Tag Archives: accomplishment

Heal work pebbles – the Dr. No method

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

The team leader I disliked personally the most was a good project manager.  One redeeming social skill was that he knew about Doctor 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 tell him what else he could say “No” to. 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.  Then “don’t do” what you said you wouldn’t do.

Does this apply to job hunting?  Absolutely.  I will 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.

Doctor 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.

The Mythical Man Month

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

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.

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.

Your great idea is worth….

The most powerful factors in the world are clear ideas in the minds of energetic men of good will. (Thomson)

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.  (Goethe)

I got a furtive phone call from a candidate a decade ago, “Bryan, this idea can make you a fortune.  I don’t want to tell it to you unless you promise me half the money you make from it. This will make you rich.”

I answered, “You want half of my business for an idea?  Great ideas are wonderful.  I have them all the time.  What I need are people who can execute great ideas.  Will you quit your job and risk everything to make your idea work?  Will you be content to be rewarded only after your idea is making money?”

“Well, no.  Listen Bryan, if you do it, you will make a fortune.  You only have to give me half.”

Unable to keep the idea to himself, he eventually told me that his idea was to bring cheap programmers from India to the United States.  It was a great idea. One I was approached with literally every day by phone or email.  And many people made their fortune doing it.  I just needed someone daring enough to take the idea and run with it. I needed someone to execute the idea.

Do you have a great idea?  If you have the guts and energy to gather supporters around you and execute that great idea, you will have the ride of your life.  It can be done in your present company, a new company or your own company.  Make sure the idea and your plans are big enough.  As many companies fail from a big idea executed in a small way as from a small idea executed in a big way.

Write down your plans.  Get people to critique the idea. Use criticizers to figure out how to do things better.  When someone says, “It can’t be done,” consider the source.  Go out and make things happen.  Life will never be the same for you.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal write down all the great ideas you have.  Do it in a separate section.  Discuss your ideas with people who can help you make them happen.

Guerilla gardening, jobs and job searches

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” (I found it!) but “That’s funny.” (Asimov)

I was down to 5 blueberry plants.  I had more in the past.  I love blueberries.  Because of the varieties I have, I get to pick them for 2 months each year.

I decided to plant.  I didn’t have the $200 in my budget for the plants I wanted.  So I looked up how to grow my own blueberry plants.  The instructions included mist boxes, planting medium, hormones, infections, mold and other horrible things. I wasn’t about to grow them that way.

Guerilla gardening was the only real possibility.  I spent a couple of months thinking about the problem.  I looked up some things about houseplants and roses.  That spring I gave some fresh ideas a try.

I cut 22 budding branches from blueberry plants of 6 different varieties. I dug holes in the deep leaf compost of the blueberry garden and planted them.  Then I covered the cuttings with jars. The jars keep the moisture level high around the cutting.  It gives the twig a chance to develop roots.

I took off the bottles a month after planting the twigs.  18 of the 22 blueberry cuttings looked like they would survive.  Alas, they didn’t.  I took the jars off too early.  But guess what?  I’m going to try again.  This time I will leave the jars on another month or two.

Guerilla gardening triumphs again. Not only will we save $200, the new plants will grow just as well as mail order plants.  Mine won’t be yanked out of the ground and sent by mail to us.  They will just keep on growing where they are.

Can’t get a reply on your resume? Why not come up with a guerilla campaign – a series of things you can do to get a job.  Do something more than just sending a resume.  Pick a company or 3 that you really want to get into.  Now figure out how to get to know the people who would be your coworkers and hiring managers.  Emails, phone calls, mailing them a bag of M&M’s or inviting them to lunch can all be a part of the campaign.

Unable to get the resources you need at work? It could be an opportunity to shine.  Think of ways to get the job done at low cost.  What resources can be diverted for your project? Study alternate ways of getting the job done. In Spanish “guerilla” means little war.  Figure out how to win each project as a little war of its own.

If your project succeeds, tell your boss in your weekly report.  If it fails, tell him all the alternate approaches you considered.  Let him know you are trying to get essential tasks done with less resources.  He will appreciate it.

If you are job hunting, the guerilla projects that succeed go on your resume.  The companies you apply to will want to know how you can make projects succeed without a budget.  They are eye catching advertisements for your intiative.

Something To Do Today

Take a project you want to do, but don’t have resources for.  List 10 possible ways to make it a guerilla project. Do some research and list 5 more ways.  Is the result worth the effort if it works?  Then make the effort.  Succeed or fail, you will learn something.

I make the milk – getting credit

I believe that every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation, every possession a duty.  (Rockefeller)

With up to 9 kids (we have 10) at home, we drink a lot of milk. There isn’t enough room in our 2 refrigerators to keep enough fresh milk.  We use powdered milk instead.

Every morning I get up early and write.  When I am done I make breakfast for myself.  The milk is usually gone.  Sometimes I grumble a little.  Why is it always me?  Everyone uses it.  Can’t they make it too?  Then I go ahead and make the milk.  Occasionally  I remind my wife that I made the milk.  She can’t leave me for another man. He might not make the milk in the morning. (Truth be told: she makes it more than I do, but I can’t have her believing I am totally useless.)

Do you “make the milk” at work?  Are there indispensable chores you do?  Then you need to remind your boss of them every week or at least quarterly.  Put them in your weekly, monthly or quarterly reports to your boss. He needs to be reminded.

Since you are reporting what you do as routine every week, you better add what the extra things are that you do every week. Write how you saved money, speeded things up, or made a customer happy.  Don’t forget to include training you gave or received.

There is no way that your boss can possibly know all the important things you do.  He has his own job.  Giving him a weekly, monthly and quarterly report reminds him.  It also gives him a weekly opportunity to think of new projects to give you.  It forces him to think of your career.

Make the milk. Then make sure you get the credit.  It really will help your career.

Something To Do Today

In your job journal make a list of the things you do every day, week and month.  What do you take care of so your boss doesn’t have to worry?  Keep adding to the list.  Friday, write up the list and give it to your boss.  You may just surprise him with how much you did this week.  Okay, maybe not this Friday, but how about tomorrow?

(I wrote this years ago. Laura and I still have 9 kids and grandkids living at our house. We are down to one refrigerator.  I make milk every morning for my daughter Merrilee to have on her cereal.  The other kids can fend for themselves, and do very well at it.)

Halloween and your job search

Tips for job seekers and Halloween trick or treaters are just about the same.  Think about how each of these directly applies to looking for a job.

  1. If you are scared, get your dad (a coach) to help on a few doors.
  2. Dress for success.  Look the part from your hair to your shoes, bag and greeting.
  3. The neighborhood you call on defines the size of the treats you get.
  4. Not everyone is giving out one pound candy bars, but they are all worth visiting.
  5. The more houses you call on, the more likely you will get a one pound candy bar.
  6. Go BACK to the biggest house with the best candy later.
  7. The most successful trick or treaters plan their routes and run from door to door.
  8. If you don’t knock, they won’t answer.
  9. If the porch light is out, you won’t get any candy, but you may get advice.
  10. Some of the scariest houses give the best treats.
  11. You get more treats if you start early and work late.
  12. Asking for candy in the traditional way works, ingenuity may get you more.
  13. Helping a little kid can double your take.
  14. Always say thank you.
  15. Sometimes they just ran out of treats, sorry.
  16. Going with friends (groups and social media) can make a scary neighborhood safer.
  17. It is a night of cold calling, even if you know the people.
  18. Trade candy (leads) afterwards to get what you really want.
  19. If you go to a party instead, and complain, you won’t get a big bag of candy.
  20. Don’t blow out the candle in the pumpkin.
  21. Do it again next year, only better, now that you have experience.

Wow!  I could write 21 articles based on those points.  Let me make a few quick points instead.

  1. Planning and preparation. If you want the best chance of quick success, take 15 minutes each day and an additional 4 hours each week to review results, make lists, THINK, and plan for the coming week.  And make sure you have resumes that are attractive so people to call you back.
  2. Work hard and fast. Actually do what you plan.  Make calls and contacts daily.  It is amazing how often luck follows hard work.
  3. Go back again. You should be talking to your best prospects at least monthly.  If you spend 15 minutes thinking and looking for a reason to call, you can usually come up with a helpful reason to call almost anyone.
  4. Work together. Share leads.  Offer to critique other’s resumes.  Suggest websites, books, and other job search ideas.  A lot of people find the perfect job in the castoffs and contacts from someone else’s search. Go to someone else’s house and both of you make calls at the same time.
  5. Be polite. Just because they say “No” doesn’t mean they hate you.  Say thank you and contact them again if it is a company you really want to join.  Never burn bridges or “blow out the candle” with anyone.

Have a great Halloween, and an even better job search.  Good luck finding that one pound candy bar!

Can I make my job skills more attractive?

Perception is everything when you have 30 seconds to make a sale.   Most resumes are deleted in 12 seconds.  You don’t even have 30 seconds to sell yourself.

If you were going to hire an audit manager which of these two skill sets sounds better:

  1. Managed large audit department for 3 years.
  2. Managed 18 person audit department.  As many as 7 audits occurred simultaneously in 9 locations in 3 countries. $18M recovered over a period of 3 years.

Not a hard choice is it? 

Grab your 30 second commercial you wrote last week and your resume.  Look at the first skill set you describe.  How deep is the description?  Can the hiring manager tell the depth of your experience.  Do you give any numbers, sizes, concrete examples or project sizes?  Do you mention the number of people involved in a project.

Can you go any deeper?  For example both of the following are better than average skill accomplishment descriptions, but one is superior:

  1. Top two salesperson for the last 3 years.
  2. Top two salesperson out of 30 for the last 3 years for both highest total sales volume and largest average profit margin.

If you are keeping a job journal, you are tracking detailed information about your accomplishments.  For now, look back at what you’ve done and make some best guesses at numbers.  The more detailed you are, the more you stand out.

Read those examples above again.  Who would you bring in for an interview if you were short of time?  Do you need to change your resume and 30 second commercial?


Something To Do Today

Copy your 30 second commercial and resume to new files.  Go over every skill set description and accomplishment and expand it.  Add all the details you can. Make every description too long.  Save it.

Use and Abuse of Job Boards

You can effectively use internet job boards. You can get hired. First though, you have to understand the weaknesses of job boards. Then you can use these 4 weaknesses to your advantage.

Let’s say you have a choice between hiring someone you worked with for 3 years or a stranger. The person you know is a proven top performer. The person you never met before says he is a top performer. Who do you hire?

That’s the first problem with internet job boards. Many companies post jobs that they fill from their existing employees. They have a policy to leave the door open for a superstar, so they put the job on the internet. What happens when the superstar walks in? Usually they say she is overqualified and show her the door.

Next problem: Most job ads come from employment agencies. I have seen the same computer programmer job advertised by 10 agencies AND the company that wants to hire. How many people will submit resumes for that job? There will be at least 3 qualified people submitted by each agency, that’s 30. Then there will be 100 people submitting themselves to the company and 5 of those will be qualified. That’s a lot of competition.

Third problem: Did you notice that 100 people will apply directly for the job and 5 will be qualified? If the screener doesn’t see exactly what he is looking for on your resume, you won’t get in for an interview. Usually the screener doesn’t really know what you do. He is looking for keywords and phrases. You have to get past the screener.

Last problem: Most jobs are NOT advertised on job boards. But you can use the job boards to find them.

That’s four problems. Think about overcoming them. How can you turn each weakness into a strength for you? How can you turn the tables? You can. I’ll tell you how over the coming week.

Something To Do Today

80% of jobs are NOT advertised.  Tuesday I am giving a free webinar on how to find them.

Sign up here: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/912755408

Go to www.monster.com and check out jobs like yours.  How many ads from different agencies can you find for one job? What is your competition like if you apply for it?

Leveraging Your Assets

Leveraging Your Assets

Yesterday I talked to a network technician who is supervising a few others.  He is earning just over $100,000 in salary.   The techs under him are stuck at $50,000 to $65,000 in salary.

So what’s the difference?  He knows what is valuable to his company.  Every week his job reviews always include a list of the ways he made money, saved money or speeded things up.  His resume is a list of the same things—his value to his company.  He knows how much money the guys on his team make for, or save, the company.  He knows how fast things used to get done and how fast they get done now.  He knows the retail price of every piece of software and hardware he buys and he shows how much his negotiations saved off that price.  He proves to his boss and puts on his resume exactly how often the network used to be down compared to today.  He also gives how much more it used to cost when 200 unionized assembly line workers stood around for half an hour each week waiting for the network to get fixed.

His current and past jobs are his most valuable assets.  Each year he gets $50,000 more than his coworkers.  Why?  Because he proves he is worth it every week.  He keeps his eye on what will make the biggest financial difference and tackles that problem.  The funny thing is that he definitely is not the best person technically on his team.  He’s the one who tackles and gets credit for the most valuable accomplishments.

Yesterday I asked you to make a list of things you did in each job that PROVE your will to succeed, your positive attitude and your desire to constantly improve.  Now that you have that list, here’s the next step.


Something To Do Today

You need to prove how valuable you are.  How do you compare to others doing the same job?  Prove it with solid numbers.  Have you improved a process? How much time does it save every day for how many people?  Do you do something faster than someone else? What does that translate into saved time and money over a month or year?  Have you brought in more work or new customers?  How much is that business worth in a year? Put down solid numbers.  Make good guesses if you aren’t sure.  Remember that 200 people saving ten minutes a day is worth a lot of money.  Estimate how much it is.

Next I’ll show you how to make this list of successes bring you a lot more money.

Get experience before you get experience

I talk to a LOT of people who want better jobs.  A lot of them never consider finding ways to start doing the job they want before they get it.

An article on how to prepare now to get a job when you graduate got me thinking.  You need to do the same thing to progress in your career anywhere.   The best way to get a promotion is to start picking up parts of the job you want to do.  Help the current job holder when you can.  Train people to do YOUR job.  Volunteer somewhere to do the job you want. 

The real trick is to get experience before you get the job.  Then you are the natural person to hire.