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Archive for December, 2010

Don’t make resolutions, make action items

December 31st, 2010 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoI am writing on New Year’s Eve here in Los Angeles as celebrations of the New Year have already started in other, distant parts of the globe. We will be attending a party tonight to bring in 2011 ourselves, as will many others. One big topic of discussion at all these celebrations will be New Year’s Resolutions. The beginning of the calendar year is always a good time to reflect on the past year and plan for the next, but I want you to think about this new year in a new way. This New Year, instead of making resolutions, make action items. Instead of trying to make things happen, make them happen. To quote Yoda from the Star Wars movies, “Do, or do not. There is no try!”

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The trouble with resolutions is they are a waffling way to approach change. There is already an assumed “try” in them and I think this is what allows us to abandon them so easily. There is also a bit too much thought and too little action involved in resolutions. We think and think on what we want to accomplish, but unless we take some direct action towards our goals they will always remain dreams.

Let’s look at how we could better form some resolutions that might actually lead to change in the New Year. Here is a big one that is on many people’s lists including my own — I resolve to lose weight. While that is a fine and admirable goal, I think it would be better to create some action items towards that goal.

  1. I will walk 2 miles every day
  2. I will eat 1 portion at meals instead of 2
  3. I will stop eating fast food as a convenience

Here are direct, actionable items that can be reviewed and monitored each and every day. Ben Franklin kept a checklist of actions he wanted to take or avoid and then reviewed them at the end of each day, noting his success or failure. I used an online tracking tool, Joe’s Goals, ( for a while and this might be a good place to start. Constant, daily review of your action items is a great way of “doing” instead of just “trying.”

One important reminder, though. Your daily review is not designed to beat you up about not achieving your action items. We all slack on occasion. Life intervenes and takes us away from our goals. Take each day as it comes. Take pride on those days you do well, but only use the bad days to remind you to do better tomorrow. Change isn’t about guilt. Change is about accomplishment. Don’t let your action items and goal tracking be another guilt-inducing, mind-weighing stress creator in your life. That is counter productive and can be worse than doing nothing at all.

So, sit down today and start creating your own action items. Remember, action is the key word here. Each item should be phrased as actively as possible. I will do…, I will NOT do. I find that phrasing things in the positive also helps. Avoid too many NOTs. They create negative thoughts that are also counterproductive to achieving your goals. Try to keep things as positive as possible. Point out the behaviors you want to achieve rather than those you want to avoid.

As we launch in to the New Year, let’s all determine to pursue our lives actively. Let’s not “try” this year, let’s “do” as much as possible. I think you will find that this mindset will help you pursue change more directly and therefore the changes will last longer than any previous year.

Sharing your action items can help, too. Post your action items as comments to the blog or on the Career Opportunities Facebook Page. Let me know what changes you are going to accomplish in 2011. I am sure everyone would be interested in hearing them and maybe adopting a few of them as their own.

Wishing you great success in building the career you deserve in 2011…now let’s get started!

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Asking a lot of myself…and you, too – Podcast and Column

December 24th, 2010 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoAfter a busy few months, things have slowed down a bit here for the holidays. This has given me more time to reflect on the year and think about what I want to accomplish in 2011. After a bit of this thinking, I find that the watchword for the New Year is going to be “demanding.” It will be a demanding year, but that demand will not be entirely external. The fact is, I am going to be demanding a lot more of myself, too. Even more importantly, I am going to be a bit more demanding of you…at least as much as I can be at a distance.

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I am not going to be demanding because I think you are failing in your career. Just the opposite. I am going to ask more of you because I think you have more intelligence, more energy and are more innovative than you might even believe yourself. As I have said for years, I truly believe that you each have the power to build the career you deserve — the career that best fits your wants, needs and desires. After the last few years of recession, though, I think we are all a bit tired and worn out. This is why we need to refocus on what is important and how we might achieve it.

For my own part, I’m tired. I feel as if I have been fighting an uphill battle for years now. I try to focus on my own goals and projects, but the weight of bad news, political infighting and frankly, stagnation of business and the government can wear down anyone over time. You can’t ignore what is happening in the world, but you also can’t let it grind you up. Instead of looking for outside energy, motivation and affirmation, you need to turn your focus inward. You need to look to your own innate powers. You need to stop worrying about what the world is doing and concentrate on what you want to do.

Too often, we come up with great ideas, but then let them be buried under mountains of doubt. “The current laws wouldn’t allow that. Someone else will copy it. Corporations will quash it.” We need to stop talking ourselves out of projects and instead move ahead as if the constraints never existed. The truth is, in many cases the constraints are only in our minds. We can find a million reasons to say “NO” to an idea. Instead we need to look for the one good reason to say “Yes” — the one good reason to keep creating, keep trying, keep working.

So, here is what I am going to be demanding of myself in the coming year. I will force myself, whenever possible, to look for the “yes”. I will ignore, whenever wise and feasible, the naysayers, the gloomcasters, the crazymakers that sap my energy and wear me down. I will “demand” the same of you.

I will also demand that I notice when I am hiding from my work in other, semi-productive activities, and refocus on those things that can really make a difference in my life. While I need to stay in touch with what is happening in the world of technology and elsewhere, I can also use the concept of research to dig myself into a productivity hole. I think this can be true of all of us, so we all need to guard against it.

Finally, I will demand of myself better treatment. We can all get dow n on ourselves from time to time, but this is probably the most destructive of all behaviors. Negative talk, even casually, damages ourselves and our productivity. We all stumble. We all fail. We all have issues. If we pile on lots of negative talk we stop ourselves from moving forward. In some cases, we can even reverse our progress, losing whatever gains we might have made. This is a big demand, but probably the most important. Treat yourself right in all areas of your life. Take care of yourself or you won’t have the energy, physically or mentally, to keep moving forward.

Let’s all be a little more demanding this year. Demanding of ourselves. Demanding of others and demanding of our careers. We all have much to gain.

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I Like This – December 22, 2010

December 22nd, 2010 Comments off
    A collection of career items I found interesting this week.

  • Feds smackdown credits checks on job seekers – December 22, 2010 – I have always disliked this use of credit reports and I hope this signals and end to the process.
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Audio: 5th Annual Live Reading of A Christmas Carol

December 21st, 2010 Comments off

A Christmas Gift from Career Opportunities!

Sunday marked our 5th Annual LIVE Reading of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. We had some new voices this year and had a great time as usual. You can listen to the entire show using the link below.

Consider having your own reading of A Christmas Carol, or other favorite story, as a way to gather friends together and share a unique experience. You don’t have to broadcast it like we do, but why not share it with the world!

This year’s show was sponsored by, Eclipse-1 Media and New Media Interchange.

Listen to 5th Annual Live Reading of A Christmas Carol

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Enjoy more Christmas Carol in your own home!

Free download of “A Christmas Carol” – Text/ePub/HTML/Kindle versions available

Free download of our reading script of “A Christmas Carol” – PDF format

The audio CD of Patrick Stewart’s one man version of A Christmas Carol is absolutely amazing. We saw the show several times here in LA and met Patrick one evening. His version of “A Christmas Carol” was the driving factor in starting our own yearly reading of the story.

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Career-Op Gift Guide #15: The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton, PhD

December 16th, 2010 1 comment

# 15 The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton, PhD

Let me start by addressing the mild curse word in the title of this book. I find it a totally appropriate use of the word and truly brings home the extremity and importance of the issue. If the word offends you, please skip this post, although I do highly recommend this book. — Douglas

A world without assholes (the author has a precise definition for them) — what a dream it would be. Working in a company where you weren’t constantly demeaned, threatened or abused. A company where everyone had the ability to succeed to their highest levels without suffereing the outbursts, rage and attacks of the assholes around them. While nearly everyone can agree this would create a much better workplace, too often we support assholes and allow them, even encourage them, to continue their behavior no matter what the cost to the company or those around them.

Sutton clearly explains what we already know in our hearts — excluding assholes from out lives makes everyone happier and more productive. He suggests that every company have no assholes rule clearly stated on paper and embraced by everyone in the company and I highly agree. It is the only way to insure that you, your fellow workers and your company can reach your highest productivty.

There is so much in this book that rings true with my own experience “in the trenches” of corporate life. This is especially true of the times I watched, from the outside, the extremely disfunctional entertainment business where my wife worked. The entertainment industry seems a haven for assholes of all sorts and I have seen some of the worst in action.

Too sum up the book in a few lines — don’t hire assholes in the first place, get rid of them if you have them and use some of the coping mechanisms in the book to survive them, if you cannot escape them. These might be the most important steps you can take to protect and extend your own career.

You can hear Moira Gunn’s Tech Nation interview with the author over at IT Conversations – Listen Here

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Career-Op Gift Guide #14: Books by Malcolm Gladwell

December 9th, 2010 Comments off

# 14 Books by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcom Gladwell’s books always generate a lot of thoughts as I read through them, and I consider this to be one of the hallmarks of a good book. From The Tipping Point to Outliers, I have made a point of reading each of his books, often twice.

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Career-Op Gift Guide #13: Moleskine Notebook

December 6th, 2010 Comments off

# 13 Moleskine Ruled Notebook Large

Even in this digital age (and while also carrying an iPhone) I still carry a paper notebook everywhere I go. There are times when writing on paper is the only way to break through to new thoughts. It also facilitates the easy capture of every great idea that shows up in your life. Booting up a computer or even unlocking your phone can get in the way of capturing your thoughts and cause you to miss it.

The are many types of Moleskine notebook including lined, sketch, square-ruled, reporters notebooks and even a storyboard notebook. You can find a complete collection using the link below.

Complete list of Moleskine Notbeooks

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Accepting Thanks and Communicating More Clearly

December 4th, 2010 Comments off

Career Opportunities podcast logoThe Thanksgiving holiday here in the US always leads to people giving a tremendous outpouring of thanks for everything from years of service or marriage to something as simple as holding the door at the grocery store. While it is always worthwhile to be reminded of those things for which we are thankful, there is another side to the conversation. We need to think more deeply about the act of accepting thanks and how that simple act can also lead us into more effective communication.

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First, when someone thanks you, what do you do? Do you say “No problem?” It is a very common response, but I don’t think it really communicates a proper reflection of thanks. No problem seems, to me, more of an acknowledgement that something has been said instead of accepting the thanks that were offered. “No problem” is similar to saying “It was nothing.” The fact is, your kindness was more than nothing and accepting thanks shows that you understand the transaction that just occurred. You didn’t have to go out of your way to hold the door, pickup the dropped item or help with something else. You went above and beyond the call of duty and someone appreciated that fact. Take the thanks that were offered and acknowledge that you heard the thanks. Make the communication complete. It leads to a better experience for everyone.

By accepting thanks, you remind yourself that you did do something out of the ordinary. It reminds you that you did, and will continue to do, actions appreciated by others. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the good we do in the world. This good doesn’t have to be huge donations or risking your life for someone else. It only has be to some small gesture that makes someone else’s life a little bit easier — their burden, just a little bit lighter.

So, how do you accept thanks in your life. Looking for an alternative when I realized that I too had fallen into the “no problem” rut, I fell back on a very old method of accepting thanks. My typical response is, “You are very welcome!”. I look the other person in the eye and I say this with great purpose. I want them to understand that I have accepted and acknowledged their thanks. I believe the words and actions also make very clear that I appreciate the thanks and don’t treat it as something to be quickly brushed off.

Some alternatives I use, depending on the situation are “Glad to help” or “glad to be of service” in a more work oriented exchange. “It was really no problem at all” can even be a serviceable alternative if delivered with the action and conviction noted above, although I still prefer my first choice of, “You are very welcome.”

So, in this time of year when thankfulness is more on our minds and lips, be more mindful how how you accept thanks. Each conversation is an opportunity to better communicate with those around us. It is an opportunity to both express thankfulness and accept it in the best way possible. Accept thanks, when offered, in a mindful way. Don’t brush it off. Don’t declare it to be “no problem.” Stop for a moment and say “You are very welcome!” — and really feel the conversation that has passed between you. Even if the words are few, the power resonates throughout our day and our lives.

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