Monday, March 31, 2014

Texting rehab

I was talking to a young person (32). Well, not talking--emailing. See? Even I do it. Emailing and texting are not the same as talking on the phone or meeting with someone.

For one thing, emailing and texting are a way to distance. On the phone if someone gets angry or lovey-dovey, you have to deal with it--in texts, delete.

Emailing and texting are also poor ways to communicate. They are uninflected. I can email--really great idea and if I don't put (sarc), someone will think I think it's a really great idea.

All of this can be accomplished better on the phone or in person--less clunky, jargony and dopey. The young person I emailed said come to think of it. he almost never used his phone to phone people.

Actually--he said a few emails later--he hardly ever talked to anyone anyhow except at work.

So now we can't have a conversation.

I said what about bars--he said in LA, people think you want something from them. I said you can't shoot the breeze? He said well, maybe in hole in the wall places. I think he meant neighborhood bars. Those are great and I miss them like fire myself!

So do you feel isolated? Try coming back to the Land of the Speaking.

1) Never IM or text or email the person in the next cube. Speak!

2) Never hold a difficult conversation via text--example, breaking up with someone. Texting the address of the lunch place is OK--but real interaction?

3) Talk on your phone once a day--then go to twice a day--make an effort.

4) Get out among breathing humans. My young friend finally said he did talk to people at the Dog Park--so, whew, dogs can be an icebreaker...So can weather, believe it or not, or sports, or even that lost plane or something else in the news.

Learn to talk all over again.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Business cards--too disposable?

A smartypants named Gary Vaynerchuk, a "serial entrepreneur" and angel investor (WSJ, Mar 20, 2014), says in seven years, he has thrown out 10,000 business cards.

Some people, he says, think networking is based on handing out cards.

But why do we network--he asks. We network because at some point we might want something from the other person.

He gets this leverage by doing something first for the person and then walking away, asking nothing.

Pay it forward (I hate that term). How about if you see something the other person might be interested in and not know about--email it? Pick up a lunch check? Call just to see how things are going?

I do have cards. I never go anywhere to hand them out. But designing a new card every few years helps you pinpoint what you do.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Open floor plans started in Germany

In the 1960s, according to Julie Beck in Govt Executive Magazine, Mar 21, 2014, two brothers who worked in their father's office furniture biz kicked off the "office landscape" movement. More communication--less status.

As this became more common, studies showed people did not love it. There may be more communication, but less privacy.

With lack of privacy comes talking, typing, even chewing--ew. Still other studies showed all this affected concentration.

There was less exposure to windows--this affected sleep. Bright artificial light also heightens emotion.

Background music hurts many introverts. Sometimes people want a standing desk--while this may increase life expectancy (sitting supposedly cuts it, anyhow), it can result in foot problems and premature births.

So what is the conclusion? Private offices with plenty of sun and no overheads. Noise-cancelling headphones for i ntroverts--and cut their caffeine. More music for extroverts and seat them next to the coffee pot.

Oh, never mind. Cube farms are evil. So are standing desks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Can you pinpoint ROI on your education?

ROI--return on investment. For most people these days, this means an appropriate, well-paying job.

Melissa Korn, WSJ, Mar 17, 2014, says colleges try to track which jobs their grads get--but it's not a simple task. Yet, incoming students are trying to get some handle on what they can expect. Let's face it, they sort of want an guarantee.

Not going to happen.

Some govt agencies try to track this, but it's piecemeal.

And the schools themselves don't consider the number of jobs students get to be a useful metric.

There is some argument, too, about what "employed" means.

So what is the upshot? Keep on trying.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Many startups limping along

Angus Loten, Emily Chasan, and Russ Garland, WSJ, Mar 20, 2014, says many entrepreneurs see the humongous WhatsApp sale for $19 billion and start salivating.

Yet first-round financing for startups fell last year. Seed round (right before launch) is down 30%.

More established companies did a little better in attracting money.

It's hard to value companies that are not making any money. Art, science, and a lot of supply and demand is how one guru put it.

Ironically the less it costs to get a company off the ground, the less value there is.

People who invest bet on more value down the road--but that could also be zero.

Boy that sounds great, doesn't it? Bubble, anyone?

Monday, March 24, 2014 to you think you qualify?

Back when I was seeking freelance assignments, I had one rule--if I didn't know what a job was or the "title" did not explain it, I did not apply. I gather I thought I could master almost anything else--or had mastered it.

CareerBuilder goes into this--pointing out that "What do you think your greatest weakness is?" is still an interview staple.

This is a trick question.

I would say, "Plasma physics." But I always was a smart ass. And this is rarely appreciated in a job interview. Trust me, I know.

You don't want to say, "I tend to ignore deadlines." They don't want people who do that.

And it's pretty dorky to say, "I tend to work too hard." Really--no, seriously.

So it doesn't hurt to think about what your strengths and weaknesses are. There is a program called Strengthfinder 2.0.

Think back on feedback from other managers.

Are you a people person? A great "follower" willing to pitch in anyplace? Or an analytical recluse? A wacky genius type? Think!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Remember networking?

Do you still concentrate on making new contacts and keeping up your old ones? In the WSJ, Mar 13, 2014, some movers and shakers offer some tips on finding people who can help your business or startup.

One says networking is a terrible word. You don't get friends by setting out to cultivate people--you make friends. Get to know your friends better--ask non-work questions.

Another has suggestions for meetups--be there early. Maybe only three people do this--this is a good chance to really talk to them. When you fly, fly first class or business class--better people to talk to. You can always fly home from an event coach. Get active in charities--work with people on silent auctions and similar projects.

And...always have your contacts in mind. Send articles of interest. Attend their events. Don't namedrop or try too hard. One of the best networkers I know always does favors for people. He says yes.

Some of this can be done on Linked In--but face to face is more lasting.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Time to take another cut?

Nothing seems to be changing. The govt has no idea what to do--and is doing the wrong things, upping the costs of doing business with taxes and that healthcare mess, leading to fewer hires.

I also seem to write about the same things year in and year out. Yes, we have been at this for years. Years!

Still, all you--personally--need is one job. So why  not reassess your situation? has come up with some tips or is recirculating them--but hey, we can all use a refresher.

Spellcheck like mad!  Your resume. Your cover letters. Your emails. By this, I do not mean "You're cover letters."

Get a decent email address for job hunting. Lose Hottie69 and put your name. Only your name.

Listen to your voicemail. Is it some rap song or slangy nonsense like "This is a machine, you know what to do, dude." Not everyone will be amused.

Employ "the Mom rule." On your FB and other sites--if you would not want Mom to see it, lose it.

Follow up but don't stalk. Unless it says don't call us, we'll call you, follow up after a few weeks. If they don't answer, catch a clue.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

All may not be lost if you are turned down

CareerBuilder quotes Joshua Siva, coauthor of BOLD: Get Noticed, Get Hired. He says it may b e OK to reapply to a company that said no.

First, try to understand why you weren't chosen the first time and fix that gap.

Second, follow up over a few month period with the HR person, reiterating your qualifications and desire to work there.

You may have to take a different position or try a different dept to get your foot in the door.

I even know of a person who was fired who is reapplying to a company. She got through one layer of scrutiny. I don't quite get that one, but whatever.

The employment world is wacky these days.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lies can come back to haunt

What if you inflated your qualifications--say you said you knew software or a language in which you were not really fluent.

Mike Hayes, Momentum Specialized Staffing, have put yourself in a pickle.

He suggested offering to buy language learning programs and get better -- or take courses in the software.

But he also said the reader might have to offer to quit.

I once got hired when the HR guy was out sick--no typing test (quite the thing in those ancient days). I could not type--and we did not have computers that corrected things--if you goofed you started over or put white paint all over the page and tried to type over it.

I did not lie--it didn't come up. But later; they had to hire a secretary to do the typing, so I lucked out.

It is best not to lie, of course. Or even exaggerate. But I have a feeling the offering to take the courses might work fairly often.

Or am I wrong?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring clean your desk

My desk was...well...pretty bad. My daughter waved her hand over some unopened Wall Street Journals and said, "What's going on here?"

So I neatened it! It was like a thousand bucks of interior decoration for the brain. I know I wrote that messy desks may mean creative mind--but this can be overdone. Plus do you always listen to me?

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, is all about digging out. First, paperless offices. What a joke! There is more paper than ever!

And adding apps is more mental clutter.

One expert says write down everything you need to do. A brain dump.

Then divide all paper into TOSS, TO-DO, and KEEP. Be ruthless!!

You know what I do--if I find a piece of paper I forgot I had, I toss it. I would never have looked for it because I forgot I had it.

Also, sometimes I put everything on the To-Do list just so I can cross easy things off. Brush Teeth. CHECK!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Do you live as if someone is noticing?

My ex, and father of my child, died unexpectedly this week.

He and I lived together almost 10 years. I left when my daughter was 4 and he did not keep in touch with her worth a flip. His loss.

Now, some woman back east where he lived wanted my daughter to sign off on things as next of kin. My daughter, now 32, stepped up and did what was required--but we decided paying for that was not our responsibility.

His two sisters also tagged up and tried to tell me negative things about him. There were faked hangups when I said let's not go there.

Maybe my daughter will get in touch with her half-sister now. This could be a positive.

I don't want to sound preachy--but who will be devastated if you die? Have you left a positive legacy? Helped others? Been truthful? Been admirable? Been a friend? Been a worthy parent?

Just thought I would mention it. When it's too late it's really too late.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to impress the boss

CareerBuilder says there are ways to wow the boss and stay on his or her good side.

First, be passionate about what you do. Keep moving up. Want to move up.

Don't complain, have a good attitude.  Hate comes through and is a turnoff.

Use negative feedback to your good. Don't be defensive. I often say--see what's there for you, take that, leave the rest.

Challenge yourself. Do hard jobs. Take on things you are not exactly sure of. Take chances.

And I would add--stay abreast of company news.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cautionary tale

I have a relative, 40, college degree, single Mom, who is banging around this job market and has made a few moves you might want to consider not making.

Her background is social services, but the available jobs these days are phone sales (of colleges, of knives, of insurance plans) and a few social service things, but with weird conditions--like part-time nights and weekends. The latter is impractical with a child.

So it's a buyer's market. Each job she accepts has a training and probation period. In one, she did the two weeks training, mastered the facts of what she was selling, had OK numbers--but as soon as she could, she tapped the health plan for elective surgery and had a bad time with it and was out a lot. She was put on disability then let go.

The next two jobs were also phone--she did the training, but then had another ailment and skipped a day although they said no skips or you're fired. She was fired. Twice.

So now she is looking again.

My advice would be play the game. That is the economy we are in now. Fake it till you make it--suit up and go. Do your best. Try to learn new skills. See where it takes you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The training or the money?

Renie Cavallari, a coach, talks a reader through a decision--one job pays $7K more than the other, but the second one offers intense onboarding and training.

Money does matter, she says, but you need to look at which employer will awake your potential.

Learning is the gift that you give your soul, she says.

Selecting a company committed to your development is important.

But you also need to be committed to your own learning and development these days.

So which is best for you? This is up to you. Your money or your life. Try to get both.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ex-offenders not completely out of luck

Out here in Arizona, almost everyone I have met has a record. Weird, but true.

Our gurus Dale Dauten and JT O'Donnell says there is sort of an underground of employers who will give offenders a shot if they seem determined to change their ways.

Ask around 12-step programs, or your parole or probation officer.

Yes, employers do background checks. So you need to be honest. Say you have made mistakes in the past but are anxious to work for a firm like the one where you are interviewing in order to prove yourself.

Emphasize your talents and schooling. Maybe that employer is like me--and knows plenty of people with records. Or even has one him or herself.

Friday, March 7, 2014


Would you hire onto a place because you liked their beer? Why not? Some tech firms ladle on the perks.

One company, Q2, has arcade night. It's networking at a local arcade--games and resumes.

MoneyDesktop holds drink-ups. Meeting place: a local brewery. (I remember companies trying to keep people out of bars, not that they succeeded--ah, good times, good times.)

RJ Metrics lets people design their own offices--complete with spendy chairs and cool desks.

Autodesk lets you bring Rover to work. Are any dogs really named Rover or Fido?

Or how about unlimited paid vacay? Try for a job at Evernote. I gather they want you to show up sometimes to earn that check, but who knows. Maybe you only work two weeks a year.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

American University's new cut at MBAs

Many college grads think they need an MBA to get a job, but then wonder--is this even a way to get a job anymore?

So American University's Kogod School of Business has redesigned its program to reflect 21st century realities.

They are combining opportunity and experience. It's a 21-month program with a solid business core--surrounded by electives aimed at consulting and other sub-interests.

The emphasis will be on where public, private and nonprofit worlds connect.

There will be two-week "signature" courses.

For those already working, there will be morning course options--say 7 am to 10 am. This could be accompanied by online learning.

There was some other jargon about "purpose driven individuals" which I tuned out, but this sounds worth checking out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Online courses leading to specific job openings

Caroline Porter and Melissa Korn (WSJ, Mar 4, 2014) say many people know additional education or training could help their job search--but the array of even online courses is now dizzying. What do you do--stick a pin in one and take it on faith?

The Apollo Education Group for profit Phoenix College) is launching an online marketplace matching courses to jobs. It's called Balloon.

It will start with a catalog of 15,000 tech courses from Microsoft, Adobe, Coursera, and Udacity--and link these to job opportunities.

Balloon will be much like iTunes--an aggregator.

Also check out Degreed, which "scores" you for knowledge--including formal schooling, mag subscriptions and other criteria.

Another site, Acredible, allows you to post written work or a video of  you speaking a language.

Another aggregation of courses is

Balloon, eventually, will charge employers for leads to students who do well--and also have the chops the employer is looking for.

All we can be sure of here is--more change. Hang on

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Messy desk, creative mind?

A blog called Busy Building Things had a story on the link between a slobby desktop and a creative brain.

They may be such a connection.

Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, had a messy office--how else would the life-saving mold get a foothold?

Yes, there is at least one study--Univ of Minnesota--people with messy desks more prone to risk-taking. Clean desks--rule followers.

When you are in the idea generating phase--chaotic desk. When going into production--maybe neater.

Keep things that could inspire.

And by the way, there are two types of messy--unkempt and dirty. Dirty may not be as inspiring--but, still, see Fleming (above).

My desk can get messy--I half read or half think something through and set it down--yes, I will pick it up again later.

I must be creative as all heck.

That guy in the pix--head of Zappos. Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday--and not so chirpy

I was just doing my health blog and realize that I am probably not sick, just a good "noticer" of normal aches and pains. Well, peachy.

Then, I started to write here about how good managers are positive. I hate positive. Have you ever heard a dopier saying than "It's all good"?

I have a doctor tell me once to stay positive--no, YOU stay positive and I hope you went to med school they day they taught my operation.

OK...enough, Star.

Let's see--the CareerBuilder article on positive managers--it says not to be a negative manager. I can kind of grok that.

Don't be over-controlling. Overchecking, micromanaging, creating impossible rules--don't.

Admit mistakes. I mean, don't ignore them or cover them up.

Have a single standard for all.

Don't punish the good and reward the bad. Some manager do this to make themselves feel more adequate.

Ask yourself--do you think your people look forward to coming to work?