Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Hunger Games, a (Career coach) Boy on Fire and BACON!

The Hunger Games, The Boy on Fire, and BACON!
Continuing the “movie” theme from my last blog (The Lorax, Planting Seeds, and HOPE) this week I take you to the world of…
The Hunger Games
Last Friday, we took my daughter to see the movie with her friends’ birthday party. My wife, daughter, and I all read the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, so we were REALLY looking forward to the movie.
For those who don’t know the overall theme…all twelve of the Districts are required to send TWO children every year to compete “to the death” in the Hunger Games. This is their punishment for attempting to revolt against the Capital. All citizens are forced to watch the Games, and see all but two contestants die.
Every family MUST enter every child’s name at least once, but can choose to enter a child’s names multiple times (thus increasing their chance of being chosen) in order to obtain additional benefits (extra food, clothing, etc.)
The story covers the 2 children who represent District 12, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark.
Without giving away what happens, I had a really weird thought as I watched the movie. The children whose names are entered to be selected for the Hunger Games are sacrificed like so many workers who were cast aside these past 4 years by organizations who attempted to stay in business (avoid the wrath of the Capital.)
Why are layoffs the first knee-jerk reaction that organizations pursue, and why are the people on the front line who serve their clients, make their products, deliver their services, and perform the tasks required to keep the organization running the ones who are always pushed out so they are left to fight to the death with the other unemployed to get re-hired? My career counseling advice is to tell my clients to avoid the types of organizational cultures that treat their employees this way.
We have seen this trend repeat itself almost constantly since 2008. In my DUAL role of career coach and business coach consultant, I have been helping the people that were sacrificed. Much like Hamitch Abernathy, the drunk Hunger Games victor from District 12 who is forced to help train Katniss and Peeta, the best I can do is give people the tools required to find their DREAM job in today’s Global contract workplace.
Allow me to introduce the “Boy on Fire.”
Katniss becomes known as the “girl on fire” before the Games when the competitors are introduced to the viewing public during a televised pre-Games event. The designer assigned to work with her and Peeta dress them in shining black costumes with live flames to symbolize their District as a coal-producing region. Getting the public to like you is critical for Game participants. During the game, people can send you much needed supplies to keep you alive IF they like you.
Well, it’s taken me FOUR years, but I’m finally becoming the BOY ON FIRE with my career counseling services. Business is booming, personal referrals are coming in for my career coaching, and the “Districts” are starting to embrace my job search, career transition, and business strategies.
Which leads me to (mmmmmmmmm) BACON…
We all know that it is bad for us, but we eat it anyway. It tastes soooo good. What BACON have organizations been eating? Stated differently…what are the things that organizations are doing that they know are bad for their long-term health, but they continue to do those things because they’re familiar, easy,and reliable (like laying off their employees when times get tough.)

Eating the BACON (or continuing to do things that are doomed for failure) is the behavior that got us in this position in the first place. It begin in the 1980s with outsourcing and off-shoring, continued through the introduction of the internet, advanced technology, global competition, and massive layoffs across EVERY industry.
So to all you organizations that believe you an keep eating the bacon and not suffer any adverse health effects…you must change constantly to survive. Here’s a list of To-Dos to get you off that salty, heart-disease triggering pork product:
* Treat your employees like your customers;
* Treat your customers like your employees;
* Spend MORE on your marketing;
* Make emotional connections with your partners;
* Treat your top customers differently; and
* Look to build stronger relationships with your partners, vendors, suppliers, consultants, contractors.

The (Career Coach) Lorax, Planting Seeds and HOPE

On Sunday, I took my 11 year old daughter to see the new movie The Lorax.
I wasn’t expecting to have an epiphany about my decision to become a career coach and a business consultant. I was just trying to do something with my girl on a Sunday afternoon. However, that darned Dr. Seuss had other plans for me.
When we walked out of the movie theater, it was clear to me that I shared a lot with the Lorax, who speaks for the trees. It was my personal decision to leave Corporate America four years ago, and I chose to focus the rest of my career helping others find their dream job, and pursue their passion to start their own business.
Sitting there watching this movie, it affirmed that what I’m doing now will help plant the seeds needed to help grow our American economy, and position people for future success. What does that have to do with the Lorax? Well, for that you have to know the story.
For those who DON’T know, the Lorax is about a greedy young man named Once-ler. He leaves his family to prove that he is not a failure. He searches the world over for the perfect material to make his Thneed garments. He finds it in the ideal Truffula tree and cuts the tree down. Once-ler is immediately visited by the mythical Lorax, who tells him not to cut down the trees. The Lorax warns Once-ler that evil things will befall him if he continues his ways.

Once-ler promises not to cut down any more trees. He goes to the city to try and sell his Thneeds, but fails at first. Then, the fickle public embraces his thneeds. Once-ler needs to ramp up to meet this skyrocketing demand, so he calls his family. They arrive and begin chopping down all of the trees in sight, to the disappointment of the Lorax.
When the last tree is cut down, there can be no more Thneeds. Once-ler’s family leaves him. He becomes a recluse living in the barren wastelands that used to be the beautiful forest.The forests have been destroyed and the creatures who depend on the trees have departed. The air and water is polluted.
Many years later, a young boy named Ted travels outside the polluted plastic city Thneedville to visit Once-ler and ask him how he can find a tree for a girl Ted really likes. He asks Once-ler why the world is in such a run-down state and there are no trees in Thneedville. Once-ler responds “it is all my fault.”
Watching the movie was REALLY hard for me. I kept thinking about all of the abuses our society has leveled upon the environment and ourselves. I started to get very emotional. At some point we humans are going to have to make a moral stand. Even our latest BEST intentions have led to unintended consequences and have stalled in the face of the status quo.

The Lorax, Planting Seeds… and HOPE

I’m not too proud to admit that at the end of the movie when Once-ler gives Ted the last tree seed and he plants it in the town square over the initial protests of the town, I got choked up.
As we were leaving the theater a strange thing happened. My daughter said to me: “Dad, you’re like the Lorax.” I was floored so I replied: “Why do you say that?”
She said: “You help everyone that you can find jobs and fix their companies by giving them your advice. You’re the Lorax.”
Wow! I never thought of my new career as a career coach equating with The Lorax’s mission. Maybe if we can all do our little bit then maybe…just maybe…we’ll be able to stop the destruction. After all, it only takes ONE seed to plant a forest.