Friday, February 27, 2015

New job--new problems

Susan Ricker, writing on CareerBuilder, says a new job can mean a feeling of being overwhelmed with newness. New people, new projects, new conflicts...

Often you feel in over your head after a big project is underway--even if you are not new.

Look at what management consultants do--they break each big thing into smaller tasks.What about the equipment...what about the marketing message...what about social media..what about measuring results...

Sometimes you need to get guidance from others on the team--what is the first priority, the second..Don't be afraid to ask.

Make realistic commitments--yes, you have to sleep, eat, see your family. Put together a written timeline, don't careen from idea to idea, task to task...

Talk to your manager--see how you are doing, get suggestions. This is perfectly OK when you are new, and usually it is also OK and preferred by managers even when you are not new--they don't like surprises, either.

It's like the first day of school--you are not expected to know everything that will be taught.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to spend your first paycheck

Calling all grads and Millennials and other newbies. You finally got a job--and with it came a paycheck.

You are on your way! This according to Matthew Tarpey, writing on CareerBuilder.

But on your way to where--the bar the celebrate? The casino?

A first instinct is to spend the first money on yourself--you deserve it.

But--please--do not change your lifestyle too fast!

Living beyond your means is very hard to reverse.

Have a plan for that first check. Maybe put aside a small amount to splurge or for a long-desired purchase.

Yes, another paycheck is coming--but this is no excuse to run riot. You need to account for food, shelter, clothes, taxes, insurance, savings.

A very good move is to open a savings account and have 10% put in it automatically.

Save a percentage--not just something like $100. In a few years, that $100 will be a low percentage.

And remember--look at the FICA--Uncle Sugar helped himself to a ton--money doesn't go as far as it used to.

I know--I am a big buzzkill. Listen or not--you will find your way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hoffice a new work-at-home strategy

Feargus O'Sullivan, Govt Executive Magazine, Feb 3, 2105, talks about a Scandi startup call Hoffice, which gathers telecommuters into groups that meet at one their homes or apartments, which then becomes a co-working space.

Everyone is in the same game, they meet each day to outline what they will do that day, and what might get in their way.

One such sounded a little ... dunno...restricted. All would be quiet for 45 mins, then a signal, and everyone would stretch or meditate.

There are five such Hoffice groups in Sweden, one in Helsinki, and one in Copenhagen.

Participants chip in for expenses.

Sounds good until you wonder about personality conflicts, people babbling into phones, weird smells of food cooking, client stealing, who will clean up, how this affects the actual homeowner...

I know--I am a grump.

But in DC--I knew people who threw in on office space downtown--maybe two or three people. They had problems.

The H in Hoffice could stand for Hell.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Is this a Millennial deal or just bad business?

As my regulars know, I often post on the attitude of Millennials coming up. The 411 seems to be they can feel entitled, are cursory in email manners, do work at their own pace, are not used to the business world, and so on.

I am trying to find a cartoonist/animator to partner with me in pitching a short cartoon to a major Hwood player.

The first guy I contacted, never showed me anything--it was the holidays, it was this, that.

The second one was "perfect." He had done work for Hwood companies, had children, seemed to think he was "the guy"--that he wanted to be "the guy."

Then came the excuses...He was sick, he had to go someplace, his whole family was sick, he went back to the same place...Seven weeks went by. I did get an unfinished depiction of the two characters in the cartoon--but never saw any frames of the storyboard. He seemed to resent my suggestions--called them "committee" bees. (They are honeybees.) Well, this is my work of 2.5 yrs--yes, I have opinions.

I am trying now to get my money back from what I realize was one of those freelance mills--like elance or oDesk. Bah! He has now lashed out, I am just a cheap client, my script sucked, and so on.

Soooo....that was fun.

I am offering a 50-50 split on the cartoon venture--a project I found (or found me) and based on my years of development.

Know anyone? Anyone communicative, honest, and fun to work with?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Want no job regrets in 20 years?

Career choices keep on giving--happiness or pain.  Bernard Marr, a popular keynote speaker, says the jobs you regret will be those which:

Make you pretend to be someone you are not. Maybe you pretend to be a sports fan. Or to know things you don't.

Make you do things based on money alone. Money should not be the sole reason.

Think you can change the job. Unless you are C-level, you can't do much changing.

Settle. I tell my daughter never to settle. We try not to. OK or good enough--over time--is not OK.

Work 80 hour weeks. No one can keep this up.

Put friends and family last. Coworkers are not forever. You can feel close, they leave--bam, everyone forgets.

Micromanage. See working 80 hour weeks, above.

Avoid mistakes. If all you do is lay low and not make big mistakes, you are not taking risks.

Don't help others. Sure--you're nice, but a job that also helps others is also nice.

Don't value happiness--happiness does not come "later." You need some now.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Telework--more productive?

Here's a tip: Get dressed.
Does your company let you work from home some days--or all days?

The internet made this more possible, says Cassie Weber in Govt Executive Magazine, Jan 30, 2105. Online hangouts, video conferencing, and group work platforms have let scattered teams pull together.

Is this something you would like?

First, you will see more of loved ones--maybe too much? You may have time for breakfast with the kids, checking homework, and so on--but don't think no child care will be needed. It will. My child went to all-day day care at age 2. I know others who had babysitters upstairs--their offices downstairs.

Supposedly this lets you control your environment. Yes, you can gaze out the window at trees. Exercise can be easier to do. But you also need to cowboy up and work--and only you can tell yourself to do that.

The commute. No more freeway. No more stalled subways. No more gas fillups. but you need to put those gained hours to work!

And you may be lonely. This is why people natter away on Facebook or other sites. In one study, half the people missed the water cooler and went back to the office.

I never did--but people do.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Talking sports to fit in

Tom Blanton, in a special story to the Arizona Republic, Feb 15, 2015, says knowing at least something about sports can help you in the workplace.

Seattle Seahawks broadcaster Jen Mueller, author of Talk Sporty to Me: Thinking Outside the Box Scores, says you need to relate to the mindsets of of key decision-makers--and I guess the implication is that these are MEN.

Still, one in six Americans say they are sports fans.

She goes back to the axiom that people trust other people who are :like" them--in this case, sports fans, I guess.

She recommends the opener, "Did you watch the game last week?" What game does not matter, she says.

If they say yes, then discuss. If no, ask what they were doing instead...

See that last is where I lose the thread. That isn't networking, really--to say, or imply, "Oh, you weren't in front of the TV, well, what else could you have possibly been doing?"

I am a grump, sue me. Also--if I open with sports, it takes about one hot second to learn I am a total ignoramus--which is never good in a business setting.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Crazy excuses for being late to work

Amy McDonnell, CareerBuilder, says people have the most creative excuses for being late to work.

CareerBuilder surveyed 2,100 HR people and found some doozies.

First, 20% of workers said they were late once a month, 14% once a week.

So...the search for "reasons" is really quite necessary. Usually it's "traffic" or "the subway stopped" or "weather."

But some are a lit-tull harder to buy:

"I knocked myself out in the shower."

"I got drunk and forgot which Waffle House I parked next to."

"Someone robbed the gas station I was at and I did not have enough gas to get to another station."

"I had to wait for the judge to set my bail."

"A deer herd was slow."

I admit I used to call in "well." If I said I felt too good to come to work and got the boss before his coffee, he thought I said "bad" instead of good.

Recently someone I used to live with wrote his memoirs and noted that I did this. It was memoir-worthy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

From TV--who is your "work spouse"?

They share a secret.
Do you have a work spouse--someone who you can confide in and trust (just no s-e-x)?

Deanna Hartley looks at some relationships from TV. Do any sound familiar?

Jim & Pam from "The Office." They "get" each other and everyone knows it. They finish each other's sentences.

Jake & Amy from "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." She is orderly and the teacher's pet--he is a disorganized but good-natured scamp. They balance each other.

Harvey & Donna from "Suits." Donna may be Harvey's assistant, but there is mutual respect, faith, and trust. They read each other's mind and watch each other's back.

Neil & Peter from "White Collar." Peter's an FBI agent and Neil's a criminal/confidential informant. Peter has more power than Neil, but trusts him.

Castle & Becket from "Castle." Beckett is a detective, Castle a mystery writer who helps the NYPD. At first he gets in the way, then they become inseparable.

Mindy & Peter from "The Mindy Project." Work BFFs, totally. No secrets left to tell. No boundaries. They are all in.

Mike & Harvey from "Suits." The have similar penchants--for music, movies, and jokes. They are rivals in the legal arena sometimes--but "their secret" bonds them.

You don't know their secret? Poor you.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Weird tales from the workplace

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuidler, says 2014 brought some amusing work-related stories.

MOST ADORABLE RESUME. Or should I say, "totes adorbs"? A Lego version of herself...with the headline, "Build the perfect account service intern."

RESUME CHECK THAT BACKFIRED. Trying out for a college coaching job, an applicant invited the revelation that he had no degree--and a degree was required.

TWO PUNDITS FIGHT. I mean--fight--punch! Is this news or Jerry Springer?

DOCTOR SEXTS DURING SURGERY. He was the one operating! And speaking of--those Steve Kroft sexts--ick ick, I am off 60 Minnutesnow.

GOVERNMENT LAB EXPOSES PEOPLE TO DEADLY DISEASES... Yes, the Centers for Disease Control. Think they would be more careful.

PRINCIPAL LOSES JOB OVER MISSPELLED SIGN. Aw--probably dyslexia or something. Or else he's a dunce.

JANITOR GETS TO KEEP $80,000 FOUND IN BATHROOM.  He turned it in--total $100,000--and got to keep $80K. Not bad.

Some days, you just have to laugh. Hope this was one of them.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Use Reddit to back up use of OKCupid and Tinder

A good man (or woman) is hard to find...Mainly because there are so many choices and the internet, anyway, is a treacherous dating pool.

At Georgia Tech, researchers say many people use Reddit to find out how to make best use of other dating sites.

The forums on Reddit are key. Daters discuss behavior, such as unwanted messages, timing, and how to respond to various overtures. They also learn how to protect their privacy and photos.

Some people even learn on Reddit how to increase their odds on, say, OKCupid.

--Give your profile 4 or 5 stars to get noticed
--Create a fake profile to browse anonymously
--Scan profiles without clicking
--Share on Reddit response rates--how a private message worked

As far as Tinder goes:

--Men swiped LIKE on all profiles
--They spoofed their location to get more matches
--They tested which of their pix worked the best

Most Reddit forum users say boring generic profiles are the worst problem...the likes to laugh, walk on the beach stuff.

You know what? Go to a bar or check out the guys at church or the produce dept.

Old school, baby! Catfishing not possible.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Business "Buddhism"

Angelo Kinicki is a management professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State.

He says forgetting people's names the second you are introduced or asking a question that has just been asked are symptoms of lack of mindfulness.

This state consumes about half your workday!

Mindfulness, on the other hand, means being deliberately attentive. Doing this will increase your effectiveness, energy, and make you sleep better.

A lot of household word companies are investing in classes to make employees more mindful.

--Practice focusing your attention. Select an object and spend five whole minutes focusing on it. Hold it, feel it, think about it, smell it.

--Practice meditating--there are many techniques.

--Set daily intentions that benefit you or others.  Be specific--"I will turn off my cellphone after 7 PM."

--Notice when your mind wanders. Your brain wants to wander. You need to rein it in.

Actually, my mind wandered writing this--calm down, I am reining it in!

Give me a second.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Musing on wearable electronics

Ryan Budish, Next Gov Magazine, riffs off on wearables:

One wearable he always has worn is hearing aids. Some lessons to be learned here, he says. All wearables fill gaps in human capacity.

But they need to embed themselves seamlessly into human life. His hearing aids do now, small, inside his ear canal.

Still, wearables create substitute realities. Hearing aids amp up soft sounds, lower loud ones--change reality.

And like all wearables, hearing aids will be governed by algorithms set by others--which you will never undertand.

Wearables will also fail and we may not know it.

Also wearables will record everything.

As time goes on--wearables will be more immersive, more complex, more difficult to trouble shoot, and will collect more data.

What does all this mean? Don't look at me--I am going to live in a cave.

Yesterday my computer monitor suddenly went black. I called three places in the Yellow Pages (very analog) and got bids of $150, $99--and then a nice guy said why don't you push the button? Button? Yes--he told me where it was. Of course, it was not marked. The monitor went back on!

See why I belong in the cave?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New work pattern--don't go there

You have heard of progressive companies with bars and Casual Fridays?

Some companies take it further. They don't let work interfere with fun, family bonding, and freedom.

Take the Portland, OR tech company called Treehouse. They close on Friday.

The founder plays with his kids, reads books with them, takes his wife out.

Another place, BambooHR, a software firm in Urah is anti-workaholic. In summer--the work week is 4 days.

All this goes against the crazy Red Bull-fueled rep of most tech companies, where people never go home, or the company is housed in their living space.

One such remembers sleeping under the desk for 20 minutes and emerging delirious.

The theory goes that most tech startups fail anyway--so why sweat it?

One entrepreneur said you are creating universe, so why not create one you want to live in?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Consulting as segue to retirement

I bet you have heard all the low-key insults--freelancing means unemployed, consulting means you can't hold a  job...Well, pooey on you--when you get older and have been through the corporate and media hoops, you do have kills and advice to offer. And you can get paid to offer it.

Amy Zipkin, NYT, Feb 7, 2015, says many boomers now want to work longer and are turning to firms specializing in placing temps or part-time in specific industries.

More than half want to stay in "their" field.

Sixty percent of those with a career bridge over to retirement with some form of consulting or part-time work.

One example is YourEncore, with consultants in the life and food sciences. One woman there goes into people's homes and watches them prepare meals or talk about their interiors.

Another placement is Work At Home Vintage Employees, specializing in those with insurance experience.

Usually people considered by these firms have at least 25 years of experience.

One expert described this as "the glide path to retirement."

What if you don't want to "retire"--which to me means do little but watch TV or read--well, then don't.

I switched careers--but not everyone wants to.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What early birds do besides eat worms

Susan Ricker of CareerBuilder interviewed some movers and shakers about what they do first thing in the morning.

Mornings are key to their days. They are are to mine--I am a morning person.

Tiffany Mason, CEO at Mason Coaching and Consulting in West Point, NY: Wakes up two hours before breakfast, does her workout, and then completes the highest priority task of the day.

David T. Jones, creative director of Third Street, an ad agency in Chicago: Coffee, stretches, doesn't talk or communicate for at least 20 mins. Scours emails for things he forgot to answer. Writes a to-do list for the entire day. Puts some good in the world--maybe a thank you note, congratulates a friend. Takes a deep breath. Begins!

Daniela Cuevas, founder and managing partner of The Spark Agency, a digital marketing firm in NY: Upon waking, thinks about the company and how to improve it. Does not check email right away. Drinks coffee, listens to podcasts, thinks about the business.

Jennifer Vogel, vp of Ethnotek, creator of ethically produced bags: Starts with an attitude of gratitude. Writes an email to someone she appreciates. A little yoga, say Sun Salutations, to wake up the body. Then breakfast for herself and the dog.

The dog. I was thinking maybe kids were not involved. No disrespect, but kids change all this "easing in" and contemplating stuff.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Toptal a boon to independent developers

In about half a second I will be out of my depth and my element. 

But I wanted to bring to your attention a site for computer geniuses to get independent work—it’s called Toptal.com.

If you don’t know the technical name for what you do (and you may not, these descriptions morph around), scroll down the Home page to see a ton of job descriptions.

The site also has articles, such as one I briefly glimpsed, on how to build a “recommendation engine” to predict what your customer might like out of a range of options.

I think the idea on Toptal is to present yourself  as a practitioner of one or more of the development skills or master of the software—or in the case of companies, select a developer from the lists of descriptions of people offering their skills. These are also helpful for other developers to see how their colleagues present themselves and what they do.

There is a theory going around that everyone will soon be freelance or independent—just a blob of skill sets out on our own. I think this is somewhat exaggerated, but if you are in the tech game, Toptal may be worth a look.


Tell them I sent you. Although I have no idea what you do, I am sure it benefits technical dopes like me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Math and techies, listen up

According to the American Statistical Assn, the fastest growing STEM field in statistics--learning from data. STEM, of course, stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Second on the list is computer info and technology administration and management.

Environmental/health--next.

Computer programming is up 77% since 2010.

Sociology and anthro are second behind that at 76.7% above 2010.

Science/Tachnology techs--74% above.

Computer software and Media apps--up 68% over 2010.

And research and experimental psychology--up 66%.

Statistics is a hot career field!  And this is not a passing fad--colleges are beefing up these depts.

So what are the odds you will go into one of these fields?

You do the math.

I sure can't.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to fit in a second job

Sad but true, in today's world you may need more than one job to make ends meet. This is now called side hustling.

This according to a story by Debra Auerbach on Forbes.com.

She quotes Mark Frost, editor-in-chief if HackCollege.com. He says don't start out with two at the same time.

Also, make sure your side job fits your passion, says Mike Kawula, founder of Self-Employed King.

You will really need to notch up your time management skills.

In addition, your weekend time may become your side hustling time. You are young and strong--you can do it.

Oh--and be sure your company does not mind your second gig. Check your employment contract, if you have one.

Or else ask your HR manager about it.

That person may also have a side job. Who knows.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Does your body language make people cooperate?

Carol Kinsey Goman, writing on Forbes.com, says leaders need to make people feel valued, respected, and included.

While you may show your confidence by "filling" space, it might be better to keep your body warm and open.

How?

Relax. Keep your legs uncrossed, arms away from your body with palms exposed or resting loosely on the desk or table.

Lean toward the listener or colleague. But not too far forward--don't violate the other person's "space."

Align your body toward the person. Even a slight turn away can show disinterest.

Mirror that person's movements. Nod, match their smiles and other expressions.

When nodding, try three nods--this can be a positive cue.

Make sure you look like you are paying attention.

I suppose actually paying attention would be even better! Don't check your watch or look around to see what others are doing.

Yawning would be bad, too.