Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to be a better speaker

Do you like PowerPoint? It bores me to distraction--especially if the presenter starts reading me the screens.

Robert Half, CareerBuilder, says you can do better.

First, understand your audience. Are they in the "in" crowd on the subject, completely green, or mixed?

What do they want to learn?

What are some of their concerns on the topic?

What message do you want to leave behind?

I once taught a speech writing class and my teaching partner and I said people will only remember "one" thing--we decided that for us, that would be that people would only remember one thing.

When you start, the first job is to engage the audience. Give examples. Give examples from your own life (like I just did). If you want to open with a joke, be careful--most people can't tell jokes and many people these days can't "take" humor.

If you want to be a better speaker--study the greats--such as the Ted Talks.

Try to teach something new--something people have not heard or known before.

Keep it under 20 mins.

And--Half says watch the presentation may not even need it--and you sure don't want to read it.

I would add to that--check all your equipment beforehand... A talk should not be about how you can't work your laptop.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How to quit without extreme prejudice

Remember the flight attendant who unfurled the emergency chute and leapt to freedom?

Kristin Marino,, does--she writes about this in a story on CareerBuilder.

Then there was a woman whose boss was on her about how many "views" the videos she produced were getting. So she made one of herself quitting and it garnered 17 million views. Ha!

Some advice?

If you plan some splashy Take This Job and Shove It moment--have something else lined up.

Then also submit a formal letter of resignation. Give how ever much notice the company rules require.

Don't belittle the job or the boss.

Tie up the loose ends--make things as easy as possible for your replacement.

Collect work samples before giving notice.

Makes lists of the important steps in er...transitioning.

Think about references you will want--and talk to them ahead of time.

I once had an employee give me a resignation letter that read--"Bye."

Kinda short.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Even celebrities started someplace

Of course, the actor waiting tables is iconic. But some of our biggest stars started "small" in other jobs.

Deanna Hartley, CareerBuilder, says we can't all be North West (offspring of Kim and Kanye)--who designs her own accessories at age 1.

Jennifer Aniston started out as a telemarketer, although she was apparently so bad at it she says now she probably never sold even one timeshare. Or else she won't admit it.

Nicki Minaj slung seafood at Red Lobster. She says she chased down customers who walked off with her pen.

Channing Tatum actually Magic Miked it as a stripper.

Rachel McAdams worked at Mickey D's for three years.

Matthew Morrison (Glee) worked at the Gap in New York and also waited tables.

Ellen Degeneres worked at JC Penney, TGI Friday, and other places. She was even a house painter.

Tina Fey worked at the YMCA in Chicago before landing at Second City.

Bill Murray sold chestnuts outside a grocery store in Chicago.

Jennifer Garner was a ballet teacher, babysitter, and a hostess.

Ashton Kutcher worked at Quaker Oats, where he swept floors. He also helped his dad in construction and worked at a grocery store--and Ashton is STILL an advocate of working and working hard.

You may be destined for greater things--or not--but seeing value in work is a huge plus in this world.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Quit groveling at work

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, says apologizing all the time in a professional setting can hurt your career.

A study done at the Univ of Waterloo in Canada found women tend to say they are sorry more than men.

People who do this all the time want everyone to be happy. They want to be liked.

But it is impossible to control what others think.

If you really did something wrong, sure, apologize. But people now apologize before doing anything.

"I am sorry to take up so much of your time."

"I am sorry--this is probably not what you are looking for."

"Sorry--I should have spent more time on this."

This makes you sound less than confident--and people lose confidence in you

It is not easy to break this habit. Sometimes you might even need to ask a friend to point out when you do it--it can be that automatic.

Sorry--did I go on too long with this?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Yes, you can get a job by cold calling

Everyone loves to call up perfect strangers and try to get them interested in something--especially in hiring you.

Yet, Susan Adams,, says cold calling still works. She quotes Robert Hellman, a NY career coach with a decade of experience, who says 40% of his clients have gotten jobs by deciding where they want to work, then pinpointing someone there and being honest about the fact that they have no connection to this person or the company.

Sometimes you get a bite, sometimes, well, a "cold" shoulder.

If you do get a meeting or interview, be prepared to be focused and brief. This is not about you--but about what you are offering them. Have ideas for their business, know their situation.

Don't waste the person's time--after all, they are not doing a colleague a favor or anything--this is totally on you.

In the article, people who tried this sent a bullet-pt letter or email and then maybe called. Don't stalk. That never goes well.

But I do think you can ask anyone anything--if they don't respond or are hostile, well them's the breaks.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Attention: New grads

OK, grads--time to write a resume.

Wes Lybrand, assistant director with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Career and Professional Development Services, has some pointers. (Pssst--you do not have to be a recent grad.)

You need to be focused, clear, and concise. You need to know the job you want and aim toward it.

Your resume may only have 10 seconds to make an impression. Ten seconds!

So you must tailor the resume to each job. Use the same keywords the job description does--for one thing, a computer may be matching and it won't try to figure you out. For instance, they may call for a "team player," so don't say, "worked well with others on two projects." Say, "I am a team player as evidenced by my two years on a six-person project to...."

Proofread! Get families and friends to proofread!

Yes, try to stick to one page--that is still the norm.

Ax boilerplate like "References available on request." Of course, they are.

Emphasize your accomplishments--not just the duties you faced in each job.

And I would arrange it with the most notable first.  If you went to a "big" college, put education first. If you interned or worked with a "big" company, put jobs first...drop education down.

And please, no  photos or physical descriptions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Do you love to check the boxes?

I do! Watch a show--erase it from the DVR. Have a to-do list--check! Check! Love it.

Liz Ryan,, says most people  like that sense of accomplishment.

You got something annoying off your plate! You rule.

The problem is, she says, focusing on that list can keep you from looking up to the clouds.

What you could do if you did not focus on the small petties is unimaginable!

You have to obey the laws of gravity and physics (and of the land)--but there is so much more you can do besides getting rid of dopey chores.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Interest in farmers fueling farmers markets

It's spring--time for some home-made cheese or fresh berries and veggies. Do we head for the store--maybe not. Produce in the store can be days old.

You don't have to be some prissy locavore (people who eat foods grown or raised a few miles from them) to enjoy the farmers market.

For one thing--those juicy tomatoes--the ones you used to stand in your grandmother's garden and nosh on.

But researchers say people also like the social aspects of farmers markets--they see people they know week after week--many of them actual farmers.

Yes, the prices may be a little higher--but it's worth it.

Some older lovers of farmers markets have cut back their own gardening in favor of the Saturday morning excursions.

Our market here in Chandler AZ is Thursday afternoon--not exactly a convenient time. But I do remember the Saturday morning one in Adams-Morgan in DC or the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill.

So much fun!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Are you college material?

Ought to be able to polish off this subject in 200 words, right?

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, tackles the subject of whether you should go to college. He quotes Ben Feuer, a consultant with Forster-Thomas, Inc., who says there are three major considerations.

First, your grades. Yes, they count and count big. Your GPA and test scores will govern what schools are a practical option for you.

The second is your ability to pay. College costs--and you pay long after you get out. Even a state school can be $23,000 a year. A private university can be twice or more.

 Three-quarters of students have loans. For students graduating in 2014, this means $30K or more in debt.

And the third consideration is your goals. At 18, a person may not know his or her goals, but will know where they would fit in or where they would not.

Take time to think about this--really think.

There was a story in the New York Times Sunday on whether there should be limits on how many schools the generalized application can be sent to. These applications cost money. Narrow the field first.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Questions interviewers should not ask

Did you ever come out of a job interview and think, "Hey! I don't think they were allowed to ask me that."

Well, some questions are actually forbidden by law.

A Career Builder survey showed that even the hiring managers are not clear on what these are.

Deanna Hartley takes this on. Apparently one in five employers has asked an illegal question and found it later it was a no-no.

Examples of questions they should not ask:

How old are you?
What is your political affiliation?
What religion are you?
Are you pregnant?
Are you disabled?
Do you have children--or do you plan to?
Are you in debt?
Do you drink or smoke socially?
Are you married?
Where do you live?
What race or ethnicity are you?

But it's OK to surprise you with...

What super power would you like to have?

Do you believe in life on other planets?

If you were trapped in a blender, what would you do?

If you did not have to work, what would you do?

If you were stranded on an island, what 2 items would you like to have?

Welcome to the wacky world of work!

I once hired someone because she told me she had once had lunch with Mick Jagger.

She had really bad details, although she turned out to be a great employee.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What about that non-compete?

Everyone likes to play it close to the chest these days. Sign this, sign that..

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, writes about non-compete agreements. You may get pretty far in the hiring process and then be presented with one of these.

They are not too common, but they are real--and enforceable.

Be careful about signing anything. Read it carefully. And you should "get" something for signing it--because it's limiting you. At least one state has ruled there must be something like a minimum employment period of a year or something like that as consideration.

Some states will enforce these, some won't. Look into it. Usually, there is a geographical limit--don't compete with us within this city...etc. The subject matter should also be specified. You can't take a patent atty job--but you could take an IT job.

How long with the clause last after the person leaves? More than six months--often not enforced or the judge will adjust it.

If you have a non-compete with a previous employer--disclose it. The new employer can get dragged in.

Even if you have one, discuss it if you want a job that might fall  under it. Why not?

Cheaper than a brace of lawyers.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Here's a brain drizzle--hire a competitive eater

Gabriel Muller, Govt Executive Magazine, Apr 7, 2015, says competitive eaters--those often skinny or small people who can eat outlandish numbers of hot dogs or cheeseburgers--are great multitaskers.

One said--You have to pick up the hot dog, and while eating the dog part, dunk the bun, then take the bun out of the liquid, squeeze it, eat it. Again. Again.

He makes every second count. One recruiter in this article says he looked for this.

If you make a mistake, don't let it drag you down--practice, go back.

This recruiter also likes Magic: The Gathering players (I listened to a whole book on this), or members of the StarCraft community.

In sports--you have to work to win--you aren't just entitled to because you went to college.

People in sports, according to this, are team-oriented, goal focuses, persistent, and receive feedback well.

But the competitive eater has one caveat--if you can't keep the food down, don't even try it.

Good advice in all walks of life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to have a nice day

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, says some researchers at the University of Warwick, had found that happiness makes workers 12% more productive.

Happy workers use time more effectively and work faster.

First, become a morning person, Ricker advises. But don't dread it as the daily commute and so on, think of it as a new start. Make mornings stress-free--pick out clothes ahead of time, even have breakfast planned. Also plan lunch,

At work, focus on one task at a time. Zero in.

If your "power hours" are in the morning, try to schedule important meetings then.

Prioritize projects. If other workers or bosses try to add things, ask what the priority is.

Another thing I do is start a new project in the afternoon--so you can pick up with it in the morning. No procrastinating.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Like birds and animals? Make your yard critter friendly

In a study at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers found that plants chosen by residents for their yards resulted in a bigger diversity of birds in suburban nabes than the parks, preserves or streetside trees. (J of Ecological Applications)

They found 36 species of birds in one neighborhood. But areas with bird-friendly yards had twice as many.

What is bird friendly? Berry bushes, evergreens, bird feeders, bird baths and ponds.

They also quizzed residents on their plantings and whether they had cats. Cats tended to keep birds away.

The berry-bearing trees were key.

Our hummingbird feeder is constantly under siege by the fierce little avians. We also have several bird baths and a pond, but no seed feeders.

This is the desert--we figure they can hustle up a snack, but water is another matter.

The hummers also fly through the fountains--zip--clean!

Don't worry about the amenities standing empty--birds communicate and will put out the er...tweet.

Friday, April 10, 2015

What's up with those ads that follow you?

My late mother had a thing about shoelaces--I went online to find the exact length she liked and for MONTHS, on every website I went to--ads for shoelaces! I got the darn things--leave me alone!

Now, a study done at Ithaca College shows that consumers consider these ads--based on some personal info the advertiser scarfed up from someplace--are "creepy." Yes, that is the word consumers used.

Apparently advertisers are relying on older research on tailored ads. Now, web goers know the advertiser has been helping itself to info on them and they don't like it.

The participants in the study were told they were in two, separate studies. First, they were shown a page mocked up as a shopping site with an ad for a USB flash drive. Second, another mockup with acne cream.  Both cost about the same. The idea was the USB ad was netural, the acne cream was something the students might not want advertisers to know about them.

Then they looked at a fake Facebook newsfeed. Some saw the ad they had seen previously, the others saw something completely different.

They were then asked questions...

Seeing a tailored ad had a positive effect on the will to purchase. But there was an indirect feeling of creepiness about being targeted. This cut the likelihood of purchasing by 5%.

An example was someone buying condoms online and a condom ad appearing on their Facebook.

Me, I just want to lose the shoelaces. And once--the white purse I tried to get for Mom...OMG, I saw white purses everywhere I went.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Make your wardrobe SPRING to life

Even here in the desert, we get a springy vibe about this time of year. At work, off come the drabs and on go the pretty, light shades.

But how can you transition--some days it may still be chilly. A pal in Vermont just e'd me that it was snowing again!

Debra Auerbach writes about this on CareerBuilder.

First, lose the wintry blacks and grays. Add a pop of color, advises Elia Mell, author of How to Win at Shopping.

For women this may be a pastel blouse with a suit and for men a colorful pocket square.

Keep the layers. Put a cardigan under your blazer--then if it gets warm, lose the sweater.

Get a trench for outerwear.

Play with prints, Auerbach says. Floral patterns scream spring!

And lighten up your accessories--put a cotton shawl or scarf with your trench and put the wool away.

I find buying a few new items every change of season is also a spirit-lifter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bosses: Concentrate on that extra-miler

You know who that is--the extra miler. They go above and beyond their job description, they make it easier for everyone.

A new study from the University of Iowa suggests that bosses can improve work teams' performance by motivating that person even more--rather than trying to make everyone in the team into an extra miler.

Put that person in a more central position--to inspire others.

Everyone becomes better, the researchers say.

Extra milers, they found, help out others on the team, but they also make constructive suggestions and make work easier that way.

All workers are not interchangeable--make the stars work for the good of the whole team.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How about a stand-by counselor at your job?

Susan Adams,, writes about an American Express program where hassled workers, say in call centers, can call on a counselor to walk them through meditation, muscle relaxation, and other stress-reduction techniques when customers get their goat.

This is their Healthy Living program, which started in 2008 with "the troubles."

Companies apply for this through their local psychological association. They fill out checklists, write essays, and the psychologists visit the company.

Some other winners of this service are Beehive PR in St Paul, MN, which offers employees a life coach. They also have a gym and meditation room.

LaSalle Network, a Chicago staffing and recruiting agency, gives employees time off to go to AA. They have even helped stage interventions. On the brighter side, the company pays for "incentive" trips which included all staffers.

Team Horner, a swimming pool distributor in Ft Lauderale, asks employees what they want. Zumba, yoga, meditation, a well-being coach, even cooking classes are now corporate features.

Beach Cities Health District, in Redondo Beach, lets employees bring children and dogs to work and also work flexible hours. Another perk? End-of-life planning.

Hilltop Community Resources in Grand Junction, CO, offers prenatal counseling, discount nutrition advice, a nurse on staff, weight loss challenges, and sabbaticals.

I guess employees are OK with being "one" with their employers--everyone knows everything.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Am I geezing or is this ridiculous?

Useless opening in a door.
I mailed a check to my bank. Mailed--US Postal Service. The bank is four blocks from here, but we have no car and I am disabled.

Turns out the four blocks part is irrelevant.

I mailed it Monday--handed it to my carrier--and it arrived Friday.

Five days...

I was calling the bank, calling the PO. Finally I learned that first class letters take four days within out little suburb of Chandler--not to the East Coast, within the suburb. First, of course, they go to downtown Phoenix, then wend their way back.

The woman at the Post Office said they concentrate these days on packages--more lucrative. She added--"Some companies are upset because they mail checks."

Well, no kidding!

And I am not kidding either when I tell you what the woman at the bank asked me. She asked, "When you buy stamps, don't they tell you how long mail takes...Let me look online."

If I bought stamps someplace where someone could "tell" me something, I could get to the bank.

I asked her had she ever mailed anything. She...said no, never had.

So this is it, Mailageddon!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Are you a brand or a person?

Where do you stand on this trendy branding idea? The idea, according to Elana Lyn Gross, the Career Contessa, is that everyone can grasp people like Gloria Steinem or Amelia Earhart--their principles, their accomplishments. They are a brand.

How people would describe you--that is your brand.

Your values, your characteristics, your accomplishments.

The Career Contessa recommends defining yourself on paper--choose words others would use for you.

Have a specialty. Be vocal about it.

Write a short bio of yourself.

Create a blog or person website.

Use professional networking sites. Don't sully your "brand" (image) with side issues and unattractive behavior. Be honest about your accomplishments--who else will put them out there?

Say no to work, contributing, and other things that do not reflect your brand.

Do good work and stick to your values.

So I guess this is a brand. We used to call this character and a personality.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What is worse than a boss--maybe no boss?

Would not fit in--or would he?
Jena McGregor, Wash Post, Mar 31, 2015, talks about Zappos boss-less culture. No titles, no traditional bosses, no hierarchy.

No sense?

They call it "holacracy"--self-governed teams called "circles."

Recently the CEO ony Hsieh says if you don't like it, you can get a severance package and leave.

Most companies, McGregor notes, would say my way or the highway, see ya--or would that be too bossy?

This is a sign, though, that not everyone is down with the circles. Before they can get the severance, though, they have to be in good standing, read a book called Reinventing Organizations, and watch an hour and 40-minute video by the author of the book.

Apparently this circles approach is also accompanied by dense jargon about things being silo'd and so on.

What about supervisors who don't leave? Traditional managers are due to be phased April 30th. They need to be reinvented.

Uh...OK... Anyway they say they don't care if outsiders "get this." So I, for one, am not dwelling.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sharenting--is it a good thing?

Even this cat wanted to be
somewhere else
Medical News Today had a story on "sharenting,"which means putting videos of your kids on social media.

Researchers at Univ of Mich C.S. Mott Children's Hospital did a poll and noted a dark side to this.

For one thing, some sickos get into "digital kidnapping," presenting pix and videos of your child as their own child, complete with elaborate commentary.

Or--fun can be made of "ugly" babies.

And by the time the kiddos start to use social media themselves, they may be pigeonholed.

Some parents, of course, want advice on child rearing--that want to feel less alone. They ask how to get kids to sleep, what to feed them, questions about discipline, daycare, and behavior--and of course, should they walk home alone from the park.

Overharing would include making the tot identifiable in some way, posting naked photos, or simply posting embarrassing content about a child.

Come on, get a grip!