Saturday, January 30, 2010

We Are All So Damn Fallible

If something's excellent, there's nothing to fix. So I tend to look for problems.

In recent years, I've trained my sights on the U.S. government's failings:
  • Going into such great debt that we've mortgaged our children's future, with China the main bank that will decide whether to modify our loan or leave us hanging.
  • How despite repeatedly being told, the government let Bernie Madoff rip off billions of dollars from people. How despite being repeatedly told of dangerous conditions in a peanut processing plant, the warnings were ignored. How despite the Christmas bombers' father credibly warning the CIA about his son, he was allowed to fly--while the government spends a fortune to screen all of us at airports. The most recent report said that despite spending billions, we are utterly vulnerable to terrorist attacks, especially biological.
  • The major federal "entitlement" programs: Social Security and Medicare teeter on the brink of bankruptcy despite ever increasing funding from us.
  • Since the Korean War more than a half century ago, the big mighty U.S. military has a poor won-loss record let alone cost-benefit record: Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan. We can't even capture the person we say is our highest priority: Osama Bin Ladin.
  • Our public schools, despite our spending ever more, near the world's top in per capita spending, are near the bottom in international comparisons of student achievement. The main way we seem to be able to reduce the racial achievement gap is by stunting Whites' and Asians' achievement rather than by improving Blacks' and Latinos'.
Yet my friend Warren Farrell made an on-point criticism of me: He urged me to come to grips with the fallibility of the human condition--that there is ample fallibility not just in government but in nonprofits and for-profits, as well as, of course, in individuals. I also need to remind myself that the world simply hasn't been around long enough for us to solve many problems: for example, cancer, slow learners, and getting the warrior to resolve conflict peacefully.

I'm trying to be more accepting of the human condition.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Job and Business Opportunities in Rebuilding Haiti

The Chinese symbol for crisis is the same as for opportunity.

If I were looking for a job or to start a business related to rebuilding Haiti, I'd do one or more of these:
  • I'd try to get a job at of the companies that will get large rebuilding contracts. To find them, every day I'd Google (both its web and the news tabs) terms like "Haiti, rebuilding, contracts." I'd also look at the job listings at the websites of companies that got large rebuilding contracts after Hurricane Katrina. For example, CH2M Hill got $100 million just to remove damaged cars. Fluor and Shaw received huge contracts to build temporary housing. Ashbritt got a contract for debris removal. SCI provided funeral services. Evergreen International Aviation got a contract for surveillance helicopters and drones to detect violence and airdrop food supplies. Even if one of those companies was not listing a job opening, I'd try to get a job created for me. For example, I just read that Haiti has a huge shortage of tents. I'd spend an hour googling terms like "temporary housing, tents, disaster" to learn what I can quickly. I'd also do some quick Google learning about issues in providing relief to Haiti. I'd then leave voice mail for vice presidents who could create a job for me in supervising tent distribution to Haiti.
  • I'd think one link away. For example, of course, companies such as Bechtel will get contracts to help rebuild Haiti's infrastructure and so there will be hiring of Americans to do that. But more under-the-radar opportunities are a link away. For example, corporations will be hired to do the clean-up but they'll need lots of trucks. I'd buy up as many trucks from Haitians as I could, giving them more than they could otherwise get. And then I'd subcontract my fleet of trucks to those contractors. Another example: Many Americans will have to move their families down to Haiti to do the multi-year rebuilding, and they'll want English-speaking, U.S.-caliber schools and tutors for their children. Perhaps you might want to meet that need. Another example of finding work one link away: Everyone knows that Haiti will be rebuilding its infrastructure but might they also take that opportunity to create WiFi throughout Port Au Prince? Armed with my knowledge of the way such enterprises would be successfully implemented in Haiti (again using Google and a few phone calls to experts I found on Google), I'd contact the major builders of WiFi systems and try to get a job created for me.
  • I just did a search on on terms like "Haiti USAID," "Haiti aid" and "Haiti rebuilding." I could not find one job listing. Nevertheless, I believe that's only because government is always slow to respond, especially in creating jobs. Rebuilding Haiti will be a multiyear process, so I'd keep searching
  • If I were looking to start a business, I'd get myself to Haiti or at least visit Miami's Little Haiti (hanging out in coffee houses, attend community meetings, etc) to hear where the unmet needs are. I'm guessing they will be basics such as a jitney service, bicycle rental, roof repair, health care supplies, day spas, etc. (Just kidding--mostly--about the day spas.) I'd partner with a local and set up shop quickly.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Scanning" (Dabbling) is a Career Killer

Self-help guru Barbara Sher encourages people to be proud of being a dabbler, what she calls a scanner: a person with the uncontrollable urge to dabble at many things rather than focus on becoming expert at anything.

From my 25 years as a career counselor as well as from talking with countless people about their career, there are few things I'm surer of than that being a scanner/dabbler will likely hurt your career, your self-esteem, and ability to make a contribution.

Of course, being a scanner rather than a specialist may help your career if you're exceptionally intelligent and work long hours and thus can master many things, or if you're in one of the few careers in which dabbling is tolerated--for example, journalism--if you can beat the long odds of actually making a living at journalism.

But for the vast majority of people, including advanced degree holders, the common denominator of success is relentless focus. Most people who are highly successful or make a significant contribution, pursue their career (and usually their avocations) with relentless focus until they've truly become a master. That, in fact, was the upshot of Malcolm Gladwell's 2008 book, Outliers, which contends that top achievers combine both high ability and a decade or more of relentless focus.

So I wasn't surprised when I received this email from a reader of this blog.

Hi Marty,

I'm sure you are deluged with email all the time but I thought I'd give this a shot. I've been out of work for 1 1/2 years and have lost all of my confidence and focus. I tend to be a scanner (I love everything) and can't seem to decide on what to do. I'm now a receptionist for $12 an hour and have lost my home and car. I've never thought I'd be unemployable but I fear I might be at this point. I can't seem to get a grip on what to do. I'm out of cash, living with friends and basically, a wreck. I'm sinking fast.

(name deleted to preserve anonymity)

Here's how I responded to her: Most scanners' career suffers immensely from their dabbling. Focus, relentless focus, becoming expert at something you care about is key--something you care about that has a reasonable chance of being remunerative.

I believe that the previous sentence may be the most helpful career advice I can give to anyone.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'll be Keynoting and Emceeing a Free Job Hunters Bootcamp

On Jan. 28, I'll be emceeing and keynoting a Job Seeker's Boot Camp at the San Mateo County Event Center. It will be filled with practical information about where the jobs actually are and smart ways to land them. My keynote will be:
Top Careers for 2010 and Well Beyond. Plus, I'll summarize the boot camp by presenting the day's top 10 career nuggets.

And it will offer excellent networking opportunities: with high-level representatives of major companies. There will also be representatives from leading area government agencies that provide free services to job seekers. Not to mention the expected 700 attendees.

For more info and to RSVP, contact Congresswoman Jackie Speier's office. Click HERE.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Show Time:" A Fast Way to Gain Confidence

By nature, I'm an introverted, mildly sad person. Of course, if I were to behave that way at work, I'd be less helpful to my career coaching clients and to listeners to my radio shows.

So before starting work, I literally say to myself, "Show Time:" I pretend I'm my most energetic, upbeat self. Forcing myself into that mode actually makes me feel more upbeat. Yes, fake it 'til you make it. It really is like that old song, "Whistle a Happy Tune:" When I fool the people...I fool myself as well." All that song's lyrics are instructive, so here's a link to them. At that site, you also can make that song a ringtone on your cell phone.

Also helping to keep me upbeat is my recognizing that even world-class experts are often wrong. CEOs lose millions of shareholder dollars, graduates of top medical schools kill patients, Al Gore predicted rapid, devastating global warming, after which there has been a decade of flat or declining average global temperatures with many experts predicting no increase for another 10 to 15 years. Indeed Nicholas Kristof in a New York Times article summarized research that finds that expert predictions are little better than a chimpanzee's. So while I do my best to be smart and I acknowledge my extent of ambiguity on an issue, my awareness of humans' great fallibility, enables me to sally forth without undue hesitation.

I'm also made more confident by maintaining a sense of perspective. My advice is unlikely to make that much difference: The recipients may not follow it or they may follow it and it won't improve their life much. Too, I remember that I'm but one of seven billion people on the planet, in a tiny slice of the infinity of time. Yes, I try, absolutely, to give the best counsel I can, and I spend much reading, studying, learning so that my advice is the best possible. But I don't overinflate my advice's import.

Other techniques that may help you be your most confident self when it's Show Time:
  • For some people, clothes indeed make the man (or woman.) Dress in the way that makes you feel most confident. Chris, the client, who I just finished a videoskype session with, said that wearing his father's watch makes him act more confidently.
  • Join Toastmasters. It's a supportive way to gain poise and public speaking skills. It's also a terrific networking opportunity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Shark Soup:" A play about getting fired, hired, and giving the finger to Corporate America

I'm delighted to say that my play The Sexiest Man Alive, about a couple with mismatched sex drives, is now in production. It will be directed by the superlative Sue Trigg, and scheduled to open on Oct. 8 and to run through Oct. 23 at the Diablo Actors Ensemble Theatre in Walnut Creek, CA.

I've just finished writing my next play, Shark Soup: getting fired, hired, and giving the finger to Corporate America. To see the script, click HERE. Feedback welcome.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Way to Close the Racial Achievement Gap

ABC News and the East Bay Express (a San Francisco Bay Area weekly) reported today that the Berkeley Unified School District is considering dumping five science teachers and eliminating science labs. Why?

This from the East Bay Express article:

" address Berkeley's dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse. Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous."

Cool (Yet Attainable) Careers

Sure it sounds cool to be a National Geographic photographer, play for the Yankees, or be the next Oprah, but you have a better chance of being bitten in your bed by a rattlesnake.

Here are some careers I find cool yet more possible to attain:

Athletic coach. Most colleges and high schools hire coaches. And coaching is a wonderful combination of mentoring, teaching, and the thrill of athletic competition. Plus, you can be a campus hero (or goat.) I'd try to break in and get trained by offering to do anything (including keep statistics for free) for local coaches who both win and are ethical, beloved mentors of their players. Learn more: The Seven Secrets of Successful Coaching.

The U.S. government is transferring the greatest ever amount of GDP from the private to the government sector. Much of that money will be distributed via grant proposals. Hence, fine grantwriters should be in demand for the foreseeable future. You must be a an assiduous researcher, creative idea generator, and an engaging, diligent communicator with funders. Learn more: Non-Profit Guide to Grantwriting.

This is one of the few writing careers that offers prospects of a decent income, plus the opportunity to rub elbows with the famous and the eminent. Learn more: The Secret World of Ghostwriters.

Money Manager.
Would you enjoy using other people's money to bet on which stocks or bonds will go up? There are thousands of mutual finds and thousands of additional money managers at hedge funds and wealth management firms. Remember though that most money managers' underperform the unmanaged indices, such as S&P 500. Most experts believe the smartest investments are index funds, which use portfolio managers mainly as glorified clerks. Bond-picking may be a more desirable ground for aspiring money managers. Learn more: Careers in Money Management.

. Thousands of Americans make a living as politician , from city councilpeople to State Senator to POTUS. You needn't go to law school but you need the stomach to press lots of flesh, especially expensive flesh, without becoming corrupted by them. That's easier said than done. You also need good public speaking skills, intelligence, the willingness to be extremely careful in what and how you say things while not becoming a mush of politically correct pablum. You must also possess such a strong drive to serve the public that you are utterly resistant to the manifold ethical temptations. Learn more: How to Become a Politician.

Foundation Program Officer.
It's hard to imagine a career more fun and rewarding than giving away other people's money to address worthy causes. You also get to help ensure the receiving nonprofit organization uses the money well. Learn more: Advice on Snaring Foundation Program-Officer Jobs.

Voice-over Artist.
It's not as easy as it sounds but there certainly are tougher ways to make a living than talking into a microphone. Most of the work is in reading books aloud (e.g., books on CD, books for the blind) as well as commercials. Having a "great voice" may be less important than being a compelling actor--able to powerfully tell a story without being seen. Learn more: "I'm Looking to Get into Voiceover. Where Do I Start? "

Almost-physician-level prestige, six-figure salary, high cure rate, regular work hours, and low stress make this a career I often recommend. Training is much shorter than for an ophthalmologist: four years if you have a bachelor's or a seven-year combined B.S/O.D. degree. Learn more: the profile I wrote on optometry in U.S. News & World Report's Best Careers 2009.

Student Affairs Administrator.
You get to plan some of the most pleasant and often most useful aspects of student life: orientation, extracurricular activities, etc. And you work on a college campus, an unusually felicitous work environment. Plus, the amazingly short school year (lasting merely 28 weeks) makes your life still more pleasant. Learn more: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. Learn more: Federal Law Enforcement Jobs.

You may be surprised to see me classify clergy as a cool career, especially if you know that I am an atheist, but I believe it is. An opportunity to give a weekly sermon, teach Bible study classes, counsel the young, and comfort the sick, strikes me as a cool career. And I've been surprised to find that most of the intelligent clerics with whom I've had substantive conversations admit to having periods of profound doubt about the presence of a deity. Nevertheless, they find that the career's other aspects make it most rewarding. Learn more: The profile of the career I wrote in U.S. News & World Report's Best Careers, 2009.

Surgical Technologist.
One year of post-high school training and you can become part of the life-and-death drama of the operating room. You're the person who responds when the surgeon yells, "Scalpel!, Retractor!, Clamps!." Learn more: Mayo Clinic's Overview of Surgical Technology.

Program Evaluator.
You get to immerse yourself in understanding an innovative program for a few weeks or months, whereupon you move on to a new program. Program evaluation usually requires observation, interviewing, and data collection. Then you give a report on the program's effectiveness and/or suggestions for its improvement. Learn more: My profile of a career in program evaluation in U.S. News & World Report's Best Careers, 2009.

Private School Teacher.
Teaching can be an uncool career, filled with discipline problems, frustratingly slow learning rates, and ever growing paperwork and government mandates, for example, insisting that each class contain bright, average, slow, and special education children, which creates a Herculean challenge for even the most talented and hardworking teacher. Those problems are, on average, less likely in a good private school. It's worth sacrificing the 10 to 20% in salary that's typical in private schools. Learn more: Why Teach in a Private School?

Referee/Umpire. Thousands of people are employed, at least part-time as game officiators. It's a great way for a sports fan to be part of the game. What's required: ability to focus for two or three hours, willingness to learn all the game's arcane rules, physical fitness (especially in basketball and hockey), the ability to quickly make decisions, and a calm demeanor--never getting upset when players and fans do.
Learn more: Successful Sports Officiating

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Is Extending Unemployment a Good Idea?

In most states, you can now collect unemployment checks for 79 weeks. I have mixed feelings about that.

Arguments in favor of having extended unemployment payments to 79 weeks.

A role of government is to supplement private charity in helping to compensate for inequalities, especially those not a person's fault. A person doesn't qualify for unemployment checks if he's fired, only if he's laid off because the company is downsizing, has changing needs, is offshoring, etc.

And even if the person was laid off because, in fact, he isn't the brightest or most skilled or most driven, some of that is not his fault: partly a function of genetic predispositions, upbringing, the socioeconomic status of his family, etc.

In a society in which many business owners and executives live wealthy lifestyles, wealth often created by offshoring jobs and making remaining American workers work longer and harder, thereby allowing downsizing, isn't it fair that a laid-off worker get unemployment checks while she is looking for another job? And in this job market, that can indeed take as long as 79 weeks.

Besides, the laid-off workers contributed part of the money that pays for unemployment insurance. When they become unemployed, shouldn't they be allowed to collect?

Arguments against extending unemployment payments.

Unemployment insurance, paid for by employers and employees (you and I), encourage laziness. A number of my career counseling clients admit they deliberately tried to get laid off so they don't have to work but could instead collect unemployment checks for 79 weeks. One client said he got himself laid off by working just fast enough to avoid being fired but slow enough to be put at the head of the line when the company was deciding whom to lay off. Another client got herself laid off by threatening to file a racial discrimination suit, which, when the employer balked, said she'd agree to forgo-- if the employer agreed to lay her off. Another client was laid off legitimately and had started to look for work when his 26 weeks of eligibility for employment checks was drawing near, but when the government extended payments to 79 weeks, he stopped looking. A relative of mine told me that unemployment check recipients are required to, every two weeks, submit five names of companies they contacted in looking for work. This guy simply copied company names from the phone book without having contacted anyone.

Extending unemployment benefits ironically results in job cuts because the extension forces employers to pay more per employee. That, combined with the many other employer burdens (for example, Family and Marriage Leave Act, Medicare, disability, FICA, other retirement plans, and soon, government-mandated health care payments) pressures employers to offshore, automate, and downright eliminate ever more jobs, and requiring existing employers to work yet harder. Extending unemployment benefits is supposed to help the average worker. Net, it may hurt them.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Whom Should You Trust?

When should you trust someone? Is the answer more nuanced than "Trust Allah but tie your camel tight?"

In determining whom to trust and in what circumstances, you might want to keep tabs on at least the key people in your life:
  • How often does that person say something not in his self-interest, even though he wouldn't be caught? For example, "Mary, this wasn't your fault. The data I gave you was incorrect." The greater the price the person pays for his inexpedient honesty, the more you can trust him the next time.
  • How accurate have his promises been? For example, "I'll call you tomorrow," "I'll have it done by Monday," or "I'll get you a raise soon." It doesn't really matter if the person miscalculated or is lying. What counts as you decide whether to trust her next promise is: How well has she kept previous promises? How accurate have her predictions been--whether on the company's future, the quality of a product, whether she really will stay with you even if you lost your job, etc?
Alas, as mutual fund prospectuses always tell us, past results don't perfectly predict future performance but we can up our odds by becoming a human lie detector. Law enforcement interrogators have learned techniques to assess the veracity of a person's statements:
  • Watch the eyes and forehead. Most good liars and exaggerators have long learned to control the obvious signs of lying: pursed lips, crossed arms, etc. It's harder to control the eyes and forehead. So watch a person's eyes when he's saying something that's unquestionably factual. Then, when he's saying the in-question statement, do his eyes train somewhere else? Also look for a discrepancy between the mouth and the eyes, for example, smiling but with a tense-looking forehead and eyes.
  • Look for changes in a person's behavior. Beware if, when making a potentially dishonest or incorrect statement, a person's voice or body language changes. Examples: becoming more monotonic and slow-paced, losing eye contact, turning away or crossing their legs, ceasing use of hands while talking, breathing more quickly and shallowly, stiffening, starting a nervous mannerism such as foot wiggling or face touching. If you suspect someone's lying, change the conversation to something clearly factual and see if she reverts to her previous interaction style and seems glad to change the topic.
  • Quick stop-start emotions. Real emotions often build and fade slowly. Phony ones often get turned on and off quickly.
  • Re-ask. Later in the conversation, ask the same question. Does the person give the same answer or are some details changed?
Of course, none of this is foolproof. For example, some people don't show signs of lying because they're calm by nature, have an autistic-spectrum disorder, and/or are sociopathic. Sometimes, a person's exhibiting signs of lying merely reflect nervousness in talking about a difficult topic.

Just because you catch someone lying doesn't mean you should confront him. For example, I tend to remain silent when a face-saving lie is unlikely to cost me much now and is unlikely to encourage bigger, more costly lies in the future.

Of course, we live in a world filled with lies and inaccuracies but excessive vigilance can cost us too much: It can make us exude suspiciousness and cynicism. It may even preclude us from close relationships. Perhaps moderate trustworthiness is all we can reasonably expect.

Maybe the best balance can be struck by my father's advice: respect but suspect. I'd add, "and balance justice with mercy."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lessons from Warren Buffett

I've just had the pleasure of reading the slim but packed Warren Buffett's Management Secrets: Proven Tools for Personal and Business Success.

Here were my favorite ideas from that book:

On spending
"If we are in a 40 percent tax bracket, we have to earn $10 to have $6 to spend. So if we reduce out living costs by $6 it is the same as making $10. Warren still lives in the house in Omaha he bought for $32,000 and he drove an old VW Beetle long after he became a multimillionaire. The saved money gave him more to invest without hurting his quality of life, which made him both richer and more satisfied with his contribution to the world.

"Borrowing less and saving more is the path to riches and sleeping well. Borrowing more and saving less leads to wild times and bread lines."

"Anything you do to make yourself more valuable will pay off in real purchasing power."

On ideas
The best ideas are not new ones; those are risky. The best ideas are your competitors' tried and true ones. Or as I say, "Don't innovate; replicate." Or as Miles Davis says, "Good artists borrow. Great ones steal."

Don't dwell on failures. Quickly see if you can learn from it and then look for the next opportunity for success.

Put yourself in a position where people apply to you rather than you apply to them.

On management
Warren's managers "gets up in the morning thinking about the business and at night, dreaming about it." He says "I can tell more about how successful a manager will be by whether he or she had a lemonade stand as a child than by where they went to college." Many of Warren's managers continue to work for their companies even though they're multimillionaires. They work because they believe in the primacy of being productive, not to make money. One ran the business until she was 104.

The best managers have an internal locus of control--they believe they can fix whatever's wrong.

"Pick associates better than you and you'll drift in that direction."

Hire few advisors--they are almost always yes-people--for fear of losing their job. Warren says, "Usually, the best group decision is me looking in the mirror."

"Warren is a big believer in performance-based pay, as long as it is based on the value-added by the manager not the business's inherent economics."

On dealing with people.
Warren praises far more often that he criticizes, publicly as well as privately. His daughter describes him as "the consummate cheerleader." When he must criticize, he, for example, told a manager he was a top employee, an inspiration to others, but lately, his work had slipped. And Warren was worried if there was anything he could do to help. Realizing he had a fine reputation to live up to, the manager quickly improved.

If Warren doesn't like a person's idea, he'll typically say it's enticing but then offer a story where Warren or another businessperson had a similar idea that led to disaster, thereby leaving the manager to draw his own conclusion.

"Praise the person; criticize the category." For example, if Warren is unhappy with a banker, he criticizes only the banking profession. The banker saves face and Warren gets his point across without making an enemy.

Warren avoids giving orders. He likes to tell a story that Andrew Carnegie used to tell: "A sales manager at a car dealer, after many failed attempts to motivate his sales staff, asked them what they expected of him as a manager. He wrote their answers on the blackboard. Then he asked what a manager has the right to expect of salespeople. They said: honest, hard-working team players with initiative. They set their own standards and thus lived up to them, bringing in record sales. Other examples of how to avoid giving orders: Instead of saying, "I want that done by Monday," Warren says, "It would be great if we could get that done by Monday. Do you think you can come up with a way to do that?" Instead of, "That isn't the way to do it," Warren says, "Do you think if we did it this way, it would turn out better?"

Warren recognizes the importance of making first encounters friendly. For example, he picks up people he'd like to do business with at the airport and takes them out to dinner (at his restaurant,) rather than asking them to take a cab to his office.

Picking a company to work for or invest in

The best public companies have:
1. A consistent upward ten-year trend in earnings per share.
2. Less debt than its competitors. For the average industry, that's five or less times net earnings. Businesses with significant debt lack the cash to capitalize on opportunities or to survive economic downturns without having to sell valuable assets.
3. High gross margins, for example, Buffett favorites: Moody's rating service, Burlington Northern Railroad, and Wrigley Gum, all with margins greater than 50%.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Predictions and Trends for 2010

My past years' predictions and trends haven't been too bad, so yet again, I dare sally forth in violation of the old saw: He who lives by the crystal ball eats broken glass. I believe these trends will offer significant career opportunities.

The Year of the War on Obesity and Smoking. Pressures to control health care costs and the public's fears of an overwhelmed health care system will result in opportunities in for experts in developing and implementing weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs.

The Year of the E-Commerce Explosion. Despite the slow economy, holiday spending was up 3% in 2009 with e-commerce showing gains and bricks-and-mortar showing losses. 2010 will see ever more spending online. Jobs should be especially plentiful at and at shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS.

If you run a small business, focus on e-commerce: using search-engine-optimized sites, and marketing via new media: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. We may still be a year away from GPS- and bar-code-enabled iPhones linked to price-search engines (what I call SmartPhone shopping,) but smart e-businesses will ensure that their websites will be SmartPhone shopping-friendly.

The Year of Repair. As the economy continues to sputter or decline, more individuals and businesses will opt to repair rather than replace. A business idea: Buy a successful small commercial/industrial equipment repair business from a retiring boomer.

The Year of the SmartPhoneApp Shakeout. As the number of SmartPhone (iPhone, Blackberry, Nexus One, Pre, etc) users skyrockets, application developers can afford to spend big on developing new apps. As a result, the first-generation, crude apps will quickly become obsolete. Just as video game development moved from the garage to a multimillion-dollar effort, the same will quickly occur with SmartPhone apps.

The Year of NewMedia Marketing. TV, newspaper, and print magazine advertising as well as static web ads are dying. The burgeoning replacement: new media marketing that integrates YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogging, and websites. Marketers with expertise in creating effective NewMedia strategies will flourish.

The Year of Collections. As government laws and policies place ever greater burdens on business (e.g., health care, family leave, workers comp,) companies are ever more desperate to collect from its customers. So jobs should be plentiful in in-house and outsourced collection services.

Government has overspent itself into crushing debt. But it seems unable to cut its spending so it is, instead, doing ever more to extract yet more money from the citizenry. Take, for example, drivers. We are subject to ever increasing tolls at bridges, tunnels, and roads. The average American pays 48 cents per gallon in gasoline tax. Municipalities are replacing parking meters with kiosks that issue receipts so you'll never again be able to pull into a meter with time left on it. Cameras at traffic lights are proliferating, with $300-$500 fines for red light runners. Even a stop sign violation, where I live, costs $250. (Alas, I learned that from first-hand experience.) Jobs should be plentiful for government employees and contractors involved in "revenue enhancement."

The Year (or two) of Immigrant Legalization (or amnesty, depending on your politics.) President Obama has promised that after ObamaCare is passed, one of his major priorities for 2010 or perhaps 2011 will be legalizing the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. This will create many jobs: legalization bureaucrats, and in the health care, education, social welfare, and criminal justice systems.

The Year of the Cafe. Persistent high un- and underemployment will leave millions of Americans with spare time but little spare money. They will frequent cafes as a low-cost social and business activity. More small e-businesses will use cafes as their wifi-enabled office and meeting room. Under-the-radar job opportunity: supplier to cafes--for example, pastries, coffee, espresso machine servicing, janitorial services.

The Year of Muslim Extremism .Think of the high percentage of headlines that report on Muslim extremism: Iran's nuclear threat, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Al Qaeda (for example, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,) Pakistan's nuclear threat, Nidal Hasan's shooting up Ft. Hood, Hamas, Hezbollah. The need will continue to grow for experts on Muslim extremists: language, culture, bioterrorism, suitcase nukes, etc.

The Year of Videoconferencing. Companies will ever more often replace travel with videoconferencing. Why? Videoconferencing technology is becoming better and cheaper (e.g., Skype, WebEx), businesses are looking for ways to save money in our slow economy, and travel will become ever more of a hassle as government tightens airport security yet more.

The Year of the Smart Grid. Solar was the big alternative-energy play in 2009 but it's ever clearer that the underlying physics will render solar a mere bit player in the energy solution. In 2010, attention will be diverted to the so-called smart grid: superconductive transmission lines controlled by monitors to distribute energy when it's most time- and cost-effective. Governments and utilities will have spent $200 billion on smart-grid technologies from 2008 through 2015, according to a report by Pike Research, 84 % of which will go to automating the nation's grid, 14% on smart meters, and 2% for electric vehicles. Nuclear energy will eventually become key, but too many in the Obama administration are anti-nuclear.