A friend was interviewing for jobs in communications recently and the interviewer asked about her metrics.

“What do you mean?” my friend asked.

“When you were a reporter, how many articles did you write a day?”

“I don’t know. Maybe, two?”

“Can I say two a day?” the interviewer pushed.

“Sure.”

“Great. How many articles did you edit a day?”

“Uh, two?”

“Do you use social media?”

“Sure,” my friend said.

“Which ones? Do you use Facebook? Twitter?”

“Sure. I tweet.” My friend, who values privacy, was uneasy. She’s on Facebook and Twitter but not to announce every step she takes. The interviewer nodded, cleared her throat. “What about Pinterest?”

“What’s Pinterest?” my friend said.

While she wasn’t looking for a job in social media, she found that in several consecutive interviews with different potential employers, they kept asking for her personal metrics. The numbers. How fast she can do more, more, more.

She sent that particular interviewer on to a friend who is younger, hipper and faster. He could keep up with the pace they want from today’s entry-level employees, my friend said.

And that’s when it hit me: today’s factory isn’t turning out 27 widgets in an hour – it’s how many tweets a day, how many friends on Facebook, how much, how fast. That’s the factory job of today.

The conversation made me sad. While the interviewer was just doing her job, she couldn’t see the big picture. She had no perspective.

I’ll go on the record as a social media expert who doesn’t believe in metrics. In marketing, advertising, communications, we spin numbers to make people happy but they’re facades. You can’t really know whether your tweets are generating new business unless there is a direct, trackable link that shows up at the cash register. So if you’re tweeting about lollipops and you sell more lollipops and you didn’t advertise, talk about or otherwise promote lollipops, you can probably say it’s because of the tweeting.

But no one does that.

The best marketing is a comprehensive, consistent campaign of cross-over efforts. Anyone in my field will agree. The more you’re out there, the more people recognize you.

And what spurs all these people on to do business with you is the way in which you interact with them.

Relationships. It always comes back to relationships – everything does. You can’t simply take out one ad and assume everyone’s going to buy your product. It’s bigger than that and consumers are smarter, savvier, hungrier for connection. If you don’t care about them, they are unlikely to buy whatever you’re selling.

So that’s why this metrics question kills me. These poor millenials, looking for jobs in all the wrong places. Sure, they can run around town and file seven stories in a 24-hour period, tweet through the night, be constantly ON.

But where will that get them? In their career AND personal life?

Factory workers of decades ago learned a trade and produced. When they stopped producing, they were no longer valuable to the company. And many could only do the one thing. Scary parallels.

We all must be bigger than one metric if we are to succeed. And I hasten to say that there is so much more to working than this. There has to be meaning, focus, perspective, a bigger picture.

Yes, we need money to live in this world. But not at the cost of our souls.

Shouldn’t we be training our work force to make the world better in everything they do? Every job has the potential for elevation or to stay mundane – which would you choose?

It’s interesting how the more we evolve, in some ways, the less evolved we really are.

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