Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Every Career-Minded Person Must Know And Probably Doesn't

UPDATE: It has been moved to July 25.

On July 18, I give a low-cost presentation, What Every Career-Minded Person Must Know And Probably Doesn't.  Sponsored by the San Francisco Professional Career Network, I'll discuss:

-- Under-the-radar careers
-- Low-risk/high-payoff self-employment opportunities
-- Ahead-of-the-pack strategies for job seekers
-- True keys to getting ahead
-- Thoughts on the life well-led
 For more information and tickets, click HERE.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Gentle Art of Salary Negotiation

When you read the word, "negotiation," what word pops into your mind? Perhaps "argument," "tough" or some such. But it's probably not "gentle." Nevertheless, it may be wise to negotiate gently. How to do that is the topic of my USNews.com article today.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Establishing a Prize: A Potent Approach to Philanthropy

Here's an advance look at my next The Life Well-Led column in the Mensa publication, The Intelligencer. 

I haven't submitted it yet, so your feedback is particularly welcome.

 The Life Well-Led
by Marty Nemko

A Bang-for-the-Buck Approach to Charitable Giving

My previous charitable donations haven't yielded sufficient benefit. For example, I funded the development of an online course for teachers of gifted kids. It was garbage.

Before wasting more money, I've done some thinking and research on how to get the most bang from my charity bucks. Perhaps the results of my exploration and the unusual charitable scheme I then concocted might help you in making wise donations.

The building blocks
1. Perhaps not surprising, as a Mensan, I value intelligence. So I'd like to invest my money in intelligent people who are working on improving intelligence. While, of course, brainpower can be used for good or ill, improving humankind's intelligence is a potent approach to enhancing civilization.

2. Funding a prize for the best research on improving intelligence would encourage many people to work toward that goal.

3. Restricting the prize to people at the end of doctoral training seems optimal:  It's late enough in the person's career for the selection committee to be able to validly assess nominees' potential but early enough to greatly affect how influential s/he is likely to be, for example, whether s/he gets a post at Harvard or at a less prestigious institution.

4. The prize should be administered by a prestigious organization. That adds prestige to the prize, which in turn means the prize's size can be smaller, which could enable me to fund more than one prize.

5. The organization must have a mechanism for broadly soliciting nominees for the prize, and be willing and able to assemble a strong committee to review the proposals. Alternatively, the committee could, instead of soliciting and reviewing proposals, pick the winner by reviewing the abstracts of presentations by doctoral students or recent graduates at major conferences. 

What have I done?
With those as guiding principles, here is what I have done: I have just established The Nemko Prize For the Study of the Biology of Cognition. I would have preferred a narrower focus: the biology of intelligence but the best organization to administer the prize, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN,) wanted the broader scope. SfN is otherwise ideal: It is the world's largest and most prestigious organization focusing on brain research, consisting of 42,000 researchers, including most of the field's luminaries. Also, SfN already administers a number of other prizes and has a proven mechanism for soliciting and reviewing nominees.  (The photo above is of a woman receiving an SfN-administered prize.)

The winner of the Nemko Prize will receive $2,500 but SfN is charging me $7,500. I'm okay with that because that includes the costs of soliciting and reviewing nominations and of travel for the winner to attend SfN's annual meeting, invaluable for a young researcher.

So, for $7,500, the world's neuroscience doctoral students will be incented to do their dissertation on the crucial biological basis of cognition and the best of those students will get a significant career boost. Relative to most other $7,500 donations, I believe that has greater potential to do good. Who knows? Maybe it will even result in more candidates for Mensa!

My plan is to endow the prize as a perpetuity but SfN is allowing me to try it out for three years.

I believe it's often wiser to donate to such a charitable venture than to give the money to family members. Too often, the family member doesn't really need the money and/or the largesse encourages them to sit on their butts--the so-called welfare mentality. I've seen many adult children of wealth,  so-called trust fund babies, be rendered unproductive because their parents gave them "welfare." Thus, charitable giving can be key not only to your life being well-led but to your family's.

A Powerful Approach to Philanthropy: Establish an Annual Prize

I've been thinking about how to give charity wisely. Perhaps my decision can help inform your philanthropic plans.

I've decided to create and fund an annual prize: The Nemko Prize in Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. Each year, there will be a competition for the best young scientist studying the cellular and molecular (including genetic) bases of brain function. Of course, brainpower can be used for good and for ill but optimizing our ability to think is, net, a high-potential approach to improving humankind.

I chose a prize for young scientists as a bang-for-the-buck vehicle for my donation because the prize's existence may encourage a number of brilliant people to pursue research in this vital area and the winner's career will be abetted at the stage when such a prize can make the difference between getting a prestigious research position or not.

Even though the Society for Neuroscience is charging me much more than the amount of the Nemko Prize to administer it, I've decided that is a wise investment because The Society for Neuroscience is  the world's largest and most prestigious organization of researchers studying the brain. It has 42,000 members. It will solicit nominations for the prize to a very wide yet ideally targeted audience and will engage a committee of luminaries to review the nominations.

I'm excited that at the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting, I will both be giving the award to the winner as well as presenting a 2 1/2-hour workshop on career and life management for researchers.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Make Another Attempt to Play the Piano with Seven Fingers

Not long ago, I developed a hand condition that renders three of my fingers pretty much useless, especially when trying to play the piano. Here's my attempt to play anyway. It starts slowly but then, gradually...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A "Workaholic" in Action

It's been a busy few days. On top of my usual full docket of career counseling clients, writing my weekly AOL article and weekly USNews.com article, giving a talk to 100 people at Experience Unlimited, and responding to tons of email, I was on five radio shows, mainly questioning whether work-life balance is a goal we all should strive for.

Indeed work-life-balance activists would label me "out of balance" and a "workaholic," evoking comparison to "alcoholic," addicted to something bad.

In fact, it's all been inordinately energizing. And amid it all, I found time to garden, play the piano, hike every day with my doggie Einstein, help my 88-year-old mom, and hang out with my wife. I will admit I didn't spend any time watching TV, playing golf, etc.

In case you'd like to listen, here are the radio shows I've been on since Sunday:

Of course, I was on my own show (NPR-San Francisco) which I devoted to raising questions about three career "truths."

KGO's (ABC-San Francisco) Ronn Owens Program is among the most listened-to on the West Coast. Talkers magazine named Ronn Owens one of the 25 Greatest Talk Show Hosts of All Time. Monday, I appeared on his show for about my 100th time. The interview was an hour long and covered such topics as: When it is and isn't wise to follow your passion, the pros and cons of for-profit vs. non profit careers, and colleges that still are accepting applications for the fall. HERE is the link.

Also, on Monday, I was on WHYY (NPR-Philadelphia) for an hour questioning whether work-life balance is a goal all people should strive for. I argued that, for example, the clerk who spends workweek hours 40-50 ensuring that everyone is paid promptly should not be denigrated as a workaholic but praised as a hard worker or even a hero. I also explained why shorter hours may not address the real reason people are stressed at work. HERE is an excerpt.

Today, I was on the CBC (Canada's NPR) for an hour, also talking about the whether we are too universally extolling work-life balance and unfairly labeling hard workers with the term "workaholic." The host pretty much took the other side. I leave it to you to decide if I held my own.  HERE is the link to that hour.

And as I mentioned in the previous post, today I offered very basic job-search advice to teens on NPR's Marketplace HERE is the link.

I hope you find these audio recordings useful and maybe even vaguely entertaining.

Basic, Very Basic, Job-Search Tips for Teens

I was on NPR's Marketplace today. It reminded me of how little teenagers know. Here's the link.

I also found it interesting that they interviewed me for a half hour during which I shared all sorts of job-search strategies but they chose to air only about 20 seconds, including a line about butt cracks.

How a Very Shy Person Became a Star

Here's a 4-minute set set of snippets from Jeffrie Givens' and my latest performance of Big, Black, and Shy, the one-woman show I direct, piano-accompany, and co-wrote.

The first two minutes mainly consists of snippets from her fascinating life story and the last minute is a singing performance that demonstrates how far she's come from being one of the shyest people ever to come out of Oakland. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gratitude as an Antidote to Sadness

It's been a tough couple of days.

So I'm thinking it's time to remind myself of what I should be grateful for. I started to write that on a piece of paper but decided that perhaps sharing it with you might be of value to you, for example, encouraging you to write what you're grateful for. So here goes:

I am grateful for my wife, Dr. Barbara Nemko. She is a wise and kind woman. We've been together 40 years and plan to stay together forever. For that, I am deeply grateful.

I am grateful for my good health. I will be 63 years old next Sunday, have no significant health problems, and still have all the energy I had when I was younger. I am deeply grateful.

I am grateful to have a career that I continue to love even though I've been doing it for 26 years: I still love working with my career and personal coaching clients. And because more people want to work with me than I have room in my schedule for, I have the privilege of being able to pick the clients I most believe in and for whom I can likely add the most value. It is a privilege indeed to help so many good people live a life--at work and outside--that they feel good about. I am deeply grateful.

I am grateful that, in addition to my main career, I have exciting sideline careers. In October, I begin my 25th year as host of Work with Marty Nemko on a National Public Radio station in San Francisco. I write weekly for USNews.com and for AOL.com and monthly for the Mensa periodical, The Intelligencer. I am trying to spearhead major, albeit long-shot, education reform efforts. I'm involved in the theatre world, including recently having directed, co-written, and piano-accompanied a one-woman show that audiences have loved. I am deeply grateful to have such opportunities and that there's an extensive Wikipedia entry on me. 

I am grateful for my doggie, Einstein. I live in the world of nuance and of trying to understand what lies beneath people's surface. It is a relief to know that with Einstein, what I see, is what I get: pure unadulterated love. I am grateful for that.

Finally, I am grateful to you, the readers of this blog. I have an irrepressible desire to share my thoughts with you (over 1,000 posts, 1,000 of my published articles and columns on my website, 1,500 tweets plus seven books) and so appreciate that you read them. I also appreciate your comments, even when they disagree with me. The vast majority of those are respectful and constructive. I consider thoughtful disagreement to be one of the Internet's many pluses. I am grateful.

It felt good to write this. By any chance, does my having written what I feel grateful for make you want to write what you're grateful for? Of course, I understand if you want to write that privately but I invite you to write that as a comment on this blog post.

More on "The Case Against Resume Writers"

I wrote a USNews.com article,The Case Against Resume Writers, and not surprisingly, a number of paid resume writers objected, including on a LinkedIn group for resume writers.

One such comment by a resume writer named Grant Cooper was particularly virulent and unfair, and I responded. Alas, the moderator chose not to post my response to him even though she allowed other comments to be subsequently posted. Talk about lack of ethics!

As you decide whether hiring a resume writer is ethical, I believe it is may be helpful to read my response to Mr. Cooper:

Let’s start with Cooper's attempt to diminish me by asserting that the publication that called me “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” is known for reports on nude beaches and the like. In fact, The San Francisco Bay Guardian is a respected publication known mainly for its long-form investigative journalism and thoughtful features on a wide range of issues. It’s more like a regional Harper’s than the tawdry publication Mr. Cooper implies. Here is the link to its Wikipedia entry. But that’s beside the point. His response to my article should be based on responding to my article’s points.

He then criticizes my assertion that paying a resume writer is no more ethical than paying someone to write your college application essay. He writes, “For someone with a U.C. Berkeley doctorate, such a sloppy and inaccurate comparison is quite surprising. College application essays clearly state that the essay is to be the work product of the candidate, while resume application processes contain no such admonitions.”

Ironically, it is his reasoning that is sloppy. Employers do not need to explicitly state that they expect people’s applications to be their own work. That’s obvious. The far more potent and valid basis for analogizing paid college application writers to paid resume writers is that in both, applicants are being screened for highly desired, high-stakes slots, both paid college app writers and paid resume writers make valid selection more difficult, and both are unfair to the applicants who do their own work. Both replace, without disclosure, the candidate’s ability to demonstrate coherent, organized thinking, writing, and detail-orientedness with the resume writer's.

He then argues that evidence for my arguments’ invalidity exists because Mssrs. Bolles and Yate may be more well-known than I am. That’s not arguing on the merits. Besides, in fact, the chapter on resumes in the 2013 edition of Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute mentions resume writers only in one phrase and does not endorse their use. He merely neutrally mentions their existence.

Cooper then argues that trying to get a competitive advantage is “as American as apple pie.” Yes, but that doesn’t justify trying to get an unfair competitive advantage. Hiring a resume writer is like wearing a jet pack for the first part of the job-search race.

He then argues that resume writers are no more unethical than are PR firms or ad agencies.” It’s ironic that he asserts, apriori, his analogy to be valid yet calls me sloppy for asserting an analogy between paid resume writers and paid college application writers. Besides, saying that the resume-writing profession is no worse than PR firms or ad agencies is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Then Cooper argues that just because "I (He's referring here to himself, not to me) craft an outstanding resume for my client, because I assist them in highlighting their measurable accomplishments, and I attractively format and powerfully wordsmith their resume, no federal, state, or local law requires any employer whatsoever to hire, much less interview that candidate.”

Of course, that doesn't force an employer to interview or hire the candidate, but as I said in the article, for white-collar and professional employment (the majority of people hired by paid resume writers,) employers use resumes not just to review a candidate’s job history, but his or her ability to organize thoughts, write, and produce an error-free document. If the resume writer is doing the work instead of the candidate, the employer doing pre-interview screening has a harder time distinguishing between a candidate who hired a resume writer from one who believed it ethical to do his/her own work and/or who couldn’t financially afford a resume writer. And a candidate who, in fact, would have been a better employee than the one who hired a resume writer, won’t get a chance to prove that because s/he would have been eliminated in the pre-interview screening. Justice denied.The greater good precluded.

Cooper then asks me to answer 11 questions, again including a snarky and untrue statement about the publication that called me “The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach.” Those questions basically reduce to one: “Why do some employers welcome resume writers?” Those that do, are misguided. Whatever clarifying benefit accrues from paid resume writers is outweighed by their obfuscating effects. Indeed, the percentage of hires that don’t work out is enormous. The annual employee turnover rate in the U.S., across all industries, is 75%! While, of course, other factors contribute to that, resume writers are far from helping.

I’d imagine that all of us entered a career-advising profession to make things better. With all the clearly societally beneficial professions out there, is it not unreasonable for me to ask if resume writers might want to revisit their choice of profession?

I am not expecting people in a profession that I’m critical of to embrace my arguments. Rather, despite my having written it to do good, I anticipated that paid resume writers would not agree, although not the low-level of their arguments, let alone dishonest, ad hominem accusations. Perhaps there may even be more of that. I certainly don't look forward to that. Indeed, like all human beings, I much prefer to be liked than derided.

But I’m hoping that, possibly, this kind of pointed exchange does serve a larger good. The career-advising profession hasn’t changed all that much over the decades and perhaps exchanges such as this could pave the way to further growth in the profession.

On the other hand, perhaps I’m deluding myself and using that as a rationalization for having taken all the time to write this. I'm hoping for the best.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reverse Discrimination: A Bigger Threat to America than Terrorism

At the risk of arousing ire from politically correct readers, it's ever clearer that the Obama Administration is increasing reverse discrimination at an accelerating rate. It is aggressively promulgating even such absurd policies as trying to prohibit employers from doing criminal background checks if it results in fewer non-Asian minorities getting hired. This is called "Disparate Impact" litigation.

True, if the government sued an employer for disparate impact, the employer could prevail but the cost of defending a business-necessity lawsuit is so onerous that most employers just sigh and forgo using criminal background checks to screen prospective employers.

Imagine you live honestly and have not committed any felonies. Now, you're told that the Obama Administration is pressuring employers to give felons as good a chance as you have to get a job. Is that fair to you? To the employer? To society?

When employers are ever more precluded from using merit-based criteria to screen applicants, is it any wonder America is finding it ever more difficult to compete with countries such as China and India? And of course, that will result in greater unemployment for all Americans.

Now imagine that you owned a rental apartment. "Disparate Impact" pressures you to give equal treatment to felons and non-felon applicants. Is that fair to you? To applicants who are not felons?

I believe that nothing is more devastating to the nation than to assault merit-based selection.

Why would the Obama Administration do that? Of course, it believes it is trying to improve, not destroy the nation. The problem, I believe, is that Obama has filled his administration with fellow True Believers in the primacy of redistributing resources to the have-nots: from jobs to housing to university slots. The Administration deems that so important that it is willing to push merit toward the back seat. In my view, that is short-sighted and very dangerous policy.

Thus, the Administration promulgates disparate impact lawsuits, allowing colleges to heavily consider race, urging amnesty for illegals, employers to have "targets" for race and ethnicity in all job categories, etc.

Here is an update on the Obama Administration's anti-merit efforts from Roger Clegg, President of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

Waiting for Fisher
by Roger Clegg
The Center for Equal Opportunity had urged the Court to grant review in this Mt. Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, as discussed here, and we’re glad that the Court did so this week. 
It presents the issue — never resolved by the Court — whether a “disparate impact” cause of action may be filed under the Fair Housing Act.  Such a cause of action alleges “discrimination” based on statistical imbalances, and notwithstanding the fact that the challenged practice is nondiscriminatory by its terms, in its intent, and in its application.

So, for example, the refusal to rent to convicted felons, or to sell homes to people with poor work histories, or to rent or sell to people with bad credit ratings — all can be challenged if there is a disproportionate effect on this or that racial group, and then the defendant must prove some degree of “necessity” for the practice.
The Obama administration loves this approach, but here’s hoping the Court nixes it.
*          *          *
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the Obama administration has likewise made it clear that it objects to criminal-background checks.  That’s for employers, mind you, not gun owners.  And it’s based on the same “disparate impact” approach, that statistically speaking some racial groups will be affected more than others if companies use these checks.

But the Commission’s objection to companies using criminal-background checks drew some attention last week, including a front-page, above-the-fold story by the Washington Post. The EEOC and its defenders would like the debate to hinge on whether the particular checks by a particular company are all that the good and wise would want them to be. ”It is a fairness issue,” said David Lopez, the Commission’s general counsel.

But there are a couple of more fundamental questions. First, who should get to make these decisions, absent a showing of actual discriminatory intent (again, not alleged here): The person who owns the company or a bunch of federal bureaucrats? And second, remember that the EEOC is not objecting to criminal-background checks per se, no matter how high-handed and unfair they are, so long as they do not have a politically incorrect racial effect. Now, what bearing does that have on a practice’s “fairness”?
*          *          *
Linda Greenhouse, a Supreme Court columnist for the New York Times, is trying yet again to persuade the Supreme Court not to decide the Fisher v. University of Texas case, in which the Center for Equal Opportunity is urging the Court to end racial preferences in university admissions. Here’s my posted response to Ms. Greenhouse:
It makes perfect sense for the Court to review this issue [of racial admissions preferences] again. For one thing, universities have shown that they cannot be trusted to weigh race only lightly; numerous studies have shown that, despite judicial warning, race continues to be given overwhelming weight. For another thing, the demographics of the country are changing so that, more and more, it is Asian students who are being discriminated against and Latino students who are being given preferential treatment. And there is more and more empirical data to suggest that the purported benefits of using racial preferences have been overstated, and that the costs are much higher (for example, “mismatching” students and schools has been shown to hurt the supposed beneficiaries of preferential treatment). And the issue of the case’s justiciability was exhaustively briefed at the cert stage in the case, with petitioner trouncing the University’s arguments.

As we await the Court’s opinion in Fisher, two recent polls have underscored that the public doesn’t like this kind of discrimination, and indeed likes it less and less with every tick of the clock.  You can read about the polls here.

And, if you want still more information on Fisher, you can watch this BBC clip (yours truly appears briefly at the 00:40 mark).

Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Art of Getting Promoted

My AOL.com article today: Getting Promoted.

Monday, June 10, 2013

For Longshot Job Hunters: Social Media Tactics That May Save the Day

My USNews.com article today: The fifth in my job-search HailMarys series: Social Media Hail Marys. 

Those are nothing-to-lose tactics that, when you're a longshot job hunter, could save the day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eight Career "Truths" That May Not Be So True

In preparation for my University of California, Berkeley Extension Public Lecture this Wednesday, I wrote a draft of what I plan to say.

HERE is the link. I'd welcome your reactions.

Also, it is a public event, so you are invited. The event is free but you're required to register.

Managing Your Boss: "Leading Up"

My AOL article today is on how to deal with a minimally responsive boss.

It proposes a Version 2.0 of what Seth Godin calls, leading up.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Commencement Speech I'd Give...Except That No College Would Dare Let Me

Four years ago, I gave the commencement speech at Columbia College (MO.) No one has asked me to give one since. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that I've spent a lot of the last decade calling a college education America's most overrated product.

So next best thing, here's the commencement speech I'd give if someone would dare let me.

Dear Graduates,

You've probably come here expecting a pat on the back for a job well done, encouragement that the world is your oyster, and an exhortation to follow your passion. But if I am to have integrity, I cannot give that speech.

What I'm about to say is not applicable to those of you who worked hard to learn enough of value in college to justify all that money and time. To you, I'll simply say congratulations on a job well done.

This speech is for the others among you who spent your parents' money doing a lot less, maybe even doing the least you could--honestly or less so--to get that piece of imitation sheepskin, spending less time on studying or even on useful extracurriculars like working for student government or the student newspaper than you did on playing videogames, watching steroided Neanderthals throw a ball and each other around, and, ahem, hooking up. 

You in the bonk-bottle-and-bong crowd have been singing "la la la la la la la" to drown out the warnings that you're at risk of joining the 54% of college graduates under 25 who are unemployed or doing work you could have done even if your parents hadn't spent a crazy amount of money for you to extend your childhood in that four-to-six-year summer camp they call college. And lest you think I'm the only one saying that, check out Message to the 2013 Graduates in this recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. 

Perhaps it's not surprising to hear, but unless you change your attitude toward time and how you spend it big-time, you'll have a helluva time supporting yourself because, unlike colleges that inflate grades and take your money and then come back at you for yet more money in donations, employers won't be eager to pay you thousands of dollars every month plus benefits to continue your summer-camp ways. They'll want you to grow up. 

They'll be additional dubious about many of you because you may, overtly or covertly, show your disdain of business, of profit--That, you learned well in college. 

And employers won't exactly be orgasmic over your weak writing and critical thinking skills. Colleges may not have had time to teach you those because they were too busy radicalizing you and teaching you the esoterica that only ivory tower professors could care about. And lest that self-esteem program made you too confident that you were the exception, that you did improve your writing and critical thinking skills significantly, you may well be wrong. The definitive nationwide study, Academically Adrift, published by University of Chicago Press, found that 36% of college graduates grew not at all in critical thinking and writing. I'll repeat that again because it's so shocking and so important: The definitive nationwide study, Academically Adrift, published by University of Chicago Press, found that 36% of college graduates grew not at all in critical thinking and writing. Follow-up reports have been even more frightening.

Only two things can save you:

1. Append yourself to the smartest, most successful, most ethical human being you can dig up. It will be worth even a lot of effort to hook up with that person. You want to be closer than a Siamese twin. Get his coffee, do her laundry, do nearly anything in exchange for being at a master's elbow so you can learn something of value that could turn you into a person who can contribute to the world you claim to care so much about. You will likely learn far more of value about how to succeed in business or in the nonprofit world than from those ideologically truncated, arcana-focused, practicality-light professors. You'll also learn how to deal professionally with people, including resolving conflicts more challenging than who gets to hold the video controller. And most important, you'll get to see a real work-ethic. Most people who are not limited to barista-level work prioritize being as productive as possible over the vaunted work-life balance, even if it means they never get to watch Arrested Development, learn more yoga poses, or hike into environmental blitzedness. 

2. Please, take the time to become expert at something. Dabbling is risky. Yes, if you're a polymath, brilliant at many things, you may achieve loftily in multiple areas. But most dabblers risk becoming unable to maintain an income that's--to use your word--sustainable. Pick something--It can even be that recycling of algae into sustainably harvested, biodegradable soy-ink paper that your professor has milked into four articles in the Journal of Esoterica. But laser-focus on getting to be an expert at something. As Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers found, you have to stay with something for 10 to 20,000 hours to get good enough at it. 

Don't think I'm just pontificating, unwilling to walk the talk. I've stayed with being a career counselor for 29 years and even now after 4,500 clients, I still spend considerable time at night and on weekends reading how to get better. I believe that is time well spent, key to being successful and to a life of integrity. I ask you to consider doing not only what I, but the hundreds of experts Malcolm Gladwell researched, say you must do to develop real expertise. 

I am not, however, telling you to run back to school---You already saw how much good that did for your four to six years and mountain of money. What I'm saying is to keep working to become an expert in your chosen area, reading, attending workshops, volunteering, maybe even getting paid, ideally at the elbow of the aforementioned mentor. But I do ask you to consider stopping the dabbling.

Okay, enough. Most people don't remember anything from their commencement speech so I might as well stop here. I certainly do wish you all the best.

Should My Wife and I Replace Our Sofa?

Here is another rare deviation from the no-nonsense tenor of this blog.

In an attempt to make me seem too unmaterialistic, my wife, on the radio, made fun of me for not wanting to replace our sofa. She suggested I take a picture of the sofa and she take a picture of the best evidence for replacing it and see if the readers of the blog have an opinion.  Those photos are below.

First, here are some facts to help guide your decision:
  • The stained area is roughly two square inches. 
  • We have tried to remove that stain and it can't be removed.
  • Per the picture of the sofa, no one notices the stain unless they're on their hands and knees. 
  • There are a few other "not-quite stains," barely visible and not visible in this photo. 
  • We can afford to buy another sofa. My objection only is that the current sofa is as attractive as any we'd buy, is very comfortable, the perfect size, and it and looks fine. Per the picture, I believe a reasonable person would not consider the sofa anywhere near stained enough to justify spending the time and money to try to find a new one that looks at least as good, is the right size and style.
You can click on the photos to enlarge them.

Closeup of stain in lower right corner of the other picture
So what do you think? Should I hold my ground or give in? I'm really quite sure I'll end up giving in. Such is the way that such matters typically end.

How to Create a Strong Yet Ethical Resume, Fast: Part II

My USNews.com piece today: Part II of How to Create a Strong, Ethical Resume, Fast.

It focuses on how to ethically yet effectively deal with employment gaps even in difficult situations: stay-at-home parent, videogame-playing pothead, and felon.