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Archive: The Greatest Gift — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 1st, 2014 No comments

Career Opportunities Logo 2012

It is the holiday season once again and our thoughts are turned to goodwill and presents for the special people in our lives. Too often, though, we neglect ourselves at this time of year. Now, I am not suggesting you go out and by that new Macbook Pro you’ve always wanted and get your wife a bowling ball. Rather, there is a very special gift you can give yourself that costs absolutely nothing. The greatest gift you can give yourself at this time of year is the gift of self-knowledge. Taking time to reflect now, at this usually happy time of year can bring great benefits in the year to come.

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Here’s the plan — between Christmas and New Year’s Day, take some time for yourself. I know you might think I am crazy since this time can also be very hectic, but consider this a “time out” from all the hustle and bustle. Sometimes I just like to sit around the living room with nothing but the Christmas tree lights on when everyone else is asleep. Find a quiet place, bring a small notepad and pen and just think. Think about all the good things that have happened this year in your career.Think about all the great things you would like to happen next year. Think about what you might like to change…remain the same. Jot down whatever comes to you then think about it a little more.

Let me be very clear that I am not talking about New Year’s Resolutions. For me, resolutions always feel like a reprimand, rather than a plan for the future. I think this is one reason so many of them are quickly abandoned — some even before January 1st is even over. Keep your notes upbeat, supportive and clear. Don’t berate yourself for missed opportunities. Instead, make a note to attack one small part of an issue, then the next, then the next.

While I do recommend you sit down with pen and paper and make notes of your thoughts, it is just as important and just as useful to simply think. Too often we don’t make the time to think about our lives, our families, our wants, needs and desires. If we don’t take the time to think about these important aspects of our lives, is it any surprise we don’t take time to think about our careers? Notes will help you to act on your thoughts once you go back to work, but if the note-taking interferes with your thinking, let it go. The truth is, the most important thoughts will stick with you Again, the point of this exercise is contemplation, not adding more stress.

So, what might you note during your thinking time? I find myself thinking of projects I would like to accomplish, articles I would like to write, people I need to call and even mundane items like groceries, laundry and paying the bills. Once I have most of these out of my head, though, deeper thoughts start to arise. One item that keeps me constantly occupied is what I want to say on these pages over the course of the next 52 weeks. What effect do I want to have on readers? What action do I want to encourage you to take in your own careers and lives? How do I want to encourage you to grow?

You can and should also find yourself contemplating deeper issues. Are you in the right job? The right company? The right career? The right town? Only you can answer these questions and only after some very deep thinking. I know sometimes thinking about important issues like these can be frightening. This is why we often avoid dealing with them. Don’t be afraid, though. It is by addressing these issues that you can defuse the fear and take the next step forward. Improving your life and career should never be something to dread, rather it should be something to pursue and embrace.

Where will you find the time and place to do some deep thinking? It matters little when or where, but it is very important that you do it. Without regular engagement with your thoughts, your hopes and your dreams, you run the risk of plodding along through life, simply taking whatever is offered instead of directing your life in a way that makes the most sense for you. Give yourself a gift that will prevent that from happening.

Best wishes for this holiday season, whichever holiday you may celebrate. May the coming year bring the best that you can possibly imagine.

***

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Video: Why a Career Compass? from Career Compass: Finding Your Career North with Douglas E. Welch

July 31st, 2014 No comments

Why a Career Compass? from Career Compass: Finding Your Career North with Douglas E. Welch

A short clip from this longer presentation

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Video: Why a Career Compass? from Career Compass: Finding Your Career North with Douglas E. Welch

 

 

Transcript:

This is the session, Career Compass: Finding Your Career North. Come on in. I did this talk a few years ago. This is based on on a column and podcast I wrote many years ago for my Career Opportunities podcast and column. Because I run into a lot of people — myself included — who don’t really know what they want to do for a living. The old adage of asking the young kid, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Well, people ask me that question and I am sort of like, “Mnnnnnn–I don’t know.” Because I do — what I’ve decided to do instead is I do a lot of different stuff. That is not usual. Typically most of us have some driving passion that pushed us through things or at least one or two. It is rare you will find someone like myself that has 5 different blogs and 3 different organizations and all this other crazy stuff. But hopefully, the Career Compass can, first of all, help you find a way to the work you truly want to do and also give you a guide for evaluating new opportunities that come along throughout your career. 

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A Call for Your Advice — Contemplating a Patreon fundraiser

July 31st, 2014 No comments

I need your advice and help?

I have always wondered if advertising was the right model for supporting podcasting and other new media projects, but I hadn’t really seen any other viable alternatives. So I haven’t had advertising on Career Opportunities for a variety of reasons. Recently a system called Patreon appeared and I have been watching how other new media producers have begun using it to fund their shows and reduce their dependency on advertising. I will explain Patreon — and the work required to produce Career Opportunities — and then ask you as always for your advice and guidance.

Career Opportunities Logo Patreon logo

Patreon is similar to crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter, but instead of a one time pledge of support to develop a physical product, Patreon focuses on on-going, monthly pledges to support the development of continuous content. It also allows for fundraising milestones to unlock expansion of content to new shows, services and areas as funding increases.

I have recently been contemplating starting a Patreon page for Career Opportunities to help support its on-going production and also open up my time and energy to new services and content.

A bit of backstory

In 1997, I was asked to write Career Opportunities as a weekly column for the print publication, ComputorEdge in San Diego, California. I was paid weekly for each column and at the time the magazine closed in 2007, I was receiving $125/column (between $500-$625 per month). After the publication folded, I continued writing and podcasting Career Opportunities, subsidizing the time and money needed to create it from my ‘day’ job. I produced about 2/3 of the usual number of columns, but I could not justify dedicating the same amount of time to the writing and production of the show.

Fast forward to 2014. I have left my computer consulting work to forge a new career focusing on new media — including podcast training, consulting and promotion. As you might image, it takes a long time to build a new career. I continue to produce the show, as I believe, from reading the letters I receive, that it has helped many people over the years and I want to continue helping. I need more time to continue this work, though, and this is why I am turning to you — the faithful and long term listeners of Career Opportunities — for first, advice and then perhaps, support.
Please feel free to post comments here on this blog post or, if you prefer, email me directly at douglas@welchwrite.com.

Thank you so much for your advice!

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Questions on how to fund the on-going and expanded production of the Career Opportunities Podcast using Patreon or similar systems.

(Don’t feel limited to my possible responses here. Feel free and encouraged to think as widely (and wildly) as you like. Sometimes the best ideas are crazy ideas — Douglas)

  • Would you be open to becoming a patron of Career Opportunities on a monthly basis?
  • What level would you consider appropriate?
    • $1/month
    • $2/month
    • $8/month
    • $12/month
    • $16/month
    • Other
  • What new projects would you like to see as milestones for this fundraiser?
    • Dedicated Career Opportunities Forum/Discussion Group/Networking Site
    • Weekly video Q&A chat live stream
    • Expanded interview series with a variety of careerists
    • Online Speaker Series with career speakers of all types
    • Others (I am open to almost anything that would make Career-Op better)
  • At what overall monthly earning levels should these milestones be unlocked?
    • $500/month
    • $1000/monthly
    • Higher?
  • What rewards would you consider fun/useful for your patronage?
    • Exclusive content only for patrons
      • Career Opportunities would remain free for everyone. This would be additional content
    • Books
    • One-to-One Career Consulting
    • Coffee Mugs
    • Early access to columns and podcasts
    • Personalized career presentation to your group or business on-site (if local) or via video conferencing.

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Video: Finding your most important connections from Career Prescriptions. with Douglas E. Welch

July 30th, 2014 No comments

Finding your most important connections from Career Presc. with Douglas E. Welch

From “Career Prescriptions” – Career Opportunities Podcast with Douglas E. Welch)

Watch this entire presentation – “Career Prescriptions” – Career Opportunities Podcast with Douglas E. Welch

Transcript:

That’s the great thing about LinkedIn and a lot of these sites. You can take your existing address book — whether it exists on your computer — or, I use Gmail. So, it can actually log in to my Gmail account and look at my address book when I give it permission. It will tell you who is already there. And so, you can go through and look at that list and go, “Oh! Such and such is there. Oh, yeah connect with them. I mean you probably won’t link up with everybody, but you can kind of pick a select group to start with. They’re already on LinkedIn. You don’t have to send them and email invitation — “Hey, join LinkedIn with me.” They’re already there. So that is your core group to start with. Again, it gives you nice friendly place, even in this bigger, huge, LinkedIn environment. It gives you a nice friendly group of people that you already know in some fashion. Ok? Also, by using that main email address, when I run my address book through LinkedIn every so often, it actually knows it and when someone signs up new to LinkedIn that is in my address book, but wasn’t a member of LinkedIn before, it actually tells me. It will say, “Rosanne Welch is now a member of LinkedIn. Would you like to connect with them?” Why yes I would. (LAUGH) So, it makes it easy. It kind of auto-discovers new people for you in an ongoing fashion.

Douglas is writer and host of Career Opportunities, a long running column and podcast dedicated to “Helping to Build the Career You Deserve!” Career Opportunities began in 1997 as a magazine column and expanded to a podcast in 2004. Douglas is also a New Media Consultant, Technology and Career Consultant with over 30 years experience in high-tech. You can find all of Douglas’ work at DouglasEWelch.com.

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Noted: Brainstorming Doesn’t Work; Try This Technique Instead via Fast Company

July 29th, 2014 No comments

Brainstorming Doesn’t Work; Try This Technique Instead via Fast Company

I found that brainstorming within a Google Doc when people are dispersed geographically can yield some similar results to this tip, probably for the same reasons. It is certainly worth trying out the next time you need to generate some new, great, ideas.

Douglas E. Welch

Brainstorming Doesn't Work; Try This Technique Instead via Fast Company

Brainstorming, in its current form and by many metrics, doesn’t work as well as the frequency of “team brainstorming meetings” would suggests it does.

EARLY IDEAS TEND TO HAVE DISPROPORTIONATE INFLUENCE OVER THE REST OF THE CONVERSATION.

Sharing ideas in groups isn’t the problem, it’s the “out-loud” part that, ironically, leads to groupthink, instead of unique ideas. “As sexy as brainstorming is, with people popping like champagne with ideas, what actually happens is when one person is talking you’re not thinking of your own ideas,” Leigh Thompson, a management professor at the Kellogg School, told Fast Company. “Sub-consciously you’re already assimilating to my ideas.”

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Don’t deny your own uniqueness… from Career Compass: Finding Your Career North

July 29th, 2014 No comments

Don't deny your own uniqueness… from Career Compass: Finding Your Career North

“Our businesses want replaceable cogs that they can insert into their industrial machines. Schools want students that sit down and stay silent. It rewards those that “fit in” and often punishes those that don’t. In such jobs, that  drive towards “normal” can lead us to make some very bad decisions about our own careers. In order to fit in we might be denying our unique skills and the knowledge that could lead us to exceptional careers — not just an average one.”

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Projects should have an end, not just fade away — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

July 28th, 2014 No comments

Career Opportunities Logo 2012

It is the nature of life , business and career that you will start many more projects than you complete. Needs change. Specifications change. Business climates change. Projects once thought new and innovative are superseded by those even newer and more innovative. In this hyperactive world of change, we can forget that sometimes the best beginnings are actually good endings.


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Too often in life and work, we simply let projects, ideas and initiatives fade away instead of bringing them to a useful, definitive end. Equipment is left to slowly die in a corner or closet. Books sit unread and unwanted on employee bookshelves, budgets for one project slowly get absorbed by departments. While this slow fading of, usually failed, projects might be easier on our ego, it saps the energy and attention we need to focus on the new, even better, projects to come.

Every project should build in, from the very beginning, an end-of-life plan. How long will the project last? How often should its viability be reviewed? What is the expected result? What constitutes success…or failure…and how do we close the project out when either arrives? Setting guidelines at the beginning of a project not only help you to know when it is complete, but also force you to look more close at what you are trying to accomplish, and how.

“Starting with the end in mind” has long been good life and career advice, but so many people ignore that today. We become so involved in launching new projects, we forget about those already in progress. We don’t think about the end — out of fear of failure, fear of success or simple inattention in our crazy lives. Sure, developing new projects and ideas is always of great importance, but it is hard to do that when we are surrounded by the detritus of previous attempts and completed projects that have never been brought to a close.

If you want to open up more space in your life for great new ideas, here are a few guidelines on how to “close the books” on some of your earlier projects.

Create a definitive list of every project currently in progress

Don’t worry about individual tasks. This isn’t a ToDo list. Rather think about the larger, overarching projects currently in progress. This should only take a short time, but dig deep and find all those projects that are curled up in the corners like dust bunnies. I guarantee you will find projects on your ToDo list, and those of your staff, that you had entirely forgotten about. Once you get a good list of projects, the hard work begins.

Quickly evaluate each project as a Go, No Go or Done

Now, get your team together and, as quickly as possible, give each project a status of:

Go — Start or continue the project
No Go — Stop the project immediately
Done — Wrap up the project in the next day or week

Regardless of which status you choose for any given projects, your next task is to specify the next, physical, action that needs to be taken on the project. For a Go project, this might include assigning more staff, buying new equipment, launching a new PR campaign. This is your chance to focus your attention on something you think, today, is of the utmost importance.

For No Go projects, start the shutdown procedures immediately. Make it clear to yourself and your staff that this project is done. Document the project, learn from it what you can and then archive it. Move the project files out of sight. Redirect staff and equipment to one of your Go projects and free up whatever “mindshare” that project was taking up in your thoughts and those of your staff.

An example from my own, past, theater life is from the summer theater I worked at in Huron, Ohio during college. The troupe lived on-site and produced 6 different shows in eight weeks. As you might imagine, once one play or musical was complete, you needed to clear mental space for the next show in line. We often talked about doing a “mental flush” of a show after the last performance. Remembering those lines, those actions, did us no good at all moving forward. In fact, they could even hurt us if they caused confusion or mental lapses on stage. Consider using the same tactics with your No Go projects. Get rid of them and move on.

Finally, for Done projects, it is important that you spend some time documenting what you learned and providing instruction to those who will be tasked in maintaining the project in the future. This is often one of the most neglected parts of any project. This is dangerous — and a bit silly — as poor documentation, follow up and maintenance can actually reverse or destroy many of the benefits the project created. Create detailed hand-off documentation for everyone who will touch this project down the road. Give it the best opportunity to serve you well for years to come. Don’t squander the success you created.

As with all the other statuses, though, it is important to bring the project — or at least one phase of the project — to an end, definitively. Hold a meeting. Hold a party. Raise a glass to toast its success and allow everyone to come to some closure. This allows people to remember what success feels like, but it also allows them to mentally move on to the next, hopefully great, project on their list.

Free up your mind — and your calender — for new projects by actually finishing your projects whether you bring them to a successful conclusion or simply kill off those projects that didn’t work out. Don’t just let them fade away.

***

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Noted: 12 Simple Ways To Be More Interesting via Business Insider

July 27th, 2014 No comments

12 Simple Ways To Be More Interesting via Business Insider

12 Simple Ways To Be More Interesting via Business Insider

It’s easy to be boring. It’s harder to be interesting. Want to learn how? Jessica Hagy offers the following advice, excerpted from her book “How To Be Interesting.”

Go exploring.
Explore ideas, places, and opinions.

The inside of the echo chamber is where all the boring people hang out.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

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Archive: Two career situations to avoid — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

July 25th, 2014 No comments

Career Opportunities Logo 2012

At the best of times, our career is a succession of good work and good ideas, for which we are rewarded a good salary. Your work can progress along without too much fear, angst or anger. Still, there will be times when trouble can occur. Often, though, these are situations that we can avoid, if we learn to recognize the warning signs. After 20+ years in the workplace, in both corporate and small businesses and as an independent consultant, I have collected a number of situations that almost always lead to trouble.

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A Distorted Golden Rule

Treat others as you would like to be treated. It sounds like such a simple rule, but there are some people that can fall into a distorted practice of the rule. At first, it might seem like they are irrational, but in their own heads, there is an odd sort of logic.

People who treat others with disrespect expect exactly the same behavior in return. They treat any sign of conflict as a call to battle and expect you to respond in kind. They expect you to try and damage their reputation, their business, their life – mainly because this is exactly what they would do in your situation. This is why their response to conflict often seems extreme and out of control. They are prepared for the worst because they often give the worst to others.

As you can see, dealing with people such as this is almost impossible. Trust and thought are thrown out in favor of fear and retribution. It should be clear that you would be better off working with almost anyone else. If not, you might find your own reputation smeared as those around you attempt to salvage their own reputations, even if you don’t intend to respond to their attacks. After all, it matters little what you intend to do. They will always assume you will attack using the very same methods.

A Family Business When You’re Not Family

There is another, sometimes related, situation that can also yield career problems – working in a family business when you are not a member of the family. Family businesses, much like families, each hold their own, unique issues. Family issues can intrude on the business and vice-versa. Decisions can be made for family reasons, instead of business success and there are seemingly a hundred and one ways for you, as an outsider, to be caught in the fray.

When business is good, and family relations are at their best, business often precedes as usual. Employees and managers treat each other with respect, business decisions are made in a logical fashion and everything advances smoothly. Unfortunately, it only takes one small issue, in the family or in the business, to wreak havoc.

Unknown to you, outside of the familial loop, trouble could be brewing. Disagreements over business issues, family quarrels over unrelated topics, divorces and other disagreements can quickly show themselves in the office. Suddenly the president can’t get the finance department to sign any checks. Equipment starts to disappear. Family employees are absent for days at a time and you have no idea why they are – or why they aren’t docked any pay when they return.

The worst thing you can do in such a situation is try to act as mediator. It is often said that factions will war among themselves until presented with an outside threat to unify them. If you get involved in the conflict, the warring parties can come to see you as an enemy. It requires no imagination at all to see what will happen to your job if this occurs. In the midst of a confrontation like this, every action you take, every word you say will be weighed. With which faction do you agree or disagree? Are you supporting your boss or your co-workers who happen to be his children – or in-laws? In the end, family will always take care of themselves first, so your job security is at risk at all but the most successful times.

These are only two situations that can lead to career trouble, but two that I have personally seen in action. Your career needs to be judged on the basis of the quality of your work, your thinking and your integrity. Becoming involved in situations over which you have no control can only lead to stress, conflict and career problems. If you see yourself becoming involved in these situations, you need to quickly find a way out. Otherwise you may be risking your entire career.

***

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Midsummer Book Sale — All My Kindle Books 99¢ each for the next 30 Days!

July 24th, 2014 No comments

That’s right!

As a special Midsummer treat to all my loyal readers, listeners and viewers, all my books are now just 99¢ each for the next 30 days!

Offer expires August 24, 2014

For career-minded types, there is my original book, The High-Tech Career Handbook, Cultivating You Career Reputations and, for those looking to decide where to take their career, Career Compass: Finding Your Career North.

Social Media fans can check out Social Media Self Preservation and learn how to take advantage of social media without losing your mind.

Finally, fans of A Gardener’s Notebook might like my collection of gardening essays, From A Gardener’s Notebook.

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