Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Video of Marty Nemko's UC Berkeley Talk, "Eight Career Truths That May Not Be So True"

I'm flattered that UC Berkeley Extension has posted both the complete video and a 3-minute highlight video of my recent talk there: Eight Career Truths That May Not Be So True. Both are below. And HERE is an augmented print transcript of the talk.

The full talk (It's an hour long.)

A 3 1/2-minute excerpt.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Converting Part-Time, Temp, Internship, or Contract Work into a Full-Time Job

My AOL article today: How to Convert a Part-Time Job into a Full-Time One.  The content is also relevant to people in internships and in contract work who'd like a full-time, more permanent position.

Also today, I discussed, live, in an "Lunchtime Live" video how America might best address the fact that an ever larger percentage of jobs are part-time, temp, etc.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Choose a College. I'll Discuss That on KQED's Forum with Michael Krasny

Today, I was on Forum with Michael Krasny to discuss how to choose and make the most of college. You can hear it HERE. It's an hour-long but if you want to hear my contribution, I'm on from the 9:12 mark to the 23:10 mark.

Come to My Talk Tonight: What Every Career-Minded Person Must Know and Probably Doesn't

Tonight, Thurs, July 25 at 7:40 PM, I give a talk in San Francisco: What Every Career-Minded Person Must Know and Probably Doesn't. For info and $10 tickets, click HERE.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Blueprint for Increasing the Number of Good Jobs in America

Perhaps 50 to 100 million Americans can't or won't be able to sustainably make a living. The unemployment rate of 7.4% doesn't count the millions who are earning at or near minimum wage or who have given up trying to find work

Most of the fastest-growing jobs require high-level skills (like software developer) or often don't pay a living wage (janitor, retail clerk, caregiver, etc.) And ever more full-time benefited, stable jobs are being replaced by part-time contract gigs, automation, or offshored workers.

The disappearance of full-time good jobs has been accelerating for decades, in part because of the growing gap between the cost of hiring an American full-time compared with getting the work done using the approaches listed in the previous paragraph. When an employer hires an American full-time, s/he must pay, for example, Social Security, family leave (paid leave in CA, planned in others), and growing worker-compensation and wrongful-termination claims. Such claims are likely to accelerate further as people get more desperate. And when ObamaCare kicks in, employers will be required to pay thousands of dollars per 30+ hour-per-week employee every year. A likely result will be that many employers will replace yet more full-time workers with part-timers.

The percentage of people unable to earn a stably sustainable living will likely increase further because, on average, the low-skilled poor have more children and because "comprehensive immigration reform" will legalize 11 million people, many whose skills, education, and English language are insufficient to, ongoing, earn a living wage.

Education. The most politically palatable and, in theory, sensible solution is education. Alas, at least a half century of concerted, expensive efforts to close the achievement gap have been far from successful. Yes, school achievement has risen slightly among the poor but the abilities and skills required to consistently earn a middle-class income have increased far more. Low-skill agricultural and manufacturing jobs have declined while high-tech and knowledge work have burgeoned.

I believe our best shot at making education the magic pill we wish it would be is to create Dream Homework: a complete set of dream-team-taught online, interactive, lessons, K-12, available online and used by teachers to replace the reviled standard homework. That way, every child, rich or poor, would be taught daily by some of our most transformational teachers. Thus the school day could be devoted mainly to providing the one-on-one support that only a live teacher can provide.

Job retraining. Job retraining is also an inadequate solution. That too has been tried for decades, with staggering costs and staggering lack of success.

Raising the minimum wage. Instinctively, it feels appropriate to raise the minimum wage to a level at which people can live decently. Unfortunately, many people don't add even minimum-wage value to employers. For example, many people learn slowly, are unreliable, alienate coworkers and customers, steal, and/or have serious physical or mental disabilities. Many employers would pay to not hire such people, so their net value to the employer is less than $0! So if the minimum wage were raised to, for example, $15, many more low-skill workers would be unemployed. Employers would think about many employees, "This person doesn't add enough value to my workplace to justify $15 an hour plus all those benefits and risk of employee lawsuit." True, raising the minimum wage to $15 would improve the lives of millions of Americans who are paid less than $15 an hour plus benefits but who are worth at least that. But a "living wage" would also render unemployed millions of would-be workers who add less than $15 an hour of value.

No one approach will solve this problem. Candidly, I'm not convinced that even implementing all of the following would make those 50-100 million people consistently earning at least $15 an hour plus benefits. But these are my best shots at what would help.

K-16 entrepreneurship education. New businesses create jobs, so teaching students the art and science of entrepreneurship should create jobs while abetting society. Of course, the school curriculum is already packed. So what could entrepreneurship education replace? Replacing one or two days a week of physical education with entrepreneurship education might offer the best tradeoff. 

That said,, unlike entrepreneurs of previous generations, those who create websites, software, etc, create few jobs: A few geniuses are needed to create the first product. Then unlike traditional manufacturing, it's reproduced and distributed electronically, no people required. Yeah, a few marketers etc. are needed but no major increase in employment, especially for those with intellectual, social, and emotional capability below the 90th percentile.

Three-year easing of regulations for new businesses. (suggested to me by Robert Neuwirth.) Many people contemplating starting a business are daunted by the government-imposed costs and regulations. A temporary easing could create more businesses and, in-turn, jobs. 

Taxpayer-funded jobs.  I envision a WPA-like program, in which taxpayers fund an Assistance Army that would, for example, build infrastructure, bring more tutors to K-12 classrooms, provide better in-home support for shut-in seniors, beautify riven inner cities, and fund visual and performing artists to enrich their community. 

Reducing taxes on small business. The public is not aware that America's 30 million non-corporate businesses pay taxes at individual rates. The average top marginal rate for the 23 million sole proprietorships is 47.5 percent, higher even that the rate for the 7.3 million S-corporations of 44.5 percent. That kind of tax rate on top of other employer mandates from Workers Comp to Social Security to ObamaCare provides a major disincentive to hire more workers. 

Nanopayments. Jaron Lanier, in his new book, Who Owns the Future?, argues that much work goes unpaid and could become so. For example, millions of bloggers, tweeters, digital photographers, Amazon review writers, YouTube video uploaders, etc. might be able to make at least sideline income by charging pennies per view, automatically charged to a user's credit card. It's difficult to envision enough of the public being willing to pay even a penny for what they currently get for free but the benefit of such a system would be so great that I believe it's worth a societal effort to try to make nanopayments the norm. A smaller version of this already exists on Amazon's Mechanical Turk, and for $50-100 projects on, and for $100 to $1000 projects on standard freelancer sites such as,, 99designs.comand

Encourage the share economy. Websites are helping people make money by sharing what they already own: their home (AirBnB, car (RelayRides, getaround, zipcar, Uber) and money, for example, Kickstarter.

Get the public to embrace patchwork careers. Of course, full-time, stable jobs offer advantages: Many people like having a routine, a regular place to go to work, a job they can grow comfortable in, coworkers that become friends, whom they pass the years with. Alas, such stability may be impossible for many of those 50 to 100 million people and perhaps for many others. 

Many people so dislike the idea of earning their living from multiple part-time, low-pay, often temporary jobs that they'd rather be unemployed. Other people are daunted at having to look for multiple jobs, perhaps frequently. Those are legitimate concerns but patchwork careers do have advantages, for example, variety, flexible schedule, and more learning opportunities. Perhaps a campaign of public-service announcements, a la the anti-smoking and anti-drug-abuse initiatives, might convince more people to pursue a patchwork career.

Get the public to learn to live on less. As said earlier, I fear that all of the above will only partially address the problem. So I believe the public needs to realize that The American Way--trying to spend your way to happiness--may be not only unrealistic but unwise if not a downright fool's game. Beyond the basics, most people find contentment through rewarding work, relationships, and creative outlets, not buying that brand-new car or 20th pair of shoes. 

Dear reader, I welcome your ideas and your reactions to mine.I plan to send a revised version of this to Jaron Lanier in advance of his appearance on my radio program, where we will, on-the-air, brainstorm a plan for increasing the number of good jobs in America.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Career Advice for Students Starting Their Last Year of School

My article today: career advice for students in their last year of school.

It presents ideas on how to choose courses and extracurriculars with an eye to career and how to make the most of each.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Obama is Making an Honest Conversation About Race LESS Likely

President Obama injected race into the acquittal of George Zimmerman despite a year-long FBI investigation that found not a shred of evidence of racial animus, and despite the jury finding Zimmerman not-guilty of any crime. And President Obama has asked his Attorney General, Eric Holder, to see if he can reopen the investigation that it was a hate crime.This is a political witch hunt reminiscent of the Salem witch trials.

Obama used as evidence of non-Blacks being unfair to Blacks that, for example, a woman might hold her breath and her purse tight when in an elevator with a young Black male. Well, fact is, she--whether white, Black, or of any background--has more reason to worry than if, for example, she were in an elevator with an old, Asian, woman. It is indisputable that young, Black males, especially in low-income areas, commit a disproportionate percentage of the violent crime.

In every other context, we not only accept but extol people for making reasonable inferences based on the inevitably limited information available. For example, any good physician deems a patient healthy based on limited data and a probabilistic assessment that ordering more tests is unwise. Indeed, a physician that tested everything to 100% certainty would legitimately be accused of excessively ordering tests and even lose his or her license to practice medicine.

Yet when a woman gets nervous in a low-income, high-crime area upon seeing a young Black male, President Obama denies her even the right to hold her breath and her purse more tightly. Note, we're not talking here about something serious, for example, unfairly denying someone admission to college. Indeed, the opposite is true there. Blacks are admitted to colleges with grades and test scores that would result in whites or Asians being rejected. What Obama is demanding is that we not even think the truth--that young Black males are more likely to commit violent crime than are other groups. He won't even allow us to hold our breath.

Mr. Obama's statements and policies and those of Attorney General Holder, newly appointed Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, etc., reflect a core belief in "redistributive justice," institutional racism," and "Disparate Impact" theory. which requires, for example, employers to spend a fortune on customized statistical data before using a test of thinking ability as a criterion for hiring employees, because it would result in fewer non-Asian minorities to be hired. Of course, the result is that most employers will forgo using a measure of thinking ability in hiring. Somehow, the Obama Administration believes the nation is better if proportionate percentages of races are hired even if employers are severely disincented from testing what often is the most important attribute in a employee: thinking ability.

All this will only make race relations more difficult, an honest conversation about race impossible, and most important, accelerate America's descent into becoming just another struggling nation.

A Wise Response to the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Decision

I find Linda Chavez's latest syndicated column to be a fair-minded response to the Zimmerman/Martin verdict and to the Obama Administration's response to it.

In my view, fairness is more likely to emerge from such reasoning than from the political theater being staged by the Obama administration.

Inciting Racial Paranoia
by Linda Chavez
In speaking to the NAACP last week in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, Attorney General Eric Holder performed a serious disservice to his audience and to his office. By suggesting that the Department of Justice might pursue civil rights charges against Zimmerman for Martin's death, Holder encouraged the belief that racism motivated the shooting.
Calling the shooting "tragic and unnecessary," Holder said, "Independent of the legal determination that will be made, I believe this tragedy provides yet another opportunity for our nation to speak honestly -- and openly -- about the complicated and emotionally charged issues that this case has raised."
But his remarks were anything but honest or open. Instead of focusing on the actual events that led up to the shooting, he chose to talk about his own brushes with prejudice and police bias.
"Years ago," he said, "some of these same issues drove my father to sit down with me to have a conversation -- which is no doubt familiar to many of you -- about how as a young black man I should interact with the police, what to say, and how to conduct myself if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way I thought was unwarranted."
Though Holder didn't divulge the contents of his talk with his father or his subsequent talk with his own son on the issue, one can assume it didn't include a recommendation to confront the person suspected of being a racist, much less pound his head against the ground. But evidence at the trial suggests that's what happened on the night Zimmerman shot Martin.
Eyewitness testimony coupled with photographs of injuries to Zimmerman's head and face suggests that at the point of the shooting Martin had become the aggressor and Zimmerman the one under attack -- which one can speculate is why the jury voted to acquit Zimmerman.
If Holder had been honest with his audience, he would have admitted that both Zimmerman and Martin made bad decisions that ended in Martin's death. We never will know exactly what happened that night, but we do know some of what occurred and how events spiraled out of control.
In the wake of a flurry of break-ins in the gated community where he acted as a neighborhood watch volunteer, Zimmerman was overzealous in pursuing Martin. He should not have gotten out of his vehicle after he was instructed to remain in it, even to locate the nearest address to properly direct police, as he claimed. Had he stayed in place, Martin would be alive.
But Martin also exercised bad judgment, which culminated in his death. When he realized he was being followed, he could have proceeded home without stopping or, as the defense alleged, circling back. He also could have hung up with the girl he was talking to and called the police to report what was happening.  Instead, he chose to confront Zimmerman and, from the cuts and bruises on Zimmerman's face, none too gently.
Once Martin was on top of Zimmerman and punching him in the head, Zimmerman had a right to defend himself. The state's stand-your-ground law wasn't a factor. No one has to take a beating before protecting himself.
"There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if -- and the 'if' is important -- no safe retreat is available," Holder told the NAACP -- but he nonetheless blamed such laws for "senselessly expand(ing) the concept of self-defense and sow(ing) dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."
The same logic, however, applies to Martin's actions that night. Martin was the one who stood his ground in the face of a perceived racial insult. And Holder's words will make it more likely that other black teenagers may look for reasons to believe they are being singled out because of their skin color and perhaps act as tragically as Martin did.
In the end, Holder is unlikely to bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman. There is simply no evidence to suggest Zimmerman acted as a result of racial animus. Zimmerman's history of good -- exemplary -- racial interactions makes it clear he was no bigot looking to kill an innocent black kid for sport.

Holder should have used his time with the NAACP to talk down racial paranoia, not increase it. Instead, he chose to inflame passions for political advantage.

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." Her column is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate. She is the Chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Will You Actually Make a Bigger Difference in a Government Job?

Conventional wisdom is that you're more likely to "make a difference" working for the government or a non-profit than for a company.

My article today raises questions about that.

A bit more complete version of the article appears as "Truth" #5 in the transcript  of a talk I gave, Eight Career "Truths" That May Not Be So True.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Rose "Secret:" The Most Beautiful Thing I've Ever Cut from My Garden

I just cut this stem from my garden. It's the rose, Secret. It is beautiful and intensely fragrant but evanescent, which some say enhances its appeal. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Jaron Lanier will Appear on "Work with Marty Nemko"

I rarely tout one of my upcoming radio programs. This is an exception.

While I'm grateful that many luminaries have appeared on my program, I'm finding myself particularly excited about my guest on Sep 15. Beyond being an expert on technology and society, he pieces together disparate nuggets into very smart, unconventional approaches to society's big problems.

He is Jaron Lanier.

We will collaboratively try, on air, to develop a bold yet realistic plan for reversing the middle class's shrinking.

I invite you to listen to the program. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can hear it live on KALW, 91.7 FM (NPR-San Francisco) or worldwide live on After that, it will be archived for a week on the National Public Radio website. After that, in perpetuity, the link will be on

Monday, July 15, 2013

An Alternative to Going Back to School

Are you thinking about going back to school but wonder if it will be worth the time and money? Especially when there is such an oversupply of degree holders? Might the time and money be better spent other ways?

 In my piece today, I propose an alternative: forgoing State U, let alone Private U, in favor of You U. And I detail the specifics---including how to get an employer to hire you, a You U "graduate" over a traditional graduate.

Want to be Your Own Boss? Seven Self-Employment Ideas

Of course, it's not easy to be self-employed, to be your own boss.

My latest AOL article offers some of my favorite self-employment ideas that don't require you to be a born entrepreneur.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

My Dad, My Hero

My mom is beginning to fail. I'm going to visit her in NY tomorrow. Among the many thoughts that float through me are of my dad, Boris Nemko.

I've often written about his having used work to get past his Holocaust memories and to afford to move my mom, sister, and me from a Bronx tenement. But I just flashed on some other things about him that, on reflection, really were quite heroic. Perhaps they'll inspire you as they continue to inspire me.

My dad didn't open his clothing store in one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods (105 Moore St. Brooklyn) because he had a political desire to serve the poor. It was all he could afford. He didn't charge $1 for shirts and $1.98 for Ray-Ban sunglasses because he wanted to be kind to the poor. That was all the market there could bear.

But even after he could afford to move his store to a less dangerous neighborhood, he stayed...for 40 years. He stayed even though people would constantly steal from his store. Twice, he was awakened in the middle of the night by the police--they called to tell him that robbers had emptied his store. A third time, the police called to say that someone broke a window and tossed a lighted kerosene-soaked towel into his store. Half the merchandise was burned, much the other half ruined because of the smoke.

Apart from those anomalies, every day, my dad had to endure the smell of stale blood from the live chicken market next door merging with the smell of deep-fried pork intestines from the deli on the other side plus the smell of the garbage that people would throw into the street. So often, he had to endure unfair customers. For example, when I was helping my dad at the store one Saturday, I recall one customer who, for 20 minutes, tried on suit after suit, asking my father question after question, which made all the other customers wait. And after that, he said he couldn't afford the $25 for the suit and asked if my father would sell it to him for $10. My father said the best he could do was $20 and the customer pranced out laughing.

My father kept his store open from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.Monday through Saturday. And before he could afford a car, he would take a bus, train, plus a six-block walk (rain, snow, or shine) to and from his store. And on many Sundays, he would go to the Lower East Side to buy merchandise for the store, carting boxes of shirts, pants, etc back to his store. 

Nevertheless, my dad stayed for 40 years, serving that community, providing basic products, things they really needed, at an affordable price, and providing services unheard of today. For example, my dad would do alterations for customers for free. He had a sewing machine in the back and did the work when business was slow.

I believe that the small shopkeepers who, like my dad, endured everything from ongoing robbery to ongoing stench and kept on serving--with integrity--are far more worthy of praise than are the politicians, athletes, and pop culture stars we genuflect before.

Helping Loved Ones with Career Issues

Often, our spouse, adult child, or even parent struggle to find good work. How can our efforts help rather than annoy them?

That's the topic of this week's column by Michael Bernick, former head of California's Employment Development Department. HERE's the link.

I'm pleased that he interviewed me for that column although his calling me "the dean of California's job coaches" reminds me how old I am. Usually people are described as "the dean" when they have one foot in the grave. It's a little like those lifetime achievement Oscars. The subtext is, "Your life's over, dude."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Are You an Ethical Employee?

Many people think they're more ethical than they in fact are. My article today: Are You an Ethical Employee? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lessons from My Successes

This video, Lessons from My Successes, is the sequel to the just-posted, Lessons from My Failures.

Lessons from My Failures

I turned 63 yesterday and reflected on my life. I've had successes but also plenty of failures.

People like to talk about their successes but failures may be as instructive, so I created this video, Lessons from My Failures

To balance things out, my next video will offer lessons that might be learned from my successes. 

Hiring Wisely: The Art of Selection

How to hire wisely is the topic of my today's article.