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Archive for November, 2011

Book: The Starfish and the Spider

November 30th, 2011 Comments off

The Starfish and the Spider by Orj Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom

This book was published back in 2006, but I only discovered it recently. The main topic is a discussion of decentralized (starfish) organizations versus centralized (spider) organizations. While I have been living with decentralized organizations for a long time, it is nice to see the differences, and the usefulness, of decentralized organizations laid out in such a clear fashion with some great examples.

From Napster to AA tto British Anti-Slavery groups to Al Qaeda, decentralized organizations take many forms, but they all share some common linkages. Firstly, it is about a catalyst or a champion that spearheads the effort while not being a centralized, command and control, leader in the usual sense. They start the ball rolling. They develop local groups to take action in their local areas. They provide support, cheerleading, persuasion and inspiration more that they provide office space, money or workers.

In my own experience with CareerCamp International, I have had direct experience in being part of a decentralized organization. Each camp is locally organized and managed. I help where I can, usually by sharing my passion for CareerCamp and unconferences in general. People new to the concept of an unconference need to be shown a vision for what can be and I paint them a picture that, hopefully, encourages them to join us in helping people build their careers. The Starfish and the Spider led me to new thoughts about what I am trying to accomplish and how I am going about it. It clarified some of my personal experiences and gave me a few ways to make my own work more useful and productive. It even gave me some warning signs to be aware of when developing a decentralized group and I can see where I had been ignoring those in some ways.

If you want to better understand the power involved in decentralized organizations and how they compete directly (and well) with more centralized groups, take some time with The Starfish and the Spider. You probably instinctively understand many of the issues involved, but having them laid out in such a clear fashion can help you develop a much deeper understanding.


For more book and product recommendation, visit the WelchWrite Bookstore in association with

Categories: Books Tags:

Book: Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod

November 30th, 2011 1 comment

Well-known blogger (, back-of-business-card cartoonist and advertising copywriter, Hugh MacLeod, leads us through his list of “What I Believe” in his book, Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity.

Like other books I have read recently, this is what I consider a “real world example.” Every aspect of the book draws on his experiences in advertising, blogging and cartooning. It makes you think. It make you stop sometimes and glance up at the ceiling to take stock of what you have just read. Some of the sections may seem contradictory to others that you have read, but that’s ok. Life itself is pretty contradictory, too, and the best advice is often to look at a problem from all sides.

Some sections feel like MacLeod is getting in you face and telling you how he thinks the world really operates. You can chose to believe him, or not, but you can’t ignore him. I think this is one of the marks of a good author. Mediocre authors can be be ignored, but good authors force you to pay attention, whether you agree with them or not.

Ignore Everybody is based on a blog, so it is divided into distinctly blog-like sections. Each has a beginning, middle and end, but also ties together nicely as a whole. MacLeod even recommends blogging for others who want to share their creativity with the world — something I often recommend myself to my clients. Those unfamiliar with blogs might find the style a big choppy, but even someone older like me can find it enjoyable and informative if you keep an open mind.

If you need a recharge in your creative life, are looking for the next step in your career or just trying to make sense of the world around you, Ignore Everybody could be an interesting and enjoyable read.


Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity is available in hardcover, audio and Kindle editions.

Categories: Books Tags:

What I’m Reading…Spiders and Starfish, Ignore Everybody, As We Speak

November 26th, 2011 Comments off

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Video: Career Path Patterns with JoAnn Braheny

November 22nd, 2011 Comments off

During tonight’s Career Opportunities Podcast Office Hour on Google+, I was reminded of this great talk by my friend Joann Braheny ( on Career Path Patterns. 

Check out different types of careers and how to decide which one you have. Recorded at CareerCampLA sponsored by CareerCamp International.


Categories: CareerCamp, Podcast, Show, Video Tags:

New eBook: Cultivating Your Career Reputations – Coming in December 2011

November 22nd, 2011 Comments off

Pssst! – Career-Op listeners and readers…This book just became available in the Kindle Store. Check it out before everyone else finds out! — Douglas

Cultivating cover

While we often talk about one, monolithic, Reputation – with a capital R — I believe that there are a series of reputations that make up the whole. This book will focus on the combination of reputations that make up your one, overarching, Reputation. By examining each of these reputations in detail, I hope you will find specific areas where you can improve your work, your actions and your thoughts so that your overall professional reputation grows.

Why break your Reputation down into its constituent parts? It is often said that you can’t “do” projects, you can only do the individual tasks that make up the project and achieve the desired result. The same can be said for reputation. You don’t build your reputation as a whole, you cultivate the smaller reputations that create it. Each individual action builds your reputation in unique ways and each requires some thought as to how they relate to the whole.

Join the Career Opportunities Mailing List for notification of the release


Categories: News/Opinion, Products Tags:

Career-Op Office Hour – Tuesday, November 22, 2011 @ 6pm PST/9pm EST

November 22nd, 2011 Comments off

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Join me for the next

Career Opportunities Office Hour on Google+


Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 9pm EST/6pm PST.

Circle my personal Google+ account or the Career Opportunities G+ page to see the link to the hangout on Tuesday.

Office hour has ended for this week. Join us again next time!


Categories: Events, Speaking Tags:

Video: From the archives – Career Tip 20080919 – Setting Your Price

November 19th, 2011 Comments off

Follow @careertips on Twitter, Career Opportunities on Facebook or Career Opportunities on Google+ for more career tips

Also, you can join the Career Opportunities Mailing List to stay in touch with everything that is happening here.

Categories: Career Tips, Tips, Video Tags:

Interviews, Confidence and more – a Google+ Conversation

November 19th, 2011 Comments off

I recently had this discussion with a new acquaintance over on Google+. I love getting questions like this and I have even branched out into providing one-to-one career consulting so I can help more people.  You can follow my personal profile on Google+ or circle (Google+’s version of follow) the Career Opportunities profile. Clicking either link will take you to the appropriate page.

Do you have career questions? Drop me a line on Google+ or any of my other blogs or social media sites.

T: I absolutely fail at job interviews. I don’t know what it is but, I could be the most confident person walking in, but as soon as I get in front of the interviewer, especially if it is a job that I really want, I freeze up. I start thinking all of these negative thoughts in my head, and I just know they can read my uneasiness on me. Right now I am applying for an opportunity at Red Cross, and even though it is a volunteer opportunity and not a paying job, they want to interview you for it. I am fearful that I will look good on paper, but not so much in person.

Is there any advice you can give to help me to not sabotage myself at interviews? Any secrets or tricks of the trade to help with my self-confidence?

Douglas: I would call what you are experiencing a “crisis of confidence” and it happens to everyone on occasion. (Been there, done that myself) You allow yourself to get so stressed about what MIGHT happen that you aren’t paying attention to what IS happening. We can all doubt ourselves and our skills on occasion, but you DO have the skills you need, you DO have the knowledge and you CAN do the job. This is true of all of us unless we have some impairment. Look around you and see everything you have accomplished in your life. You can accomplish even more.

The stress can also come from being judged. I know I hate being judged so I can empathize with you. That said, let them judge. You are who you are regardless of what they think about you. You need to feel confident in yourself and it will matter less how they judge you. They will judge you, but you will handle it better because you have an innate confidence in yourself.

Think of the interview as a conversation and treat it as such. I think many of us take an interview much too formally. There should discussion about the job of course, but if the conversation turns in an interesting direction — follow it. If you have an illuminating example of something from your life, share it. Try to show as much about WHO you are as WHAT you know. Remember, an interview is basically about them trying to see if they could stand to be around you day in and day out. (SMILE) Of course, you will want to avoid the typical touchy areas — sex, religion, politics — unless you are working for a company or group who specializes in those areas. No need to go into your drunken revels, either, but that probably doesn’t need to be said. (LAUGH)

Also, You might just be caring too much about getting this job.True to your present circumstances or not, you need to feel like you don’t NEED the job. You may WANT the job. You may LIKE the job, but you don’t NEED it. Feeling needy can stop us in our tracks and, I think, the interviewer can feel it, too. Try to push the NEED from your mind, even if you are feeling that you really do NEED it. You should always feel that you have other options. If not this job, then the next, or maybe the next. You should never feel you are there begging for a job. The company needs you as much as you need them. Remember that always. It is true — and if it isn’t true at this particular company, find a company where it is true.

This neediness has a lot in common with the “desperation factor” that we can sometimes see in others (and maybe ourselves) when we are dating. These people are so desperate to have a date, a girlfriend, a wife that it spills over into their actions. The come on too strong. They come on too needy. They come on as desperate. Other people can sense this desperation and recoil from it, as you have probably done yourself at one time or another. You are not desperate, you are just looking for a job.

Finally, find a quiet place and imagine what a perfect interview would look like.


The interview meets you and provides you a coffee exactly as you love it. Tall Latte, 3 caramel pumps, extra whipped cream. You go to a comfortable office where you sit across from each other in comfortable arm chairs. You chat. You discuss. You have a great conversation. You think, “Hey I could see myself being friends with this person.”

Of course, most interviews won’t go like this, but imagine how would feel if they did. No remember that feeling and keep it within you no matter what actually happens. I hope it will make you feel calm, comfortable and confident, not matter what questions they ask.

I hope this helps on your next interview. Let me know if you have any follow up questions to this topic or any new questions you would like me answer.

T: thank you so much for all your advice. I can only hope that when I go into the next job interview that I can keep all this in mind. 

I have submitted my application with Red Cross and am now awaiting their phone call. That’s another thing I hate – waiting. Even though this is only a volunteer opportunity it is an amazing one and I do hope to get a callback for an interview about it. I have been unemployed for about six months, and it has been 3 months since I last got an interview, even though everyday I have been sending out resumes and attending job fairs. I am running out of options, really.

Douglas: You are very welcome! I hope that it helps you feel better about your interviews.

As for waiting…Go do something else while you wait! 

Don’t sit around waiting and worrying. It is so important to have many “irons in the fire” so you don’t end up obsessing about any one of them.

What else can you be doing?

Want to organize a +CareerCamp International in your area? (SMILE)

How about just getting together with others to share techniques, job leads and more.

Get out there and DO as much as you can. It often leads to bigger and better things you never imagined.


Categories: Answer, Career Tips, Discussion, Special, Tips Tags:

What you DON’T do is often more important than what you do – Podcast

November 18th, 2011 1 comment

Career Opportunities podcast logo

When people talk about careers, jobs and productivity the main focus is almost always about doing — getting things done — being highly productive. I often write on these topics myself. Moving from inaction to action is greatly important, but as with everything in life, there is an opposite or converse side to that advice. Sometimes in your life and your career you will be judged more harshly for those things you didn’t do than for those things you did. Whether a sin of commission or omission, failing to do something important can damage your career much more than doing something that fails.

Listen to this Podcast

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It’s not my problem

Too often in our careers, we choose to do nothing about an issue or problem simply to preserve the status quo. We don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t want to cause trouble. We just want to keep our head down, do our work and get paid. Sure, there are times in our lives when the problem really isn’t worth the conflict. Did you find that Joe never feeds the coffee kitty in the break room or Jill takes home a stack of Post-It Notes occasionally? It is socially acceptable to let these offenses slide as the turmoil they would cause would be more damaging than the act itself.

But then there are the big issues — the issues that cannot, or should not be ignored. What do you do then? For most of us, our innate sense of self-preservation kicks in. We ignore the embezzlement that is occurring, the kickbacks, the customer ripoffs and possibly worse. We don’t want to lose our jobs so we simply do nothing, hoping that someone else will do something.

The problem though is that these are not small, social, offenses. These are crimes — usually multiple crimes — and unless you are very, very lucky, those crimes will come to light with or without your action. And once those crimes are discovered, authorities are going to have some very tough questions for you. You are going to be asked why you didn’t report the crimes when you knew they were occurring?  They are going to wonder if you didn’t report the crimes, were you perhaps involved in them in some way. Your inaction has led authorities to wonder, and perhaps prove, that you directly benefited by letting these crimes continue. You might have been simply trying to keep your head down, but you can find yourself directly involved in an investigation that could end your career and may even land you in jail.

What to do?

So what can seem like self-preservation often lands us in the trouble we were trying to avoid the entire time. If we think more deeply about it, reporting criminal behavior is another — and perhaps the best — form of self-preservation. Reporting a crime means that we place ourselves on the correct side of any investigation from the start. We might also find that we are protecting others who also knew and did not report because they were deeply afraid of losing their job. Reporting a crime is never easy, but it is always the right thing to do.

Yes, being a whistleblower can be very difficult and, perhaps, even dangerous. Losing your job can be extremely painful and disrupt your life in many ways, but it will be nothing compared to the destruction of your reputation, even if you don’t go to jail. Reporting a crime might be the most important, and in some cases, most heroic, thing you will ever do in your life. Be ready to stand up when called. Don’t let others be cheated or abused. Stand up for yourself and others just as you hope they will stand up for you.


From a more personal view, failing to report a crime, even a suspected one, makes you culpable for that crime continuing. If you don’t take action others will be harmed and a small part of their harm will rest on your shoulders. By failing to take action, you allowed a con man to continue stealing. By your inaction, you allowed an abuser to continue to abuse. By your willing blindness, you allowed more and more people to be hurt. This can be a heavy burden and we should all feel it as such. Our biggest failures, as individuals and as a people, happen when we do nothing about crime, injustice and abuse.

It may sound cliche, but Edmund Burke had it correct when he said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” We have seen this to be true in the world many times over. I call on you to break this cycle and do something when you see the need. You may be afraid for your job, your career or even your life, but you will have failed, both yourself and the world, if you do nothing.


Categories: Audio, Podcast, Show Tags:

Career-Op Office Hours on Google+ – Wed, November 16, 2011 @ 1pm EST/10am PST

November 16th, 2011 Comments off

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Join me for the Career Opportunities Office Hour Google+ Hangout on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 1pm EST/10am PST.

Circle my personal Google+ account or the Career Opportunities G+ page to see the link to the hangout on Wednesday.

The office is now OPEN!

The office hour has ended. Thanks to all who attended.