Friday, February 27, 2009

Who's too old?

One of my favorite candidates in my coaching work told one on himself the other day: "it's my age that will stop me". He's 64 and will be eligible for Medicare this coming June. The funny thing is that he admits he looks five or ten years younger, he's healthy and fit, and ordinarily does not feel old. So why did he say this now? It's Medicare. He let the word trigger an image he actually doesn't subscribe to.

What words are pulling you down? "The economy is going to get worse before it gets better". Then: "Nobody's hiring now". Well, the first sentence is probably true. But that doesn't mean your economy. Where do you live? What companies will benefit from the stimulus and do you know of any in your area? Do you want to know? What have you always wanted to do with your life? Have you sat down and done a thorough spending plan to get you through the coming months (year?)? Are you networking, seriously networking? Have you looked at your values and noticed where you may have overlooked them in the past few years while working yourself to the bone?

Age is not an excuse. I fear far more for the young. It's not too late to get going.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's gonna get better

Oh boy, before we boil in our own oil fretting away the ongoing and upcoming course of our economy, let's look at how it's going to get better. Remember, I like to address the long-term here.

I just heard that the cell phone network providers are going to stop selling us these annual or biannual contracts and let us have it pay as you go. That's a good idea.! I'm about to turn over every one of my credit cards and live by my debit Visa all by itself.

This means there alway has to be enough money in there for me to spend, and that even means for business. Fortunately my business demands little capital, but still, some months it will mean more trips to bulky-ville shopping at Costco in order to have enough cash for my online advertising. Now that's what I call budgeting. What else good is coming? Post it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Face Your Fear

No time has ever been more ripe to invent, to create, to take risks, to see things differently deliberately.  There is so much uncertainty, so much fear, that only a few brave souls are willing to release their fear of the future, of their attachment to the job they just lost, or of the the job they hate, but believe they might be  losing.

I talk to people around the country every day who are beginning to understand that networking is not a dirty manipulative game, but simply trusting others to open up and talk, to find out how to give, and discover how to ask for help.

One woman has dared to make herself uncomfortable by joining Toastmasters to face the discomfort of public speaking. This will pay off; she's stretching, learning, turning away from fear and into growth. It may or may not lead to a new job, but it will help make a new woman of her, and this way of skill building is almost free.

What are you doing to face your fears and stare them down? That's why I write a blog no one reads: to face my cynicism and to learn to write better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

whew! finally I can do what I've dreamed of

This week I've spoken to two very strong, capable, professional women, recently "downsized" after twenty plus years in Fortune 100 companies and both came to a similar conclusion, but they told me like it was a secret. One wants to become a licensed practical nurse and the other wants to get her real estate license and work for herself.

Both know about the money issue, and both are prepared to deal with it for the sake of getting off the merry-go-round. Let's face it, the merry- go-round may be merrily coming to a grinding halt and everyone will have to get off.

Now dumping the grind is not new. And we've all been told only one in five new businesses survive five years. But that's old news. We're in an economy now that demands out of the box thinking (the box has collapsed). It also demands new ways of looking at our former comfortable consumption. I cannot tell these women what to do but I can applaud their independent thinking. Is creativity and work satisfaction finally on the table?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Grinding Up an Elephant to Produce a Hamburger

My husband coined this phrase a few years ago, when he was working as a consultant to businesses that are now struggling to stay alive, but were then (merely) wasting away their personnel, shredding their talents and energies, to get to the bottom line.

Today I talk daily to some of these same good souls who labored in a system they hated and are now holding on to a short severance, an unemployment check that may last till the end of 2009, thanks to the stimulus, and a new lease on life. This doesn't mean they're not scared, but they're open to the truth.

One woman yesterday was panicking because her husband wanted to know her Plan B. Her plan A is to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a franchise. Plan B as the corporate grind is so far out of the picture she can taste it. Another woman today, same big industry, wants to get her real estate license and be on her own (finally). "I'll never go back. My closest friends know how miserable I was for at least the past five years." 

We're in for a painful transition, but many of us with the courage to face the truth about the wasteful use of our time to produce so little of any merit will come out ahead. You have one life. Use it well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Conventional Thinking is Dead or Dying

If there's one thing I would encourage everyone to do: get off the couch whether unemployed right now or just fearful of the axe that may be coming, and sit with like minded people, friends and people you just click with, and brainstorm everything you care about that needs improvement, re-invention, re-thinking. Let it all blow out and get it on the table. Beware of saying anything cynical: we've all been there far too long.

Tom Friedman in the New York Times today has an article about two young American graduate students in India, who formed a partnership with an Indian entrepreneur woman and are testing a solar powered car. Yes, it's a developmental piece, but innovation and venture capital will open up: it has to, or we all go down really fast. We will come out of this and we will be poorer (and more sensible) before we stabilize, but we will leave a better world for our children and their children. If we can elect a black president, we can re-invent our economy. We can better educate our youth, work against global warming, take better care of each other as full, deserving human beings. Now is the time to put it all on the table; conventional thinking put us in a trance. This is the wake up call we've been waiting for.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Turn and Learn

What it will take from here on out is to be able to turn and learn. I speak to people every day who are enrolling in training programs, investing in more education, pressing themselves to advance their computer skills---anything and everything they can do to make up for the lack of career development they missed in the workaholic economy we've been living under for so long.

One woman today told me that when she interviewed three years ago she was still working for her mega-bank and the interviewer told her she was too intense. Now laid off for two months from that bank, she has a different spirit, more relaxed, less wound up in the "machinery" of big business and perhaps ready to be comfortable with a smaller business and working with people in a more relaxed atmosphere.

We need to be able to turn away from what we were doing that wasn't working in terms of our lives and our health, and re-examine our priorities. Maybe a little less money and a lot more play time is in order. It may be what we get, whether or not we even want it.