Category Archives: Focus

How To Be Imperfect and Highly Paid – 3 things 

unique girl in a crowd

What makes you stand out? Worth more?

What about you is unique? Amazing? Unemployable? Mediocre? Inspiring?

My daughter Merrilee has Down Syndrome and is low functioning within that group, but she is amazing.  My son James got a perfect score on the SAT Advanced Calculus II college entrance exam. He is amazing. Each can do things the other can’t.  We look at James and say, “He can do anything!”   No, he can’t.  He doesn’t have the patience his sister does.  They have different realities and infinite possibilities.

The highly paid people I recruit all know their strengths and weaknesses.  When I call up their references, every reference lists the same strengths and weaknesses the candidate lists.  Often the poorly paid people give me a list of strengths and weaknesses that bear no resemblance to what their references think.

Really knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to do three things:

  1. Play to your strength
  2. Get someone to cover for your weaknesses
  3. Turn your weakness into a strength

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.  (Pascal)

Stephen Cannell flunked three grades in school.  He is severely dyslexic. He can’t write readably. He also won two Emmy awards for his writing. He created 40 television shows and 6 novels.  He has learned to compensate for his severe problem. He plays to his greatest strengths, creating fun characters and complex plots. His assistants translate his unreadable typing into the words he wanted to put on paper.

Figure out what your talents really are.  Do you have one or two real weaknesses that prevent you from exploiting that talent?  Find a way to compensate.  Get help. Find out what others have done to overcome that weakness.  You may have to adequately do the part of the job that the weakness prevents you from doing excellently. Better yet, can you get someone else to help with your weakness?

No one can do everything.  Figure out what help you need to achieve your dreams.

Something To Do Today

Take an aptitude test and a personality test.  Free ones are available at your local Job Center.  Some are available online. Do you know anyone who would dare to tell you what your real strengths and weaknesses are?  Ask them.

Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses.  Are you exploiting your best qualities?

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Later:     The most common interview questions – about you

Other most common interview questions – traps, money, intimidators

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

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 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.

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