Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Speed Networking

One of my clients gave me a hot tip recently, so I went to try it out. He found it through Linkedin: it's called speed networking and you can get there from You go in and register, view the networking telephone events in your geographic area, view the other people signed up (you create your profile first and you can say as much or as little as you want), and then enroll yourself --FREE--for a ninety minute slot on a specific date. 

You have five minutes to introduce yourself to the next randomly selected person and then you stop. The whole event is 90 minutes so you can meet eighteen people in your scheduled event. If you get a "hit" connection, all the better. My client met up with a recruiter in his field on the second five minutes he was there. They scheduled a formal phone interview right after that first quick meeting.

I signed up for December 16 in Boston.  I'll keep you posted, but meanwhile, check out the website and decide for yourself.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Money and Motive

Why do we work? This morning I read a very good piece on on experiment about CEO pay and how it ties in to actual corporate performance. It doesn't: it's actually counter-productive to higher performance. This researcher went to India to conduct his first test. He offered money incentives for delivering results. The groups were divided into three and each was offered the same work for a different bonus. The high bonus offer was $50, equivalent to six months pay for an Indian middle level worker and the low bonus offer was 50 cents, an equivalent in India to a day's wage. The winners were all in the 50 cent group and the losers were the $50.

He took the experiment to a group of seniors at MIT and offered $60, $300, and $600, respectively. When it was purely mechanical performance the $600 group won, but at the cognitive level they failed. The $60 group won in that category. Then when they were asked to perform their work under public scrutiny, the $600 group failed. The private work of the $60 group made them the front-runners.

What does it say, other than the obvious, that CEO pay at a level 450 times the lowest employee of the firm should be punishable by death when the company fails? Perhaps this small experiment indicates we work for something more than money, that we strive to achieve less under pressure and more for the pure satisfaction of achievement as its own inherent reward. 

People need money and are definitely happier when rewarded with a fair wage, but exorbitant bonuses just put us to sleep, make us take our eyes off the ball and get just a little too comfortable. 

We are living in uncomfortable times in the wake of our ailing world economy. We mustn't recover too quickly, lest we lose the opportunity to know what it means to wake up and keep our eyes on the ball. It doesn't take a rich CEO to have a clear head and a cool moral fiber. We are all in this together now, so let's keep our eyes wide open! 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Time Well-Spent

One aspect of the new new economy that I've considered lately is how to spend my time and even how I might suggest others could do the same. With looming increases in layoffs (December is the highest month traditionally),  and now scary news threatening so many of us in many industry sectors and geographic regions, we have to think differently about the use of our time.

With a new administration coming in we have a resurgence of hope, but hope is hard to hold onto when fear and anxiety take over. How then to keep the twin monsters at bay? Paul Krugman and Thomas L. Friedman (both contributors to the New York Times) have exhorted us to spend, not in a foolish way, but as a way of keeping the flow of money going. Wal-Mart is the only retail company having an upturn (easy to understand). 

But my focus is on time. If we have anything to face now that could help, it is a renewed awareness, and perhaps a deliberate focus on how we use our time, how we spend it. I spend my time somewhat newly. For example, my awareness of the economic impact, as well as the ecological impact, of how I use and abuse energy has changed. I work from my home office mostly and I have lately turned the thermostat lower and put on layers even while at the peak of my productivity during the day. It is not yet winter, but the layers are going to increase. This has a double benefit: lower fuel costs (save money) and better ecology overall.

I call more friends on weekends and evenings. Boom times are over and my vision has opened: love is irreplaceable; money is not in the forefront. It's in the background, there as a threat as it always has been, but the work against fear demands a different outlook. Hope can be sustained over time when we reach out to others, even on a good day. Know hope and use time well as the precious gift that it is.

Friday, November 14, 2008

No Pity Party

If you're actively seeking new work right now, remember be FLEXIBLE! Look at your most recent job and examine carefully what transferable skills you have. These include your soft skills: your ability to multi-task, to synthesize ideas, to coordinate divergent groups or individuals into moving the action, and into advancing the decision-making.

All of these skills are sought-after and much in demand. AND they transfer to almost any function and across all industries. If you are unemployed and it's getting you down (understandable), use this time, especially in this interregnum in Washington and in this holiday season, to introspect about your gifts, your soft skills. You have them; you maybe just haven't thought about them in awhile. And soft is hardly the right word. It's your people skills. people matter to people in the workforce. Why else can some people ask for a challenging task to be done and get others on board? If your people skills are weak, strengthen them. Use this time to develop a better you and avoid the pity party. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Be Prepared for December

The AP reports this morning that December is the biggest month (twofold statistically) for layoffs in American businesses. Executives and senior management scramble to deliver a profit for end of year and layoffs happen now. So, if you are in the mix of the bad news, and more of you will be this year because...need I remind you of what we're all talking about?

The reverse news (I won't say good yet) is that in the first quarter of 2009 there will also be other shifts going on, adjustments to how companies spend and hiring. No one can make much sense of it but some companies hire right after a layoff and it's not all cheaper labor. It's when they see what they need and have to fill that need.

It will be a leaner holiday season, without a doubt, but it's not the end of the world.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Learn Spanish

Want to open up numerous career opportunities? learn Spanish and get very good at speaking it. I have a counseling client ( a professional in HR) who is a native speaker (Mexican American) and he has an abundance of opportunities both as a professional in the Southern border to Mexico with mega-companies, and as an online teacher with various universities who run business courses with Spanish speaking customers in Mexico and Latin America. Now, you may not master this language as well as a native speaker, but you can get close if you work at it.

It's time to open up your education, not just in the hallowed halls, but in the small, practical ways we all have access to.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Manager of Freelancers

I just read a great idea for a new job in the new economy. This came form Seth Godin on his blog. Seth is a wonderful writer and an enlightened and courageous thinker. When I return to links, I'll get you there. Meanwhile Google Seth Godin and read his entry on the top three jobs to have right now. Yes, Community Organizer is up there at the top. Duh! I wonder where he got that one?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Should I be scared?

I talk to hundreds of people every month around the country who have varying dgress of success and failure in their job search. A few are lucky enough to be ready for retirement and didn't lose it all in the recent Wall Street meltdown. Others have a couple of months severance, live in a relatively prosperous parts of the country (Texas and North Carolina) and don't seem to be aware of the economic nightmare we're in right now.

But if you're aware and getting scared, don't. It doesn't help; it doesn't change anything. One thing for sure: change is on the way and change is never comfortable, at least until it shakes out it's flaws and comes to rest in full form, useful and practical and maybe even fun. 

But this won't happen without creative, open-minded, opportunistic people who keep themselves open to these changes and how they affect others and where the opportunities are to make a decent living. And that's where the big change will come. We must stop thinking about getting rich. It may be a long time before we know what it will look like. But a decent living, including savings (safe and conservative savings) is on the way if we keep ourselves open to it. We will probably learn to build smaller houses and build them closer to each other. We will learn how to save, even if it's small amounts at a time. We will learn how to take better care of our resources. Our environmental resources are limited and so our our everyday living resources. We will learn how to be more alive by living better lives, by looking ourselves in the mirror and finding ourselves able to be at peace with what's reflected back.