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Archive for July, 2009

Archive: Sidetracking

July 29th, 2009 Comments off

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Sometimes you might like to believe your career is a straight-line proposition. You start here, put in hours of work and you will eventually end up over there, at your goal. In the distant past, this might have been true, but today your career is filled with dead ends, mistaken shortcuts, detours and uncompleted roads that can leave you feeling trapped. Despite these fear-inducing possibilities, though, I think that these detours, these aberrations, these deviations from the norm are actually the underpinnings of a great career. Chance and happenstance might feel frightening when you are in their midst, but they can often bring you the greatest rewards.

20 years ago today

Looking back on my own freelance consulting career got me thinking about the important role that chance plays in our lives. While we shouldn’t rely on chance to provide all the answers, we all have moments when chance seems to push us in the right direction even before we know where we want to go.

Back in 1986, I moved to Los Angeles with my wife, our marriage only 7 days old by the time we arrived in a 24 foot moving truck packed by the wedding party. In a large way, chance led me to Los Angeles as my wife wanted to work in television and I had no objections, so off we went. Although I had a degree in theater, I already knew I would be working in some high-tech job. The opportunities were better, as was the pay. After a month of searching with no results I came across an advertisement, oddly enough in the Administration section, for a computer savvy person to work for a small entertainment-related online service. Remember, this was almost a decade before the Internet was part of the language, outside of universities. It was here I got my first taste of “Hollywood”, visiting star’s homes, working events at the famous Whiskey-a-Go-Go and training various pop musicians how to use our systems.

To take this job, I had turned down an offer to work with a stable software retail company that had stores all over America at the time. It certainly would have been a safer choice, but for any number of reasons, chance won out and led me down a path that enhanced my life in ways I could not have imagined.

The truth is, my career has been filled with such occurrences and almost every time I allowed myself to take the road less traveled it has been a positive experience. Sure, there have been odd moments, the unfulfilled promises, the failed startup company, but overall, the benefits that chance has brought to my career have far outweighed the problems.

Take a chance

This is why I urge all of you to take a chance whenever you can. If you are choosing between a stable corporate position and the wild world of freelancing, give freelancing a try. I believe you can always find a stable position if you want one, but chance only enters the picture at infrequent moments. Why not take the plunge? If you are already in a corporation and a new position opens, at least think about taking the job that scares you a little. You shouldn’t be paralyzed with fear, but the job that makes your knees shake and your palms sweat might just be the better choice. Fear tells us we are stepping outside of our comfort zone and that is where you always want to be. It is at the edges of fear that we grow the most.

Reaching out for more, challenging ourselves to go farther than we think we can, is how we achieve great things in our lives and our careers. You don’t want to miss the opportunities that chance provides. It is here your career is made, broken or stalled. If you decide early on in your career to only take the safe routes, stick to the main highways, avoid the small towns, you may find yourself wondering, in later years, how you got to your final, possibly dreary, destination. Too often, we can end up at a place that is so different from what we wanted, what we dreamed about, that it stuns us. I don’t want any of you to look back on your careers and wonder what it was all about. I want you to seize the opportunities that chance provides and make decisions instead of letting life push you from job to job, company to company.

Right this moment, and every day from now on, be aware of how chance effects your life. Be aware of the good things that stumble into your path time and time again. Then, make a conscious effort to exploit these opportunities and let them lead you into new thoughts, new jobs and a new, challenging, high-tech career.

Question of the Week: How do you react when chance places an opportunity in your path? Do you seize it or run away? Do you have some recent examples of missed opportunities?



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What I’m Reading…Rules of Thumb by Alan M. Webber

July 28th, 2009 1 comment

What are you reading? Share your favorite books with Career Opportunities readers and listeners. Add your comment today!

Yet another interesting find via my Amazon recommendations. This book is giving me a lot of food for thought. I have found myself makings lots of notes in my journal, not necessarily about the book, but great ideas and thoughts it is bringing to mind. While “Rules of Thumb” is ostensibly about business, the “rules” apply to life and other pursuits in many ways.

Highly Recommended

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Expand Your Horizons

July 25th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoExpand Your Horizons
By Douglas E. Welch

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Common career thought over the last several decades has been that you need to learn more and more about the work you are doing. You should specialize more and more and develop your own set of rules and guidelines for your work. Of course, in a world where job stability is rapidly disappearing, learning more and more about a job that might not exist tomorrow might not be the wisest course. While you do want to deepen your knowledge about your job, I think you should also be exploring other opportunities and information and expanding your horizons as much as possible. In this way, you will be better able to weather whatever career storms might come your way.

Keeping your head down can lead you into a wall

You need to look for opportunities to expand your interests. You can’t simply put your head down and grind through your work anymore. Otherwise, you are liable to come up for air and realize that your job, your co-workers and life have passed you by. We used to think that certain jobs and certain industries would last forever, but you only need to look to the steel and automotive industry to see the results of that thinking. Despite what you might read or watch in the press, there are no companies or industries that are “too big to fail.” If economic realities decide that they will fail, they will, and there is little we can do about it. All we can do is expand our expertise, our knowledge and our skills.

Starting today, you need to develop a new mindset about the world around you. Where before you might only have read about interesting trends in your industry, today you need to find and follow interesting trends in a wide variety of industries. If you work in software design, what examples, directions and activities can you take from the fashion industry? How about from the world of finance? Political science? You need to look outside your own small world and energize your work with new ideas, new actions and, perhaps most importantly, new people.

You never know where your next great idea is going to come from. In most cases, great new ideas are going to come from outside your current business or industry. Too many of us today live in a great echo chamber, where the ideas of a few get reflected again and again. Just like a traditional echo, though, this constant repetition and re-echoing quickly devolve the idea into a cacophonous noise devoid of any value. Sure, you can monitor what the “experts” of your industry are saying, but when these experts gain too much power, too much of a following, they will start to drown out the truly innovative voices that can lead you and your industry forward.

Finding the under seen, the under heard, the quiet voices out there in the dark

Much of my time on the Internet takes the form of listening for those under heard voices that are developing the new ideas, the new products, the new industries that will sustain us all down the road. Sometimes these people and their ideas can seem crazy to us, but within their shocking craziness is a kernel of truth that can be adapted, shaped and turned into amazing things.

You can see this today in those people who proclaim that “Free” is the new business model. Most traditional business people scoff at such ideas and can become downright angry at the thought. How can you make money giving away stuff for free? Well, as many people are showing, and no matter how counter-intuitive it might sound to us today, you can make money by giving some things away, while charging for related items that add to, expand on or enhance the free product.

It is important to understand that an idea which may sound crazy today, could hold great promise in the future. Even more, you don’t always know which crazy ideas will be the ones to succeed. Some crazy ideas are truly crazy, but even then, if you adapt, manipulate and transform these ideas, you could come up with “the next big thing.”

Get out of your own head. Get out of your own industry. Get out of your own stale (and comfortable) ideas. Challenge your thinking and yourself with new ideas, no matter how crazy they might sound. You goal is to expand your horizons so that when the world changes you will already have an idea of your next step, your next job, your next career.



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Archive: Interview with David Jefferson of JPL – February 8, 2006

July 22nd, 2009 Comments off

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This is the first in our on-going interview series with high-tech careerists of all types.

Today’s interview is with David Jefferson, senior engineer/navigator at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). We talk about how we got started in his career, how high-tech is integrated into his work and how you plan for projects that take 10 years or more to come to fruition.


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Event: UNINTENTIONAL ENTREPRENEUR – July 23, 2009

July 17th, 2009 1 comment

FIVE-CITY ROAD TRIP HERALDS LAUNCH OF UNINTENTIONALENTREPRENEUR.COM TO ASSIST SMALL BUSINESS OWERS AND SELF-EMPLOYED DURNG UNCERTAIN TIMES

Outright.com and Network Solutions Partner to Offer Free Resources and Networking Events

Aimed at the Unique Challenges Facing Small Business Owners

Campbell, CA and Herndon, VA (July 7, 2009) – A five-city whistle-stop tour will help herald the launch of UnintentionalEntrepreneur.com, a free, online resource that is the brain-child of Outright, the free bookkeeping site designed for the self-employed, and Network Solutions®, the top provider of Web solutions for small businesses

With the ever-increasing list of Americans who are self-employed, side business owners, recently laid-off employees or freelancers foremost in mind, UnintentionalEntreprenuer.com was designed to help these budding entrepreneurs with marketable skills, experience and knowledge and offer insight into how to use these assets to effectively start – and run — their own businesses during the current economic downturn.

UnintentionalEntrepreneur.com will officially launch with a five-city summer road trip that kicks off on July 15 at Langton Labs, 9 Langton Street in San Francisco, with additional stops in Los Angeles (July 23), New York City, Washington, DC, and Atlanta. Event dates, times and locations will be announced in the coming weeks. For more details, visit or subscribe to the UnintentionalEntrepreneur.com.

The free events will feature successful, local entrepreneurs who will share actionable tips and advice with those starting out or struggling with their existing business. In addition to a casual networking opportunity over beer and pizza, the gatherings will include informal workshops designed to give entrepreneurs tools and tips to manage and grow their business, including topics such as:

· Advice on managing financial transactions
· Bookkeeping basics and small business tax tips
· Getting started online; building your Web site and brand
· Effective and efficient marketing methods

“The freelance economy is struggling along with the national economy, and while the number of self-employed people is growing rapidly, the fact is that many are struggling to make ends meet. Our partnership with Network Solutions is about arming these ‘unintentional entrepreneurs’ with the resources and insight they need to start or re-energize their businesses,” said Kevin Reeth, Co-founder and CEO of Outright.com.

Added Melina Formisano, Vice President of Marketing for Network Solutions, “The Unintentional Entrepreneur events were specifically developed to support the challenges facing a unique segment of the workforce and to provide entrepreneurs in every stage of their business the opportunity to network, share best practices and learn how to manage and market their businesses effectively.”

ABOUT Outright

Outright is incredibly simple, online bookkeeping specifically created for the 20 million Americans who work for themselves. Outright offers a streamlined, online solution, with the bookkeeping needs of the small business owners first. Created by entrepreneurs and Intuit alums, Outright’s goal is to keep financial records as simple as possible, helping small businesses accurately track all of their income and expenses to estimate and prepare their taxes. And yes, it works on a Mac too. For more information, visit www.outright.com

ABOUT Network Solutions

Network Solutions® is focused on helping small businesses start and market their companies on the Internet by offering a full range of Web-based services that include: hosting, Web site design, ecommerce solutions, online security, search engine marketing and domain name registration services. Drawing on 30 years of experience, we make it simple and affordable for our customers to build and manage an online presence. Our customers receive the best customer service in the industry, which has been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates® Certified Call Center program for providing “An Outstanding Customer Service Experience” for the last four consecutive years. Customers around the globe trust us to manage more than 7 million domains, over 2 million e-mailboxes, and hundreds of thousands of Web sites. We make it easy for small businesses to get online so they can have more time to do what they do best – run their companies. For more information about Network Solutions visit www.about.networksolutions.com

Outright Contacts:

Erica Annon
eannon@groupsjr.com
212.751.3415

Network Solutions Contact:

Susan Wade
swade@networksolutions.com
703.668.5057

Margo Mendez-Penate
Group SJR
(212) 751-3367

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What I’m Reading…ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko

July 15th, 2009 Comments off

This is another one of my recent library pickups. I took this on our recent trip to Ohio to have an excuse to do a little more thinking while we were gone.

ThinkerToys is chock full of excellent ideas on how to boost, direct and focus you thinking for better results, whether for life or business. By having so many different methods in one book, you can pick and choose between those tactics that work best for you.

You can find more “What I’m Reading…” books and more in the WelchWrite Bookstore.

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Time to be an adult

July 7th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoTime to be an adult
By Douglas E. Welch

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Let’s Meetup In Ohio!

Douglas will be traveling back to Ohio to visit family and friends from June 28 through July 13. Would you like to meetup?

Email career@welchwrite.com and watch the Career Opportunities Community Site for more information.

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on the Career-Op Community Site

Let me set the scene…I am sitting in the ICU ward of Firelands Regional Medical Center while my father sleeps peacefully beside me. He is recovering from a 5-way heart bypass that happened rather suddenly, when previous heart fixes needed to be replaced. We had planned a family trip back to Ohio already when we got the call that he was in the hospital, so we knew immediately what we would be doing on our first week back. Which is what I am doing right now. Cheerleading, handholding, brow-mopping and just simply being there.

Basically, that all this means is that I am forced to play an adult, even if perhaps I don’t really feel like one. Even at 45, I don’t think of myself much different than I was at 18, but I know that I have grown and that I am capable of being “an adult”, even when I may not want to be. While we should do everything we can to maintain some child-like attitudes towards our life and our work, we need to be able to “turn on” our adult side when we need it.

Unfortunately, I meet a lot of people in my life that don’t seem to have any adult skills. Everything in life seems to happen “to” them. Purses are lost, keys missing, bills late and more. While this can make life more difficult in small ways, it is truly a problem when they are forced to take on the adult role through a sickness, death, or family tragedy. Too many of them simply “melt down” under the pressure. They haven’t practiced being an adult in the their normal lives and don’t know how to be an adult when it really matters.

It is never too early to practice being an adult and thinking about adult questions, even if you don’t have to. As I have often said in the past, it is so much better and easier to think through difficult questions without the stress that will be involved when you need to implement the plans you create. Trying to think through all the plans that need to be made is nearly impossible when grieving, worrying or panicking. A little though about issues that might arise allows you to move into action just when you need it most.

One clear sign that you are not “stepping up to the role of an adult is when you allow others to make too many decisions for you. There are some decisions that you can’t and shouldn’t abdicate to others. Even so, I see people do this all the time. They agree to let their doctor, their boss, their spouse and even their kids dictate decisions to them, often just to avoid the critical thinking required to come to an informed decision. How many people do you know who have been swayed to use a drug, buy a product or service simply because they saw an advertisement on the television or in the papers?

When you, or someone you know, responds to a request for a decision with “Whatever you want?” — push them for an answer. Push them for a decision. When you do this, you are helping them and yourself to grow. Too many people allow life to happen “to” them, rather than consciously making decisions about their life. Don’t fall into this trap.

There are times we all need to, at least, act like an adult and make adult decisions. Doing this with smaller decisions first means that you will be well-prepared when the time come. Adult decisions are something that cannot be avoided. Even if you actively try to put off or ignore them, they will come looking for you, often at the worst time. Stay young at heart, but understand that there are times when you need to be an adult.

 



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