Monday, July 23, 2012

Video of My CBS Interview on Where the Jobs Will Be

I was interviewed yesterday on CBS News in San Francisco about whether government can create jobs and the impact of another Obama administration on jobs. HERE is the link to that interview.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Should Government Do to Create Jobs?

This morning, the CBS-News producer of the show I'll appear on tomorrow emailed me. He asked, "Is it okay if the host asks you, "What should government do to create jobs?"

HERE was my response:

Friday, July 20, 2012

This Week's Public Appearances

A reader asked me why I don't post most of my upcoming public appearances. I have no good answer.

I can't promise to keep posting them, but I have a particularly busy week coming up so I decided to post it all here:

Sunday 8:45 am: CBS/CW Ch. 44 News with Phil Matier in San Francisco

Sunday 11:00 an to noon  KALW 91.7 FM San Francisco. That's my weekly show, Work with Marty Nemko.

Tuesday:  CBS/Alice 97.1 FM in San Francisco. Airs Sunday July 28, time TBA.

Thursday, 11:00 AM to noon: KGO 810-AM in San Francisco. The Ronn Owens Program. It's among the most listened-to shows on the West Coast. I'm in my 25th year as a regular guest.

Sunday (July 29) 9:15 am, KRON 4 News, interviewed by Ysabel Duran and Marty Gonzales

On most such shows, I am most often asked:
  • Why there's so little hiring in the U.S.
  • Where I see the job growth in the coming decade
  • Emerging careers
  • What's working best for my clients in landing a job in this tough job market
  • Lower-risk but potentially lucrative yet ethical businesses
  • Advice for older job seekers
Also, while I'm updating you, I might mention that this week I was invited to I've been invited to resume writing for U.S. News. I'm considering it but haven't said yet yes . 

As of now, I have two live speaking engagements the following week, both at the Commonwealth Club, America's oldest and largest public affairs forum. Here are the links for information and registration:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dream Homework

What word comes to mind when you see the word, "homework?"

 For me, it's "Ugh!" I suspect I'm not alone.

I recall my school days: I was an active (okay, hyperactive) kid forced to sit still from 8:30 to 3...and unable to. If I had gone to school after Ritalin became the kid drug of choice, my teachers would have slammed a Ritalin leash on me faster than I leaped to my feet when she finally said, "Recess!"

Yet among all the calls for education reform, I've yet to hear a call to reinvent homework, that reviled after-school torture: Yet more sitting still?! "Do this worksheet." "Read the chapter and answer the questions at the end." Do problems 1-47, the odds."

Is it any surprise that parents lose hair trying to get kiddie to comply? Is it any surprise that kiddie blows-off homework anyway?

Especially for subjects that many students find difficult, for example math, why not replace problems 1-47 with visual-rich lecturettes by the world's most effective, transformational teachers? I remember not getting Algebra 1. Seymour Schwimmer (That really was his name) would cover the board with formulas and rapid-fire not-explain them with the clarity expected of a math teacher. He usually ended the class period with "Do problems 1-47." I left class sad or scared. I got home, looked at those problems with no more clue on how to do them than when I had left class, usually threw the worksheet back into my (messy) notebook binder, and ran out to play basketball.

Now imagine that instead of that, I turned on my computer or smartphone and watched a YouTube video of The Amazing One: that rare teacher who makes complicated stuff simple, even fun. True, I'd still have to sit still but wouldn't I be more likely to learn from that? To enjoy that? To grow from that? Maybe even to like math, that supposed gateway to all sorts of careers?

I am self-funding a pilot program of that very thing. I call it Dream Homework. At a diverse California public high school, on August 20-25, the first week of actual instruction, the Algebra I teachers will assign half their sections the regular homework while the other sections will instead, watch visual-rich lecturettes covering the same material by Luis Anthony Ast, the math instructor that Pearson Learning, Casio, and Texas Instruments picked to create their video algebra lessons. I'm also hiring WestEd, a top third-party evaluator, to see if the kids in the Dream Homework group do indeed learn more algebra and enjoy it. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Simple Pleasures

Most people I know derive most of their pleasure from relationships, travel, sports, TV, clothes, pop culture, yoga, spas, etc.

I'm atypical. I don't know if any of you would find it helpful, but here's what gives me greatest pleasure:
  • First and foremost, my work. But of course, if you're a regular reader of this blog, you knew that. The more I contribute, the more worthy I feel, the more I feel like I've earned my spot on the planet.
  • The feeling I get after drinking a cup of coffee: smarter, more upbeat. Caffeine is my drug of choice.
  • My doggie, Einstein, whether it's watching him sleeping on the dog bed next to my desk, taking our daily hike around the lake, or even fake-yelling at him for jumping onto the kitchen counter. (Click on the photo to get a close-up look at my baby.)
  • An Indian buffet
  • Being musical performance coach to my wife and to my former career counseling client and now friend, Jeffrie Givens.
  • Gardening: seeing that amalgamation of the hybridizer's years of work with nature's miracle of growth. 
  • Watching a great movie at home. Video on-demand is wonderful. 
  • Googling. The world's information is just a few clicks away. Just 25 years ago, that would have been deemed impossible.
  • Playing the piano for clients or friends. 
  • Watching C-Span, especially the in-depth, fair-minded interviews of people on both the Left and Right.
  • Watching YouTube videos of great performances. Last night, Jeffrie and I watched six world-class performances of Take Me or Leave Me from Rent.
Note that all of those pleasures are low-cost or free.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jeffrie Givens Loses Her Inhibitions

There were cadavers who sang less stiffly than my protege, Jeffrie Givens.

That was then. This is now.

Mandating a College Report Card: The Key to Higher Education Accountability, Transparency, and Reform

First let me apologize to regular readers of this blog, for which this will be largely redundant. But this is my most concise presentation to date of the argument that colleges should be required to show that they provide benefit to students if they want to receive the fortunes in taxpayer aid they currently receive.

Colleges: Want federal aid? Your home page must include a College Report Card
No purchase is made with less informed consent than a college education. If I were the Education Potentate, I'd tell colleges:
We require every home, drug, packaged food, etc. to provide disclosures. For example, every tire must bear a report card rating its treadlife, temperature, and traction.  
If you want federal financial aid, your homepage must include a College Report Card listing, for your institution and your three top overlap institutions, the following:
This version is for so-called four-year institutions. A similar version could be created for "two-year" colleges.

    • Your true four-year graduation rate (no exclusion of athletes, legacies, minorities admitted under special compensatory programs, etc.)
    • The average freshman-to-senior growth on a specified standardized test of writing, critical thinking, oral communication, quantitative skills, and information literacy. Scores would be reported for each SAT/ACT quintile. To avoid overburdening the institution, only a random sample of 150 freshmen and 150 seniors would take the exam. To ensure examinees give full effort, the scores would be posted on their transcript.
    • The full projected four-, five- and six-year cost of attendance, subtracting cash financial aid. A separate number would be reported for different levels of family income and assets. The six-year cost would be estimated by adding the percentage that the college increased its price in the previous six years.
    • The percentage of graduates who, 12 months after graduation, are in graduate school or employed in a job requiring a college degree. The results would be broken down by major. That would not unduly burden the institutions: The institution's alumni survey usually contains similar information, and the U.S. Department of Labor categorizes jobs that way. I am agnostic on whether the institution should also report the average salary. Money does matter, especially with higher education costing so much but I fear that students would give projected salary undue weight.
    • The results of the most recent student or alumni satisfaction survey. Because those surveys vary widely, the College Report Card would include only three results: the average rating of academic, non-academic (extracurricular, housing, location,) and overall experience at the institution. Each institution would be required to anchor the questions on a four-point scale from "poor" to "excellent."
    • The most recent accreditation visiting team report and Association action.
Of course, mandating a College Report Card would empower prospective students to more wisely choose a college. Even more important, shining the light on what's behind the ivy might finally embarrass deficient colleges into reallocating resources from shrubs, sports, showcase buildings, sterile research, and porcine administrations to investments more likely to transform students into excellent thinkers, professionals, and citizens. That may ultimately be America's best hope for its future and may finally enable higher education to become the national treasure it claims to be.

HERE, I more thoroughly present the case for a colleges being required to post a College Report Card.

And HERE, I make the case in The Atlantic.

And here is a video I created to make the case.

Education Reform We Can Believe In

I've written dozens of articles, a monograph, and sections of books on school reform, reinventing education. HERE is a summary of my current thinking.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Colleges Must Show Results Before Getting Taxpayer Money

Michael Kirst is among our most eminent experts on education policy. He invited me to be guest blogger on his blog at Stanford.

In that post, I argue that colleges must show growth in student learning and employability to receive the massive amount of taxpayer dollars it currently gets. HERE is the link.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Next Book

I'm thinking of writing these books. Do you think either is worth the effort?

What It's Really Like to Teach in Oakland
30 Teachers Tell Their Story

40 Ways They Deceive You in Politics and in the Workplace

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hiring Wisely

I've been career coach to many job seekers. Ironically, that has made me a bit sympathetic to the employer, who has the difficult task of trying to differentiate the best candidate from the most primped one.

And the two may be inversely correlated: To land a job, weak candidates may feel they have to gorgeously gift-wrap their package. In contrast, strong candidates may feel that they can land a good job just with a good resume, cover letter, and interview.

Especially in this job market, many job seekers are pulling out all the stops: They submit White Papers, proposals, sales prospect lists, etc. They hire interview coaches who literally put words into their mouths--for example, a wordsmithed explanation of  their "lay off" or employment gap. And interview coaching often includes video: microanalyzing everything from the person's posture to tone of voice to how well he hides his terror when asked a probing question.

And those are the relatively honest job seekers. Studies find that almost half of resumes contain "creative writing," often crafted by a resume writer who not just embellishes credentials but makes the candidate look like she writes, thinks, and organizes better than she really does, attributes that are important on so many jobs.

So what's an employer to do? Hiring is among the most important decisions: It affects the quality of products and services as well as the coworkers' lives. And God forbid things if don't work out: It's often harder to get rid of an employee without incurring an expensive, stressful legal claim than to rid a fleabag hotel of fleas.

So as a token of penance for all the job seekers I've helped to seem better than a more worthy applicant, HERE is how I recommend employers select their employees.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Concerns About Social Media Marketing

I've always eschewed marketing, especially networking and social media marketing. 

But after seeing how those have become so pervasive, appearing essential, I read some stuff on marketing, had experts on my radio show, and reluctantly have stuck my toe into marketing's waters. Every few days, I've been posting on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, a nugget from my two latest books: How to Do Life: What they didn't teach you in school, and What's the Big Idea: 39 reinventions for a better America. 

Fact is, we're all overwhelmed with content, and if we need some, it's just a Google or Amazon search away. No need to clutter people's lives with my nuggets.

I felt particularly oily when, a week ago, on Twitter, I congratulated a very popular blogger for winning an alumni award. Actually, I feel her work is mediocre. I mentioned her only to help build a "relationship" with her so she'd publish some of my stuff. Ugh.

Also troubling is how much time social media marketing wastes, beyond even the obvious. Here's an example: a widely urged networking tenet is: give before you expect to get. Because that principle is widely known, when a stranger gives me something unsolicited (for example, articles or advice) I think, "He's likely doing that as a small investment that he hopes will yield him bigger rewards later: my time, endorsement, etc."
Fact is,  the benefit I derive from that stranger is almost never large enough to be worth my giving that person my most precious possessions: time and my reputation. Yet I usually end up sighing and thinking, "Despite feeling manipulated, I'll be a nice guy and give her/him my time and/or write an Amazon review of her book, whatever, but en toto, I wish this whole networking game went away and that I was left alone."

If I need an article, I can always find a great one on a just-in-time basis with an instant, free, no-obligation Google search. If I need advice, I can ask it of the person I'd most respect on that topic. Those are likely to be of greater value at less obligatory cost than unsolicited "help" from strangers wanting something from me.

I come away wishing the unrealistic: that 95 percent of marketing would go away. So much time on sizzle, not steak. It reallocates so much time away from more productive and/or enjoyable pursuits.

What's the 5%? Here's an example. I feel fine about trying to get my work in juried, curated outlets: For example, if a respected national publication picks out my few kilobytes from the terabytes of material it gets every day,  it suggests it's worthy of people's time. Any marketing benefit I derive exceeds the negative effect of adding to the world's information overload. Of course, I'm especially happy when a major publication touts my work unsolicited, which happened, albeit most briefly, this week in the New York Times.

I'm tempted to stop all my marketing efforts other than submitting my best work to major outlets. Let's see, for example, if I can make myself stop posting my self-designated nuggets from my books on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

I'm curious as to what you think of my analysis.

I'll be Making Five Presentations at The Commonwealth Club's Future of Work Series

The Commonwealth Club is America's oldest and largest public affairs forum. I'm honored that it has invited me to return for my fourth speaking engagement there.

This time it's five presentations in its Future of Work series:

Aug 1. What Every Career-Minded Person Should Know for 2013 and beyond.

Aug. 2: Ahead of the Pack Job Search Strategies

Aug 9: Keys to Beating the Odds in Starting a Business

Aug. 16: Getting Promoted (or at least not laid off)

Aug. 23: When Should and Shouldn't You Follow Your Passion?

For info and tickets, click on the previous links.

The Commonwealth Club has issued a press release with information on all the Future of Work series presentations. HERE it is.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Job Search is Like a Four-Cylinder Engine

A job search is like a four-cylinder engine. The more cylinders firing well, the faster you'll land a job.

Cylinder 1: Answering want ads wisely

Apply only for well-matched jobs.  It's obvious, but don't burn out your energy applying for jobs you're not well-qualified for. Thanks to the Net, most decent jobs get dozens if not hundreds of applicants. If the employer wanted to hire someone marginal, he would have hired his cousin Gomer.

Write a dump-resistant cover letter. Sure, large employers use computers to screen resumes but if you pass that screening, your cover letter matters. This structure will boost your odds of getting asked to interview:

Dear Job Dangler,

I was excited to see the ad for a (insert job title)  because I feel I’m a good fit for the position.

Here are the main requirements listed in your ad and how I meet each. (Do that, ideally, showing that your work was excellent.)

Of course there’s more to me than can be explained in a chart, and I'm excited about the prospect of working for you because (insert a reason), so I’m hoping to have the opportunity to meet with you.


Jane JobSeeker

The main reason that structure works well is that the employer, to winnow the pile of applicants, typically tells the admin, “I want to see only applicants that meet the qualifications." If  you state, point by point, how you meet the requirements, the admin is likely to put you forward.

The Put-Yourself-in-the-Employer's-Shoes Resume

Before writing each sentence, ask yourself, "Will this make the employer more likely to pick my resume from the pile?"

It's also helpful to include two or three 25-word PAR stories: PAR stands for Problem, Approach, Resolution: a problem you faced, the smart way you approached it, and its positive resolution.

Cylinder 2: Smart Networking

Make as long a list as you can (25 to 50 is good) of people who like you. Sure, ideally, they're in your field, but others can be helpful too--after all, people know other people. Next to each name, decide the wisest way to contact them: email, email invitation to coffee, invite to a party, whatever.

Use a five-second pitch. Not a 30-, a five. Why? If it's longer, they're more likely to forget what you're looking for, or you'll seem desperate.  Example: “I was a media strategist for the Big Whup Widget Co and I’ve topped out there, I’m looking for my next opportunity, something related to communications and with a social-responsibility component." That’s it:  what you’re looking for, why you’re looking if you're so good. If the person wants to know more, s/he'll ask. And each additional question increases the person's investment in you.

Add to your list of contacts by attending a meeting of a local chapter of your professional association, a workshop, or a conference of people in your field.

Show each contact your list of target employers (see below). If s/he knows someone with influence there, ask if s/he'd call be willing to set up a three-way meeting of introduction, ideally in-person, but skype or phone are okay. If not, ask if they'd call the person on your behalf or at least allow you to say they suggested you call.

Cylinder 3: Directly contact employers who are NOT advertising a job.

Make a list of 25-50 target employers, without regard to whether they're advertising a job. Whether or not your network gives you a contact there, use the call, email, call, call method to contact them:

Call:  After hours, leave a voicemail saying,  “I’m Harry Hotshot, I’m excited about the possibility of working for your company because _____. If you think we should talk to see how I might be able to help you or to offer advice on where I should turn, I’d love to hear from you. Here’s my phone number. I’ll be sending you my resume and a cover letter to reiterate this."

Email: As soon as you're off the phone, email a reiterating cover letter plus your resume.

Call: Seven days later, if you haven't heard from him, call again. Whether voice mail or the person, say something like, “Hi, this is Harry Hotshot. I called a week ago and haven’t heard from you. I'm assuming you're not interested but I know how things can fall between the cracks. So if you think we might get together to see how I might be of help to you or even to suggest where I might turn, I'd welcome hearing from you. Here's my number."

Call. Seven days later, if you still haven't heard from the employer, call again: “Hi this is Harry Hotshot again. I was reluctant to make this call because I don't want to be a pest, but I’m so intrigued about possibly working for you, I thought I’d call one more time. If you'd be willing to talk with me, I'd welcome it, but if not, I promise I won’t call you again. Here’s my phone number, and thanks a lot.”

That fourth phone call can make the difference---it shows you're unusually persistent, yet respectful.

Cylinder 4: Recruiters

If you are well-employed and looking to work for a competitor to your employer, contact recruiters. To find on-target ones, ask the human resources departments of target employers, "When you use a recruiter, who do you use?"

You'll note that I didn't include a "cylinder" for social media marketing---Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Other than using LinkedIn and Facebook to find names of people to put on your list of people to contact, my  clients haven't found social media marketing sufficiently helpful to justify the time, for example, in becoming active on LinkedIn groups, and certainly in Facebooking a lot.

Fire on at least three of the above four cylinders and, like many of my clients, you'll soon have reached your job search's finish line.

This article is adapted from a section from my book, How to Do Life: What they didn't teach you in school. 

I need your help: Any ideas on how to get my ideas implemented?

I am frustrated that my ideas have not been implemented, for example, my ideas on how to improve education, a field in which I have solid bonafides.

For years now, I've done everything I can think of to get those ideas implemented. I have presented them in my columns and articles in The Atlantic and Washington Post as well as on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I'm spoken about them in public forums, including at The Commonwealth Club, at my alma mater U.C. Berkeley, and on my NPR-San Francisco radio show.  I've sent them to many people with the power to implement them--for example, the biggies at the U.S. Office of Education.. I've written about them in my new book, What's the Big Idea? 39 Reinventions for a Better America.

I believe these ideas have greater potential for improving education than the traditionally proposed reduce class size, increase expectations, etc.:

Are my ideas simply unworthy? If not, do you have any suggestions as to how I might do a better job of getting them implemented?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Coping with Decline

I still feel at the top of my game, yet few 62-year-old, intense 15-pounds-overweight men have much time before they become irrelevant and dead.

Of course, countless self-help books and motivational speakers spread happy talk about how 70 is the new 50 and other such exaggerations. 

This post offers my thoughts on how to live life's fourth quarter. (At this point at least.I'd welcome the game going into overtime)

Here are my thoughts:
  • Don't think about it. Whatever you gain in perspective is outweighed by increased worrying about the unsolvable. 
  • Make the most of each moment. Because those moments are getting ever more finite, let your fear of death fuel you to use each moment wisely . For example, do you really want to play golf or fly to your cousin's wedding, or would you rather mentor someone?
  • Worried about money? Consider downsizing your life, for example, by trading your home for an inexpensive small apartment. With a bit of an attitude adjustment, you could find the trade-off well worth it: You're less worried about running out of money and you have the freedom to choose what you want to do with your time with less regard to how much money it earns. One of my most popular posts is How I Could Live Decently on $20,000 a year
  • Act wise. As Neil Simon wrote, "Wisdom doesn't come with age; wisdom comes with wisdom." But perhaps you can instantly attain some by, in your moment to moment actions and utterances, invoking your wisest self.  No matter how old we are, all of us are sometimes immature, sometimes less so. I find it rewarding to usually try to behave as wisely as I can. That makes me feel I'm reaping a reward of getting older and I feel more consequential, more worthy.
  • Be less concerned with what society, friends, or family thinks. Sooner rather than later, you'll be dust. The time is now to do and think what you believe is consistent with the life well-led and what's right for the world. 
For example, common as we age, I'm growing more conservative, believing for example, that the world's trend toward additional redistributive "justice," is, in fact, injustice, a short-term feel-good that, long-term, will deeply hurt the world's people. So I've been coming out of the political closet and daring to assert such political incorrect views, willing to accept the consequences. Indeed, I have been fired from positions in the supposedly tolerant liberal media for daring to occasionally veer right of center. After a quarter century in the media, I truly know it is guilty of McCarthyism from the Left, ever swinging its censorship machete dare you question the orthodoxy that the world will be better by diverting  yet more resources to women, minorities, and the poor. 
  • Make the biggest difference you can. In choosing your Big Project, tackle something of benefit to society that few others would tackle. For example, I funded creation of an online continuing education course that helps teachers do a better job of educating intellectually gifted students in a mixed-ability class. But also make the biggest difference you can, moment to moment. Just one example: answer your emails, do it kindly and/or honestly. 
Without too much reductionism, it all comes down to two words: act wisely.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions, and disseminating this post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or the now old-fashioned way: copying and pasting it into an email and sending it to people who might like to read it.

London School of Economics: More Women Want to be Housewives. Pay Gap is Women's Choices, Not Men's Sexism

It is politically incorrect to assert, but the main reasons men, on average, earn more than women is not sexism, but women's choices.

For example, this just published study by the London School of Economics' Dr. Catherine Hakim finds that more women today want to be housewives supported by their husbands than even in the 1940s, before the feminist movement was even a twinkle in Germaine Greer's eye. 

That's just the latest such study. Here are others that indicate that the gender pay gap is mainly the result of women's choices, not sexism: THIS from the New York Times, THIS from the Wall Street Journal, THIS from Compensation Cafe, and THIS from City Journal. 

Alas, the media chooses to uncritically accept the biased-researched assertions of feminist organizations like NOW, Catalyst, AAUW, and the National Women's Law Center  that there's rampant sexism against women in pay. After all, "Women earn 77 cents on the dollar."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In Defense of Men: a woman's perspective

THIS article, In Defense of Men, lends a woman's perspective to the issue.