• The Joys of “Jumpology” and the Art of Letting Go

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    I love Roberta Smith’s New York Times‘ article, “The Joys of Jumpology.”

    She writes, “When the photographer Philippe Halsman said, ‘Jump,’ no one asked how high. People simply pushed off or leapt up to the extent that physical ability and personal decorum allowed. In that airborne instant Mr. Halsman clicked the shutter. He called his method jumpology.”

    “Halsman, who died in 1979, said, ‘When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping, and the mask falls, so that the real person appears.’”

    “A wonderful exhibition of nearly 50 jumps that Halsman captured on film from the late 1940s through the ’50s – sometimes on commission for Life magazine – can be seen in New York City at the Laurence Miller Gallery at 20 West 57th Street, through Friday. The photographs feature stars of stage, screen and television; national leaders; a prima ballerina; writers; and other creative types. Except for a few earthbound choreographers, nearly everyone cooperates.”

    The exhibition includes this 1954 photo of the photographer Philippe Halsman with Marilyn Monroe.

    The Estate of Philippe Halsman/Laurence Miller Gallery

    I think “Jumpology,” especially as depicted in Halsman’s  photographs, is a brilliant example of the art of letting go. Once job seekers have documented their remarkably qualified persona to apply for a job, it is absolutely critical for them to let go. If you have presented yourself – not just your qualifications and your CV – but your real self and communicated the value you will bring to the job, you cannot whine or wallow in self pity because the people to whom you have applied don’t see it or take such a long time to get back to you.

    This is an extraordinarily competitive job market. A colleague recently told me that two years ago he would have never had the caliber of candidates that have applied for his job today. And, just as he is overwhelmed with the quality of candidates, he feels inundated by the sheer number of applicants.

    Soooo, once you have put your best foot forward and jumped through all the job application loops, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and let go. Maybe even allow yourself a wee jump for joy!

  • Creativity and the Power of Imagination – for CEOs as Well as Wizards!

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    I was delighted to see Frank Kern’s article, “What Chief Executive Officers Really Want,” in the May 19th issue of Business Week. He discusses the radical ramifications of a new survey of 1,500 chief executives, conducted by IBM’s Institute for Business Value. The survey results demonstrate unequivocally that CEOs value one leadership competency – creativity – above all others.

    Kern notes that when, “CEOs identify ‘creativity’ as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future, …creativity – not operational effectiveness, influence, or even dedication – something significant is afoot in the corporate world. In response to powerful external pressures and the opportunities that accompany them, CEOs are signaling a new direction. They are telling us that a world of increasing complexity will give rise to a new generation of leaders that make creativity the path forward for successful enterprises.”

    I was struck by the ways in which the survey results manifest the ideas set forth by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, in her brilliant 2008 Harvard Commencement Address in which she focused on the power of imagination.

    Speaking before that bastion of education, nurturer of past, present and future world leaders, Rowling extolled imagination not just for storytelling as one might expect from such a successful author but rather as a tool for transformative social change. She said, “Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation.”

    Quoting the ancient Greek historian, biographer, essayist, Plutarch, Rowling notes, “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” She says, “We do not need magic to transform the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: the power to imagine better.”

    Invention and innovation from Hogwarts to the CEO’s boardroom and beyond. Dare we imagine transformative social change is possible???

  • “Brandraising!” How to Cultivate and Communicate Your Logo

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    Elizabeth's Garden Tulip

    To paraphrase William Blake who saw “the world in a grain of sand,” let’s examine your world as a single flower. The flower or logo representation is organic. It is the who, what, where, when and how of you.

    I love the term “Brandraising,” which I first encountered in Sarah Durham’s book “Brandraising: How to Raise Money and Increase Visibility through Smart Communications.”

    The book, while directed at organizations, is also an excellent tool for defining, developing, cultivating and communicating your own personal flower or brand.

    "Brandraising: One Organization, Many Channels," by Sarah Durham

    Think of the top, “Organizational Level,” of the triangle as your personal core components: your vision, mission, values, objectives, positioning and personality, which make you who you are. List each of your unique attributes, including your strengths and qualifications.

    Then, for the middle, “Identity Level,” be creative. What does your “visual identity” look like.  Are you a flower or a thorn? Are you people focused or technology focused? Do you see yourself in a global arena or in a local niche? Be sure the visual identity or logo you create best conveys the message of who you are. You would not, for example select a field of wildflowers for your logo if you wanted to develop weed killers or even sell weed wackers. If you want to convey high energy and cutting-edge think tank skills, a sand chair and beach umbrella would not do the trick.

    Last, but far from least, for the “Experiential Level,” you should maximize all the channels and tools available to connect with your audience and to let your audience connect with you. Communication is a two-way street. You sell yourself and your brand not just by broadcast advertising but more effectively by listening to your audience. Listen and take time to analyze their challenges so you can contribute realistic solutions designed to best meet their needs. Seize the opportunity to present yourself as the individual most qualified to resolve their problems.

    “Brandraising” takes time and nurturing, and it must be authentic. It is not easy but the long-term benefits are enormous. You will be able to do what you like to do and work with those who understand and share your vision and values. The flower that is your world will become a garden – ideally a community garden.

  • Online Privacy an Oxymoron: “The Fix” and A Fix

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    Today, when every single detail of our lives is more visible than any time in the history of humankind, why in the world would Connecticut’s Attorney General, Dick Blumenthal, lie about his military service? Clearly he’s not stupid; he graduated from Harvard and received his law degree at Yale… Yet one has to wonder when he holds a press conference in which he categorizes the lie as “a few misplaced words.” Could it be that he assumes his constituents are less intelligent or less connected? Surely, it’s not just because a former president may have gotten away with it…

    Ethics and moral issues aside, we all know that privacy – even for mere mortals who have no intention of ever running for anything except perhaps a mini mini mini marathon – is fragile at best. Privacy for public figures, attempting a political run in what is admittedly the most toxic political environment in memory, is virtually non-existent. Our personal brands and our reputations are everywhere and open to scrutiny.

    In “The Fix,” the Washington Post’s political news and analysis column, Chris Cillizza details the self-imposed threat to Blumenthal’s Senate campaign. The tragedy is that this serious character flaw may obliterate all the good work Blumenthal has accomplished over the course of many years for veterans. At the very least, it will invoke inquiry into Blumenthal’s motives for his veterans’ advocacy work: was it sincere or just political expediency?

    For all who remain online privacy innocents, we recommend you give this “Fix” from reclaimprivacy.org a test drive. The website provides an independent and open tool for scanning your Facebook privacy settings. The results are revealing and allow you to fix the settings to secure a smidgeon of privacy – Maybe!

    Telling the truth, of course is the best “Fix.” As the author, Rita Mae Brown, once said, “the best thing about telling the truth is that you never have to remember what you said!”

  • 10 Trends in Longevity: the Good, the Bad and the Cost of Staying Alive

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    “A new twist on recycling!” comes to mind as a great subtitle for this bright but cautionary tale by Philip Moeller about the US government’s “Health, 2009″ report in US News and World Report’sBest of Life Series.”

    “The goals of improved health and financial security are to live longer and, presumably, more fulfilling lives. Increases in longevity have certainly been impressive. Not only has 60 become the new 40, but we’re well on our way to the day when 80 becomes the new 60. While the victors in the longevity race have many spoils to enjoy, they also have many aches, pains, and other unpleasant reminders of their continued existence. The government pulls together an impressive array of statistical snapshots in its current compendium, “Health, 2009,” a 550-page record of the state of the nation’s well-being. Here are some of its most compelling findings about the health of an aging America.”

    Moeller captures some of the very best nuggets from this report, including the “Power” of seniors as related to the vast and growing number of us, but he also flags some of the – too often unanticipated or blatantly ignored – problems related to living longer.

    A wake-up call! Read the nitty gritty details here

  • Resumé Dates or No Dates? and Are There REALLY Jobs for Seniors on the Horizon or Is That Just a Mirage??

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    Today, a trusted friend and HR Guru, sat me down, drilled into my brain via my eyeballs and said: “Take those dates off your resumé!”

    I immediately started stuttering, “But, but isn’t that deceitful? Or, at the very least dissembling? And won’t that be a shock when I waltz my 60+ year-old self into the interview?”

    The Guru answered, “You know we HR folk are not as dumb as some people like to think we are. We can tell how long you’ve been working by simply reading your work history, experience and accomplishments. Clearly, you’re not just fresh out of college.”

    “That being said,” she continued, “in today’s job market we are inundated with resumés for each job we post. Hence, we are desperately seeking ways to winnow them down to a reasonable number. Sadly, your dates might prove an easy fix. Not that any self-respecting hiring manager would ever admit age bias but…”

    “On the other hand, if you have a brilliant, innovative working resumé – with no dates to shut us off at the first pass – by the time we finish reading and realize you are most probably a bit long in the tooth we really don’t see it as a barrier.”

    *************

    Now to those jobs on the horizon… US News and World Report actually published an article this week, titled Retired Workers Will Be Wooed to Return [to Work] by Philip Moeller.

    Wooed to Return??? Perhaps, it’s been so long since I’ve been wooed that I no longer grasp the meaning of the word, but I do question the veracity of this prediction. Then, too, I do not like to think myself a skeptic, so please read this bit of sunshine and let us know what you think.

  • Singing Your Heart Out at 80 and Kicking Your Heels Up at 106!

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    Janey Cutler is living proof that you’re never too old to dream a dream!

    “Britain’s Got Talent” had a rare treat this past Saturday night when 80 year-old Janey Cutler sang Edith Piaf’s ‘No Regrets’ (‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien‘) from La Vie en Rose. She, like last year’s unexpected BGT star Susan Boyle, hails from Glasgow, Scotland – something in the water perhaps?

    YouTube Preview Image

    Although the 80 year-old was physically tremulous and had to be helped onto the BGT stage, there was nothing shaky about this chantreuse’s voice. Her deep, mezzo-soprano was powerful and passionate, and the audience rose en masse to give her a standing ovation almost as soon as Janey Cutler began to sing.

    When asked where she’d been all these years, she replied, ‘oh you know, me wee pubs and clubs’. The judges including Simon gave Janey Cutler ’3000 and three yeses’ so she’s on to the next round. No doubt she will be singing before the Queen, who is, of course, also an octogenarian!

    Janey and Queen Elizabeth, however, are wee whippersnappers compared to Doris Eaton Travis, the last surviving Ziegfeld Girl, who died this Tuesday.

    Archival Photo: Doris Eaton Travis as a Ziegfeld Girl.

    In her NY Times obituary, Douglas Martin writes, “From 1907 to 1931, beneath towering, glittering, feathered headdresses, the Ziegfeld Girls floated across grand Broadway stages in lavish pageants known as the Ziegfeld Follies, often to the wistful tune that Irving Berlin wrote just for them: ‘A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody.‘ They were former waitresses, farmers’ daughters and office workers who had dreampt of becoming part of Florenz Ziegfeld’s own grand dream of ‘glorifying the American girl.’”

    Just a few weeks ago, she was back on 42nd Street kicking up her 106 year-old heels for her annual appearance at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS annual benefit.

    Doris Eaton Travis never stopped dancing; indeed, she had No Regrets!

    Mrs. Travis in 2009. Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

  • 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!”

  • Color Your Way to Success: Learn What Colors Reveal About You and The Organization Where You Think You’d Like to Work

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    I’ve just been studying David McCandless’ amazingly informative “Infographic of the Day: What Colors Mean Across 10 Cultures,” in an article by Cliff Kuang, published in Fast Company Magazine online, Apr 26, 2010.

    "Colours in Cultures," by David McCandless

    “The chart encompasses 10 different cultures, and 62 emotions (!!!). The cultures are represented by concentric rings, and the emotions are represented by slices of the circle. Thus, if you want to understand about Japanese color sensibilities, you read around the graph. And if you want to learn what colors mean “danger” across cultures, you just read vertically, down section 15.”

    Kuang says, “Colors are probably the most obvious way that design varies across cultures … But the funny thing is that for most designers and companies, those color sensibilities often don’t rise past ‘Red is lucky in China; blue is soothing in the West.’ That’s naive.”

    Consider, for example that # 66, Personal Power is represented by purple in Western /American cultures; yellow in Hindi; and green in Native American.

    # 77, Success = red in Native American, Chinese, Asian and South American; and green in African cultures.

    # 46, Intelligence = blue in Western/American; white in Hindi and black in Asian.

    This is not to say that you have to wear certain colors, but you need to be aware of what they represent to the organizations where you are trying to present yourself as the best candidate.  Do you wish to leave the impression that you are powerful, or maybe intelligence is key to who you are and what you can contribute?

    In the same light, be aware of the colors the organization has chosen to represent itself. Is it a cool calm blue, a peaceful green or a powerful, highly energetic red/orange environment?

    It’s not that your colors have to coordinate with the organization’s decor but they should not clash. Would your calm, introspective demeanor thrive in hot pink?

    Most important: be authentic. Do not dress in flamboyant, flashy colors if your brightest hue is traditionally moss green. Be true to yourself and your colors – that is always the best path to long-term success!

  • Ingenuity Is Essential: Could Tech Tools Have Helped Hansel and Gretel?

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    Would text messages have been more effective than their trail of breadcrumbs? Not really. Sure the birds gobbled up their tasty breadcrumbs, but their cell phone’s battery could have died just as easily or, deep in the forest as they were, they could have lost their signal. Far better to rely on your own ingenuity than any ancillary tools…

    Abandoned by their parents and lost in the woods, Hansel and Gretel soon learned they had to draw on their own resources to survive. Today, many of us have been abandoned by our employers – hopefully not as perniciously as the old woodcutter but still leaving us alone in the “bleak forest” of the job market wilderness.

    Arthur Rackham

    Several parallel lessons for today’s job seekers jump right off the pages of this cautionary fairytale.

    First, of course, don’t trust your parents – or more to the point, don’t trust that your current job is going to be there forever. Even if everything seems peachy in your office, external elements (for H&G it was the wicked step-mother) can quickly turn your life upside-down.

    Second, don’t be mislead by gingerbread houses. Some jobs may look luscious from the outside but once inside you may find you’re the tasty morsel.

    Third, while you may – in your desperation to secure any job – have been lured into the wrong situation, you can still escape.

    Gretel, pretending thermal ignorance, cleverly tricks the witch into popping her own head into the over to test the heat. Whereupon, Gretel shoves the witch all the way in and seals the oven door.

    Gretel then frees Hansel from the cage where the witch had kept him while he “fattened up,” and together they cavort about in joy.

    Alas, the story then begins to fall apart as a “little luck in the form of a white duck” escorts them safely home, where they discover their nasty stepmother has conveniently died.  Then, too, their instant forgiveness of their irresponsible father seems more than a bit of a stretch, but that’s fodder for a whole other story.

    In a more positive light, let’s reflect back on how Gretel’s ingenuity caused the witch’s demise…

    The good news is that such ingenuity is not only the provenance of youth or limited to fairytales. Last week, the NY Times published Tara Parker-Pope’s very reassuring interview with Barbara Strauch about her new book, “The Secret Life of the Grown-Up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind.”

    Strauch defines the new middle age as 40-65, and she says research has shown that during this time, “if we’re relatively healthy our brains may have a few issues, but on balance they’re better than ever during that period.” In fact, during this period, “the new modern middle age, we’re better at all sorts of things than we were at 20.”

    When Parker-Pope asks, “what kinds of things does a middle-aged brain do better than a younger brain?” Strauch replies, “Inductive reasoning and problem solving — the logical use of your brain and actually getting to solutions. We get the gist of an argument better. We’re better at sizing up a situation and reaching a creative solution. They found social expertise peaks in middle age. That’s basically sorting out the world: are you a good guy or a bad guy?”

    “Good Guys and Bad Guys” – Good Jobs and Bad Jobs.” Sounds like we still have the mettle and ingenuity to avoid the gingerbread, identify the witch and nip her culinary aspirations in the bud. And that’s without a “lucky white duck!”

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