Posts tagged: career transitions

Job at Google? No Thanks.

Google, The Holy Grail of Employers

A lot has been written about interviewing and working at Google. William Poundstone has a book. Here’s an article from the NY Times, and there are probably hundreds more. My question is, what do you give up when you work at a big (50k + employees) company? (I worked 17 years at Eastman Kodak, 120K employees.)

Free food, dry cleaning,  onsite child care, convenient transportation, gyms etc.  The free sushi may flow, in some offices you can bring your dog and when you tell people you work at Google, they say wow, good for you. The list of benefits is long and generous. Only a company with huge margins could afford to offer all these.

Do Perks and Prestige Kill Innovation?

But my question is, what can you really accomplish (vs. working at a smaller company)? I know first hand the benefit of all the training and rubbing elbows with really bright people. I also know how much inertia a large corporation generates. The very thing that builds the company, is what holds it back.

Besides search, where has Google, with all it’s billions, really innovated? (I’ll give them Google Earth/Maps). They have tried in vain to create a Face Book competitor (think of Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, Google +, etc.) They have spent years trying to crack the way ‘people’ connect… and they haven’t succeeded yet.

What About YouTube?

One could make a case for YouTube. It brings people together to share, but I would suggest that YouTube’s ‘socialness’  is purely technical.

There have been almost no improvement in the interaction/social aspects of YouTube. Commenting is just as linear and lame as it’s always been. There’s no way to see comments in the context of the where it might be relevant in the video. Every time they come out with an “upgrade”, I think oh, good, they’re finally going to improve the viewers experience. But no, the upgrades make things easier for YouTube.

Look, if you want to work at Google, great. I wish you well and I know you’ll meet lots of smart, interesting people. If you want to really use all parts of your brain and general capacity… then I hope you aim for a smaller company. Let me know how it’s going, wherever you work.

Photo Credit: William Poundstone

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

Image result for getting fired

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

If you’ve been fired in the past year or two and it was your first time, you might still feel bad about it. I was fired 3 times (well, technically fired twice and laid off once). The first time, I worked in a shoe store in high school. They wanted me to recommend other stuff when people bought shoes. Couldn’t do it. So, I was fired. The next time,  I had been promised by my boss’s boss that things would change in the workplace…they didn’t change, I was insubordinate. The third time, I had pre-negotiated a leave date so technically it was a lay off. (I was never fired for cause!)

The first time I was devastated. The second time I thought the world would end. The third time was, no big deal. Every time I left a job involuntarily, something better turned up next.

I’m In Good Company

For inspiration, glance at this article, “21 Great Successes Who Got Fired.” The list is pretty impressive …

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Truman Capote
  • Lady Gaga

The list of athletes who failed is long but one stands out… Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Think about Jennifer Hudson. An American Idol loser who went on to win Oscar.

Whatever is happening with you right now, know that good things are going to happen for you. Hold on for one more day. I believe in you.

Image credit: Getting Fired: A Blessing

The Beauty of the Winter Garden

It’s Not Beautiful, It’s Dead

In the middle of winter, we think about the green of summer, the abundance of the garden, the color of the flowers and wish that things were different. We forget to look at the garden as beautiful. If we take a few minutes and look carefully, we’ll see many unexpected things. First, we’ll see more shades of white, black and gray than we thought possible. We’ll see the outline of things that are blocked by the leaves and greenery. We might notice the hardiness of the evergreen or the way grasses turn brown and yet still blow in the wind. But we must pay attention to see these things.

It’s Dead and It’s Beautiful

Just like in life, we might dismiss a person who doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the way we think they should or we might miss the importance of kindness in everyday life. If kindness is the stem and roots, then it will be present no matter the season.  The joy of appreciating the winter garden is that it teaches us to appreciate our days in all their phases – happy, sad, structured, confusing, etc. . Think about how the winter garden shows us how to accept wherever we are and even find joy and beauty there.

Photo credit: Winter Garden  Ms. Lea

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) Makes Everything Worse

When I find myself stressed, I try to remember to check for these 4 things before I do or say anything else.

Hungry

I’m not good when I’m hungry. I can get snippy and rude. It’s not my intention, but it happens. I’ve learned over the years to keep a granola bar or some nuts with me so I don’t snap. I love chocolate but I find if I eat candy, that only helps for a little while, then I crash and feel worse. If I check my hunger first, it’s easier for me to check on the other triggers.

Angry

For people living with dysfunction, this is a constant. Growing up with alcoholics, I found comfort in chaos. I know this sounds strange but it’s what I knew best so when things were calm, I was uncomfortable.  I was angry at circumstances outside of my control. I didn’t know how to channel my energy into positive actions. Fortunately, I got help and learned to recognize this behavior. A lot of my anger was ‘stuffed’ down because ‘girls’ aren’t supposed to get angry. It’s not ladylike  (I hate that expression). So what’s a person to do with all those negative feelings? Some of us turn them on ourselves by eating, drinking alcohol, drugs, starving, whatever… to help us forget, to help us cope. But none of those help us process our anger and figure out how to move forward. I learned to beat the bed with a tennis racket, scream as loud as I can, put on loud music and dance around, throw plastic containers at the wall (gratifyingly noisy without any serious cleanup.)

Lonely

This one is easy to recognize and harder (in my opinion) to solve. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out and being with people, even strangers. But most of the time, loneliness is cured by being with someone who really cares about me and who knows how to show it. This can be hard to find. I had to write down, on paper, the names of people that I could turn to when I was lonely. Why? Because in my mind, I was alone. The list helped to remind me that there were people and I could call them just to say hi, listen to their voices and feel better.

Tired

This is alternatively the easiest and the hardest to resolve. Chronic tiredness is normal in modern living.  So the easy thing to do is to just stop and rest. The hard thing to do is to figure out how to get everything done and still have time to rest. I have no suggestions. We each have to find our own way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed, think of HALT, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. Check each one and see what you can do to address these BEFORE you respond to the boss, your peer, your spouse, your child, etc. Teach your kids about H.A.L.T. It’s a life skill that provides life long benefits.

Image credit: windowlight

One Thing I Must Do Everyday

Everyday people tell me, you gotta try this. You’ll LOVE this. Watch this, wear this, smell this, read this, blah blah blah.

I don’t have to do anything except breathe. And you know, for a human being, I think I do a rather poor job of it. Check this out from the always wonderful Chris Brogan.

“I had a quick chat with the Universe. It was in a rush but it wanted me to share something important with you. ‘You would do well to breathe deeper. In general. Take deeper breaths. In fact,’ said the Universe, ‘did you know that learning how to master slow, deep, controlled breaths is one way to master anxiety, fear, frustration, and many more feelings and emotions?'”

For today, you and I don’t need to master anything. But what I can do is remember the joy and release from just breathing. So right now, wherever you are, stop everything.  Take a breath. Now take another. Just feel yourself breathing. Feels good doesn’t it? I’m trying to figure out a way to remind myself several times a day. Got any hints?

Chris Brogan quote is from his weekly newsletter that he sends out on Sunday. You can subscribe here.

Photo credit: ellephysio

You’re a Genius – Everyday

Why We Judge Others

Did you judge someone today? Maybe you’re not even aware of it. It’s a habit and way of thinking in modern society. Anytime we think we know what someone “should” do, we are judging. In the quote above, Einstein gives us an idea of how to check if we are being judgmental.

Judgement is a problem because it makes others feel “less than” and doesn’t give room for live and let live.

There is a difference between stating your position and putting someone else down. My aunt Dorothy (b. 1899 d. 1998) taught me by example that judging people is not only a waste of time, but also, doesn’t contribute to one’s overall well being. Here’s an example.

Don’t Try Harder, Try Different

Let’s talk about the rights of gay Americans. Whether you like it or believe it’s ‘natural’ is beside the point. Let’s talk about the right to carry a gun. Whether you like it or think its good for society is beside the point.

The point is to listen not judge. If I judge the person who is gay or who wants to carry a gun everywhere, then I miss the opportunity to grow, to see the world from someone else’s point of view. I miss the opportunity to keep an open mind, to learn, to change, to adjust. I just dig my heels in and build walls. I judge that fish by it’s ability to climb a tree. Not. relevant.

There Is No Grapefruit at the Hardware Store

You can’t get grapefruit at the hardware store. If I am always mad when I leave the hardware store (for it’s lack of ANY fruit) – whose fault is that?

The point is to find a balance between having an opinion/belief and being open minded enough to get along, go along and help make things better. The key word is compromise. Lighten up a little. Pay attention to when you “judge”. What are you afraid of that makes you dig your heels in?

Image credit: You’re a genius all the time.

I Hate Being A Grown Up, Maturity is Overrated

Maturity means:
Be Strong not Stubborn
Firm not Harsh
Flexible not Fickle
Humble not Proud
Helpful not Showy
Affectionate not Hurtful
Annoyed not Resentful
The Glue and not the Crack
Being You yet Accepting others
Brave yet Grateful
Helpful yet Modest
Right yet Wrong
Successful yet Grounded
Angry yet Composed
There are a lot of benefits to being a grown up and there’s a bunch of sh*t too. In reading this ‘definition’ of maturity, I was struck by the list of ‘opposites. “be the glue, not the crack.” The reality is that sometimes we are the crack. No matter how hard we try NOT to be. It’s complicated to be right yet wrong, successful and grounded, firm and not harsh.
The reality is that some of us will mature more fully. Lots of things get in the way of being mature… #1 is ego and I equate a big ego to someone who isn’t confident. They push and pull their way through life. The sharp edges never wear off. No. Matter. What.
My favorite saying on this list and the one I’ve worked hard on is “angry yet composed.” Being raised a ‘girl,’ I was taught, shown and constantly reinforced – girls don’t get angry. It’s ok for boys, after all, they’re boys. (Yeah, I feel sick too). Growing up in a very dysfunctional home, it was easy to be angry. I was good at it. I had a lot of practice. so what was I supposed to do with it. Channel it into new lipsticks and hairdos?
Remember, I was born before the legislation that changed the lives of American women forever, Title IX (pros and cons article). The law that sports had to be equal for men and women. Prior to Title IX, sports were not available to women. Hell, we’ve only had the right to vote since August 26, 1920. 95 years! There are women alive today who couldn’t vote in the early part of their lives. It’s hard for me to imagine.
So now that traditional outlets for learning, growing, understanding winning and losing, choosing our own destiny, etc. are available to us, finding a way to be angry and composed is easier. Not easy, but at least today, I’ve got a clue.

Got Values? Act Like It.

Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - The Colors Emerge</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Photo By: SPC Aristide Lavey</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>To learn more about the annual U.S. Army Photography Competition, visit us online at <a href="http://www.armymwr.com" rel=&qu...

Many of us feel strongly about the values we were taught by our family. We don’t think of ourselves as bigots or sexists. We think of ourselves in the way that we hope the world sees us. Patriotic, strong.

The truth, if we are brave enough to face it, is that we all have biases built into our brains and thought processes. It takes commitment, energy, time, awareness and patience to look for them and weed them out. Some we will likely never change. I was raised in Boston by a family of liberals, going back generations. It’s unlikely that I will become conservative today. However, it is very important for me to be open to looking at the world through the eyes of my conservative friends.

I enjoyed and appreciated this post titled, “Act On Your Values, A 4-Step Method to Achieve Equal Representation.”

Since we come from a history of patriarchy, the pattern of male domination will go on and on if we don’t decide to actively do something about it. Part of the reason is that when we’re asked to suggest speakers, board members, etc., we unconsciously think of people we’ve seen in similar contexts before, and so the uneven balance is reproduced over and over again – Martin Thornkvist

Recently, I was listening to and co-grading presentations for grad students. The other teacher is male.  One (male) student introduced his group by saying, “Good morning, Mr. President…”– he looked directly at the male teacher. He did not acknowledge me or look at me throughout his entire presentation. Is this student a bad person? No. Does he hate women? Probably not. Is he following the context of his experience and of those who taught him? Yes.

The problem is that we don’t see our biases. They are hidden under layers of pats on the back, instruction, belonging, etc.

Mr. Thornkvist  has some excellent suggestions for working on this… and we all must work on this!

  1. Write down your values. It’s funny how alive and real things become when they are written on paper.
  2. Communicate your values. When you ask for help, when you are speaking, when you are going about your day; be aware of what you stand for and take every opportunity to let people know where you stand. Now you’re thinking, come on.  This is a bit much.  Is it? Do think slaves were emancipated, women ‘allowed’ to vote and own property because people thought about these things occasionally?
  3. Be stubborn. The world needs to change. Let it begin with me and you. Pick one injustice… one place inside you that makes you think… hey, the world would be better if… and start to think, act, share and communicate about how YOU are going to change.

I included this photo from the Army Photo Contest because our Veterans are in need of our help. Today — let’s think about our soldiers as “us” not them. Who do you help and why?

Photo Credit: Army Photo Contest Familymwr

Oh Behave

To control Information Technology (IT) costs we think about and act within the enterprise as a whole, in part because we sell enterprise and mid-level solutions. We apply an Enterprise Architecture (EA) strategy which at the top level is comprised...

 

Maturity is the ability to live in multiple contexts; the ability, despite our losses, to courageously inhabit the past, the present and the future all at once.” David Whyte

Being a grown up is hard.

Sometimes it’s easier to live in the past or in the future. Or to live too much in the present, sacrificing our personal well-being to chase some ideal.

But peace of mind comes from integrating the past, the present and the future. To know our singular place in the world. To acknowledge that only the events and genes that have brought us to this place in time – are what is important.

Find support for your journey.

Photo credit: Controlling  Wonderlane

Are You a Manager or a Leader?

Good Leader vs. Great Manager

Would you rather be a good leader or a great manager? There isn’t a ‘right’ answer. It’s all in what you value, probably the stage of your career and many other factors. Lots of people think they are both a good manager and a good leader. The reality is, that rarely are people really good at both.

Recognizing Your Natural Strengths

Years ago, I took a leadership and strategic planning course. The instructor insisted that people who weren’t ‘born’ leaders, including the ability to think strategically, could be trained to do so. I disagreed then and I disagree now.

I think each of us has a natural strength toward either leadership or “managership.” We can build leadership “skills,” which are very important, but the notion that we can ‘teach’ people to be great leaders is problematic.

Learning to be a good manager is hard and takes a long time. Good managers make the team feel positive and empowered.  Good managers take themselves out of the equation and focus on the task and the team.

Maybe I’m Wrong

But wait, most mothers (and a lot of dads) are the ultimate managers. They know how to get things done. They make it look easy to run a household, feed, clothe, educate, chauffeur, etc. At the same time, they lead each child to be their very best. Maybe classroom teachers learn both. Maybe master tradesmen, learn both.

Maybe if you practice every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 20 years; you learn both.