Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is your head a pretzel over college?

Pretzel--twisted, confused--from Talladega Nights (movie)?

I started to write once again about the mixed value of college these days and thought, "Sheesh, quit banging on this."

But I have one more thing I want to add. Not that I am promising to leave this topic forever.

Eric Roper, founder of the Wahoo Food Group, wrote about this in the July 15, 2013, WSJ.

People are confused about the path ahead, Roper remarks.

There are mixed signals--sure lots of boy geniuses in Silicon Valley dropped out of college, but this does not mean dropping out will make you a genius.

Then, you hear it's all about education, we need more Science, Tech, Engineering and Math (STEM) grads.

Or we don't--the foreigners will do it on special visas.

And it's also true that becoming a plumber or carpenter can yield a good living.

So what is my one last comment? COLLEGE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT. If you put in the time, at least attend all classes, read a lot, keep the boozing to a minimum and work part-time, you will value it and it will be of value to you.

A value--but not a magic ticket to wealth. That still takes work, and, I am convinced, some luck.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How about a brand new house?

I once moved into an apt that had just been built--very spruce and nice.

Andy Warren of Maracay Homes (a builder, so consider the source) has some tips on finding the right home builder.

He says you need to shop for a builder as carefully as for what you want in a home.

Make a list of builders in your area. Read ads--and read newspaper stories about which builders are active.

Targetr builders in your price range. Want a McMansion--probably a different project than a starter home.

Find a real estate agent to help you. Ask that person about specific builders--reputation, financing, adherence to schedules, all the buzz.

Visit communities the builders have built. Make notes (you won't remember, bring a pencil). Look for curb appeal. See if people are in some of the houses.

Then, when it's narrowed down, visit model homes. Look at the finishes--which could you get? Ask. Also ask about a home warranty.

Can you see yourself in the house? The children playing, you could be the one.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Go to Monster, send res, ah, done!

Not so fast, bunky!

Those algorithm, keyword searching systems are a black hole, according to Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder, Human Workplace.

Ryan recommends, for one thing, sending a letter--you know, paper, envelope, stamp.

Instead of a cover letter--send a Pain Letter (TM). This is designed to show how you can relieve the manager's pain.

Here is how it goes:

(1) Congratulate the manager for something good the company did recently. (This is the Hook.)

(2) Then comes the Pain Hypothesis (maybe you will need new people because of the reorganization).

(3) Then a Dragon Slaying story about you--maybe you came into an understaffed startup and wore three hats.

(4) Then the closing--if this warrants a conversation, please call me.

Slap on your resume and put it in an envelope and send.

And I would add--after 2 weeks, try to call and see if the manager got it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Just working hard won't get the big $$

Women, especially, sometimes think that if they work hard, their efforts will be rewarded with raises and praises.

But it isn't working out that way.

According to a 2008 study (Carnegie-Mellon), men ask for raises 85% more often than women. They look at the raise conversation as winning the ballgame. Women look at it as going to the dentist.

Becky Sheetz-Runkle wrote Sun Tzu for Women: The Art of War for Winning in Business.

Women are afraid they will come off as aggressive or "trouble."

So they work harder and harder hoping to be rewarded.

Instead, they should do research--salary trends in the field and in your geographic area. Check out and http://CBSalary/com.

But even if you are underpaid, saying it's not fair is not enough of an argument. Have your accomplishments and special worth in mind.

In a negotiation, everyone needs to walk away with something. Have a bottom line in mind, but also things you could give away.

Practice beforehand.

But the best time to get on the right money track is before taking the job. Negotiate then if you think their offer is just an opening bid.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Time for a new career?

CareerBuilder asks--Do you ever think you are in the wrong career--like a baby switched at birth?

I added the baby part. I love that little Prince!

Anyhow, you need to be somewhat realistic (I hate that, don't you?). If you are 45, you probably can't be a firefighter.

So seek clarity.

What do you notice the most? Talk about the most? What looks like fun? What seems challenging?

Then you need to take a hard look at finances. An entirely new field may not shower money on you, at least at first. See how severely you can cut back.

Then--what skills will transfer? Maybe you know an industry (energy, oil, transportation) and can transfer to a different part of it.

Or stick with a type of client--selling a different item but to a market you know.

See if you can get certificated (see below--troll down).

And stay on top of the news! This means reading and going to sites.

Amazingly a lot of business people don't read business news. Don't be one.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Smell phones


I am mostly a Luddite and have no need of a cell phone because I don't get out much. But my gosh, people, those things are irritating!

Like being a nondrinker in a bar--I just don't "get" it. The tinny little things ring again and again--same person. If someone doesn't answer--they are busy. Wait an hour or two.

Texts with one letter--"k"--this is worth a gigantic phone bill?

Now, employers are being cautioned not to tell people to use their own devices at work--if someone has a dirty picture on their private phone and shows it around--the employer can get nailed for sexual harassment.

I have heard of people holding the phone below table level and texting and glancing during dates or meals.

This does not even count some bozo texting while driving and smashing someone's life out of existence.

I know I sound like an old crab--but this has got to change.

I remember leaving the house thinking great now my clients can't reach me for an hour. Blessedly. Try it--you might like being off the grid.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Don't you hate self-actualizing?

Another day, another chance to kick your own fanny and get out there. Be your own cheerleader. Keep yourself going and inspired.

Nap time!

But, no, of course, we can't give up or slow down.

First you need a pretty simple goal--you can't change it every day.

Name an action or two you can take. One or two--per day.

In the shower, ask yourself--how will I give and to whom?

If you feel annoyed--ask yourself--it is you or the work?

At night, think about what you learned and what you are grateful for.

Does all that sound too Goody-Two-Shoes? Yeah, probably. But I do like to see some accomplishments in a day. Settle for that.

Think of it not as a treadmill, but a winding path with surprises.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Colleges emphasizing jobs

Beth J. Harpaz, AP, says many top schools no longer offer "self-discovery"  and intellectual growth--and zero in on actual paying jobs that could result.

Follow your passion is out, get a job is in.

Alumni now serve as mentors, schools set up internships, and career centers are expanding.

Between 1966 and 2010, half as many kids graduate in the humanities.

So now, you may be able to enroll in a co-op program, half school, half work.

Didn't we call this OJT--on the job training?

I graduated from a tony place in Asian Studies and never used my degree for one day. Not directly. But I did use how to learn, how to research, how to think and measure things.

Friday, July 19, 2013

College of iffy value--what about certification?

Like a big know-it-all, I have been going around for years saying four-year college (which often takes more time and half the time people don't finish) is being phased--and now I read in the WSJ, in a story by Caroline Porter, July 16, 2013, that my beloved idea of short-term certification for certain jobs is also a possible money-sink.

Many people who can't take the time or money for college consider "training up" to be an alternative--a gateway to a career.

This is the fastest growing segment of higher ed.

Courses can be whipped up in months, but the info can be obsolete almost as fast.

One expert says there are too many one-year programs now to make them pay. A certificate program costs around $7K in a community college, $20K in a four-year.

An aviation certificate holder can make $66K. A food services certificate grad may make only $18K, though.

Still, at Georgetown only 44% of certificate holders end up in their chosen field.

So, I guess the takeaway is to choose wisely. Talk to people. And if you do invest in one of these, finish it. You never know where it could lead. But not finishing ruins it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is STEM really the job answer?

All you hear these days is STEM. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

These are supposedly the promised career fields to cure the country and employ everyone.

I saw a panel on Book TV last weekend about college--it centered on William Bennett's book Is College Worth It? The panel was the older, male, kind of fusty types--academics--but they seemed to think maybe college was overpriced and did not really guarantee a lucrative job or a good life.


Another academic, UC Davis computer science professor Norman S. Matloff, says the so-called STEM shortage is "a web of deceit designed to trick the whole country."

Double wow.

Many jobs in the STEM area don't require a degree. Less than 5% of jobs in the tech field even require a high level of knowledge.

Everyone knows some of the big boys never went to college--or quit. Gates, Ellison, etc.

Experts say we have enough grads or older people out of work to fill posts, but foreign workers are cheaper.  These are the H-1B workers. Once an employer brings them in, they cannot leave for another employer--they are stuck. Employers like that.

Employers want Congress to let them bring in more H-1B visa types.

So if you are trying to force yourself into the engineering mold--research first. The "accepted widom" would be wrong.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Been to a jelly?

According to Govt Technology magazine, a jelly is an impromptu meetup of like-minded people. They are for freelance tech workers and entrepreneurs who might otherwise be closeted in their cells.

It is a form of co-working--but it's free, and according to what the organizers can find, meet in libraries, coffee houses, and pubs--even homes.

You need wifi, everyone brings a laptop or tablet or what they use to work.

Jellies are announced on Facebook and on or

Why call them jellies? The first two organizers ate jellybeans.

We had a group in DC like this--we met in the afternoon--3ish--at a local pizza joint--they put out a few pies, the place was empty at that hour. Drinks were cash. We had 40 people sometimes.

I called it The Shut-Ins.

I tried it in AZ, but it petered out in six months. I would love to try again.

Also, when I was in DC, we had salons. One woman held one every Wednesday for decades--at various bars. You could go if you had been away and see who was who in the albums she brought.

Another place, a design firm, had a salon every Friday after work--bring your own. Sometimes it lasted all night until dawn, other times it folded in half an hour. It was based on the "legend" of Victor, the giraffe at the London zoo who died trying to mate with Arabella, and the royal navy put a sling on him to raise him, but he still died. They had pins with a dead giraffe hanging in a sling. I still have mine. You know how designers are.

Life used to be way more fun than now.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dream job--nightmare attitude

Have you watched Bravo TV's new "reality" show BELOW DECK? It's about the young, buff crew of a luxury charter yacht sailing out of St. Martin.

Crewing is sort of like hotel work--but in a confined space. Cleaning, turning down beds, cooking, serving, bar tending, making nice with dull or gross people.

In other words, it's a job. This is why they call work work.

But these young people have a pretty casual attitude toward authority--except towards the captain, who is decades older and not someone you'd want to mess with.

The third steward Sam just loves to irritate and taunt her boss Adrienne. In one scene, Adrienne asks her to reclean a toilet--and Sam says something like would it kill you to bring a rag and knock it out yourself.

Uh...that is not how you talk to the boss, kids.

The other steward Kat is always bitching that Adrienne makes her do everything.

Adrienne says to Sam at one point that this is how you learn. Sam shoots back--I am not here to learn, I am here to have fun.

Well, isn't that peachy?

Watch the show. These youngsters are asked to sort of get girls for one group of guys with no game of their own. That is kind of above and beyond. But it does happen--even on land--and you need to know how to deal with an uncomfortable situation like that.

You need to be in a job to learn. And it's not all fun.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Email addiction--do you even want to quit?

I don't have a smartphone or tablet, but I do sit on the desktop computer (remember those) all day and get emails when they come in.

Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators International, ( you wish to email someone who gave up email), says we spend 40% of our time reading and sending emails.

It supposedly takes us 25 mins to get back on track after an interruption--and interruptions take 28% of our day. I can't make those numbers work--but the idea is that jumping to emails is not productive.

Newlund says to check twice a day--like 8 am and 4 pm. The rest of the time put on the Out of Office Assistant.

He also has other advice--like limit your use of cc and bcc to spare others.

But let's get back to twice a day. So the rest of the time--people think you are out gallivanting someplace.

That could be negative when it comes to clients or bosses.

I do think we could use fewer cute kitten pix and I don't open "fun" attachments at all. But twice a day?

I might as well try to give up work and friends.

Of course, not all of them feel the same--I have relatives who don't even check email from one day to the next. They are annoying.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Children beg to do chores

According to Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, July 10, 2013, there are new phone apps that have children begging to work.

And here I used to say it's hard to get good help--and impossible to give birth to it.

One, $3.99, called You Rule Chores, gives each kid an avatar and they accumulate points toward rewards by dibbing chores they work out with the parents.

The parents can set the rewards--extra TV--or some apps like ChoreMonster lets kids compete on the internet for prizes--or even a booby prize like stinky socks.

They claim kids actually ask for work.

Oh--yeah--you are also supposed to tell kids how beneficial a clean house is, how they are part of the family deal, and thank them. But I see that as more parental rambling...The prize is the thing!

Do we really need a smartphone to raise a kid? Yeah, probably at this point. Smartmom, smartphone--what's the diff?

Don't mind me--I just cleaned up after the cat. No prize. Darn.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Comforting thoughts--Norwegian edition

My paternal grandmother came to Stevens Point, Wisconsin, from Norway and as a mere slip of a girl married the town doctor who was 30 years her senior. Her maiden name was Klansrud.

Strange for those days--Dr Lawrence had been married before and divorced. Grammy Ethel had a half-sister.

My father had two sisters--and one often traveled to Norway.

This immigration deal is not new. It is the backbone of this country--it is why we don't all have black hair and brown eyes.

This may sound sort of dumb, but some days, I take courage from my Viking blood. Not the raping and pillaging parts--but the courage of setting off in tiny boats to find who knows what. There must be some of that in me--and probably even more in Gram, who was young, female, and when her older husband died of pneumonia, worked the rest of her life as a fifth grade teacher to take care of her three kids.

People are brave! Noble, even.

Maybe this is why sites like are popular as people grow older and wonder what all this was about. I have never tried it--have you?

Oh--and I also sleep with a Teddy bear just in case my Viking nerves fail me. There might have been a good luck charm or two on those long ships--who knows.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Glass smash!

Entrepreneur and talk show host Jason Calacanis finally declared that the emperor is wearing dorky looking spy glasses!

He despises Google Glass, an eyewear-based little computer screen, camera, etc.

You look like an idiot! he shouts to wearers.

People wearing them could be recording your conversation with them.

He asked one guy to take them off while talking to him. Nope.

He also told someone at his friendly poker game to take his off. Nope...and the guy added winningly, "I am a glasshole."

No kidding.

Maybe you fanatics could get cornea implants. Maybe eye transplants. But I really think something involving the brain might be better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Maybe OK--sometimes--to talk smack about a boss

The wisdom is to not talk negatively about a boss. A potential employer might think you would do it to him or her.

But our gurus Dale Dauten and JT O’Donnell read a letter from a woman whose dentist boss was so horrible, she needed stress treatment three times a week. She never wanted him called for a reference—but interviewers did it anyway.

What should she do?

O’Donnell said you could say the interviewer could call the old boss, but you weren’t sure what kind of reference he would provide.

THEN…Dauten said the interviewer might ask why you would not get a good reference. Do not say because you had to work late or the boss became furious of  minor mistakes—this happens everywhere.

Also do not say you have to be in treatment due to this person.

You could, he said, give a startling example—such as “Well, he would scream and throw instruments at the wall.”

Be sure the example is true and makes the old boss lose all credibility.

This is a calculated risk, I would say.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Are you lapsing into bad habits?

As time grinds on in this crappy economy, all of this can get old old old. We are only human! Well,YOU are only human. I, naturally, am perfect.

CareerBuilder reminds even us perfect types not to succumb to negativity. Even if you try to fake it, your ennui will seep through.

You may think you are good at shooting the breeze--but in an interview, this is not enough--look up the company!

Don't quick text or IM a potential employer. Too flippant.

And don't toot your own horn too much--you will come off as arrogant and hard to work with.

And when was the last time you overhauled your resume? You should do this every so often--at least it will remind you of what you have to offer.

Four million people have been unemployed more than six months. It is really a skill to kickstart yourself--but you need to.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What about adding a video to your application?

Progress just keeps on coming. Darn it.

A young man named Humberto Valle, out here in AZ, has developed a website called (two p's for opportunity) which helps applicants add a video to their job applications.

They make no secret of it--this is for Millennials (read young people) who are tech savvy.

And, I would say, also, people who don't look old--which is still a big no-no jobwise. Yes, age discrimination is illegal--so what, it happens all the time.

Still, companies are not asking for videos of applicants. Sometimes these are posted on YouTube.

So this is a fledgling industry--but these days, the fledgling stage usually lasts about six months.

So whiten those teeth and buy a new shirt.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Know thyself

Do you have a career map? A five-year plan? A 10-year plan? That can be confining--and things are changing like mad.

Another option is a career compass...a sense of what you want and don't want out of work.

Look into your innermost being and decide..

Independence versus teamwork. Do you like to be left alone or schmooze with others.

Action versus serenity. Fast-paced, the unexpected--or calm and fully realized.

Big company versus small. The excitement of a startup or the stability of a big company.

Opportunity versus security. Little security but huge chance of advancement sound good?

Money versus passion. A less than thrilling job with lots of bennies or a strong sense of purpose?

Then, if something comes along, you know if it's right or not.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Work--or workout?

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, talks about people who are so fixated on "fitness" that they pursue it all day long.

One woman, a dietitian at the Univ of Missouri, works at a treadmill desk. She puts in 11 miles a day, dresses in layers in case she gets hot, has special shoes.

She even stands at meetings (bet that is popular).

She has a coworker who "treads" at 2 mph--100 cals an hour.

If you aren't this um...dedicated...and don't have a treadmill desk (spendy), try getting up each hour. Walk in place for 2 mins or do10 kneebends.

Be a leader--don't be embarrassed.

If I were these people's boss, I would say--get to work! But it looks like they are the boss.

I also read some comments the other day on apps for fitness--people have special watches, alarms, trackers, robocalls, etc.

Sometimes I dunno. I guess this is OK--but they should stop calling Boomers self-centered.

By the way--I read a new name for old--early borns. I hate it. Maybe we should call this treadmill group "yesterday borns."