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Archive for January, 2008

Archive: Sales is Everything – December 17, 2004

January 30th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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Yes, that’s right, “sales” is everything. Business experts like Tom Peters preach it, industry pundits carry on the charge, even I know this is true, but taking it to heart and integrating this thought into my business is a troublesome task. I bemoan the past when…was it ever true?… there were sales people and everyone else. If you worked in development, technical support or any other aspect of business, you didn’t have to think about sales. It was something that the “Sales guys” did. This would be my dream world, but dreams don’t put food on the table.

This Friday: February 1, 2008: Without risk we all stagnate


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Share your ideas sooner, not later

January 25th, 2008 Comments off

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Listen: Share your ideas sooner, not later

Career Opportunities podcast logoAs a writer, it is always distressing when you have a great idea and then see that someone else has written an article about the exact same topic, usually only days before you get around to it. It happens all the time and it only makes sense, considering the number of people in the world. Surely someone else has had similar thoughts about your topic. They simply wrote them down first.

There is an interesting analogy in our career life, too, though. We can have a great idea, but if we don’t take the step of telling someone about it, someone else may end up getting all the credit. (it’s so prominent an idea it’s the sub-plot in the internet pilot, Quarterlife!) More importantly, this other person has created an opportunity that should have been yours. This opportunity could lead to great things in their career. Keeping that in mind, as you move through your career this year, when you have a great idea, you need to act on it immediately.

More importantly, this other person has created an opportunity that should have been yours. This opportunity could lead to great things in their career. Keeping that in mind, as you move through your career this year, when you have a great idea, you need to act on it immediately.

I have written in the past how I use a standard paper journal to capture ideas for this column and the other writing I do. While this is fine for most situations, there are times when an idea presents itself that needs to be put into action immediately. Perhaps it is a comment on a timely topic, or a new angle on a persistent problem. Whatever the reason, you need to learn to recognize these special ideas and put a plan on how to best exploit them – today.

Sometimes we can wait to act on an idea until we have more information. We want to do more research and more thinking about the idea before we release it to the world. While this can be commendable in some ways, it can also lead to having others “steal your thunder” by moving forward while you dig more deeply.

If you truly think an idea is special, don’t be afraid to write up your preliminary thoughts about it or put together an initial prototype. Will it be flawed? Almost surely, but it will get the idea out into the world and stamp that idea and a reputation for innovation with your name. More importantly, though, the feedback you receive from others will almost certainly help your idea grow into something larger. They may point out fatal flaws in the initial idea or provide a method to expand the idea far beyond its original concept. This feedback is the fuel that drives a good idea into greatness.

The basic difference in these approaches is that in one, you do the thinking in a solitary environment, free from criticism and judgment. In the other, you do your thinking in a public forum with all the good and bad aspects that brings. I personally think that doing your thinking in a public forum is the better of the two for a number of reasons. Most importantly, by doing your thinking on a public scale, you increase your, ever important, visibility.

Last month I wrote about the importance of visibility and you can watch a video of my presentation to BarCamp San Diego on that topic. In a nutshell, you can be the best programmer, the best accountant, the best manager, the best whatever – but if no one knows what you do it is all for naught. You need to constantly be communicating your unique skills, thoughts and thinking process and exposing them to others. In this way, you will find that opportunities start coming to you instead of you spending long hours hunting down opportunities. Getting your ideas out into the world, and developing them in a public forum, is sure to attract attention and raise your visibility among everyone your ideas touch. In this way, the process of generating and working on your ideas, generates its own benefits before the idea ever becomes a workable service or product. Consider it a career form of syndication where you write the column once and yet get paid by every paper where it appears.

Don’t let others steal your career thunder simply because they act on their ideas more quickly than you do. Learn to recognize the great ideas that need immediate action and then take them out for a spin. The benefits to you and your career are far-reaching.


Next Friday: January 25, 2008: Without risk, we all stagnate


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What I’m Reading…

January 23rd, 2008 Comments off
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Elsewhere Online: What to do if you’re laid off in 2008 recession

January 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Some good career advice from blogger, Robert Scoble.

What to do if you’re laid off in 2008 recession

It’s sad to hear about layoffs at companies like Yahoo. Right now it seems like a bad time to be laid off. I’m here to offer some hope.

(Continues on site)

(Via Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger.)

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Archive: Getting By – December 10, 2004

January 23rd, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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Have you ever had a day when you didn’t want to get out of bed and face your work? Good. I’m glad it isn’t just me. Jobs and careers can have their ups and downs, but sometimes it can feel like life is ganging up on you. I describe it as having a reverse “Midas touch.” Instead of gold, all I get is mud. Thank goodness, I know these times are transient. Everything is cyclical and even these days will pass. This can be an important mindset to keep. Otherwise, you might ditch your high-tech career for something less stressful, like work as an airline pilot or crash test dummy.

This Friday: January 25, 2008: Share your ideas sooner, not later


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Interview: Al Isago Parvez of Advance, Inc. in Tokyo, Japan

January 18th, 2008 Comments off

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Listen: An interview with Al Isago Parvez, a recruiter with Advance, Inc, in Tokyo, Japan

Career Opportunities podcast logoAn interview with Al Isago Parvez, a recruiter with Advance, Inc, in Tokyo, Japan



Next Friday: January 25, 2008: Share your ideas sooner, not later


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Archive: Criticism – December 3, 2004

January 16th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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There is a little that can be so useful, or so damaging, as criticism. When given correctly, justly and without malice, it can be the building block of a better career. Dealt out cruelly, meanly and with venom, it can stunt the progress of even the best person. A great career depends on understanding criticism, both how to deliver it and how to receive it.

This Friday: January 18, 2008: An Interview with Al Parvez of Advance, Inc., a Recruiter in Tokyo, Japan


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Moving into Management

January 11th, 2008 1 comment

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Career Opportunities podcast logoWhether you work in a corporate environment, or for yourself, there comes a time in every career when you need to stop crawling under desks, both literally and figuratively. While I often bemoan the practice of removing professionals from active duty, where they often have the most expertise, as we age, we need to move into roles more suited to our abilities and temperaments. Every career will eventually move into “management” although it can be management in a form quite different from what you might expect.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I was talking with my sister, Denise, about our businesses. We are both independent computer consultants and both well into our 40’s. We are also both looking for the next step in our careers, the one that removes us from the grunt work of consulting…installing DSL and cable modems, routers and otherwise crawling beneath the desks of our clients. As we talked I struck upon the idea for this column.

There comes a time in everyone’s career when “management” becomes necessary. Of course, as is typical for Career Opportunities, I have a slightly different view of management than you might encounter elsewhere. Management can take many forms. In a corporate environment, it might be becoming a department head, director, vice-president or any of the above.

As an independent consultant, it might mean taking on employees to do the physical work, while you provide higher-level support and customer relations. It could also mean mentoring younger careerists and helping them develop their skills, connections and career. Finally, I even see a column like this one as a form of “management.” I am offering the benefit of my experience and knowledge to anyone who listens or reads on a regular basis. In fact, after our discussion, I see this as the next step in my career — my move into management.

As you can see, moving into management usually means distancing yourself from the hands-on work you have been doing for years. This can be a struggle for some people, especially if they define themselves mainly from the work they do. It can feel like you are stripping away a part of yourself when you stop putting “hands-on”, but you have a new role to play now. Instead of doing the job yourself, you need to develop ways to communicate your knowledge and skills to others. While it may seem strange and a bit intimidating, it is all part of growing your career.

If you are starting to approach a career change like this, I highly recommend you prepare yourself before you make the jump. I know that among the high-tech workers I know, communication is not necessarily one of their strongest skills. This is only natural, having spent years immersed in the arcane language of computers, routers and networks. Start investigating the wide variety of books and web sites that touch on communication and management. I am an inveterate reader and regularly have 4 or 5 books out of the library at any one time. They range from hard business books, to creativity, to management to gardening and beyond. This is my form of an MBA or Ph.D, I may never return to school for these higher degrees, but I work on my own personal education every single day…and you should, too. This is one way to prepare for your eventual advancement to management in all its forms.

Next, you have to actively seek out opportunities to expand into these new roles. When the boss comes looking for someone to take over a project, even a small one, take it! Don’t second guess yourself. Hopefully, you have been preparing for this role over time, but if not, this will be a perfect time to start. Sure you will make mistakes, we all do, but you will be taking your first steps on the road to the next stage in your career. Too often, I have avoided opportunities like this, but now I know just how important they are. Sure, if you are in your 20’s you might not be thinking about career transitions yet, but you should be. Just like saving money, the sooner you start preparing, the bigger results you will see down the road.

Prepare yourself for your eventual transition into some sort of managerial role. Despite what you might think, this a natural progression for every worker, especially as they grow older. Start thinking today about getting out from under the desk, because when you are my age, you will be looking for a little relief and some big changes in your career.


Next Friday: January 18, 2008: An Interview with Al Parvez of Advance, Inc., a Recruiter in Tokyo, Japan


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Archive: Avoidance – November 26, 2004

January 9th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

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I try to do everything I can for my clients, hooking up the occasional DVD player or troubleshooting phone line problems, even if it goes beyond the typical work I am there to do. That said, there are a couple of items I will not touch, if possible. The first is dealing with technical support assistance via phone and the other is providing, or managing, hardware service for the client. Over the years, I have realized that either one of these tasks is liable to drive me screaming into the night. Even worse, when you get involved in these situations, your client might begin to see you as part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

This Friday: January 11, 2008: Moving into Management


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Archives and Tagging Project – Your Help Needed!

January 8th, 2008 Comments off

Hello all Career Opportunities listeners and readers!

I hope you New Year was great and you are already diving into new ways to make your career even better.

Archives

That said, I am starting a project myself. I have been remiss over the last couple of years in creating one, complete, archive page for 2005, 2006 and 2007. You can find all the other years near the bottom of the right-hand column on the blog (http://welchwrite.com/career/), but I really want to get these pages up to date. So, over the next week or so, I am going to get these index pages built and linked to the blog pages. Really! Promise! (SMILE) Then you will be able to review each year’s column in one place.

Tags

Now, there is a bit of a selfish reason to do this do. While a static archive page is nice, I realize that I really need to get each column tagged with a few important keywords so that they can be found in services like del.icio.us, StumbleUpon and others. Here is where I am asking for your help. I now have over 500 columns in the archives and there is simply no way I can tag them all by myself.

I am asking you to please tag any Career-Op columns and podcasts that you found particularly interesting in your favorite bookmarking and tagging services. For newer shows, this is made a bit easier by the links available below each blog post. You will see links to del.icio.us,, Facebook and StumbleUpon there. If you use services like NewsVine, Digg or others, let me know and I will add links for these services, as well.

If you are trying to locate a favorite column from past years, you can use the WelchWrite Site Search feature to find them at http://welchwrite.com/search.asp. Your support for Career Opportunities, and spreading word about it, is always greatly appreciated. I am not asking you to do mass updates or anything like that, only that if you find something particularly interesting, you let others know using whatever systems you find useful.

Thank you for any help you can provide. I am hoping, like every year, to make 2008 the best year ever for Career Opportunities. This is only possible with your continued support and assistance. Thank you again!

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