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Archive for December, 2008

Archive: Fear – November 18, 2005

December 31st, 2008 Comments off

Don’t let fear stop your career

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

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Fear is a powerful emotion and, as such, it can make us do almost anything. Unscrupulous people understand the dynamics of fear and some will use it to their advantage, whenever possible. They will use this power to benefit themselves at the cost of everyone around them.

So, what are you afraid of? Your fears can be relatively small – like the fear of fitting in, fear of not being able to afford a fancy car or fear of losing your girlfriend. Other fears can be significantly greater, such as fears of losing your home, your job or other things that are important to you. Still others are grand and dramatic, and also usually out of your immediate control, such as fear of terrorism, fear of injury and fear of death.

All of these fears, large and small can be used to control you to greater and lesser degrees. Peer pressure to fit in is used to enforce societal norms, but, even then, you can break though and do as you wish for the most part. On the other hand, life and death fears can be used to control and manipulate large groups of people. History has shown that citizens will act against their own best interest if they can be made to fear enough.

It is acceptable to be afraid, as long as you don’t let the fear control you. Fear is a healthy emotion that warns of us danger. Uncontrolled fear, though, gets blown out of all proportion. We begin to worry over problems and issues and even create new ones out of our fear.

Your job is NOT everything

Do you live in fear of losing your job? Do you feel that you can’t ask for a raise, a promotion or a vacation? If so, regardless of any opportunities your job might provide, you are being controlled. This control might be somewhat benign, but it could also be quite insidious. It all depends on how people use it. Your awareness of the fear, though, is the first step on the path to a better career.

If you see that fear is being used to control you, what are you to do? The easiest step would be to get a new job and simply be rid of the problem, but is this really wise? Suppose you begin to feel the same way in the next job. And the next… I think you need to do some clear thinking about yourself and the situation first. Does your fear come from external forces or are you developing the fear from within? Too often, and I must admit to this myself, our fear is greatly out of proportion to the actual circumstances. Perhaps those around you have taught you to be afraid of your manager instead of allowing you to develop your own relationship with him or her. Do you have direct experiences that are causing your fear or are you basing it on the experiences of others? Worse still, are your own propensities for fear clouding your reactions to those around you? If so, you are likely to carry your fear from job to job. You need to break the cycle of fear before you think of moving on.

How do you escape the fear? First, you need to believe in yourself and the benefits you bring to your work. I don’t care if you are assembling PC’s, working the help desk or creating new software, you have to remember, everyday, that you matter! If your work didn’t matter, you wouldn’t have found your first job, let alone the sixth or seventh. If your work didn’t matter, the company wouldn’t have hired you in the first place. The simple reality of being employed should bear this out. It was not a fluke. They didn’t hire you out of pity. Your company needed your skills to fulfill their goals. Once you can keep this thought in your mind, you are well on your way toward rising above the fear. You might find that there is a way to make your current job better, if you can only stop being afraid.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, or perhaps his speechwriter, was quite right when he stated, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” Fear is the root cause of so many dysfunctions and bad decisions. If you can fight your way out of fear, you can achieve great things in your life and your high-tech career.

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Career Tip 20081229 – Building your career commu

December 29th, 2008 Comments off
Build the Career You Deserve with Career Opportunities at View, listen and Read all past Career Tips at…areertips/

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Video: Career Tip 20081229 – Building your career community

December 29th, 2008 Comments off

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December 28th, 2008 Comments off

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2009 – Here we come!

December 26th, 2008 Comments off

Are you ready for 2009?

Career Opportunities podcast logo2009 – Here we come!
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: 2009 – Here we come!


While we might not have the brightest hopes for 2009, I think that there are always steps we can take to build the career we deserve. The New Year is always a great time to reflect on our lives and make plans for the next 12 months. Once we return from our holiday vacations we can get so involved in the day-to-day realities of work life that we fall back into old patterns of simply letting life and work “happen TO us” rather than actively directing it. I have been doing some thinking about my own career already and here are some ideas that I am going to be applying as the calendar page changes.


Over this “Year of Visibility” (as I named it at the end of 2007) I am more convinced than ever that you have to make your work visible to everyone around you. If you choose to be a faceless, easily replaceable, cog in the machine than you will be treated as such. If you, instead, do everything in your power to show people what you do, and how well you do it, your career opportunities will dramatically improve.

Whether you are in the most basic entry-level job or at the highest levels of management, you need to introduce yourself and your ideas to as many people as possible. You never know what person or what company might provide your next big career step, so you need to make yourself visible to the world at large. You can do this by writing books, blogging, podcasting, networking, whatever, but you MUST do it. Otherwise your career becomes something you merely survive, rather than something that enhances your life.

Get out!

For those of you currently in a job you hate, give yourself permission to get out…today! Nothing is more draining and disheartening than a job or career you hate. It saps the life out of everything else you might hope to accomplish. Take one action, no matter how small, to start the escape process. Take a class. Start creating something. Form a side business. Start talking with others. Work on your visibility. For your own sake, DO SOMETHING to escape. The life you save will be your own.

Think more

Think more about important actions, dramatic actions, actions that can change your world or the entire world. Too often, when faced with adversity, we withdraw into ourselves. We stop thinking about the big picture and only worry about the minutiae. We worry more about what to watch on TV than where our career might be headed. Take some time every day to think about the big issues…the important issues. Think about what you want out of your life and career and then think about how to make it happen. Talk to others about their hopes and dreams. What are they doing to accomplish their goals? Can you use any of their ideas? I find that talking out issues with others is often how I come up with my own best ideas.

Do it now!

Now that you have thought about the issues in your life, do something about them. The power of the world lies in the doing. We can have the most amazing ideas in the world, but if we do nothing with them, they are worthless. For every thought, develop an action. For every idea, develop a plan. Do something each and every day to improve your career. Make something happen. If you do, I can guarantee that great things will start to occur. People will notice you and your work. People will start to come to you for advice. Your ideas will gain more respect and attention, as will you. Do it now!


I considered 2007 the Year of Reconnecting. 2008 the Year of Visibility, and I think 2009 is will be the Year of Leadership, at least for me. I am seeking out more opportunities to lead. These include another year of this column and podcast, continued development of my other blogs and podcasts, classes and seminars and my 2 new groups, New Media Interchange and LA Friday Coffee. All of these provide me an opportunity to lead others to higher ground in their careers, businessess and lives. How will you lead in the New Year? People all around you are looking for assistance and answers, how can you provide it? The world needs more leaders and guess what, these leaders are you!

There will be many challenges in 2009, as there are every year, but there will also be many opportunities. Start thinking today how you will take advantage of everything that is offered you in the New Year.

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What I’m Reading… – December 25, 2008

December 25th, 2008 Comments off

This is one in a series of posts highlighting what books I have currently in my “To Read” or “Reading” stack. I typically have 5-6 books out of our library at any one time so I can switch between them, giving a shirt break to let concepts jell before diving back in.

Book Description: At some point, almost all of us will find ourselves in the same bind at work: we know what needs to be done and how to do it, but we can’t get the right people on board. The risk is allowing frustration to become resignation—or unproductive retaliation. Fortunately, the new and improved Influence Without Authority, Second Edition offers a proven, effective model for breaking through the impasse and building an environment of collaboration, mutual assistance, and real achievement.

Leadership gurus Allan Cohen and David Bradford explain how to coax cooperation from the people who control the resources, information, or support you need to succeed. You’ll learn how to get past your restrictive assumptions, figure out the interests and needs of potential partners, and negotiate mutually beneficial exchanges that help you both achieve your goals. It’s a powerful and proven way to cut through interpersonal and interdepartmental barriers to turn coworkers and competitors into allies.

This new Second Edition adds clarity, depth, and insight with new chapters on applying the Exchange Model to entire organizations, making it even more useful for team leaders and managers. It includes many more practical applications such as working cross-functionally, leading major change initiatives, using direct influence, and overcoming organizational politics.

No matter what your organizational position, or what kinds of clients and customers you deal with, part of your success depends on being able to influence people over whom you have no formal control. Influence Without Authority, Second Edition presents a clear model and effective, practical strategies for convincing and influencing those around you in order to accomplish important workplace goals—to the benefit of you, your colleagues, and your organization. Review:
All of us, from birth onward, learn by emulating others. Yet when it comes to our professional lives, we often forget that what we see, we imitate, and what we imitate, we become. This is obviously a positive thing for those who have found successful, encouraging mentors in their fields, but finding those mentors is still much easier for men than for women. In Be Your Own Mentor, Sheila Wellington seeks to provide women not only with advice on locating appropriate mentors, but with the tools to mentor themselves and the opinions, advice, and encouragement of women leaders worth emulating.

Wellington speaks from a broad range of experience. Having spent 20 years working in public health and one term as the first female Secretary of Yale University, she now serves as the president of Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization that works to advance women in business. Catalyst has conducted numerous interviews, surveys, and focus groups on the subject of women succeeding and excelling in their professional lives, and the results of much of that research is included here. CEOs from industry and the nonprofit world, law-firm partners, university presidents, and senior consultants all add their two cents’ worth (or more like six figures’ worth) to Wellington’s observations on everything from planning your career and avoiding being boxed in to learning how to network efficiently and successfully integrate your work life with your home life.

Be Your Own Mentor is jam-packed with informative statistics, useful suggestions, and encouraging reminders–almost to the point of overload. With so many “voices” and so many topics covered, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. Despite this organizational drawback, however, this book is a useful tool for women, especially those just starting out. And for the avid emulator, who better to learn from than the likes of Zoe Baird, respected lawyer and president of the Markle Foundation; Betty Beene, president and CEO of United Way of America; Ellen Hancock, chairman and CEO of Exodus Communications; and Anne Mulcahy, president and COO of Xerox Corporation? On that note, the appendix, which provides career-path profiles of each of the pioneers quoted, is one of the most interesting sections of the book. –S. Ketchum

Book Description: We live in digital time. Our pace is rushed, rapid-fire, and relentless. Facing crushing workloads, we try to cram as much as possible into every day. We’re wired up, but we’re melting down. Time management is no longer a viable solution. As bestselling authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz demonstrate in this groundbreaking book, managing energy, not time, is the key to enduring high performance as well as to health, happiness, and life balance.

The number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us is not. This fundamental insight has the power to revolutionize the way you live your life. The Power of Full Engagement is a highly practical, scientifically based approach to managing your energy more skillfully both on and off the job.

At the heart of the program is the Corporate Athlete® Training System. It is grounded in twenty-five years of work with some of the world’s greatest athletes to help them perform more effectively under brutal competitive pressures. Clients have included Jim Courier, Monica Seles, and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in tennis; Mark O’Meara and Ernie Els in golf; Eric Lindros and Mike Richter in hockey; Nick Anderson and Grant Hill in basketball; and gold medalist Dan Jansen in speed skating.

During the past decade, dozens of Fortune 500 companies have paid thousands of dollars to learn the Corporate Athlete training system. So have FBI swat teams, critical care physicians and nurses, salesmen, and stay-at-home moms. The Power of Full Engagement lays out the key training principles and provides a powerful, step-by-step program that will help you to:

• Mobilize four key sources of energy
• Balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal
• Expand capacity in the same systematic way that elite athletes do
• Create highly specific, positive energy management rituals

Above all, this book provides a life-changing road map to becoming more fully engaged on and off the job, meaning physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned.

Book Description: Management expert Michael Feiner’s candid leadership guide cuts through rhetoric and theory and gives managers and executives a “hands-on” approach to dealing with problems in business.

As the former chief people officer at PepsiCo, and now a management professor at the Columbia University School of Business, Feiner shares his solutions from his years of handling unexpected crises, meditating between warring corporate factions, and taking care of all the “people problems” that pop up on a routine basis in companies all over the world. Feiner’s approach is based on common sense and practicality, and his book is full of examples that managers everywhere will identify with and relate to. Along the way, Feiner doles out his “laws” of how those in supervisory roles can resolve these vexing situations. Instructive and entertaining, THE FEINER POINTS OF LEADERSHIP will be mandatory reading for anyone in a managerial position.

This essential guide features 50 clearly defined laws of leadership together with illustrative stories that demonstrate these laws in action. There is also a unique back-of-book “matrix” highlighting classic business scenarios– and the leadership laws that apply to each.

For 20 years, Michael Feiner was a senior executive and chief people officer at PepsiCo. He is currently a management consultant and professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Business.

Product Description: Kevin Liles’ meteoric climb from street kid to unpaid intern at Def Jam Records to executive vice president of the Warner Music Group is far more than a rags-to-riches story. It is a tribute to Liles’ work ethic, discipline and confidence in doing his thing his way — the hip-hop way.

In Make It Happen, Liles — named one of America’s Most Powerful Players Under 40 by Black Enterprise — offers his ten rules of business success, which range from “Find Your Will” to “Don’t Let Cash Rule” and “Play Your Position.” As he outlines these and other strategies for success, Liles shares his own hard-won wisdom about his journey to the top, along with career advice from the various music artists, industry professionals, mentors and friends he has known along the way. No matter what version of the American Dream you choose to explore, this book will help you to empower yourself and Make It Happen.

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Archive: Crazymakers – November 11, 2005

December 24th, 2008 Comments off

Don’t submit to the demands of a “crazymaker” You have better things to do.

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

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We have all had some experience with them…creative geniuses, experts in their field, those who have accomplished much, but leave a path of destruction behind them. We see them as the brilliant movie director who everyone comes to loathe personally or the star programmer who alienates the rest of the staff. We see their staff catering to their every whim in a futile effort to keep them from lashing out. We see the regular workers just trying to get through a day without being abused. We see everyone apologizing for them or forgiving them because their genius somehow allows their attitude.


To borrow a term from Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, I call these people crazymakers. Crazymakers are often the most creative people you will meet, or so it seems. Nearly everyone will agree that they are the best in their industry, but, in the next breath you will often hear words like mean, cruel, unbearable and sometimes even, evil.“He is a great programmer, but no one else will work with him.” “She makes the best food in town, but she can’t keep staff.”

Whatever your business and whatever your industry, you will find crazymakers lurking. You need to be aware of them and do everything you can to avoid them. Even as they create great works, they do so at great costs to everyone around them. Even worse, once the project is complete, they receive all the accolades, while it was you who did much of the work and all of the suffering.

Crazymakers are often surrounded by apologists. These people have gone beyond simply tolerating the crazymaker and into the realm of enabler. They often attempt to explain away egregious behavior or simply apologize for it. They dedicate their lives to perpetuating behaviors that would not be tolerated in normal society. They may do this for a number of reasons. If their own livelihood is intricately tied to the crazymaker, they may have no choice. They believe that failing to protect the person may result in their own financial demise. In other cases, they are simply trying to justify the behavior as standard operating procedure, part of doing business.

Unfortunately, though, these people have made a disastrous career decision. They have decided that employment is more important than anything, even their own self-respect. They have decided that they have no other choice. Anyone who believes they have no choice left, even the choice to leave, has truly become trapped. These are the types of traps a crazymaker can create.

While apologists may experience some small benefit for the relationship, their own career suffers greatly. Instead of focusing on their own work, their own creativity, their own needs, they are constantly walking on eggshells and trying not to offend. In most cases, they continue to suffer the wrath of the crazymaker, even as they seek to avoid it. Meanwhile, the crazymaker grows in stature and power, pulling more and more willing apologists into their orbit.

It is a vicious cycle. People often express amazement at the wonderful work that a crazymaker might produce. They are praised and given awards, even when their behavior is outrageous, and in some cases, even criminal. Apologists will continue their work, claiming that it is the freedom to be eccentric, to be cruel, to abuse others, that allows the crazymaker to produce such wonderful things. I see it another way.

Imagine the crazymaker who is more kind, more giving and more open. Their greatness might be diminished slightly by being a better person, but everyone around them, from the lowliest part-time staffer to the highest executive will be given a bit more space to exercise their own greatness. Instead of being trapped in the dysfunctional orbit around the crazymaker, they will be free to grow, collaborate and create their own things. Instead of success being tied up in one over-arching major genius, you might have 10, 20 or 30 minor geniuses, each creating great results. The sheer number of ideas would be staggering if you can only break the cycle of enabling and control.

While a crazymaker might be considered “great”, often they are not very good. Their greatness sits firmly on the shoulders of those who protect them, enable their behavior and subjugate themselves to their power. Should you find yourself in their orbit, it is time to break free. It is time to explore your own creativity and your own abilities outside their damping influence. Do whatever you can, today, to free yourself from the crazymaker and engage your energies in your own career.

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Merry Christmas from

December 23rd, 2008 Comments off

We present our 3rd Annual LIVE Reading of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol from Sunday, December 21, 2008 as our holiday present to you.

You can listen to the audio or watch the video from

Presented by

Music courtesy of

Listen: A Live Reading of Charle’s Dickens A Christmas Carol

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Lean and mean in good times and bad

December 19th, 2008 Comments off

Think hard about the difference between “wants” and “needs” to get your financial house in order

Career Opportunities podcast logoLean and mean in good times and bad
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: Lean and mean in good times and bad


Economies rise and fall with cyclical regularity so this current slowdown will eventually come to an end. Yes, we will all have to “think different” for the next several months or years, but fundamentally life continues as usual for most of us. That said, I am a bit surprised by the amount of fear I am hearing from my friends and peers. While I understand the issues the economic slowdown can cause, I am not afraid for my basic financial security, but others clearly are. As I looked at the financial status of those around me, I realized that one reason I am not as fearful as others is that my family was operating “lean and mean” long before this current crisis came to a head.

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Let me be clear that my current “lean and mean” status didn’t come from some deeply thought out plan in preparation for the coming downturn. Rather it was simply a fact of life. Several years ago, my wife returned to school to get her Masters degree and now her Ph.D in history. While we had a significant amount of savings from her work as a television writer, we knew that we were going to have to be more careful with our money to manage that time period. Not only would we have to pay for college, we would also be losing much of her work income during that time. So, we cut back on a few luxuries we had picked up over the years. Instead of gourmet, locally-roasted coffee we switched back to store bought beans. Instead of eating out, we cooked at home more often. There was no great sense of sacrifice here. We just looked at those items that were “wants” instead of “needs” and trimmed accordingly. In fact, we probably trimmed more than we actually needed, but the additional savings were a great boon with no dramatic loss of our perceived standard of living.

That brings us to today. Having already trimmed and managed our budget, the current downturn simply effects us less…unless things happen to turn even worse. We had already settled into a more austere mode, so there wasn’t much left that we considered a luxury. That said, we still have some items that could be jettisoned if needed, so it is good to know we still have a financial buffer should the economy worsen dramatically.

I realize that not everyone is as lucky to have life prepare them for a downturn before one occurred. You may have taken on more debt, bought a new home or a new car, enrolled the kids in an expensive school. Life deals us such hands on occasion. That said, though, you can still apply techniques to lower your financial exposure. In fact, even if you aren’t currently facing economy-based issue, it is a great idea to think “lean and mean” just in case. In this way, you are prepared for whatever may come down the economic highway.

As mentioned in my own example above, one of the first techniques to streamlining your finances is discovering the difference between “want” and “need”. The fact is, in America today, most of our basic needs are met. We have food, water, housing and education. Everything beyond this could be classified as a “want”, but items like cable tv, cell phones and internet connections allow us to entertain ourselves and, hopefully, educate ourselves as well. So what could truly be called a “want”? For myself, I want a large screen HDTV, but I don’t really NEED one. My house is too small to really have a place for it and my current 27″ CRT television works just fine. That said, if you review movies for a living or work in other areas of the entertainment industry, a huge TV might be a need.

What is more important is that you use the want vs need method as the first method to streamline your finances. I find that if most people thought truthfully about this decision, they could avoid many of the financial issues they are now facing. It is hard to sympathsize with someone who is complaining about their financial hardships while carrying a Coach purse. What expensive wants have you classified as needs? Do you really need product X when product Y will do? Does the thousand dollar product really give your more enjoyment than the hundred dollar one?

I think you will find that we can all become more lean and mean in our personal finances and get our own financial houses in order so that we are less effected by the ups and downs of the economy. Sure, life can often throw us a curve ball, but if we have exercised control over those things we can control, those we can’t control can be faced more easily.

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Archive: Everybody Does It – November 4, 2005

December 18th, 2008 Comments off

“Everybody Does It” is never a good excuse”

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

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Often, when in the heat of an argument, one person will bring out the ultimate reason for their transgression, “Well, everyone else does it!” or its companion, “That’s just the way it is!” Few things will spark my anger more quickly than these phrases. In a few words, they seem to sum up so much that can go wrong in the world. These phrases carry a sense of finality and abandonment. A feeling that seems to say, “give up!”

To a high-tech careerist, these phrases can mean even more. This can be a sign that your management is no longer listening to you or your ideas. This can be a sign that your company has decided to ignore the future and keep doing the same old thing. Even worse, if you find yourself using these phrases, you might be in an advanced state of career atrophy. Often this means that you have simply stopped trying to effect change. For whatever reason, a bad work environment, bad management, bad times, you find you have stopped trying.

That does NOT make it right

Despite what some people might say, everyone does not do it that way. This response is usually trotted out when someone is trying to justify some unethical act. “Well, everyone overcharges for shipping and handling.” “Everyone takes office supplies home.” “Everyone cheats on their taxes.” The truth is, just because something may have become standard operating procedure in many companies, this does not make it right. In fact, it is often a sign that some fundamental changes need to be made. Instead of taking this as a sign to give up, you need to press the issue further.

I was recently embroiled in an argument over signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and the responses I received to my first questions about the NDA made me even more reluctant to sign. Almost all of the responses to my questions were in the vein of “everyone does it”, “Just sign it,” “That’s just he way business works today. Hmmm….I become very suspicious when people don’t want to talk about an issue, but, instead, present unequivocal demands. Unable to solicit any more information than that, I decided not to sign the NDA or join the project. Just because others “do business” in this fashion does not mean that you should.

The all purpose excuse

Of course, what we are really talking about here is the all purpose excuse. It is impossible to refute that “everyone does it that way”, so it is meant to bring the conversation to an end. In many ways, it is akin to saying, “Do it my way or leave.” It is, perhaps, couched in a less threatening manner, but the results are the same.

The antidote to such declarations is always more discussion. Communication solves problems. Lack of communication causes them. Whenever you feel like closing down a discussion, you need to look deep into your own heart and mind and discover the reason. Are you really telling people to “do it my way?” If so, you are harming the effectiveness of yourself and those around you.

This is not about delaying decisions until you reach full consensus on an issue. Rather it is all about allowing those around you to feel that you have heard, if not agreed, with their position. If people feel that you have truly listened to their concerns and wishes, they will often be willing to follow your decision, even if they might not agree with it 100 percent.

Too often, especially in technology-related work, you will be faced with these all purpose excuses. I highly urge you not to accept them as the end of a conversation. If you truly feel that there is a problem, you owe it to yourself and your employer to address the problem. Too many times, I have seen high-tech staffers pushed down a path that they knew was wrong because someone else decided that “everyone does it.” You need to make these decisions for yourself, through open and extensive communication. Otherwise you can find yourself embroiled in out-of-control situations that can damage, if not destroy, your high-tech career.

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