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Archive for July, 2008

Career Tip for July 31, 2008

July 31st, 2008 Comments off

One in an on-going series of daily career tips via Seesmic. You can also get a text version via Twitter.

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Archive: Can Helping Out, Hurt? – June 24, 2005

July 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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Does there come a time when “helping out a friend” can actually hurt? It seems that often times, when I agree to offer technical advice or assistance, things can go so wrong. While it certainly wouldn’t be any easier were this to happen with a paying client, when it happens among friends and family, the results can feel even worse. I am not talking about fierce recriminations among you and those you help, but more the wasted time and damage that can be done to your psyche if you don’t address the issues in a proper way. Friendships are strong enough to survive bad software; it is your self-confidence that can be weakened.


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The world is watching, so say something interesting

July 25th, 2008 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoThe world is watching, so say something interesting
By Douglas E. Welch

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In past columns I have told you t o be careful what you say on the Internet, as the whole world is watching. Blog posts, newsgroup comments, Facebook friends and photos of you become a permanent record of your life online. That said, if the whole world is watching, maybe you should be getting some benefits from this attention. Google and other search engines shouldn’t frighten you into saying nothing on the net. Rather, they should drive you to say something enlightening, interesting and worthwhile.

As I said last week, 2 major parts of any career are teaching and sharing and what better place to do this than online. All of my blogs and most of the content on my web site grew out of this concept. I was looking for a way to share the neat information I find in my work and travels, and the Internet provided the perfect location. I would highly encourage you to do the same thing for several important reasons.

First, sharing your knowledge and thoughts online establishes an online, always updated, resume of your work and life experience. Even better, it is a resume that doesn’t require any special updating on its own. It simply grows as you share information. As you tell people about your experiences in your work — running a new project, creating new artwork, designing a new building – You create an online story that anyone can find using the myriad of search engines out there. Even better, when someone asks you for more information about your work or examples, you have a ready place to send them.

Second, great content provided by you on the net helps to counterbalance, if not bury any material that might present you in a bad light. One Facebook photo of you looking drunk at a party can be outweighed by a host of good material you provide, just like one bad restaurant review isn’t as damaging when it is surrounded by a host of good reviews. Again, putting your best foot forward can give your online audience a clearer view of who you are.

Third, putting your experience, both professional and personal, online can help others to gain a wider understanding of you as a person. I know that people have discovered aspects of my life they never knew existed, until they read my Twitter stream (http://twitter.com/dewelch) or watched some of the videos I post. (http://douglaswelch.blip.tv). In most cases, I think these discoveries enhanced their opinion of me, but even if they disagree with my viewpoint on something, they at least know where I stand on a particular issue. Who knows what you might find out about your friends and acquaintances, and what they might learn about you, once you start engaging in social media like Twitter, Facebook and more.

For example, if you only know me through Career Opportunities, you might not know that I am not just geeky about computers, but nearly everything I pursue, including wine, coffee, the outdoors, everything. I don’t talk much about these interests here, but they are part of my everyday life. Imagine what (good things) people might learn about you as they casually read your blog, Twitter or Facebook account.

Don’t fear the online world. Be aware of what information is available about you on the Internet and then seek to expand and clarify on this information. Sure, you want to watch what you say, but there are great advantages to sharing your life online. You never know who might be listening…and that is a good thing. You never know who might be the source of the next big step in your career or your life.


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Daily Career Tips – Now with video

July 23rd, 2008 Comments off

A few weeks ago I started sending out daily career tips via Twitter. Yesterday, I started a new experiment. I have started to place the tips on Seesmic, as well.

To get your daily dose of career wisdom, visit:

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Archive – Blindsided – June 17, 2005

July 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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Most high-tech jobs follow a similar pattern…you work, you complete projects, you work some more and at the end of the year you get your performance review. That’s when you find out how you did and what your managers feel you need to do better. Repeat each year until you retire.

I realize, of course, that this is fantasy. Many of us suffer from micro-management on a daily, if not hourly, basis, while others may never get much feedback at all. Instead, we try to judge our performance based on the often confusing comments we receive as we pass our managers in the hallway.

As you might imagine, the passing comments we receive might have little to do with the true perception of our performance. In fact, it can often leave us feeling blindsided by bad news when a formal review does occur.


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Video Career Tips on Seesmic

July 22nd, 2008 Comments off

As part of an on-going experiment with daily Career Tips on Twitter, I am expanding into using Seesmic to add a video version of the Career Tips.

What’s happening in your career? I’d love to hear via Twitter, Seesmic, or the this website.

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Noted: The Sherlock Holmes Way of Exceptional Living

July 21st, 2008 Comments off
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Written on 7/22/2008 by Alex Shalman, creator of the Practical Personal Development blog.
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Teaching and sharing are an important part of any career

July 19th, 2008 1 comment

Career Opportunities podcast logoTeaching and sharing are an important part of any career
By Douglas E. Welch

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In the past, you might have been told to jealously guard the secrets to your success and only give away as much information as it took to achieve your goals. Each piece of information you had, that someone else lacked, gave you a bit more power — a bit more leverage. You would tie people to you, knowing that no one person had all the answers — all the secrets. This was the path to career success. The goal was to make everyone so dependent on you that they couldn’t dare fire you. If you haven’t already figured this out, that world is no more. Using such behaviors today is more likely to get you fired rather than build your career.

Today’s successful careers are made up of 2 very important parts — teaching and sharing. I have found in my own career that the more information I share, the more information I give away, the more connections, the more visibility and the more money it brings back to me. In the past, you might have been able to horde information, but in today’s hyper-connected world, you are but one source of information. The quality of your information matters much more than the quantity. Hording information today is seen as an anti-social and aggressive behavior that puts the success of one person above the success of everyone involved.

You might be thinking, “but if you give everything away, how do you make any money?” The fact is, there are few people who are willing to go as deep into a project as you are. Like a doctor at a 1950’s cocktail party, people are constantly asking me technology questions. While I am more than happy to answer anything I can, I usually find that once I get beyond about 2 or 3 steps in a troubleshooting processing, they simply throw up their hands and say “Oh, just come over and make it work!” Unlike me, they aren’t inclined to dig down into a problem in the way that is required to solve it. They have their own interests, their on projects and their own needs. By being willing to share my knowledge, though, I am able to show that I have the ability to solve their problems, which turns into a consulting call for me. If I had immediately told them my rate and tried to set up an appointment, I am sure more than half would have simply walked away.

It is also important to be willing to teach those around you who want to learn. Sure, some folks just want you to fix it and really don’t care how you do it. Others, though, want to watch what you are doing and learn from it. Don’t see this as an effort to steal your knowledge, rather see this as an opportunity to give them the tools they need to move forward in their own work or career. The fact is, a more knowledgeable client is a benefit to you, not a detriment. If they have seen you edit the settings of their router, or simply reset it, it will be much easier to offer telephone support in the future. You won’t have to step them through each step by telling them where to click or what menu to choose. You will be able to move towards a solution to their problem directly instead of wasting their time and yours.

Doesn’t this reduce your billable hours, though? Actually, it might, but in return you gain something far more important, You gain a deeper realtionship with the client that will last for years (if not decades, as has been the case for me) instead of someone who calls once and never comes back. Being willing to share and teach develops a deep and long-lasting relationship with your clients, peers and co-workers that will stand the test of economic downturns, layoffs and new jobs. Instead of concentrating on the one-time value of a person, you start to see their lifetime value to you, your business and your career.

Teaching and sharing also establishes your credibility over time. You become the “expert” that everyone refers to their friends and even strangers they might meet. You become a friend and confidant that doesn’t make them feel stupid when they need help. You become the teacher that we all need and want in our lives. If you want to build a career that lasts, share your knowledge and teach whenever you can. The rewards for your efforts will come back a hundredfold.


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Archive: Leading, Pushing or Walking Together – June 10, 2005

July 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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How do you work with your clients? Do you find that you are leading them into new worlds, pushing them, kicking and screaming into the 21st Century or simply walking beside them, trading thoughts and developing technology plans together? In most cases, you will find your work to be a combination of all these and more. Each client requires a unique approach, but identifying these basic levels can help you to provide the best service possible for your clients.


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Take care of yourself first during economic downturns

July 12th, 2008 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoTake care of yourself first during economic downturns
By Douglas E. Welch

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Whatever indicators you use, it seems clear the US economy is slowing down…some even say, stalling. Whenever the economy slows down it can put tremendous burdens on us all as we are driven to work longer hours with fewer people, along with suffering the stress of on-going layoffs, reduction in hours and more. Looking back on previous downturns, I see that taking care of yourself, physically, emotionally and economically, becomes extremely important. If you don’t, you can find yourself adding personal problems to the economic ones you already face.

Every economic downturn brings a host of layoffs over a wide variety of businesses. Even if you survive a layoff at your company, the added stress of trying to be more productive, with fewer people, can leave everyone feeling a bit shell shocked. Worse still, excessive overtime can leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained. This is an open door for colds, flu and other ailments that sap your productivity just when you need it most.

In order to protect your own health and well-being you must watch your environment carefully and act quickly to prevent becoming just another statistic. If you are asked (perhaps, required) to put in overtime, try to keep it below a certain threshold. You can’t work 80 hours a week, for months on end, and remain productive. If you don’t limit your work hours, your body or your mind will simply do it for you. You will wake up one morning unable to rise from your bed, no matter how pressing your deadlines might be.

If excessive overtime is becoming a regular occurrence, start looking for a new job. Excessive overtime is a sure sign that your company is in trouble. They are trying to survive by cutting costs to the bone without realizing that they are destroying their staff in the process. Riding a sinking ship to the bottom holds no nobility. It only destroys your morale, self-confidence and possibly, your health. In these events, you must do what is best for you. Look and plan carefully. If a new position presents itself, make sure you take the time to investigate it. You might feel too tired or too depressed, but this is exactly the time when you need to look for new opportunities. Don’t allow a bad situation to prevent you from moving on with your career.

Your emotions can take a beating during an economic downturn, too. Most importantly, don’t let anyone make you believe that the company’s problems are your fault. I have seen executives and managers try to shame their employees into higher productivity. The fact is, though, that it is usually these executives and managers who are the most to blame for the company’s troubles. It seems ludicrous to lay the blame on their employees who are already suffering more from economic problems. Emotional abuse, in all its forms, is another red flag that should send you looking for new opportunities.

Finally, protecting yourself economically during a downturn is critical. If you are suffering under mandatory overtime, make sure that that extra money is going into the bank or other investments. While any of us might be tempted to buy that new TV, car or computer with this “extra” money, now is not the time. No one is ever sure how their company will fare during an economic downturn and you need to protect yourself against the possibility that you will be out of job in a week, a month, a year. Build your nest egg now. In a few months, if and when the economic outlook brightens, you will be able to make your purchase outright instead of having to finance it. If the economy continues downward, you will be able to easily survive any troubles that might come your way.

When it comes to your career and the economy, protect yourself as much as possible. Don’t assume that others are looking out for your best interest. Remember, your employer will do what is best for them, even if it happens to be the worst for you. In most cases, they aren’t doing this out of spite, but rather they are doing it out of a desperate attempt to survive. For whatever the reason, though, it is up to you to protect what you have created and what you have earned. Otherwise, a troubled economy might just destroy your career.


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