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Archive for December, 2013

A Year of Opportunity — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

December 31st, 2013 Comments off

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As I have done nearly every year for the last 5 years here on Career Opportunities, I have chosen a theme for the coming year. This year is no exception and, in fact, this year’s theme is a very personal one for me. I see 2014 as a Year of Opportunity. As I emerge from my own year of transition, I see the great importance of attracting, recognizing and accepting opportunity in my life and career and I believe it is dramatically important for you, too. Everything we do, from the smallest actions to the largest goals should take opportunity into mind and use it as a way to focus our energy and attention.


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 Books by Douglas E. Welch
  
 

Attracting Opportunity

The most powerful actions you can take in your life and career are those that attract opportunity to you. While we can all go seeking opportunity, helping opportunities to find you is a much more productive and, in some ways, is much less tiring than other methods. Even more, attracting attention to you is something you can do every day and in every way. You can build it into your day-to-day actions and make it part of your life instead of something outside the norm.

As I have often said in the past, attracting opportunity to you begins with telling my those around you “what you do and how well you do it.” This can take many forms, but in today’s world it usually starts with social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you develop good connections, share great information and generally help those connected to you, you can’t help but attract opportunity to you.

When you regularly share and network with your connections, you are constantly held in their mind. When these people start a project or expand one, you can and should be one of the first people they think of. You will have laid the foundation for future opportunity in these relationships and it is something you should do constantly. Share your biggest successes and, more importantly, how you achieved them. Answer questions that arise in your network. Be the one eager to help and opportunity will be attracted to you.

Recognizing Opportunity

The next big step in making this A Year of Opportunity it to recognize opportunity when it walks into our lives. Too often we ignore, or dismiss opportunity, simply because it is too new, too scary or even too much work. There is a famous quote from Thomas Edison about opportunity.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Work that expands our lives and careers should be sought out and embraced, even if there is a bit of hard work involved. In fact, most opportunities worth pursuing require hard work of some sort. Life doesn’t often give you gold simply for being you. You need to share your knowledge and show your worth and this often means some long hours, if not actual physical labor. In fact, if you don’t feel that a project is worth putting in a good deal of hard work, it is very possible that the project isn’t important enough for you to pursue. You may need to look for another opportunity that you love enough to commit to it completely — hard work and all.

Sometimes we miss opportunities because they seem to strange or different to us. If someone comes to you with an offer to do work outside of your normal comfort range, it is still important to consider the opportunity andj the new directions it might take you. While it is certainly more comfortable to live your life as it has always been, reaching out for new horizons can offer you some amazing possibilities in your life.

Accepting Opportunity

This brings us to the third part of our Year of Opportunity — accepting the opportunities that come to us. We must allow ourselves to explore and consider the opportunities that come into our lives. There are several reasons you might reject opportunity in your life and all of them are destructive behaviors that need to be overcome.

The first, and I consider, worst is the rejection of opportunity because you do not feel worthy. Too many of us come to believe that we don’t deserve new opportunities. For a variety of reasons, including bad jobs, unemployment, family issues, health problems we can come to believe that we don’t deserve anything beyond what we currently have. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. You are all worthy of building the career you deserve. If you are willing to put in the work, you have already stepped above a large group of people who are unwilling to do the same. Never let anyone tell you don’t deserve better in your life and work. While none of us are entitled to a great career, through our hard work and dedication, we all deserve it.

The biggest reason people avoid, ignore and dismiss opportunity, though, is out of their own fear. I know this because I have struggled with fear just like everyone else. When an opportunity presents a bigger challenge than usual, or requires a change in mindset, focus or location, it can trigger all sorts of “fight or flight” responses. You need to clearly recognize these responses and postpone them. Instead of rejecting opportunities out of hand with a kneejerk response, take a deep breath, tamp down the fear, and consider — just for a moment — where the opportunity coud lead. There is no need to be afraid, you are simply thinking about the opportunity, not agreeing to turn your life inside out. Too many of us react as if we are committing ourselves to an opportunity when we are only considering it. Let yourself think and dream a bit. There is never any harm in that.

Remember, fear is a great indicator of projects and opportunities that we need to investigate further. It shows that there is a challenge there, a stretching of our thoughts and abilities in new and different ways. An open door can be scary, but it can also lead to a new, better, greater, more exciting, more fulfilling life and career than you can even imagine. Don’t slam the door in opportunity’s face. Greet it with a smile, a friendly handshake and invite it in. This is one of the best ways to build the career you deserve in 2014!

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Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – December 29, 2013

December 29th, 2013 Comments off

Jobs offered

 CareerCampSCV (Santa Clarita Valley) 2013 - 88 

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. 

  • Office Assistant at Twistory Studios
  • Assistant to TV Host, Producer, and Reporter
  • Technical Account Manager, Client Services (Los Angeles)
  • SACNAS Executive Director
  • Assistant/Jr. Publicist, Pinnacle Public Relations (West Hollywood)
  • Employee Communications & Events Specialist, Medtronics (Northridge)
  • JAVA/API Mobile Specialist (Contract), Irvine
 
Books for Building Your Career!
 

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




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Product: Moo MiniCards

December 29th, 2013 Comments off

This is probably my fourth or fifth order from Moo MiniCards for my business cards. As you can see form the photo, Moo MiniCards are about half the size of typical “western” business cards and, more importantly for me, I can use any of my own photos for the card fronts. The Moo.com system can pull in photos from your social medial accounts and allow you to format them for the cards. In my case, I used my Flickr account as the source and then selected 25 different photos to use across the 100 cards in a typical order.

Moo cards 2013

One major reason I return to Moo Cards is that the cards never fail to elicit a reaction when I hand them to someone. There is always an “ah ha” moment from the recipient. I then get a chance to talk about Moo and also about the photo they received. I find it to be a great conversation starter and I believe people will remember me better than someone who has a standard business card. Moo also offers several others products including notecards, stickers and even standard sized business cards.

As you can see in the photo, there is a code to get 15% off your first order from Moo.com.

Link: Moo.com

Categories: Business, Career Tips, Photos, Products Tags:

Archive: Your job is more than just filling time — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

December 27th, 2013 Comments off

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I am sure you have all experienced it as often as I have — the worker who has decided that their job is not meant to offer customer service — or any service at all. Their job is only to fill a particular space for a particular amount of time and receive their paycheck at the end of the week. This attitude doesn’t just effect retail and other customer service operations, though. Nearly any company can fall victim to employees who have just stopped trying.

I am writing about this phenomenon not to blame you or shame you. In most cases, if you are taking the time to read or listen to Career Opportunities, you have already shown the initiative to improve your career. There are times, though, when those around you can start to exhibit this behavior or, even worse, when problems with your work can lead you down the path to disengagement and despair. I want you to clearly understand the warning signs so you can avert disaster.

 

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Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

Are you disengaged?

There are several causes for disengagement in your job, nearly all of which have a solution. Sometimes in the depths of a career problem, though, we can fail to see the way out. Perhaps your job isn’t challenging. This happens to many people. They start in an entry-level position which they outgrow before the company has a new position to offer them – or before upper management notices. They are disengaged simply because there is not enough to do. As common as this might be, this is no excuse. If your job is not challenging you, then it is up to you to find new challenges within your job or expand it of your own accord.

One of the easiest solutions is to find additional tasks that you can do when your own work is done. Anyone who has worked in food service has surely heard the phrase, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” It is a manager’s way of, unsubtly, telling you to do something other than stand around. You can use this cliche to your advantage, though. Offering your hands to other workers or your manager shows a sense of initiative. It also allows you to investigate the other jobs that surround yours. You might find that another position interests you more than your current one. If you hadn’t taken the time — made the offer — to help, you might never have known.

You can’t use this as an excuse for not doing your assigned work, however. If you want to move to a different position, you have to work your way up or over and not simply abandon you current job. Doing so will undo all the good you have tried to accomplish and leave people wondering if they can trust you with higher responsibilities.

Is your management disengaged?

Management problems can also cause disengagement among employees. If you are trying your best, but still having difficulties in your job, you may need to examine this possibility further. Too often, management can make work more difficult and discourage workers from doing their job well. It seems ludicrous, but when management fails to reward good service and good work, employees will disengage from their work and simply “do their time.” Does management fail to listen to you? Do they seem to not care about your work? Are your managers disengaged themselves? This is probably the worst situation, as any initiative on your part will probably be seen as a threat by your manager. This quickly leads to friction and even more disengagement.

Unfortunately, in this situation, there may be little that you can do. You could attempt to be promoted to replace your manager. You could take your concerns to the next level of management or you could simply leave and find a better job where you won’t have to face such roadblocks. All of these options have their own issues, but if you truly like your job and the company where you work, you might want to consider fighting to make it better.

Being disengaged from your work is a warning sign we all need to heed. Whether this disengagement comes from an unchallenging job, unchallenged co-workers or unchallenged management, it is up to you to find a way out. Failing to do so could leave you disgruntled, depressed and disengaged from your work and will surely damage your overall career.

***

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Video: 2011 Live Reading of A Christmas Carol

December 24th, 2013 Comments off

For your holiday enjoyment, I present this live video recording of our previous 2011 Live reading of Charles’ Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Christmas carol 2011 thumb

 
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The Gifts You Can Always Give – Time, Energy, Passion and Love — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

December 23rd, 2013 Comments off

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It is Christmastime again and many people’s thoughts turn to shopping and presents and consuming in all its forms. As the years have passed, though, I have found myself thinking less about presents that come from the corner store (or Amazon) and more about presents that only I can give. After 27 years of marriage, my wife and I have basically agreed to give nothing more than token gifts on Christmas — something to enjoy opening with our family and something that is, hopefully, useful in our lives. These small presents are more than enough for one very special reason. Throughout the year, we give each other — and those around us — four very special gifts that are unique to us. These gifts include our time, our energy, our passion and our love. Even better, these are gifts that we have been able to give regardless of whether we have been rich or poor, ill or well, together or physically apart. We can give them to family, to friends, and even complete strangers. For me, these are the true gifts of Christmas and the entire year.


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 Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

 

Time

I have come to believe that there is no larger gift than the gift of your time. While we might easily write a check to charity or hand a bottle of wine to friend, taking time out of your busy day and life shows someone how much you care about them and how much you want to help them. Even when you don’t have a lot of money, you still have time. Too often I see young people embarrassed that they don’t have the money for expensive gifts and even going into debt to buy them anyway. If you don’t have a lot of money, find ways to give time to your friends and family. In almost every case, they will deeply appreciate it. Of course, if they don’t appreciate it, it tells you more about them and their concept of a gift than anything about yourself.

Giving the gift of time can also mean just being available to others. Sometimes we can get so tied up with work and life that we forget to acknowledge and engage with those sitting right next to us. Find ways of “closing the office” with a definitive shutting of a door or other ritual. I know that for my wife and I, who work at home a lot, closing the laptop or the cover on the iPad can show an end to “work time” and an opportunity to talk and share. Develop your own rituals for “closing the office” and be sure to use them as much as possible throughout your day.

Energy

Energy, both mental and physical, has its limits. We can’t do everything we might want in our life, but we can do anything. It is up to us to decide how to parcel out our energy. Still, we often waste energy on worry, on anger, on pettiness, instead of spending it in activities that make our lives better. Look back through your days and spot those times when you wasted your energy in unproductive, unhelpful and and even damaging behaviors. Then, think of how you might have better spent that time. Don’t beat yourself up over those moments. That energy can never be recaptured, but you can use it as an example of how to better spend your energy in the future.

Your energy can be used in many forms. You can help someone through a difficult time, both emotionally and physically. Go to the store for them. Help them create a better resume or look for a job. Help them start or complete a project that matters deeply to them. Look for opportunities to deepen your relationships with others by spending some of your energy to their advantage. Do this enough and you will find people more willing to spend some of their energy on you and your projects, too.

Passion

Passion is a deep part of my own life, but sometimes I feel like my passion scares people. In a cynical world, those who act passionately about their life, their work, their projects, their family, are often seen as unrealistic and maybe even a little crazy. People often comment about how passionate I am when I speak about careers, work, technology or gardening. I often reply to them by saying, “Yes, I am passionate about this and you should be too!” I think we all need to feel a little more passion in our lives. We need to find those activities, work and people that inspire a passion in us.

Further, we need to share our passions with others. We need to take the time and energy to show why we are passionate about something and how that has benefitted our life. Sometimes those around us need nothing more than a good example. If we can display and share our passions it is very possible that we allow those around us to discover their passions as well. They need not have the same passions or display them in the same way, but I deeply feel that everyone needs passion in their lives so they can do the best work and have the best life possible.

Love

Like Passion, the word love can be scary. It means so many things, in so many ways, to so many people and yet the gift of love is integral to a happy life, both for those who give love and for those who receive it. For me, love is the feeling and actions that wish the best for both ourselves and those around us. We might not like someone’s behaviors or actions, but we can still love them. We can still wish them the best life possible and, by loving them, help them to achieve it. It can be difficult to give love to those who don’t want it, or more usually, don’t think they deserve it, but then you give love for your own purposes and hope that the other person will eventually see the gift you give.

Giving love doesn’t mean enabling destructive behaviors, nor does it mean constantly trying to change someone and becoming angry when they don’t. It means accepting each person as they are, their best natures and their worst. It means accepting and loving them as individuals, not some generic stereotype based on gender, race, creed, beauty, success. Give love and you will gain love in return. Find those people around you that understand that fact and you will be giving and receiving the best gift possible.

This season, and throughout the year, give these gifts freely and frequently to everyone you can. Through your gifts you will develop the life, the passions, the love and the career you deserve and help others find the same.

***

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A Personal Question: How do I make money — and develop my new career — in 2014?

December 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Dew 2013

A personal question from Douglas

I feel quite vulnerable as I write this, as it feels a bit too personal, a bit too close to home. I don’t usually write about myself except in fairly abstract ways or to describe specific behaviors or actions in my Career Opportunities columns. I will probably end up re-writing this post a dozen times before posting as I try to get my thoughts down in text.

Humans in general, don’t like to feel vulnerable. It triggers all sorts of fight or flight responses and that is exactly what I am feeling right now. That said, as I reach the end of one career (day-to-day computer consulting) and reach out for the beginning of a new one, I feel I want and need to turn to you, who I “talk” with all the time, and ask for your advice and assistance.

I hope you don’t mind this rather personal intrusion into the usual flow of these blogs, but the New Year is always a time of reflection and contemplation of the future and this year demands a bit more of both as I move forward. I also feel that this message is of great importance if I am to continue providing the content I have provided in the past as well as the new ideas I am working on.

I often consul readers of my Career Opportunities column and podcast to ask for help when they need it. Taking my own advice, I am now asking for your help.

How do I make money in 2014?

A bit of a confession, but one I think many of you will know already. While I feel that I do some excellent work in a variety of areas in my life, I am not very good at monetizing that work. I am at my best when I am helping others, but that often makes it difficult to place a price on that work or develop ways to support that work. While I have never been very driven to be exceedingly wealthy, money is required for the basics of life and while I can enjoy the work I do, I also need to contribute to my family and my own financial security.

That begs the question then of what will I do in my next career? If you read these blogs, listen to my podcasts, watch my videos or follow me on social media, I think you get a fairly clear idea of my strengths and weaknesses. My work is open and available to all and I hope it well represents my skills and interests. What do you see there that keeps you reading, listening and watching?

Looking at this digital representation of my life and my work, what ways do you think I could be generating more income? I am doing a few small things in regards to income like advertising and affiliate income, but what additional methods would you recommend? What service could I provide that would be worth your own money or worthy of a recommendation to your friends, family and co-workers? How could I extend and package my existing work into salable items that provide a deep value to others? Who could I/would you recommend I partner with to further build my career? Do think there is someone I should speak with who could make use of my passion and skills? 

I have seen in my career discussions with others that we often have difficulty recognizing the value of our own work. This is why I am turning to you. I think that you have a clearer picture of my work’s value than I could ever see alone. Our own views of our life and work are often too bound up in ego and fear to truly represent what is possible. I am not looking for praise (although who doesn’t appreciate that on some level) but rather I seek your thoughts and ideas how I  might serve you — and the world — better.

You can post your thoughts publicly here as comments on the blog, on any of my social media accounts or privately via email at douglas@welchwrite.com. I greatly look forward to your thoughts!


 

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Elsewhere: 25 Killer Websites that Make You Cleverer from Lifehack.org

December 23rd, 2013 Comments off

Library Interner Seminar - PaD 3/22/07

I have always been an auto-didact (a self-taught person), so I am always interested in new ways and places to learn. This article from Lifehack.org points up 25 great places to learn everything from languages to technology to geography. I was already familiar with a couple of the sites, including Duolingo for languages, Khan Academy for a host of subjects and Project Gutenberg for free ebooks, but there are a lot more sites here for me to check out and I hope you do too!

Learning should be a lifelong passion, not just something we do to get through our school years. If we continuously focus on learning and growing, we can accomplish great things throughout our lives. 

25 Killer Websites that Make You Cleverer

It’s easy to forget that we have access to a virtually limitless resource of information, i.e. the Internet. For a lot of us, this is even true at our fingertips, thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and an ever-increasing push for online greatness by tech engineers all over the world.

As a result, there are countless websites out there that are geared to make you smarter and more brilliant for either a low or no cost. Here are just 25 such sites that may just make you more clever than ever before.

Read the entire article with links to all the sites

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Archive: Automatic pilot can be a good thing — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

December 20th, 2013 Comments off

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Watching my son’s Little League team, I was reminded once again about the deep difference between knowing what to do and doing it when the time comes. I watch them go through drills at practice, perfectly implementing such concepts as the double play and acting as backup to other players. Then, in their games we see them faced with the reality of high fly balls and hot grounders and all their best practices fall apart. The outfielders overthrow the base, catches are missed and runners circle the bases until the ball finally gets returned to the pitcher. I am sure that this can resemble your business on a bad day, too. No matter how much we practice, crises can cause us to forget all that practice and to panic instead.

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Books by Douglas E. Welch
  

Usually, when we discuss someone being on “auto-pilot” we look at it as a bad thing. We use the term to describe someone who is blindly going through the motions, even if it means driving off of a cliff. In some ways, though, especially when it comes to the fundamentals of your business, there are certain behaviors you want on auto-pilot. You refine and reinforce these behaviors, just like batting and fielding until they become second nature. You want to be able to implement these behaviors without conscious thought, as automatic as breathing. This is where good baseball players become great and the same can be said for your co-workers.

So, how to make your best practices automatic? You do it much in the same way you get better at anything – you practice – over and over. If you want to get better at pitching, you pitch – a lot. If you want to get better at your business pitch – you pitch it out loud – a lot. You cement these ideas and turn them into actions by doing them over and over. Reading about pitching can give you some great ideas, but pitching itself will quickly show which of those ideas works best for you. Then you take those ideas and repeat them again and again.

How do you know when you have succeeded in making a behavior automatic? You will notice the behavior only in retrospect. There will be a time when you suddenly stop and notice that you did exactly what needed to be done without thinking about it at all, You scoop up the ball and make the perfect throw to first base automatically. Only afterwards will you say to yourself, ”Hey, that was a pretty good play.”

You probably have times in your work day when you experience this same feeling. You provide just the answer your customer needed or put together a quote that perfectly meets their budget or needs. Take a few moments to review this when it happens. Think about what previous “practice” allowed you to react quickly and automatically? How can you apply this same practice to other aspects of your work? You can learn from yourself and your own actions as much as you can learn from a great teacher. It only requires that you notice your behaviors and exploit them.

Furthermore, notice when those around you are on auto-pilot. Are they answering from a place of practice and deep understanding of their jobs or are they simply telling you something to get you out of their cubicle? Closely observe both of these behaviors and compare them to your own. It should be clear by now, which behaviors you want to follow. Ask them how they developed their deep knowledge. How did they practice? How did they develop the ability to give the right answer automatically? What can you add to your own repertoire?

I know that you can find your own special “sweet spot” where your auto-pilot serves you, and everyone around you well. If you notice yourself sliding into the auto-pilot that leads to rote answers to important questions, you need to turn it off and find your way back onto the right path. Your goal is always to react, when necessary, but still understand the need for practice and careful consideration when you are confronted with a new situation. Auto-pilot can only take you so far, but it can be a building block to bettering your career.

***

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Gift Guide 2013: Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

December 17th, 2013 Comments off

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

With interests in both art and business, it seems only natural to combine them in my mind. “Art & Fear” addresses the all-to-common issues with creating art and I believe there are a lot of parallels to any career. Most art is about overcoming fear and it is the same with your career. You need to work through the fear in order to create something wonderful, not matter what you do.

“This is a book about making art. Ordinary art. Ordinary art means something like: all art not made by Mozart. After all, art is rarely made by Mozart-like people; essentially—statistically speaking—there aren’t any people like that. Geniuses get made once-a-century or so, yet good art gets made all the time, so to equate the making of art with the workings of genius removes this intimately human activity to a strangely unreachable and unknowable place. For all practical purposes making art can be examined in great detail without ever getting entangled in the very remote problems of genius. –from the Introduction

 

More 2013 Gift Guide Items:

 
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