Friday, December 30, 2011

Good-bye, 2011!


Did you know that a fourth of people don’t get the classic “no loud noises” hangover? No headache, no spacey feeling into the afternoon, no vom.

Not fair, is it?

I am in the one-fourth, but don’t hate me.

Of course, this is where I tell you some neat hangover cures. I won’t even insult your intelligence by suggesting the best of all—don’t take the last six drinks.

Let’s see…well, some people take Tylenol before going to sleep—this is now considered bad because Tylenol and alcohol are some sort of lethal combo, sorta maybe.

So stick to ibuprofen.

Drink a lot of water is more advice—even while at the bar. Not sure on that one—ever done it?

Stick to clear drinks—the dark ones have cogeners, which just sound bad— you don’t want cogenors.

Eat food before toasting and drinking.

Some people swear by peanut butter sandwiches.

And of course, they say not to take the hair of the dog—but you know, I noticed over the years that people who had a Bloody Mary seemed fine in early afternoon.

Anecdotal, of course.

Sooo…cheers, my babies!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I have a confession to make


I hate it when someone calls me from their car! Yes, I am a half-blind, crippled up mess with no transportation and cell phone and hardly leave my office, but when you call me, I am thinking of you and not traffic, idiots, getting to the destination (gotta go, I am here).

Plus—once you yell at some other driver and I know you are in the car, I am expecting the hideous crash any second.

Can’t you spare me five minutes from home or even your office?

I really hate interviewing sources in their cars---the “Uh….uh….SAME TO YOU, BUDDY!” thing.

Remember when we did not even HAVE these phones—we got to home or office, checked the machine, and called everyone. Maybe it was an hour, maybe 5 hours later—was that so awful?

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder says multitasking is ruining us.

Peter Bregman is quoted. He wrote 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Thing Done. (Again, guys, those titles—too long.)

He says think of five things to do this year—then maybe a sixth to just do a little—like dessert.

Sounds hard.

Then he says, never keep an issue active for more than 3 days unless it’s one of the five.

Don’t answer emails immediately—three hours is soon enough. I say don’t just table them someplace.

Well, I may not agree with this guy—but the calls from the car—I am admitting, I don’t like them.

Great, now I will never hear from anyone again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Breaking out of the fat trap


Maybe we need to SHUT our Fat Trap.

That is the term NYT health reporter Tara Parker-Pope uses for the body’s built-in resistance to losing pounds permanently.

You can read the whole sad tale at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/tara-parker-pope-fat-trap.html

This is all I heard at the holiday parties—“I shouldn’t..” “I am completely stuffed…” “I will regret this…” On and on.

This fat stuff has careened out of control, so to speak. Do this, don’t do that, this person is fat, that one is…you’re doomed, you’re weak, you’re stupid, you can't work as a fat person.

You know a book I loved—Candy & Me: A Love Story by Hilary Liftin. Buy a used copy on Amazon. It chronicles this gal’s love of candy. She goes into each of her favorites and when and where she first savored it.

Candy—the enemy. But it’s this woman’s reason for living.

Life is short, it’s funny, it’s horrible, it’s frightening…sometimes a cookie is not evil.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Should you get into office politics?


I say—yes! People who are “above” this, I found when I had an office job, lose out.

Caity Currey, AZ Republic, Dec 25, 2011, digs into this. She agrees—if you want to get ahead, you need to keep up.

Office politics—she says—help you understand how to fit in. It nurtures relationships.

OK—cliques.

If you are new, sit back, be accessible, pleasant. Be a team player.

Look for things you have in common with coworkers.

If the politics seem to be turning against you—try to solve a problem…This endears.

Find yourself left out of emails, meetings, lunches, layoff rumors, etc.

You are failing Office Politics 101.

Ask yourself—did you offend someone, were you snooty, did you turn down invitations, did you screw up, do you always leave early and never go for Happy Hour…what…what?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Learn to be poor


Come on, we are Americans! The half of us who are have-nots can do a better job of this. I know people who have lost their homes, moved in with relatives, have 2-3 crappy jobs instead of a good one or who have no job…and they still shop in department stores and have a big screen TV.

You need to learn to be poor.

Shop the thrifts.

Have coffee left in the pot by noon—make less in the morning. Coffee is expensive these days!

Coupons—don’t toss them. Day old bread is fine—try it. Canned pasta sauce is better than jarred.

The store brands are made by the big brand companies—be not afraid.

Cheap meat—add crockpot and sliced onion—yum.

Freecycle, ebay, Craigs—get with it! Even sell some stuff.

Cancel those stupid movie channels on cable--Scoobie Do? Seriously? This is always on there! For a family treat--get a Red Box for a buck twenty-seven. As for HBO and Showtime--$140 a year for maybe one show you like?

Want to know a secret--every so often those channels give a free weekend and you can record a bunch of stuff.

Check the back of the closet—it’s like a store in there.

Cut deals—barter—dicker.

Get your medical care from medical and dental schools, your haircuts and nails from beauty schools.

Got more ideas—comment!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Remember joy?


When I was young, I clicked off the years from Christmas to Christmas—that was my high point. Now…the economy, the wear and tear of living…it’s sort of a job. But kids still have that sparkle.

It snows and they scream with happiness! When the radio says school is closed, they swoon! They play outside until their little hands are too cold to hold hot chocolate. And forget getting to sleep on Christmas eve!

So… let’s look at it through the eyes of kids—that special excitement.

But…of course…playing outside also works off calories, Healthy Schools reminds us…to wit:

Dashing through the snow—half an hour—330 cals.

Jumping for joy…330 cals

Sledding—220 cals

Decking some halls – 120 cals

Reading stories – 30 cals

Building a snowman – 140 cals

And

Making snow angels—107 cals

Merry Christmas, all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you have a business plan?


I know, I know—hard, boring—but if you want to start a business in this um…challenging…environment, you really need one.

Luci Scott, AZ Republic, Dec 16, 2011, says the Small Business Admin has some tips on creating one---also you may be able to get a retired exec to help (SCORE).

There are not a lot or even any grants lying around out there—loans are hard to get. You really need your ducks in a row. You need to have on hand at least 20% of any amount you want to borrow.

Also—banks hate small loans now.

Drawing on equity from homes is also a problem—many homes don’t enjoy equity anymore.

Venture cap firms want to see a track record.

Ask for a line of credit instead of a loan. Try to get the money from friends and family. Start small, work up gradually.

Be clear on who your customer is—promote where there are large numbers of them. Forget other places.

Mrs Fields is a tough role model these days. You need to be hard-nosed. And let the chips fall.

Even if they are chocolate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't be a Christmas dork


Do I really have to say this—Getting drunk and trying to boink the boss’s girlfriend or even the woman in accounting is not a stellar career move.

Wear something sensible (no nips) and behave yourself at the office party, if your company even has those anymore.

CareerBuilder also says don’t shop online so much it interferes with work.

Don’t overdecorate your cube.

Even if you hate the holidays, try not to Grinch it up too much.

A buzzkill is a buzzkill.

Having said all this, I do recall in the misties of time telling off the president of my company and getting a $2500 bonus for it—but that probably would not work every time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Slow--but steady?


Are we having fun yet?

Three years of pretty much misery. But hey…maybe everyone will get so sick of this something will happen.

I know—magical thinking.

Anyhow, Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says one expert says to just accept the market will stop, start, fits and starts.

Unemployment may stay high. Slow development—an idea, financing, some hiring, support hiring, distribution hiring, etc may build a foundation. Just having the govt pay salaries for a year or two to a construction company won’t rebuild this.

Passive candidates—those with jobs and recruited—will still be popular. But some people won’t want to change—this is why you need to network—so that person can recommend YOU!

Also see if there are certifications you can get—sort of mini-degrees.

Keep plugging. Not glamorous…but what else can you do?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Starting a business


Can’t find a job—start a business and pay yourself.

Sounds simple…

The biz gurus Dale Dauten and JT O’Donnell briefly kicked this one around.

First, they basically say this is a long shot—most small businesses fail.

O’Donnell says take advantage of EVERY free resource you can find—SCORE (retired execs who will advise), Small Business Admin, local offices.

Count on needing four times the money you think you will and twice the time you think it will take.

Don’t incorporate right away—would be my advice. Many fairly large businesses are Sole Proprietor.

A small business is not about you, the name you pick, the cards, the flyers—it’s about your customer.

Always think of that. The value!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Time to fluff the office?


I am not big on resolutions. I don’t even make them. But this office needs a once-over.

Maybe a grenade.

Rosie Romero (a guy, if you care) wrote in the Arizona Republic Sept 24, 2011, that some home offices get kinda embarrassing.

He says to take EVERYTHING out and only put back what you need.

Drastic. I need a nap thinking of it.

Maybe you do need to clear space a little. Add another surge protector. Bundle up your cables. What? Lose the spaghetti? No way! He also advises having a safety expert check your electrical. Getting right on that one.

He also says carpet to cut noise. I had my carpets taken up when we had a house fire five years ago. Some of the floors are painted but the office is still raw cement with glue marks. What? You don’t find this loft-like?

Rosie also advises “hiding stuff.” Genius!

Aw—he means well. I may even toss some more files…

And NO—that picture is not my office. But I can dream.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Older but better


Kristin Weisell, AZ Republic, Dec 14, 2011, says older people need to be “strategic” about what they list on their resumes. Limit yourself to the last 10 years. All the jobs and credits make it too long and make you look too…well traveled, shall we say.

Be selective—zero in on jobs you really want and research them like mad.

Show you are tech savvy, a fast learner.

People over 50 usually don’t have to get to preschool to pick kids up and are more flexible.

Also—and I totally believe this—older people are funnier, can hold a conversation, have material to talk about, and are dedicated to working.

They may not even text!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do the worst first


Elizabeth Newell, Government Executive Magazine, December, writes about Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

Personally, I think some writers could get more done if they had shorter book titles… but I digress.

The “frog” is the worst job, of course.

First, find out what the worst task is—this means a list.

Or maybe a list of lists…this is starting to sound procrastinate-y.

But I agree with the general idea—instead of futzing around with avoiding a bad task—do it and blow it over.

THEN futz.

I am sort of kidding—I do this. Doing something hard can give you momentum. I am all about the Big Mo.

Amphibians aside.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Elegant, reasonable and fun


OK, you’re out of work, feeling crappy…why not start a Supper Club? This takes eight or 10 people you like who are willing to host, cook, and entertain on a revolving basis—and everyone chips in.

Debri Shawcross wrote about this in the December Costco Connection.

First do a schedule and stick to it.

Share in the preparation—be organized…who brings the main dish, who brings dessert and so on. Usually the host makes the entrĂ©e.

You can “eat” the cost or add up everything and have people chip in.

Introduce new ideas, keep it fresh. Have a theme. Have an ethnic night. Maybe even tailgate.

Sure, money is an issue right now—but you don’t have to take fun completely off the table.

I used to know some people who had a long-standing group called The Fressers--which is Yiddish for sort of rude gobbling. They had a blast!

Monday, December 12, 2011

No money, no job--and someone is sick, sheesh


The University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ says 70% of the five million people with dementia are cared for at home.

Big job! Stress, anxiety, burnout are never far.

The holiday season can really amp this up.

Some caregivers don’t want help—they don’t want to bother people or appear to wimp out.

So what can you do?

Well, first, call before coming over. If the caregiver always refuses—then show up for a SHORT visit—bring a treat.

Don’t ask what you can do—be specific. “I am headed for the store—what can I bring back?” “Want me to pop in the laundry?”

Be a good listener. Encourage the person to call.

Offer to spend the night.

Do the research for them—services in the neighborhood, including respite services.

If you ARE the caregiver, accept some help!

You are not Superman or Superwoman! Everyone needs a hand sometime.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Come back, bubble, all is forgiven


Oh, goodie, my zip code here in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler has the most short sales of the whole Valley of the Sun.

I watch House Hunters (HGTV)—and know that a short sale is an irritating process in which the bank which really owns your house takes six months to decide on whether they will let someone buy it for less than you owe and eat the rest (oh, and ruin your credit as an afterthought).

Hope you enjoyed your bailouts!

Still, out here in Upsidedown Land, short sales are a necessity if you ever want to move or go to another city or just rent and sleep at night or anything.

First, for the record, not everyone whose house is upsidedown kept refinancing and jumping on cruise ships out of their Hummers. Quit with the disdain—the market crashed. Silly us—we thought we had hired people to mind the store.

Hey, idiots that we are, we pray for another bubble!

Right now, “owning” this house is really renting—it is shelter, which is not to be dismissed these days, but hardly an investment.

Forget me—bad mood today…But I am sick of the asshats in DC with their lobster feeds, vacays, “I don’t know where that $1.2 billion wents” etc.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bring your A Game


Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says recent grads may be better at a computer than face to face.

But what about idle chitchat, charm, that stuff?

Many younger people also don’t read body language well or notice when someone is no longer listening. They may cross their arms defensively or eyeroll.

Dianna Booher, author of Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader, advises women to wear makeup. A study says women with makeup on are judged as more inteligent and get more job offers.

Dress correctly—wear clothes that fit and don’t strain, don’t show off “the girls,” try to look taller. Taller people tend to get more action in the job world.

Comb you hair, no dandruff, no missing buttons—this gets noticed.

Cover your tattoos—this one is from me—and trust me on this.

Use short, direct words, speak with confidence.

And have some talking points in mind. Don’t ramble on.

Also—don’t ask about money and benefits right away. But do ask questions.

Above all—smile! You youngsters are pretty grim at times.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Maybe not the Dollar Store for this


It’s that time of year again—time to give advice on children’s toys that kill and maim. This is from the docs at Cincinnati Children’s.

First, read warning labels. These are so over the top now that they will mention every conceivable thing that could go wrong.

Buy age-appropriate—obvious.

Look for sturdy toys—ditto.

If there are little ones around under age 3—even if they are not the recipient-- make sure no little parts come off that could get in their mouths. One inch around,, three inches long minimum.

No cheesy jewelry that contains cadmium.

Under age 10? No plug-ins. Batteries only. Watch those teeny button batteries—they can get caught in the throat.

No strings more than a foot long.

Throw away plastic wrap immediately—the kid may run over and asphyxiate.

Now—how do adults get in those blister packs—besides holding a butcher knife and slashing while yelling eee, eee, die!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The work playground


School has bullies—and so do many offices. We never really get off the playground. Some people are better at sports. Others get picked last. Others get picked on. You know where I am going with this. It doesn’t just stop with graduation.

Annie Finnigan wrote about workplace bullies in the Dec-Jan 2011 Working Mother.

One woman was an exec assistant to a mayor. He kept saying—in front of others—that he didn’t need her opinion or this or that was above her pay grade. When she got pregnant, he told her later she looked so much better now that her baby was born. He told people she had “baby brain” and belittled her desire for a promotion.

Fifty-four million adults have experienced this type of behavior.

One woman likened it to being in an abusive marriage. Yet, in one survey, more than half said women were most likely to be bullies…so think about that.

Companies and HR depts need to be mindful of this. Have a policy on it. Create formal enforcement procedures. Make repeat offenders go to anti-bullying clinics.

Employee evaluations of bosses is also an idea whose time has come.

I used to have a boss who fired people all the time—but he forgot, so they came back to work the next day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hey--you're worth it


If you get a job offer—remember salary is only one element.

Jessica Von Schell discussed this in the Arizona Republic, Dec 4, 2011.

If the money is too low—think about perks.

Some perks are: signing bonus, performance bonus, title, vacation or sabbatical time, hours, telecommuting, expense account, car.computer, health benefits, retirement plan, administrative support, education, child or pet at work.

Compile a list of WANTS and a separate list of NEEDS. Go after what is most important.

Be sure to get the offer in writing.

If you are going to negotiate on benefits—bring all your desires at once. You won’t get everything.

Be flexible. And be polite.

Now…have a plan…

Friday, December 2, 2011

Considering a career change?


I used to run an employment group and we told people they would have seven careers over a lifetime—not just seven jobs.

Now to make ends meet, you need all seven at once. We call them “revenue streams.” This has resulted in not knowing what the heck you are doing anymore.

I have a friend who decided to quit the grant business and teach English abroad. Ooops—they wanted younger people.

How about those cruises—give a lecture. Turns out you pay them.

Oh.

CareeerBuilder says this takes a lot of research and networking.

You need to really hone down your edge—what can you uniquely offer that makes it worth taking a chance on you.

Be willing to move or travel.

Let your passion show in interviews.

Plan, implement ideas, maybe start a website of your new ideas…think!

Why not go to Vistaprint.com and design a business card with your new career on it...Get in the mood.

Hey--lots of military people returning home--how can you help them find jobs...

Think!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don't go extreme to get noticed


Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says people who do wacky things to get noticed by companies may get FB friends or Twitter followers, but says this is not really a recommended way to get a job.

This also goes for writing outrageous blog comments—these tend to get around.

Pretend you have a job—would your boss love what you just wrote?

One man told of saying something negative about someone’s lifestyle—that quote was still following him around.

If you want to operate on the internet—do a site about your field with helpful info.