Archive for May, 2011

You will know if your job hunt is being effective by noticing the following.

1. You will feel humiliated by the fact that you are having to ask people for help

2. You will feel angry that you were ever put in this situation even if there is little or nothing you could have done about it.

3. You will eventually come to enjoy the process. The hunt should become the end product. The very thrill of it. Once you have brought down your prey (gotten a job) you will almost regret the end of the hunt itself.

Most people never get passed the first two. They feel unworthy and angry and fed up. Give them a million dollars and they would abandon the job search process altogether, so painful do they find it. But to be effective you have to get past humiliation and anger. But you have to go through it to experience what it feels like. Forget your pride. Just go through it.

If you can accept that humiliation and anger can be productively channeled into fuel for the hunt (the job search) you will have overcome one of the great barriers in finding work.

I have pretty much moved past the first two steps many years and many jobs ago. I go right to the hunt because I understand what it is. But that’s because I was laid off 4 times, fired twice and often got ants in my pants to move just to see what was over the next hill.  A good batter in baseball will get a hit maybe one out of three times they come to the plate. The other two times they go back to the dugout and sit down. You have to be okay with the process or the two out of three times you fail, will come to dominate your thinking.

Now me? I ‘ll do whatever it takes to get on base. I am not a power hitter but I am fast and so I use that as my weapon while my competition is thinking about their next move. I move in between thoughts. When you are mobile as I, you don’t have much choice.



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When I retired last year, I think I should have gone to some remote part of the mountains to really allow myself to transition from the world that was to the world that is.

But I didn’t and stupidly I assumed that my former colleagues would really understand my wish to be free from the career war that I had spent 33 years struggling in on a daily basis.

Except for a few friends, most of my former co-workers never learned or were really interested in learning from my experiences. They preferred the same repetition of stupidity that I went through over and over with a few exceptions. I really didn’t learn very well from those that warned me. It wasn’t always a warning where someone sat me down and said, “Don;t be a door mat.” Usually it was something I observed but didn’t really internalize.  Maybe purposely did not internalize.


In 1984 we hired a treasurer at a real estate investment company that I was working at. In one of his first staff meetings with the CEO, he was tongue lashed for something that he not only was not responsible for but that should have been handled in private. The next day he came into work and told me that he had informed the CFO that he was leaving. He didn’t have another job but he wasn’t interested in a transition. By the end of the day he was gone. He had simply said, “I don’t have  to put up with people treating me this way. Once they know they have you, they do it over and over again.”

Another finance consultant who knew all about the incident was approached as a possible back fill for the departed treasurer. He politely declined.

He told me privately, “The reason I am a consultant is so that I don’t get caught up in the politics.”

As I bounced along in my so-called career I was “had” many times and always tried to stick it out. Finally, unable to let myself off the hook, I went out and made some significant money with a start-up. Then and only then was I able to give myself the luxury of saying no. Looking back, I realize what a weenie I was. Most of my colleagues who have had bad job experiences stayed in their too and have paid the price.

They became doormats.

Eventually you begin to crave the distinct taste of shoe leather.


The price of courage is peace of mind.

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One of the things I have learned over the years is to not take HR jobs where HR reports to finance. It is the trivializing of the function.  It turns HR into another “wing” of accounting versus a department focused on people and organizations. Here is a 2004 article that addresses this issue.


HR reporting through finance pure folly

HR PROFESSIONALS face a number of obstacles in playing an important role in any organisation, however the “ultimate stupidity” is when CEOs report HR to finance, according to Steve Vamos, CEO for Microsoft Australia.

Speaking at the Australian HR Awards 2004, Vamos said there was no excuse for reporting HR to finance and encouraged CEOs to actively involve their HR executives.

“If people are to be treated as our greatest asset, then the relationship between the CEO and the HR executive, and consequently the management of the business and the HR function, is the most important relationship that exists within the organisation,” he said.

If organisations really believed that people were their greatest asset, they would do things very differently, said Vamos.

“For a start, we’d measure it. Up to 80 per cent of the value of listed companies is intangible,” he said. “How do you ever know when you look at the financial results whether the full potential of the staff of that organisation delivered the best result possible?”

Vamos also said that while most people believe they put in well over 100 per cent in terms of working hard, most feel their potential is under-utilised at just 20 to 60 per cent at the most.

“So if people are our greatest asset, then why would we tolerate wasting 40 per cent of that asset. Any CEO who wastes 40 per cent of the cash or the stock in a business is not going to be long for this world,” he said.

Another challenge organisations faced was in aligning staff with business priorities and direction. Vamos said leadership teams were responsible for making sure business strategies could be simply articulated into easily understandable priorities for all employees.

Vamos also said that employees were often afraid to tell their bosses what they are really thinking, especially when it came to a difference of opinion – despite these opinions often being the most valuable.

“Managers often fear giving open and honest feedback to their staff. So we avoid dealing with poor performance, and poor performers take jobs that good people could have had,” he said.

“But worse still is the fact that those people aren’t being given the respect of knowing where they stand and therefore addressing the issues that they might face.”

Vamos said that employees often thought the HR department was responsible for morale and managing people, rather than people managers taking full responsibility.

As such, it was important for the HR team to work with the CEO to make sure all people managers put that responsibility first, he said.

“You’ve got to make sure that you’re developing managers in the organisation,” he said. “As great people managers, that’s their number one job and if they don’t believe that they won’t pay attention to it.”

Vamos also pointed out the need for more holistic leadership, and said the days of divide – and – conquer leadership were over.

“We’ve grown up in siloed worlds where we’ve optimised the HR department, finance, sales and marketing,” he said. “And we’re wondering why, at the end of it all, everyone’s not focused on their own objectives and why we don’t deliver great customer satisfaction and we don’t get the best out of our people.”

Vamos acknowledged the important role culture played in this, particular at the top of an organisation. If the leader lives it then everyone else will believe it, he said.

1 November 2004

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People like hierarchy. We all like to be seen as self directing and independent but the plain fact is that we are not. Well, to be more specific, we certainly don’t act that way. We want recognition and promotion and more money and more “things”. Especially more things. To get more things you have to move up the hierarchy to fund adventures in buying.

Some people just buy it, finance it and hope for the best.

But money, unless you are really zen, is freeing. Most of us will never really be free spiritually. Let’s be real about it. Our world doesn;t allow it. So money equals freedom.



It frees us from the need to be in the hierarchy. If we can pay the bills (not the big stupid, I’ve got to have that bills but the ones that allow you to live comfortably) then no one owns us for as long as the money last and if we have enough money to last for a long time then NOBODY OWNS US!

But we must liked to be owned.

So we hammer away at the acceptance ladder. Because to be accepted is a big part of the hierarchy.

Oh man, I really nailed that presentation!

I work 24-7!

I have to go to the Xmas party. If I don’t go so and so will get pissed off.

It’s the right thing to do.

I think they really like me.

Why wasn’t I invited to that meeting?

I deserved that promotion.

Anyway, it goes on and on.

Forget all about being creative and really forget about being creative outside the box.

Not if you crave acceptance in the hierarchy.

You are that monkey on monkey island. Howling and throwing “dirt” but you are still fenced in on the island and have to get along with the other monkeys.  What you don’t realize is that the biggest alpha monkey on that island doesn’t haven’t one iota  of the freedom of a monkey swinging through the trees in the jungle.

Not one iota.

Now you have a choice. Stay in and be the master’s best slave or earn enough  money so no one owns you. Even if it is only for a set period of time.

I took off three full one year periods between the ages of 22 and 35. I went to Europe. I trained for my first marathon. I sat in my favorite donut shop. I haunted libraries and read books. One year I just wanted to see how fast a runner I could be. Otherwise I just hung out. Time became my friend, not my enemy.

For most of us time is the enemy. Go out on the freeway at rush hour and tell me that driving in “that” day after day is good for you. I have had long commutes and short commutes. It’s a life unto itself out there on those black rivers of asphalt.

It doesn’t hurt to squirrel away some money and take some real-time off. Not that puny two weeks that a company gives you each year. REAL TIME OFF! Take six months or a year. It takes 3 months just to detox from being a worker bee. For some people I know it takes longer than that. Take some real-time off and don’t look for work. Don’t accept work. Just let each day be whatever that day is.

It is liberating. You might discover that you are actually a whole different person that the one who you drove to and from work with each day.

I know. Most folks will say, “I can’t afford to take time off!” And in their primitive minds (because I have been there) they are correct. Of course the words are wrong.

I can’t imagine taking time off.

But we yearn for that freedom.  Somewhere it is designed into our DNA. Into our souls if that makes it easier to envision. But not allowing ourselves to feel that freedom, denying it, makes us look for substitutes. Generally that is our stunted version of wealth and power. Oh yes, and of course “things”. So we go off on vacation for two weeks. I once went to Europe for two months and maybe I should have gone for two years. But, you know, I had to get back. I don’t quite remember why. It seemed important at the time.

The one thing we can’t negotiate for is time. It is the one thing that we use up as if it were a fungible item. But for us living things, it is not.

Hierarchy binds our use of time. It does not free it.


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Bridge Jobs

This job description was done by The Jackal


Definition of a bridge job:

This is a job that you work in or need to have while you travel towards your new targeted position. This job does not satisfy your creativity, you might not fit with the people around you, it doesn’t pay what you would like, it does not have a growth trajectory or you may just be ready to do something else or recreate yourself.

Why work in a bridge job:

It affords you the time to focus on a vision of what you want to do next, form a plan and network towards your goal. Also it give you the means (i.e. money or health insurance etc.) and it is easier to find another job while in a job.

How to be successful in a bridge job:

ü  Acknowledge that the job you are in is a bridge job with clear intention.

ü  Know you could have more than one bridge job on your way towards your goal.

ü  Decide if you are a zoo animal (like to get your steak three (3) times a day and occasionally roar with frustration) or you want to be free on the Serengeti bringing down your own dinner with the possibility of being hungry occasionally.

ü  Remove emotion from the Bridge Job.

  1. Do not get involved in the drama or politics.
  2. Be cordial, polite, and friendly but do not participate in the gossip, drama, or politics.
  3. Be mindful that people will be uncomfortable that you have withdrawn. If you were participating earlier and now choose to withdraw, remember that people will try to draw you back.
  4. Be polite but remind yourself that it is better to not be involved in the drama.

ü  Keep your head down and become the go to person for your manager/department, if possible.  Work to make your manager successful.

While in your Bridge Job follow these steps to find you new intended position:

  1. Define your personal vision for your new targeted position.
  2. Make a personal marketing plan with your Gold, Silver, and Bronze position and define your Gold, Silver and Bronze locations
    1. To keep you on the path while in your Bridge Job, focus on no more than three targeted (3) positions. This could change as time goes on but it is important to focus and then revisit it from time to time to refine and change it based on new data or feedback.
    2. Network every day and keep a log of your progress.
    3. Help as many people along the way you can and build up networking Social Capital.

In my career some of my bridge jobs were:

  • Painting houses
  • Managing properties
  • Working in a series of fast food restaurants and cafeterias
  • The Post Office (temp worker on and off)
  • Filling in at a credit union

Will you have fries with that burger?


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I worked at a lot of companies in the 1980’s. If I wasn’t laid off I usually moved because I was unhappy with my work situation. My problem usually boiled down to my not liking the person I worked for. That sent me out the door faster than a jack rabbit being chased by a fox. In my business bad bosses or even less than optimal bosses are a part of the landscape. Wherever you land, you can’t ‘scape ’em. Now I had some really great bosses during this period. A few. Not many. Karen, Jack, Mike, Jerry. As I said not many. I can remember their names. I’ll hold back naming the bad bosses. It would take a whole post. But they were numerous. Not so much that most were truly evil. In fact they weren’t. Just bad for me.

But here’s the deal. If I look at the very many jobs I had and all the issues that took place, the one constant was me.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

This from Julius Caesar by Shakespeare.

It took me a great deal of time to realize the truth of this. The problems I faced dogged me company to company with few exceptions. I could get all bent of shape about it and feel indignant but against who? All my many bosses? All the many companies I worked at?

In the end the constant was me. Like Marley in The Christmas Carol, I dragged around the very chains I had forged.

I was the problem. I was not a victim . This turned out to be something I could fix. The solution was simple.

I changed my attitude about it all. I stopped letting it all get to me. Yeah, at times it was tough. I fell off the wagon several times but I always had the choice.

Stay and work it out or go.

No need for drama.

Stay or go.

Jacob Marley and the chains he forged

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I have often discussed that workers often resemble animals in their career choices.

Here is quick reminder.

Zoo Animal

Generally stays at the same company for years. They will not leave unless they know their job is threatened by downsizing, right sizing or an impending merger. They do get fired for non-performance but their preference is to stay. They over identify with the company and often consider it a sort of extended family. Generally they are decent about moving to new jobs  within a company but their outside job shunting skills are limited. If angry enough about losing their job, they can be trained to hunt. Will resist making 5-10 contacts a day but will make 5-10 a week.

Farm Animal

Same as above but one step further. They will never leave a company under any condition unless they are fired or sold to the glue factory. They have no job hunting skills. If thrown under the bus they will have a very tough time finding a new job unless one hits them in the face. In fact they will resist all job hunting skill training feeling humiliated by the thought of even having to ask anyone for a job. They will inhabit the job boards and send off resumes (that they are constantly working on because it’s just not right) to empty black holes and be miffed and confused that they have never gotten anything more than an electronic response. A sub family is the “petting zoo” animal. Very gentle. Will cry when laid off. They never get angry. Farm animals will get angry but they don’t know how to channel this anger into an all out job hunt. Tell them they have to make 5-10 contacts a day, they will say, “but I don’t know that many people.” The petting zoo animal will simply weep.


Hey, your office is bigger than mine!

Beast of Prey

A beast of prey knows how to hunt for jobs and opportunities. They may stay in a company for a long period of time if their feral needs are being met but otherwise they will move often. Their goal is more independence and if they so want, higher pay and title. But independence is their key need. They have little fear of being out of work. They will take bridge jobs to cover their cost of living while they look for the next meaty job. They identify less with the company and its power structure and more with the excitement of the hunt or the next challenge. A good person to have in a crisis. They may leave afterward but they will generally be strong when others are hiding and trying to preserve the status quo. There is no status quo for a beast of prey. Like Eowyn in Lord of the Rings, they fear a cage more than battle.

A great many zoo animals think they are beasts of prey but few really are. I have met a few but they are very rare. If a zoo animal cares about title and pay then look for the bars of the cage. They are there no matter how well they try to hide them. They are often seen trying to impress their zoo keepers (bosses).

I have noticed that a particularly nasty zoo animal is the monkey. They dance and swing around their cages yelling and screaming bloody murder. They are always being wronged by some passerby or another animal in the zoo. Watch them. If given the chance they will fling “dirt” at you. But of course since there is no dirt in their cage you quickly realize it is nothing more than S##T. The odor gives it away.

The key is that no beast of prey can live long in a zoo or even a habitat. They have been known to leap the fence to get into a habitat for food but then they leap out again as soon as their belly is full. Their preference is to hunt on the veld (plains) and if they fail often, their successes are sweeter. Zoo keepers often hate the idea of a beast of prey. They don’t “have” them. They don’t own them. They don’t have a firm grasp on their nuts.


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