Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Video of Me Reading My New Picture Book, Venus and Iris

HERE is the link to a video of me reading my new book Venus and Iris: A Children's Book but Not Really. 

And HERE is the link to it on Amazon.  I welcome your writing a review of it.

12 Things That Make Bosses Want to Get Rid of You

Many of my career coaching clients supervise people. In the confidentiality of my office, they tell me what most bugs them about employees, what makes them want to fire them or "lay them off." My PsychologyToday.com article today lists 12 of those.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Two Very Different Alternatives to America's Bad Economic Status Quo

It seems that nearly everyone is unhappy with America's economic status quo.  

The Haves, especially around tax time, are sad at how little they seem to get for paying the lion's share of taxes, and the massive effort required to pay one's taxes--filing all but the simplest returns is extremely  complicated. 

The Have-Nots, an ever growing percentage of the population, are struggling ever more just to make ends meet. 

As I've written ad nauseam, the recovery is a government-and media-perpetrated myth. Yes, a few very rich people and companies are recovering but most people are not. 

I'm of two completely different minds on what to do. One is a lightly regulated small-government version of capitalism. The other is socialism plus a method of selecting leaders that would make socialism more likely to succeed.

My preferred flavor of capitalism
Government does most things badly: slowly, inefficiently, and "invests" in schemes that the private sector rejects as bad investments and usually turn out to be. What pop to mind are ethanol, Solyndra, and endless "promising" social programs that fail, not to mention $85 hammers and bridges to nowhere.
The government seems to forget that it's our money they're toying with and they have a responsibility to spend it wisely. And government, riddled with sinecures and the near-impossibility of getting fired from most government jobs, ensures we get terrible value for the enormous amount of taxes we pay: not just federal, state, and local income tax, but sales tax, alcohol tax, tire excise tax, property tax, tolls, user fees, plus usurious fines for traffic violations, for example, I paid $85 for a parking ticket. The penalty for driving in the car pool lane is $481 dollars. The punishment should fit the crime. Rather, tickets are merely one of many hidden taxes.
I'd slash the size of government while retaining a safety net for the poor. Hard work would not be enough to make people rise out of poverty. Most are poor heavily because of bad luck in who their parents were and where they grew up. It feels appropriate to have some redistribution from people who won in the genetic lottery to those who lost.

So I'd fund free group-housing and food for the poor---If dorm living and eating is good enough for Harvard students, it's good enough for those who aren't working.  I'd also provide basic health care but not the same level of care available to provided to people who pay for health care. 
I'd dramatically scale back most agencies, including defense. We can't reduce risk to zero and the fortune we spend on defense doesn't sufficiently increase our chances of remaining safe. I'd cut education spending--We fund absurdly large bureaucracies that create mountains of regulations, micromanage, and require huge sums for schools to comply with regulations that, net, ironically impede learning.  Truly. 
I'd similarly review all government spending with an eye toward cost-effectiveness.That would put a fortune back into working and middle-class people's pockets. I believe they would far more wisely spend the money than the government can.
My preferred flavor of socialism
Capitalism creates too many losers. While a small percentage get wealthy, millions, unable to compete even for moderate-level jobs, must struggle to maintain even a meager existence. 

Socialism, which heavily taxes middle and upper incomers to provide a broad, cradle to grave support system is worthy of consideration. And indeed, America is rapidly moving toward a more socialist economy with ObamaCare, paid Family Leave, etc., etc. 
A brand new way to select our elected officials leaders
The problem is that socialism expands government and is likely to result in even more poorly spent taxpayer money. 
The core problem in my view is in how we select our leaders. The people who run for office are the types willing to continually press the flesh and say what's needed to win. Politicians are not the pool from which the wisest stewards of our tax dollars would come. 
Even if campaigns were brief and 100% publicly funded, you still have the problem of an electorate too subject to the influence of commercials, sound bites, and slick politician speeches. 
Instead, I propose that our government officials be selected using passive criteria, like a stock index fund picks stocks. For example, our legislators might consist of the most newly retired of the nation's 10 largest nonprofits, a randomly selected CEO of the S&P Midcap 400, the Police Officer of America's Cop of the Year, the Teacher of the Year, the most award-winning scientist who finished her or his Ph.D. in the last decade, plus five random citizens. 
Those legislators would vote to select the heads of executive branches: the president, state governors, and mayors. 
While the impact of better leaders would help all economic systems, it would particularly benefit a socialist government, because it is so large.
Making it practical
You protest, "But the incumbent politicians would never allow it--the foxes are guarding the hen house." My approach would be to get the media to urge voters to vote against candidates that oppose a fairer system for selecting our government's leaders. 
Your thoughts? 
I feel insufficiently knowledgeable to recommend either of these economic reforms wholeheartedly. They merely represent my best thoughts and I welcome your thoughts on the subject. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Coping With Ever More Jobs Being Lost to Automation

After the Germanwings co-pilot's suicide/mass murder, CNN did a feature on the forthcoming pilotless airplanes. You've no doubt read ad nauseam about the accelerating replacement of humans with machines. In today's PsychologyToday.com article, I discuss how to cope, practically and psychologically.

Should You Have Cosmetic Surgery? A Debate

Many people debate having cosmetic surgery. My PsychologyToday.com article today presents a debate on the subject.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Venus and Iris: My First Children's Book is Now Published

Venus and Iris, my first children's book, is not just for kids.  This deceptively simple picture book explores issues of lookism and the age-old question of how much to sacrifice for love. 

Appropriate for kids 5 and older, I believe Venus and Iris also for adults. I think it's worth reading by yourself, plus it could be a valuable trigger for a conversation with a romantic partner or family member. 

Also, the illustrations, true works of art painted by the illustrator, Calista Ward, are a joy to look at. 

I'm biased but I consider Venus and Iris a true bargain at $9.50. Again, HERE is the link to its page on Amazon.

Unconventional Advice on Career Success

As I think back on my 4800 clients, conventional advice about success doesn't work often enough: work hard, don't procrastinate, blah-blah-blah. So when writing the last part of my 12-part series on your career: Success in Your Career, I decided to try a different approach: Knowing what I do now, if I were starting over, what would I actually do to help ensure success. HERE is the link.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Getting Off to a Good Start in Your New Job

Your first days on the job are key. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. My PsychologyToday.com article today shows how to get off to a good start.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Kinder, Gentler, Yet Effective Approach to Negotiation

Negotiation can feel like high-stakes poker. My PsychologyToday.com article today offers a lower-stress way to get your fair share, or maybe even a little more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Making Your Job Interview More Effective, More Ethical, and Less Stressful

A job interview can be made more effective, more ethical and less stressful. My PsychologyToday.com article today explains how.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Using Employment Recruiters (Headhunters) Wisely

If you're well-employed but looking to find a different position, recruiters (sometimes called headhunters) can be helpful. My PsychologyToday.com article today explains how to use them.

The Ethical (and Effective) Job Seeker Letter

Most letters written by job seekers or professional letter writers are sterile and often not-credible. My PsychologyToday.com article today offers an ethical and effective alternative.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Ethical, Effective, and Chemistry-Building Resume and LinkedIn Profile

Most people's resumes and LinkedIn profiles are sterile if not downright not credible. My PsychologyToday.com article today shows how to create a more effective one.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The One-Week Job Search

Many job seekers are daunted by the job search: Its feared length and non-linearity. My experience with clients suggests that following a rigorous plan for one week can get everything in motion for a successful job search. I outline that one-week job search in my PsychologyToday.com article today.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Networking for People Who Dislike It

My PsychologyToday.com article today is for people who are bad at or dislike networking yet feel they should do it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Getting Well-Trained for Your Career

Good training for you career can dramatically affect your competence and confidence. My PsychologyToday.com article today explores how to get great training.

An Analytical Approach to Choosing Your Career

In yesterday's PsychologyToday.com article, I outlined a holistic approach to choosing a career. In today's, I offer a more analytic approach.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Holistic Approach to Choosing a Career

Many people give up trying to find a well-suited career because the process seems so daunting. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer an easier but effective method.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Making a Living as an Artist

There's a reason the word "starving" often precedes the word "artist."

The artistic personality is not synergistic with the businessperson's. Alas, many people would like to make their living from their art so being a businessperson may as as more important as talent. 

My PsychologyToday.com article today lays out what an artist needs to do to have a shot at making a living from their art.

Older Sad Man Syndrome

A good number of my older male clients complain of being mildly sad most of the time. They're not clinically depressed--they handle their day-to-day tasks well. They just have a generalized malaise, like a little cloud over their head much of the time. 

My PsychologyToday.com article today describes possible causes and at least partial solutions.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Stop With the Hyperbole!

We're in an era of rating exaggeration. Yes, grade inflation, but also in our speech: "She's amazing!" "He's an idiot!"   

My PsychologyToday.com article today explains why we pay a price for our hyperbole.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Great Way to Learn to Play Piano or Guitar By Ear

Marty Nemko at the piano during a performance of the show, Retard!
Most people who would like to learn to play the piano or guitar have a goal, if only unconscious, of getting to the point when they can sit down at the piano and, effortlessly, play tunes for their own entertainment or for others at a party, perhaps leading a sing-a-long.

Alas, standard methods of learning piano or guitar not only are extremely unlikely to make that happen but are stressful rather than recreational. After all, it's far from fun to play scales, let alone have to translate, with 100% accuracy, the squiggles on a piece of sheet music into what your fingers need to do, let alone musically, let alone by heart.

My PsychologyToday.com article today presents the method that I used to learn to play by ear. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it really is easy, fun, and is your best shot at learning how to play by ear. The article offers both a six-minute video plus text that basically tells you everything you need to know. 

I welcome your feedback on whether it works for you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is Being Closed-Minded Always Bad?

We're told to always keep an open mind. But should we, really? My PsychologyToday.com article today explores that question.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Should You Focus on the Neediest or on the High-Potential?

Medics on the battlefield are trained to allocate their precious resources not necessarily to the sickest but to those most likely to be helped.

Whether or not we're in a helping profession, we all make decisions on whether to focus our time and money on the neediest or those with the greatest potential. My PsychologyToday.com article today explains how and why I changed my view on this.

Monday, March 9, 2015

How Much Do Self-Help Articles Help?

We devour self-help articles but how often do we improve as a result? 

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I opine that such articles rarely change us much and so we may be wise to focus more on acceptance than on improvement--in ourselves and in others.

Shortcuts to Getting Competent: Time-effective ways of learning without a back-to-school stint

Many people have gone back to school trying to boost their career.

Alas, looking back, many people feel it wasn't a good use of their money and time. Sure that diploma or certificate, afforded some career boost but often not enough. And many have graduated with a worse case of the imposter syndrome than before they went back to school: "Now, I'm expected to know a lot but I still feel pretty clueless." 

That's not surprising because most university courses are taught by theoretically and research-oriented PhDs, not the best folks at providing practical career training.
Rarely does a solution exist that's faster, better, and cheaper. But in the case of career preparation, there often is: Replacing State U, let alone Private U, with what I call You U: a self-designed combination of articles, book-skimming, videos, webinars, bootcamps, online discussion groups, online and in-person short courses, and tutoring, perhaps guided by a mentor.

Of course, the first objection is, "But employers like seeing the piece of paper, or even require it." True, but a paragraph in your job application letter such as the following can often make clear that you're at least as worthy of consideration as someone with that degree:

You may be tempted to toss my application because I don't have the required degree. But so many people say their degree wasn't that practically useful, let alone worth the time and money, I decided to be a self-starter and craft a degree's worth of learning that would be far more likely to make me a better employee. Please see the attached listing of of articles, books., videos, webinars, bootcamps, online discussion groups, tutoring, online and in-person short courses that I have completed over the last year.
I have chosen to emphasize substance over form but now we get to the moment of truth: Will you interview me?
If you were an employer reading that, mightn't you interview that candidate, even if s/he didn't have that degree?

My PsychologyToday.com article today offers a tip or two on how to make the most of each of those learning methods that can be used to comprise a You U education.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Seven Fantasies That Have Helped My Clients' Reality

We often think of fantasies as useless distractions. 

But I have helped my clients use their fantasies as a first step toward identifying goals are both exciting and realistic.

My PsychologyToday.com article today offers seven. Perhaps one or more will trigger your own fantasy that will be a precursor to an exciting yet realistic goal.

Why Many Rich People are Frugal...and Why You Should Be Too

I have a client I'll call Linda Loaded. When making coffee, she is so frugal that she puts less coffee into the coffeemaker than she should, and compensates by, when the coffee is ready, squeezing the filter with the  hot grounds in her hand to get the concentrated coffee into her cup, incurring a bit of pain. To save a few pennies.

She is worth $10 million dollars.

Not surprisingly, I asked her why she does it. That triggered a fascinating discussion. I reproduce it in my PsychologyToday.com article today.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Overcoming Fear of Job Hunting

Many people procrastinate looking for a job because of fear of rejection, having to sell themselves, let others know they're looking. My PsychologyToday.com article today offers a way to reframe such common fears so that you may more easily push through the fear and land that job. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Letter to a Person Flailing in Search of a Full-Time Job

A client of mine called today to ask if I'd work with his daughter to help her find full-time employment. Her dream goal was for her and her boyfriend to both get jobs as park rangers, but they had tried and failed.
By the end of the conversation, I concluded that before taking her money, I'd send her a little note with some free advice to see if that would be sufficient.
But when I got off the phone, the little note became a rather detailed email. In reading it, it struck me that its advice might be relevant to many career and job seekers so I posted it on my PsychologyToday.com article today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Worthy Proverbs and Silly Ones

We’re affected by proverbs, quotes, aphorisms, and slogans…and not always for the good.

We might even be affected more by those than by tomes. For example, might the slogan,  “Do random acts of kindness” have caused more good acts than have 1,000 sermons?

In any event, slogans or their for more formal analogue, proverbs, certainly have impact. 
In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I vote for the worthiest and silliest. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Why We All Need to Use Checklists More

We all need to use checklists more. That’s true even if you’re one of the many people who think checklists are too rigid, too confining. 

You won’t feel confined. Knowing you’ll remember everything will free-up the brain space to use your creativity…safely.

Indeed, Atul Gawande’s bestselling book, The ChecklistManifesto shows how checklists improve outcomes in the widest range of endeavors.

My PsychologyToday.com article today offers a five-step process for creating a customized checklist for your important, complicated tasks.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Selecting a Counselor or Therapist: Who should you pick? Should you continue?

How to evaluate a counselor, psychotherapist, indeed any helping professional. In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I offer advice for those selecting one or deciding whether to continue with one.