Thursday, January 29, 2015

Aging Gracefully

Even if we eat lots of veggies and walk that 45 minutes a day, Father Time catches up with all of us.

I’d be disingenuous to say that the following tips will make your old age “the golden years.”  The aphorism, “Getting old isn’t for the faint of heart” became a cliché for a reason. But perhaps the tips in my article today can at least put a little gold plating on those years.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Ten Tips for Starting or Changing Your Career

Maybe you've just finished school, or dropped out. Or maybe you're ready to change career.

In any case, you don't want to screw it up. Here are my top tips:

Go with what you got.  For example, if you're good at writing but a lousy team player, fight to get a job that allows you to be that best self. Yeah, I know that self-help gurus tell you to keep learning and that with effort, you can accomplish almost anything. Bull. Few people grow enough from remediating their weaknesses to justify spending the time on that rather than on using and building on natural strengths.

Be contrarian. If you search for jobs in popular areas--environment, entertainment, law, medicine, nonprofits--the competition is fierce. Go for the less sexy, for example: management in an industrial company, exporter of obsolete high-tech machinery to developing nations, work at a toxic waste disposal business. In the end, career contentment comes from doing a good job, having responsibility, getting appreciation, good pay and job security. You're more likely to find all those in something other than a "cool career."

Do the most you can, not the least you can get away with. I know that sounds like your parents' preaching but that is key to success. Really. 

Procrastination is career cancer. During a talk to college presidents, I asked, "How many of you consider yourself a procrastinator?" Fifteen percent raised their hand. I asked the same question to a group of unemployed people. 90% did.

Use your network. Alas, good jobs are ever harder to find. Unless you're a star, most of them go to someone with an "in." So pitch everyone you know. Give 'em just one sentence, for example, "I'm good on a team, keeping things organized, and calm. I'd like to work in government. Know anyone I should talk with?"

Consider self-employment. That's the fastest way to go from schlepper to CEO.  Yes, I know that most businesses soon go out of business. But if you keep it really simple and choose a low-status business, your odds skyrocket--you'll be competing with lesser lights. Examples: online dating coach, a small chain of flower carts near a busy bus or train terminal, heavy equipment servicer (e.g., printing presses, MRI machines.)

Append yourself to excellence. Try to get to report to a smart, hard-working, ethical, kind person who knows a lot about the field. Better to be that person's entry-level assistant than to have an important job aside a cretin.

Be low maintenance.  Yes, if it's important, complain, but recognize that you pay a price for each whine. One of the best things you can say to a boss or even co-worker: "How can I make your life easier?"

Do your hobby at work. There's usually a way. For example, I play the piano. How in the world could I incorporate that into my work as a career counselor? Many ways. For example, when I want my client to take a moment to think about a plan we've developed, I say, "I'll play some soft piano to give you a little space to reflect as well as to get us out of our head space and help you get in touch with your feelings about the plan we've concocted." Clients like it and so do I.

Keep ethics primary. I'm well aware that cheaters often do prosper but I really believe that you'll feel better about your life if you always let ethics trump exigency.

Always take the next step forward.  Looking back at past mistakes or unfairnesses is more likely to keep you mired than to teach you lessons. Looking aside at others is more likely to make you jealous or aspire to keep up with the Joneses than to help you do what you think is right for you. Always take the next step forward.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Should You Own Your Own Business?

Should you own your own business?  That's my article today.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Should You Follow Up?

It’s a dilemma. You’ve applied for a job, or submitted your work, or answered a relationship ad and…silence.

Do you follow-up? When? How?

Perhaps the internal dialogue I offer in my article today. may help you get clearer on what you might do in your situation.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What If You Talk Too Much: The cure depends on the cause

If you think that you or someone you know might talk too much, my article today is on-target. It offers a variety of causes of verbosity and a cure for each.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Five Career Tips I Particularly Like

For my article today, I offer five career tips I particularly like because they're potent but may not be obvious.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When is it Worth Being Politically Incorrect?

When is it worth espousing a politically incorrect viewpoint? I explore that in my article today.

I'm seeking "workaholics" to be profiled in my next book

I'm planning to write a book called "Workaholic!": 30 hard workers tell their story. Its purpose will be to encourage people to respect them rather than pathologize them as workaholics, like alcoholics, addicts. 

If you know someone who, as a way of life, chooses to work 60+ hours a week, I'd welcome their posting their contact information as a comment on this blog post. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Incredible Disappearing Job: A five-point plan for creating jobs

As most people know or at least intuit that the low unemployment rate masks the real job situation for many millions of Americans. 

My essay today, The Incredible Disappearing Job, offers a five-point plan for addressing the problem.