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Archive for September, 2008

What I’m Reading…

September 29th, 2008 Comments off

Here are the 2 latest books on my reading stack. I always read a couple of books at a time so I can rotate between them.

Categories: Books Tags:

Career Opportunities starts its 5th year of podcasting

September 26th, 2008 2 comments

I guess I have been podcasting so long that anniversaries no longer make an impact on me. Last Wednesday, September 24, 2008, I started my 5th year of Career Opportunities and my fifth year of podcasting in general.

It is hard to believe it has been that long and yet the podcasting and new media environment has changed dramatically from when I first began.

Thanks to all the readers, listeners and viewers who have part of Career Opportunities! I look forward to many years in the future.

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Can you imagine your career future?

September 26th, 2008 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoCan you imagine your career future?
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Can you imagine your career future?


Get daily career tips on Twitter, Friendfeed in video, on Seesmic and in audio via Utterli.

This week I am asking you to engage in a bit of future-tripping. Looking at the reality of your job today, where do you think it might lead in 5, 10, 15 years? What might your career look like when you reach your 60’s? Using your imagination today could help to insure your destination tomorrow, but it might also make it clear if you are on the right – or wrong – path right now. If your imagined destination doesn’t appeal to you, it’s time to take some corrective action.

Frequent readers and listeners to Career Opportunities will be familiar with the next few steps. Take some time, in a quiet place where you can think and try to imagine what your job and career might look like in the future. Take along your journal or notepad to collect your thoughts as you go.

Where will you be living and working? What work will you be doing? Corporate or freelance? How much will you be earning? Will your current career even exist in the future? Now, let’s dig a little deeper. Are you happy in your career? Do you feel accomplished? Are you living where you want to live? What is your family like? Are they happy with your career choices and the time commitments required?

When I do this exercise with others, I often hear complaints that they “can’t possibly imagine that far ahead.” There can be several reasons for this. First, they might not be able to break away from the current state of their career. Sometimes we can be so immersed in the day-to-day reality of our work that it is very difficult to break out. That said, this is one of the easier issues to address. Given enough time and a quiet environment, we can all begin to imagine what might be possible in our career future. We just have to have the time and space to break away.

Other issues are more difficult, though. Too often when we are asked to imagine our career future, we are afraid of what we might find. If we are already dissatisfied with our career, we don’t want to imagine the future because in our eyes it can only get worse. Of course, if we are unhappy with the future that we see, this only means we need to create a new one. This is why you MUST think about your future, otherwise it will simply happen to you. You want to direct your future, reaching out for new goals and new challenges, not simply accept whatever has been dealt to you. This is the exact reason we engage in this “futur-ing” exercise.

For good or bad, once we have imagined our future, it gives us clear signs as to what we need to do next.

For good or bad, once we have imagined our future, it gives us clear signs as to what we need to do next. If you feel you are on the right track, then what are the next steps along this path? What can you do to insure that the future you imagined comes to pass? Do you need more training? Do you need to earn a new position in your company? Do you need to move to a different company with more opportunities for advancement?

If you look into the future and don’t like what you see, what are your next steps? Did you pick the wrong career back in college? Do you lack training or a diploma and this is holding you back? Does your company hold no chance for advancement? Are people actively blocking your career path?

Now, take each issue and revisit our exercise. How different would your life and work be if this issue didn’t exist? What are 5 ways of dealing with this issue? Can you make the issue simply go away? Does it require wholesale changes to your career or just a few tweaks here and there? If one person is standing in your way, how can you go around them, or reduce their influence? What would your career future look like if these problems no longer existed.

Despite how it might feel some days, you have the ability to shape and direct your career. it only requires the will to imagine the future and then take action to reinforce or change the future you see. You don’t have to accept what is given to you. It is your duty to shape your life and career in the best ways possible so that you develop the career you deserve.

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Archive : Keeping it going – August 26, 2008

September 24th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

Career Opportunities podcast logo


Working as a freelance computer consultant can certainly have its challenges and its rewards, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep my career moving forward. Over the last several years, I have had various complications and interruptions that have effected my ability to continuously develop my career. While these complications certainly haven’t brought everything to a halt, they have forced me to be creative about how to continue my work, especially when everyday live intervenes.

Back to school

Seven years ago, I took a long hiatus from my work and became the stay-at-home parent for my son. This lasted for about 3 years. I continued to do some consulting work during that time, but it was significantly less than my usual load. Scheduling was a constant problem, so it seemed easier to bow out of the market, for awhile.

Now, I find myself in a similar situation, but with a few new quirks. Three years ago, my wife decided to return to school to get her graduate degrees. She achieved her Masters in History about a year ago and is currently in the second year of her Ph.D program. Initially, she was able to take most of her classes in the evenings, and my son is now in school, so this didn’t effect me too much. There were still scheduling issues, but through judicious use of daycare and play dates, I could work as much as necessary.

Busy, busy, busy

That said, as she gets deeper into her studies, her time has become more and more fragmented. Additionally, my son’s schedule has also become busier. We are not the type of parents who sign him up for every activity, but he is now engaged in ice skating lessons and will play Little League baseball again this Fall. Combine this with the various school events and it adds up to a busy schedule. This has set me to thinking again, about how best to manage my time so that I can handle the role of both high-tech professional and hands-on father.

Remotely yours

Lately, there have been some technological advances that have opened up new avenues for my work. Thankfully, in many cases, my work doesn’t require my physical presence. I have long offered telephone support and training to my clients, billed on a per-minute basis, and it usually adequate for many of their needs. However, as systems grow more and more complicated and customizable, the necessity of actually viewing the client’s screen has become a necessity.

VNC (Virtual Network Control) software has been around for quite a while, but configuring it to allow a connection to a client’s machine often involves changing router settings and other complications. Recently, though, a method was developed to allow the computer user to place an “outbound” call to a VNC “Listener” with limited software installs or software configuration. This, combined with the growing ubiquity of broadband, allows me greater access than ever before to computers without being physically beside them. I have used it to assist my clients on the other side of the country or just a few blocks away.

Microsoft, Inc. provides a similar product to assist in the management of their servers and desktops. RDC (Remote Desktop Client) allows me to use a server, just as if I was sitting in front of it.

This capability allows me to be available for my son and my clients in most situations. Often, I am completing some of my work, while he sits at the dining room table finishing his homework. Furthermore, using a Wi-Fi equipped laptop, I can often perform work when I am waiting for him at school or lessons. Here in Los Angeles, free wi-fi hotspots are expanding at an enormous rate. If I really need access desperately, I can expand my connectivity dramatically by signing up for paid access at any of the myriad Starbucks, Borders or Barnes and Noble franchises. This allows me to fit my work into the irregular holes that make up a typical day.

Balancing a life as a high-tech freelancer and equal- partner parent is never an easy proposition, but technology can provide some assistance. Whenever you are feeling stressed, look for technology that can provide the same measure of flexibility as your high-tech career.

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From Fired to Hired Seminar with Mitch Krayton

September 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Good friend, Mitch Krayton is hosting a series of seminars, starting with “From Fired to Hired”. Here is some basic info and a PDF flyer.

From Fired to Hired: The New CEO’s Guide to “You, Inc.”

October 15, 2008
Fee: $49
Call 661-297-9150 or email to register

Lost your job? You have decisions to make. You can get angry or depressed or take control of your future. Life goes on. Stakeholders count on you. You have abilities that others need. Here is your reality. You are not out of work, you are still in charge of You, Inc. As its Chief Executive Officer, you have one mission: to get You back to productive work quickly. This course is your guide to getting that done. In just a few hours you will be on a path to renewed success. This course will kick-start you toward new career opportunities.

You should attend if…

  • You recently lost your job
  • Your job loss is eminent
  • Your company was acquired
  • Your company is shrinking
  • Your industry is failing
  • You want to relocate
  • Your career is stalled

More information in the complete PDF Flyer!

View the PDF Flyer for complete information and register now!

Categories: Elsewhere, News/Opinion Tags:

Elsewhere Online: Manager Tools offers help after recent market turmoil

September 22nd, 2008 Comments off

Michael Auzenne and Mark Horstman over at the Manager Tools podcast have offered up content usually only available to premium members to offer their assistance during the recent financial market craziness.

Here is their note, with links to material.

Thanks Mike and Mark!

In light of the recent market turmoil, we want to share our Layoff Immunization and Getting Fired shownotes and slides with everyone. While this is premium content, this is one of those times where generosity is called for.

On the special web page, we’ve included notes and slides from two shows: The Layoff Immunization show, and Getting Laid Off – Part 1 – Finances Rule. (Lest you think we’re holding back parts 2+, they’re not published yet).

You’ll find ALL the content (podcasts, as well as the shownotes) on our special Help With Recent Market Turmoil page.

If you’re not affected, great. If you know someone who is worried about their future, share these documents with them freely, with our complements and best wishes.

Being a manager means caring for others. It’s a privilege to serve you all.

Mike and Mark

Categories: Elsewhere, Tips Tags:

Educating Yourself

September 19th, 2008 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoEducating yourself
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Educating Yourself


Get daily career tips on Twitter, Friendfeedin video, on Seesmic and in audio via Utterli.

Once I left college with my Bachelor’s degree, I never really looked back at mainstream education. I did ok in college, but I often tell people that I think I learned more from spending every night in the theater than I learned in the classroom. Sure I learned about science, language, history and more, but in the theater I learned about people and, in many cases, the real world. Due to my regular role as a stage manager, I learned about management, personalities, organization, motivating others and hard work. Even within the relatively cocooned environment of college, I was already living in the larger world.

In the intervening years, instead of returning to college to get an advanced degree, as my wife has done, I have developed more and more ways of educating myself. I find that, for me, self-directed education seems the best fit for my sensibilities. One reason for this is that it allows me to explore interesting topics in much more depth than I might ever be able to do otherwise. I have a widely varied set of interests and I can’t imagine any degree program that would allow me to explore every one. One week I might find myself immersed in the history, art and craft of coffee, while in another I am learning everything I can about the WordPress blogging engine. Next week it could be the advertising market or a new plan for educating others. The only way I can deal with my roving eye for education is to manage it myself.

Let me say, though, that I am not denigrating established educational paths. For someone who is focused on a particular topic or field of study, getting your Masters Degree or Ph.D could be exactly the right thing to do. There is an established method for certain career paths and you are well advised to follow them. Look closely, though, to insure that you are making the right choice. Don’t just follow a path because others are doing it.

Developing your own degree

Over the years, I have found several ways of directing my own education. The first method involves a very established tool…the book. I make a point of reading any book — usually from my local library — that catches my interest. Typically these are non-fiction titles, but their subject matter varies widely and wildly. One day I might be reading about new scientific studies in genetics. On another it might be a book on management skills. On another it might be a cookbook or a history exploring the life of Michelangelo. I specifically don’t limit myself to any one subject matter, but let my interests direct me. In some cases, my interests are driven by business concerns. Books on management, finance and technology immediately catch my eye. Sometimes the books are related to my “non-professional” interests like gardening, cooking or food. It is improtant to read books that might not relate to business or your career. I find that any book on nearly any topic often provides insight into many parts of your life. Learning how to cook Italian food can teach you a lot about organization, management, group dynamics and a hundred other topics above and beyond Italian culture, so don’t dismiss these books as frivolous.

Next, I follow a large variety of web sites that have piqued my interest in one way or another. I have a category in my RSS reader for blogs about libraries and maps. While I am not deeply engaged in either of these pursuits professionally, I find I can draw insights from them all the same. The writers may be discussing issues specific to their business, but I find it easy to relate these same concerns to my business and work. They often turn up resources that I can use and recommend to my clients and the readers of my blog.

Finally, I create learning projects for myself. If I need to learn something for myself, it is very likely that my clients will need education in it as well. Over the past years I have developed projects in installing, maintaining and operating WordPress and other content management systems, installing and developing wiki-based information systems, developing and managing groups (see New Media Interchange at and delving more deeply into audio and video engineering, editing and production. These learning projects might go one for weeks or months, but from the very beginning I also work to apply them in the real world. A wise person once said that the best way to learn something deeply is to teach it. I agree wholeheartedly. Nothing clarifies a subject in your mind like explaining it to others. You very quickly find out where further research and study is required and you are applying the knowledge, so it quickly becomes part of your everyday skill set.

One additional part of these learning projects is mentoring. If you can find someone who has more knowledge about a topic, and is willing to share, you will find an accelerated path to that knowledge. They have the inside track on this information and can spare you trial and error that they once struggled through. This allows you to be more productive, more quickly than any other method. Conversely, if you mentor someone else in an area you are studying, you will both benefit.

If you are not engaged in a traditional educational program you owe it to yourself to immerse yourself in your own, self-directed, studies. In order to work effectively in our lives and careers, we need to be learning every day. Otherwise we are rapidly falling behind. Follow your interests and allow them to show you an educational path. Develop your own degree program and you will be on the right track to building the career you deserve.

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Archive: Despair – August 19, 2005

September 17th, 2008 Comments off

(This podcast is pulled “from the archives” and presented here as a service to more recent listeners — Douglas)

Career Opportunities podcast logo


Of all the feelings you can have about your high-tech career, you should never feel despair. Too often, though, this is exactly what I hear in people’s voices — a sense of despair. For whatever reason, high-tech careers tend to generate these feelings far out of proportion to other avenues of work. Many high-tech workers have concluded that their work, and their lives, will never change, no matter how hard they try. Let me say to them, and to you, this is sheer nonsense. Even the smallest action can put you on the road to alleviating your feelings of despair or avoiding them altogether.

Giving up

The deepest cause of career despair is the simple act of giving up. If you have decided that nothing will ever change, you’re assuring your own despair. There is always something you can do until you breathe your last breath. Some wise sage once said, “Where there is life, there is hope.” No one can make you give up. This is a decision you come to all on your own. You might not think about it, but over time, you simply stop trying. Instead of taking new action, you avoid it. Instead of seeking out new challenges, you focus on rote work you could do in your sleep. Worse still, you start creating your own excuses for your despair. “They’ll never give me a raise. I’m trapped in this dead-end job. No one cares about my work.”

Thought and action, not complaints

I must admit that one of my pet peeves are those people who find endless energy to complain about their fate, but dedicate none of this energy to finding a way out. You need to see your unhappiness as a call to action, not a reason to despair.

It is important to understand that alleviating your despair doesn’t require dramatic actions, such as quitting your job, divorcing your spouse or leaving home — although you might eventually do any or all of those things. Rather it starts with the smallest action — deciding not to give up.

Next, you need to do some hard thinking. Thinking about what gives you joy. You probably already know what you dislike about your life, so dedicate some thinking to the other side. What would you do if you could do anything? What tools, knowledge or training do you need to get there?

Don’t worry about how feasible it is to pursue these activities, just re-visit them in your mind. You will find that you naturally start to think of ideas about small ways you can engage in your favorite activities again. Take one of these small steps and do it. This can place you back on track. Then, choose another idea, and make it happen. Repeat as necessary. You’re not trying to run a marathon, simply taking one step forward.

Now, look at your current job. Is there anything you can do about the problems that have caused you to lose hope? Be honest with yourself. Are any of the problems of your own making? Can you find a way around them? Are you truly faced with intractable management issues? Is your manager abusive? Does the company engage in criminal activities? Are they simply clueless? If you have truly lost hope in your current company, your only choice may be to get out.

You may have convinced yourself, though, that all the companies in the world are as messed up as your current one. Once again, this is nonsense. This is simply something we tell ourselves to validate our despair. Don’t fall into this trap. I can guarantee that there are better places to work, even if it might take you some time to find them.
Look around you. There are countless people who are willing and able to help you, if you only rise up out of your despair and give them a chance. Instead of complaining about your job, ask for their help. Instead, of falling into despair, take an active role in making your life better.

When you feel that others have given up on you, it is often because you have given up on yourself. If you want a better career, and a better life, you cannot accept despair. You cannot, and should not, give up. The future of your high-tech career lies in your own heart and mind and can be achieved by taking one small step at a time.

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Stay in touch with everything happening at

September 13th, 2008 Comments off

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The least you need to know

September 12th, 2008 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoThe least you need to know
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: The least you need to know


Get daily career tips on Twitter, Friendfeed and now, in video, on Seesmic.

The least you need to know
September 12, 2008
Douglas E. Welch

When you are looking to start or improve your career, it can be a bit daunting to consider everything you need to know in order to build the career you deserve. The work world has changed dramatically over the last 2 decades and skills that were once considered specialized and unique are now expected in entry level applicants. In order to help you get off to a good start in your first job, and open up new opportunities for a new job, below are a series of skills and a collection of knowledge that I consider, “the least you need to know.”

Many thanks to reader/listener, Twitter Friend Anthony for suggesting this topic. I’d love to hear your questions and comments, too. You can send them to me through any of my contact address including Email, Twitter, Facebook, Comments on the web site and calling my Listener Line at 818-804-5049. Get your questions answered today.


Let’s start with some technical skills that every worker needs to have today. It used to be enough that workers knew how to answer the phone, open paper mail and alphabetically sort files in manila folders, but today we are surrounded by technology. In years past, it was possible to have a career without having much computer knowledge. You could muddle through or have someone do the work for you. You could type via “hunt and peck” and not know how to copy your files to a floppy disk, but not any more. Lacking these basic skills, and more, makes it very difficult to find a job, let alone build a career.

Not knowing how to use a computer is akin to not knowing how to work a telephone. Having the ability to read and reply to email, create documents and search the Internet are some of the most basic skills required by every job. If you are uncomfortable using the computer, you need to get some training today. The computer, and everything it does, is now considered as basic a tool as the telephone or copy machine – and believe it or not there was a time when those tools were considered exotic.

For a more detailed list of “the least you need to know” about computers, read or listen to my previous article and podcast, Computing for the Everyman: The Least You Need To Know.


Just as technology literacy is required in today’s workplace, a certain amount of business knowledge is also required. In the past, it was only executives and a few managers who needed to understand profit and loss statements, ROI (Return on Investment), negotiation skills, and the finer points of marketing and promotion. Today, though, every single worker in a company should have a basic understanding of these business concepts and more.

What is the difference between revenue and profit? How can your company be selling millions of dollars of merchandise and still be in the red? What is Sarbanes-Oxley and how does it effect every part of your company, down to the newest employee? What is supply and demand and how does it effect your pricing and sales?

I’m not saying that everyone needs to have an MBA, but a certain amount of business knowledge is being required of even the junior members of the staff. Even more, you can improve your job prospects and career growth dramatically by cultivating an interest and understanding of these concepts.


Finally, cultivating an understanding of yourself and the people around you is paramount in any career. Observe those around you who communicate well. Read books and articles on how you can develop your own skills and work more effectively with others. Develop ways of working with even the most difficult people, or find ways to move them out of your organization.

A company may have significant capital resources — manufacturing plants, huge corporate offices, great products — but without good employees, companies stumble over their own inadequacies. I am sure you have seen, and perhaps been employed, by companies that can’t seem to get out of their own way. This usually points to employees who lack a deep understanding of people, both co-workers and customers. They muddle along from one crisis to another instead of developing the people skills that are required in today’s business environment.

I hope that your company provides some opportunities for furthering your education in technology, business and people. Most good companies will, as they understand that when everyone has a base level of knowledge it can only help the company overall. Of course, if your company doesn’t provide any assistance in this area, then it is up to you to seek out this knowledge on your own. Don’t use your company’s policies as an excuse to remain ignorant. As I always preach here at Career Opportunities, your career is your responsibility. If you don’t build your career, no one is going to do it for you. Build your own base level of knowledge in these three important areas and it can only help.

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