The right help can light a fire in your life.
This applies. Just give me a second.
I can light a match on a window, my pants, a fingernail and my teeth. Some people can barely light a match using the strike pad on the matchbox. If someone cannot light a match on their teeth, it doesn’t mean the match is bad. It doesn’t mean they are bad either. It just means they can’t light a match on their teeth.
Psychobabble and useful psychology
Using a self help book can be a lot like lighting that match. Just because a book works for someone else, but not you, doesn’t mean the book is bad or that you are bad. I have a whole list of books that helped me at various times in my life. But, that was because they were the right book at the right time. If they are of no use to you, wait awhile and they may be.
The difference between psychobabble and useful psychology is often timing, need and preparation.
Here are some books that I’ve found exceptionally useful. All are available from Amazon. They are in no particular order.
- How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big, Scott Adams
- Looking Out For Number One, Robert Ringer (Relationships that work)
- Winning Through Intimidation, Robert Ringer (How NOT to be intimidated)
- Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves, Robert Ringer
- The New PsychoCybernetics, Maxwell Maltz (Freedom through reality)
- The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale
- How To Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie
- How To Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie
- Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl
- Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, Susan Jeffers
- Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
I’m always looking for more great books to read. I’d love to get your list of the most life changing books you’ve read.
Something To Do Today
Make a list of books you would like to read. My personal “to read” list currently has about 40 titles. I read and listen to 2 to 6 books a month.
Next: Facts would be nice
Later: Wrestlers in feather boas
Resumes, interviews and a baby’s grasp
Failure can be an outstanding success.
Being in an exciting startup company that fails can be great. First a couple of success stories, then what happens with massive failure.
A handful of people I know have become multimillionaires. People I have placed at their companies have gotten bonuses as high as half a million dollars. Two companies were started and sold in less than 10 years. One was for $200 million, the other for $400 million. Not bad money if you can get it.
One company sells ads on the internet. The other started out processing healthcare claims but quickly changed to selling prepaid credit card processing. The company founders and key employees made a lot of money because they found “the next big thing.”
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it) but ‘That’s funny’ (Isaac Asimov)
When FAILURE is successful
For each company that reaches this level a hundred startups fail. Still, half of the startups are absorbed into the successful companies that put them out of business. The best people in ALL of the failing companies find jobs in the best companies. People with experience in “the next big thing” are rare and not wasted by their industry.
The way to find what “the next big thing” is in your field is to ask. When you have one minute alone with managers, top technicians and salespeople, ask them. I guarantee that they have spent a few minutes trying to figure it out themselves. They also will want to show their expertise by sharing their vision of the future with you. In your job journal write down what you are told. You can review the lists you come up with occasionally and extract some gems.
Another way to find the next big thing is to subscribe to weekly and monthly trade journals. Most are free. Again, go to the managers, top technicians and salespeople. Ask them, “Which trade journals do you get in your email? Which do you read?” Have them forward a copy so you can subscribe. Get your own subscription.
Once you have a few choices for the next big thing, exploit your knowledge. If you are an adventurer, get involved in the beginning stages of “the next big thing.” If you are more security oriented, look for an opening where there is already solid revenue, but lots of growth potential left. The job you take could be at your present company. Find out if they are planning to fund a startup division or if they already have something going. The other alternative is to get a job in another company.
Chasing “the next big thing” is not an easy life. There are fantastic rewards and great challenges. There are also company bankruptcies, mergers, acquisitions and layoffs. But, I’ll say it again, the best people in those hot expanding fields are always absorbed into the competitors. It is scary, but not as dangerous as it sounds.
Now, go do some dreaming. It never hurts. In your field what is “the next big thing?”
Something To Do Today
Do a survey. Ask everyone you have a one minute conversation with what “the next big thing” will be.
Next: Psychobabble and usable psychology
Later: Facts would be nice
Wrestlers in feather boas
Which direction is your career going?
So how do you get the promotion or raise you want?
An usher at the movie theater I worked at wanted to become the lead usher. After the movie started he would always be the first to grab a broom and start sweeping the lobby. Once he even told me I was sweeping too early so that 30 seconds later he could grab a broom and be seen by our boss as the boy with the most initiative. He got the job. I got laid off. He had a career plan at the tender age of 14. (He was also a little deceitful, which he didn’t need to be.)
A useful career plan needs to have the long term goals we talked about yesterday as well as much shorter term tactical objectives. If your 1 year goal is to get promoted to team leader, you have to work every day at short term plans to get there. If you want to become a partner in your firm, you have to do something different from the crowd every day.
The biggest secret to daily, weekly and monthly career plans is to set yourself up to act like you already have the job you want. Start acting like a senior technician by getting certifications and asking your boss to allow you into design meetings. Pretty soon you’ll get the promotion. A partner in most firms is required to be either a leader/manager or a rainmaker/salesman. If you want to be a partner, act like one.
To start taking over the job you want, you have to have a clear idea of what the job entails. Your first career plan should be, “I will find out what the job I want entails.” Make sure you find out what the most successful inhabitants of your target job do. What makes the most successful people different? You should generate a weekly and monthly written plan of how you will find out more about the job you want. Put it in your job journal.
Now write a weekly and monthly plan of how to educate yourself for the job. List the courses you can take, certifications you can get and books you can read. Ask the people you admire for advice. The list should go in your job journal where you can add to it later.
Finally, write that weekly and monthly plan on how you will take over the job. 90% of authority is seized, 10% is granted. Go out and take over some responsibilities. Even if you are reprimanded for over reaching, your initiative will be noticed. A plan written in your job journal will focus your efforts.
Remember that boy who wanted to be lead usher. He was always the first person out in the lobby cleaning up. He wanted to show initiative. To advance in a technical, managerial or sales position you need to show the same initiative. You need to be the first person seen doing important jobs. Make a plan and do it.
Something To Do Today
Just today, seize authority. Find some important job and make yourself the custodian of that job. Be the first to start doing it, direct how it is to be done, or ask one of your subordinates to do it.
Next: What is “the next big thing”?
Goals should help you BECOME, not help you GET.
One the most important lessons I have learned is:
In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.
One famous study showed that people with written goals coming out of college earned several times more than people without written goals. But, look at yourself. If you still have the same written or unwritten goals you had 10 years ago, you are the exception.
Goals change. The real secret is to have specific written goals and expect them to change.
You will do better if you are striving to BECOME something much greater than you are now. The world reshapes itself around you when you refuse to take the path of least resistance. If you set 20 year goals that inspire you today, you will enjoy life more today and next year. Your goals will change because you have grown to the point that you can see more important goals. You will develop a vision of your future that is clearer and brighter than you have today. That is a good reason to change your goals.
A part of the goals secret is to have goals in the areas of your life that matter most. Money is important. Job and career goals are essential for progress. You also need goals about your family growth, social maturity, physical fitness, emotional strength and spiritual development.
For example, your goal could be to run 2 miles in 15 minutes in 2031. If you really think about that goal, you need to strengthen your legs and knees, not pound them into arthritis. That goal could inspire you to include bicycling, swimming or rowing in your fitness regime so that your knees will last throughout your life. That goal may change to being able to swim a mile in 2031 because of changes in your health.
A social goal could be to have a network of 1000 people who are leaders in their own field in 2031. To get there you will have to have intermediate goals of recognizing, getting to know, helping, tracking and staying in contact with those people. A goal like that would also be a great help to a career goal to become CEO of a company. Later your social goal may change to having a network of 2000 people who will help you fund medical research, and it may include all the same people as your original goal.
Remember, goals change. The 20 year goals I just mentioned would be great goals for a computer technician, salesperson or CEO. If you open your mind and see into the future, you will be able to pick out goals for the year 2031 that will help you now, and still matter in 2031. If your goals are important to you, you will find you achieve most of them in much less than the 20 year, 5 year or 1 year horizon you set.
Something To Do Today
In your journal first make a list of the most important overall aspects of life. I suggest: money, career, social, physical fitness, emotional and spiritual. Then list a goal you can work towards BEING in 20 years, 5 years and 1 year. Each goal should fit in with all the others. Goals are about becoming better as the world shifts around you.
Next: Useful career plans
Later: What is “the next big thing”?
Now thats a job growth curve!
When I started at EDS I was learning at an incredible rate. Pay raises came quickly and easily. By my third year things slowed down. By my fifth year I settled into a dreary cycle of little new personal growth and cost of living raises. I managed to get assigned to a new team using a new technology and my growth accelerated for a year, then it dropped back to the dreary level. That’s an example of my personal growth curve.
How fast you are growing to get where you want to go is your personal growth curve. Once you stop growing you are flat-lining. In hospitals flat-lining means there is no pulse, you are dead. In your career, flat-lining means that your career has stopped completely and the business world is starting to pass you by.
To get growing again you need to learn, get new responsibilities and get recognized. At EDS I volunteered and pestered my managers for the chance to use new technology. Since no one else had a clue and I had read a couple of books on the subject, I got to become the “owner” of that technology. Preparation and repeatedly selling myself to my managers preceded my advancement.
Whether you want to grow as a manager, salesperson or technician, you need to follow these steps:
- Find out what is going to be needed IN THE FUTURE
- Study and prepare to fill that future need
- Sell yourself repeatedly to get the new responsibility
- Excel at your new job
- Start over
Step 1 and 2 can always be done at your current job. Often they will pay for the training and help mentor you. Step 3 should be attempted with your current company. Sometimes it just can’t be done where you are.
Companies have their own growth curves. At a company that is flat-lining, your chances to grow will be limited. While you are preparing to grow, open your eyes. Is your company ABLE to let you grow? Do you need to move to a company that is changing its growth curve while you change yours?
A job change becomes a career enhancing move when you move to a company whose growth curve will allow you to accelerate your own growth curve. If you are willing to learn and grow, you will have growth in your career. If you are willing to change jobs when necessary to re-accelerate your career growth, your future has no limits.
Something To Do Today
What is going to be needed in the future? What interests you? What will help you accelerate your growth curve?
Don’t expect your boss to magically know what you fail to tell him repeatedly. Expect him not to understand. Even if he sees you doing something new he may not recognize what it means or its usefulness unless you have told him five or six times in the last six months.
Each Friday is the time to write down what you did this week and this month in your job journal. Give a report to your boss in a format he can use for his own reports to his boss.
How many times have I got to tell him?
Useful career plans
What is “the next big thing”?
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. (Dwight Eisenhower)
When it was critical
The hottest technology in 2008 was the iPhone. It was simply a small computer with cell phone reception. Its rise was carefully planned. The most significant pieces of the plan included a snazzy look, rugged portability, and simple secure paid download of music. Apple, the creator, had a plan to continue making money forever.
Here is where career plans worked
2008 was the perfect time for Apple’s hottest talent to abandon their jobs with the iPhone division. 2008 was also the time for Apple’s best job security conscious talent to move in and take over. Why? Because it was obvious the market would be buying upgrades to iPhones forever. The iPhone was becoming a top-end commodity, but a commodity. The music distribution system was ahead but developing strong competitors.
iPhone is no longer innovative genius. It is now a cash cow. iPod and iTunes are no longer what the bold innovators want to be working on. They need a new challenge. iPod and iPhone are now the perfect product for the long term managers.
The single critical component in your career plan
Your career plan will be a rousing success if you focus on your personal growth curve. Do you treasure security? Do you want to innovate and take outrageous chances for outrageous reward? Do you really want technical challenge? Is your goal to make enough money, but have a lot of free time for your skiing?
When you know what you want, you can plan your career successfully. However, what you want will change time and time again. So you need to be prepared to change your career plan as you see changes beginning in yourself. Your personal growth curve will tell you how fast you are getting to where you want to be in your career.
Career plans work
They work when they are reviewed every year. They work when you review your real personal desires at the same time.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about the “personal growth curve.” You have to understand it in order grow as fast as possible.
Something To Do Today
This week will be a great time to review your career plan. Today you need to start writing down what you really want.
Tomorrow: Your personal growth curve
Later: Useful career plans
What is “the next big thing”?
Choose your direction carefully.
The modern age has been characterized by a Promethean spirit, a restless energy that preys on speed records and shortcuts, unmindful of the past, uncaring of the future, existing only for the moment and the quick fix. (Jeremy Rifkin)
Lufkin is the premiere maker of the pumps sucking oil from Oklahoma’s prairies. In 1981 used Lufkin pumps were selling for more than new ones. Fancy business school graduates said Lufkin was nuts. They could sell the new pumps for much more. “Take your profit now!” they said. The owners of Lufkin said, “We’ve been here a long time. Demand goes up and demand goes down. We will service our customers the best we can. We won’t take advantage of them when they are desperate. When the bubble bursts we will still be here. We’re in this business for the long haul.” Today, after decades of recessions and some good times in their business, they still make a solid profit, now as a GE subsidiary.
In the recruiting business one recruiter said, “I take people out of one rut, and put them into a different rut.” Some recruiters don’t care. I do. I find people in good jobs who could do significantly better. I then place them in a job where they can more quickly meet their career goals. I help people shave years off of their career growth. I move them into a better long term opportunity.
Be mindful of how your resume looks. People who have changed jobs 3 times in 2 years have a hard time getting a great job. Later, even after 3 or 5 years in one job their resume is tainted. The manager hiring for a great job wants someone who will be there a long time. He knows he can attract bright stable workers. Why should he settle for someone who may be gone in 6 months?
A new job should give you a significant LONG TERM advantage. It should help you take charge of your career. Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France seven times. In 2005 he only won one day out of 21 racing days. On one day he was 20 minutes behind the fastest bike. But he was always mindful of where he was in relation to his competition. He made sure he had the best bike and the best team even if he wasn’t getting the glory of being first over the finish line. Looking for the long term advantage is how he won.
Find the best team and opportunity you can. Get in it for the long haul. Go win. You cannot speed up your career by taking a lot of shortcuts.
Something To Do Today
Write down your career goals in your job journal. Where do you really want to go? Can your current team get you there? If not, time to change teams.
MA just passed a law making it illegal to ask your current or past salary before they have made you a job offer!
Here is the article.
I have to admit, I did not see that one coming.
Are you trying to be successful doing the work that successful people throw out? What successful people refuse to do? Then hard work won’t help you.
How can you succeed doing all the wrong stuff?
This true story is about more than salespeople. It is about accountants, programmers and managers too.
Paul, beginning his job in sales, told me, “My manager seems to be able to make a sale every time we go on a call together. All the people we visit want to buy. He sells as much as everyone else in the office put together. When I take the leads he gives me, I can’t get them interested at all. What am I doing wrong?”
Paul was doing nothing wrong. His manager was visiting only high quality leads. Paul was visiting everyone that his manager didn’t pick for himself. His manager got the golden leads and Paul got the brass. Worse, Paul refused to look for the best quality leads in what he was given. He just went out and visited everyone.
Successful salespeople, accountants, programmers, managers, secretaries and septic tank cleaners all know what sales leads, jobs, duties and knowledge are most important.
Pick out the most successful person you know who is doing the job you want. Invite him out to lunch. Ask him, “What do you do that is different from less successful people?” Take notes. Don’t let him stop with one quick answer. Ask about what he reads, what he does, and the jobs he refuses to do.
If you really pry, you will find out that he no longer does a lot of things he used to do. Ask him, “What have you stopped doing because you no longer have the time to do it?” You’ll find that successful people really do work differently. They are picky. They find ways to get drudge work assigned to others. They study particularly difficult problems so that they are assigned the most interesting projects. They also invite themselves into meetings where thorny issues are discussed. They go prepared with fresh information. That’s how they get reputations as problem solvers.
If you want to become a guru, act like one. Do what the gurus do. Just as important, find a way to get out of the work that successful people throw away.
Something To Do Today
Make that call to a successful person doing the job you want next. Find out what they attribute their success to. Also find out what they no longer are doing.
Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company. (George Washington)
When a man or woman brags about his virtue, avoid the former and cultivate the latter. (Unkn)
6 places to check on a company’s reputation
What is the company’s real reputation?
I was told, “I want to work in a Fortune 100 company. That’s where the action is at. Then I will really be going places.” It could be true. Just remember, Enron was in the Fortune 100 club too, before their leadership was indicted.
Size isn’t everything. It seems that in every Fortune 100 company there will be whole divisions laid off or sold every year. The CEO may call it pruning. The people in the division have more explicit names for it.
For you, the job seeker, company reputation is important. It will make a difference in how other people view your career. The reputation of the local division is even more important. Your success will be tied directly to the local division’s performance. The reputation of your new manager is critical. He’s the one that will make your job paradise or purgatory.
Places to look and people to ask
- If you go to their website you can find the official company news releases. That’s what they want their reputation to be. For the people outside of their industry, it will really be their reputation.
- Try calling some independent recruiters. If a recruiter submitted you there then they ought to already know the company reputation. If they didn’t submit you, ask them about the company as you talk to them about your job search. Independent recruiters talk to everyone going into a company and everyone leaving that company. They know where all the skeletons are buried and which managers or departments are the best to work with.
- Quiz anyone who has close contact with the company. Look up their competitors. It can be particularly interesting to talk to people who worked at competitors. How do you find these people? Go to LinkedIn.com and search for company names in the “Person” search.
- Suppliers and accountants are great sources. Expand your online search if it is a company you are very interested in.
- Also call people doing the job you want in nearby unrelated companies. You want people from the same level you will be at because reputation can vary at different levels. If you want to be a salesman, programmer or COO, the reputation of the company will have spread outside of their industry.
- In many cases there are associations for your job. Talk to the people running the association and those at the meetings. Ask them about reputation.
Your search for their reputation can help you find other job openings too. As you expand your circle of inquiry, more people find out that you are available. Don’t forget to ask everyone who else you ought to talk to. You may be surprised how important the comment of the friend of a friend can be.
Make it a habit to do your “due diligence” as you start interviewing for a job. Find out their reputation. Contact people about the company. It will help you select the right company with the right boss. Your inquiries may also lead you to a different, better job.
Something To Do Today
Find out if there are any associations for your job or the job you are working towards. Online search engines work well. Reference librarians are especially good at finding them. Go to your local library and ask for help.
Tomorrow: The work successful people throw out.
Later: Lose 10 pounds in one week is not job hunting