Category Archives: Attitude

Will you do anything we ask? – the interview question

waist deep in water

Will you really do “whatever it takes” ??

“Will you do whatever it takes to get the job done?” is a common interview question.

In “The Firm” a new lawyer finds the perfect job: great pay, wonderful benefits and  a really high flying lifestyle.  Then he finds out he is a part of the mafia and can’t get out unless he is the guest of honor at his own funeral.

Let’s get realistic.  Even in high flying corporate scandals no one is murdered.  If you feel you have to blow the whistle you can go to newspaper reporters and the police.  You will be safe physically.  Your only real worries are social and financial.  The company’s risk is to its very existence.  It can be destroyed just by bad press.  Also, legal action can take away any profit the company has had for years.

There is no reason to suspect that your employer wants you to do something illegal.  It is much more likely he wants you to work late.

Go ahead and be enthusiastic when they ask the question, “Will you do whatever it takes?”  The proper answer is to give examples of how you have gone the extra mile in previous jobs.  Tell when you worked late to finish projects or help a teammate.  Carrying a pager is a great example of doing “whatever it takes.”  Mention the inconvenient business trips.  The support you had from your family when you had to work late or travel is a valuable story.

I hate to go back to it, but, don’t mention when you did something borderline illegal.  Don’t assume they want you to do something immoral.  If they ask you to do something that is wrong, ask them to clarify.  Ask for examples.  If you are sure they are asking you to do something illegal, immoral, or fattening, refuse the second interview or the job offer. You can even bring it up with the CEO or the SEC.

Some people have been burned by a previous bad employer.  You may have been hired by a place with dubious morals. You are out now, or in the process of getting out.  Assume the best of the companies you are visiting.  Give examples of how hard you are willing to work to succeed. Focus on what you can do for the company.

Something To Do Today

Assume the best.  Ask for examples.

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything. (J. W. von Goethe)

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Tomorrow:     Where else are you interviewing?

Later:              Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

The company’s reputation

Is your job like rollerskating in a buffalo herd?

buffalo blocking traffice

You can’t drive in a buffalo herd either.

I talk to many job seekers who want to change careers.  Some of them are accountants who should be salesmen.  They got into accounting because it is safe, pays well, and has a great future. Their personality is wrong for accounting.  They don’t like carefully following precise rules.  Reporting on what other people are achieving gives them the itch to do more, not the pleasure of a job well done.

Some people who want to change careers are salesmen who should be accountants.  Salesmen make so much money that, for some, it is irresistible to get into sales.  The “should be accountants” are great with logic, and to them, buying is all about carefully planned decisions.  But developing relationships quickly is not their way of living. Pressing emotional buttons feels somehow wrong.  Sales is just not working.

A favorite song of mine says, “You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you put your mind to it. Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it.”

If you have the wrong personality for your career field, CHANGE.  Do it now.  You will only have more obligations in a couple of years.

The first step is to work within your current company to see if you can switch careers.  Will they let you go from being an accountant to being a salesman?  Can you go from being a salesman to being a sales engineer or financial analyst?  Is there a way you can exploit your current job?

Often you have to change companies to change your career. You will probably have to take a big cut in pay.  Only you can decide if it is worth it.

One more thing to consider.  Is your career the problem, or the people you are working with?  I don’t know any accounting companies that are filled with rollicking, frolicking, totally off the wall, hard charging adventurers.  I do know that accountant personalities range from nearly dead, to micromanaging bosses from hell, to nurturing versatile entrepreneurs with great attitudes.  Carefully look at your situation.  Make sure that your company and the people you work with are not the real problem.  You may still need to change jobs, but your career may be fine for you.

Don’t settle for a job or career that you just can’t be happy with.  Seriously look at what it will take to work with a better bunch of people or to switch careers entirely.  Life is too short to choose misery.

Something To Do Today

Go online or to your local job center and take a personality test.  You will be surprised how accurate they are.

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Next:   Resume magic

Later:  Imperfect and highly paid

Your New Career Is Only 3 or 4 Steps Away

target-success-try-755802_640-pixabayThere are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. (Powell)

Gary, a client of mine, decided the world needed a better way to pay insurance claims in 1996. He made a plan and took a step. It didn’t go quite like he expected.  Then he planned and took the next step which didn’t quite work out.  He missed his goal over and over.

Gary found out he could make money some ways he never dreamed of. Along the way he picked up investors, technicians, sales people and managers.   The company changed into a stored value credit card company.  A few years ago he sold his company for over $200,000,000.

Did you notice that his company is not the same as it started out in 1996?  There was a problem with the payment method they wanted to use.  When they solved that problem, they found the possibilities in the payment solution were greater than in their original plan.

There are no secrets to success.  It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. (Powell)

Let’s not concentrate on Gary.  Let’s concentrate on the people who work for him, the people who do what you do.  He has accountants, programmers, lawyers, salespeople, managers and secretaries who all took a chance.  They found someone who could daydream.  It was Gary.  They believed in his daydream.  They hitched their careers to his star and away the whole team went.

If you are doing exactly what you like, stay there.  If you want to do something else, look for someone who can help you achieve that dream.  You may first have to hitch your career to a place that will help you pay for the school education you need.  The time will come when you are too constricted there.  You will have the school education.  Next you need hands on experience.  First try to grow where you are.  If you can’t grow, start looking for the next place you can grow.

Your career will be a set of steps.  Your initial plan will undoubtedly change.  Plan three or four steps out and execute the next step.  Then when you accomplish that first step, re-plan.

The world changes incredibly quickly.  Plan to change your plans.  Now, work the next step and cause your future to change.

Something To Do Today

Write out your plan.  What do you want to do?  Then plan 4 major steps to get where you want to be.

Being a business owner, consultant programmer or the number one salesperson in your field may be right for you…today.   Or you may find that being a great mother or father is even more important.

Make sure your plan gets you to what will really make you happy, not just to where other people will worship you.

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Next up:     One hour interview prep

References

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Resume magic

Imperfect and highly paid

Down by 20 at halftime in your job search

Overwhelming football tackle

You can recover from a bad interview, or 20 of them, if you go at it right.

Every job seeker has a bad interview occasionally.  Often you will have a great interview and NOT get the job.  Your resume may be perfect for a lot of jobs, but you get no call backs.

Here is how a football coach handles a problem like that.

At halftime the team is down by 20 points.  In the locker room the coach says: “Yes, we got beat in that game we just played. Now we are going to play a new game.  It’s time for payback.  A new game starts when you step out on that field. You’ve got to adjust the score in your mind.  It is 0 to 0 now.  It’s a new game. Let’s go out and give that other team the beating of their lifetime.  We owe it to them.”

Remember, every time you apply for a job, it is a new game.  The person seeing your resume doesn’t know or care that the last 74 people who saw it didn’t even acknowledge getting it.  The person calling you on the phone can’t tell that you’ve only had 3 callbacks and not one in-person interview.

Get coaching to improve your resume, phone interview and in-person interview skills.  Find out what works.  If you need a certification so that your resume stands out, get it.  If you get phone interviews, but no in-person interviews, find out why.  Give some of those interviewers a call back and ask for their help.  Half of them will give it to you.

A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in.  This is too much of a temptation to the editor.  (Lardner)

Go out and actively look for successful people to coach you.  Asking a person for help can be a form of networking.  The secret is to ask for help with one particular thing.  Ask for help making the first job listed on your resume more attractive. Pick a small part of the job application process and ask for help.  It lets the person know you are trainable, eager and looking for a job.

There are cycles people go through when they are unemployed or looking for a new job.  The important thing is to accept that you will lose more often than you win.  If you approach each resume submission, phone interview and in-person interview as a fresh start, a new game, you’ll quickly become the winner.

Something To Do Today

Your attitude can be adjusted.  Engage your mind. Lift your spirits.  Listen to books, music and shows that get your spirit soaring while you drive or exercise.  Start fresh for every job application.

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Later:  Feel the fear, and¼.

Signs you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

One hour interview prep

References

You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

How to read while you are driving

child reading

You can read while driving a car.

I love talk radio, but it doesn’t lift my spirits. It gets me perturbed.  Music on the radio doesn’t engage my mind as I drive.  I listen to books instead.  I love books that teach me and help me get a better attitude every minute.

The best source of books to listen to may be your public library.  Our main library has hundreds of books and college courses available on audio tape and CD. And all my favorites are available for free through interlibrary loans.

MIT has the vast majority of its courses available for free online.  Yes, free.  In most cases the lectures, notes, and everything you need to learn is available online and free.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.  (Toffler)

Audible.com is a great place to get books on MP3 inexpensively. I use my phone.  You can use any MP3 player.  I like the quality, selection, and prices.  Getting a monthly subscription is the way to go. And if I am reading a book on my Kindle, the audio version and the Kindle reader sync with each other.

The books on my listening list include: Man’s Search For Meaning (Frankl), Theodore Rex (Morris), Love is the Killer App (Sanders), Networking With Millionaires (Stanley), First Things First (Roger), The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey), The One Minute Millionaire (Hansen), The Millionaire Mind (Thomas), and The Millionaire Next Door (Thomas).  I didn’t realize I am so fixated on the word “millionaire”.  These books have great “can do” themes.

Some books I love, but can’t get at Audible yet are The Power of Positive Thinking (Peale), How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Carnegie), and Think and Grow Rich (Hill). And don’t forget to check out your library and interlibrary loans.

Something To Do Today

Engage your mind. Lift your spirits.  Listen to books that get your spirit soaring while you drive or exercise.  You’ll love it.

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Later:   Down by 20 at halftime

Feel the fear, and¼

Signs you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

How to become a visionary leader – 2 things

eye undergoing laser surgery

You can improve your vision in a much more important and powerful way than laser surgery.

You may be more prepared to be a visionary leader than you think.  That depends on what you see, and what you do with what you see.

One employee of mine refused to talk to me unless I was looking her in the eye and following her movements. I am a champion daydreamer.  If I were in school today I would be given drugs to make me pay attention.

I flunked first grade–flat out flunked it.  That takes a lot of doing. I was brought in to see a psychologist who did all kinds of tests with me.  She told my mom and the school that I was a pretty bright kid.  I just hadn’t figured out what school was about yet.  So they sent me on to second grade.  My mom once told me that the first level I really passed was fifth grade.  I’m not sure I passed then.

Life without dreams is a prison of quiet desperation.  A slim giant of a man I know was in the Bataan death march and then spent all of WWII in a Japanese coal mine.  I believe the only thing that kept him alive was his dreams.  They tortured his body, but he lived in his mind.  In hell he was free in a way many people never are.  He lived.

Take the time to dream.  Please, dream of your family’s future.  Dream of what you can become.  Take the time to explore in your mind what just might be.  The future is not a series of decisions we make about pathways presented before us.  We build our own future from the vision we have of where we can go.

Some men can see the future more clearly than their own reflection in a mirror.  They think about that future.  They live in that future.  Somehow the world molds itself to their vision.  That vision changes a little with every twist of circumstance, but the dream’s architecture, the purpose and meaning do not change.  For a man of great vision, life is revealed and changed as he passes through it to the future. He acts on his great visions.

A vision without action is called a daydream, but then again, action without a vision is called a nightmare.  (Sorenson)

The only thing keeping you from being a visionary is your ability to truly believe in your dreams and then act on them.  See the future as you would like it to be.  Take a few minutes every single day to purposely dream about the future, about a greater future.  Dreaming every single day is the key.  This is where a visionary’s transformational power comes from: daily dreams, then living according to those dreams.  As you dream every day, watch the world shift around you and accommodates itself to your vision as you act.

Something To Do Today

Set aside time in your schedule every single day for dreaming.  Take a week and decide what the future should hold.  Make sure that your relationships and family are primary in that dream.  Write it down.  Refer to it regularly.  It will change your life.

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Next:     Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

Feel the fear, and……

Signs you will be laid off or fired

Creating reality – what to do with those dreams

Failure

Don't fear failure. Fear being in the exact same place next week.

$250,000 too proud

bus wreck

Over negotiating can be a wreck. Watch out.

How hard do you negotiate? If you are critical to a project’s success, shouldn’t you be really well paid? The job market is hot.  A lot of employers are not finding the right person.

Here’s an example I was part of:

Mike’s expertise selling into FEMA was critical.  Their product was more than an idea, but not a proven solution.  Mike was already calling on FEMA contacts even though he wasn’t officially on payroll.  The feds wanted their product.  This would be a big win for everyone.

Mike had been unemployed for 8 months and was running out of money.  This was juicy.  If Mike quit or was fired the day after he started, he’d still get $250,000.  The commissions would double that. Still, he was worried he wouldn’t get everything he deserved.  The contract wasn’t tight enough.  What about bonuses in year 4?  He brought in the best lawyer he could find.  The company balked at his demands, his lack of flexibility.

Then the lawyers and the dragging negotiations wounded Mike’s pride.  A venture capitalist said the wrong thing.  The CEO didn’t want to completely get rid of the non-compete agreement since there was a one year severance guarantee.

Mike quit the negotiations. The product was cancelled.  The company was closed.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.  (Harris)

What hurt the most was that it took Mike six more months to get a different job.  That job paid half as much with no commissions or bonuses.  He had to clean out his savings accounts and sell his cars to survive.  Mike told me, “My pride cost me $250,000.   That was the best offer I ever had. What was I thinking?”

This was an extreme case.  The problem was pride.  When you know you are essential to a project, you want to be treated with respect.  Sometimes that respect kindles the flame of overarching pride.

The job market is really heating up.  I am seeing more examples of this destructive pride.  A manager once told me his policy is, “If two people are absolutely critical to a project and they disagree violently and refuse to compromise or go down one of the two paths, FIRE THEM BOTH.”

Don’t forget, even if you are irreplaceable, the project can be cancelled.  There are always alternatives for an employer.

Don’t let destructive pride make you expendable.

Something To Do Today

Have you ever withdrawn from a job or promotion pool because it took too long to get a decision?  Realistically look back.  What did you gain?

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Later:      How fast?

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

How to get great desirable permanent employment

Flag behind a prison fence

In America great desirable permanent is available for you. Do you want it?

To have great desirable permanent employment, you have to look in the right places.  Here is how you make sure you are working at a permanent job.  My experience first.

Our company made a record profit.  The industry was booming.  The company was sold for an unbelievable amount because its future was so bright. Our new owners were literally brilliant and had built a powerhouse with a strong diversified cash flow.

95% of the employees were laid off by the end of the next month. We were in a boom no one thought was a bubble.  The bubble burst.  The company had to lay off almost everyone. I lasted until the end of the next month.

The only thing that make life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty, not knowing what comes next.  (LeGuin)

10 years later I was employed by a huge computer company.  The world was good.  This was a permanent job.  I had been there 9 years. I was safe.

Then I got a letter from a friend at corporate headquarters.  There were going to be layoffs in 3 months.  I asked my bosses. They denied it.  My contact said, “I read the memo.”  I quit for a new job one week before the layoffs were announced.

What has happened to permanent employment?

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal.  (Ditka)

Permanent employment does exist.  It exists in your skills, networks and planning.

Union negotiations, trade laws and employment contracts are all useless against the tides of change.  Your guarantee of permanent employment comes only through your own efforts and flexibility.  Permanent is what YOU bring to the table.

Even people who have been in the same company for 20 years have switched careers 3, 5 or 10 times.  During my 9 years at EDS I had 4 very different job paths in 9 years.

Look at where you are.  Prepare for the changes that absolutely will come.  Learn new skills.  Pay for your own training if you have to.  Get certifications.  Pay for the tests yourself if your company won’t.  Get trade magazines for your specialty and industry.  Bring ideas to the table where you work.

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. (London)

The world is changing.  You can either benefit from the changes or lose everything you have.

Permanent success means constant change.  Make your job permanent, though your career changes.

Something To Do Today

List what you can do to become a “Permanent” employee.  Meaning you always have a job.

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Later:              $250,000 too proud

How fast

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

One fully preventable way to lose a job offer

Men running across dollars

Are you killing your job search with impatient speed?

When the fit between a candidate and the job seems perfect, and there is a delay, I often hear:

“I’ve been waiting two weeks to hear back from them since my interview.  What is wrong?  They are so rude.  Don’t they realize I am losing any desire I had to work there? Why can’t they make a decision about me?  I wish they’d just call it off.  Look Bryan, tell them no.  Withdraw my name from consideration.  I don’t want to work with wishy-washy know nothings.  Take me out of the job pool.”

Did you notice the focus on “I”?  The whole tirade is about “my needs”.   Not a word in there about what the company needs.  Nothing about due diligence.  No concerns about the company being sure they can keep him on payroll.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.  (Harris)

Companies postpone decisions for a lot of valid reasons that they never tell candidates. Some winning candidates can’t take it.  They can do the job.  They’d love the job. They just can’t believe that the company doesn’t love them enough to make an immediate offer.

A while back I took a guy out of the running for a $200,000/year job.  He was perfect for it.  He just couldn’t stand waiting.  The CEO was surprised because he was at the point of making the final decision.  Of course, another guy got the job.

Are you the guy who meets a girl and after an hour says, “Let’s cut to the chase.  I’m hot.  You’re hot.  Baby, if you won’t MARRY me tonight, you must not like me. Let’s just call the whole thing off.”

What does it hurt to wait?  If the company puts you on the backburner to keep you warm, why not just stay warm?  If another great job comes up, take it.  But why get mad?  Is your ego so big that you can’t let a situation gel for a month?  Are you such a hottie that you can’t be ignored?  Get real.  The company you are applying to is not being run just to offer you a job.

Prepare for success.  Be presentably persistent.  Then take all the time you need to win.  That’s how careers are built.

Something To Do Today

Have you ever withdrawn from a job or promotion pool because it took too long to get a decision?  Realistically look back.  What did you gain?

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Next:   Job security – what permanent means

$250,000 too proud

How fast

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime