Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to Get Smarter

Intelligence--the ability to reason rigorously, generate good ideas fluently, and learn rapidly--is no guarantor of career and life success, but it sure helps.

While intelligence is partly hard-wired, not all is. My latest AOL piece takes a shot at helping you figure out if you're optimizing your brainpower and, if not, what to do about it.

"Peace and Goodwill to ALL?" Bah humbug!

Christmas sentiments such as "peace and goodwill to all," are, at best sappy and at worst, silly. So, in my latest piece in US News, I try to strike a balance between the pre-and-post-ghost-visited Scrooge. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Holidays May be the BEST Time to Look for a Job

This is a time-sensitive post.

My clients have long found that the Holidays--contrary to conventional wisdom--may be year's best time to job-hunt.

Of course, as the legal disclaimers in weight-loss ads say, "Your experience may vary," but I believe the idea is worth your consideration. I make the case in my latest US News article, which also just got picked up by Yahoo!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Why the School and Workplace Shootings

Why have school and workplace shootings, virtually unknown until the late '60s, been proliferating, with the Sandy Hook, Newtown Connecticut shootings, perhaps the most horrible yet.

Of course, many things have changed in the past 50 years that could have contributed. 

Some claim that video games are partly responsible because they're more interactive than are TV shows. But kids have been playing with toy guns since toys were invented yet it wasn't until the late '60s when school and workplace shootings started proliferating.

Others argue that the dissolution of the two-parent family is contributory. But most of the school and workplace shooters have come from two-parent families.

Still others blame the greater pressure that teens and young adults face. Possibly.

But one senses that the core causality doesn't fully reside there.

Then there's this more controversial question: Why have most such massacres been committed by white men when non-white men have a much higher violent-crime rate?

I believe an answer to both of those questions lies in an undiscussed important partial cause: Since the civil rights/feminist movement began in the late 60s, white men have been subjected to an unrelenting, indeed accelerating, message that they are bad. In sitcoms, commercials, and movies, the white male is disproportionately portrayed as evil, sleazy, or foolish, shown up by a wise women and/or minority. That unfairness extends to news media coverage and even school curriculum, where the accomplishments of women and minorities and the failings of white males are accentuated. And the schools, colleges, and media diminish white men's contributions by insisting they're heavily the result of white male privilege, the legacy of slavery, and institutional racism.

Previous generations of poorly adjusted, unsuccessful white males were comforted by the world's telling them that people of their race and gender are okay. That started changing in the '60s and is accelerating through today.

So here, I propose a model for explaining the causes of massacres such as the Newtown shootings, and, in turn, a new idea for reducing their proliferation:

1. The person is unbalanced
2. The person has experienced much painful failure.
3. He sees the world pervasively denigrate his sex and race. No comfort here.
That's a perfect storm for his lashing out.
4. When he experiences a particularly angering event, he's pushed over the edge.

The new piece in this formula, of course, is #3: failed white men being made to feel their race and gender are inferior. How to address it? When Blacks and women were sometimes portrayed negatively in the media, activists screamed that those portrayals had unfair negative effects on women's and minorities' self-esteem and behavior. As a result, the schools, colleges, and media dramatically changed. Yet when the opposite is true, that white males, for decades now, are treated unfairly, we don't hear a peep. In the many articles and TV segments on the Newtown shootings that I've reviewed, I've never once heard that mentioned as one of the causes. Rather, we hear only politically correct explanations:

There are calls to ban automatic weapons. Yet following the sunset of the assault weapons ban, contrary to gun control advocates' fears, the violent crime rate has declined. I fear that even if all private ownership of guns were banned, it would not deter those planful, often intelligent assailants. The Internet is rife with a panoply of frighteningly easy ways to wreak havoc.

There are calls for increased mental health services. Alas, the psychology profession does not offer a magic pill. Already, because of the Mental Health Parity Act, people are covered for mental health to the same extent as for physical health and the schools and workplaces have long been on high-alert for incipient mental problems. But the fields of psychodiagnosis, psychotherapy, and psychopharmacology are, alas, still in their relative infancy and suffer from failure rates too high to place sufficient confidence that the solution will heavily reside there.

Until we view problems in full dimension, not censoring ideas that are politically incorrect, we are unlikely to develop the best solutions not just to mass shootings, but to most societal problems.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Advanced Networking; The Art of Making Deep Connection...Fast

Networking fails for many job seekers because it usually takes so long to work that the person has given up or is homeless before it works.

My latest article is how to network in such a way that it can create deep-enough connection quickly. HERE is the link.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Advanced Approach to Resume Writing

When it rains, it pours.

Monday, the first post in my weekly career blog at U.S.News was published: Job Market Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.

That day, I got a call from Pam Kruger, editor-in-chief of AOL's job channel asking if I'd write a separate weekly career blog for AOL. My first post there, on an advanced approach to resume writing, was just published as the main article on AOL's job channel.  If by the time you click on it, it's no longer the main story, here's the permalink.

I'll be posting on U.S. News every Monday and on AOL every Tuesday. For your convenience, I'll post a link to each week's post here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Fresh Idea for Executive Training

As part of my own professional development, I joined a LinkedIn discussion group on heartfelt leadership. Their core belief is the wise leader strives to balance the three sorts of accomplishment: profits, people, and planet.

To this point, the discussion group has shared atomistic ideas whereas my sense is that they need a major initiative. I'm writing this blog post to develop a proposal for what it might be.

I like the model of a TED conference: luminaries sharing their best ideas concisely, using visuals as appropriate. But perhaps it could be taken a step further. I'm wondering if it would be best if presenters give only a few-minute mini-lecture supplemented by a potentially transformative activity. Presenters thus would be selected on their ability to do both at a high level and that their content is crucial yet not obvious. 

A useful target audience might be the many executives who have been laid off or fired and are disheartened. Perhaps adding heartfeltness to their skill set might reinvigorate them as well as make them more marketable, at least marketable to the kinds of organizations that a heartfelt leader might want to work for.

I can picture the Heartfelt Leadership Intensive being a one-day event, perhaps on a Saturday, which would consist of the following:

An introductory talk by luminary executive, an exemplar of a heartfelt leader. He or she would explain how s/he incorporated heartfelt leadership into every aspect of work: hiring and firing, budgeting, goal setting, managing, etc.

Then there would be four one-hour blocks, each commandeered by one of the aforementioned presenters.  For the group activities, participants would be divided at random or using the results of a personality inventory such as the SCID-II executive personality inventory. 

The final two hours would be a job-search bootcamp for executives, in which each participant walked away with an individualized action plan for landing a job as an executive, ideally a position that valued heartfelt leadership.

Participants would be invited to, after the Intensive, continue conversations with attendees and/or sign up for ongoing coaching with a top executive coach.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Job Market Predictions for 2013

HERE is my inaugural weekly contribution to U.S. News.

It's Part I of My Job Market Predictions for 2013 and Beyond.