Thursday, October 16, 2008

Career Lessons from Today's Clients

What would you tell this client to do? (I've changed a few details to protect her anonymity.)

She is a 50-year-old artsy yet aggressive person who's been living on the money she got from a lawsuit against the city of Berkeley. After 20 years, she's run out of money and so needs to go back to work.

She hates corporate America and hierarchies in general, and loves leftist causes. She's friendly with a number of hip-hop band members. She likes to be in charge and to manage projects.

Her last job, back in 1988, was a part-time gig managing a small public college's TV station.

She wants me to help her figure out how to get a decent-paying job. Sounds pretty hopeless, no?

I felt that way too, but after some probing, a number of possibly viable options emerged: manager of hip-hop bands, talent scout for hip-hop-music record labels, production manager for a CD manufacturer, fundraiser or project manager for a leftist nonprofit, salesperson for a company making alternative products--for example, medicinal herbs or alternative books, and manager or fundraiser for a small community TV or radio station.

She'll do some research on each of those, and I believe there's a reasonable chance she'll end up making decent money at one of them.

The lesson: career options exist for nearly anyone.

My next client, during her first session, had red hair that looked like the Wicked Witch of the West. When she returned for her second session, she got her hair cut into a beautiful shoulder-length style, colored a tasteful auburn. She was glowing with excitement about it.

I didn't see her for a year, and she came back for a tuneup session today. Her hair was closely cropped and gray, severe. My first thought was that she had developed cancer, had chemotherapy, and so cut her hair short to hide the baldness. But that silent hypothesis was quickly dispelled when she asked, "Do you like my hair? I love it. I feel so much more confident with it and all the women in my office are so much friendlier to me."

Lessons: There's great subjectivity in what's seen as attractive. And a change in appearance can affect one's personality as much or more than therapy can.

So, dear reader, what, if anything, would you like to consider changing about your appearance that might improve your self-confidence?


Jeff Shore said...

I admit that at times I think about some sort of hair loss remedy, thinking I might be more confident with a full head of hair. Two things keep me from it:

1) Will people think that the reason I did it was because I was horribly insecure in the first place, and this is just a pathetic attempt to be someone I am not? And by wondering what people would think, does that make me insecure right out of the gate? Man, I can't win!

2) But the bigger issue is that I despise the hair replacement companies with the message that says, "You don't need to be a pathetic loser anymore. There is no reason for people to be laughing at you behind your back, and you can shed the image of utter and complete failure by using our hair restoration product." It burns me up that these companies associate balding with loserville, and I'm not going to stand for it! I'm aligning myself with the great Marty Nemko and proudly displaying my ample forehead (which has space available for advertising at a nominal fee, in case anyone is interested).

Anonymous said...

Well now, how bold of an question to set forth.
Great Americans throughout the this free land love to be seen as “oh so nice.” As when I grew up in the town not far from nowhere I could recognize that beautiful people always got the head turn. Other fellow members of the human race surly wanted to take a second look at what may be called in today’s world “eye candy.” Now dig this point, I am a guy, a guys guy, for sure. I remember seeing the world famous bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. People would just stare at how well built this men was. It was at that point in life I knew people should be in shape. I studied about the Romans and remember all the fine marble statues were in dang good shape like Arnold. Life went on and still I have this idea we the people should be more like the Roman marble sculpture of times gone by. Life at this age doesn’t allow me the option of using steroids, not really. Although when younger I didn’t want to use the venom to cut and well defined. My bad.
It’s too bad that I remain weight to height proportion by today’s standards that make me just normal. No heads turning for me. Normal is just a hello / good-bye in many humans eyes. If for unknown reasons I could or choose, if we still have a choice at this age, to make the cut which would defined my body into a work of art………man it’s a no brainier. Why have the look of normal?

Grace said...

I would tell the first client to make the most of her connections.

As for the second client, Penelope Trunk tells people to get their teeth whitened. I think something as simple as new (or new-to-you) clothes can refresh a person.

A student came to enroll in the college that I work at. I was asked to meet her and explain to her why her purple hair and neck tattoos would keep her from finding gainful employment.

In our discussion, I discovered that this woman was very intelligent with a warm and engaging personality. While I spoke with her about first impressions and quick judgments, I also knew that if she had the opportunity to talk with employers, they would be interested in what she had to offer. I encouraged her to market her admin. skills to alternative businesses and the businesses in the arts and to network through those that had given her excellent references. I warned her about opposition that she might face; but of course, she already had to compensate for it every day.

Creating situations where people can see you in action or making the most of your good reputation can go a long way.


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