All posts by admin

The Skills Needed Most for Career Success

1.Perseverance: We all face challenges. The average American will change jobs 8-9 times in their career. The true measure of a person’s worth is defined by their ability to overcome adversity.

“There is no education like adversity.”
Benjamin Disraeli

2. Natural curiosity: the pursuit of lifelong learning is a critical attribute when times change with the degree of rapidity we are experiencing in today’s turbulent world. You should always be looking to increase your skills by pursuing accreditations and certifications, learning a new software program or another language. Curiosity manifests itself in being a voracious reader, and in general having a natural curiosity towards the way things work, and how people operate (being a closet sociologist.)

3. Playing politics: understanding how to navigate the turbulent waters of today’s workplace is critical for long-term survival and success. We’ve all heard ad nauseum that very little of our success can be contributed to the actual work. It’s how we play the “game” that matters. Even if you hate doing that, it is important your learn how to do it well.

4. Embrace change: adaptability is a key for success. Entire industries like banking and financial services, printing, publishing, retail and advertising are imploding.

5. Having a moral compass: it is especially critical for small business owners to realize that their personal values and belief system are synonymous with their organization culture. Being able to match your personal values to an organization’s is the most critical factor in ensuring one’s job satisfaction. An entire emerging industry is growing around the ideal of promoting the social good. In the age of Enron, Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, and BP, what you represent is fast becoming more relevant than the products or services you offer.

6. Social extrovert: being liked goes a very long way towards building broad social and professional networks. Do people gravitate towards you or literally run from you?

7. Established personal brand: have you asked yourself: “what do I really stand for?” What is your unique selling proposition? What are the three or four key characteristics that most clearly define who you are and what you hope to accomplish?

8. Lean into discomfort: There are things we are mortified of doing, like public speaking for example. Being able overcome our fears is an absolute must, in order to ensure success in today’s global contract workplace. Research indicates that as many as 25% of all American workers are now classified as independent / contract / consulting. With jobs becoming more difficult to find/keep, people will be forced into opportunities that require them to go at it alone.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Dale Carnegie

The Top Five Reasons Your Business is Stuck.

And Why You Can’t Seem to Fix It.

In today’s challenging business climate, it is hard enough to maintain and even grow your business. But there are five areas that you have complete control over, which you are probably failing at. Following are the top five reasons that most organizations are stuck, and likely can’t get themselves out of the current economic calamity.

5. Your personal problem-solving skills are outdated: You are attempting to navigate your way out of this business climate using the same old approaches that worked before but won’y any longer. We live in unchartered times. The challenges we face are unique, and can’t be solved with yesterday’s solutions. It’s not enough to lower prices, fix operations, or lay off staff. In a climate in which our business, political, educational, and financial institutions are all broken we simply CAN’T continue to pursue business-as-usual approaches.


4. You haven’t aligned your core business functions: Face it, you do not develop your sales, marketing, product development and customer care efforts in isolation of one another. Your management team continues to treat these as stand-alone, separate entities when in fact they are all intertwined and need to be planned and budgeted for as a single entity.

3. Your strategy is no longer relevant: You continue to implement a strategy that was developed at an earlier time before circumstances changed so drastically. Marketplace conditions such as the rate of technological change and globalization of business & industry are changing at such a rapid pace that strategies cannot be applied beyond 3 to 4 month cycles in most industries.

2. You don’t know your customers: You continue to sell to your existing customers without truly understanding the challenges they face. When was the last time you took a top revenue client out for breakfast? Do you periodically join your top clients for a ride along, to shadow them for a day to learn their business and challenges they face? Have you conducted a lifetime value assessment to determine your most (and least) profitable accounts? Do you have a strategy to grow repeat business with existing clients and covert your repeat customers into apostles?

…and the #1 reason you can’t “unstick”your business in these turbulent times:

1. You treat your employees like “disposable assets”: Instead of elevating your people to their rightful place as your organization’s most valuable asset, you treat them like a commodity. You conduct periodic layoffs, and expect their loyalty to remain steadfast. Have passionate are you about constantly soliciting feedback from your people on how to improve your organization. Do you provide them with the autonomy, training and resources to make decisions independently? Do you have an idea generation program?

Do you reward and recognize your people? Coach and mentor them? Have you performed a human capital audit to match every one of your people’s core competencies with their job responsibilities? Do you constantly challenge your people? What about providing a great workplace? How often do you provide feedback? Do you have a 360-degree performance review program?

Until you unleash the tremendous untapped potential of your workforce, you will not be able to compete in today’s changing global business climate.

Are We Out of the Recession? Were We Ever in One?

If you listen to the pundits talk about a supposed American “recovery” then no doubt you are aware that we have come out of this two year Recession. The experts point to a stock market that has rebounded, and an increase in the demand for certain goods. Supposedly the manufacturing sector has turned some sort of a corner, and some companies have even begun hiring again.

So, is it safe to safe we are coming out of the Recession?

What if we have not been experiencing a Recession at all, but something fundamentally and significantly different (and by different I mean…WORSE?)
When our unofficial unemployment rate remains stubbornly fixed between 15-20% and experienced professionals cannot find work after six+ months of aggressive searching, we have problems. When entire industries have imploded (banking, financial services, housing, printing, publishing, retail, advertising, and manufacturing) and we have outsourced all the business operations we used to excel at, there is something larger at play that is not being discussed!

What if we are at a societal crossroads where our educational, business, and political systems are no longer serving the needs of the average American? For example, students that at one time would not hesitate to consider college are now NOT considering college as a viable option due to the $200,000 price tag and no guarantee of post-graduation employment.

The average American student falls farther behind the rest of the industrialized world in science and mathematics proficiency. We live in the contract employee era. One in four Americans can now be classified as independent/contract workers and that number continues to spike upwards. People in their thirties to fifties cannot find work.

Are we really in store for better days ahead?

Small businesses used to be the lifeblood of any job-based economic recovery. 95% of all new jobs were created by employers with 500 or fewer employers. In today’s business climate, small businesses cannot afford to hire new workers and are going out of business at record levels.

Only now has the Obama Administration made a concerted effort to help save the American small business from going extinct. Our global banks and financial institutions continue to receive record bailouts. Apparently you can be too big to fail, but the guarantee of support from our Government does not apply to our small business owners.

Our two-party political system seems unable to come together to save our Gulf Coast from British Petroleum, or save our states from bankruptcy. The American Middle Class continues to erode and a greater percent of the American wealth pie gets concentrated in an ever shrinking upper class.

Are we witnessing a transfer of power from America to India and China, or are better days ahead in the form of a Great American recovery?

Going For (Winter Olympic Gold) Success


Don’t look now, but our U.S. Olympic team is making history at the XXI Winter Olympics in Vancouver, as it blows away the rest of the field in total medal count.


At present, they lead with 32 medals, 6 more than Germany and 13 more than Norway. Some performance highlights by the Americans in these Winter Games include:

  • Bode Miller wins his first gold ever and his third medal in these Games, after nearly walking away from the sport a year ago;
  • Apolo Ohno has won three medals in Vancouver and now owns more Winter Olympic medals (7) than any other U.S. Winter Olympian;
  • Shani Davis became the first skater in Olympic history to win the 1,000 meter distance event in two Olympics;
  • Our woman’s hockey team wins silver; and
  • The U.S. wins SIX medals in one day, more than any other country EVER achieved (5).



QUESTION: Don’t our Olympic athletes know that this is NOT supposed to happen? Our athletes don’t typically perform very well at Winter Olympics.

What has brought about this dramatic change in THIS team’s results? Perhaps our athletes collectively brought an entirely new attitude and approach to these Games and said: “Forget the past, let’s dare to be great!” There is a tremendously powerful lesson that we can all learn from our athletes, and apply to our own business and professional efforts?

THAT GOT ME TO THINKING: What if each of us took the approach of: “No more excuses, we are going to dare to be great?” What if we each decided that it can NO LONGER be acceptable to strive to maintain the status quo? What if we ALL took our heads out of the sand and stopped waiting for the current economic storm passes?

What if we all decided to REALLY invest in our people, and began taking calculated risks with higher reward potential? What if we bucked the trend of cutting back on spending, to invest in cutting edge creative and effective marketing and sales strategies? Let our competitors shrink from the public eye. Our efforts will come through even louder as our competitors remain silent. What if we decided once and for all to tear down the processes that we established long ago (even the ones that aren’t broken), in a concerted effort to achieve Gold medal, world-class customer care, business operations, sales efforts, marketing campaigns, new product offerings, and strategic approaches?

What if it wasn’t good enough just to stop laying off employees but we started restructuring EVERY employees’ job description to leverage ALL their core competencies? If we can learn anything from our American Olympians, it’s that success is not measured in wins and losses, or Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Just ask the heavily favored U.S. woman’s hockey team. A gold medal loss 2-0 to the Canadians was shocking, but they won Silver. There is no failure or shame in achieving such lofty success. After all in life’s winding road, it’s not about the destination but the journey. What lessons can be take away from the past two years of Recession?

If anything our Olympians might quote Einstein for us – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is INSANITY. Apolo Ohno completely changed his skating style after winning medals at the last Olympics, and came up GOLDEN again. Only by daring to take a different approach can any of us hope to achieve Gold.



What do you think?

Should Undercover Boss Remain Hidden?

Show Preview

Have you seen Undercover Boss? It’s the latest reality TV show that follows CEOs of companies as they go undercover to investigate their businesses. The first episode aired after the Super Bowl and focused on Larry Hughes, President of Waste Management.

On one hand, I guess you could say “it’s about time.” Presidents of corporations are FINALLY getting out there and seeing what it’s like for their employees on the front line.
But a part of me sees this all as grotesque reality TV. Am I the only one who sees this as too little too late? We’ve suffered through decades of leadership deficit in Corporate America.

CEOs have failed miserably at communicating with their people. They have lost sight of what it’s like to be their employees or their customers, vendors, suppliers, partners, etc. They have alienated their workforce by initiating massive layoffs, instituting draconian employee compliance programs, and overworked, underpaid, undervalued, and underappreciated their people for so long that this new emphasis on hands-on caring CEO smells of grotesquely insincere gesture.

So, CEOs are going undercover to find out what it’s like to work in their companies? Here’s an idea. Why limit it to only ONE week out in the field? Why not take THREE MONTH tour with 2-week job rotations across all of the areas of their company? While they’re at t, spend time with their key customers, top suppliers, most valued partners, and other stakeholders.

The fact that this show was even produced is yet another slap in the face to the American worker. This is like dropping a coin in the tin cup of the homeless man on the corner, a momentary morality speed bump. If CEOs of American businesses really want to know what it’s like to be an employee in their organization, ASK THEM! Here’s a novel idea. Implement truly valuable programs for employees. Solicit direct feedback from workers by soliciting their ideas constantly.

Offer valuable incentives through reward and recognition programs, and match junior-level staff with more tenured workers in coaching/mentoring programs. Ant to REALLY show you are a CARING CEO? FREEZE all senior management bonuses, commit to NO MORE LAYTOFFS for several years. How about implementing cutting edge training & development programs for the employees?

Start by communicating with each and every employee. Use monthly town hall meetings to speak from the pulpit on the state of your business. Hold quarterly video conferences. Implement weekly “Breakfast with the Boss” talks, and send Monday morning emails from the CEO?

We all know there is a void in corporate leadership. Let’s not add insult to injury for the American worker by implying CEOs care. That ship sailed a LONG time ago. The landscape of American enterprise is littered with the fecal remnants of Adelphia, Enron, Global Crossing, Bear Stearns, GM, Lehman Brothers, AIG, etc.

If you want to get lost in mind-numbing reality TV, check out The Jersey Shore. Leave Undercover Boss.

The Great “Catch-22” Facing Job Seekers Pursuing a Career Transition

Today’s job seekers looking to transition into a new field face the greatest of all Catch-22s imaginable… how can one obtain the experience needed to successfully transition into a new field, when people in that industry won’t hire you without prior experience in the industry?
While the challenge facing career transitioners may seem insurmountable, it is NOT. Conducting an effective career transition into a new vocation is a manageable task, ASSUMING you approach it with the right plan. The first thing one must do is conduct a complete self-assessment to identify your strongest skills that are TRANSFERRABLE.

Transferable skills are the talents that you have acquired in past jobs that can help an employer AND can be utilized in a number of industries, environments, or jobs. Experiences like volunteer work, hobbies, sports, previous jobs, college coursework, or even your experience living through significant life events provide such transferrable skills.

Ask yourself what your core competencies are. These are the skills that you are strongest at. Some examples of core competencies might include: customer service, retail sales, direct marketing, project management, foreign languages, bookkeeping, fundraising, etc.
Any skill is transferable; the trick is showing employers how these skills of yours apply to the job you are pursuing in this new industry and how your competencies are useful to them in one or more of the following three ways: 1) help them to increase revenues; 2) reduce profits; or 3) improve their operational efficiencies.

Another way to transition into an industry you do not possess experience in, is to approach your job search as if you are selling a product called “YOU.” Using this approach will enable you to understand your product “features and benefits” and learn how to market these selling points of your background to employers. Some of your features and benefits include: your education, continuing education coursework, training programs, certifications, language proficiency, cultural diversity, the time you spent working, living and/or studying abroad, awards and recognition you received, your special leadership qualities, and experience managing others, your community engagement earned through your volunteer work, etc.

Research the industries you are interested in breaking into from top to bottom. There is a wealth of information on most companies especially if they are publicly traded. Some excellent resources for company background information include: Hoovers, the Securities and Exchange Commission Edgar database of annual and quarterly financial statement filings (www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml), the https://www.searchsystems.net/ public records database, https://www.thomasnet.com/ (for industrial and manufacturing firms), Dun & Bradstreet, The Motley Fool, etc.

Of all the strategies available to those seeking a career transition, none is more powerful potentially rewarding as the informational interview. The informational interview is a way to meet people who are either doing what you want to do in a specific job in that new industry, people you know through your network who work in the industry, or someone that manages a Department that you might want to work in within an organization in this new industry.

During your informational interview, you want to learn how they got their start in that industry, what they love most about their jobs, what industry associations do they belong to, what publications to they read, what events do they attend, what special training or classes they have taken etc. It is important to note that the informational interview is NOT an interview. You are not asking for a job. However, you can and should ask if they know one or two people they can suggest for you t o talk to.

It is NOT impossible to break into a field that you do not have experience in. Like any truly rewarding venture, it takes a strategic plan, hard work and perseverance, and a willingness to embrace strategies you might not be comfortable doing.