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Archive for May, 2014

Noted: How Going To Live Theater Makes You Professional At Work from LifeHack

May 30th, 2014 Comments off

How Going To Live Theater Makes You Professional At Work from LifeHack

With my theater background, and the fact that I write this career column, the title of this article immediately attracted my attention. It echoes some of my own thoughts very closely and reinforces what I have been telling my son recently about the importance of theater in his life and career. 

Theater

If you and I were friends and I said to you, “Let’s go see a play,” your first reaction would probably be, “Bwahaha! Man, you’re a crackup!”

I get it. In the digital era, with movies on our phones and DVRs and Netflix, few of us can be bothered even to watch a TV show when the network wants us to. So the idea of driving to a theater, waiting in our seats until the curtain goes up… just to watch live actors standing in front of a hand-built set? No thanks.

But that’s too bad. Because as I learned attending maybe 100 such little plays in Los Angeles in my early 20s, going to these performances can teach you a great deal about how to be a professional. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

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“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts.

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Archive: Who do you trust? — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

May 30th, 2014 Comments off

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I received a great letter recently from someone who was asking just that question, who do I trust? They are feeling used and abused in their career and wondering, with all honesty, if the entire world has descended to the level of last century’s snake oil salesmen. Sadly, I often talk to people who feel that they can’t trust anyone.

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First, ethics have not “gone to hell in a hand basket” despite what many would have you believe. I know and love many trustworthy people, be they clients, business partners, friends or family. These people are out there. You simply need to find them.

In some cases, it could be that the business area you work in is one that is infected with bad ethics overall. Not to paint everyone with a broad brush, but there are certain businesses that seem to harbor the worst ethics. If it seems that everyone you deal with is ethically challenged, or businesses are engaged in activities you find repugnant, then you need to find another area of business.

While we can bemoan other’s lax ethics, we are often to blame for our own bad experiences. Sometimes, we harm ourselves by wanting to “believe” too much. We want something to succeed — we want a business to be successful so much that we ignore the red flags that surround it. If you continue in such a relationship, even when the red flags appear, you are nearly assuring that you will abused by others.

You MUST be selective about who you work with. Very selective. By choosing to work with some unethical people, you are virtually insuring you will always work with unethical people. You need to choose who you bring into your life. Some say that if they turn down all the red-flag situations and clients they encounter, they’d have no business. I don’t believe it. What they are really saying is that, to them, money matters more than ethics and they end up attracting the sort of element that believes that. If money is your sole, driving decision-maker, you will always find yourself in bad situations.

Consider this — what is worse, choosing not to work for someone and not earning the money, or slaving away for days and weeks, and still not earning any money when they refuse to pay? Which situation would cause you more pain?

It is a hard truth, that we are often responsible, at the core, for our own worst experiences. We can blame others and curse them for their poor ethics, but it is we that make the final decision of with whom and where we work.

Your intuition is your first line of defense when if comes to trusting someone. I seem to have a pretty good “trouble” detector when it comes to people and have always suffered when I ignore it, whether I am taking on a client, working with a partner, or selecting to work for a certain company. You need to trust your own intuition in these matters, as it is often a much better indicator of people and situations than you might think. It seems so unscientific, but as Shakespeare said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Trust your gut. It will save you lots of pain.

For my own part, I trust do-er’s, not talkers. I want to see action in a business project before I dive in wholeheartedly. Take small steps with someone new and get to know them and their business. Note how they treat their customers and those around them. This limits your exposure until you can get a read on their methods and their ethics. Then, don’t be afraid to walk away when a red flag goes up. It won’t get better. It won’t change. The only thing that will happen is you will be abused…and worse still, you let it happen to yourself.

Be aware of who you are inviting into your life. Do you want to believe too much? Are you a willing partner in your own abuse? I can guarantee that there are good, honest and trustworthy people in the world. Your job is to seek them out and allow them to introduce you to others they know. A happy life and successful career depend on it.

***

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Video: Be a leader, not an obstructionist from “A Year of Leadership”

May 28th, 2014 Comments off

Leadership obstructionist

From “A Year of Leadership” – Career Opportunities Podcast with Douglas E. Welch)

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Transcript:

“Obstructionism — getting in the way of things — should not be accepted at any level. There’s an old statement that says, “Lead. Follow or Get the Hell out of the Way!” and you know what, this is something we really need to start living by. I see so much today.  You can look to our current, you know, passage of the stimulus bill in the Congress and our budget crisis here in California and you can see people who, for whatever reason, are being strictly obstructionists. They’re not presenting any better ideas. They’re not presenting any different ideas. They’re just saying “No!” I think you can look back over the last decade — and where we are now — and see where “No!” has gotten us. Obstructionism has ground us to a halt. To the point where nothing gets done and frankly, another reason why leadership is so important is that people who get things done in the next 10 years are going to be the successful people. But people who are being obstructionist will be seen as being obstructionists and will be minimized — they’ll be bypassed. There is a great quote about the Internet that says, “The Interest senses censorship as — blah-di-blah, whatever word you care to insert there — damage and routes around it. Obstructionists will be seen as damage and they will be routed around. And I am telling you, you should be one of those people routing around the damage of obstructionism. You need to call it out where you see it. You need to identify it to other people and say, “This is merely being obstructionist atitude and we need to get around this because we have to do something. Doing nothing is simply no longer and option. I really want to hammer that home to you. Doing nothing is simply not and option any longer. 

Douglas is writer and host of Career Opportunities, a long running column and podcast dedicated to “Helping to Build the Career You Deserve!” Career Opportunities began in 1997 as a magazine column and expanded to a podcast in 2004. Douglas is also a New Media Consultant, Technology and Career Consultant with over 30 years experience in high-tech. You can find all of Douglas’ work at DouglasEWelch.com.

The secret to career success is just showing up — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

May 27th, 2014 Comments off

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“80% of success is showing up” — Woody Allen

The older I get the more I begin to see the wisdom in Allen’s quote. Throughout my life I have seen those who “show up” in life and work and those who constantly talk about what they want to do/might do/do if they only had the time. Perhaps is more a part of life in Los Angeles, but I get the feeling that people all over the world are faced with great problems in simply showing up. They can invent 101 excuses why they didn’t show up, but can’t seem to find the one reason , the one project, the one exciting moment where they show up and become fully involved in their life and work. What is worse is these same people often spend an inordinate amount of time bemoaning their fate. They blame everyone and everything else except the one person, the one thing, the one place where the fault really lies — themselves.


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Harsh? Sure, it can be harsh to look at yourself and your actions in this light, but facing the truth of life can often be a harsh realization. There are times when I look back over my own career and see times when I failed to “show up” and lost opportunities that I had been given. I think that is true of all people. Yes, there are always obstacles in the way of our life and career success. Sometimes that success isn’t under our control, but I see far more times when we fail to take control, fail to take the opportunities we are given. We might try to blame the bad boss for a missed opportunity, but if we look deeply enough, we can see that it was our own inaction, our own fears, our own flight from success that was the true problem. At some point we decided that it was far easier to run away from opportunity than face the consequences.

So how do you learn to “show up” in your life? First, you must learn to do the bare minimum. You may not believe it, but simply showing up puts you ahead of 80% (if not 99%) of the other people in the world. You know its true. You’ve probably seen it at work in your own life and career. Have you ever seen anyone come in for an interview unprepared, poorly dressed (due to inattention, not money), sullen or even drunk or high? They may be showing up physically but they are not showing up mentally and professionally. I am sure that none of you would ever do something like this, so already you have jumped the line in any job, project or opportunity you might be pursuing. It is amazingly easy to improve your odds of career success by doing the simplest things — the bare minimums — because there are so many others who do not.

Next, show up by recognizing and accepting the opportunities that show up in your life. I wrote an entire column on the concept of opportunity and also a speaking engagement on the same topic. Too often, we — and I include myself among you — ignore the opportunities that come into our lives. Sometimes we don’t recognize them as opportunities. Sometimes we simply ignore them and at other times the opportunities simply scare us so much that we run away. This is the antithesis of showing up. This is hiding away from the very opportunities that could change our lives forever. Surely you must recognize that if you do this — if you hide from opportunity — or worse, run away from it, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

It is so easy to “show up” in so many ways, It is so easy to rise above the crowd in your life and work, simply by doing the bare minimums that others cannot do. If you show up on a regular basis I think it means more than just 80% of your success. In some ways, I think it can becomes even more important. I think that showing up can be 90, 99, 100% of building the career that you deserve. I don’t think there are any true “secrets” to career success, but showing up is probably as close to a secret as you can get. If you can show up more often, your life and career could become richer, stronger and even easier.

***

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Archive: A Sense of Failure — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

May 23rd, 2014 Comments off

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No matter how successful we might become, there will be times when an overwhelming sense of failure comes over us and leaves us wondering just where we are headed. This can be caused by a small failure of a project, new challenges in your personal life, or monetary troubles, but it is important to realize that feelings of failure don’t necessary mean you have failed. It can simply mean that you are at a down period in your life and work — one that will pass if you continue doing your best work and striving for something better.

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Of course, in the midst of a failure attack, it is very easy to lose any sense of perspective. Every small challenge, every small slight, anything that doesn’t work the way it should simply compounds the feelings of failure and often leads to you acting out in ways you might never consider otherwise. All you can feel is the weight bearing down on you and even the smallest grain of sand added to the load seems unbearable. How do I know about these feelings? Simple, I face them from time to time, just like you — just like everyone else in the world.

The truth is, no matter how successful we might be, there will always be times when we feel we have failed. We worry about failing our families, our children, and in the end, we worry most about failing ourselves. It is perhaps there that we experience failure more deeply than anywhere else. We are always tougher on ourselves than anyone else, so we often “beat ourselves up” over real or supposed failure well out of line with the true importance. The trouble is, it is very difficult to gain deep perspective on our own issues, because they are felt so personally and so internally. Our fears can run away with us, if we let them.

When you feel that sense of failure growing, here are a few methods I use to move beyond and get back to a productive state of mind.

First, acknowledge the feelings. Ignoring them simply pushes the worries and fears from your conscious mind into the subconscious where it can do even more damage. There it will gnaw at you silently, making it hard to sleep and generally stressing you out which will in turn make it harder to work the next day and that will make you feel worse so you won’t sleep the next night – you get the picture. Sometimes feelings of failure need a small amount of wallowing to get them out in the open. That is not to say that you should wallow for days, bemoaning your lot in life and making the problem worse. You just need to acknowledge how you are feeling. Then you can move on to the next step — getting back to productivity.

I find that the best salve for feelings of failure is work. This work can be directed at a specific failure, or your general area of work, or it could be something totally unrelated. I know that accomplishing anything, no matter how mundane can often push me in the right direction. Sometimes we simply need a reminder that can we can do something well to bring us some perspective. This little glimmer of perspective will help us to realize that today’s feelings are not forever. Life is cyclical and this cycle, too, will end.

So, attack a task where you are almost sure of succeeding. After all, you don’t want to add to your already dark mindset by failing yet again. Do that task to the best of your ability and use it to block out all the negative thoughts that might be bouncing around your head. Succeed at this one small, maybe even tiny task. Feel better now? I thought so.

Feelings of failure can come to visit, but your goal is to address them and make sure they move on as quickly as possible. It can be a trying time, but if you remember that these feelings will eventually move on, you can find a way out. Acknowledge your fears, worries and recriminations and then move on. Seek out one small success and you will be back on the road to productivity in no time.

***

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Video: An Opportunity to Lead from “A Year of Leadership

May 21st, 2014 Comments off

An Opportunity to Lead from

From “A Year of Leadership” – Career Opportunities Podcast with Douglas E. Welch)

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Transcript:

“When someone asks you to make a decision — when someone asks you to lead, they are literally offering you the opportunity to lead. You need to do it. If the group is confused about where to do lunch, guess what? Say “Hey, we’re going to go here.”…and you know what? 9 times out of 10 they are all going to go “Yeah, let’s go!”

Groups need a leader. They need someone to point them in the right direction and frankly, a lot of people out there are looking to be led and this is an opportunity for you to do that.

So, the next time the lunch question comes up, just say, “Hey, we’re going to my favorite place. That’s that’s what we’re doing.” And I will almost guarantee you, people will follow you and you will have experienced that thrill of leadership. I hope it’s not for the first time, but it will definitely give you a taste for leadership and what it means to be a leader.

I know it sounds silly, but it’s a small thing, but it can really help you move on to bigger and better things.”

Douglas is writer and host of Career Opportunities, a long running column and podcast dedicated to “Helping to Build the Career You Deserve!” Career Opportunities began in 1997 as a magazine column and expanded to a podcast in 2004. Douglas is also a New Media Consultant, Technology and Career Consultant with over 30 years experience in high-tech. You can find all of Douglas’ work at DouglasEWelch.com.

It’s OK to investigate new job opportunities — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

May 20th, 2014 Comments off

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It is a freelance work world out there today. As I often coach people, you need to think and act as a freelancer, even if you are currently employed full time. We all know how easy it is to go from employee to unemployed these days and it is important to protect yourself as much as possible from unforeseen layoffs. I find, though, that many people are greatly conflicted when it comes time to investigate new job opportunities. They can feel a sense of fear, a sense of disloyalty, a sense that they are somehow cheating their current employer. Let me be the first to allay your fears. When you investigate new job opportunities, you are practicing the best elements of career self-preservation. You are doing exactly what needs to be done to build the career you deserve.


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I was recently speaking with one of my career consulting clients about this very topic. They were seeing some weaknesses in their position and their current company. They weren’t sure the company would be around for the long haul and yet they were worried about investigating some other opportunities that had recently appeared. Here is how I addressed their issues.

Researching doesn’t mean an immediate job move

Let me be the first to tell you — there is no harm in looking! You must always first remember that just because you are researching new opportunities doesn’t mean you are planning on making an immediate career move. Sure, something may come along that will better meet your career wants, needs and desires, but there will also be plenty of other opportunities that won’t interest you or that don’t pan out. You need to be constantly sifting through opportunities to separate the “wheat from the chaff.” You don’t want to be doing this in a panic when layoffs are announced. You want to make this research part of your everyday life and work. Your ears and eyes should always be open for new opportunities.

Since you are only researching these opportunities, much as you might research new technology or a new car before buying, I hope this will tamp down any discomfort you might have about feeling disloyal to your current job and company. The cold truth is this — the company will do whatever is best for itself and you must do the best for your own career. As long as you are performing your work well, you have nothing to concern or fear. You are simply doing what any smart careerist should be doing.

Research allows you to make informed decisions

While many companies may not realize it, when you are researching new opportunities in your career, it might actually be a good thing for your current employer. One product of doing your “due diligence” in these new opportunities is that you might realize your current job and company is the best fit for you. We’ve all probably heard about the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” The truth, of course, is this isn’t always that case.

I am sure some of you have been in my position of moving jobs only to find out the job wasn’t exactly as it was presented. It should be clear that making better, more informed decisions about your career benefits everyone. After looking at various opportunities, it might become quite clear just how good you have it in your current job. “Familiarity breeds contempt” and we might not see the benefits of our current job until we start investigating the other opportunities out there. You won’t know any of this until you begin looking at other opportunities and how they compare. Jumping into the unknown at a new job and company is just as bad as staying in a dead-end job with no prospects. You want to make informed decisions, not simply change for change’s sake.

You should never feel guilty for investigating the opportunities that surround you and your career. When opportunities come to you, it is proof that you are doing things right. You are taking the right actions, building the right skills and attracting the attention of those around you. Don’t ignore this out of some misguided belief in company loyalty. We are all freelancers today and we need to behave that way. Practice career self-preservation at all times and you will be on the right path to building the career you deserve.

***

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Job Listings from Tuesdays with Transitioners – May 18, 2014

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

Jobs offered

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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.

  • Public Relations Assistant
  • Customer Service Coordinator (Burbank)
  • Accounting Technician, Joni and Friends
  • Senior Mobile Developer, Experian
  • Network Support Technician, Physical Optics Corporation
 
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Not ready to retire…in any way! – End of the Day for May 16, 2014

May 16th, 2014 Comments off

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Originally published as part of End of the Day from My Word with Douglas E. Welch

A new phrase has entered my vocabulary this year as I turned 50. Despite the deluge of AARP applications, high fiber cereal coupons and other old age mailings — and the fact that I can joke about being old on occasion — I am not ready to retire in any way, shape or form. Whether professionally, personally, musically, socially, and dare I say it, sexually, I have no plans on “retiring” any time soon — and neither should you.

In the past, 50 might have indeed seemed like midlife, with everything downhill from there. Life spans were shorter and attitudes were quite different. Retirement at 65 was an almost universal trait in companies and corporations and many people — usually men — stated seeing a gold watch and a rocking chair on the horizon. Today, though, barring major diseases or injuries we can live, and live well, far into our 90’s and beyond. I feel I still have many, many years ahead of me and much, much to accomplish.

Sure, you might retire from your “work”, if it wasn’t something you really were passionate about. Leaving the drudgery of a 9-5 job, worked only to provide money for survival, but I hope that most of us have better work than that in our lives. Leaving a job like that would be a relief and open up time for more interesting and productive “work” of your own choosing.

Oberlin College Visit - Love the rocking chairs for studying

While I certainly am changing focus in my life, I don’t really feel as if I am slowing down. Rather I am concentrating my attention on those things that really matter to me — educating others in all of my specialties, enjoying my family life (Joseph will be off to college in just 2 years, and those years will pass in the blink of an eye, and ridding myself of clutter in my life, my work, and my mind. In same ways, I am even busier than I was before, just in different ways and on different projects. I will say this, too. I am enjoying myself a lot more than I have in years. It can be tough to make money and earn a living, but the challenge is making me think and grow like never before.

Sure, I can foresee a time when Ma and Pa Welch sit side-by-side in their rocking chairs wondering how the grandchildren are doing in college, but it seems a long way off. When that time comes, I will accept it wholeheartedly, as I have with every other stage in my life. By then I will probably be ready for a little quiet time and relaxation, but who knows. I could also see myself dropping dead while teaching someone something,  surrounded by “students” of all ages. I think that would be a great way to go — sharing my knowledge, my thoughts, my ideas until the very last. I know my thoughts would turn to a job well done and a life well-lived.

Until then, though, it is time to keep moving forward to bigger, better and perhaps, more fun projects!

Previously on End of the Day:

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Archive: A Reputation for Balancing Work and Self — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

May 16th, 2014 Comments off

Get this entire series (and added content) in the Kindle book, “Cultivating Your Career Reputations”!

You don’t need a Kindle to buy or read. Kindle book are usable via web browser and Kindle apps for your computer, Android and iOS (iPhone/iPad) devices.


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Read and listen to the first column in this series, Cultivating Your Career Reputations.

Of all the reputations I have discussed in the last several weeks, this one might be the toughest to manage. The fine balance between work and self is like an endlessly tilting teeter-totter, swinging first one way, then the next. No matter how much you might try, there is really no central, stable point. Balance shifts constantly and you have to be very aware to maintain your footing. That said, if you ignore this balance and swing more often to one extreme or the other, you, and everyone around you will suffer.

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Firstly, while some may contest it, I believe there has to be some balance between work and self. As important, invigorating or enlightening our work may be, we must pay attention and cultivate our relationships with friends and family outside of the office. Work is a part of our life, not the sole, driving influence. We all have seen people who are subsumed by their work. While it may be fine for a short period of time, relationships quickly start to deteriorate and the person finds that they are more and more isolated from the world as a whole. Then, weeks or months later, they arise from the fog like a groundhog waking up in February, wondering where everyone went.

While the blame for such excessive focus on our work lies with each of us, companies and our own projects can contribute, as well. When I entered the corporate world, I was met with the typical workers who would brag about how much overtime they put in – often for no extra pay. Every all-nighter was described in great detail like a hard-fought battle. What I soon realized, though, was that rarely was management forcing workers to engage in this behavior. Rather it was the employee going beyond the norm. The fact is, companies will take whatever you are prepared to give, whether it is necessary or not. Often, extreme overtime and all-nighters were the results of poor preparation or a subconscious tactic to prove the deep dedication of the worker. They were doing it to themselves. Their balance had faltered and they confused working harder with working better. All one had to do was ask their family (if they had one) what they thought of the situation to see the toll that it was taking.

While work can be rewarding, it shouldn’t be the only place we feel wanted, needed and loved. When this happens, delusion can settle in. Even worse, when we tie our self-worth so closely to our work, we are in danger of collapse when layoffs occur or companies close. The effects can be devastating and I am sure we have all seen friends and family bereft when it occurs. It can often take them weeks or months to find work, not from lack of jobs or lack of trying, but simply because their self-worth was damaged nearly beyond repair by being rejected by the only ‘family’ they knew. In some cases, people never recover.

Sometimes, when we are facing deep struggles in our personal life, we can retreat to the relative calm of our work. It is very common for couples undergoing a split to spend much more time at work than at home — avoiding the conflicts they know await them there. This only exacerbates the problem, though, as they communicate less and less and the conversations that do occur become more and more acrimonious. Again, we can’t avoid balancing our work and self, even when the situation might be unpleasant. One is not and should never be the substitute for the other.

Finally, only you can establish the guidelines of what is a balanced life. If you let others, like managers, co-workers or parents, enforce a balance upon you, you are bound to have a difficult time. Each person must find their own priorities, their own time, their own balance. No one knows your life as well as you, yet we often allow others to tell us what to do through peer pressure, threats or bullying. If you think you need to spend more time with your family, and less time at work, then you need to find a way to make that happen, regardless of what anyone else might say.

Establishing a reputation for balancing work and self is one of the best ways to protect yourself from undue pressure from those around you. When others see that you have thought about these issues, and continue to seek balance on a daily level, they will have less ability to impose their own ideas about balance on you. Show that you are seeking balance by talking about it with others and demonstrating it in everything you do. Perhaps then you will have your greatest effect, by showing others that a balance between work and self is possible.

***

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