Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Some Favorite Career and Life Tips

In preparing for a radio show, I've reviewed hundreds of my previously dispensed career and life tips. Here are some I'd like to highlight for you:

When your child errs, express disappointment, then ask the child "What should we do?" Only if those too rarely work, use rewards and/or punishment, but never corporal punishment--that only teaches the child that violence is an appropriate response.

Is Facebook worth your time?

If you wonder why someone gets so much more done than you do, ask if you might shadow him/or her for a few hours.

On the continuum from parasite to host, where are you? Want to change?

Losers think, "What's the least amount of work I can get away with?" Winners think, "How can I get as much done as possible?"

My oft-repeated favorite tip: When I asked my dad, a Holocaust survivor, why he rarely talks about the Holocaust, he said, "The Nazis took five years from my life. I won’t give them one minute more. Martin, never look back; always look forward.” We’ve all had bad things happen to us but nearly all the successful people I know refuse to wallow. They always ask themselves, “What’s the next positive step I can take?”

Leadership is making time when there's no time.

In meetings, sit in The Focus Spot: where the person you most want to impress usually looks, usually a bit left or right of straight-ahead.

Even my highest-level clients (e.g., Fortune 50 C-level execs, physicians, big-time lawyers) so appreciate praise.

The most important thing a good manager does is take the time to recruit the bright and intrinsically motivated.

To motivate your supervisees, inspire and praise more than use money and formal evaluations.

Anchor your talk's core ideas with a compelling story and memorable visual. That will up your talk's chances of staying in the audience's brain and thus of changing their behavior.

Judd Apatow: "I am always driven by the terror of humiliation. My shrink calls it unhealthy but she can't argue with its effectiveness."

Don't innovate; replicate. Find a successful business and copy it. For example, I'd find some busy food trucks and incorporate their best features into mine, of course, placing mine in a great location.

Some low-risk business ideas:
  • Clean out people's garages and basements. Once you have the system down, hire and train others to do the work. You build the business.
  • Buy an apartment building that has been ruined by the tenants. Rehab it and sell it.
  • Plant and remove "For Sale" signs for Realtors. Again, once you've learned how to do it well, hire others to do the work. You build the business.
Key to being successfully self-employed: Be cheap, for example, "How can I get space for free--How about a friend's apartment that's empty during the day?"

Ask yourself, "Is it worth trying to change the world, with results unlikely and/or invisible, or be, for example, a haircutter, where you constantly see positive results of your efforts?

In choosing a career, if you want to consider the job market, don't focus on what's hot. A better question is, "What's the supply/demand ratio of job seekers in this field?" For example, solar engineering is hotter than petroleum engineering but far fewer people aspire to the latter, so it may be easier to find jobs in that field.

A photographer client of mine said, "I’m worn out on 'follow your passion.' I crave a plain ol' good job." Career contentment mainly comes from within your personality, plus whether you have a decent boss, coworkers, an ethical workplace, a workload that's moderate in difficulty and quantity, a reasonable commute, decent pay, and job security. It's usually easier to find those in a non-sexy job because competition for such jobs is less fierce.

If I were homeless and wanted to launch a good career, especially if I was trying to get by on soft skills, I'd be a salesperson in a busy retail establishment in an upscale area and schmooze customers.

Today, unless you have an A+ job history or superstrong connections, your job hunt must be A+. From initial query to final negotiation, all need be ahead-of-the-pack.

Interview target employers for an article you're writing for a trade/professional publication or for your own Internet radio show/podcast. Those are easier to pull off than you may think and will give you access to top-quality employers as well as boost your career credentials.

How to work a conference or trade show: Be a presenter or at least a volunteer. The exhibit area trumps sessions: you get access to lots of top people; session content can usually be acquired on the Net. If you want to talk with a session presenter, be last in line. Walk the presenter to his car or invite her for coffee or a meal. Wine & cheese mixers trump other recreations.

How to prepare to write a resume or cover letter: List what you'd say to the hirer for your target position that would make him think, "Damn, this person is good,"

Updated daily, Employment Tracker lists employers doing significant hiring.

Negotiate an internship's job description upfront. They're getting you cheap or for free; that means you deserve meaningful work and to get quality mentoring.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I'd like to think that there will be a reaction against Facebook soon. Frankly, I found it a spectacular time-waster, and I therefore decided to give it up for Lent.

Having thus given it up temporarily, I'm increasingly inclined to give it up permanently. It's not as if it has been doing my job prospects any good (I have no reason to suppose it harms these prospects in my case, it just consumes leisure that could be spent on something much more worthwhile.)

So I'm glad that a certain skepticism about Facebook's powers for good might be manifesting itself more generally. Don't get me started on the subject of Twitter ...