Archive for the ‘Career Counseling’ Category

  • Just Start!

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    Courtesy, TwistedPoly.com

     

    One book and two blog posts I read this week – and another classic tome – hold our entrepreneurial, career shifting toes to the fire – as in stop over assessing, evaluating and planning and Just Start!

    The book, Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future, by Len Schlesinger, President, Babson College; organizational learning expert Charles Kiefer; and veteran journalist Paul B. Brown is a stirring, practical pronunciamento. Each author shares his own deep and varied experiences and draws from a source where striving amid constant uncertainty actually works: the world of serial entrepreneurship. In this world, people don’t just think differently—they act differently, as well.

    Their dynamic manifesto begins in the epigraph where they invoke Lao-tzu, the Chinese philsopher’s, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It ends (but is it really an ending if you follow their practicum?) as they capture the essence of the book in 78 pro-active words in the epilogue:

    1. Know what you want.

    2. Take a smart step toward that desire as quickly as you can, that is, act with the means at hand; stay within your acceptable loss and bring others along with you if it makes sense.

    3. Make reality your friend. Accept what is and build off what you find.

    4. Repeat steps two and three until you accomplish your goal or until you decide it is not possible, or you decide you’d rather do something else.

    One of the blog posts I mentioned earlier is The Habit of Starting written by Leo Babauta on his Zen Habits blog. Babauta says, “The biggest reason people fail at creating and sticking to new habits is that they don’t keep doing it. That seems obvious: if you don’t keep doing a habit, it won’t really become a habit. So what’s the solution to this obvious problem? Find a way to keep doing it.

    When you look at it this way, the key to forming a habit is not how much you do of the habit each day (exercise for 30 minutes, write 1,000 words, etc.), but whether you do it at all. So the key is just getting started.”

    The second great blog post is Tim Berry’s What Business to Start? Look in the Mirror.  Berry writes, “So you want to start a business, but don’t know what kind? Sure, you can get a list of franchises or ask the experts what are good businesses to start. That works for some people. Lists of businesses to start are easy to find. My advice, however, is don’t look for a list of good businesses. Don’t ask what the big opportunities are. Get a clue. Go look in the mirror.”

    Last but not least, the “classic tome” is  The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki. Aimed at entrepreneurs of any age, it is one of the most enlightening and inspiring books I have read on this subject.

  • How to Avoid the “Over-Qualified” Rejection Blues!

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    Courtesy, Artfulrabbit.com

    You spend your life trying to get experience – then suddenly have too much!

    Employers don’t care about past experience. CEOs care about business outcomes and profitability; they want to know what you can do for them now.

    You need to translate or reframe your experience to demonstrate how you can solve today’s business problems. And be passionate – it is key to your being hired over someone who has the skills or experience but could not care less.

    These are just a few of the points David DeLong discusses in this outstanding video produced by an equally outstanding project called Over50AndOutofWork. David DeLong is a research fellow at the MIT AgeLab, founder of David DeLong & Associates, author of Lost Knowledge:  Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce and co-author of the study Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?. DeLong provides very specific recommendations and strategies for older jobseekers to maximize the success of their job search – and the good news is that he is optimistic about the future for older workers.

    This is a 30-minute video – don’t miss a minute of DeLong’s valuable tips!

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  • Balancing Work and Life: Stories from the Trenches

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    Stone Sculpture, Willard Beach, Maine

    The challenges can be daunting but they need not be insurmountable. As a wise old soul once said, “Nothing is impossible; the impossible just takes a little longer.”

    A key first step is to identify your priorities. Determine what you want to get out of your work and your personal life, and jettison all the things that don’t help you achieve those goals.

    The second key step is to give yourself time. You can’t expect to achieve this balance overnight. Take small steps and build on each success.

    Help, as in interviews with those who have and have not achieved balance, is available at Stanford University’s e-Corner (Entrepreneurship Corner), a project of Stanford Technology Ventures Program. They have published a collection of videos and podcasts of more than 1800 of Silicon Valley’s most practiced entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

    Check out three of their videos with “perspectives on this frequently elusive pursuit” below:

    Video: Life With an Entrepreneur
    Brad Feld, Foundry Group, TechStars
    5 min. 7 sec.

    Living a “life” while being an entrepreneur can have its challenges, according to entrepreneur and investor Brad Feld. Through a candid story from his own marriage, Feld explains how he has successfully found a way to balance his love of work with his love of family.

     

    Video: Work-Life Balance for Driven People
    Dominic Orr, Aruba Networks
    3 min. 28 sec.

    Dominic Orr, CEO of Aruba Networks, wrestles with the definition of work-life balance for people deeply engaged by their work. Orr recognizes it can be difficult to separate work and life, but that we must still make room for relationships that matter to us. According to Orr, this ultimately comes down to carefully allocating our time and energy.

     

    Video: Failure in Work-Life Balance
    Lisa Lambert, Intel Capital
    2 min. 19 sec.

    “Failure is as much about success as success is,” says Lisa Lambert, vice president at Intel Capital. “In fact, it’s probably a more important part.” Lambert reflects on aspects of her career she wishes she could revisit, including work-life balance. Get practiced in the act of saying no, she advises, and accept that your time and money, and other resources only occur in limited quantities.

     

  • Optimizing Failure

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    Courtesy of waltsense.com

    Wile E. Coyote – did you ever know a character more inured to failure? The Critter deserves a medal for resilience, but just think of the havoc he could have wrecked if only he had learned from each disastrous, failed attempt to snag the Road Runner.

    In a recent post, Penelope Trunk, in her blog  “Advice on the Intersection of Life and Work” writes about starting your own business:

    She says, “Feeling stuck? Uninspired? As though your New Year’s resolutions have no spark? Maybe it’s time to start your own business. It’s likely you intuitively know if you’re actually an entrepreneur stuffed in a corporate cubicle. … don’t be stifled by your age or lack of experience. Just make sure you have the right personality for success and the right attitude toward failure.”

    “The right attitude toward failure” – that’s the phrase that struck home with me because it is something you can apply to your career as well as a new business start-up. As she said in an earlier post, “in this day, we have the ability to gather information quickly and move quickly. But why do we only apply this idea to [new] companies? Why not also apply it to our careers? We can constantly gather information, ask questions, and readjust our goals.”

    Trunk recommends we, “Fail quickly and move on. Most business leaders fail once or twice before hitting it big. Think of failure as a necessary career step and move through it quickly and assuredly – recognize when things are going poorly, fail fast, learn, and respond to new information about what really works for each of us.”

     

     

     

     

     

  • So Much More Than Dinosaurs

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    New York City’s American Museum of Natural History is launching a new graduate program for people “who want to make a career of teaching and stay in the business,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum, “whether they be just out of college or former participants in a volunteer corps or career changers or veterans.”

    The article by Douglas Quenqua in this Sunday’s New York Times begins: “Wanted: 50 former science majors with an interest in teaching — no experience, please — and a willingness to relocate. Must be comfortable sharing a classroom with dinosaur bones and giant squid.”

    Tuition is free, thanks to the New York State Board of Regents, and students will receive $30,000 stipends and health benefits.

    What a terrific career changing opportunity!  One interested applicants is “Tim Roselle, 60, a retired financial worker from the Upper West Side, who said he was lured by the prospect of attending school in one of the city’s most beloved museums.”

    There’s a lot life in some old bones…

     

     

     

  • Seven Self-Marketing Tips

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    Courtesy babacita.com

    Fast Company Magazine published a terrific article in this week’s Co.Design section called “7 Steps for Creating New Retailing Experiences.”  True, its ideas and innovative examples are aimed at retailers, but what I found extraordinary is how these  “7 Steps”  are just as valuable for individuals keen on boosting their own self-marketing.

    The article begins, “To truly design a great experience that’s right for your company, we need to look beyond the field of design to sociology, economics, organizational behavior, and even theater. These seven principles will help you be strategic about the experiences you design and choose the right script for your company.”

    Take a look at their tips and see if you don’t think they might apply to your image experience as well as Starbucks:

    1. Experience design is not about luxury. Southwest Airlines, for example, applies a combination of heart, humor, and efficiency as a distinctly Southwest script for air travel that’s different from the norm.

    The “Premium” is what separates you from the rest of the pack – no matter if you’re a chincilla or a chipmunk. See our posting,  Creativity and the Power of Imagination – for CEOs as Well as Wizards!

    2. Start with empathy. Understanding and challenging social scripts requires stepping into your customers’ shoes.

    Remember Leonardo’s “Working Resume?”

    3. Do your own thing.…. People will value originality as long as you continue to serve their needs.

    Take a look back at our Your Originality: How to Capture and Market It 

    4. Utilize all elements of theater. Create an immersive world with consistent rules. To reinforce the script, think of the whole experience as a “play,” including the cast, costumes, set, and props.

    Details, details, details – or as we posted earlier: Rabbits, Privet Hedges and a Planters Peanut Bar: How John Updike Brought What Is Peculiar to the Moment to Glory

    5. Use different incentives to create different behaviors. Align your people, including their incentives and motivations, with the desired experience.

    Remember our contribution from Australia,  Color Your Way to Success: Learn What Colors Reveal About You and The Organization Where You Think You’d Like to Work

    6. The devil is in the trade-offs. The experience you offer should have a clear point of view.

    Focus, focus, focus –
    Thanks Be To Shakespeare: Those Telling Details in the Story Behind Your Resumé Really Do Matter

    7.  Evolve to stay relevant. Never stop prototyping and testing changes to make the experience better and to change in step with people’s needs.

    Reinventing yourself You Have to Step Out of the Batting Cage to Hit A Home Run!

  • Salary Cuts Need Not Be So Painful

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    Courtesy, www.agefotostock.com

    I read two articles in the past two weeks about the reality of pay cuts in today’s bleak economy.

    The first, by Chris Isidore, Unemployed Face a Reduction in Income – Permanently, in CNNmoney.com was sobering. It is a necessary but certainly not uplifting reality check.

    The second, Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist’s blog posting, When It’s OK to Take a Paycut, is more a wake-up call than a mere reality check. Her seven points make us focus on the critical factor here, which is, as she says, “You are not your salary. You are not worth less in the world because you are paid less in your job. Get your self-worth from a wide range of things and a pay cut won’t matter to you. Focus on the components of a good job: learning, personal growth, friends at work, and a good family life. All those things are worth a lot more than a pay cut.”

    Here, in summary are her eye-opening, insights on when it is ok to take a pay cut:

    “If you want to change careers. Look, you are stopping doing something that you know how to do, and you are going to start doing something you have not done before. Why would you think you will not take a pay cut?

    If you are over 40 years old. Pay peaks about age 40 for everyone except surgeons and lawyers. So if you are 40 and job hunting, take a pay cut. It’s not going to kill you, but holding out for a raise might lead to fears of starvation.

    If you have been unemployed for six months. Statistically speaking, you will have to take a pay cut to re-enter the workforce. So instead of holding out to be a superhero of job hunts, just take a job. So much of our self-worth comes from working that ditching unemployment far outweighs avoiding a pay cut.

    If you’re relocating back to family. Research from Nattavudh Powdthavee of the University of London shows that to make up for the decrease in happiness that you experience when you leave family and friends, you would need to make $133,000 more than you were earning before the relocation. So it stands to reason that you can take a substantial pay cut to move closer to family and still gain a net happiness benefit..

    If you will get a great boss. When it comes to the job hunt, getting a boss who will be a great mentor matters more than the job you’ll be doing for that boss. The number-one factor that determines your earning power is your schooling. The number-two factor is the quality of mentoring you get. Since most of you are out of school, mentoring should be your number-one concern, and you’ll more than make up for a pay cut by gaining a good mentor.

    If you are having mental health problems from not working. Work provides a lot of things:  a sense of belonging, sense of purpose, structure and balance to a day, as well as financial security. You can get all these things by short-circuiting your job hunt and taking a lower-paying job. Wondering if you are having problems big enough to qualify for this one? Are you gaining weight during unemployment? That’s a sign that you’re masking new emotional problems. Get a job.

    If you need better insurance. Taking a pay cut to get better insurance is like buying peace of mind. And at a bargain rate, really. If all you need to do is take a pay cut to know that you will not go bankrupt from medical bills (the most common cause of bankruptcy, by the way) then it’s worth it.”

     

     

     

  • “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

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    Photo courtesy of www.indivisualism.com

    Seniors should take heart in this courageous quote from the English novelist, George Eliot (1819-1880). She was often called the last Victorian, and we know that was not exactly an era open to creative thought – nevertheless articulation.

    We hear the term “reinventing themselves” often as seniors – with many extended years to live – are taking on new jobs and even starting to launch their own businesses.

    This week’s “Fact of the Week” from the Sloane Center on Aging & Work at Boston College is:

    “According to a 2011 report on retirement trends, ‘continued employment in something other than the career job…rises to a maximum of 32 percent of the men and 37 percent of the women when the HRS respondents are aged 59 to 69, but still remains significant (more than 20 percent of the sample) even among those aged 67 to 77.’ ’’

    The key phrase here is “something other than the career job.” These seniors are truly breaking new ground.

    For those who might be contemplating a bold entrepreneurial venture, the US Small Business Administration’s website offers a nifty self-assessment tool to determine just how ready you might be to start our own business.

    The SBA notes, “Your responses will be scored automatically when you click the Submit button. This score will be used to develop your assessment profile. Based on your score, you will also receive a statement of Suggested Next Steps, directing you to the most appropriate SBA resources to help improve your business preparedness. These suggested next steps may include free SBA online courses, direct access to online counseling or targeted links to appropriate resources.”

    Take their note with the appropriate grain of salt. It is, of course, a bit of shameless marketing for the SBA. There are multitudes of other reputable online resources to help you plan and start your own business. Granted few are directed at the 50+ year old entrepreneur, but we are working on finding more of those targeted resources and will bring them to you as we locate and evaluate them.

    To extend George Eliot’s wisdom, we would add, “It’s never too late to be who you might like to be!”

     

     

  • Sidewalk Wisdom!

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    If  you’re genuinely interested in taking a new path in life, one of your first steps should be to read Portia Nelson’s little gem of a book, There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk.

    Born in Brigham City, Utah, in 1920, Portia Nelson became a Renaissance Woman. Her name was originally Betty Mae Nelson. She grew up in humble circumstances and was the youngest of nine children, four of whom died before she was born. Her grade school friends nicknamed her Portia after a popular radio soap opera ”Portia Faces Life.” Little did they realize how prescient their naming would be.

    When she died in New York City in 2001, her obituary praised her as a “beloved singer, songwriter, actress, and author. She was best known for her appearances in the most prestigious 1950s cabarets, where she sang an elegant repertoire in a soprano noted for its silvery tone, perfect diction, intimacy, and meticulous attention to words.

    She was one of the most popular cabaret singers of the 1950s, the era when such New York supper clubs as Bon Soir and the Blue Angel featured glamorously gowned singers of sophisticated songs. Besides singing the finest torch songs of Kern, Porter, Gershwin and the other greats of popular music, she would rescue neglected songs from oblivion, introducing audiences to such forgotten gems as Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell’s ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ and Rodgers and Hart’s ‘Nobody’s Heart’.”

    The actress Jane Russell, a lifelong friend who was the first to encourage Portia to sing, commented, “Her lyrics were sung with such understanding that you felt you’d heard a poem sung.”

    Nelson was also a prodigious songwriter. One of her most famous compositions, ”Make a Rainbow,” was sung by Marilyn Horne at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inaugural ceremony. Her acting career included playing the indomitable nun, Sister Berthe, in the film version of The Sound of Music. ”

    Her best-known writing is this “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” from her book, “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk,” originally published in 1977 and reissued in 1993:

    Chapter 1
    I walk down the street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost… I am hopeless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find my way out.

    Chapter 2
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I am in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    Chapter 3
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it there.
    I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.

    Chapter 4
    I walk down the same street.
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    Chapter 5
    I walk down another street.

    As valuable as this advise is about not doing the same things over and over again, I still think one of my favorite Portia pieces is this poem from the very beginning of “Sidewalk:”

    I don’t know what I want sometimes.
    But I know
    that I want to know
    what I want.

    I know that once I know what I want
    I will be able to get it.

    Of course, I may not want what I get
    when I get it…
    But, at least
    I’ll know that I don’t want that!

    Then, I can move on to something else
    I don’t know if I want.

    That’s progress!


    I wonder if she ever read Shel Silverstein’s, Where the Sidewalk Ends?

    I think she would have like it!

  • Entrepreneur Is Not A Job Title – It Is A “State of Mind”*

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    Courtesy of cafepress.com

    *Guy Kawaski nailed it in his 2004 classic book, “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything,” where he said, “Entrepreneur is the state of mind of people who want to alter the future, to create a service or product that makes the world a better place.”

    “This book,” Guy writes, “is for people in a wise range of startup endeavors:

    1. Guys and gals in garages creating the next great company

    2. Brave souls in established companies bringing new products and services to market

    3. Saints starting schools, churches and not-for-profits

    because when it comes to the fundamentals of starting up they are more alike than different. The hardest thing about getting started is getting started.”

    But don’t think this book is a collection of platitudes. It is one of the most hands-on, no nonsense guides on the market.  It contains fresh insights, practical tips, case studies, exercises, and mini-chapters tailored to meet specific needs, in addition to the no-holds-barred strategy chapters. If you want a “feel good” read, this is not for you. If you want a honest book that makes you think, this is for you.

    This book is not just one long note from Guy. It is filled with quotes and anecdotes from those who have thrived and those who have not. It even has footnotes you will want to read, as well as additional recommended resources at the end of each chapter.

    One of my favorite sections is Guy’s FAQs – not “Frequently Asked Questions” –  but even more importantly “Frequently Avoided Questions.” These are the questions which any entrepreneur must answer if he or she stands a chance of succeeding.

    Perhaps my favorite chapter in this gem of a book is the final chapter: “The Art of Being a Mensch.”  “Mensch” is the Yiddish term for someone who is ethical, decent and admirable. Guy says, “the three foundations of menschhood are helping lots of people, doing what’s right, and paying back society – simple concepts that are hard to implement.”

    Guy and his book are the manifestation of menschhood! This is a must read for anyone thinking about making their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

    PS – If possible try to secure a hardcover copy of this book. The jacket art was created by Adam Tucker, winner of a design contest sponsored by Guy Kawasaki. It’s a great jacket, but what is truly original is that other entries are printed on the reverse side of the jacket.  It’s a fascinating snapshot of conceptual design.

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