Monday, October 31, 2011

Toxic bosses can make you sick


A mean person with no boundaries and power over us. Ah—what a dream. Madeline Vann, MPH, Everyday Health, says bosses who throw things, screamers, people who crave chaos in order to excel, all can hurt those under them.

Bullies—a lot of them—bullies with no playground. They can “correct” you in front of others, steal your ideas, talk behind your back, the possibilities are endless.

Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, is quoted as saying people spend 19 hrs a week worrying about the boss. Six of those hours are on weekends.

This can cause depression, heart problems, overeating, asthma attacks, insomnia, and the consumption of tons of sick leave.

What can you do? First see the problem for what it is—them, not you. Write everything down.

Think of the boss as a toddler—is he or she hungry, tired, overwhelmed…Maybe a juice box?

I added the juice box.

Find a trusted sounding board-OK, person who isn’t sick of hearing about this.

Or—look for a job.

The juice box sounds easier. My advice? One tantrum at a time.

Also--the bosses commented on this--and they had their own complaints--lateness, malingering, stealing, slowness, you name it.

There is unrest in them thar cubicles.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't have to do these things--relieved?


Do you like that Suze Orman person—who stridently yells DENIED at people when they want to spend a buck? I am not a fan. But I do think we need someone to say yes or no on things. Just not her, with her orange canvas outfits.

I saw a story in Working Mother (Nov 2011) about things you can take off your To Do List. What a great idea to cut stress!

The magazine says you can remove:

Zumba Class
Scrapbooking
Learning to knit
Hosting a dinner party

These come from The Happiest Mom by Meagan Francis.

Now, I have some…

Learning to make scratch piecrust
Cooking all meals on Sunday and freezing
Dog obedience school
Weedeating

And that’s just for starters! Got some more, readers? Let’s go easy on ourselves.

By the way, Working Mother is such a good mag I still get it and my kid is almost 30. I am dropping it, though, because they went to a new design that yellow-highlights things for me in the stories.

How dumb.

The best advice EVER in Working Mother--if your kid won't get dressed in the morning, let him sleep in his clothes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Huge resume no-nos


Comedy relief time—at least I HOPE my readers would never do any of these.

Recently some managers were polled and told CareerBuilder about some stupid things they saw on resumes.

One man said the more he was paid, the harder he worked.

Another said he wanted a chance to show off his new tie.

A dog was listed as a reference.

Moonwalking was listed as a special skill.

Another said she had versatile toes.

Some used an email address with “ShakeMyBooty” in it.

Someone else asked for money to interview—because his time was valuable.

One manager got a resume in a box with a lemon and the statement that “I am not a lemon.”

And…someone noted that he had assaulted his previous boss.

Noooo, people…noooo….don’t make me stop this car.

Of course, I did once hire someone because she said in the interview that she had once had lunch with Mick Jagger…but that was the INTERVIEW. Very different.

@@@@ (eyeroll symbol—like it?)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time to buff up the reference list?


What if you have been out of work so long, your references are dead or have also been laid off and you have no contact numbers? What if the companies you worked for have gone to corporate heaven?

My kid is in this position. She said, “Mom, all these places are gone…” I said, “All you can do is explain that when you get an interview.”

CareerBuilder riffed off on references recently. Are the ones you are offering showing you to best advantage?

Do they want to see you succeed as much as you want to succeed?

Can they talk about your strengths. Do they know your strengths?

If they are with a company, they may not be allowed to talk about your time there—only that you did work there.

Always ask them before listing them. Bring them up to date on you. See what they are doing.

Keep them in the loop—“I gave out your name…” That sort of thing. Do this when you first hear a prospective employer is going to start checking refs.

If you think someone is trashing you—yank them off the list. You’d be amazed how often people don’t even think about this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who gets to be Bea Arthur?


My sister and I oversee our mother’s care in assisted care—and have for 17 yrs. She cannot manage on her own.

She can pay $3000 a mo—we will never be able to when it comes our turn. And our turn is sort of here, we are both quakier that she is.

So….My friends and I jokingly talk about banding together and taking care of each other—maybe with a cute employee to fetch our prescriptions, cook, clean the pool (a must), and mix the Cosmos at twilight.

Could this happen, though? I guess it’s sort of a Golden Girls scenario with diseases and disabilities.

Could we swing it on SS? We need to do a budget.

It would have to be someplace warm…

And unlike the communes of yore--no lentils and garden weeding.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time gaps in your resume


Jahna Berry, AZ Republic, Oct 23, 2011, writes about big gaps in your resume—and not just the ones for being out of work in this mess.

The key is to neither obsess over such lapses or ignore them.

What if you needed to take care of your kids? Or a sick relative? Or you went to Europe?

It has come up lately that employers won’t talk to people unless they have a job. Outlawing this has been proposed and some states have passed such bills.

The White House even wants people not hired because they had been unemployed to be able to sue. This could backfire—fewer could even be considered.

If you have been out of work for a year or more, you may need to take lower pay. You may also need to learn new technology PDQ.

Mention the work gap. But also show how your skills fit the position perfectly.

You are not alone, that’s for sure!

Put the best face on it, say you are interested in the job, be enthusiastic, and hope for the best.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just for fun--cheapie changes


Fluffing up the house can give you a lift.

Nah—it doesn’t have to be expensive.

I have been taking a box or a handful or armful out of the garage each Wednesday.

That helps.

You can also paint one wall a contrasting color.

Get a new lampshade for the old tried and true.

How about pillows—go to Cost Plus World—they really add a dash of difference.

Do a photo wall—why leave those pix in the closet.

Look at clearance posters in the craft store…could be something.

Or go on Craigs—look under antiques. People are motivated to sell these days. Want a Laz-E-Boy—we have one available.

Us? Laz-E?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Credit despair or credit repair?


I hit the wall a couple of years ago when some geniuses on the net decided writers were only worth $5 a story, instead of $500. Big difference, as it turns out.

Reputable publications followed suit and either died, cut rates, or went to the Web, meaning they could justify paying less.

Way less.

I declared bankruptcy more than a year ago. I had to. I am disabled and don’t drive—so can’t run out and get a so-called job—oh, and those are lacking, have you heard?

The BK process was very inexplicable. Here in AZ, you have to have less than $150 in your accounts (total) on the day you file. You cannot just take it out and put it back. You have to buy groceries or use it somehow.

Also—the lawyers want two grand to file your paperwork. My guy did not even show up in court to stand up for me—another guy he sent did.

But it worked—and after 15 mos or so, I got it paid off. So no credit cards.

Am I eager to get back on that merry-go-round? Not really. But if you are interested—I have learned of a site with a lot of basic info on rebuilding credit. It’s called AAACreditGuide.com.

The owner of the site makes the point that people will need credit to get the economy back up and running.

There are a lot of weird scams out there—companies that say they can negotiate lower rates or balances with creditors and just send them the payment and they will do it…sometimes those are bogus. Other times, though, these are legit nonprofits doing this.

Other companies offer to challenge all your listings with the credit bureaus—and if the creditors don’t reaffirm the debt as legally required, it must be removed. This is legitimate, although you can look into on this site and even do it yourself if you want.

AAACreditGuide does say one man got his BK removed from his record. My understanding is that this is not possible, but I guess I need to follow my own advice and check into this.

Anyone heard of this?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Brat!"..."Dinosaur!"


Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators International, says the different generations can work together, but it takes some dedication.

You’ve heard it—or maybe said it, Newlund explains. Gen X and Y have no work ethic…or boomers are slow to change.

He talks about a forum for both sides held recently in Arizona. Young and old(er) attended. They stated their desires—the younger wanted a job free from rigid rules. Hmmm, some boomers remembered wanting this at first…. But the older workers said the young one wanted leadership roles and bucks without proving themselves.

The young ones want the power of the boomers, the boomers want the tech savvy of the young ones.

The older ones have a strong work ethic, they take ownership of results, they see the big picture, and are OK with proven practices (meaning same old).

The younger ones want good training all along the way, they want to pursue their individual interests with a work-life mix, they want to contribute something meaningful immediately and they want a voice in the company.

Bottom line—Boomers need to listen and create opportunities for those coming up. The young ones need to contribute to the success of all.

Discuss these stereotypes.

People want work! Then, they want that work to have some meaning.

Right on, as we used to say.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sleepy-bye time


Is your pillow—er—disgusting?

Karen Haywood Queen writes about pillows in the Costco Connection for October.

Signs you need a new pillow are: You wake up with a sore back or neck. Or your pillow is so flat, you have to bend it to get any loft. Or maybe it was from a bargain bin. Or maybe you heard someplace that pillows can get infested with microscopic ickies.

A good pillow can last 20 years, a cheapie only 3.

The biggest pillow is not always the best. Seventy percent of people sleep on their side. Twenty percent on their back. Ten percent on their stomach.

A side sleeper needs the most support. A back sleeper can use a medium-firm to firm. A stomach sleeper might want a mooshier (medium density) number.

You might also want allergen-free if you suffer from sniffles. These can even contain feathers and down if done right.

Memory foam also lets air circulate—some people get hot heads.

Use a pillowcase—protects against oil and dirt. Usually you can wash a pillow if you want—check the tags. Do not wash memory foam, though.

I use a memory foam cylinder I got when I had eye surgery (http://healthsasspresents.blogspot.com) and love it. Let’s my nose hang off to breathe.

I used to have a pillow named Flat Pat—good for balancing a book on. When I could no longer read books in bed (I listen now), my sister took Pat.

You don’t name your pillows? Silly puppy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Financial terror"


Joey Faucette, author of Work Positive in a Negative World, says many business owners are awake at 3 AM worrying about cash flow, lost customers, profit margins and will their family be able to make it.

Not just business owners.

Faucette says there are three things to remember.

First, until now (or I would say the last 3-5 years), you have kept the doors open.

Second, business walked through the door before—and it will again—at the right time.

There is some business out there, however much the models have changed.

Yeah—hold those thoughts. Try each day. DO NOT GIVE UP.

Now—if we could just figure out how not to doubledown on losing propositions. Or even knowing which avenues are losers.

Maybe just do what the old richie-riches, the robber barons, used to do—“Sit the silence.” Sort of like a mediation for rich people or those who need money. Clear your mind and see what drops in.

The old guys used to say ideas dropped in like mail through a slot.

Let's see...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Have a home biz? Are trade shows worth it?


Paul and Sarah Edwards, co-authors of Home-Based Business for Dummies, wrote in the Costco Connection (Oct 2011) about the value of trade shows.

Trade shows bring buyers, sellers, and the media together. That can be good.

You may get more leads in a day than in a month at home.

But attendance at these has slipped—probably due to the internet and the bad economy. Some shows are going virtual (online).

Are Facebook stores, Google Adwords etc really a substitute? It depends.

Will you see suppliers and customers you would not see online?

Look at past exhibitors—will the people you want to see be there?

Do you have a good exhibit? This is an art—and a cost.

If you are selling from your booth—make sure you can accept credit cards there.

And—of course—follow up! Send a note from your booth even—in a slow moment. Hope there are not too many slow moments.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Managing an illness while staying on the job


Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, tackles yet another workplace quandary—how to manage a serious illness and stay on the job at the same time.

You may need your sick leave after a surgery, or maybe if chemo becomes too much—you need some leeway to function while you are still on the job.

Still you may feel tired or have a headache for years. Then what? Rosalind Joffe is a coach and author of Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease--and has autoimmune diseases herself.

The biggest worry the ailing person may have is that their coworkers will think they are slacking or getting some advantage. Is it true? Joffe recommends a self-assessment.

You may not be able to slide by a problem—if doctor appointments and days out mount up. Don’t assume they will know you are sick—they may think you are lazy.

Tell the boss you are functional and want to normalize your situation.

This is not a tragedy and you don’t look at it that way—that is what you want to convey.

Let them know it’s OK to ask about the illness—if you are OK with that.

Some places let coworkers donate their sick leave to another worker in need. This way, everyone has a stake.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Speak up!


They say people would rather eat spiders than speak in front of an audience.

But it can help your image and increase your visibility.

CareerBuilder says to start small, maybe with a little presentation at your kid’s school or something.

No one is perfect…If you um and ah some, forget it—look at the president. He does that all the time.

Try to practice with people you trust.

Leave time for followup questions.

Remember, you don’t have to be the biggest expert in the world on a subject to pull together some useful background or tips on it.

Give yourself time—speakers make themselves over time…not right from the jump.

Look into Toastmasters—or your local Chamber of Commerce. You have something to share—just find it and share it.

I used to speak about the New Economy—how giving away hardware made money for the dotcoms…then…awwww….dotcoms go boom. Then whole economy go boom.

Well, as I said, no one is perfect.

Now I am wanting to speak on the dangers of concussion. Want me?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Oh, rats--what now


Peanut butter is going to become scarce and spendy.

Oh, whatever! Why don’t our masters just mark up ramen to $5?

I shouldn’t give them ideas.

Seems…oh woe…there was a failure in last year’s peanut crop—too hot or something.

Peter Pan, Jif, Smuckers—the lot—are raising prices by as much as 40%!

A ton of raw peanuts has gone from $450 to $1,150!

Ninety percent of households eat the stuff—good protein source.

Oh—and this is nifty—chocolate is also on the hit list.

I notice the slant in this story, though—Huffpo—it went from a hot season to “climate change” causing all this sandwich mayhem.

Still—peanut butter…not fair!

What can you do? Stock up! The prices haven’t hit yet.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Keep the pilot light on


Jonathan Ingram writes about following up on an interview (AZ Republic, Oct 9, 2011).

The key is to stay in the interviewer’s mind—but not as a stalker.

First, send a thank you note—a paper one, maybe, if the company is more old school. If the job was web designer, email may be OK.

Stress how appreciate you were of their time and how happy you were to meet them. Express interest in the job—again. And maybe add that afterward you thought of that award you had won—so you thought you would mention it…something unusual.

Be patient. I cannot tell you how often I tell myself and my friends—they are not on the same timetable as you! They get a check every two weeks—they are not foaming to get this done!

In the interview, you should try to get some timetable—So where do we go from here? What is the next step. How many people are you talking to, if I may ask? Try to get some info.

And never bombard with emails or calls—never let them see you sweat. Always sweat privately is my motto.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Care and feeding of big egos


Business can get…um…competitive. It attracts the zero sum crowd—for someone to win, someone has to lose.

But some people are known for their enormous egos. You need to find that out. Ask around.

Also check out their office—their “ego wall” of grip and grin photos with the rich, famous, and connected.

If the person constantly bores in trying to convince you to see things their way—could be ego boy (or girl).

Doesn’t seem to listen? Ditto.

The key is to get the person talking. They probably like to—let them. Ask questions.

For your part, take a firm stand on what you have to offer.

With an egomaniac—in a negotiation—be especially firm on your opening gambit.

Also—make the last concession—a small one.

These tips come from Marty Latz, founder of the Latz Negotiation Institute. Food for thought.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Homework--for parents, too


If you are part-time or not currently working, the kids are going to look to you even more for help with homework.

Uh-oh.

Gremlyn Bradley-Waddell writes about this in the AZ Republic, October 4, 2011.

Homework can be a quiet time—with the kid hoping you forgot. Or a battle royal.

The experts say you really need to tune in, though, and step up. Homework makes good study habits, brings focus. Oh--and adds to knowledge.

Parents should talk to the teacher at the beginning of the year—see what is expected.

Try to take the emotion out—with the kids and the teacher. Fact of life. Establish a routine…maybe some outdoor or TV time, then homework. Or homework first thing—get it out of the way.

Provide a TV-free place to do it. Parents should do something quiet then, too.

As a parent, you need to monitor progress, look over the finished papers.

There are some online teachers who can provide homework advice—if parents get stumped.

When my kid was in school, they didn’t teach multiplication tables—I had to make flash cards. It wasn’t home schooling, but close. There may be things like this you want to augment with, also.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't overdo the pep


Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, reminds us that being out of work can make us doubt ourselves—can we master the new stuff, is our wardrobe OK, am I too old, too green?

Often—we push these doubts down—and paste on a fake smile and plunge in. This can come off as over-eager, awkward.

You need to be authentic—not fake.

One expert says to decide ahead of time what you want to get out of an event. Maybe it’s just passing out some cards. Or getting some cards so you can call or email later.

Try to use action verbs—definite verbs. You are deciding on a field—not considering a field.

You don’t have to be all glad-handy. If that’s not your style—maybe ask the company rep about their background—people like to talk about themselves—even HR people.

“Have you worked at Company X long? Do you like it?”

Again, don’t overdo it…or you will come off as nosy and strange.

Strange, like Susie the Cheerleader, never works well in these situations.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

They want you--do you want them?


Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says headhunters and others do call out of the blue sometimes.

Hiring people, she says, are combing LinkedIn and other sites for good fits.

You may think—why not—at least interview.

But be sure you want a new job—it can be stressful to start over. You also may be so dazzled at being wanted, you don’t see what the job entails.

Do your own sleuthing—through social media. Is Facebook full of complaints about overwork there or bad bosses?

Try to get past the charm offensive. Ask why the position is open.

Check out the boss or supervisor. If someone says you need to be thick-skinned—uh-oh.

Ask for an office tour—are people talking, smiling.

Listen to your gut. It’s nice to be wanted, but be shrewd.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A company called Rose?


Come on—be patriotic—start a company. Susan Gunelius writes about naming...also something I do.

There is a lot to it these days—website availability, connotations in all languages, trademarking.

I see dopey names all the time—clunky, laughable… Insperity was one I noticed the other day.

Others I like—for some reason, Big Lots (seems abundant and is a pun). Ameriprise—enterprise, a prize, America…I don’t know—it’s OK.

If you must dream up your own name and not hire a nice woman like me, Susan has some tips.

Be descriptive is one approach—Internet Explorer.

Be suggestive—Mustang…wild, free, fast.

Add a prefix or suffix—iPhone.

Slap two words together—PhotoShop, TurboTax.

Make up a word—Doritos.

Change a spelling. Trix, Kix.

Tweak and blend…NyQuil.

How about a person’s name—Clark bar.

Use a verb—Bounce.

Or your name may become a verb—Google. I even saw the expression, "Bing it" this morning.

Bing--nah, don't like it.