Category Archives: Focus

Failure

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

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

6 things about being persistent in pursuing a single job

Moving a huge log

If you want a job or promotion enough to persist, you may get it.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.  (Coolidge)

Presentable, not pestilent persistence

True story: Frank’s interview was postponed, no date set.  I wasn’t able to set up the interview.  I couldn’t get him a “yes.”  I couldn’t get him a “no.”  His resume was in limbo.  So Frank said to himself, “What have I got to lose?”  Frank called the VP of HR (Human Resources) at the company every day or two.  For weeks he called.  Usually he left no message.  Frank just called, got voice mail and hung up. Finally the VP picked up his phone.  Frank was enthusiastic about the company and the opportunity on the phone.  No whining.  No complaining.  An interview was set up.  Frank performed a miracle using the power of persistence.

The facts that made it work:

  1. He was excited about this opportunity. This particular one.
  2. Abject failure was given a cost. No new job.
  3. A price was paid. Regular calls.
  4. Presentable persistence, not pestilent persistence, was employed.
  5. Enthusiasm was generated for every call. He knew he’d get through one day.
  6. He sold himself from the VP’s point of view. No whining, just positives.

If you really want a new job or promotion, you often just have to keep trying.  You have to make a positive impact through your persistence. When your opportunity finally comes you have to be ready to pursue it like it is the first time you tried.  You have to be all positive.

One last thing to consider.  While you are being persistent, continue preparing.  Learn something new every day that applies to the job or promotion you want. Win by superior preparation AND persistence.  That’s the sweet spot where home runs are hit.

Something To Do Today

Today is  Opportunity Assessment Day.

What job or promotion are you aiming for?  Do you really want it?  Really?  Do you want to do the work or do you just want the prestige?

If you really want the JOB, the WORK and the opportunity, make a list of things to do every day to prepare. Now do it.

Is there an opportunity you know of?  Now figure out how to be presentably persistent in chasing that opportunity.  Do it.

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Coming up:                                                            Premature withdrawal

Job security – what permanent means

$250,000 too proud

How fast

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

Your Workplace WMD – poison and disease attitude

 

team in gas masks with stretcher

Workplace poison emergency response team

This is about your job.

Do you know why ISIS and Al Qaeda have not used small pox, nerve gas, or sarin in an attack on the USA yet?  Because they are not as fast, painless, or sure as a car bomb….in killing the attacker. They are scared of how painful it would be for the terrorist to use those WMD’s.

Terrorists are smarter than people who are mad at their boss or a coworker. Workplace attitude poisons and diseases kill attackers more horribly and slowly than they kill their target. ISIS terrorist attackers want to die quickly and relatively painlessly so they won’t use poison and disease. People who are mad at their boss die slowly, painfully, and publicly from their own venom.  Their boss rarely suffers. The terrorists are smarter than upset workers.

Malice sucks up the greater part of her own venom, and poisons herself.  (de Montaigne)

Every day I talk to people with serious reasons to leave their jobs.  Most briefly state the problems, then go on with their job search. They are winners.  Some state the problem and then they try to poison and infect the people who contributed to the situation.  They are losers.  Examples of stupidity, gross unfairness, lawlessness and cheating are given, then repeated, then complained about. The trouble is that the attacker slowly poisons himself.  His pain is horrible to behold.

What is left is a twisted wreck of a person who is unemployable.

So what do you do?  Forgive.  Forget. Get on with your life.  The best revenge you can have is to be happy while they are miserable.  Let them wallow in depravity.  Don’t hop in the mud puddle to wrestle the pigs and expect to stay clean.  Forgive them.  Pen them up in a part of your life that is through.  Don’t talk about them.  Don’t even think about them.  Stop letting them ruin your life.

If you are still employed, you can pay them back.  Stop talking about them.  Stop worrying and fretting. It will drive them nuts when they can’t seem to get to you.  If something illegal is going on, quit now and tell the police.  Otherwise stay there, find a new job, and then leave.  They’ll hate having to replace you.  Never say an unkind word about them to anyone, just find another job, give notice and leave.  Then forget them. That is the ultimate revenge.

Something To Do Today

How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie can help.  It can help you get rid of anger and start living for the good things in life.

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Coming:

How to find a job at a convention

What to leave out of your resume

Persistence

Job security – what permanent means

How to heal a project or job search before it breaks: Dr. No

Doctor No can heal a case of pebbles. It can fix a project or job search before it breaks. How?  You make the people giving you a pebble, one more little thing to do, fix the problem they create.  They become Dr. No.

stacked rocks

Is your to-do list impossibly tall?

The team leader I disliked personally the most was a good project manager. I loved working for him. One redeeming social skill was that he knew about Dr No.  When he was asked to add just a little more to a project he would agree and then ask what he got to drop to make up for adding that little bit.  He did it religiously. He didn’t just say, “No,” he used the Doctor No approach. He asked the person adding work to heal the problem he was causing. He asked the manager, boss team leader, or project manager, “What can I now say “No” to? My team can’t do it all, so help me say “No” to another project, specification, or task. He turned the person giving him the work into Doctor No, a healer.

I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster.  The most difficult problem for firefighters is to say, “NO!”  It is hard to refuse to carry a mountain as it is thrust upon you one pebble at a time by smiling friends.  Still, you MUST gently refuse the pebbles.  The best way I have found to refuse pebbles of additional work is to require the person handing you the pebble to tell you which other pebble you can drop. They become Doctor No and fix your time and resource problems.

The velvet glove on the steel fist comes in handy here. As the person trying to hand you the pebble tells you how small it is, you have to clearly tell them it will not get done unless they tell you what else to drop. When they say, “You decide,” tell them, “I won’t do your task unless YOU tell me what to drop.” If you absolutely can’t get them to let you drop something, you then decide to drop something.  Tell everyone by voice AND memo what will not get done due to the specific additional burdens placed on you by this specific person.  Then “don’t do” what you said you wouldn’t do.

Circulate a list of unfinishable projects. Put them in order of importance. Let everyone else fight for the priorities on the list. Make it clear they will probably not get done. When you or your team gets lucky and finishes something unexpectedly early, you look like a wizard.  Remember Scotty in the original Star Trek series?  That was his management style.

The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off. (unkn)

Does this apply to job hunting?  Absolutely.  My blog and books can give you more information on job hunting than they can possibly apply in a day, week or month.  Doctor No is about prioritizing.  If you ask me what order to do things in, I’ll tell you.  Otherwise I expect you to figure out what is most important and drop the rest. For your job search, demand that you, yourself be Dr. No.

The team leader I disliked the most personally, was the best manager, and I really appreciated it.  He could get me to go the extra mile because he used Dr. No.

Dr. No is about setting priorities.  It is a nice way to get the people overloading you to help unload some of the burden.  Turn those people into Doctor No. Let them be the healer.

Something To Do Today

Most people are afraid to try the Doctor No approach.  Try it out the first time with a smaller project, something thrust on you that really is not that significant.  Don’t say, I’ll try to get that done and then stay late to finish it.  Ask the person to help you figure out what to drop instead.  If they won’t tell you what to drop, tell them it won’t get done until they open up a hole in your schedule for you to do it.  Then don’t do it.  Your pebble pushers need to find out you are serious.

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Later:               Dead fish

Poisons

Liars

How to work a convention

The Mythical Man Month

sand sculpture of a sphinx

The mythical man month is another impossible beast.

I hate firefighters–people who commit a project to disaster.  “Leaders” sometimes think that if one woman can have a baby in 9 months, then surely 9 women can have a baby in one month. Those leaders/firefighters create career death marches for their subordinates and coworkers.  Too often they are rewarded for being able to get so many hours out of their team.

The Mythical Man Month is a great book about the fallacy that projects can be infinitely divided and finished sooner.

To increase productivity on a 2 person project by 50%, you have to add 2 more people.  Adding one more person does little.  More time is spent communicating and coordinating than the person adds to the project.

A 9 month project with 7 solid, committed, experienced programmers will take as long to complete as the same project with 25 engineers, a manager and 4 team leaders.  Why?  Because communication becomes a major burden in a large project.

One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. (Elbert Hubbard)

In any complex project, adding people in the last month rarely speeds things up.  The folks who can finish the project have to train the new people, supervise them, and check their work.  The experienced people lose all productivity and the new workers are marginal no matter how strong their background.

In your job do you know how people really work together?  Do you know the cost to productivity of adding more people to a project?

For your job search

Are you making your job search more complicated than it needs to be?  Are you dooming your search with lots of undirected activity?

Are you spreading your search efforts so broadly that you are depending on luck?  Contacting 500 recruiters is rarely as productive as closely working with one or two or ten.  Spamming 1000 companies is not as effective as calling 10 managers who may be able to use you or refer you.  Networking with 5 CEO’s or Directors beats lunch with 50 production line workers.

What really gets more done?

Something To Do Today

Find a copy of The Mythical Man Month.  It is a classic.

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More firefighting problems:    The Elmer Fudd job hunt

Doctor No

Dead fish

Poisons

Liars

The incredible strength of weak connections

And later:        How to work a convention

Forgetting to get a job – Liar research day

“Five wasted years due to a liar.  I was promised equity, part ownership, and then they sold the company without giving it to me.  I was robbed. I’ll never trust anyone again.  Now I’m in it for the money.  I’m in it for me.”

He has the skills to succeed, but who would hire him for an honest corporate level job now? He broods on wrongs done to him. His attitude and morals are shot. He is sure everyone lies and cheats. Every time he sends me a resume, it has incredible lies on it.  He only remembers the bad, never savoring the good.

Some places will hire him for sales or sales management because of an undeniable track record.  But will he cheat the customers or help them?  Will he ever be a customer centered salesman again? He will be fired soon.

I have kept in contact with him for years and he has never recovered. He refuses to move on mentally. Morally he remains disfigured, brooding, and unreliable.

The inability to forget is infinitely more devastating than the inability to remember. (Twain)

picture of hate

Grabbing offenses tightly only pushes needles through your hand.

There are a lot of people like him. I ask these scarred souls, “How soon did you figure out your boss was lying?”  Usually the answer is, “I found out 3 months (or 3 days) after I started.  But then it was too late to take another job.”  I ask, “Why didn’t you get the promises in writing?”  The answer is always, “I didn’t think I needed to.  He kept telling me he would do it.” By then you knew your boss was a liar, so you trusted him??

Time to forget that you were cheated.  You made two mistakes: 1. You decided to keep working for a liar, and 2. You decided you didn’t need promises in writing from the liar.

What you should do is learn from the two lessons above and move on.  Refuse to work for a liar again.  Get promises in writing.  And now start remembering all the good people you have known.

Good people attract good people.  You will find that people who tell the truth in business don’t mind putting their promises in writing.  As a matter of fact, they prefer putting promises in writing so that there is no dispute later about what they promised.

Now forget how you were robbed.  That was one bad boss.  No need to tell the story over and over.  Frankly forgive him.  If you are suing him, let your lawyer worry about it.  If you aren’t taking him to court, drop it completely.

Learn from your mistakes.  Continue trusting people.  Get promises in writing.  Learn the right lessons and forget the pain.  You’ll be happier.

Something To Do Today

Liar research day.  Who do you know who says they were robbed in a job or business?  Come on.  You probably know a few.  Ask them 2 1/2 questions:

  1. How soon did you figure out he was lying and why did you stick with him so long?
  2. Did you get all those promises in writing?

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Later:   I hate firefighters

Dead fish

Poisons

Liars

The trick to working less hours and getting promoted

You don’t double your productivity by doubling your hours. Working lots and lots of hours may get you a promotion and a raise.  It may also get you burned out and fired.

A coupla months in the laboratory can save a coupla hours in the library. (Westheimer’s Discovery)

What you really need to do is double your productivity. Here is how to do it.

A friend sold me a chainsaw cheap.  She was doing me a favor.  She admitted that it ran, but it did not cut well at all.  I took the chainsaw home and reversed the chain.  It works great now. I could have just run the chainsaw more and eventually cut through any log (maybe). A little while ago my son decided to cut some monstrous tree roots with the chainsaw.  Suddenly it wouldn’t cut anymore.  The dirt on the roots had horribly dulled the chain.  I took it into my basement and spent half an hour sharpening it.  Now it cuts again.  But, I could have just worked a lot more hours cutting logs with a dull chainsaw.

The career trash heap is littered with the bodies of people who thought 20 MORE hours a week at work would get them promoted. While they were slaving away, someone else reversed the chain or sharpened the saw.  The thinker and planner got promoted.

You need to do your basic job well.  Other than your basic job, what will set you apart?  What will make you the best?  What will make you the natural leader?

How for YOU to get a promotion or raise

Your boss wants to look good and get a raise and promotion.  What can you do to help him? Is your working more hours the only thing that will make him look better?

Your company wants to make more money, spend less, and keep the customers happier.  Can you do something a little better while you are doing your basic job? Can you get involved in highly visible projects?  How can you set yourself apart?

In addition to being better, you have to get noticed, respected, and appreciated. Give your boss a weekly, monthly and quarterly report of exactly what you did better.  Then in your next annual review, you have ammunition.  And if you go job hunting, you have proof.

Take a careful look at your job.  Can you reverse the chainsaw chain somewhere?  Can you just sharpen the saw?  What do you need to do that will move you forward the fastest?  Is just putting in more hours really the most important thing you can do?

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  Now ask yourself how can you help HIM get a better evaluation?  Sharpen your chainsaw, don’t just work more hours.

Something To Do Today

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  How can you help him get a better evaluation?

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Tomorrow:    Confronting your boss

Later:              How to leave your job

The best way to hide real problems on your resume

If you’re afraid to let someone else see your weakness, take heart: Nobody’s perfect.  Besides, your attempts to hide your flaws don’t work as well as you think they do. (Morgenstern)

Hiding real problems

044919164-president-barack-obamas-daughtThe trick to hiding things on your resume is the same one that stars use to hide flaws.  For instance, what if you had to be perfectly honest and still answer the question:

“Does this make my butt look big?”

A good honest answer would be, “No. Your butt looks big anyway.  Let me find something that makes people look at your smile.  It is ravishing.  They will never care about what you are sitting on.”

More than one starlet has played an irresistible vixen on TV while 8 months pregnant.  How?  They focused on everything above and below the swollen pregnant belly, and the actress stayed out of the tabloids until fully recovered. No one ever saw the belly.

If you have problems, even severe problems, you have to make sure the camera focuses somewhere else.

Common problems people want to hide are frequent job changes, being fired, bad references, a several year sabbatical from your field, not accomplishing much, working for a disreputable employer, an ogre boss, etc.

One way to hide problems is to point out what you did well.  If you switched jobs too much, create a resume format that draws the reader’s eyes away from your employment dates and to your accomplishments.   If you have bad references, you may want to emphasize how long you worked for a company so that those bad references will sound like sour grapes. If you left your desired field for a few years and want to get back, make those few years a one line entry, not a detailed account.  You may want to put your jobs in order at the top of your resume, but put the dates at the bottom of the resume in another section on the third page.

If your problem might get your hiring manager in trouble later, make sure he knows about it before you receive an offer.  If you are using a recruiter, tell him up front before he submits you anywhere.  If you hurt someone who is trying to help you, your bad reputation will be spread very quickly.

Accentuate the positive.  Make people’s eyes slide past the negative to get to the ravishing.  It’s a game you see every day on TV.

Something To Do Today

Do you have a real problem?  Emphasize the positive and make the negative insignificant.  Don’t lie.  Just put your emphasis on all the good things you have done.

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Next:   When is your resume being thrown away?

Later:

Getting past the trash can

Non-competes

Coyote traps – when to gnaw off your arm

Glass ceilings

The hours game

Use the slings and arrows of outrageous job fortune to win

Goliath was the best thing that ever happened to David. (Weed)

Okay, Goliath tried to kill David.  But it was how David reacted to Goliath that made him famous.

How horribly bad stuff can eventually help you have a great job

Some people claim that the best thing that happened to President George W. Bush, was that terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center towers. There is even an apocryphal account of Bill Clinton saying, “If only that attack had happened on my watch, then I would have been a great president.”

How about these:

  • Not getting a job you really want.
  • Someone else getting the promotion you worked for.
  • Being laid off.
  • A terrible job performance review.
  • A letter of reprimand in your file.

Disasters? Yes.  Setbacks? Yes.

Setbacks make me think of the two richest families in our neighborhood when I was a kid.  One ran a gas station.  The other was a plumber.  They couldn’t get great jobs, so they took opportunities no one else wanted.  The gas station manager now owns 10 car dealerships.  The plumber started his own company and employed a host of people. They took stock of their situation and decided to move forward.

Evaluate why you really suffered a setback.  Ask the easy questions and the hard questions.  What did they do to me?  What did I do to me? Where can I go from here?

One of the oldest books on the subject of success is Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.  Every other book on the subject just steals his material and puts it in different words.  His book can help you gain perspective and focus on what you can do.

Are you dealing with a Goliath?  Then make sure you DECIDE how to react.

Today is always the time to start your future.  Yesterday is past.  Today you can make tomorrow a little better.  Focus on what really caused your current situation.  Then go forward with a plan.  The world will change around you.

Something To Do Today

Get a copy of Think and Grow Rich and read through it.  It’s a classic.

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Later:  The job supermarket

Rigor Mortis – signs of job death