• Why Hunting for a “Great” Job Will Hurt Your Career

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    Courtesy, iStockPhoto.com

    Notice the emphasis on “Great” as you read this interesting twist on searching for meaningful work at Bnet.com, CBS’s interactive business network.

    The article was written by one of our favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk. She advocates taking a job – any job – if you are unemployed because, “lucky people create their own luck… For the unemployed, that means taking almost any job. People get lucky at work – someone mentors them, a big project lands in your lap, you catch a huge error and save a lot of money. But no one gets lucky in a job without actually being in a job.”

    Her five reasons why you should immediately stop searching for that “great” job and take almost anything that comes along sound reasonable, but can you really count on any old job? And that “almost any” trips me up. I’d like to hear what would qualify as an absolutely no way job. Would you want to begin bagging at the supermarket, for example, if you were not interested in working your way up that food chain? But then, I suppose we should not discount the possibility of hearing about a great opportunity more akin to your aspirations while bagging the broccoli. And the chances of that are??? Food for thought!

  • When “You Are Special” Is Not Enough

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    The advice about the “Intersection of Life and Work” is often rich on Penelope Trunk’s “Brazen Careerist” blog, but this week’s posting, “Time Management Is Not About Tasks,” is particularly insightful and practical.

    It’s all about the art of time well spent and constructive criticism vs vapid compliments.

    And don’t miss her reference to Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing — and Focus on What Really Matters, a fascinating book by Samuel Culbert, professor at the UCLA school of business.

    Trunk does not blog on a fixed schedule. She says, “I post when I have something to say that may be of value to my readers.” I feel much the same about my blog and appreciate your patience through my sometimes lengthy gaps in publication and the fact that you do come back to read what I have to say.

  • The Minimalist’s Guide to Cultivating Passion

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    Today, one of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits, hosted a guest blogger, Cal Newport, who posted a fun and informative “Guide to Cultivating Passion.”

    No airy-fairy passion potion, this is a nitty-gritty, how-to find and nurture passionate pursuits in our own lives.

    Newport’s piece begins with a nod to comedian Steve Martin. He quotes from Martin’s 2007 memoir, Born Standing Up, where Martin says: “I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success.”

    “If you do the math,” notes Newport, “this sums to fourteen years of hard work before Martin saw returns on his investment. That’s a long time to remain focused on a goal without reward, especially when the path is ambiguous (‘The course was more plodding than heroic,’ Martin recalls).  But as he makes clear in his book, Martin found a Zen peace in the simplicity of his pursuit. He describes with relish, for example, the importance of ‘diligence’ in becoming a star — a term he redefines to mean the ability to not work on unrelated projects — and he labels ‘loss of focus’ as an ‘indulgence’ that success cannot afford.”

    But Martin’s example is just the beginning of this great post. Newport goes on to say, “Even if we agree on their value, how do we find these passionate pursuits in our own lives? This is the thorny question I address in this post.”

    Whether you are lost in the wildernesss searching for your passion or, having identified it, are frozen in passion paralysis over the life-changing implications of this discovery, you need to read Newport’s analysis of the “thorny issues.”

    One tip, I particularly love is that, “You need to be exposed to many things…. You should expose yourself even though you might not know if you’ll be interested.”

    “Put another way,” says Newport: “take a step back; relax; then open your eyes to patiently take in all that’s out there.”

  • Skill: How to Rethink, Redefine and Reimagine It

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    Reading Penelope Trunk’s “Brazen Careerist,” a fascinating blog offering “Advice at the Intersection of Work and Life, I discovered her posting on, “How to Be Lost with Panache.”

    Trunk offers 3 valuable tips to overcome feeling lost – be it in work or one’s life: One is to “Focus on transition points. Do a little each day;” a second is to “Risk standing out and being weird;” but, to me, her greatest and most original tip is to “Find beauty in the process of being lost.”

    Trunk found beauty in an article by Jerry Saltz, art columnist for New York magazine. Grand Tour is Saltz’s roundup about 19 of his favorite paintings in New York. Trunk notes that the captions Saltz creates for these, his favorites, are “phenomenal.” For this Malevich painting, for example, he writes, “Like an explosion in an airplane factory, the Cubo-Futurist masterpiece depicts gleaming robot peasants in curved metallic shards. The composition of snowdrifts, houses, and people spirals energetically toward a distant sled-puller, and recalls the artist’s childhood—a way of life that predated the Industrial Revolution and outlasted the Russian one.”

    Kazimir Malevich, "Morning in the Village After Snowstorm" (1912)

    Trunk exclaims, “Who has been more poetic about Malevich? Ever? When you are lost is when you need art most.”

    Of Caravaggio’s painting, The Denial of Saint Peter (circa 1610), Saltz writes, “Notice the dramatically gesturing figures, stark lighting, compact cropping, and complex moments of internal and external emotions. That is how Caravaggio essentially foreshadowed [in the early 17th Century] modern filmmaking.”

    Perhaps Salz’s most poignant comment on skill (or more accurately lack thereof) is related to Jackson Pollock. Referring to Pollack’s “Room of Eight Paintings” at MoMA, Saltz says, “Looking at these canvases (including One: Number 31, 1950), installed chronologically, reminds me that few artists were less naturally talented than Pollock. That he virtually willed himself to newness, deploying something that had been there since the caves—the drip…”

    Saltz defends his critical perspective: “I don’t look for skill in art… Skill has nothing to do with technical proficiency… I’m interested in people who rethink skill, who redefine or reimagine it: an engineer, say, who builds rockets from rocks.”

    While it takes skill to live with joy and meaning, it takes even more skill to rethink, redefine and reimagine our lives when we veer off path or become totally lost.  Trunk is brave enough to admit when she is lost and perspicacious enough to help us get our bearings by observing the inventiveness of artists such as Jackson Pollack, who “willed himself to newness” by building masterpieces drip by drip.

  • What Do Long Distance, Red Eye Flights Have in Common with Your Job Search?

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    Courtesy: www.izismile.com

    Check this brilliant, blow-by-blow, visual “Red Eye” diary from Christoph Niemann.

    From the fight for armrest supremacy, stacking peanuts to make the time pass more quickly, the flight progress monitor, seeking alternate positions, coveting your neighbor’s seat, discreet dental hygiene, swollen ankles and visions of grandeur in the clouds – it’s all here.

    Best of all, as painful as the process can be, we do finally land and with any luck it’s not our bag that ruptured during the flight, spreading our “wee personals” over the luggage claim belt.

    Bon Voyage!

  • Beware When Your Resumé Looks Like Your Passport: the Date Stamps Cover Where You’ve Been But Not Where You Want to Go or Why?

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    Courtesy of Mark Ashley at www.upgradetravelbetter.com

    Resumés do a great job telling people where you worked and what you have accomplished.  Like passports, they play a role as you venture forward. In some jobs where the HR department rules, they are required. But – and this is a big BUT – they are all about your past. One career consultant, Joshua Waldman, even calls them “obituaries!”

    As we’ve discussed before, traditional resumés need to be replaced by “working resumés.” You need to create a document that captures the value you bring to the future. How will you solve the organization’s problems in ways that are unique, innovative, practical and sustainable?

    Employers – just look at BP, for example – are not looking for a temporary fix. Equally important to how is the why you wish to solve the problem.  Perfection without passion is not going to get you very far. Again, using BP as an example, Tony Hayward, CEO at the time of rig explosion and subsequent horrific oil leak had stellar credentials. His past accomplishments looked great on paper but a critical component was missing: compassion.  Without a sense of empathy for the victims or the environment, all his skills came to naught. His replacement, Bob Dudley, is equally talented and has that extra dose of compassion that allows him to express not only how he is going to solve the problem but why and that makes him far more valuable to BP today than the former CEO.

    But passion is also a critical factor in non-Fortune 500 boardrooms. Last month, Alastair Macaulay published a dance review in the NY Times in which he  critiqued Canadian choreographer-dancer Paul-André Fortier ‘s 30-minute solo, “30 x 30,” performed at noon each day for 30 consecutive days in the open air at 1 New York Plaza.

    Macaulay writes,

    “His dancing is site-specific and multidirectional. He faces, by turns, up past the surrounding buildings to the sky, across to New York Harbor on the horizon, down to the ground, and out to the more immediate vicinity, which now and then includes members of the audience, with whom he makes brief eye contact.

    “There’s a constant contrast between the sleek lines of the shapes and lines he demonstrates and the gaunt, severe tension of his face and hands. His energy is always contained; he performs with the distanced air of a mime artist or a teacher; and there’s no particular pleasure to be had from his physical tone.

    “Coolly he shows us one movement idea after another. Most of them are fairly interesting or agreeable. …Frequently he implies some kind of mime content, so that I found myself labeling one section ‘Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses,’ which made the next passage, in which he seemed to hurl a few curses at the financial district, slightly more interesting. But the carefully measured tone of Mr. Fortier’s movements stopped any of this from having any force or from being absorbing. His quality of teacherly reserve places a curious distance between his solo and himself. It’s as if he were presenting something in which he didn’t quite believe but feels ought to impress us anyway.”

    That last line, “presenting something in which he didn’t quite believe but feels ought to impress us anyway,” is devastating!  According to this trusted dance critic, Fortier has the skill required but not the passion necessary to transport audiences to other realms – real and imaginary. Does this sound like your resumé? We hope not.

    Meshing our work and our passions is key to making our lives works of art.

    Courtesy of z_zozole

  • Song of Marconi: “You Live in Your Voice”

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    We have blogged many times about the importance of your voice – the sound, cadence, pauses and inflections – for all your non-visual communications, including the often dreaded telephone interview.

    Your voice not only conveys confidence, or lack thereof, but also character.  As Rob Rosenthal points out in his terrific PRX podcast, Song of Marconi, for the Salt Institute in Portland, Maine, you really do “live in your voice.”

    Rosenthal’s Saltcast features radio broadcaster Dennis Downey reading his essay on Guglielmo Marconi, inventor and early radio technology pioneer.

    Listen and learn about the inventor and, just as importantly, about the art of talking on the radio. At essence, it is the art of communicating who you are through the spoken word.

  • Frolicking Whales, A 76+ Year-Old Surfer (Body not Web) and Digital Storytelling: Soup to Nuts

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    I encountered a terrific – and comprehensive – Digital Storytelling resource when I was searching for help on how to best capture an extraordinary a day at the beach. This is not just any compilation of video snippets. What began as a peaceful interlude on a beautiful Maine surfers’ beach turned into a virtual bombardment of amazing images.

    Scanning the horizon for ships, sailboats or a rogue wave or two as we are wont to do when we know our wave pounding kins’ heads are all above water, the beach chair bunch (including me) spotted a whale a few hundred yards off shore. Cruising north, he or she and kept vaulting out of the water in beautiful arcs, daring us to try and capture the image. This behemoth had an uncanny way of taunting us.

    Second stunning sighting was of a different kind of leviathan – an ancient body surfer. I say ancient because she was an 76+ year-old woman, not too sylphlike, in a day-glo green, Pucci print swim suit. She had some difficulty walking through the surf, but when she spotted a big enough wave, she turned and threw herself into the curl with a grace that made the whale look like an out-of-control beach ball.

    Unlike the aforesaid whale, who cruised out of sight as soon as it had struck its tantalizing chord, the surfer rode the waves for hours. Her cap of white hair caught in the roiling foam rendered her invisible until her day-glo self glided up on the shore.

    All of this is my long-winded way of saying how valuable I found this Digital Storytelling resource. The lengthy tutorial consists of four parts:

    1. Finding your story
    2. Telling your story
    3. Creating the piece
    4. Sharing the work

    I am fortunate because my story found me but the “telling,” visual “creating,” and “sharing” were in drastic need of help.

    This is a resource you’ll want to turn to time and time again as you strive to capture your stories, your work and, indeed, your life.

  • Aging Gracefully: 10 Ways to Age Like a Frenchwoman

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    First, we had Mireille Guiliano‘s humbling, but delectable, exposé French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure, which has the indomitable French femmes moving from bread and chocolate to states of desire with barely a repressive nod.

    Then, Guiliano, ultra chic and, of course, skinny femme fatale that she is, tackled the boardroom in Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense and Sensibility, which captures the devoir of velvet gloves, words and handshakes amongst myriad other savvy and sophisticated workplace techniques.

    Now, as if these humbling how-to’s were not enough, Ann Morrison weighs in on the Mystique Francaise with her recent NY Times article: Aging Gracefully: the French [Woman's] Way.

    Morrison’s ode to the femme fantastique, of a certain age, begins, “I OFTEN see an elderly woman in my Paris neighborhood waltzing down the street to her own imagined music, flashing a slightly demented smile at everyone she passes. Anywhere else, I would cross the street to avoid her. But she always wears a matching, if slightly kooky, outfit — like the red print skirt, loose cardigan and scarlet cloche hat she wore one day this spring — has great posture and is beautifully made up. She clearly loves being herself. And she makes me think that in France, women might forget everything else as they age — but never their sense of style.”

    “Looking attractive, at any age,” she continues, “is just what Frenchwomen do, especially the urban ones. For Parisiennes, maintaining their image is as natural as tying a perfect scarf or wearing stilettos on cobblestone streets. Beauty is a tradition handed down from generation to generation. …For Frenchwomen, aging seems to be a matter of mind over makeup. If women feel good about themselves, right down to their La Perla 100-euro panties, they look good, too. Françoise Sagan once wrote, ‘There is a certain age when a woman must be beautiful to be loved, and then there comes a time when she must be loved to be beautiful.’ And many Frenchwomen seem to be well loved as they get older — by their tight-knit families, their friends and, perhaps most importantly, themselves. Case in point: my loony neighbor — completely coordinated, perfectly made up, thoroughly French.”

    Before you throw up your hands and say peut-être in Paris but never in Pougkeepsie, read Morrison’s practical how-to: 10 Ways to Age Like a Frenchwoman.

    C’est la vie!

  • The Heart of Innovation: Blogging from the Road

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    Courtesy of de svitalsky at ToonPool.com

    On the road the next few days and taking advantage of hospitable cafés, coffee houses and – perhaps my favorite – local diners. Lest anyone question the transient nature of my or their office, I defend the possibilities with Mitch Ditkoff’s great post, “Why Creative People Work in Cafés,” which is a must read for blogging road warriors. Then, too, remember Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast!”

    Life in motion (avec croissants or eggs over easy with hash browns, and, of course café) can be a good thing!

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