Why Less is More

In a world of specialization and customization, it’s hard to imagine that less would be more. On the other hand, there is so much NOISE – so many messages, topics, blogs, channels, tools – it’s all a little exhausting.

So what can we take away from the new Ivory soap campaign that reminds us of its simplicity? It’s just soap. No special smells, additives, packaging. Just soap.

If you are a job seeker or even an individual looking to brand yourself, the question of how much to share is often an issue. Is a two paragraph cover letter enough or is that too short? How many Linked In recommendations are appropriate?  There is no simple answer but here’s a note from my inbox today… “We’re hiring at my company and just today I saw 3 resumes…

#1 –   was 9 pages long

#2 – was 10 pages long in 9 point font

#3 – included a 1 page summary of the books the person has read.”

The author’s advice, “Don’t do that.”

It’s hard to believe that with all the resources available that anyone is still doing stuff like this. Edit, focus, get someone to read over your material. Please remember, less is more.

 

Well, You Still Need to Wear Pants…

Do you believe the world of work has changed forever? I do. Whatever the root cause of our unemployment issues; big companies will no longer create the majority of our new jobs; small and mediums-sized companies will. And many more people will work for themselves or freelance.

The stereotype of a freelancer is a geek with a laptop sitting at home on their sofa in their sweats. You might be surprised that freelancers, like entrepreneurs, come in all shapes, sizes and are from many different fields. Think for a minute of consultants; engineering, management,etc.

I have a strategic marketing consulting practice that is supplemented by teaching at the Masters level and an active speaking schedule so I consider myself both an entrepreneur and a freelancer.  As more  folks aged 50+ lose their jobs (and have lost significant value in their retirement plans) — more of us will need to find work wherever we can.

This week I had the opportunity to visit NYS Senator Joe Robach with a group of freelancers and representatives from the Freelancers Union . (If you are an independent worker, you may want to check out their site. It’s free to join!) At issue is the right for freelance workers to have the same protection to ‘get paid’ as ‘regular’ workers;  83% of freelancers have experienced delayed, reduced or non-payment. Senator Robach was very supportive of the bill.

If we are going to adapt to a global marketplace, we are going to need keep up our legal and regulatory supports for new kinds of work. Are you working freelance? I’d love to hear from you.

Photo credit: Freelance Switch.com

From Uh-Oh to Aha!

Whether you are employed, unemployed or self-employed, one thing is clear; this country needs jobs. If you are someone who lost your job (uh-oh) and then started a company (a-ha!) then you, like me, are part of an exciting national trend.

I am an entrepreneur– in year 2 of my second start up. While it is a lot of work (yeah, get the work, do the work AND run the business), it’s very rewarding. I like the boss (me), the flexibility and I get to choose who I work for (the customers).

Here’s an interesting article on people who give up their full time jobs to start businesses. What? They gave up the security and paycheck of a full time job for the risks of a start up? Read on. These folks actually think working for someone else is the riskier proposition.

If you are wondering whether you’d make a good entrepreneur or want to learn more about how to get started here are a few resources.

  1. Entrepreneur magazine - Even if your not sure whether starting a business is for you, start by reading a magazine like this.
  2. Small Business Administration and SCORE - Free advice is available in 364 locations around the country. They provide mentoring and workshops.
  3. Local college or chambers of commerce – These often have low cost programs that can teach you about business fundamentals.

Young, old, male, female — we need all the start ups we can get. For women, here’s an interesting article and resources. Go get ‘em!

Photo credit: Wilson Borough Business

 

Saying No, Graciously… Tonic for the OverCommitted

My grandmother taught me to say (with a big smile), “Not today but try me tomorrow” when I was turning down an offer.  I thought she was crazy but… she was teaching me to please others.

And so I thought  I needed to say yes in order to be liked. Fortunately, I got over that.

But saying no can be difficult so here are some helpful hints for saying no,

When someone starts talking about a problem and wants you to help, you could say:
“I can understand how that would be hard.”

Then say nothing more—just nod and smile while you assess what you want to do. If you can walk away without accepting any responsibility and let the person feels heard,  you have all my respect. A desire to help, curiosity and wanting to be the hero all kick in for me so I have to be on guard.

How about when you’re asked to start working on a new project, you could say:

“Would you email me the details? Once I receive that, I’ll be able to give you a more definite response.”

Maybe you’ll push the project to someone else, maybe you’ll take it on. You get time to decide on a response. And don’t forget the best ever, all purpose response:

“I’ll have to get back you.”

I have a ‘Git ‘Er Done’ mentality but I want to manage my time so I can enjoy my work and my life.  Got tips for saying no (besides change your personality?)

Photo credit: The 99% Solution.com  (BTW – an awesome website — check it out!)