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The Worst and Best Reality TV Shows

I’ve been thinking a LOT lately about the horrible state of affairs in America and often complain how pervasive reality TV is. I consider it a mind-numbing toxin that is dimming the collective brain cells of our human intellect. But then again, some reality TV shows make for GREAT viewing, even the ones that are PURE garbage.

So to be fair I went back and thought about all the reality TV shows that I have witnessed over the past few decades. Here is my list of the BEST and WORST of “reality” TV land. As always, these are listed in no particular order, just pure stream of consciousness. Let us know what you think. Which ones did I miss on? Which do you agree with?

Let’s start with the “best.” By best, I mean the most entertaining. Just like when you slow down to look when you drive past a car wreck across the divider on the highway I give you the “BEST” of reality TV:

The “BEST”
* Last Comic Standing (nothing better than really good comedy for my money)
* Master Chef / Iron Chef / Top Chef (how can they make such great food in 30 minutes with a can of mayo, ginger snaps, ox tongue and cherries…a caloric McGyver!
* Project Runway – I love it when it gets “catty”
* Dallas Cowboys cheerleader tryouts (ONLY because I’m a Cowboys fan!!!)
* Next Food Network Star
* Extreme Makeover – I love when they change someone’s life in a positive way forever
* Dog The Bounty Hunter – he’s a GREAT man
* Beauty and the Geek (proves there’s hope for us all)
* America’s Best Dance Crew (just because I like to move it, move it)
* American Idol (I love when the really bad performers get skewered)
* Cake Boss (I live in Hoboken so that’s the only reason I need)
* The Apprentice (a nice case study on the most narcissistic, ego-maniacal freak in existence (yes, Donald I’m talking about YOU!)
* Celebrity Rehab – you shouldn’t NEED an explanation ‘cuz it’s pure THEATER
* Dancing With the Stars (Emmet Smith and Michael Irvin…I’m still waiting on Troy Aikman to make an appearance so we have The Triplets.)
* Breaking Bonaduce & The Hasselhoffs – I get nostalgic for the 1970s & 1980s sometimes.

The WORST – These can also be the “best” depending on how you define BEST. Some of these make for the best entertainment value of anything on TV that’s NOT created by Seth MacFarlane, South Park or the Jon Stewart show.

* The Real Housewives of ____ (does it matter which city they air this train wreck?)
* Keeping Up With the Kardashians (but ONLY because Kim broke up with Miles Austin.)
* 16 & Pregnant – This show is just plain wrong on SO many levels.
* A shot of love with tila tequila (1 & 2) – I’m all for personal branding when it comes to career and professional development. Just NOT HER!!!
* Kendra (because Hank Baskett was an Eagle.)
* Jersey Shore (can also be a “BEST.” I shake my head sadly when I think of Snooki and repeat to myself…”Only in America.”)
* Rock of Love (But I loved Brett in the Celebrity Apprentice.)
* Queer Eye for the Straight Guy – not all straight guys need 5 gay men to turn themselves into a catch.
* The real world – really…REALLY…it’s the “REAL” world???
* Steven Seagal Lawman – he is just disgusting.
* Toddlers and Tiaras – but hey, it’s real in Texas.
* Paris Hilton’s my New BFF – she may just be the anti-Christ in not so subtle disguise.
* Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica (but only because I wanted Jessica and Tony Romo to work out.)
* My big fat obnoxious boss (reality TV’s supposed to be an ESCAPE from reality, not a reminder that you left work and are sitting at home thinking about your…”Big fat obnoxious boss.”
* Gene Simmons family jewels – I’m still upset they issued Kiss Alive II.
* Flavor of Love (sorry, it’s self-explanatory)
* Bridezillas – and yet it can be instructive for any man getting ready to pop the BIG question.
* The Anna Nichol show (there should have been an intervention. In all seriousness…how sad her life was.)
* America’s next top model – I watch with my wife and daughter, and scream at the TV that I want to tie each of the contestants down and force feed them a Big Mac.
* The biggest loser (they should gain the weight back then join comedian Ralphy May on tour.
* The Bachelor and Bachelorette: Hearing all the shenanigans that went on behind the scenes made me question the truthfulness of ALL my beloved reality TV shows.
* Survivor: forget all those “exotic” far away places, they should have been dropped into the sets of Mad Max, Escape from New York, or downtown Detroit.

Well, what do you think?

The Socially Unconscious Company Portfolio

Has the American enterprises sold its soul in pursuit of the almighty dollar?

Since after World War II, American businesses have been driven by a relentless need to maximize profit. In the process, they fueled generations of ammoral business leaders that have been hell-bent on market place success, while satisfying their greed. Meanwhile, over decades of callous disregard for their employees the American worker has become a dispensible asset. The general public has suffered mightily through repeated financial schemes, dangerous products, and constant downsizing and off-shoring that has produced the 21st century global contract workplace of today with rampant unemployment.

Following is a random sampling of these ammoral, unethical companies that have pursued profit at the expense of our society’s well-being. Granted not all are American owned, but what they share is a willingness and adept ability to harm our society. Remember, we are only talking about America here, not the damage inflicted by busines & industry on the rest of the world.

Would you invest in these companies? Do you invest in these companies? Would you consider a socially responsible stock portfolio if it meant smaller rates of return on your investments?

British Petroleum
Exxon
Blackwater
Altria Group (owner of Phillip Morris)
Adelphia
Global Crossing
Enron
Beretta/Armalite/Smith & Wesson (really, ANY gun manufacturer)
Tyco
Eli Lilly
Worldcom
Countrywide
Goldman Sachs
Anheuser-Busch
Wal-Mart
Phusion Projects (maker of Four Loko)

What do you think? Who should’ve been on this list?

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the mess in our society caused by business and industry.

The Golden Rule of Job Search Networking Success

In networking, it’s not about who you know…but who knows you.

Think about it…if you know 10 people in your inner circle and each of those people know 50 people, then your network is actually 500 strong. Now, if you tell the 10 people exactly what type of job or employment opportunity you are seeking, then they are well prepared to mention you in any conversations that they have in their respective networks. Thus at any given point in time there are actually 500 potential conversations that may invariably lead to someone referring you for possible employment.

In order to maximize the likelihood that someone in your network can effectively “sell” you, it is your responsibility to convey to them the type of industries you are pursuing, the firms/organizations in each industry you are interested in, AND the type of informal culture that you would like to work in. By educating the people in your network to the type of employment you are seeking, they are in a better position to sell you to their contacts.

You should have a job search pipeline spreadsheet that you use to keep track of all your contacts. For everyone you meet, capture their contact information, who referred you to them, the status of your follow up with them, key deliverables or actions required, and any necessary follow up’s.

If you are looking to re-enter the workforce, change industries or jobs, then it is critical that you conduct informational interviews, which really aren’t interviews at all. You are researching people who do what you want to do or are in positions that you might report to them, and ask them to meet with you for 15-30 minutes.

The goal of an informational interview is to gather as much information as you can on the nature of the industry, key trends and developments, how they broke into the industry, what they love most/least about their jobs, what are the key industry events to attend, publications to read, conferences/trade shows, panel discussions you should try and attend, and who are the rising stars in their organization that might be good for you to talk to. Ask them what if any advanced degrees, training, accreditations, or skills are required in the job you are looking to break into.

Social media is an additional tool to leverage but not in lieu of in-person networking. In LinkedIn you can join up to 50 groups. Do it! Start discussions, raise questions, provide answers where appropriate so you can build your own personal brand as an acknowledged subject matter expert.

Instead of trying to be everywhere, use the laser rifle approach to networking ,not the shotgun approach. Develop a one page strategic networking plan, in which you define all of the attributes/characteristics of the person that you would be reporting to in the 3-4 industries and 6-8 firms you are researching, and then identify all the events, conferences, trade shows where you would find those people. THOSE are the events you want/need to be attending. Join as Many Meet Up groups of professionals in the 3-4 industries you are pursuing as you can manage.

As far as how to work an event, remember people like to hear THEMSELVES speak. After 20 years of marriage I FINALLY learned that from my wife. Ask them “Why are you here tonight” or “What are you trying to get out of tonight?” Use the 5-2-1 rule…it’s something I heard once and is a great networking guideline. You must be able to say something VERY interesting about yourself in the first 5 seconds that gets them to say: “Wow, what does that mean?” so you can send a few minutes explaining. The reaction to your explanation should be: “That’s great. We should set up an hour to meet and discuss this further. Thus…”5-2-1!” Spend no more than 10 minutes talking to each person. The goal of each conversation is to schedule as many follow up discussions as you can with people that match your strategic networking profile.

Happy Networking!

Overcoming the Depression of Job Loss

Losing a job is one of the most traumatic events that an individual can go through, and can be as devastating as dealing with the loss of a loved one. You have to deal with it by giving it its proper due and that entails going through a mourning process.

Now more than ever we as a society are faced with some very serious challenges. 1 in 4 American workers can be classified as contract, independent, or consulting professionals who are not joined to an employer on a full-time basis thus don’t have an anchor to feel a part of something. The average American changes jobs 8-9 times in their careers, so we constantly have to reinvent ourselves.

Some constructive strategies to deal with the Depression that can arise from job loss are provided below.

* Be honest with yourself. Admit that your Depression exists and address it head on.

* Remind yourself constantly that your self-worth is not tied to a job.

* Surround yourself with only positive, nurturing people in your immediate network. You must cut out all of the negative influences from your life (that includes family and friends) that are sources of negativity to you during this period in your life. Explain that you simply cannot bear to have any negativity around you as you cope with this traumatic time in your life.

* Stay active! Join a YMCA, gym, health club, or just go for a 30 minute walk every day. Remaining active will help you to prevent weight gain, which leads to the next recommendation…

* Avoid overeating! Understand that we often eat as a source of comfort with leads to weight gain and thus…further depression. This vicious cycle is especially common during the holidays.

* Set daily, weekly, and monthly tangible goals for yourself as pertains to your job search.

* Understand that all people create “head trash” for themselves. That means that @ 65% of all the things we say to and about ourselves is NEGATIVE. Fight that tendency and keep reminding yourself how special you are.

* Seek counseling. If the depression becomes severe enough to be debilitating then you absolutely must seek professional help.

* Begin networking to build a network of leads for job opportunities. Go to Linked In and MeetUp, identify the groups in your area that cater to professionals in the 3-4 industries that you are interested in seeking employment in then send requests to the group organizers to join those groups. Find the key trade and professional Associations in those industries and go to any meetings, events, and/or conferences to decide if it is worthwhile for you to join that organization.

* Go back to school: Take courses that will help you develop additional skills, credentials and competencies. Seek any and all appropriate professional development opportunities to make yourself more marketable.

* Consider doing seasonal/holiday volunteer work. It will sharpen your skills, help you to expand your social and professional networks, make you feel good about yourself, and preoccupy your mind from hooking into the “head trash” we ALL encounter.

* GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! We all can be held captives to our own forced imprisonment when we choose to avoid social contact/interaction. When you are struggling with feelings of Depression, it is the IDEAL time to lean on the people in your network that you value most for nurturing and support.

The BEST Holiday Gifts for Job Seekers

This Holiday Season is the PERFECT time to give yourself or someone you know the ideal gift to help them in their job search. Here they are, in no particular order:

Membership to a health club or gym: The holidays are an ideal time to overeat even in the BEST of circumstances. For the roughly 10% of America’s workforce that is “officially” out of work (the true number of unemployed is closer to 20%), Depression can set in easily. Overeating is a sign of depressed individuals seeking comfort through food. Give them a one year membership, or sign them up for their first 3 months.

Pay for Meet Up group networking events: Make them a coupon saying that you will pay for them to attend their next few Meet Up group networking events. Networking is a critical tool to add to the job seekers’ arsenal. Some Meet Up group facilitators charge a registration fee to attend the events.

Bond Paper & Envelopes: Buy them a ream of 500 sheets of HIGH quality bond paper and matching standard #10 business envelopes. Throw in a roll of 100 stamps. They will need to send our resumes, cover letters, and other business correspondence. Help your job seeker position themselves for success by putting their best fut forward in their written correspondence.

Separate Phone for Business Use: Consider getting them an inexpensive phone and separate phone line through the phone company or cable company for them to use ONLY for their job search efforts. They can use that telephone number on their business cards, resumes, and leave their own pre-recorded message.

Hair Cut or Mani/Pedi: Consider buying them a gift card to their hairdresser or nail salon. The job seeker ALWAYS has to make a great first impression. A new haircut and/or manicure/pedicure will make them feel good about themselves. Consider buying them a gift card to your local spa, for a special treatment.

Work Portfolio: Your job seeker will need to display their work product, so a professional portfolio to hold their resumes, references, and other “salesmanship in print” materials is always a great gift. It may not be sexy, but it will help them build their own personal BRAND. And THAT is a gift that keeps giving.

Find Them a Career Coach: For many people the fear of not knowing WHERE TO START can be so overpowering it binds them in inertia. By paying for a few sessions with a career coach (get a personal referral, don’t hire one blindly) can help your job seeker to get the focus they need to begin their search journey.

Online Career Assessment Tool: Give them an IOU coupon promising to pay for them to do a personality/value based assessment tool. Some of the better ones are:
– Myers-Briggs (www.myersbriggs.org)
– Keirsey Temperament (www.keirsey.com)
– Birkman Method (www.birkman.com)
– DISC tool for salespeople (www.onlinediscprofile.com)
– Herman Brain Dominance Instrument (www.hbdi.com)

Your Ear & Support: Being unemployed is an extremely stressful period in time up there with the loss of a family member. They do not need any additional stress or negativity around them. Provide them with a nurturing, positive environment. DO offer to help them, and give them your ear to bend. DON’T be judgmental. DO provide them with your unconditional support.

Meditation Tapes Buy them a gift card to iTunes or get them a tape of meditation or relaxing sounds. Buy them the CD to their favorite artist/performer/band.

Great Career Counseling Books: For example “Bulletproof Your Career in These Turbulent Times” by…me!
These may not be romantic, sexy, or FUN but they make GREAT gifts for the job seeker faced with finding their next job.

Have other gift ideas? Let us know.

Great Places to Work

Sure, most companies are toxic environments of back-stabbing, decimated employee morale and senior management apathy, but some organizations offer their people a GREAT place to work. In my opinion some of these great places to work include:
Google
Whole Foods
Disney
Google
Trader Joe’s
Apple
Dreamworks Animation
Iron Mountain
Wegmans
Edward Jones
SAS