Monday, December 31, 2012

The gurus speak

I often piggyback on Dale Dauten and J.T. O'Donnell about job hunting--which sort of reminds me that this site is getting repetitive--job hunting, house buying, house selling, govt jobs--I am looping.

Should I drop this--we seem to have no hope of anything getting better economy-wise. In fact, the contrary. What to do, what to do--any ideas?

Anyhow, for now, Dauten and O'Donnell say the old adage that you are stable if you stay in a job 20 years has been turned on its head--you need to say why you never left and much as why you did.

If you are competing with an inside candidate--that person may blow the interview. So do your best!

If invited to talk about your manager--make a list, then burn it!

If turned down, stay in touch.

And--if you haven't--get a professional email address. No words like "hot" or "vixen."

See? No fun!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Job hunting in a small town

Justin Thompson, CareerBuilder, says sometimes people get sick of the filthy, noisy big city or the "valleys" of technology and want to work in a small town, maybe a small college town.

Rural communities have fewer jobs and can require some finesse.

You need to go there, maybe drive to the company and meet face to face.

You might even try something folksy--like sending a hot pizza with your resume at lunch time. Gauche in the city might be lunch in a more practical, casual place.

Reach out to friends, relatives, anyone who knows anyone there.

My advice would be go--poke around--read newspaper ads there. Also check housing ads.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Solutions looking for problems

Sphero is a robotic ball! So cute! Me want.

Zeo manages your sleep--or tells you when it's bad or what's wrong with it.

Hue is a programmable lightbulb allowing you to choose your ambiance.

Smart Pen is a digital pen--you write, it converts to computerese or phonese.

OK--a pen with Wifi?

I have lived too long.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What if you want to return?

Recently someone asked job guru Fred Bocker what to do. The job holder had been at odds with his boss and they clashed. He finally blew up and quit--walked out.

Later the boss was fired and the person wanted to return.

Bocker said maybe company policy would be against it. But not necessarily.

He advised trying to find someone high in human relations to help.

Be sure you have valid explanations for the clashes.

Maybe people who still work there could intervene for you.

Create a document filled with your accomplishments.

Worth a try if you really want it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Get a good seller's agent

Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, Dec 23, 2012, says real estate is picking up and people should get a seller's agent to represent their homes

Good news--a lot of bad agents were washed out by the downturn.

Look for someone who wants your business, is motivated, can price your house to sell.

Interview agents--don't just pick a friend.

Avoid the idea of a high price to test the market, then slowly lowering it. This can cost you time.

Pick someone who can troubleshoot problems with buyers' finances.

And--find someone who can negotiate on your behalf.

Good luck!

Friday, December 21, 2012

States falling down on emergency preparedness

Hurricane Sandy, salmonella, terrorism--according to Janice Lloyd in USA TODAY, only five of the 50 states meet eight out of 10 measures leading to public health preparedness.

Can the states get kids out of a school during an emergency, are kids being vaccinated, can labs cope with incoming samples in an emergency--apparently not well.

People seem to think they want the feds to control everything--this is stuff the govt needs to do and they are not doing it.

Money, of course, is the problem. Twenty-nine states have cut public health.

After anthrax and Katrina, these slots were funded--now that is dwindling.

Gaining are West Nile, fungal meningitis, whooping cough, TB.

Maybe some politician could posture around about this!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Do you love what you do?

Some days, I wonder if I do. All the ailments this year, the economy, humor comes hard at times. In the Oct 18,2012 WSJ, Rachel Emma Silverman write about what makes people happy at work.

The company has less than 100 people.  This makes people 25% happier.

If you supervise others, you are 27% more likely to be happy.

If you help others, are a caregiver--this will make you 75% more likely to be happy.

Skilled trade workers are happier. Fifty percent happier.

Not being in your forties. People in their forties are likelier to be grouchy.

A company called Delivering Happiness at Work did this study. Involved was Zappos chief Tony Hsieh.

Other surveys show if people are happy, productivity, sales and creativity are up.

Many other factors go into being happy--being proud of your employer, for one. Whether you feel you are learning.

I guess I must be pretty happy blogging--do you guys read this? Like it? Am I taking care of you?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Traits, not past performance

Employment gurus Dale Dauten and J.T. O'Donnell say interviewing and hiring may be getting a little more random and goofy as time in the downturn gives hirers more choices.

Some now look for traits instead of an exact match of past skills with needed skills.

Such things as character. Some interviewers ask about it--try to get a fix on how honest the person is.

Dale said he heard of people who preferred Mormons back from their Mission abroad.

Or people from certain schools.


Former athletes.

People recommended by friends.

This is all sort of a crapshoot. I mean--talent hunt!

I once hired someone who said she once had lunch with Mick Jagger--she stayed for a decade. I know--I have mentioned that before. I am looping.

I would say one trait I always liked was charm.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

State schools skyrocketing in price

Who says going to an in-state college is such a bargain? According to a story by Scott Thurm in the WSJ, Dec 15, 2012, these universities can run well over $20K a year.

And that is not covering costs--the state govts must pitch in a ton! Yet, on average state portions are down over 20%. Medicaid, prisons and lower ed are gobbling up the funds.

This means state schools are trending toward being self-supporting, which means high tuition.

And--this means huge survey classes of 500 kids and possibly elimination of majors and cutting of quality.

Even the "diverse" students are not being offered as much money, either.

Soooo...have a nice Tues.

I think this comes back to deciding if college is really what you want and need to proceed in life. It is no longer a given.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Six mos to look for a job!

Hey, you graduate in June. Job hunting time. I mean, now.

Supposedly new grads will have a llittle easier time of it than in the last three years. Yay! But you have to apply yourself.

Twenty-one million people graduate from college each yr!

First stop is your school's career services dept. They have many services for you--including listings you won't find elsewhere. They can also check over your resume.

You need to know what's important to you--helping others, making money, both, teaching, what.

Work hard on questions you have for interviewers--one thing I used to ask was, "Do you like working here? How long have you been here?"

It might not be something you blurt out right at first, but you will know if you are even interested in the answer.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Want a Vatican job?

The Pope is now on Twitter! So I guess this thing is now infallible.

At least, I saw someone show him the ENTER key and he pressed it.

Facebook, I hear, is still the number one job connector—despite Linked In seeming to be more serious and job-oriented.

Still, you need to pay some attention to your online you. No pix of your er…endowments…No rants against bosses…

Be sure to mention your professional societies if you are a member of any.

Google yourself to see if you come off as a dope.

And if you use Twitter, don’t drunk-Tweet. The pope won’t.

What do you call a proclamation via Twitter—a Tweetclamation?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wresting your money's worth

The WSJ had a story by Ellen Byron (Dec 12, 2012) on how newly thrifty people are cutting, gouging, squeezing, and bludgeoning the last drop of face cream and shampoo out of bottles.

So don’t feel like a Scrooge. It’s the rage!

With plastic tubes you can cut off the end…or slit the whole thing.

With little jars, scrape your finger around the bottom inside.

Shake contents downward in bottles.

Add water.

Store bottles upside down.

What are you missing? Well, with a jar, as much as 10%. Toothpaste tube, 3-5%. Squeeze bottle, 2-6%. Shampoo—up to 10%! And those dip-tube pumps—a quarter!

I pull those tubes out and rub the stuff on me.

So there!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Maybe you need some "stretch goals"

What’s a stretch goal? A general goal leading to a larger goal. Examples (CareerBuilder): Expanding your knowledge, becoming more visible professionally, getting a promotion.

You may also want to establish relationships with those who can help you. We call those influencers. These people know industry personalities and trends. They have a “sense” of things.

And third, you may want to give some attention to repairing past relationships.

Catch up with former colleagues. Smooth rough patches if this is possible.

Time can be a great neutralizer.

Think about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feeling old? You ain't heard anything!

Ninety-two percent of kids under age 2 have some internet presence. Parents pick Twitter handles while the baby is in utero—and there is an app to let the baby kick his or her approval from a list of names.

Sooo…it should not be too much of a stretch for you, presumably a grownup, to completely revamp your future plans.

Come on, be a sport.

First, forget being an accountant or doctor, you need to be a homeland security specialist or a cybersecurity cop.

How about nanotechnology—this means creating tools you can only see with a microscope.

Public health is big—couple of weird cases in some ER could mean a pandemic coming. Learn how to tell!

And—the environment is huge. It kind of touches all of us.

If I were that baby, I would stay in utero.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Duh, yo

In a recent national test, eighth-graders scored 265 out of 500 on vocabulary. Fourth graders were even worse.

These kids did not know the word permeate or puzzled.

Created, spread, underestimated—nope.

Solution—more reading! More writing! Let’s get with it.

This country is so dumb now it makes my teeth grow hair.

An adult I know lamented that her adult kid did not know the word bilious. She told her mother—“No one says that.”

I am feeling bilious right now.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hey, we oldies are not so bad

You aren’t hiring your Dad. Older workers are professionals—they come to work on time, are organized, and put in their hours and then some.

They are made that way.

Older people are not necessarily out of touch—they may not code or even want to code, but they can think, market, schmooze with customers and do lots of useful things you may not want to.

Older workers probably don’t even expect a leadership position—they have seen it all and may not want the pressure.

AND—older workers are probably NOT going to retire any minute leaving you in a lurch. Retiring, as such, is becoming more and more problematical every day.

So, make room for experienced workers—they often know a lot of great jokes, for one thing. Or bring cookies to the office.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Clean the way men do

Of course—they did a study—women and men do chores differently.



Anyhow, men tend to spritz on moisture or soap—no heavy sloshing buckets.

They store supplies in the room where they are used.

They set a timer for 15 minutes per room—and race the clock,

Declutter first.

Don’t overdo it. As one guy said, if someone wants to eat off the floor, that is their problem.

I call that nasty neat. Don’t be nasty neat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Be your own boss--and a smart one

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says it’s never too late to start a business.

One guy opened a barbershop. He ignore the naysayers, noting that as you grow older, you get clearer about what you want.

People want to help you succeed, he says.

This guy tries to make the shop new and fun.

He listens to his younger staff.

For more inspiration and practical help, go to the Center for Productive Longevity.

The barbershop guy has a website of manly things—such as how to shake hands convincingly—and, of course, how to make a haircut appt online.

This has worked so well a new branch may be opening.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Young ones getting the mentoring

Employment guru Eugenia Mena fielded a question about a worker who felt the younger, newer people always got the assignments dealing with the public and the extra mentoring.

What should the older workers do?

Mena said it was natural to bring newer hires along. These people are viewed as fresh minds.

Maybe—she said—they are also less resistant to new ideas?

But you are never too old to be mentored. After all, it’s the older people thinking up those new ideas.

Still, she said, letting the older people work on behind the scenes showed trust.

I would come our somewhere in the middle. Those younger people might eat your lunch. Keep your ear to the ground—new product or division coming? Get up to speed. Maybe some fresh ideas of your own.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Walk the walk?

Walk, you slackers! Or maybe a nice Big Wheel?

Less than a quarter of people in the US walk or bike to get where they are going.

Those who do, though, have lower body mass indexes (are not as fat) and smaller waists. Also lower—their odds of high blood pressure.

This is from a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Pardon me, but haven’t people been saying this for years? Should we do it just to shut them up?

Cities have put in walking and bike paths, rental bikes, free bikes, insurance payments for compliance, everything they can think of.

At least consider it?

This is called “active transportation,” by the way. We used to call it walking to work and I used to do it in 3-inch heels. Those days are gone.

Friday, November 30, 2012

More vets getting work

With more soldiers coming home, more emphasis is being placed on getting them work.

Some stories—such as vet suicide and PTSD—may be subconsciously influencing employers, but CareerBuilder says more vets are getting work anyway.

There was a story this morning in our paper about former corpsmen working with a local hospital to check Medicare patients’ care after leaving the hospital. Sounds like a great job!

According to CareerBuilder, 29% of employers now actively look for vets. But vet status is not always evident.

The younger vets, 18 to 24, have the highest unemployment. They made the world safe for us—how about us returning the favor?

If you are a vet, you get preference in federal hiring, did you know that?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Free courses

You can "go" to Harvard free in the privacy of your home. How about "Introduction to Computer Science?"

Remember auditing? Taking a college course free—no credit, but also no payment?

Harvard, Duke, Stanford, AZ State, University of Virginia, Univ of Edinburgh, Weslan Univ, Columbia, and the Univ of Illinois are just a few of the universities offering online courses free.

These are called MOOCs—massive online courses.

Sometimes they are sort of soft info—such as how to make life decisions.

Some educators say this may be a game changer as college gets more expensive.

Still, dropout rates from MOOCs can be as much as 90%. Students may not stick with it.

Usually, too, these are not the same as paid courses—the schools do not compete with themselves.

Does taking a free course lead to enrolling in a paid curriculum. This is just one question schools are trying to answer.

I remember taking an early morning math course in PBS when in HS—all I recall was how cold it was in the TV room.

Still, it’s good to learn—and I don’t see why these could not be included in a resume.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday office etiquette

Remember when they had etiquette books—Emily Post? Miss Manners? Quaint.

It may not be in a book—but a wrong move can cost you in the office situation.

Should you get the boss a present? Depends—do other people? Maybe your office has a secret Santa setup—you get another coworker a gift. Giving the boss a gift can be misconstrued.

You don’t owe anyone a gift—if you get one, don’t lie and say yours will be coming tomorrow…Just say thank you.

Gifts should not be clothes other other personal items such as cologne.

Also around the holidays—what about charity and fundraising. This can be for a soup kitchen or a colleague’s kid’s school. Set an amount, say $5, and stick to it or just say no thank you and wish them luck.

The boss’s kid? You’re on your own!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Math math math—all you ever hear. When will I need it? you wail!

Well, it does come up. In figuring percentages, as I have to sometimes, I remember to do to the opposite of what I want to—I  divide the small by the big.

CareerBuilder says modern-day business people tend to call on it more. One woman uses equations to determine the efficacy of her loyalty programs.

Another uses it to analyze surveys—he goes from employee surveys to deciding the rate of employee retention. Don’t ask me how. Numbers!

One even did a “word problem” to decide which was cheaper—renting a car or driving her own at so much a gallon.

OK, easy as one two three—for them!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Learning from your rmistakes--ugh

I hate it when that happens—you have to learn from a mistake! A friend quit her job after a promising interview, and now the new one is not quite to the offer stage.


Don’t dump the bird in the hand and let it fly off.

Writing for the AZ Republic, Nov 25, 2012, Morgan Dowling says if you don’t get a coveted job, it natural to wonder why.

It’s OK to ask why if you are not resentful. Listen to the answer, don’t counter every point or offer excuses.

The most common reason is a lackluster interview—you didn’t ask enough, sparkle enough, seem to want the job and they responded by being pro forma and blah.

Research the company—get some talking points.

Never bring up other bad interviews.

Of course, it could be the credit check—those are tripping up more people these days.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Packaging can set you off

You can be job hunting, opening rejection letters, trying to find money to fix the washing machine--and you go to get a pill or glass of milk--and there is some infernal tab, foil seal, or hardened plastic matrix that could resist an atomic blast--and you lose it!

Of course, scientists have studied how freakin' annoying this is--but do designers?

Ann Lukits, WSJ, Nov 20, 2012, talks about the worst packaging for those with sore hands.

I HATE ALL PACKAGES and I don’t even have arthritis in my hands—at least not too badly.

But—me aside—an article in The Journal of Hand Therapy said those new-fangled peel-off tops are the worst because they take so much strength. What is that glue--barnicle slime?

They are darn tight! I use the “Psycho” method—jab with a knife while going “eee eee” like in the movie of the same name.

Anyhow, thus study enlisted 100 Swiss people around 60 years old—they had all sorts of hand issues—including carpal tunnel. There were also 400-some controls in their 50s with no hand issues.

Sure enough, the hand issue people could exert only 53% of the force to peel back tops. Aluminum tabs were slightly easier to grip than plastic.

I hate those cardboard covered with foil ones on mayo. Time for Psycho.

Jam jars with screw lids were also hated. For those, I smack it flat down on the counter—lid down. It seems to loosen it immediately.

Now…about those stupid milk cardboard things with the little plastic tab. Someone needs to go to the Hot Place for inventing those.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

For cold-weather texting and device operating

I guess if you’re at the playground, on the slopes, on the golf course, or walking down the street and need to answer or send a text, gloves could be a drag—if they are not Touch Screen Gloves, that is!

Yup—you heard me.

These are schmancy gloves with special conductive material in the fingertips for those all-important al fresco communications.

These babies come in pink, grey, cream, brown or black.

And they are not “itchy” or “flimsy” like cheesier imitations, the manufacturer says.

Soooo….go to and get busy!

Santa himself probably wears these with all the texting he has to do these days and what with being hurled through the snow-filled night while doing it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Want to help after the next Sandy?

Emergency management may be for you! Emergency Management Magazine, in an article by Charisma Williams, Nov 8, 2012, has some tips on how to get into this.

First, don’t wait until you get a degree in this to get involved. Learn the underlying ideologies, principles and terminology now. FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute’s Independent Study Program has 150 free online courses.

Second, get out and volunteer. Go to the Red Cross or Salvation Army, for instance. How about your local fire house? We have talked about Community Emergency Response teams on this site—search on CERT above.

Try to get an internship at a local company or organization. This also allows you to see if you like this work.

Also—try for an informational interview with someone in the news from the field. Ask for a few minutes of their time—prepare questions ahead of time. Do not leave a resume—this is not a job interview. This is a contact.

If you do all this, maybe you will someday be able to say…I am with the government and I am here to help you—and mean it!

Monday, November 19, 2012's the bomb

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says we need to compromise in the workplace, too! Jeez, why can’t it ever be MY way?

Anyhow, first, she says the current president wants to compromise with Congress. Nope.

Moving along, though, in the workplace, you can’t just use some perceived advantage you have to stuff things down people’s throats. You need to get buy-in. Everyone likes to feel they got something—or that no one got everything.

Once a course is decided upon—no gloating and those who don’t follow the program should be warned or even terminated.

By that, I mean fired.

Man, Anita is mean today. Why can’t compromise ever be—do it my way this time, your way next time—not always some dumb way in the middle? Just wondering.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gettng paid to get healthy

You’d have to pay me to go to a gym. Wait—Humana will!

Ken Alltucker, AZ Republic, Nov 16, 2012, says health plans are now extending more carrots to members—pay for gym visits ($20 a mo for 12 visits), buying healthy food, and walking a certain number of steps a day.

At the gym, every time you swipe you card—your employer is informed…


Half of United’s business customers opted for this feature.

Many already went to the gym and this was a bonus. But others did sign up.

One study at Harvard showed that wellness programs reduced health claims by almost $1500 a person.

United also offers a wellness coach.

Customers get cholesterol kits for self-monitoring.

Humana also gives a 5% discount for veggies at Walmart.

This also increases morale.

I can see that—I am sitting here kinda sick and my morale is not the best.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flirting--what is it really?

With all those generals sniffing around those babes in the news, the art of flirting is getting a bad name.

The WSJ even tried to define it Nov 3, 2102, saying people flirt to get a mate, have fun, boost self-esteem, gauge interest, or reinforce a relationship.

How scientific.

They even laid out rules—assess the level of interest of the other person, don’t let banter head in a gross direction, don’t try to make your partner jealous. When there is a power difference—say between a boss and an employee—watch out.

Don’t put a hand on an arm without knowing it it’s welcome.

We used to have a family friend who called everyone "dearie." She was cute--even in her older years. No one objected.

To me, flirting is human interaction—charm, if you will. You are showing an interest in what someone is saying or pleasure in their presence…people like that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sarcasm--yeah, so mysterious

This was actually a story in the WSJ—boo-hoo, marketers can’t tell when people are being sarcastic on line…

Like that would happen.

Well…email is kind of uninflected—you have to add the laffs or eyerolls to show the direction a message is intended to go.

This apparently foils so-called dataminers, who can’t tell if “Yeah, Obama is God” is sarcastic or a religious statement.

Of course, people have tried to create sarcasm equivalents of the LOL laughter thang. (*S) is one.

The one I see most often is which to me is clearer.

But if you have to ask…just talk to the person!

To me sarcasm is a lifestyle—the internet could ruin it. Such a delicate art form.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fooling around--note the word fool

I saw it in real life—now we are seeing it in the headlines. Occasionally, high-ranking or successful people (most often men) think they deserve whatever sexual opportunities come their way. Somehow the rules do not apply to them.

Are they really so stalwart in their business dealings and then so weak in their personal will power?

Does their word (marriage vows) mean nothing?

Is this somehow justified because they deserve some babe instead of the mother of their kids, maybe with her untinted hair or matronly figure?

Of course, no one can look inside another person’s relationship—I have learned this. But in this latest case, this gal seems pretty manipulative over this married man, to the point of forgetting her own husband and kids. Or at least figuring they would not find out.

What is the word I am looking for—unstable. That’s it.

If you are on either side of this—prepare to hurt and be hurt. Is it worth it?

To be forthright, in my youth, I once engaged in an affair with a married man. I figured it was between him and his wife--not me. Now I see how stupid THAT was--this has haunted me for decades. My own relationship blew up partly because of another woman. This stuff is not good.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Can you get one of these 3 million jobs?

Check out this story from the Nov 11, 2012 edition of 60 Minutes.;cbsCarousel

Apparently there are millions of manufacturing jobs going begging because people need training for the specific job—the companies say they can’t pay for training and pay American wages, soooo…. They claim training could take 1-2 yrs.

This means the ever-popular government is going to pay…There are already programs in some junior colleges to certificate people for certain jobs. (This seems to take a few months, not 1-2 years.)

In the piece, the trainees had to master trigonometry—but were thrilled to have the precision tooling work.

Are too many people going to college—and not enough to short-term training? Could be.

By the way--Chandler, AZ, my burg, is now being touted as the chip--makers to the world. If you get a job here, look me up.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Do you have a job search mentor?

I am trying to think if I ever had a mentor. I did have a full-on insane, alcoholic boss who gave me raises and threw things I wrote back to me and said, “Try again.” Is that how I learned to write?

Oh, well…he’s gone now and I am still here.

CareerBuilder says having a JOB SEARCH mentor can help. Hey—I thought I was your job search mentor!

Make it someone you respect—someone you look up to.

Your mentor can provide a second set of eyes on your materials.

You can maybe get access to that person’s network—a good thing.

The mentor should be honest even if it hurts your feelings.

Maybe this person is an old boss.

But whoever you find, be considerate of their time.

Keep it professional.

Don’t get defensive—be open.

Show you have followed the advice—and thank the person.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Internships again

Am I looping?

Well, young grads still can’t get a starter professional job, so many are still working in an professional environment for free or a pittance. So here goes again on internships.

Supposedly, 78% of companies hire interns.

Before you start your internship, learn all about the company.

While at your desk, forget the personal email and Facebooking. UNLESS--you have been asked to work on the company's social media program--which is also something you can add as a skill if you are good at it.

If everyone around you is scrambling, ask for more work. “How can I help?” is a good one.

If someone asks you to sit in an a meeting—grab the chance.

Always dress professionally.

Be passionate and enthusiastic.

And get to know people—these are your future networkees.

To get started--check out

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fewer hours could be the watchword

Now that a fraction of a percent more people wanted Obamacare, welcome to it.

First thing, if this hasn’t already happened to you, many new jobs will be part-time, under 30 hours a week so employers don’t have to provide health care—they can switch you to the exchanges for your mandatory plan.

In 2014, employers with 50 or more employees will have to provide health care for those working more than 30 hrs a week—or pay $2,000 per employee as a fine.

My daughter is already cut back at Wendy’s.

Be prepared.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bill collectors--yuck

All this talk of recovery—but I bet some people are still getting collector calls. I know because I get them for people who had my number FOUR YEARS AGO, you idiots.

Obviously, these skeevy people are still giving out my number. So, even though I am far from a perfect person, I am learning about collections second-hand, at least for now.

First, they robocall and then ask you to stay on the line or call back to be threatened. Who would do that?

Debt collectors can call other people, your friends or family, but only to find out where you live, your phone number, or where you work. They cannot say how much you owe.

If you get a collection call—ask them to put it in writing. Then when you get that, ask for validation of the debt. This buys you some time.

For more info, go to

Send complaints to the attorney general’s office in your state or to the Federal Trade Commission in DC at

There are also fake collectors—you don’t owe and they threaten to arrest you if you don’t confirm the debt info or pay up. Ask for it all in writing.

I don’t even want to know this stuff, do you?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Supposedly someone might buy a house

In the usual lust to find good news in this mess, the housing market is touted as recovering. Out here in Phoenix, a lot of the buying is coming from rich investors, but you can sell your house if you are not upsidedown.

Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic., Nov 4, 2012, emphasizes that people buy houses on emotion. Make it look good, smell good, have pleasant associations. Even investors have emotions.

First, put in nice landscaping. Big bushes make houses look smaller, so trim them back.

Paint the front door or replace it. Make sure the lock works—nothing like struggling to even get in.

Empty the cat boxes, get rid of stinks. Smell is very emotional. If the smell is in the carpet, get professional cleaning.

Put in fresh flowers.

Although—once on FLIPPING OUT, designer Jeff Lewis put a bowl of carrots and rutabagas on a kitchen counter and the home owner walked in, saw it, and snapped: “What am I? A farmer?”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Up in the air on how to fire someone?

Did you like that movie UP IN THE AIR? I recently rented it. I was not thrilled—kind of creepy.

Anyhow, if you have any sort of clout, you may need to let someone go sometime. It’s an indicator of executive power—as well as a horrible obligation.

Melissa Korn, WSJ, Oct 20, 2012, says The Donald’s “You’re fired” is probably too dramatic.

The direct manager should do it—not some outside firm like in the movie.

Have someone else present—a witness. Just in case.

Have a written summary of what the employee is being offered.

Make it quick. Fifteen minutes.

Be specific about why. Don’t let the employee think it’s gender or age.

Do not apologize.

What day of the week is best? None is great. Do it when the decision is made.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Do you speak Executive?

In the Nov Marie Claire, there is a fun little translation of what executives say about you into what they really mean.

Too edgy. You are not friendly enough, not approachable. Smile more and take time for chitchat.

Lack impact. Too passive in meetings. Pipe up with ideas.

Too emotional. You wave your arms around and act out of control. Make more eye contact and gesture with one hand. (No, not with one finger.)

Not a team player. Standoffish with coworkers. Always go to happy hour.

Too laid back. You dress unprofessionally and don’t seem urgent enough about work. Get some new duds and schmooze more.

Need to dial it back. Too quick to offer your two cents. Praise someone’s idea first, then offer your twist.
Too risky. Your ideas may not be realistic. Watch the others—see what the boss likes.

Need to be more assertive. Maybe you speak too softly, giggle or use baby talk. Stop doubting yourself!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy brings out the best in some companies

Christine Overby writes for She says the social media went crazy over the storm.

My favorite line was in the NYT—“Sandy slapped the snark out of Twitter.”

I would like to slap the snark out of people—so long as they are not moi.

Anyhow, Overby says USAA’s mobile app was Johnny on the spot allowing people to report damages with pictures and submit insurance claimns from their phones. So useful!

Citi Cards and American Express, two almost evil entities in my book, rose to the occasion and offered access to cash, fee waivers, and general instructions on how to get help. The right tone—and right values—Overby says. Well, good for them!

The WSJ and NYT also suspended their paywalls until this is over so people could stay informed.

Of course, some companies were dopey. The Gap tweeted… “All impacted by Sandy, stay safe! We will be doing lots of shopping today.”

This did not go over—one tweetee (tweety?) tweeted back: “Drowning in Gap hoodie.Send help.”

The Gap could have used a little snark slapping.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unlimited paid vacation

Otherwise known as WOO HOO! According to Leslie Kwoh, WSJ, Oct 29, 2012, says some—repeat, some—companies offer trusted employees unlimited paid time off.

So far, the system is not being abused. One such cmpany, Red Frog Events, is a Chicago entertainment organizer. They let full-timers take off here and there, no questions asked.

Only 1% of employers do this. The average worker gets 2.6 weeks of paid vacay in a fixed system.

Proceed with caution, employers are advised.

Still, companies that do this seem to be insisting that workers who feel trusted are trustworthy.

One company did say some workers “made a mistake” and missed a meeting. If that is a mistake, maybe this isn’t as nicey-nice as it sounds.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Emphasize outcomes in your res

I always tell people to tell would-be employers how they made or saved money for the previous employer.

Chana R. Schoenberger, WSJ, Oct 29, 2012, says this is becoming more of a trend in resumes.

She breaks it down on paper as SKILL/OUTCOME.

Example: SKILL: Decade of experience running a global manufacturing organization. OUTCOME: Runs factories, deals with suppliers and customers, bringing the highest levels of benchmarking and best practices.

To that I would add--New supply chain techniques saved $50 million a year or some more specific outcome.

I also recommend using “action” verbs—supervise, hire, pivot from one objective to another, manage, decide, created, ran, increased.

Make it zippy—irresistable!

Friday, October 26, 2012


I am feeling ornery. The more we digitize, monetize, rationalize, the less efficient things are becoming.

In no particular order:

Doctors whose staff doesn’t answer—please leave a message, they will call back. This is to make an appointment! Sit there during business hours and take calls! Half the time, they don’t call and you are too sick or too tired from powering though, you can’t remember if they did or not. Humpf.

And forget that Lunch Two-Hour, docs--stagger the staff lunches, don't shut the office.

Bad hold music. I swear some of this stuff sounds like a 5-year-old practicing the piano.

Too frequent interruptions of the bad hold music—“We appreciate your patience…” This is a joke—we are not OK with this. ‘Shut up so we can read—or more likely, so we can suddenly hear “Deet deet deet—if you would like to make a call…”

Do not brightly announce that you have a website which we no doubt would prefer to use. If we wanted the website, would we be sitting on this line? Come on! This is not our first rodeo. The stupid website would probably hang, anyhow—or already did, which is why we are calling. Not that YOU care.

Do not say, “I tried to call you…” I sit here all day—you did not!

Not not not!

I need my binky.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What about past addiction problems?

A registered nurse said she had problems years ago with addiction and now, with background checks, this is coming back to haunt her in getting a job.

Ninety percent of employers do BG checks.

The Americans with Disabilities Act precludes discrimination if the person has stopped using drugs.

But if a position is “safety-sensitive,” with a potential for harm to others—such as taking some drugs and watering the remainder, or operating heavy machinery-- this can allow the employer to say no.

This is determined case by case.

So, know what you are looking at—put your best case forward.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Maybe living at home isn't so bad

You know—at home, where Mom and Dad, or one of them, anyhow, pays for the roof, food, electric, water, cable…that home?

Michelle V. Rafter, WSJ, Oct 22, 2012, writes how some grads who returned home see a silver lining.

One woman saved $12K in two years—and then lit out on her own.

Yes, boomerang kids are beginning to find their footing, but they now think returning home was not the horrible defeat they once thought.

In 2010, one in five young Americans lived in a multigenerational home. Almost 80% said it was OK.

One hand does wash the other—kids get a home base, parents may get help with yardwork or other chores that challenge older limbs.

When they move out, often they do not move far—they feel a loyalty to the parents.

My kid is 30 and lives here. She said I never told her she had to leave and she doesn’t want to. I need her around when I have dizzy spells, etc—but I worry that I may be too dependent on her—that she needs to strike out. She says no, though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What is a good retirement job?

You didn’t know you would still work? Oh, yes.

Andrea Coombes, WSJ, Oct 22, 2012, says there are more older looking for jobs now and getting them, too. More Americans turn 55 than 25, in other words.

Employers, too, are seeing that older workers bring skills and experience. If an older worker loses a job, though, he or she is likely to be unemployed longer. Sad face.

Education is one area older workers try to enter. But the game is being amped up there with greater emphasis on teacher performance. Still, if you have a skill set—you can get hired. You may not need a teaching degree.

Financial services is also popular with older people. This sector tries to offer flexible schedules.

Health care is reaching out to the older worker, according to this. This crosses the board from the greeter at the door, to the person who fills out paperwork, to actual nurses and doctors. There are even sort of new jobs—such as patient advocate.

Knowledge worker—such as consultants—are also in demand. If you have technical niche, more the better.

I have a friend who got certificated to teach English to non-English speakers. This is very complicated! I am in awe of her new start.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Course in how to pay for courses

Is the college expense thing getting wacky? The Univ of Mich offers a one-credit course in university finances—where the school gets revenue, what drives costs and how all this affects tuition.

They claim it is not just the school’s side of the issue—but balanced.

The typical grad leaves with $22,000 in debt. Default within two yrs is at an all time high.

All this according to a story by Matthew Dolan in the WSJ, Oct 20-21, 2012.

Are schools spending too much on sports, entertainment, food and housing?

Some also say providing lower cost loans makes more people get them—and more schools feed off them.

This one needs more examination.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Movin' on up

Feeling a little lowly or unappreciated? Maybe it’s time to try for a promotion—no matter how bad the economy is. Stand tall!

Chelsea Klement has some tips in the Arizona Republic Sept 2, 2012.

First, you have to be excelling—and be able to back that up.

What makes you unique—think this through.

Bring some new ideas to the party.

Pay attention to office politics! I cannot emphasize this enough—keep your ear to the ground.

Visualize yourself in the next job up. Dress for it.

And bring this up at the best time—at the end of a successful project.