Friday, March 30, 2012

Create a happening office

Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators, says even the dopiest cube farm can be decent, if you do it right.

Typically, the corporate office is not conducive to mental higher brain functions, writer John Medina is quoted as saying.

Sitting for hours, bad lighting, noise.

Instead paint the walls a good color—yellow for confidence and energy, green for relaxation and energy, blue for harmony and creativity.

Use full-spectrum lighting.

Open spaces so people can walk around, run into each other. Chat.

Have break spaces—near a window, in a corner, where someone could work for a few hours.

Have whole wipe-off walls for ideas.

Try a walking meeting where people are moving while thinking.

Change it up!

Does this mean I have to lose the plants and the stuffed animals (actually these are alive)? No way!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Relocating to get work

I am not sure about the term Great Recession—it ain’t so nifty.

But one aspect is that many people have to consider relocating to where the work is.

This has been shown to be a great strain on the family. Members are leaving friends, family, a support system, the familiar--and the loved.

To make it easier, you need to use any and all resources from the new company. Sometimes they can even find the “trailing spouse” a job.

Declutter and think about what can be eliminated in packing.

Videotape all your valuable items and record identifying numbers in case of a mishap or theft.

If the company does not help the spouse, start a job search for that person immediately.

Network immediately—using Linked In and other sites.

For more info, check out

You can do this—although I have to say I learned I did not travel well. Are you flexible? I hope so.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Uh-oh--failure to communicate?

People lie. Have I mentioned that before? Marygrace Ohab of HR Choice relates an instance in which a person accepted a set of perks and took a job and when the written offer came, those perks were not in it.


The would-be employer also balked at putting them in. What to do…

Ohab says the discussion needs to be clear—but that employers also lose if an employee comes onboard and is not happy.

First, look at what they are offering. Are the salary and benefits in line with your experience?

Can you live without those perks?

Schedule a meeting—something may have changed. But you can start a negotiation—give some, get some. Or they may want you to drop out, it happens. Get a feel for it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hey, lazybones

Night people…day people. Larks…owls. Some people tend to be lively first thing in the morning and others “awake” in late afternoon.

I am a morning person, so of course, like many morning people, I suspect the late afternooners are faking it.

Business guru Harvey Mackay says he wants “He couldn’t sleep fast enough” on his tombstone. Let me guess—morning person.

Of course, he stays up late, too.

He says many CEOs do this—get up early.

Give yourself a good reason to get up, he advises. Work on something you enjoy first thing.

Be sure to get enough sleep, though.

Enlist a like-minded buddy to wake you—and do the same for him or her. Maybe work out.

Never snooze—get right up.

Then he said some stuff about how you never get tired of being successful…etc. I dozed for a minute there.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Do you have a brand?

This is the Newspeak—you need a brand image, just like Apple or Kleenex.

I guess mine is SASS FLASH AND TRASH.



Saying "maybe" is bad.

Kathy Bass, founder of Ladies Who Brand in Phoenix, was quoted by Stephanie Snyder in the AZ Republic, March 25, 2012.

Your brand is all your strengths, Bass says.

Don’t even think about networking until you brand yourself.

First, think of what you did best in previous jobs.

Decide on an area where you can become an expert.

Create a website for you.

Then spread to the social media.

Seriously—if you want anything to happen in your life, people need to come to you—and you need to be branded for this to happen.

What does this amount to? Is flashy and cranky going to make it for me? It seems so AUTHENTIC, though.

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Facebook password? Sit on a tack

Oh, boy—new employer encroachments. Just because they can, I guess—or think they can.

First it was no smoking at home.

Diet or get fired.

Now, to get hired you may be asked for your Facebook password so some nosy nell can get into your private zones.

You can refuse. Good grief yes.

Two states are trying to make asking illegal.

But some people just do it—they can’t afford not to.

Sometimes they ask you to log in while you are sitting in the interview—and turn it over to the interviewer.

One professor said why don’t they ask for your house keys and toss your drawers and closets.

Some companies also ask employees to sign non-disparagement agreements—saying they won’t trash the company in the social media.

Some days I think I have lived too long. This is completely creepy. We are human beings providing a service, not these people’s bitches.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Western Governors University--online, on time

WGU is an accredited online university offering BAs and Master’s degrees.

This can be an affordable alternative to campus life or campus commuting. You could even work throughout your education.

The areas of competency seem to be business, health (nursing etc), teaching, and IT. You work to gain competency, then move on—not by credit hour. You also get lots of personal mentoring.

You work at your own pace. You pay every six months, so the faster the better. A year is about $6,000 with aid available.

TIME magazine called WGU “the best relatively cheap university you never heard of.”

Could this work for you? Think about it and go to

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Am I the only one creeped out by woods?

I once took an early morning walk in the woods in Virginia near the Wintergreen resort and saw a black bear cross the road. No one back in the cabin believed me and they still jeer at me.

But I digress.

Paul Auerbach, MD, a professor at Stanford and outdoor health type, wrote a 2300-page book on staying safe in the wild.

Bear (heh) in mind—his background is emergency medicine, which about confirms my love of the out-of-doors.

Coupla tips:

If you fall overboard, try to get most of your body out of the water—even if a cold breeze hits it.

Avoid the “bends” by coming up slowly—and also by not flying too soon after diving. Wait 12 hours before getting on a plane.

If you go to the tropics, acclimate—do some exercise, Avoid booze. Drink water. If you take a diuretic or beta blocker, ask the doc about this before you go.

If you are in bear country—don’t pick berries, if you see salmon in a stream, avoid that stream. If you see ravens—there may be a carcass—and the bear that caused it. If a bear suddenly appears, move slowly. Do not look the beast in the eye. Don’t try to run or climb a tree.

If you get caught in a fire—try to find a rocky place. Stay in your car if it’s nearby. Turn on the A/C and engine. Try to wait it out.

Of course, this is just a little—2200 pages to go! How about a movie instead?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Real estate agent needs to work for you

Out here Arizona way, everyone owes more than they can get for their houses and investors are waving cash around and aceing out even those with 20% down.

It sucks.

Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, Mar 18, 2012, says the key is to get a good agent—for buying or for selling.

People need to sell—they can’t wait for some magical recovery (borne by unicorns). They want the low interest.

But how do you find a good agent? The National Assn of Realtors still has a million members. They are out there.

Keep agents you like—ditch others, is the advice.

Ask a would-be agent about their worst failure in the biz and how they handled it.

Request statistics from them. What percentage of the list price did the homeowner get? How many days was the house on the market?

If you like tact—insist on it. Maybe your house is a mess or needs improvement—see if the agent suggests this nicely.

Tell the agent how much you can spend—which improvements would be best?

Don’t hire a friend or someone just because they are a friend. Also first-timers—yes, they may be hungry but not have a clue how to help you.

Get down and dirty with it—ask anything you want.

Monday, March 19, 2012

First, ego surf

Most “experts” recommend that before trying to apply for a bunch of jobs, you see how you are coming off online.

Enter your name in quotes. See if Twitter and FB things come up. Do they reflect well?

You also need to look into the companies you like—and how about finding some you like instead of just those whose ads you run across.

Be confident. Dress professionally. Come early.

You may run into a “behavior” question—this is when the interviewer says describe a certain situation and how you behaved in it.

Collect business cards from the people who interviewed you.

And say, “Is there anything else I can provide—I am very interested in this position.”

Then send a thank you note.

Speaking of dressing well, I watched a dopey show called THE LOVE BROKER and a guy going on a blind date to the museum wore jeans and a ratty shirt, tails out. He even complained that the woman wore a “nice dress.”

The nerve.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Clean up your Facebook

Barbara Ortutay, AP (which I used to trust), says the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that people are managing their privacy and other rights better on the internet.

Nearly half deleted things from their profiles in 2011, up from 36% in 2009.

Supposedly the administration is proposing tighter protections, but personally I think if they did it’s so they can be the only ones spying on us.

You need to delete ”friends” more or not accept them in the first place. Delete names from photos.

Sixty-seven percent of women set their profiles so only friends can see. Men do this less.

People with the highest level of education had the most trouble figuring this out. So THAT is why I don’t get any of this.

Young people deleted unwanted comments more.

I am merciless about this. I don’t know how this works half the time—people on my “wall” on FB are friends of friends or something—if they say pro-administration things, I zap off their comments.

Since I don’t know who they are anyway…

Why are we doing this—remind me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Phone manners can make or break

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, asks what if a would-be employer calls? Often they do a phoner first.

Phone interviews can be crucial

Some people answer with “Hey, how ya doin’?” There may be rock in the background. This is not good.

Don’t use a cell—dropped calls weird noises. Phone interviews—land line.

Don’t use a headset, these can garble.

Don’t multitask—no dishes, no typing. If you are smoking, this also comes across.

Don’t answer on the first ring. When you do—say HELLO. Don’t state your name as a greeting, this says. I do that.

Be sure you have done your homework on the company and position. Read the day’s headlines—in paper or online.

Shut the dog out, get a sitter.

This expert says don’t take the first time offered for the phoner. Act busy.

If the interviewer calls more than 15 mins late—let the voice mail pick up, then reschedule.

I am not sure I am onboard with this hard to get stuff—what do you think?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why temp might be right for you

Nancy Mann Jackson,, says some people disdain temp work, but it can be a gateway job (like gateway drug—get it?) to a job.

More than a third of companies say they are making do with fewer people.

In 2011, 34% of companies said they hired temps, up from 28% in 2009.

Some jobs that are available are physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, admin assts, mechanics, industrial maintenance techs.

The advantages of temping are you get to work—keep your momentum.

In a third of temp cases, you can slide into permanent.

You meet people.

You add skills to your resume.

The downside is few if any benefits and lack of security.

Security, however, is a joke these days anyhow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Older workers rock

Well, maybe rock a little slowly—but they are fun.

If you are a 20-something and don’t want to hire your Mom—maybe you won’t be if you pick the next over 50-ish.

Was your Mom ever “with the band”?

Did your Mom ever hitchhike across the country?

Does your Mom know your business and how to make you look good?

Maybe—or maybe not. But an older worker may fit this.

Older workers may be best for industries catering to older people—health care, residential living, etc.

They show up, they have that annoying work ethic, which means they work.

They also tend to be people-oriented—schmoozing customers along, conversing, engaging them.

Old but not dead—remember that.

Not dead. Not going on and on about trying to return a hammer to Home Depot. Not cranky--in fact, maybe even interesting!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ooops--hate it

People feel locked into jobs these days. Despite the orchestrated “new wisdom,” things are not getting that much better, if at all.

So if you do get a job, you may feel you need to hang in no matter what.

To be fair, give it some time. Things can smooth out when people get more comfortable. I have a relative who was hired alongside another temp and the other temp was a terror—a terror temp. Eventually, the TT was let go—problem solved.

When you are upset, it is natural for all other job situations to seem perfect. Remember—they aren’t.

Try to learn—why is this bad. This way, you won’t repeat it.

Try to be nice to yourself—exercise, good foods, time with friends.

Everything passes—this will, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Texting bugs me

I don’t have a cellphone—why would I? I never go anywhere.

But people clicking into those little boxes while I am sitting there really annoy me. Maybe I just feel left out…but is what they are saying – um, typing—really so blazingly urgent?

Basically, the texter is having another conversation in front of me.

Is this justified at work maybe? Melanie Yamagucki wrote about this in the AZ Republic, Feb 26, 2012.

First, at work, with those touchscreens—you could send a text to the boss that is not boss material—catch my drift?

If the phone is company-owned this can be an even worse problem—no personal business on company phones.

Yes, sometimes silence is golden—you need to communicate quietly. Isn't this pretty rare--someone cited being in a music editing suite. Rare!

But texting is shorthand-based, not very effective as communication, say with a client.

Information – texting.

Conversation,persuasion, back and forth – voice.

Don’t thumb-out anything you would not want Mom to read. Stay out of trouble.

What gets me is we never needed to do this before—we talked on the phone or when we saw the person…And the earth kept on spinning.

The worst part—one line that ends: From My Blackberry. Oooo—you have a Blackberry! Or a 4G.

What is a 4G—I don’t even know and am resentful.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Others may see you differently

Example: I think I am an amusing cynic. Other people think I am a negative grump.


Anita Bruzzese of Gannett writes about perceptions and how they can influence work life.

Perception is more important than “truth,” even if truth could be determined.

You need to let people know what you are like—but in the context of helping others. If you did something nice for a customer, couch it in terms of how this can help the company and others can do it—just just how great you are.

If only one person thinks you are a drag, try to work on that person.

You may have been raised to be modest and quiet—you may need to amp up your game.

Try to match the boss’s outgoingness.

Hang out with people at work with good reputations—not the …er…negative grumps.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What if your last job ended badly?

People tend to hop around jobs these days—if they can land them. What if the last one was a bummer?

Some job experiences are miserable, let’s face it.

CareerBuilder says to tell the truth if asked about your last job. Talk about your strengths—maybe about how it was not a good fit with those skills.

Say you did not find your passion there—be passionate.

Do NOT trash the place, the old boss, nutty coworkers, etc.

Don’t belabor it—you are looking for a new job, the old one is history—that is obvious.

Even if you are afraid of a new job—what if it is more misery—don’t let that come through. Man up (or woman up), start fresh.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

HS kids check out Engineering Roadshow

According to Weldon B Johnson, AZ Republic, Mar 2, 2010, kids with a technological bent went to a three-hour Engineering Roadshow event put on by the University of Arizona.

This brought the kids up to speed on UA’s engineering offerings and student clubs.

Recruiters came too and told the young people what they looked for.

Some of the organizations were UA Baja Racing, Arizona Formula SAE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Society of Civil Engineers, Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity, Engineering Student Council, Students for Exploration and Development of Space, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and Society of Women Engineers.

If you are an engineer, even though not in college, why not check some of these out—for job boards and leads?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Casual--not catastrophic

Johnny Gutierrez, AZ Republic, Mar 4, 2012, says some people take “Casual Friday” waaayyy too far.

This means office casual—not day at the beach casual.

No shorts, flipflops, or tight tube tops. Cutoffs—nope. Or ballcaps.

Be sure you know the company dress code. Be groomed, neat.

If jeans are OK—wear darker ones, which look dressier. Try a blazer with those jeans.

Don’t wear “funny” or “dirty” t-shirts.

No sweats!

No running shoes. No shorts. No blinged-out or ripped jeans.

What would your mother say as you leave the house? Uh-huh. Thought so.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What have you got to lose?

Our little gurus Dale Dauten and J.T. O’Donnell were knocking around the ins and outs of getting a meeting with someone you would like to work for.

The reader had met a CEO at a charity event and wanted to set a meeting.

O’Donnell advised doing some research (maybe Linked In and Facebook, too. Or Tweets).

When you call—ask the assistant how to best get an appointment—enlist that person.

Send an email or letter. Dauten said he had done this once—said he admired the person and how could he get an appointment. The HR person called—he even got a job out of it.

So…take your best shot, be not afraid. Just be respectful and when you figure it’s not going to happen, move on.

The other day, I mentioned to my kid (who loves basketball) that I had once interviewed Elvin Hayes—back in the day. She actually showed respect for me! "How?” she asked. I called and asked, I told her.

It didn’t hurt that it was Washingtonian magazine, but still…you can ask anything. The worst they can say is No—second worst, no response.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Coming out at work

Writing in the AZ Republic, Feb 29, 2012, Frances Diamond Grjalva says deciding to come out as gay, lesbian or transgendered can be a difficult decision workwise.

Such disclosures can affect your career—let’s face it.

Overall, psychologists say it can be liberating and favorably affect quality of life.

But despite laws against it, discrimination can appear. Some states do not even have such laws—and treatment of people is based on company rules.

The larger the company, the greater the likelihood that rules are in place.

So…before you go public, be sure you are ready for all repercussions. Go to to review rules in your state.

Take it slow—your immediate coworkers probably know your orientation. Move out from them.

If you are a new hire, watch and wait a while. This is a pretty big element to add to the mix.