It’s 2020. Is your work worthy? + My grandfather & the Atomic Bomb + Do recruiters have a problem?

January 2, 2020 By Tarek Pertew

Are you looking for fulfilling work?

Hi folks,

Happy 2020! Now you can enjoy hearing your military-time loving, early-to-work (or late-to-leave) co-workers say “OMG, It’s 20:20 in the year 2020!”.

If you believe in cycles, then welcome to the start of a new, annual cycle. I’m not one for tradition or “it-is-what-it-is” conformity, but I do believe that the start of a cycle being a decent time to meditate on life and make commitments to learning and growth.

Brazilians (I’m in Brazil right now) have a particularly symbolic approach to saying goodbye to one cycle (year) and welcoming in a new one.

They have a New Year’s tradition of dressing all in white (to absorb all the positive energy out there) and head to the beach. There, you’ll toss flowers into the ocean (to appease the Goddess of the Ocean (nice to see some gender diversity amongst the gods here, amirite?)) and then proceed to jump over a wave 7 times, making either a wish or a life affirmation with each jump.

This year, however, I decided to just head to the beach and stare out into the horizon for about an hour. Just thinking about my life, how I’ve spent my time, how crazy 2019 was and where I hope I can grow in 2020.

My career, as you’d expect, occupied quite a lot of my mediation:

  • Is the work I’m doing worthwhile?
  • Are peoples’ lives benefitting from the effort I put into each day?
  • Are there areas to improve the “mechanisms” that inform our behavior, so that we can be as aligned as possible between our natural human behaviors and those behaviors resulting from artificial influences (e.g. the needs of our employer).
  • Can I take a video call in a tank-top?

A story about my Grandfather & his work on the Atomic Bomb:

My grandfather was in HR way back in the 30s and 40s. In fact, he was responsible for hiring engineers to work on “The Manhattan Project”. I learned from digging through many of his documents, that he wasn’t privy to the project’s intended purpose. The last official document I read was a company-wide memo on August 5th, 1945, stating that nobody was to mention a word about the work they were doing. It was short and to the point. Soon after, the first atomic bomb was dropped.

He was recognized for his contributions, as you can see by the image above. It came with a special pin as well:

I came upon a letter written to him in the early 80s, where former co-workers wanted to meet in Florida to “connect and chat about old times”. My grandfather responded in-kind, respectfully refusing the invite. He said he wasn’t interested in recalling the past.

My grandfather turned to alcoholic soon after learning about the effects of the Atomic Bomb. As he aged, he lost his sight, presumably as a result of consumption. Even Robert Oppenheimer seemed to have regrets

Why am I telling you this story? Because all of that energy we give to our work does actually lead to outcomes. Are those outcomes worthy of you committing part of your life to it?

Here’s to hoping 2020 is filled with companies creating worthy, net-positive, outcomes. Here’s to you committing part of your life to those outcomes.

LOOKING FOR A NEW HR GIG? If you’d like help with this, hit reply. We are prioritizing HR and Talent roles as part of the work we are committing towards placing talent.

READ THIS: Here’s an article on the efforts Danone has been making to be a better company (one worthy of your work).

READ THIS: For the recruiters on the thread, this article isn’t flattering, as it’s a bit of a rant from an engineer that may get you thinking about the work you do and the thought you put into recruiting humans. It’s called…uh…WTF is wrong with recruiters (H/T/ Hung Lee)

READ THIS (RELATED): Mental health is still a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ subject at work. I’d wager much of our collective mental health challenges are tied to not feeling truly fulfilled in the work we do or align deeply with our company’s purpose. There’s a touch of irony in companies providing an outlet to express this…

UNCUBED NEWS: Since we launched our commitment to building a new kind of placement offering, we’ve decided to heavily prioritize HR roles. This way we service a community we are so well connected to, and can spend real time with a profile that can help perfect the product. If you’re looking, get on the list (IOW, email me)

CONSIDER THIS: For our non-HR related bit if intel, did you know that aspirin (with a lowercase “a”) is found naturally in our bloodstream? I didn’t. And for those of you who take Aspirin every day (or have parents that do), its benefits don’t require that you take a pill. I’ll stop there. But if interested in learning more, head to this NutrisionFacts.org link on getting the benefits without the risks.

Bye for now,


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