Friday, March 29, 2013

Do you feel disruptive?

Bryan Kramer (?) says sometimes you need to be delightfully disruptive. I think he means in a marketing sort of way, not a yelling fire in a theatre sort of way.

First, don't think you know what your customer wants, he says. Go to where the item is sold, watch.

Bryan also loves the phrase, "Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant."  That lost me because he was saying keep things simple--do you get it?

Delight with the unexpected is also disruptive, he says. This means going beyond the promised. Most of my eBay vendors do this--they send a cute note, a little extra sample. I am in AZ and someone in Mississippi gives me a little sussie.

Try to use storytelling--see how I did with the eBay story? This is also why I love testimonials in marketing materials. People read those first. Just like they read the PS first.

I am not sure this all amounts to be being disruptive--but Bryan's use of that word sucked me right in, which is good.

Now...eat like a bird, poop like an elephant...hmmmm.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Watch that computer behavior--could be a setup

Geoffrey A. Fowler, WSJ, Mar 27, 2013, says some companies are getting crazy sneaky--my term, not his.

They send around some irresistible kitty picture--such as a cat with a purple mohawk, dubbed Dr Zaius--and see which employees click on it.

Busted!

This means the employee might click on some cyberattack (presumably by someone other than a punk cat).

It's a gotcha service, one guy said proudly.

New York state did this--sent out a phishing email to see if they could get people to reveal their passwords. Fifteen percent went for it. After being scolded, the next time only 8% did.

One company setting up such stings is PhishMe Inc in Chantilly, VA.

Another thing these so-called "ethical hackers" do is toss around disks or thumb drives marked confidential to see if employees will open them. Sure enough. Then the device snaps a picture of the employee!

They have many other tricks as well.

What a world.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Horrible bosses--no, you can't kill them


CareerBuilder really took me down memory lane on horrible bosses. I had two "real" jobs--one that was highly corporate, paternalistic, sexist, and great paying that lasted 16 years.

I cannot even go into how horrible that was at times--I had a boss who fired people almost every day and then forgot, so we just came back to work.

Anyhow, CareerBuilder names four boss types to watch out for. First is the controlling boss. This is the micromanager who wants to know and basically do it all him or herself. Response: Break the task down to steps and ask for control over a step or two..."Why not let me create the list..." etc.

The wishy-washy boss is slow to make decisions or makes half-decisions. "Let's see how this goes."
 The best response is to think it through and offer a couple of specific options.

The unreasonable boss. This is the boss who asks you to work around the clock. Your response is to have the boss put the tasks in order of priority.

The tyrant--oh yes--is the boss who yells and screams. You may try going to human resources. But usually moving away and changing your name is best.

Kidding, kidding...but this last guy, I know him. And he is dead now and I am not. That may give you some comfort.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Does your university seek out vets to help?


Arizona State University, to name one, provides immediate mentoring and navigation help to veterans. They also get in-state tuition.

Most of this comes through the Pat Tillman Veterans Center. This is due to a state law that went into effect on 2011--this in a state now known for its far-seeing, compassionate legislators.

One expert has said a lot of schools claim to be military-friendly--but this can be meaningless.

As soon as a vet tags up with a participating Arizona school, there is outreach. When they walk into the Tillman Center, for example, a vet will greet them.

Ask whether your local colleges have this sort of emphasis. Maybe you can get it started.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Yoops, tpyo

I have a decent excuse--I can't see well--three L's in a row look like two L's in a row to me--but misspellings and careless stuff in applications, cover letters, and memos can brand you negatively.

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, quotes Brenda Greene and Helen Cunningham, authors of The Business Style Handbook.

People are writing more now, not less--and not just the sloppy tweety style, either.

Pause before hitting send. Even an email to a coworker may be forwarded someplace.

Fat thumbs can screw up on the phone, too. This could matter.

Take a second to see if a company name or division is correct--should it be capitalized?

Imagine your work on the front page of the newspaper...

What? Silly puppy--what's a newspaper?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Business boot camp

I don't know about you but when I hear the overused boot camp thing, I think of mud and high walls to climb.

When applied to business, I see The Donald saying, "You're fired."

But Melissa Korn, WSJ, Mar 7, 2013, says many liberal arts students and others without a formal MBA or biz degree take intensive business courses called bridge programs, which are a four-week cram on accounting and corporate life.

Sans mud, presumably.These can cost up to $10K.

Check out http://fullbridge.com.

Fullbridge also teams with schools to amp up student hireability. Or the schools put together their own intensive programs.

Taught are finance, career visioning whatever that is, and marketing--to name a few things.

Most students are well motivated anyway--does this really help? Why not? It's only money.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

On-line searching, again


CareerBuilder has yet another set of tips for posting your resume and cover on line.

First, narrow results. Always! See what you can find under "advance searches."

Don't use one res to fit all. Look at the posting and tweak your resume.

AND--tweak it to contain keywords and phrases in the listing. Verbatim! Remember, a computer  may do the initial "look." The job listing may say, "team player," but if your resume says, "worked with others," it won't catch it.

Forget wanting to hear back. No news is bad news.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keep your brackets down to a dull roar

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, suggests employers try to limit bracket mania.

Filling brackets and seeing those who go by uniform color luck out and those with a computer of data flop is just part of March office life now.

This can increase morale, but it can also go too far and ding productivity.

Employers can ride it out by offering quick breaks to check brackets.

Also, wearing team colors could be allowed.

Of course, some employee who is not into this could always sue.

Don't worry--it will soon be over. And sanity, if it ever existed, will return.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Colleges are dealing


No--not THAT kind of dealing. Making deals!

Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn, WSJ, Mar 12, 2013, say a number of liberal arts schools are offering buy this, get this free type deals. Or Apply today and get $2500 cash back.

One school says if you don't graduate in four years (many don't), the additional classes are free.

Or they offer a stipend for research. Or they are freezing tuition.

Other schools are countering the idea that tuition is wasted on stupid, biased or frivolous class offerings.

Fewer kids are graduating high school--this makes fewer going to college. The race is on!

Ask for a deal--what have you got to lose?

Monday, March 18, 2013

When your company goes into play


A worker asks guru Kevin Grindle what to do when two companies merge and jobs will be duplicated--namely, this worker's type of job.

This Grindle guy says who goes or stay usually is based on tenure and performance.

Keep a positive attitude--no one wants to keep a sullen, resentful person.

Offer to assist in all ways possible.

But be aware--if you have only been there a short time or had less than stellar reviews, you may lose the toss.

So think about looking around.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The power of "aw"


Leave it to Japan. They did a study on the impact of cute images on productivity.

They rounded up 48 college students and tested motor skills, concentration, and level of attention before and after viewing baby and adult animals.

In all three, those viewing the cute baby animals improved their performance the most.

But the adult animals also  made the subjects happier and more focused.

Apparently carefulness is affected by cuteness.

So--should you watch Mommy cats teaching their kittens to climb stairs or a cupful of tine puppies every day all day at your desk?

Probably not. But the occasional peek could boost the bottom line.

Do you watch the Anny Planny show TOO CUTE? It's about puppies.

Ah--better than a nap.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What, fewer lawyers?

Ashby Jones, WSJ, Mar 12, 2013, says Northwestern is cutting the size of its law school incoming class by 10%.

That means as many as 25 fewer students starting law school there next fall.

Applications are down, too.

Since the meltdown of 2008, 51% of law schools have downsized.

Northwestern said it could have kept class sizes the same and admitted less qualified students.  But that would have affected its top rating.

Tuition at Northwestern is $53,168. Maybe that's part of the problem. They say they are looking for more merit and financial based assistance, but it is hard to come by.

I don't know what all this means. I watch SUITS and THE GOOD WIFE as my source of info.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Come on, grads--be practical

If you are graduating in June, you may find that you don't have a nice $75K a year job waiting. You may send out hundreds of resumes (I mean, post them someplace) and not get a response.

It's a hard world and a big bad internet out there.

So even (or especially) if you are still in your bedroom at home, think about a part-time job or even doing some volunteering.

You need some income--it will keep the parental units off your back, CareerBuilder says.

A part-time job shows you are proactive, willing to suit up and appear.

Look for something in your field, if you can.

But even a job not in your field can lead to letters of recommendation, discipline, self-esteem, and structure.

Sitting around playing Warcraft or pitching Cheetos at the TV just isn't going to get you anywhere.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Going back under the thumb?


Rick Hampson, USA TODAY, takes on the telecommuting brouhaha. Over time, flexible work policies have made the option of working some or all days at home almost a right, not a privilege.

Then, this Marissa Mayer came into Yahoo and sort of decided that the company's weaknesses might be attributable to people working at home instead of in the office.

Other Bigs like B of A and Best Buys are also casting a doubtful eye on the home work option.

About 5% of all employees (rough estimate) work at least one day a week at home. One in 10 work only a home.

Younger workers accept telework as a right, the boomers love it so much they think it must be wrong.

The idea behind dragging people back to the office is that they can brainstorm, talk, spark off each other.

I do remember a lot of standing around drinking coffee when I had an office job. They even hired a woman to make the coffee--that was her entire job. Did we spark? Don't recall.

I do know working at home cuts wardrobe costs, gas, stressful commutes, interruptions, fights, you catch fewer bugs--but on the flip side, you may miss out on gossip that can affect your status and future.

As for child care, you do have some flexibility to go to the kids' plays and so on. But I had to have all-day daycare anyhow.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What's up with this Sheryl Sandberg?

She is a big fromage, second in command at Facebook, and now has a book out called Lean In, lecturing women on how to make it in a man's world.

A man's world--really? That's sarcasm.

She rode her Harvard degree to Google, then Zuckerburg of Facebook came a'callin'--and she would have taken the first offer, if her also incredibly rich dotcom hubs had not told her to negotiate for a man's salary.

Thanks, hon.

From this, she apparently deduced that women were their own worst enemy when it came to breaking into the executive suite. Not assertive enough--credited other people, working hard, not their skill sets, for their success.

Maybe women, many anyhow, really don't want the big job, the travel, the isolation, the pressure, the high heels.

Ever think of that?

How about that gal at Yahoo who suddenly asked telecommuting employees to move back to the office, lifestyle be damned--she had HER private nursery, even though she paid for it herself.

All I want to know is do these people know they are standing on the shoulders of some now-anonymous "fems" to even get the chance to write these books and paddle around in these gazillions of bucks.

Sandberg is worried about leaving good "choices" to her kids, now 5 and 7. Worry about them now--just making sure you or your husband, one of you, is home before bedtime and maybe even for dinner is not enough.

Now who's lecturing--but you get where I am going.

I am sure she will say women cannot work together, I am a mean girl, blah blah. Well, say on, baby. Some of us have indeed come a long way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Buy a rental home?


The economy is improving a tad so many people are snapping up homes to rent out.

These can be a bargain because people can't see how they will look when cleaned up--says Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, Mar 25, 2012.

People assume tenants ruin places. This is not always true. But it can be a fact.

You need to distinguish between beatup properties and those who show poorly.

First, find a motivated seller--maybe the mortgage and upkeep is more than the rent.

Visit when the tenants are out. Some renters try to prevent sales--and can sabotage showings.

Hire a good inspector...even property managers overlook things.

Get estimates for all major repairs the inspector finds.

Try to find a house where problems are only superficial--such as needing paint.

I once knew someone who bought a house to rent out--someone had just thrown kitty litter on a closet floor--no box--that smell never left.

Caveat, landlord.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Too stupid for smart stuff?


Evgeny Morozov, WSJ, Feb 23-24, 2013, says so-called smart products are meant to "fix" us.

He talks about an app in which you get a special trash can that photographs your refuse and posts the picture to Facebook so your "friends" can see if you recycle properly. It's called BinCam.

Truly.

This crowdsourcing (I never am sure on that one) is to mold us into better little discarders.

Watches now pulse when you get a Facebook "poke." Smart scales put your weight on Twitter.

Google seems to think we are broken. Me, personally, I think Google is broken because I hardly make any ad money.

So now we have smart forks--you are eating too much! Your car contains a sensor judging your driving.

"Good smart" allows us to use the information as we want to.  Maybe a grocery cart that adds up our nutrition as we fill it.

"Bad smart" is sensors that turn off cars if you have been drinking or are drowsy or which allow cops or angry spouses to find out where we are.

Maybe, this author says, smart is to help us with decision-making, not make the decisions.

I am still stuck on the nosy trash can. Leave me alone, you hunk of plastic!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sickness a growth area


Remember when companies used to woo people instead of merely tolerate them?

CareerBuilder says those days are back in health care.

The field is hot hot hot.

Many health care employers will tap into other industries to find the skill sets--computer, call centers, management.

They will put their money where their recruiters' mouths are and pay.

And they will train.

Think about it. What do you have to offer? With the coming of Obamacare, everyone will be confused and need calming down--are you good at these things?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Work at home guide


An AZ mom named Michele Unangst was profiled by Coty Delores Miranda  in the AZ Republic, Feb 20, 2013.

She wanted to work at home and soon learned that most of the so-called "work at home" things were stupid scams.

So she started the website GetMyMomaJob.com.

This contains legitimate companies looking for people who work from their own offices. She sells a list for $9.95. Worth it.

Check it out. On it you will find companies like Apple, 1-800-FLOWERS, Capital One, and other Fortune 500s.

Related--the head of Yahoo has suddenly gotten all officious and decided her telecommuting employees need to come back to the office.

What do you think of this trend? If it is a trend.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Goodwill for good job?


Cale Ottens, writing in the AZ Republic (Mar 3, 2013), says Goodwill operates career centers.

They prepare people for interviews, help with resumes and cover letters.

Here in Phoenix, the Phoenix Workforce Connection offers a two-week course in job hunting.

Google Workforce Connection in your area or call Goodwill to see what services are available.

It's not about clothing anymore...

Incidentally, March is a great month to look for a job--the first quarter tends to be strong.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Get testy about tests!

Don't just go along with medical tests! The doctor says, well, let's get an MRI--ask what it will show that will affect your treatment that was not shown by the x-ray!

I have been blasting away recommending the http://choosingwisely.com site. Now 17 specialities have come up width a list of 135 tests and procedures--some around for decades--that should be seriously questioned.

More is not better! You don't necessarily benefit from a "battery" of tests.

Swimmers ear does not require antibiotics. Type 2 diabetics do not need drugs--there is no evidence that tight glycemic control benefits.

Feeding tubes for advanced dementia hurt--better to feed small bites.

A lot of pre-op tests are not needed.

The bone density DEXA is not needed more than every two years.

Abnormal cervical cells? Wait and see if this persists for two years. Treatment can damage the cervix.

No EEGs for headaches--and MRIs for arthritis are not needed.

Ask--discuss. Insist on it.

My daughter got the throwup stomach bug I had--she needed a doctor's note to not be fired from Wendy's. Urgent Care said they would do a test to see if she was still contagious. Does that exist--who knows? It's very expensive, of course.