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October 29th, 2009 Comments off

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Your career needs a holiday

October 23rd, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoYour career needs a holiday
By Douglas E. Welch

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It might seem a bit too soon to be thinking about “the holidays” — yet with Halloween only 2 weeks away they are rapidly approaching. For those working to “Build the Career You Deserve” the holidays might seem like a time yo slack off. Business will be slowing down, people will be distracted by other concerns and you might simply want a break from thinking about — or worse, worrying about — your career.

While the holidays might not be the best time for more formal career activities like sending out resumes or going on interviews, it can be great for re-establishing old ties, building new relationships and developing plans for the future.

One common thread throughout the holidays is camaraderie — spending time together with friends and family. At this time of year, there will be more parties, more family meals, more public events, more opportunities for getting out and engaging with the world. This is much needed in a world where we typically spend way too many hours hunkered over our work. Yes, you need to focus on your work, but you also need to come up for air on occasion. Too much of anything, even oxygen, can be a bad thing. Consider the holidays as a time to decompress, but not disengage. Time to think about yourself and your connections to the world instead of just your work.

Make a point of accepting as many engagements as you find comfortable and enjoyable. When invited somewhere or to some activity, look for the one reason to say “yes” instead of the many reasons to say “no.” Strike a balance between your old, friendly, comfortable activities and a few, challenging, new ones. In my case, this meant going to an El Día de los Muertos celebration for the first time a few years ago. I was surrounded by new people, a few friends and a completely different atmosphere than usual. While El Día de los Muertos is celebrated at the same time as Halloween, its focus is quite different. Where our modern Halloween focuses on the gruesome, the gory and the frightening, El Día de los Muertos seeks to celebrate those now gone from our lives, but not forgotten. Decorations are macabre — candy skulls, skeletons and such, but in ways that help us deal with the realities of death, not make us afraid of it. After that experience, I’m now thinking – as you should be thinking – What new activities can I say “Yes” to this year?

Engaging in new activities helps to challenge and energize your thinking. Confronted with new sights, new sounds, and new ideas, you can’t help but think new thoughts. Visiting new places, talking with new people, smelling new smells, hearing new sounds and music, all refill our creative well and give us the basic building blocks of new innovations.

Next, take the time to truly connect and converse with those around you. Avoid parties and other gatherings with loud music and other distractions that prevent you from speaking and listening to one another. One of my personal pet peeves is friends who would rather go to a movie than come over for dinner. You can’t talk at all in the movie, so while you experience the movie together, you never get a chance to connect.

At the very least, find a more quiet part of the room or location. You are almost sure to find other, like-minded, people looking to escape the noise and engage in a little conversation. At one raucous Hollywood holiday party years ago, my wife and I escaped to the pool area of a home, even on a cold December night and fell in with a small group already there. Some people crave conversation more than than anything. You should cultivate it in your life, too.

People are inclined to talk around the holidays. There is usually plenty of good food and good drink to lubricate the conversation, but you still need to find people and get the conversation started. My wife and I have found that many people don’t know how to hold a conversation, so we make the effort to include them and show them how in a comfortable environment. We even started LA Friday Coffee (http://lafridaycoffee.com) to give people a weekly opportunity to get together and simply talk.

Once you go out and start engaging with people, you’ll find that you will also have more thinking to do by yourself. Again, new experiences bring new thoughts. The long, dark, nights of Winter give us ample time to do some hard thinking about where we are and where we want to go. This doesn’t mean wallowing in depression, though. Just the opposite. Your thinking should turn to grand plans, new ideas and new adventures. Thinking your way through Winter could lead to some explosive growth come the Spring. Just like the flower bulbs, sometimes we need a period of darkness and cold before we can burst into bloom.

The holiday season can be fun and also productive — if perhaps, in some non-traditional ways. It may be difficult to land a new job, but the potential for many meetings and amazing conversations could lead you down the path to the career you deserve.

Don’t just get angry — do something about it!



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What I’m eReading…Grassroots Innovation

October 19th, 2009 Comments off

Another theme in the list of blogs and web sites I follow is innovation.

Grassroots Innovation is written by Greg Eisenbach and a variety of innovation topics on a regular basis. Recent posts include “Yuck, the great contraction”, “Low cost beer packaging” and “The Dalai Lama’s Business Book.”

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Recently “Noted” Items from my reading

October 18th, 2009 Comments off


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Don’t just get angry, do something about it!

October 10th, 2009 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoDon’t just get angry, do something about it
By Douglas E. Welch

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I was sitting at my favorite local coffee shop the other day, reading some email and sipping my latte, when it suddenly became a very stressful place to be. Two tables away a man sat talking loudly on his cell phone. While I wasn’t necessarily upset that he was talking on his phone, the tenor of his conversation made my chest clench with anxiety. He was obviously having trouble with a business partner and spent 15-20 minutes laying out his troubles in graphic detail.

Then, a short time later, I heard another conversation begin, even more angry and graphic than the first. One woman was complaining vociferously to her friend about how she had systematically been frozen out of a business relationship. I was amazed at what she was saying within clear earshot of any number of strangers. Again, her anger spilled out regardless of who might be listening.

Airing our dirty laundry in a public place is never a good idea. You never know who might be listening — a friend of your target, the target themselves, future clients or employers. While I have taken that up in past columns, I want to address a deeper issue of this behavior in this one. Too often we replace action with anger. We spend our time in unproductive complaining instead of getting something done.

Venting has its advantages. It can feel cleansing. It can feel good. It can also be a substitute for more important work. I have my moments of venting. You only need to ask my wife about that. That said, my next step is to take some direct action about the problem I am facing. I find great solace in movement — in action. Sometimes this action takes the form of a good long walk. Sometimes I write about it. Sometimes I start to plan my movement to disentangle myself from a bad situation. What I try not to do is wallow.

It is so easy to descend into the depths of a bad situation and wallow there for days or weeks. Wallowing allows us to blame everyone and everything but ourselves. We can lash out at the economy, co-workers, clients, the world and heaven above. We can feel like we are taking action, but in reality we are going absolutely nowhere. We are wallowing deeper and deeper in the mud hole, making it increasingly difficult to get out. Wallowing is a death spiral, like an airplane in a deadly spin. Only dramatic action will save you.

If you find yourself wallowing, do everything you can to stop the descent immediately. Go for a walk. Start work on another project. Plan your resignation. Do something that will help to clear your head a bit and slow your descent. Next, take a long, hard, look at yourself, your actions, your behaviors and yes, your mistakes. It is rare that a problem is solely caused by outside forces.

Like the scene from “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” when Lukes walks into the jungle, “What is in there?” he asks. “Only what you bring with you.” replies Yoda. We carry our own baggage and would do well to recognize our own issues and failings, along with the failings (as you see them) of those around you. Sometimes, when we recognize our own culpability in our problems it can help us to find a way out. The problem no longer resides “out there” but rather inside ourselves where we can actually do something about it.

When anger strikes, it is okay to vent — to a friend, to a spouse, to your journal. For your own sake, don’t do it in public. You might do more harm than good if someone overhears. But remember that once you have vented, it is time to get back to work. Look at the problem objectively. Look for opportunities to take action. What next steps can you put into play immediately to reduce the effects of your problem or avoid it in the future? What can you change about yourself, your life, your career that can make these problems only a memory?

Don’t just get angry — do something about it!



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Career Tip 20091005 – Don’t get angry, do something!

October 5th, 2009 Comments off
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