Category: future of work

Are You Part of the “Other Backward Class”?

I found this homeless man with his dog, he was ever so gentle and loving with man's best friend. Chris told me his dog, Brandy, was all he had in the world. His last dog was taken away from him by the police because he did not have tags or a ...

I read an article about the unexpected death of an Indian politician named, Gopinath Mundie. Mr. Mundie had risen to prominence from, what in India is known as, a low-caste grouping called the “Other Backward Classes.” When I read this, I almost cried. Can you imagine growing up in a country where you, your family and friends are referred to by this derogatory term?

I am not judging the Indian people, their culture or their politics (in fact, we could learn a lesson from them in democracy… if you haven’t seen this Daily Show segment on voter turn out… check it out.)

I am simply asking you to think about your life in America. We have a long way to go in many, many aspects of our young country’s democracy and fairness to our citizens. There are many problems. But one thing we don’t have are Backward Classes. Of course, we have ‘classes’ that ‘we’ consider ‘less than’ – so we all have a lot of work to do on understanding, kindness, sharing, fairness, etc.

Related to this… I hear many people complaining about our economy, but I see the restaurants are full. People complain about fuel prices, but we still drive everywhere. We worry about climate change, yet we leave our lights on, use drive-throughs and in general don’t pay much attention to our individual contribution to the problem.

I’m not blaming anyone… I have many improvements to make in my own life. For today, I am asking you to think about how lucky you are that you live in a country (with all its flaws) where education is universal and opportunities are abundant. The chance to live a life that most people on the planet would give everything to have a chance to experience. So the next time your dry cleaning isn’t ready on time or the grocery store is out of your favorite ice cream, will you stop and be grateful for the abundance that being born American has given you?

P.S. One other item of interest about Mr. Mundie… “His home district of Beed is infamous for female foeticide (where they find out if a fetus is a girl or a boy and then abort it if it is a girl) and given that he has three daughters and no son, he was often hailed as an example for others to follow. One of his daughters, Pankaja Munde-Palve, is a member of the Maharashtra state assembly.” Mr. Mundie.. you will be missed but your legacy lives on.

Photo credit: His Entire World: Homeless Man  Beverly and Pack

Feel Sorry For the Ferrari Driver

When you see someone driving a Ferrari, are you envious or do you feel sorry for him/her? Do you wonder, what do they, “do for a living” or do you think, ” that poor schlub really needs attention”?

Feel sorry for them? What are you talking about? They have money, probably a big house, lots of friends…

But the truth is that money doesn’t necessarily translate into happiness.

In a meritocracy (a society in which hard work, energy and skills are valued above other qualities), people thrive regardless of where and to whom they were born.  Those who give less and don’t try, end up at the bottom. Of course, this type of society doesn’t exist in the ‘modern world but we can adjust our attitude about effort and ‘success.’

We now view failure as something personal. We don’t see failure as a learning process.

I highly recommend this wonderful TED talk (15 minutes well spent) A Kinder, Gentler Philosophy of Success.

We think we know what success means, but do we?

Why We Work?

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<p>Operating a hand drill at North American Aviation, Inc., [a] woman is working in the control surface department assembling a section of the leading edge for the horizontal stabilizer of a plane, Inglewood, Calif....

The Buddhist point of view is that work has 3 purposes, to:

  1. give a man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties
  2. enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task
  3. bring forth needed goods and services

To simplify, we work to:

  1. Develop our unique skills (Do you know what these are? Do you work to develop them?)
  2. Think about other people (get over ourselves) (Many people say they do but… WOW it’s still all about them.)
  3. Make/provide stuff of value to others  (This one is the easiest)
  4. There is an obvious #4. The reason most of us would say we work… to make money to live.

Just for today, When you are working, how about thinking about 1-2 instead of 3-4?  In the photo, the woman probably had never used a drill before the war. Then suddenly, she had to become proficient for a greater good. What ways does your work help you develop your unique gifts and help others instead of yourself?

Photo credit: Operating a Hand Drill   Library of Congress

I’m Too Old to Change

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When I worked at Kodak in the 1990’s (and before! yes, I’m that old)… a new program was introduced called, “Shift Happens.” And yes, the pun for “sh?t happens” was deliberate.

The emphasis of the program was personal responsibility for change. It was, of course, ironic that a company that made obscene amounts of money and (while good to its employees) was incredibly risk/change averse; suddenly wanted everyone to embrace the ability to change. A noble effort. Too little, too late.

Clearly the dilemma of “change” is part of the human condition. Socrates wrote the above quote around 400 B.C. So Kodak and the rest of us are all in the same boat.

It took me all long time to learn to want to change, to understand change is important and necessary.

My favorite quote is, “Change is good, timing is everything, patience is the key.”

What are you changing about yourself? If you’re not sure, if you need help, reach out and ask someone. If they can’t help, try someone else and keep trying until you find the person who is right for you… for right now. Happy changes.

Photo credit: Socrates quotes

Building Your Business

When I say your ‘business’ I mean whether you HAVE a business or whether you ARE the business. Today, being prepared for changes is what required.

I work with several entrepreneurs and meet with new ones regularly. It is such a joy because each one is excited about their business. They have energy and a hunger to learn and grow. It is infectious and wonderful.

Many of them, like me, have had plenty of ups and downs. In fact, most of them will experience more downturns that they believe they can stand! What separates a successful ‘business owners’ from the unsuccessful, is flexibility. The ability to pivot.

So how do each of us, whether we starting a business, reinventing ourselves or invigorating our career, take the “just do it” train?

Ideas are easy to come by, in fact, very easy. What’s not easy is making that idea into a business (or career) that works. Here are some rules for navigating the terrain:

  1. Build skills. In my corporate years, I looked for assignments that would allow me to learn new, specific skills.
  2. Try on different roles. Find ways to test out various roles, tasks, assignments. Volunteer, talk to your boss, be specific about what you want.
  3. Fail fast. This one sounds the worst. Most of us don’t want to ‘fail’ at all. What we don’t realize is that we learn the most from our failures. It is what propels us to do new and better. It is what helps us learn quickly and meaningfully.

Are  you excited about your work? Do you wake up ready to learn? If not, perhaps it’s time to pivot.

Photo Credit: Empowering Startup 

Single Best Piece of Career Advice

People at all stages of their careers look for work that ‘fits’. But most of us don’t know how to find it. This is as good an assessment tool as I have seen. The intersection of these 4 things is probably where you’ll be productive and happy.

1. What you’re good at (Ability)
2. What makes money (Financial security)
3. What helps others/society (Altruism)
4. What you enjoy

This is why when you go to a career counselor, they give you some tests and talk to you about your goals, what you like to do in general, etc. They don’t start with… what do you want to do for a living?

For many of us, we’re pretty good at #4. We’re sketchy on #1 and pretty clueless where the intersection of #1 and #4 meet #2.

This is why we need to try new things. But most of us get hung up at a very young age on #2 and then end up miserable. Sometimes this is our own fault. We don’t live within our means so we get used to spending and having ‘stuff’. If you want to make money — great. But finding the intersection of all of these is not easy for most of us.

Also, we are very quick to judge others (and ourselves) when it comes to careers (and lots of other stuff). Just for today, try to look at a career path in new way. Which of these 4 are you working on?

Reminder of my 3 criteria for how I spend my time: 1) am I having fun? 2) am I learning? 3) am I appreciated?

 

The basis of this post came from: Yermie Cohen’s dad (med student, engineer, start up founder) Quora.com

Photo Credit: 42 to Know about 42

 

 

I Hate Being A GrownUp

One of the good things about about being a grown up is that you get to choose when you act/think like a kid. The problem is that many of us never choose that path, even for a few minutes. Once we’re grown up, we think it’s wrong to be silly or color outside the lines. This is a shame.

The older we get the more invested we are in ‘the same'; what Seth Godin calls lizard brain. Our prehistoric need to stay in the cave, “to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise.”

The idea is to live our lives according to what we (and our loved ones) need at the time.  This doesn’t mean I have to work at this job or this career forever. Just right now.

People forget this. They also forget that they can change their minds. I am not recommending arbitrarily job hopping. But trying several different paths to build skills and ‘try things on’ is a legitimate path – AT ANY AGE.

The problem is the judgement of other people, specifically our fear of it. When I requested and got approval (in 1984) to manage my team while working part time, many of my colleagues were upset. Here’s what they said; “why does she get to?” “she can’t be serious about your career” and my favorite “I wish I could do that.” Blah, blah, blah. I showed them how to do it, they were too afraid. That’s cool. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine.

But if you think you can go your own way and not face judgement from others, stop. it. right. now. Accept the fact that for whatever human reason, the pack doesn’t like lone wolves. If you choose a path that isn’t like everyone else’s, people are going to be upset and many will let you know.

Insofar as you can (and still pay your bills) stop thinking/worrying about what everyone else wants/thinks. You will NEVER please everyone so you might as well please yourself.  For me, this was a tough lesson, but once I learned it… I was free forever.

It’s hell in the hallway but the difficulty doesn’t last forever. But when you’re in the hallway… it sure feels like it will.

Want a laugh? check out my daughter Jenna’s take on ‘grownuphood” (alert: fbombs & other foul language included)

Photo credit: Why Do We Work?

 

Creating Work You Love (Sounds Scary or Ridiculous)

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Why am I an entrepreneur? “We’ve made the decision to let you go,” my boss said over the telephone.  I was shocked and upset.That was, the first time.

The second time I was let go, not so much. By the third time I said to myself, “Never again.” I am not going to put myself in a position where how I earn my living is dictated by someone else’s priorities.

I learned to work hard when I was young and frankly, since I’m a Baby Boomer, being a workaholic is normal and I always wanted my own business. I remember more than one person saying to me, you can’t start a company (you girl, you), what could you possibly do? As angry as I was at them, I used the anger to motivate me.

Assessing the possibilities I had a bunch of skills, foreign languages, marketing, healthcare, blah, blah, blah. They didn’t really fit together into a solid plan for earning a living being an entrepreneur. So I devised a three pronged strategy for creating income.

1) Teaching

2) Speaking and workshops

3) Consulting

Getting started I met with a lot of people and talked about my idea. Some nodded, “Hmmmm, I could see them thinking, she’ll never make this work.”  Some tried to discourage me, “Get a job,” and a few encouraged me, “You can do it!”

I can report that 5 years in, I am doing better than I ever hoped. It isn’t what I expected and that’s not only good, it’s fun.

You can do it too.  So if you are wondering where your next job is going to come from… I will ask you this; what will it take for you to say, “Enough. I’m gonna try something different?  I can guarantee you will learn more in 1 year on your own path than you will in 5 years working for someone else. If, at any point,  you decide to go work for someone else, you’ll be even more valuable to that employer. You will be a better problem solver, see the big picture and actually empathize more with your boss in a different way.

But I can’t…. I have responsibilities   The first time I co-founded a start up I was the single mother of 2 kids, 14 and 12 with no family to help me. That start up only lasted 2 years, thanks to 9/11, but I learned so much and my actions showed my children how to go for what they want and to not be afraid.

Just Do It. Join millions of others who are finding a way to create meaningful, interesting work.

Photo credit: You Can Do It

You Must Go to College BEFORE You Start a Company

We're midway through the judging at the <a href="http://www.dfj.com/venturechallenge">DFJ Venture Challenge</a> today…Here you see a UC Davis team demonstrating light-dimming demand response to help reduce utility bl...

I was skimming through a book titled, “The $100 Startup, Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, ” by Chris Guillebeau (a wicked cool guy). In the first pages, he tells the story of Michael Hanna, the successful sales professional.  Twenty plus years experience and he is called in to his boss’s office, the HR person shows up, he’s let go, handed a cardboard box and walked to his car. He moans and worries for a while but then something happens.  He starts a company by accident and ends up a successful entrepreneur.

Kids, You Must Go to College

I am stunned when I hear parents and teachers say, you must go to college before you start a company. You don’t have enough ‘experience.’ What could you possibly do? How will you live? and on and on. Thousands of reasons why not.

Hey folks, for many, what you learn in college won’t get you a job, a career or make you happy. There are wonderful alternatives to college (40 Alternatives to College) but we, as a society, don’t support or value them.

Don’t get me wrong, I think college is great. I understand about “education-related income”and there are lots of successful people who are high school drop outs… Peter Jennings (new anchor), Princess Diana, Bill Gates, David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, etc.I have a young friend who was accepted to MBA programs at MIT and Stanford who opted to skip grad school to start his first company.

My point is that encouraging every kid to go to college, whether they want to or not, is dumb. Look around at Gen Y, they are starting organizations and changing the world including Warren Buffet’s ‘heir apparent.”

Photo credit: Enlightening. Jurvetson

Job Interview Question: Why Are Tennis Balls Fuzzy?

I recently gave a talk in front of a group of senior executives (older folk) who are ‘in the hallway’ (looking for work). I was talking about the collaborative economy and I made a reference to Porter’s 5 forces model. Now, you may never have heard of this, no big deal. But for a group of people over 50 who made over $100,000 in their last corporate job; it surprised the heck out me that only one them had heard of it but couldn’t accurately describe it.

Let’s be clear, on any given day… there are 1,000’s of things I don’t know and this has nothing to do with Porter’s paradigm specifically. My comment to them was, “good thing this isn’t a job interview.”

I work as a consultant so I go on a ‘job interview’ several times a month. As I’m networking, I never know who is going to be a connection to a gig.

Fuzzy Tennis Balls? This article, “13 Weirdest Interview Questions – 2014” offers us some of the oddest questions people were asked (submitted via Glassdoor). If you got this question in an interview, how would you answer? Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, thank goodness I’m not looking for a job or I’m going to pray that I don’t get a question like that. That’s one approach.

How about this? What if you use these odd questions as a chance to stretch your mind? Just for exercise. Talk to someone about it over lunch. Ask your kids what they think. Have fun for crying out loud.

For those of you who are looking for work, old or young, remember the goal of these questions is for the interviewer to see how you think, how quick you are on your feet, what happens to you when faced with a (small) challenge. Do you stumble and stutter or do you let your creative juices flow? Creativity requires practice so I suggest you play games, answer silly questions, get out those crayons; maybe you’ll get that job after all.

Photo credit: Tennis Kevinzim