • Hanging Leg Raise – 75 total reps
  • Reverse Hyper – 3 sets of 12

DE Upper

  • Bench Press – 40% plus 2 chains per side for 12 sets 3 reps
  • Shoulder Saver Bar Bench Press – heavy for 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Machine Rows – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Face Pulls – heavy for 3 sets 12 reps
  • 15 minutes of free time to do whatever you want but keep rest low and reps between 8-12

ME Lower

  • Yoke Bar Suspended Good Morning – max single higher than last week
  • Narrow Stance Squats  – 2 heavy sets of 20 reps
  • GHR – 3 sets of 15 reps
  • Abs on GHR – 50 total reps

ME Upper

  • Shoulder Saver Bar Bench Press – 1 heavy set of 3 reps
  • Bench Press with Shirt – 1 set of 3 reps to a 3-board
  • Vertical Pulls – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • 15 minutes of free time and go for huge triceps pump

8

DE Lower

  • Box Squats – 44% for 8 sets of 3 reps
  • GHR – 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Leg Raises on Bench with Chains around Ankles – 3 sets 12 reps
  • Reverse Hypers – heavy for 4 sets 8 reps

DE Upper

  • Bench  Press – 40% plus 2 chains per side for 9 sets 3 reps
  • Dumbbell Extensions – heavy for 2 sets of 8 reps
  • Machine Rows – heavy for 3 sets 8 reps
  • Face Pull – heavy for 3 sets of 12 reps
  • Free Time – do whatever you want for 15 minutes with high reps and low rest

ME Lower

  • Reverse Band Squat (light band) – full gear – work to perceived max (PM) then do 80% of PM for 2 sets of 5 reps
  • Speed Pulls – 6 sets 1 rep with competition max
  • Reverse Hypers – 2 sets of 15 reps
  • Pull Down Abs – 3 sets of 8 reps

ME Upper

  • Reverse Band Press with Shirt (strong band) – 1 heavy set of 3 reps raw and then put on shirt and work up to competitive max and stop
  • Vertical Pulls – heavy for 3 sets of 8 reps
  • Side, Front and Rear Delt Raises  – 2 sets of each movement not to exceed 35 lb dumbbells
  • 15 minutes of free time and go for huge triceps pump

 

Gym Pic of the Day – Home Edition

My brand spanking new shiny EFS Deluxe Monolift is here. I was actually able to assemble is by myself, but wouldn’t recommend this for others. I almost took out the back wall of the garage along with an overhead light and I’m pretty sure I broke my toe when a swingarm swung the wrong way. Between the monolift, a new adjustable incline bench and a couple other odds and ends, the UPS shipments weighed an even 1,000 pounds. Regardless, it was all worth it. Here she is in all her glory.

Looking Ahead

Next month, I’ll have an update on training, along with the next four weeks or so of the 15-week program. The meet is getting here quickly and there’s much work to do. As always, if anyone has suggestions of what they want to discuss next month, please leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

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About the Author

Not a trainer? Not a coach? Not someone who works at a factory, job site or other place that actually creates things? Well, then you are like me.