Archive for the ‘Rebranding’ Category

  • Artist or Biologist: Career Switching Made Easier

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    Courtesy www.stuffintheair.com

    Whether you are looking for a new line of work because the old stand-by has become boring and meaningless or because you’ve been laid off and can’t find work in your “field,” a new career may need new strategies to find and secure it. You may be attuned to approach a recruiter or to diligently scour job titles in the want-ads with unrestrained vigor, but we respectfully recommend you redirect your energy. If you’re eager to use your existing skills in different ways and are not sure where to begin, go to an online job board such as CareerBuilder.com – not to find the job of your dreams but rather how to translate your experience and job skills into new career options. Skip the job titles and go directly to the “key word” search engine. (This by the way is the same way any employer or recruiter worth his or her salt, will scan online resumes.) Using CareerBuilder.com’s “key word” search engine, type in “Art” and just look at the variety of companies that pop up: insurance, banking and financial services, healthcare, retail, auto companies, and even the Art Institute!

    Type in “Biomedical Research” and, among the zillions of medical hits, you’ll find the A & E Television Network! You get the picture. Your skills may fit in places you never dreamed of – or maybe you have thought of them but figured you were not a good fit.

    Next you can “narrow your search” via Category, Company, City and State. Narrow is the operable word if you are looking for the same old same old kind of job, but since you’re not, skip the actual job postings they offer and take some time to scroll through all the options under “Category” and “Company.” Don’t jump in to the “City” and “State” options yet, even if you think you’d like to relocate in New Mexico. You’ll be amazed to discover how some of your finely honed skills can be applied to unique and exciting new careers.

    Still flummoxed… Stop and read Studs Terkel’s classic book, “Working.” Terkel interviewed hundreds of American workers. Men and women from every walk of life spoke with him, telling him of their likes and dislikes, fears, problems, and happinesses on the job. The book is a manifestation of Terkel’s belief that our work is a search for “daily meaning as well as our daily bread.”

  • Reinventing Salt and Ourselves

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    Courtesy Everydiet.org

    This blog post, Three Tips for Reinventing a Product, by Teri Evans in Entrepreneur.com is about salt. Yes, who would have thought a staple such as salt would need reinvention, but then how many of us 60+ year-olds gave much thought to “reinventing ourselves” 2 or 3 years ago?

    Teri says, “Many aspiring entrepreneurs have attempted to reinvent products, from cupcakes to pizza to coffee, which are considered commodities. Some have met with astonishing success — Starbucks being a notable example — while others have fallen flat. So what are the important ingredients in a successful reinvention?”

    Teri offers The Meadow, an artisanal salt shop with locations in Portland, Oregon and New York City, as a case in point.  Teri cites three ways in which the The Meadow’s owners Jennifer and Mark Bitterman, transformed salt into a gourmet entity, noting, “While their reinvention is specific to salt, the strategies they implemented to transform the perception of a commodity can work in just about any business.”

    I’d add an extra pinch of salt to their successful recipe. You, too, are a commodity and each of these 3 strategies is equally essential to the business of creating and marketing the sauce of your “reinvented” self.

    1. Tell the story behind your product. Mark Bitterman was enjoying a trip to France when he discovered artisan salts during a savory French meal — and it’s a delightful story he shares with customers time and time again. Creating an emotional one-on-one connection through a story, while weaving in the history of artisan salts, has kept foodies coming back. The Meadow also dishes salt stories and recipes on its website and blog, Salt News. Mark also has an award-winning book on the subject: Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral with Recipes.

    2. Create a shared experience around the product. Aside from recounting salt tales to customers, the Bittermans bring foodies together in a shared experience by hosting salt tastings at its shops. Previous events have ranged from unique sweet-and-savory pairings to events designed with the culinary professional in mind. The Bittermans have learned that if you bring customers together for a shared experience, you’re more likely to create an emotional attachment to your product, which can breed loyalty and boost sales.

    3. Introduce the product to industry influencers. The Meadow doesn’t advertise and instead relies on word-of-mouth marketing to build credibility among its foodie customers. One way it has done that is through winning over some top chefs of upscale restaurants, which have not only raved about The Meadow’s artisan salts, but also become product evangelists.

    Bon appetit!

  • Picture It: How Logos and Information Graphics Tell Your Story or Convey Your Brand in Much Less Than a Thousand Words?

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    Courtesy of: http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com

    In our digital world where vital “Tweets” can be no longer than 140 characters – not words but characters – visual information is even more critical than it is in traditional storytelling.

    Budding entrepreneurs will find some great tips and – of course – pictures in today’s “Quack” (aka Post) by Rebecca Hume at Duck Call, that zippy, smart, brandraising blog.

    Bulletin from the Duck Pond is:

    “Good infographics can illustrate ideas that might take pages to explain in writing. They function as a visual shorthand, clarifying relationships with a degree of immediacy and impact text just can’t offer. Effective graphics can be created for many types of information, but they are best suited for showing comparisons, structures, and processes.

    Figuring out what type of infographic is right for a project typically requires three steps:

    1. Know the story you want to tell.
    2. Find the information that best tells the story.
    3. Determine the form that most clearly displays that information.

    Just as with writing, information design must have a thesis statement…”

    Continue reading until you reach the other side of this duck pond because there’s lots of good data here.

    Meanwhile, should you wish to pare those words down further, perhaps even eliminate them altogether and create a successful brand logo, check out this one-page snapshot of all the elements to consider. It was “Tweeted” to you today from the SE Toolbelt, that fabulous and free open-content community resource center, created to help social entrepreneurs plan, start, manage, and grow successful social enterprises.

    Shakespeare would have been proud of your literary gambols…

    Courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

  • Betty White: Stereotype-Buster or Panderer? Who Really Won the Evening: SNL, Betty White or Facebook?

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    Did any one else see the great triple paradox between Betty White, the 88-year-old “golden girl,” and her Mother’s Day Eve hosting of that “mother-of-all-Saturday-Night-Live episodes,” and her put-down of the gallant white Facebook horse she rode in on???

    The media is exclaiming about Betty’s stunning performance on SNL. RTT News, the Global Financial News wire proclaimed: “Betty White’s appearance on ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend was a hit with viewers. The NBC comedy series recorded its best overnight ratings in 18 months on Saturday. The show picked up an 8.8 share, according to Nielsen, making the episode the highest rated since November 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted and Senator John McCain was a special guest.”

    While the NY Times “Arts Beat” blogger, Dave Itzkoff loudly proclaimed, ” All it took to reinvigorate a 35-year-old comedy show was the presence of an 88-year-old woman,” he also noted towards the end of his blog in a much quieter tone:

    “If you watched carefully, you might have noticed that many of Saturday’s skits were simply new variations on recurring “SNL” bits like “MacGruber” or its “Lawrence Welk Show” parody. …And if you really want to get picayune about it, most of Ms. White’s jokes boiled down to some version of her (a) saying something totally inappropriate for her age, or (b) making some kind of subtle — or blatant — sexual innuendo. But really, who cares, when so many of them worked?”

    This begs the question: did they really work or were some folks just dazzled by someone whom they thought was beating the “old woman stereotype” or in awe that SNL finally offered an old lady the role of host?

    My reaction is that Betty White was just fighting one stereotype with another and not too successfully at that.  I had a truly “feisty” grandmother and she never once pandered to deliver something “totally inappropriate for her age” or subtle or otherwise “sexual innuendo.” Betty White delivered what she or the folks at SNL wanted her to deliver, and I call that pandering not stereotype-busting.

    Robert Bianco, USA Today, also sensed something was askew as he wrote: “Betty White’s ‘SNL’ stint: Less than Golden.” …Perhaps no show could have lived up to expectations created for this week’s Saturday Night Live by the Facebook campaign that got Betty White her first hosting job after a 35-year wait… Yet in the end, Saturday’s over-hyped NBC broadcast mostly served to explain why SNL seemed so reluctant to bring White on board. Clearly, they didn’t know what to do with her. …So they had her make some blue jokes, bear the brunt of multiple “isn’t she old” jokes, and pump for the upcoming MacGruber movie — and then make a few more blue jokes. …None of this was White’s fault, who once again proved that she is both a pro and an extremely good sport. What laughs there were, outside of Weekend Update, were pretty much provided by her and her alone, and that’s not something you can say about every host. She just deserved better. And after a 35 year wait, so did we.”

    The final – for now – element of the paradox is: why did Betty skewer the horse (Facebook) she rode in on. My feisty grandmother taught me to never insult your host, but right out of the box, Betty did when she called Facebook a “waste of time.” Had she forgotten that she was finally offered the top SNL spot after her fans launched a hugely successful grassroots Facebook campaign.

    As the Christian Science Monitor noted, “In January, David Matthews, of San Antonio, launched the Facebook page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?)!” after Ms. White appeared in a popular 2010 Super Bowl ad for Snickers candy. By mid-March, several hundred thousand Facebookers had signed on to Matthew’s petition, and it was announced that the former Golden Girl would be hosting a special Mother’s Day episode on May 8.”

    How was Facebook a waste of Betty’s time: for the SNL invitation and for whatever her professional future – thanks to Facebook – now holds?

    It makes me wonder what other issues might be resolved through the power of a Facebook campaign!

    One more thought:  When I read in today’s Washington Post, Adam Bernstein’s tribute to Lena Horne, who died Sunday at age 92, I was reminded of her 1942, ground-breaking contract with MGM in which it was writ that she would “never have to play a maid.” Perhaps, Betty White’s next contract – be it with SNL or another – should stipulate that she “never has to ‘play’ at being an old woman!”

  • Seniors Who Rest on Their Laurels Don’t Stand a Chance in Today’s Job Market

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    Yes, 25 years of solid accomplishments add gravitas to your resume, but you could also sink like a stone under the weight of that gravitas if you do not convert past accomplishments into present-day assets.

    Maybe you were a brilliant analyst, but do you know that Google Analytics is not about the company’s earning ratio?

    Perhaps you were a direct marketing mogul. That’s wonderful but do you know how to optimize social media marketing today?

    If you are serious about working in your 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s, we know you’re interesting, courageous, eager to continue learning and contributing to the world around you. The good news is that there are lots of resources to help you bring your skills up-to-speed so you can find a good home for that passion.

    Check out adult education or community college programs.

    Here in Maine, the MCED (Maine Center for Enterprise Development) is an entrepreneur-centric resource for simplifying the process of launching a successful start-up. Other states have similar programs.

    The Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes are another great resource. Use this map to find an OLLI in your state.

    Your passion – your desire to find meaningful work – is only as good as your plan. And that plan requires a tremendous amount of due diligence.  That research begins long before the interview. It involves finding out as much as you can about the company where you think you’d like to work.

    What are their goals? Are they in line with yours? Check out their marketing materials. Then, find customer feedback.  Is the company accomplishing what it says it will do? Are its customers happy, apathetic, dissatisfied or extremely dissastisfied?

    What is the company culture and work environment? It’s easy for the company to project whatever image it wants in a marketing campaign; you need to find out what people are saying about the company, its management team and its employees. This is where your networking pays off. Talk to someone or someone who knows someone who can give you the inside scoop.

    Once you’re satisfied that this could be a good place to work, you need to learn who are the company’s biggest competitors? What challenges is the company facing in the next 6 months, next year and next two years. This information is key so you can tailor your working resume to meet those needs.

    First, make sure your resume prominently conveys that you have the skills (which you’ve so diligently brought up-to-speed) to do the job. You must write with the reader in mind. If the reader/hiring manager isn’t interested, your resume will hit the reject pile in seconds.

    Also – and this is critical – you must make a compelling case that your skills, background and experience make you the best candidate to do the job profitably for the company.  Provide meaningful data to document your assertions.

    All of this is necessary to actually get the interview. Once you are in the interview, you can make a much better case by asking the hiring manager what he or she sees as the biggest challenge facing the company. Then present a mini-plan (informed by your earlier research) describing how you would address the challenge if you were in the job.  This is where all your due diligence pays off. Your plan contains specifics garnered from your research which demonstrate your knowledge of the company and also your genuine interest in working there to help them solve the problems they face.  Your plan is not a generic blueprint that you could apply to any scenario.

    Yes, this is a lot of work and if you’re not prepared to do it perhaps you really do not want that job as much as you thought you did.

  • Take Back the Name: Stop Negative “Senior” Stereotyping!

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    Remember when we were in high school and achieving “Senior” status was the Holy Grail. It was the same in college. The senior class was highly revered; it was the font of wisdom and experience for the undergrads. No one was more “with it” than a senior. It was a powerful position oft lauded with reckless abandon – in fact, if memory serves, the more reckless abandon the more the senior was lauded.

    It wasn’t until we joined the work force that “Senior” became a pejorative epithet. Not an instant metamorphous, it accrued bit by bit as our seniors’ workplace tenure increased. Each year, each crop of new corporate mogul wannabes, ambitious, cutting-edge entrepreneurs and innovators slowly but surely pushed older employees into the “establishment.”  This was not a good establishment but, rather, one that connoted stodgy, unimaginative, over-the-hill and senior (bold is to emphasize the thud). We need to revamp the definition of senior to include such positives as:  dynamic, creative, energetic and treasure trove of experience and wisdom. In other words – very savvy!

    AARP did not help. Their market focus was so successful that 50 became synonymous with retirement. And their image of retirement was a good thing – like a lifetime achievement award. That was their pitch but the folks actually approaching 50 dreaded the AARP member invitation. It arrived in mailboxes like a death knell. We were crossing the Rubicon from living and working to retiring. On the other hand, the young, eager-beaver workers loved this blueprint because they needed room at the top to move up the ladder. You’d think we’d know better today. But AARP is still thriving; it is one of the most profitable nonprofits in the country, if not the world. And negative senior stereotypes remain rampant.

    We also need to stop saying, “sixty is the new fifty, seventy is the new sixty,” etc. That just pushes the problem down the road, and we all know what happened to Sisyphus. Remember that king in ancient Greek Mythology who was cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity…

    It’s time to redefine seniors and retirement through new role models such as Robert Chambers, who at 60+ founded a nonprofit organization, Bonnie CLAC, in rural New Hampshire and, in less than 10 years, was invited to a White House press conference, where President Obama hailed him as one of the nation’s greatest social innovators.

    There are lots more seniors like Robert. It’s time to take back the name!

  • Phone Interviews – How Can You Make the Interviewer Hear Your Best Face?

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    Yes, you can “hear” a face.

    Shakespeare nailed it in his Pyramus and Thisbe play within his play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Shakespeare’s lovers cannot see each other through the wall that separates them, but Pyramus hears Thisbe’s voice and says, “I see a voice… an I can hear my Thisbe’s face.”

    The interviewer cannot see your smile but he or she will hear it in your voice. A genuine smile – not the Cheshire cat’s grimace – lifts the tone of the conversation and your enthusiasm. The interviewer can sense you are relaxed and enjoying the interview.

    The interview is a two-party dialog not an inquisition, and your questions are a key element.  Your questions will cue the interviewer that you are both interested and interesting. One of my most enjoyable phone interviews was with Dan Sherman, Founder and President of Explore Company, an international executive search firm specializing in recruitment for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Naturally, I researched Dan and his company before the interview to have a good sense of with whom I would be talking. I was impressed with the portion of Dan’s company website that was dedicated to his late father, Dr. Alan Sherman.

    Dan specifically cites two of his father’s papers which, as a tremendous testament to vitality in aging, are an inspiration to all of us now 60+

    Beyond Growing Old: Individual Empowerment as a Key to Personal Vitality

    T.I.B.E.T. and the Process for Effective Change

    I have taken many of Dan’s father’s words to heart, but the ones that struck deepest were: “As playing music has taught me, you must not let a misplayed note distract you from joy in the sound and the process of playing music. Some of us have been so well trained to get the notes right that we forget about the music and the joy.”

    I did not get the position for which I was interviewing; it was not a good fit but I learned more than I had ever anticipated from the interview.

    Now, lest you think – based on this experience – that the phone interview just a chatty conversation – it is not. You are relaxing and enjoying so you can truly engage in the process.

    Practical preparation includes:

    Eliminating all the distractions – no radio or TV in the background, dogs are outside roaming the back forty, call waiting has been turned off,  “Do Not Disturb” signs posted on the door etc.

    Confident that you and your interviewer are not going to be distracted, it’s time to focus on you. Self-branding isn’t all about selling yourself, it’s being intentional about the impression you make.

    Have your resume and your bullets addressing why you are the best candidate for the job and the one who can do the most to move the organization strategically forward at your fingertips for reference.

    We presume you’ve prepared what you want to say, but have you prepared how you’re going to say it?  We are not talking about an elaborate sound system but rather the energy of your delivery. Just as you know to have active, dynamic words in your written materials, you need to have them at the tip of your tongue. Speak with confidence and authority.

    Nick Corcodilos, on his blog, Ask the Hunter, has a great video by the poet, Peter Taylor, about how to speak with conviction.

    Now that you are ready: relax, engage and enjoy! And don’t forget, after the call send a thank you note! Further, if you think a follow-up, in-person interview will be forthcoming, revise your sales pitch with info you learned about the organization  and their strategic thinking in your call so you’ll be even better prepared for the next round.

  • The Geezers’ Crusade

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    Don’t miss this highly provocative essay by New York Times op-ed columnist, David Brooks. But beware being lulled into thinking, “he gets it!” Just as you begin to think this is a marvelous tribute to our intellectual and leadership prowess, he knocks the pins out from under us.

    But again… do not despair. Keep reading until you reach the “readers comments,” They – for the most part – are a brilliant antidote, guaranteed to restore your faith in the power of reasonable people.

    And, for those of you not familiar with David Brooks, I admire his writing, his thoughts and especially his ability to provoke. Isn’t this what good journalism should be, as opposed to simple regurgitation of news or even worse manipulative spin?

  • Time To Translate and Repurpose Your Skills for the 21st-Century Marketplace

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    This might seem a daunting task, but help is on the way at the O*Net Resource Center. This free online tool is worth the weight of its extensive database in gold.

    The O*NET program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information. Central to the project is the O*NET database, containing information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors. The database, which is available to the public at no cost, is continually updated by surveying a broad range of workers from each occupation. Information from this database forms the heart of O*NET OnLine, an interactive application for exploring and searching occupations. The database also provides the basis for their Career Exploration Tools, a set of valuable assessment instruments for workers looking to find or change careers.

    About those “descriptors:” Every occupation requires a different mix of knowledge, skills, and abilities, and is performed using a variety of activities and tasks. These distinguishing characteristics of an occupation are described by the O*NET Content Model, which defines the key features of an occupation as a standardized, measurable set of variables called descriptors.

    The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) is being developed under the sponsorship of the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA) through a grant to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

    Bookmark this site!

  • Do Boomers have a competitive edge in today’s job market?

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    You bet we do! We just need to sell our age advantage. We have more professional and life experience and we have more successes and failures under our belts than your average 20, 30 and 40-year old.

    That being said, age bias thrives. Some view our gray hair and liver spots as blemishes, but – in reality – they are badges of valor for valiant campaigns waged.

    Finding a job for anyone is a full-time job – for those 60+ it means  researching, thinking, networking 24-7.  We need to redefine our experience, translate or retool our skills, and perhaps retrain. In short, we need to rebrand ourselves to meet the market’s need and expectations.

    Tired of hearing “60 is the new 50 or 50 is the new 40?” That’s a fine way to define our stamina and intellectual prowess but it’s not much help when we post a resume which broadcasts the fact that we graduated 30–40 years ago. If we get past that resume dead-end, we need to gear up for the interview. The interviewer must see us as a viable asset and not as their parent or grandparent.

    Speaking of resumes, every word counts. In fact every size letter counts. Never submit a resume in anything larger than a 12pt font; it’s a clear signal you might be visually impaired. And, if you’re visually impaired, who knows what else might be fading…  brain cells, creaky joints maybe???

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve not found many resources online or other­wise offering tips or tools for finding and securing a good job for savvy seniors with buckets of experience. Be clear – we’re talking about paying jobs. There are many volunteer jobs but some of us still need to pay rent or a mortgage or be totally frivolous and take a holiday now and then.

    So, it’s time to circle the Conestogas, or as Russell Crowe instructed his fellow gladiators, “form a circle and put up your shields.” We can learn from each other: how to survive a headhunter’s gauntlet and how to find and land the job we want. I’ll be posting all manner of practical tips, tools and resources here, and I hope you will chime in with your experiences and nuggets of wisdom.

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