One-and-Done: The NBA’s Strategy For Managing Millennials

The NBA instituted a rule in 2006 that an athlete must be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from graduating high school. And the term One-and-Done was born. It’s gained enough acceptance over the last decade that I wouldn’t be surprised if Merriam-Webster picked it up in a similar fashion to the term selfie.

Why was this strategy necessary?

In 1971 the Supreme Court decision in Haywood v. National Basketball Association, ruled against the NBA’s requirement that a player must wait four years after high school graduation before going pro. With no rule holding players back, would there be a huge influx of high school kids in the NBA? Surprisingly it was a resounding… thanks but no thanks.

Dun dun dun…. enter late Gen Xer’s and Millennials. The 90’s and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air happened and we started to see:

A Culture Shift:

Declaring for the NBA Draft straight out of high school wasn’t cool yet. It was expected that out of high school players go to college and play for at least a couple of years then head to the pros. Even The Greatest Player of All Time, CHOSE to stay and play at the University of North Carolina for three years from 1981-1984. It wasn’t a “thing” until Kevin Garnett left almost 25 years later in 1995 and started the windfall of the Kobe Bryant’s, Tracy McGrady’s, Amare Stoudemire’s, LeBron James’, and Dwight Howard’s.

LeBron James in high school at St. Vincent St. Mary's in Cleveland, Ohio.

LeBron James in high school at St. Vincent St. Mary’s in Cleveland, Ohio.

Workplace expectations were, I work 9-5, I work at the office in my super awesome cube, I only see my boss at my annual review, I wouldn’t dare wear headphones because that’s rude. Then this group called Millennials started infiltrating the establishment and decided that wasn’t so cool anymore. Cue our own version of the windfall. The designated leader of our group by the media, Mr. Zuckerberg, would have been a first round draft pick in the business world if there were such a thing.

The Skills Gap:

These straight from high school kids caused a shake-up in the NBA. There were more players than ever vying for the same number of positions, not to mention several of them were not physically ready for the pros. The players had the raw skills but needed some polishing, for example making sure rookies know that a “Pick and Roll” has nothing to do with sushi.

There are enough Millennials to go around, we’re entering the workforce in droves year after year. In August 2014 there were 4.8 million job openings, the highest level since 2001. It shouldn’t be hard to fill them right? If you’re in my talent or HR crowd you probably just laughed out loud. It’s just not that simple. Terms like STEM, technology, and globalization make it more complicated.

Adaptive Leaders:

One-and-Done college players are wreaking havoc on the college game. College coaches now have to change recruiting strategies and coaching techniques. There are three number one seeds left in this year’s tournament, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Duke. John Calipari and Kentucky are known for being home to One-and-Dones, Bo Ryan and Wisconsin are known for taking 2 and 3 star recruits out of high school and having experienced senior-led teams, and Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have had balanced rosters of One-and-Dones like Kyrie Irving and Jabari Parker, to seniors like Shane Battier and Mason Plumlee. Three different approaches, three successful teams.

One of my favorite One-and-Dones, current Cleveland Cavalier and former Duke Point Guard, Kyrie Irving.

One of my favorite One-and-Dones, current Cleveland Cavalier and former Duke Point Guard, Kyrie Irving.

Leaders who can adapt to the evolution of the workplace are setting themselves up to be destination employers for Millennials. We want feedback from our leaders and we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Great talent follows great leaders.

The NBA needed to address the culture shift, skills gap, and identify adaptive leaders. Enter the One-and-Done strategy. Innovative and progressive workplaces weren’t necessary until, one day you looked over and your cube mate was a 90’s kid with headphones in listening to an artist with a dollar sign in her name.

What will be your One-and-Done Strategy?


Draft Your Team Like an NFL General Manager

Guest Blogger: Marc Prine PhD

With the NFL Draft on its way, there are few things that can make or break a team’s season and the career of a General Manager (GM) more than a bad draft decision. Similarly, there are a few things that can stall your company’s growth like a bad hire. In both situations, a bad decision will waste time and money and cause aggravation.

Both the NFL GM and the hiring manager are trying to make predictive decisions on how an individual will perform based on all of the information available to them. The average company looks at a person’s education, previous working experience, references and performance in what is typically an unstructured interview. The GM looks at a player’s college career, performance on physical drills at the NFL Combine and a cognitive ability test known as the Wonderlic. How important could a cognitive ability test be in the NFL? Well let’s look at two different players:

player comparisons

On paper which player would you rather have? Player A was the third overall pick in the draft. Player B was draft pick 199 all the way in the sixth round. Player A is Vince Young, who played 6 years in the NFL with no major accolades since winning Rookie of the Year. Player B is Tom Brady, one many view as the best quarterback of all time who in 14 seasons thus far has won 4 Super Bowls (Most Valuable Player in 3 of them). When the average score for a quarterback is 24, somebody so low should raise a red flag and create cause for additional inquiry.

This is not to say that an assessment should dictate who you hire and choose to pass over. It does however show the value of using every data point available to you. This is where you would want to enlist an expert help you compile a competency model specific to your organization’s need and select an assessment to best measure candidates against your model.

Assessments are built to help you gain peace of mind on your hardest decisions. The best resume in the world paired with a witty performance in an interview does not indicate whether or not this person is the right fit for your organization. Make the right choice by giving yourself an objective data point and included an assessment when you draft your team.

Marc Prine PhD is a Director in the Talent Consulting and Assessment Practice at Taylor Strategy Partners. For inquiries or more information on how assessment can help drive your decision making contact Marc at

Recruiting Millennials: How Oregon Got It Right

[Posted on LinkedIn 12/31/14]

Today is the eve of the first ever College Football Playoff. The inaugural four-team playoff includes Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon. I must be up front and let you, the readers, know that I have an unwavering allegiance to The Ohio State University, as I grew up three miles from The Shoe and was born into the madness that is Buckeye Country. With that said, another team in the Playoff has changed the game of college football with the help of Nike.


In the late 90s, Oregon was not a perennial Top 25 football team. Being a west coast team, Oregon rarely got prime-time games and if New York wasn’t watching the games, fans and prospective players weren’t seeing the Oregon brand. Understanding that the Ducks could not change the orbital pattern around the sun or physically move the time zone lines, how were they going to become more visible and national title contenders? Brand it.

What Nike and Oregon teamed up to do with their swag continues to be a formula to attract high profile football recruits and offers organizations insight into what Millennials are looking for in an employer (even if we aren’t a 6’6” 250lb. linebacker with 4.40, 40-yard dash speed).

Step 1: Know What Freakishly Good Looks Like:

What gets it done today in college football? Being sleek, fast, and light on your feet, as if you’re gliding on top of the turf. The team who scores 40+ points with athletes who can outrun their opponents more often than not, comes out on top. At the time, Oregon didn’t have these players, but hoped that by making their brand fit this type of recruit, they could get one step closer to getting future Marcus Mariotas.

Do you know what being freakishly good means for your company? Define what this is for your organization and individual positions. By the way, this definition doesn’t include years of experience or knowledge of PowerPoint. For Oregon, being freakishly good involved four words: Leadership, Dynamic, Irreverence, and Innovation.

Step 2: Advocate for Change, Set the Culture:

No one wore neon until the Ducks sported Lightning Yellow and had audiences wondering if they should have sunglasses on to watch the game. No one had chrome helmets or facemasks until the Ducks made it possible. What about matte helmets? Sure. Oregon and Nike set the culture. And now, teams and other apparel partners are mimicking the duo’s creation. Why? Because it works.

Football recruits want to wear loud colored socks? Let’s do it. Millennials want a fresh, green Adidas jacket after they’ve worked for Groupon for a year? Let’s do it. If no one else is doing it, fantastic, let’s show them how it’s done. These don’t have to be earth-shattering discoveries; the little things set a culture.

Step 3: Recruiting Never Stops:

It’s all well and good to complete steps one and two, but those alone don’t lock in a championship. An elite program cannot stand on one wave of freshmen… To get Oregon where they are today took a decade of freshmen classes. And guess what? Today looks pretty good. Oregon has their first ever Heisman Trophy Winner and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Not bad.

Organizations have to sustain their competence in recruiting Millennials. One day it’s working flexible hours and the next it’s wearing a hoodie to the office. Take your first batch of kids and show your future millennial hires that not only is it cool to work at your organization, but you’re also pretty damn good at what you do.

So who will be the number one team in the nation this year? My rational side wants Oregon to win to reinforce what I’ve written above. However, my irrational sports fan gene, that my father so graciously passed on to me, will be in full force tomorrow as the Buckeyes take on the Crimson Tide.

Merry 2015. Happy Millennial Hunting. Until Next Year. Go Bucks.

3 Ways Millennials Are Influencing Healthcare

[Breaking News] – The healthcare landscape is changing, and while those in DC continue to have polite, bipartisan discussions on how to “solve” this nagging problem, HR departments everywhere are trying to keep up.

A new study released last week by Allidura Consumer, GSW Worldwide, and the Harris Poll offers some creative options when it comes to running a competitive workplace. The study shifts the discussion from topics like the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Private Exchanges, preventative care, and Medicaid Part D, to healthcare marketing for the Millennial Mindset.

And why not focus on the consumers of healthcare? Insurers, employers, and providers… grab some popcorn and watch us, Millennials, find our way through the healthcare maze. We are going to make up over half of the workforce in a few years, which means benefits packages will need to play nice with our interpretation of healthcare, whatever that may be.

We are a little bit dramatic… okay, really dramatic:

Millennials worry about getting a serious illness or affording healthcare almost as much as Boomers…. And we are 20 something! The viral nature of the web, the access we have to technology and information, and the trust we put in these types of media is overwhelmingly a GenY downfall.

  • 44% of Millennials say that viewing health information online causes them to worry
  • Millennials are more likely to describe themselves as anxious
  • 1 in 10 have been diagnosed with a social phobia

One word. Paranoid. One hashtag. #Ebola.

Tell your Millennial employees they are healthy. Show them with facts. A little biometric screening never hurt anyone.

We Love Trends:

Have you heard Millennials say (or post rather) some iteration of… #selfie Check out my progress with my #crossfit family! Oh my gosh, I’m on this cleanse and it’s amazing! #juice #eatclean Heck No! G-M-O. I drank wine last night @WholeFoods while I shopped. It was the coolest thing of all time. #wineo I made gluten free pizza from a post on Pinterest I found last week. #organic #farmtotable

Whole Foods

  • 49% of Millennials have used a training program such as P90X, Insanity, or CrossFit in the past 2 years
  • 33% have used a cleanse in the past 2 years
  • 27% are willing to pay more for foods that are free of GMOs
  • 23% are willing to pay more for foods that are made by a well-known brand
  • 15% feel it is absolutely essential or very important to eat gluten- free foods

Don’t offer us a gym membership, then we have to find friends to go with us because we can’t do anything alone. Offer yoga classes, so we can meet friends. For a company fitness challenge… I don’t want your designated pedometer, let me use my Nike+ Fuel Band. And when I win… I absolutely will REFUSE that Subway gift card. Find the brands we like with the nutritional value we think we need.

We trust people we know and our fellow consumer:

It’s no longer a little voice in our heads encouraging us… it’s now an app, our friend, or Kevin Durant giving us the authority to diagnose ourselves or choose the right nutrition plan. Oh, except they don’t have the $500,000 in debt and letters after their names like real doctors. Small detail.

KIND: Kevin Durant

  • 84% of Millennials trust information from people they know personally
  • 37% have self-diagnosed themselves with health problems that they don’t have
  • 22% trust celebrities when endorsing a food product

Groupthink is a powerful thing in this generation. Get people on board and get creative with who delivers the message and how the message is coming across (it doesn’t have to be a celebrity, but if my company felt the need to bring Sam Smith in to make sure I didn’t eat Cane’s every day of the week, I wouldn’t be mad).

The healthcare topic is here to stay. If you wait until it’s solved, you may be waiting longer than the City of Cleveland on a World Championship… aka a really long time. If organizations take a few Millennial approaches to healthcare and make them their own, rather than just keeping up they’ll find themselves setting the standard.

#LikeAGirl: Hire Mo’ne Davis and My Sister

Always created a campaign addressing what it means to run, throw, and fight #LikeAGirl. When did #LikeAGirl become an insult? As more young girls believe they’re strong and capable, the challenges and obstacles women in the workplace face today will no longer hinder these kids from defining their own success.

Doing things #LikeAGirl is a gender stereotype being dismantled by campaigns like the one above and by real life stories of young girls who said, “Maybe I do throw like a girl. So what? I am a girl.” Have you seen the latest cover of Sport Illustrated? Mo’ne Davis is the first Little Leaguer, boy or girl, to be on the cover of the most coveted sports magazine. Not a bad gig for a 13 year-old who just happens to have a 70 mph fastball.

Mo’ne Davis and Becky Hammon have pulled Anything You Can Do I Can do Better back into the news, with a little help from our friends at ESPN. But, what about those stories ESPN doesn’t catch?

My kid sister threw #LikeAGirl, the girliest of girls in playground speak. Audrey had little interest in sports in grade school. She would build mini forts underneath the bleachers at my basketball games and play house. When we would attend a Tribe game, she’d dash for the cotton candy right when we got to our seats and miss the first pitch. Audrey made kid careers in ballet, painting, ceramics, and winning The Most Irritating Little Sibling in the World Award.

We didn’t have a lot in common at the time. I didn’t throw or run like a girl. I remember being on the docks of Lake Erie tailgating for Cleveland Browns games with my dad and his buddies, and I would hear, “Is that a girl? What an arm!” On Any Given Sunday I’d find myself taking a three-step drop and firing a cannon into the makeshift end zone between the grill and cooler full of adult beverages.

Truthfully, I just really didn’t think Aud was cut out for sports. Then one day she decided she’d had enough of following me around, being Nicole’s little sister. 10 year-old Audrey wanted to be a softball pitcher, a really good one. She had me telling her she couldn’t, my mom, bless her heart, didn’t really think it was going to work out, and the early softball teams Audrey played on weren’t the most supportive either.

So where did our athletic careers take us?

I played basketball at a Division III private school in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Ohio, banking on my ACT score to make tuition slightly more palatable. My sister, however, that kid playing with Barbies and dancing across the stage, was a pitcher for The Ohio State University. She played in a million dollar facility, traveled coast to coast playing the best teams in the country, had tutors on speed-dial, sports psychologists available, and what I think is the coolest thing ever, she wore our last name on the back of a Buckeye jersey. #proudsister

Who got the better deal in the end? Me, the coach pitch all-star or my sister, who threw like a girl? Whether it’s women in sports or women in the workplace these “young kids” are refreshingly not jaded. Young girls stare down gender inequality every day and rather than being deterred, some say, “I don’t care.”

My sister wanted to become great, and the more people who told her she couldn’t, the longer she’d be out in our front yard pitching to my dad. Audrey threw like a girl, a girl with the most wicked change-up you’ve ever seen.

These women are out there. Find them and hire them. They’ll inspire you.

The Bachelorette #MenTellAll: The Ultimate Exit Interview

Finally. A forum to tell people what is really going on at this company (sort of)! Exit interviews can provide companies with feedback on areas of improvement and offers closure to employees. The concept is a little kumbaya, assuming that all break-ups will be civil, but if done correctly, exit interviews can be a positive experience for both parties.

The Bachelorette: Men Tell All episode aired this past Monday evening. There are two lucky bachelors left, vying for this season’s bachelorette, Andi. As for the twenty-three unlucky bachelors sent home earlier this season, the tell-all episode gives the guys an opportunity to explain what went wrong, why it wasn’t a match made in Heaven, and what led to their departures.

With twenty-three good-looking, broken-hearted guys confessing their love, I have to say that’s an epic display of a true, romantic tragedy.

When conducting an exit interview, there are a few types of people (or bachelors in Andi’s case) HR should be on the look out for:

Extremists (Marcus):

These are the people that make you feel like this (insert eyes wide open emoji). They say so many good things about your company that there aren’t any take-aways, and you can’t get one piece of constructive criticism out of them. It’s like talking to Elmo or something.

Then there are the folks who have a V for Vendetta against the organization. Your company is so detrimental to society that even the instant coffee machine that spits coffee onto their brand new white pants gets stage time in their “famous last words” speech.

If you detect either of these sentiments, run far, far away. Don’t let these people skew your data.

Friend Zoners (Marquel):

This never works out too well. Telling current HR staff members about the laundry list of awfulness is like officially breaking it to someone that they’re in the friend zone. It’s hard. It usually means it’s been going on for a while, and their heads don’t match their hearts. You’ll never get the truth.

The Gentleman (Chris):

Nice guys finish last in love, again… But, on the off chance you find an Honest Abe who has the opportunity to express his constructive criticisms and valid compliments to a non-partial third-party, do not squander the encounter! If Chris, the farmer from Iowa, is sitting at the table, don’t let him get away!

Whether it’s feedback on culture, a manager, the location of the popcorn machine in proximity to napkins, or process improvements, capturing the data and implementing action steps is imperative.

While most exit interviews won’t have an HR department with Bachelorette host Chris Harrison on staff, a blooper reel, lie detector results, millions of viewers, tears (well maybe), or cookies thrown into the crowd, the idea is the same. We all need closure, whether it’s with The Bachelorette or a company. And if done the right way, the conversation might yield an improvement in the instant coffee machine for the rest of us.

It’s 2014: 3 Ways Technology Can Drive Your People Strategy

Last Saturday night I sat on the patio of a local pub trying to hold back from devouring the plate of funnel cake fries sitting in the middle of the table but, more importantly, to celebrate one of my closest friend’s 25th birthday. We all went to high school together, and during those wonder years, the patio I was sitting on was home to a Borders.

My inner geek started creeping in and I thought to myself how incredible and powerful technology is, putting entire industries either out of business or forcing those who survive to radically change their business models (e.g. Barnes & Noble).

Poof. The need for another “me too” storefront retailer of CD’s and books is gone. Thank you iTunes and tablets. But, iTunes is so 2006, and online music streaming is now putting even the almighty iTunes at risk of extinction.

Every two days we create as much information as we did from the beginning of time until 2003. Today, it’s no secret data can aid in making better, more efficient decisions. Why not start applying it to how we attract, develop, and retain people?

In a few years (or today if you’re a Decoded Company):

(1) Internal referrals will never be the same!

Your LinkedIn profile is a data source being tapped by people you’ve never met, terrifying right? Not really.

With LinkedIn data and network notifications, you can be reminded of that ex-coworker who meets all of the requirements for the Accounting Department’s open analyst role. A quick e-mail asks if you would work with him again. A survey is sent evaluating culture fit. A few clicks later… #boominternalreferral. No outbound recruiting needed.

(2) The best Sourcer is no longer determined by who has the best Boolean string.

Wouldn’t it be cool if while I was sitting at a stoplight on my way to lunch, Wendy’s pinged my cell phone with a Buy One, Get One Free Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger coupon? By the way, it’s right across the street.

Location-based advertising can not only get you a discount on your next burger but maybe even find you your next job. Unassuming passive job seekers would be alerted of an opening on their smart phones when they walk by your office that could be a good fit for their background. Click here to apply. Companies in metro areas should be all over this with the high-level of foot traffic populating their sidewalks.

(3) Training is proactive rather than reactive.

What if you had an internal system tracking your projects? Any mistakes or errors made would be flagged. If an individual is consistently being flagged for the same mistake or error, their manager could be notified in order to provide training rather than wait for a quarterly or annual review to discuss solutions.

How we do things is being optimized by technology, and HR (or whatever snappy title you’ve given this department) is no exception.

We live in a world of information and if companies choose to ignore this or are slow to adapt, they may very well end up like Borders. However, if an organization can adjust their business model, use technology as an asset, and still hold onto their where I came from swag, they may find themselves in the Barnes & Noble safe zone… for now at least.

Anyone reading this blog on a Nook Tablet?