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Archive for August, 2013

Archive: How is your career story changing over time? — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 31st, 2013 Comments off

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Would you read a story or novel where, at the end, nothing has changed? Would you feel anything for a character who has learned nothing over the course of the book? Would you read the next book in the series? I think not. That fact is, change is what makes a great story. We want characters who learn new things and change over time. We want to know more about them. We want to understand their decisions based on past behavior. The same goes for your career. If you aren’t changing, both personally and professionally, why should anyone care about your career?


 

 
Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

We have all seen them — people who got their first job right out of high school and never left. They are doing the same work today that they started doing 10, 15, 20 years ago. This isn’t to say that they are bad people or bad workers, only that the failure to change, for whatever reason, can trap us in our lives and our work. If you want to insure a more successful, and varied, career you need to embrace change and communicate that change to those around you.

In the past, I have talked extensively about developing career stories that can be used to explain your work, and your career desires, to those around you. “Change stories” are one particular type of these stories. In my experience, communicating your career change is as important as change itself. Without it, you may have changed dramatically, but unless others know it, it makes no difference.

So, how do you share the changes in your life with those around you? It is often as simple as opening your mouth. Do you discuss the new books you are reading with others? How about new software, computers and gadgets? What magazines or web sites have you discovered recently? Do you let your friends know when you enjoy one of their recommendations? If not, make a point to start sharing your changes today. Recommend that great book on management to someone who might find it useful. Forward a particularly good, and appropriate, web article to your boss or co-workers. Let those around you know how your knowledge and thoughts are changing over time.

I consider change communication to be one of the most important aspects of my writing, both here and in my blogs. I love sharing neat, new information with people, but it also gives me a chance to show how my thoughts and knowledge are changing over time. This is especially true when I have some form of epiphany that changes something fundamental about my work or life. Perhaps I have stopped recommending a particular piece of software or discovered a new type of cuisine. This makes my life more interesting, both to me and, hopefully, to my readers, friends and family. It is an important aspect of giving my life, and my life story, some excitement. Just like a character in a great novel, it makes people want to know more about me.

To bring this back to the work world, what changes are you communicating to your managers and coworkers? Have you been reading management books lately? Which ones? Did you enjoy them? What lessons did you learn? If you aspire to management, the simple act of sharing your thoughts on these books is enough to plant that idea in your managers mind. “Hmm, we need a new manager for this department. You know, I was talking about the latest Tom Peter’s book with Douglas the other day and he really seemed to know his stuff. Maybe we should ask him.” While this is an idealized scenario, you can clearly see how communicating the changes in your life can plant the seed that could grow into something much bigger.

Want to be a programmer? Start talking programming with your co-workers. Want to move into advertising, or graphics, or anything else, start sharing your thoughts, reading and learning with those around you. Tell your story frequently and well to all who will listen. Share the story of your life and career changes. Let others know where you are headed and what you want. If you do, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the new opportunities that come your way, both in your career and in your life.

***

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Video: Career Conversation: Andrea McClain of M Street Coffee

August 27th, 2013 Comments off

Douglas talks with Andrea McClain, owner and operator of M Street Coffee, an independent coffee bar in Studio City, California now entering its 6th year of business. I first interviewed Andrea during her first year of business, so in this interview we discuss lessons learned, challenges faced and the future of M Street Coffee.

Part of the Dog Days of Podcasting 30 Day Podcasting Challenge

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Watch my original interview with Andrea McClain from 2009

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Don’t let “feeling stupid” stop your from learning what you need — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 26th, 2013 Comments off

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I have spent the last 30 years helping people to learn about technology in a number of ways and there has always been one, constant theme to this process — people hate to “feel stupid”about technology — or anything, for that matter. I think “feeling stupid” should be a diagnosed clinical physiological problem for all the damage it causes. Too many times, I have seen people suffer both personal and professional trials, simply to avoid the embarrassment and fear of “feeling stupid.” Let me tell you, though, avoiding the fear of appearing stupid to your friends, family and co-workers could be the most damaging act you take in your life and career. It can have far-reaching effects that limit your effectiveness, productivity and future success. Embrace “knowing what you don’t know” and then seek to learn.


 

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Dog Days


It is often said that the most dangerous people are those that “don’t know what they don’t know.” They blunder from one crisis to the next, never knowing that their lack of knowledge is harming both themselves and those around them. They seem totally secure in their actions, even when they have no understanding of the problem at hand. Further, they often lash out at those who try to help them learn more — their outward veneer of security masking a deep insecurity beneath. Don’t be this person. Feel confident, yes. Feel secure, but also know that their are times when “feeling stupid” is the best indicator that you have something more to learn.

No one likes to feel stupid, of course, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t all face it — often on a daily basis. What is more important than the feeling, though, is what we do about it. Some of us are so affected by “feeling stupid” that we hide away and worse, hide our stupidity. Instead, we should take every opportunity to learn more when we feel we don’t know enough. Faced with an unknown word in the paper you are reading. Look it up! Don’t understand some monetary policy, do some online research. Can’t figure out why the roses in your garden aren’t blooming? Ask a knowledgeable friend.

The truth is, there is absolutely no reason for feeling stupid in today’s world. We have so many resources to help us understand the world around us, if we only took the time and energy to use them. From the immediate and handy confines of your smartphone you can find nearly any piece of information. Sure, you might have study deeper and longer to truly understand a complex topic, but getting started in your learning has never been easier. Even more, if you truly fear “feeling stupid”, no one else needs to know what you don’t know. You can step away, do a little research and return much the wiser.

Why then, do we still fear feeling stupid so much? Mainly this is due to insecurity. We fear being judged by our coworkers, our boss, our family, our spouse. We fear what they might think about us if they only knew how stupid we really are. I have a shocking revelation for you, though. They are just as stupid as you are. Sure they are probably stupid about entirely different things, but they carry around the same baggage as you. They fear feeling stupid, too. Perhaps by understanding this fact, we can all come together in our stupidity and move beyond it. We are not alone. We all share a common burden. If we start to collectively understand that fact, perhaps we can all move beyond our feelings of stupidity and move forward with our career and lives.

“Feeling stupid” is merely a sign that we have more to learn, not a sign of weakness. If we take this sign as an indication to learn more, we turn those threatening and scary feelings into a powerful force for improvement. If we move beyond our fear, we can move forward in great leaps. More importantly, if we all collectively understand that we are all stupid in something, perhaps we can move beyond the psychological angst we all go through whenever we are confronted with our own stupidity. Perhaps we can all start helping one another with the challenges in our life and career, instead of hiding behind bluster and intimidation, whenever we find we don’t know something. Imagine what you work and life could be like if we were all helping each other learn more, instead of demeaning and punishing others if they dare show their stupidity. It is as important to “know what you don’t know” as it is to understand the ignorance of others and understand that we all have something to learn, sometime in our lives.

***

Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – August 25, 2013

August 25th, 2013 Comments off

Jobs offered

Job Openings from Tuesdays with Transitioners

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell, organizer of Tuesdays with Transitioners posted these job listings recently. Join Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup group to receive these job listings directly via Meetup.com and email.

Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – August 25, 2013

  • Go-Grid is looking for a Demand Generation Marketing Manager (San Francisco)
  • Financial Advisor, Ameriprise (San Francisco area)
  • Financial Advisor, Ameriprise (Orange County, CA)
  • Statistician, Core Digital Media (Los Angeles)
  • Technical Product Mgr., Digital Advertising Platforms, Core Digital Media (Los Angeles)
  • Front-Desk Position (Santa Monica)

Link to Tuesdays with Transitioners for details on all these positions and past listings

** Find more jobs on the Career Opportunities Job Board from SimplyHired.com

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Archive: “Just Kidding” often means exactly the opposite — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 23rd, 2013 Comments off

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“Just kidding!” We hear this on the playground as children and in the office as an adult. Usually it is followed by “Geez, don’t you have a sense of humor?” Over the years, though, I have learned that “just kidding” is one of those phrases that means exactly the opposite of what it says. The speaker wasn’t kidding at all, but only using the phrase to deflect how incredibly insensitive and rude they are actually behaving.




 

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I know this might sound like an over-reaction, but years of work experience have shown me that people who use the “just kidding” (JK) gambit are troublesome to everyone around them. In their wake they leave a path of anger and hurt and can sow the seeds of their own career destruction, if they don’t learn to modify their behavior.

Say you are talking with a group of friends or co-workers and make some sort of statement. It matters little the substance of the statement because a JK person often needs little impetus to inject their response. Out of the blue you will hear, “Well, that’s the stupidest things I’ve ever heard” or maybe even uproarious laughter. Then, when you show your disapproval with a look or your words, you will hear, “just kidding.” They weren’t kidding, though, and everyone knows it. What this person is trying to do is deflect the focus from their rude behavior and somehow make it your problem. They are insulting you and then trying to pretend that that wasn’t their goal in the first place. It is a childish attempt at control and manipulation and anyone who exhibits the behavior should be confronted and reprimanded.

In fact, I consider JK behavior to be the primary indicator of someone who is lacking in the social skills so necessary to work and life. If I see someone exhibiting this behavior, I would serious questions working for them or with them in any environment. Life is simply too short to spend your time with ill-mannered, and I would say in some cases, out of control, personalities.

So, do you see yourself or any of your co-workers in this description? I know that I was not always the most socially skilled member of society when I was younger. Even when older, we all have the ability to make social faux pas, but these occurrences should be rare. Take a long hard look at your own behaviors. Do you often find yourself saying “just kidding” or exhibiting the equally annoying “exasperated sigh” as I did at one point in my career. (See The Exasperated Sigh, June 3, 2005) If you do, you need to start banishing this behavior from your life immediately. Do whatever it takes. Snap a rubber band on your wrist whenever you feel inclined, or fine yourself every time you do it. Whatever it takes. If you don’t, the consequences to your career could be dramatic and drastic.

Why ban this behavior? Simply, you are insulting, and perhaps even angering, everyone who is on the receiving end of this behavior. Regardless of how you might try to justify the behavior, you are making enemies at every turn. You are creating a group of people who don’t want to work with you, for you or even around you. You are creating a group of people who won’t care, and perhaps even rejoice when you are fired or marked for layoff. “Just Kidding” might seem such a small issue, but it effects everyone and everything around you. Furthermore, if you think the effects in the office are bad, you can only imagine the damage such behavior does to your relationships with friends and family.

“Just kidding” behavior can arise from a number of points. We can do it when we feel insecure or frightened. It can creep in when our guard is down due to illness or fatigue. Regardless, though, if you want to insure yourself a happier life and a more productive and successful career, you need to banish the phrase “just kidding”, and it s surrogates, from your vocabulary today. If not, I can guarantee that those around you will make their displeasure very clear through their actions. You will drive away those people whom you need the most and destroy your career in the bargain.

***

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Audio: Career Conversation: George Krueger and Mary-Lynn Foster of Bigg Success.com

August 21st, 2013 Comments off

Douglas talks with George Krueger and Mary-Lynn Foster of Bigg Success.com about building success on your terms.

Part of the Dog Days of Podcasting 30 Day Podcasting Challenge 

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Listen to this show

 

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From the Bigg Success Web Site…

“BIGG Success is an e-learning, coaching and small business consulting firm. We provide educational resources to entrepreneurs, professionals and the organizations that serve them, like Chambers of Commerce and community banks.

It’s your place for entreprenurturing™ — a learning community built around winning in life and business. We help you fight the fears and frustrations we all face on the way to finding freedom and fulfillment. That’s BIGG success!”

 

 

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Career Conversation: George Krueger and Mary-Lynn Foster of Bigg Success.com

August 20th, 2013 Comments off

Douglas talks with George Krueger and Mary-Lynn Foster of Bigg Success.com about building success on your terms.

Part of the Dog Days of Podcasting 30 Day Podcasting Challenge

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Bigg Success Web Site

Bigg Success on Twitter

From the Bigg Success Web Site…

“BIGG Success is an e-learning, coaching and small business consulting firm. We provide educational resources to entrepreneurs, professionals and the organizations that serve them, like Chambers of Commerce and community banks.

It’s your place for entreprenurturing™ — a learning community built around winning in life and business. We help you fight the fears and frustrations we all face on the way to finding freedom and fulfillment. That’s BIGG success!”

 

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Failure vs. failure — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 19th, 2013 Comments off

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There is a great difference between Failure (with a capital F) and failure with a lowercase “f”, but sometimes it can be hard to see that. While it is part of the human condition to fail on occasion, and despite what we might learn from those failures, failure is never, ever, easy. Given enough failures, in fact, and you might start feeling like a complete Failure. This is a dangerous place to tread, though and can lead to greater problems down the road if you don’t come to some sort of understanding with yourself, your life and your career. Don’t let failure stop you in your career tracks. Face it, deal with it and then move forward.


 

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Dog Days


How do I know so much about failure? Like all of us, there have been times when life and work weren’t going the way I planned or hoped. Failure after failure piled up until I felt I was carrying a burden far too heavy for my mind to handle. When I was in the midst of it, it felt like I would never dig myself out. Thankfully, one way I deal with failure is much like the character of Dory in Finding Nemo — “just keep swimming!” Except in the most dire cases, there is always a new day coming, a new world that is opening up to you. Sometimes it can take a lot of “swimming” to get there, though, but I find that that is often the only way through a crisis of failure, no matter how large.

I have been thinking about failure a lot lately, as I have been having one of those periods in my own life and career. There are several reasons for my failure thoughts. First, I am about to turn 50 years old, which is a point when many people start to take stock in their life — and in some cases — find it wanting. What you desired when you were 25 is almost nothing like what you desire when you are 50. Even the most successful people can look back and wonder if it was all worth it and what exactly they have accomplished.

Second, I am almost a year into my own career transition from day-to-day computer support to a role more focused on new media, social, media, podcasting and video production. As is almost always the case, income from your previous position often stops before income from your new position starts to come in. This leads to worries about money and makes you doubt your choice to transition and if the new position will ever be successful. Self-doubt is an insidious drain on your energy and your emotional outlook. After a few slow months it can wear you down to the point where it seems that Failure, with a capital F is catching up with you.

Hopefully it will help you to know that even in my darkest hour, I know that my life and career will get better. I know that doom and gloom is just part of the game we all play and eventually my transition will start to pick up speed and direction. While my worries might manifest themselves in the dark of night, when day comes and I can focus on new work, new goals and new challenges those worries do recede. It is important for me, and you as well, to not give overriding authority to those worries that crop up. Know that morning will come again and give you a new opportunity to move forward.

Don’t let life pin the badge of Failure to your chest. Everyone, even the most successful people, struggle on occasion and, I know it is true for myself, we all tend to judge ourselves more harshly than others when it comes to life and career success. I can guarantee that there are those around you that don’t consider you a Failure at all. They see someone striving to make their life and career better, even if it can be a bit difficult. It is only when we stop trying that we truly become a Failure. Giving up, while certainly one option, insures that you will never move beyond failure or even just the crisis of the moment. It may seem easier to simply give up in the face of adversity and failure, but I can assure you that the best that any of us can do is, “just keep swimming” our way to the career we deserve.

***

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LinkedIn introduces “University Pages” for potential students, students and alumni

August 19th, 2013 Comments off

I discovered this new addition to LinkedIn via this Mashable article, “LinkedIn’s New University Pages Help Teens Network Before College“.

Linkedin university

Complete pages aren’t available for every school, yet, but even the basic pages provide some insight into the makeup of each university. As Universitys complete their pages, you will be able to interact with students and alumni to learn more about a school you might be interested in attending.

I’ll be using this, along with my son, to check out potential colleges. He is only 3 years away from college life, and I believe in doing everything you can to learn about the various opportunities available.

Visit LinkedIn University Pages and start your college prep today!

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Archive: Expectations can, and should, rise with promotions and raises — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

August 16th, 2013 Comments off

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Despite the fact that I often talk about attaining raises and promotions in your career, I don’t often discuss their ramifications to both your work and your personal life. The fact is, when you move into an expanded role, especially a managerial role, the expectations of those around you are going to rise. Each new position brings about a new level of control and commitment. If you ignore this, your transition into the new role can be more difficult than it should be.


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New Expectations

It is important to remember that when you receive a promotion or a raise in pay, you are accepting new roles and new commitments. You might not think it at first, but your manager is going to expect something more in response to your new status. Promotions and raises aren’t so much a reward for past service, but more an incentive for future services. Managers are going to expect you to “step up to the plate” and take a more active role in projects and day-to-day issues. Unfortunately, though, they often don’t take the time to explain exactly what their new expectations are. Too often, they simply assume that you will know how to take on the new role, even though it hasn’t been well defined or, perhaps, even described to you.

In order to keep your career on track, you need to take the initiative to clearly define any increased expectations. This can range from the simple realities of new meetings you should be attending to the specifics of who you should be supervising and mentoring within your group. Have this important conversation with your manager as soon as possible after your new promotion is announced. Otherwise, you will find yourself in a sort of limbo between positions.

I am sure you have seen newly minted supervisors who spend their first few weeks wandering around in a daze, trying to figure out their new place in the organization and the expectations of those around them. You want to insure that your transition is as smooth as possible, though, so you can start being effective in your new role from the very first day.

Subtleties

Beyond your official work role, there are more subtle expectations that can effect your work life. These can be even more troublesome than the issues above, as there are fewer guidelines available to you and they can have an insidious effect on your work life if they are ignored.

First, there are expectations about who you will associate with in your new role. I am sure you have heard stories about rank-and-file workers suddenly elevated to a supervisor or manager role. Suddenly you are no longer one of “us”, you are now one of “them”. This can be a crushing blow for some people, as it removes the work support structure carefully built over the years. Worse still, this happens before you have built any sort of support structure in your new role. You can feel adrift as you try to navigate the passage between the two. That said, you need to understand the unique culture of your company. In some cases, there won’t be a problem with you continuing to lunch with your former peers. In other companies, this will be seen as a social faux pas of the highest degree.

Second, the subtle cues of work attire are almost sure to be an issue. Jeans and polo shirts might have been appropriate in your past position, but now, suddenly you are elevated into the world of suits and ties. Again, it depends on your individual company, but you are well advised to be aware of these expectations, as well. While I personally detest the affectations of business dress codes (perhaps this is one reason I work for myself), you ignore them at your peril.

Finally, not only will expectations rise in your new role, but you should also expect them to rise. It only makes sense that new positions will bring more and different responsibilities. Any attempt to ignore this fact will hamper your transition into your new role and could derail your career entirely. While your work performance is certainly the most important part of your career, you must also deal with the more subtle world of the expectations of those around you.

***

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