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Happy Easter/Passover & Other Brain Droppings

On Tuesday, May 3rd I will be presenting “Brand New YOU: Sell Yourself for Career Success” to alumni at William Paterson University. Why? In today’s transformational job market, you MUST know how to package (and SELL) YOURSELF for career and professional success.

Tuesday, May 10th I am presenting an entirely new program on “Critical Thinking for Career Success” to the staff at NY Hospital Queens. According to noted English philosopher Bertrand Russell: “Many people would die sooner than think; in fact, they do.”

I prefer to think of critical thinking like Albert Einstein who famously stated: “Problems cannot be solved by thinking within the framework in which they were created.”

On Wednesday, May 11th I begin teaching a course on Brand Identity at Baruch College Continuing and Professional Studies. Speaking of which, I was in New York City going to Baruch and I walked by the following:

Is it me, or are the rats in NYC getting bigger and bigger?

I’ve been having A LOT of conversations with business owners and entrepreneurs about whether people should spend their invaluable time trying to build a brand ONLINE. The most common argument for NOT investing the effort goes something like: “Well, how much business are YOU getting from all your efforts.”

As someone who spent most of his career in various marketing roles, I understand the point completely about seeing a tangible return on your TIME investment. However, it’s a bit like the CHICKEN & EGG argument, or a classic CATCH-22. you have to build a brand presence online to compliment your in-person brand, and then results i.e. new client acquisition will follow.

I suggest you begin by building your Linked In profile then leveraging the Groups and Discussion function. Build a Twitter presence, develop a blog, use Facebook for your business and career pursuits, and integrate them with each other for your online brand as well as tying them into your offline personal branding efforts. As a job seeker or business owner the first question you always should be asking is: “HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT ME?”

Have a GREAT Easter weekend.

Are You Ready to be RIF'd?

Today’s blog was inspired by conversations I had with three people this week who were all blind-sided when their employment was terminated.

For those keeping score at home, the latest acronym for heartless employee terminations is RIF, short for (yet another) “reduction in force.”

The following is a list of tell-tale signs that you should be concerned about your short term employment safety. CAVEAT: there is no such thing as job security.

– How “NECESSARY” are you?
– Could a college graduate perform (a large portion of) your work?
– Can parts of your job be delegated to others?
– How aggressively/successfully have you promoted yourself across your organization?
– Are you working with any of the “Rising Stars” in your company? Are you one of them?
– How is your relationship with your boss?
– How is your bosses reputation? Her relationship with her boss?
– How expansive is your professional network?
– Are you active in your industry associations?
– what are you doing to be recognized as a subject matter expert in your chosen field?
– Have you been published?
– Have you served on panel discussions? Have you spoken at industry events?
– Is your work day monopolized by “busy” work?
– Do you CONSTANTLY update your skills?
– How connected/plugged into the office rumor mill are you?
– Is your employer changing their business model?
– Do you frequently offer to help on cross-functional teams or take on additional roles and responsibilities?
– Has your Team / Department budget been frozen (again?)
– Has there been a recent round of layoffs?
– How was your last performance review?

Even if your job is safe, the best time to explore other opportunities is when you ARE employed. It doesn’t mean you should plan on leaving your job TODAY. However, it never hurts to know what your “VALUE” is.

The average American worker changes jobs 8-9 times throughout their career. You should ALWAYS be developing a core set of transferable skills for your personal career contingency plan.

What do you think?

If All The World's A Stage DON'T Get Kicked Off

I attended a presentation earlier this week that happened to be so bad, it made me walk out well before the speaker was finished. Even though he was talking on a topic I have spent most of my career doing, I assumed there would be a few nuggets of useful information. Turns out you should NEVER assume…I and many others in attendance were extremely disappointed.

The speaker started a half hour late and spent the allotted time providing a bare minimum of remotely useful information. Further, he made a few bragging claims about how successful he was. I wanted to scream: “Gee, that is great for you! Why are you here again?”

I found out later that I was not alone in my early exodus. Approximately half of the people in attendance followed me to the exit doors.

Normally, I would let this sort of thing slide by EXCEPT…I am noticing that more and more presentations that I attend are about as exciting as watching paint dry!

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. You see, I make my living as a professional presenter. I’ve spoken to hundreds of High School students, military personnel, inmates (yes, convicts!) mid-career changers, senior executives…even SALESPEOPLE. While I may not be trained in the performing arts and as such most definitely no great Thespian, I DO know how to keep an audience focused, in touch with me and interested in what I have to say.

So I find this trend of awful presenting to be quite alarming. It is NOT enough to be a subject matter expert or well versed on the topic you present on. You have to be engaging. You have to provide PRACTICAL advice customized to your audience so they can take away your advice and recommendations and implement them that same day to use in their job, at work, on their business, with their patients..etc. A great tip is practice voice modality. Your tone should not be reminiscent of watching dust accumulate on venetian blinds. If you do a lot of public speaking, why not take a public speaking course. Better yet, enroll in an acting class.

If you are developing a program start out by asking: “what am I going to convey?” Why should someone leave their job and devote their precious time to come hear you speak? What new knowledge are you going to provide? What can they learn from you that they can’t learn anywhere else? It may sound simple, but the garbage being passed off as expert commentary is alarming.

It is a disgusting trend where presenters divulge the BARE MINIMUM of “FREE” information as a loss leader. There is NO transparency. It is crystal clear that their intent is ONLY to hook attendees into paying for their consulting service.

In my opinion, there is going to be a huge backlash if this trend continues.If all the world is a stage, many of these imposters are going to get the proverbial hook.

What do you think?

Only a Few of Anything REALLY Matter

Whether you are a business owner or salesperson trying to please your customers, a comedian attempting to win over a tough crowd, or a politician trying to win votes, it is an entirely NATURAL human desire to want to pay attention to/focus on (and try to please) EVERYONE.

Today’s business tip is inspired by the notion that LESS IS MORE or:

“You can make ALL of the people happy SOME of the time and SOME of the people happy ALL the time, but you can’t make ALL of the people happy ALL of the time.”

Need proof? Let’s go back a 100 years…

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who studied the income distribution of citizens in Switzerland around 1900.

He found that a relatively small percent of the population controlled most of the countries’ wealth (sound familiar, fellow Americans?)

During the 1940s an American named Dr. Joseph Juran expanded upon the work done by Pareto, by studying significant numbers of data from many different industries and case studies. He found that a relatively small number (20%) of the total were always critical, and a majority of the data (80%) was relatively unimportant.

Dr. Juran discovered that this mathematical formula had nearly universal application. So, what that means is the Pareto Principal dictates that:

* 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of you sales, revenues, and profits.

Looked at another way, if you were to categorize your customers in terms of their loyalty to your offering and satisfaction with you, nearly 75% can be defined as “mercenaries.” While they have high satisfaction with (they purchase) your products and services, they have little loyalty to you and will leave you in a heart beat if they find a cheaper price, newer model, etc.

A much smaller segment (no more than 20%) of your customers can be considered loyalists. They are highly loyal to and satisfied with you. NO MORE THAN A PALTRY 5% can be considered “raving fans” or “apostles.”

A raving fan is a customer that sticks with you through thick and thin. They are 100% loyal to you and thrilled with your brand. They tell anyone and EVERYONE they know about you and they provide you with a constant pipeline of referrals.

They are the “unpaid sales reps” of your business who behave like Loyalists BUT they also provide you with much needed input/criticism that helps you to continuously improve your offerings.

The challenge we face is create an action plan to find apostles in your customer base. You do this by moving your customers up the three step sales ladder from prospect to Raving Fan/Apostle. You initially have to convert them during the first step from a prospect into a customer. During the second stage, you migrate them to the more lofty status of repeat customer. At the highest level of customer engagement, you need to convert them from a repeat customer into a raving fan.

Conduct a needs assessment for your top non-apostle accounts, convince those clients to embrace/accept/implement your recommendations, and review their plan with them every 3-4 months. It will help you to write down the names of a few of your apostles. Think about those relationships. What did it take to convert them from repeat customers? What does it take to maintain a “raving fan” relationship with them? Which existing clients will you target to convert this year?

Start now! It takes time and special nurturing. Remember that less is more, and a handful of clients hold the key to your future success.

Bad Things ALWAYS Happen to Rip Van Winkels

It’s a sad but absolute truism that when you fall asleep at the wheel (or under a tree) for a significant length of time, bad things are sure to happen.


For countries that fall asleep, bad things happen in the form of failing social services, exodus of jobs, atrophied infrastructure, failing education standards, a dwindling Middle Class, lack in global competitiveness, etc.

When organizations fall asleep, they lose market share, lose sight of their best customers’ needs, stop making relevant products or offering services that matter, lose talented employees, and miss opportunities to enter new markets.

When individuals like Rip Van Winkel fall asleep, they wake up to find they spent a career in a job they hated. They miss out on opportunities to develop lifelong transferable skills, have their experience become outdated/obsolete, fail to keep up with the latest trends and developments, miss out on chances for promotions or lateral career moves, etc.

The question we all need to keep asking ourselves is: “how can I stop myself from falling asleep, by applying personal career insomnia?”

Phrased differently: “what can you do to not miss out on life’s golden opportunities? Following are a few strategies that you can employ to stay wide awake:

* Pursue lifelong learning;
* Conduct a personal career exploration audit every 3-4 months;
* Hire a career or life coach;
* Go back to school – take classes or teach;
* Turn your passions into a career;
* Monetize your hobbies;
* Update your resume especially if you are happy in your current job;
* Network like a fiend to find out what other people are doing;
* Join relevant industry associations;
* Shake things up! Embrace change…try a new haircut/style, take up an instrument, try a new sport, sign up for an art class, or go see a movie by yourself;
* DON’T PROCRASTINATE!!! Set weekly personal goals;

We all have a tendency to get so caught up in the moment of performing our daily routine that with time it becomes nearly impossible to wake ourselves up.

Let this be your WAKE UP CALL!

My Dog Molly’s GREAT Career Advice

Molly, my two year old terrier mutt was looking over my shoulder as I began writing this blog. She yawned, licked herself, and was looking very bored and unimpressed.

I got a bit insulted at her lack of enthusiasm so I snapped at her: “Do you think you can do better?”

She jumped off the bed, onto the chair at the computer and started banging away on the keyboard furiously.

Since she almost NEVER exhibits that kind of enthusiasm for my work, I let her have a go at it. Turns out, her advice is brilliant!

So with a minimum of editorial changes (she doesn’t have thumbs so there were a lot of typos) I give you Molly’s tips for exceptional career success.

Time Management: Make Time to Lick Yourself

It’s not easy sleeping 20 hours a day and still accomplishing the most pressing business matters I face. So, I need to be economical and know my “up” and “down” time. I plan accordingly and stick to a schedule. I wake early EVERY day, to prepare for a day of napping AND barking at every noise outside our apartment. I manage to get in three good walks a day, fit in an hour of ball chasing at the park and ample time for licking myself. Do you have a well planned out routine and plan each day and week to accomplish clearly defined goals?

Be an Expert at Non-Verbal Communications

Without as much as a single word spoken, I can convey my constant desire to play fetch with the human (that’s Ethan) by dropping my ball at his feet constantly for TEN OR MORE HOURS EVERY DAY. It took a lot of work on my part, but he was finally trained. When he fails to respond – I bark (walk quietly and carry a big stick – or bark, I say!) then he focuses on me and I get what I want. It’s my way of saying “ball…ball…ball…ball…” loudly and clearly.

I am also quite capable of expressing my need for receiving affection. All I have to do is waddle over to any available human in the family then plop down next to them and ever so gently push my muzzle under their hand. I’ve trained them all to understand that means scratch me until I cuddle up into a convulsing fit of pleasure. It brings down their blood pressure, and it makes me feel REEEAAALLY good. It’s a WIN-WIN.

By paying attention to the subtle body language and non-verbal cues between your co-workers, partners, bosses, clients, and prospects you separate the terriers from the retrievers, and the most effective leaders from the ineffectual manager types.

Do YOU practice conveying your feelings, emotions, and desires without speaking? Are you adept at reading others’ non-verbal cues? If not…practice. Start by dropping a ball at a co-worker’s (or bosses) feet repeatedly…or something else. You’ll find it works wonders.

Relationship-Building Skills To Be the TOP DOG

This is a truly critical skill that is mandatory for successful career mobility and professional development. Trust me, I know. It’s taken me two years to build a reputation as the most demanding, ball-obsessed barking terrier on the block!

I make those nearest me feel special EVERY day. I greet my fellow pack (family) members at the door when they arrive home. Whether they’re gone for nine hours or 5 minutes, I wag convulsively in my excitement when they walk through the door, until I nearly fall over. It must work really well…they keep feeding me!

Do you do the same thing with your humans (whether employees or team members you manage?) I suggest recognizing their work and accomplishments, rewarding them, paying attention to them, and soliciting their ideas.

Well, that’s it for now. I have to go lick myself, take a nap, play some ball, and bark at the mailman.