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The New Normal in America

Does it seem like everything has been turned upside down in America these past 2 years? Welcome to the NEW NORMAL. We have no choice but to get used to double digit unemployment in the 21st Century global contract workplace. This is the logical outcome of nearly 40 years of myopic, short-sighted American policies in Education, politics, and business.

Some signs of our NEW “NORMAL”:

The cost of a four year education skyrockets towards $200,000 yet many college graduates cannot find work, nor can they communicate efectively either verbally or in writing.

The average American will change jobs 8-9 times in their career, and nearly 1 in 4 American workers can now be categorized as contractors, consultants, and independent workers.

Entire industries are transforming / imploding (see banking, financial services, insurance, printing, manufacturing, retail, publishing, advertising) and new industries are rising from the ashes (green technologies, home aides/health care, business continuity, risk management, sports management)

Our infrastructure is crumbling, many states are near bankruptcy, and our children are falling behind the rest of the post-industrialized world in science and math skills.

Now more than ever we require visionary leadership to steer us towards a viable future. Yet our political leaders seem more focused than ever on answering to the deep pockets of special interests.

How can we take advantage of opportunities in this NEW NORMAL?
1. Embrace change
2. Develop transferable skills
3. Lean into your discomfort
4. Pursue a lifetime of continuous learning
5. Become a networking star
6. Act like a business owner
7. Always deliver service/value to others

Greatest Sports Movies EVER

I’m sitting here watching “Remember The Titans”, and I got to thinking of the best sports movies that I have ever seen. The criteria is, there has to be tremendous entertainment value, you want to watch the movie over and over, and you share them with family and friends. So, here’s my list. What do YOU think?
12. Brian’s Song
11. The Longest Yard
10. Heavan Can Wait
9. Rudy
8. Miracle
7. Bad News Bears (the ORIGINAL)
6. North Dallas 40
5. Rocky I
4. Eight Men Out
3. Jerry Maguire
2. Hoosiers
1. Remember the Titans

A New Strategy for Job Seekers

Given the upcoming Thanksgiving binge-fest, today seems like a perfect time to stop and reflect on some key lessons learned for the job-seeking populace.

You cannot attempt to job search using old strategies. Today’s global contract workplace demands new strategies that position you for success.

FINDING YOUR DREAM JOB WHEN IT DOESN’T EXIST (YET)
Even in the best of times, no more than 10-15% of all available positions are advertised. Research shows that Monster, Career Builder and Yahoo! Hot Jobs contain no moe than 6-7% of all available jobs.

Rather than spending most of your time searching job sites, you would be much better served by identifying the 3-4 industries you are interested in pursuing. For each industry, find 6-8 firms that possess a culture that matches your values and belief system. Research as much as you can about them, and find the person you would be reporting to in the role you would want from them. Develop a script on how you will engage that person, then pick up the phone and CALL THEM. Tell them you have done research and can help them, and ask for 15-3 minutes to meet with you so you can explain how.

BE PREPARED TO SELL YOURSELF.
You have to be able to “sell yourself” like a product. To do that it is critical that you know your product features and benefits. Consider your past work experiences, your key skills, certifications and accreditation, language proficiency, software applications, experiences working/living/studying abroad, professional Association memberships, volunteer/community work, etc.

YOU ARE A SOLUTION TO THEIR PROBLEMS
You MUST be prepared to convince them how you can provide a set of solutions in three key areas:
1. How can you help them make money;
2. How can you help them to save money; and
3. How can you help them to improve their operational efficiency.

In today’s global contract workplace the old ways of job searching no longer exist. After the Thanksgiving turkey day binge-fest, start thinking how you can sell yourself in a whole new way.

The summer may almost be over, but given the awful state of the economy, the job market continues to falter, and there is NOTHING good on TV, NOW is a GREAT time to lose ourselves in the clssics! I submit for your viewing pleasure, my personal “TOP 10” list (in no particular order) of the greatest all-time films that many people I know have NOT seen. What are yours?

Breaker Morant

Gallipoli

Mad Max

Eye of the Needle

Ordinary People

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The China Syndrome

The Manchurian Candidate

12 Angry Men

What "Social Media" REALLY Means

No matter where you are or what you’re doing, we’re constantly being bombarded with the importance of “social media” and “social networking.” But, what does it all really mean? And how do you use it to your benefit in your every day life, whether finding a service provider, searching for a job, finding new clients, starting a career, making contacts in your personal and professional lives….how do you actually “DO IT?”

First off, it’s important to understand that social media and social networking is all about making relevant contacts ONLINE to build a relevant community for whatever your ultimate purposes are.

For example, if you want to build a social network for keeping in touch with friends or family, finding a spouse/mate, or building “contacts” you would create a profile/register with social networking sites like Facebook (www.facebook.com), Unyk (www.Unyk.com), MySpace, Stumbleupon (www.Stumbleupon.com),Friendster, etc.

If your goal is to create a business/profesional network of contacts, then you create profiles in “business” oriented sites like LinkedIn, Vox, MeetUp, Bizpreneur, TakingItGlobal, 43Things,etc.

In either scenario, your goal is to build an online BRAND. You are creating and projecting an image of yourself as a product or service to deliver a set of solutions. Branding is all about making a promise with your networks to deliver a consistent experience that is invaluable, unique, and memorable – consider it your own personal marketing campaign to establish and maintain your USP…Unique Selling Proposition.

But you also need to be seen as a subject matter expert to build your ONLINE credit. So, that means finding people in your industries or Associations of peers, and “hanging out” where they do online. Follow the most popular bloggers in the industries you’re interested in, post comments on their blogs and discussions, start your own discussions in LinkedIn, form Groups of your own, or start groups in MeetUp.

But wait…there’s more! You want to be engaged in as many areas as possible, so you also want to research the Forums/Groups that are populated with people you want to meet. You can do that by joining all relevant groups in Yahoo(https://groups.yahoo.com) and Google (https://groups.google.com).

Before you begin registering on these sites, you’ll need to create a comprehensive list of all the characteristics/key areas you want to use to define yourself. For example, if you are working on expanding your professional network using online media, you use all the combintations of relevant keywords that define you. Using myself as an example, I enter terms like career coach, career counseling, busienss coach, busiensscoaching, etc. when I create my online social network site profiles. Be sure to use all the phrases and all combinations of terms that define you.

You can ask people you worked for/with to give you recommendations to build the relevance of your professional profiles. Be sure to build the size of your network by expanding the number of people you invite to join you in your networks.

But it goes further. If you are a business owner, consultant or solo practitioner, you should be blogging on a regular weekly basis, have your own website, connect your blog with your website, and Tweet.

Social media ALSO requies you to apply these branding/marketing atrategies with your off-line or personal networking strategies. Again, with branding yourself it’s all about being consistent.

My partner Sherley Duncan of GoldPlaceNYC says that using social media is like twirling in a circle and wherever you stop, you are opening doors to your personal and professional self ONLINE. It’s a great metaphor.

My Year-long Ordeal With the GSA

This is a story of pain, suffering, persistence, and ultimately…SUCCESS…well, of a sort!

Last July, I decided that I wanted to sell my training and professional development, and my business coaching services to the U.S. Government. The Government is supposed to have all this money, right? So why shouldn’t I try to help train their people, and profit in the exchange?

First off, to sell “ANYTHING” to our Government, you have to submit what’s called a solicitation (kind of like a proposal.) There are soliitations for hundreds if not thousands of products & services. In order to sell to the Government, you FIRST need to have certain things. You have t have been in operation as a business for 24 months. You need to be able to report two years’ worth of financial performance for your business.

You also have to have your business registered with your state and have a taxpayer identification number. Next up, you also need a Dun & Bradstreet DUNS number (no worries, that’s FREE.) Go to https://www.dnb.com.

So, it takes me MONTHS to get through the process of completing ALL of the written documents (imagine pulling your lower lip over the back of your head) struggling the entire way. There is no one to walk you through the process. You have to read the hundreds of pages worth of instructions yourself. There are no Cliff Notes or little yellow book: “Selling to the U.S. Government For Dummies.”

After sbmitting my 25-page application last July, I received a rejection letter indicating the MANY areas that I incorrectly answered or failed to provide and information on.

So, being a glutton for punishment, I go back and rewrite the entire document (now approximately 50 pages LONG) and send it certified mail to the corrct GSA contract administrator in early July, 2010. Somehow, the document gets LOST on their end. I am informed that it really doesn’t matter that they lost it, since as of July, 2010 all solicitations can only be submitted ONLINE.


About to give up, I get a call a few weeks ago from my GSA contractor that he has located my solicitation (sitting on a fellow staffer’s desk). My GSA guy Joe (his real name) reviewed it, and gave me invaluable insights into additional areas I needed to fix. If not for Joe, I’d be DEAD!

I spend nearly a month completing it then save the document (now @ 100 pages)as a PDF then go to the website (https://eoffer.gsa.gov) to upload it. Turns out in order to send anything to the Government electronically, you need a digital certificate to authenticate who you are. So, I now have to pay $200 for the certificate, but in for a penny, in for a pound (of flesh!)

I get this electronic digital certificate a few weeks later, save all the documents then I go back to the website and hit another wall. For some reason they have me attempting to file the wrong solicitation – it’s not for the right services I want to sell. After a half day calling their “HOTLINE” where I speak with a moron “Service Rep” who accuses ME of not following directions since they cannot answer my questions, I get a Supervisor that actually DOES know what she’s doing. I finally get all my issues resolved.

So, as of 12:55PM Eastern standard time on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 I have now officially submitted a request to sell my services to the Government.

I even received an emal confirmation!

Can a rejection notification be FAR behind? STAY TUNED…