Posts Tagged ‘Finding a job’

Why a Bowling Pin Boy Beats an MBA

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

national_size1Millennials are getting a bad reputation for helicopter parents, ADD and lack of commitment at work. Plenty of Millennials disprove that stereotype. However, almost every employer and manager I speak with – some Millennials themselves – worry aloud about the work ethic and engagement of this generation as a whole.

In Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Steven Kurutz neither laments his own humble work history nor regales us with his arduous first job, when he was working as a pin boy in the bowling alley of his rural Pennsylvania hometown. In the 1990s for $5 an hour plus tips, this is the job:

“To perform the job of pin boy, you sat perched above a pit on a wooden bench, hidden behind a latticework of machinery. As the ball thundered down the lane, you waited for the crack and jumped into the pit. Then, in a series of movements as fast — and nearly as well choreographed — as a Nascar tire change, you grabbed the scattered pins, placed them in their corresponding slots on the pinsetter, picked up the ball and pushed it down an iron track back to the bowler.”

By happenstance, my great uncle Jerry also worked as a pin boy, before he joined the Navy toward the end of WWII. He was a New York City high school student studying avionics. There wasn’t pay for pin boys then, just tips from the bowlers.

For the rest of his life, Uncle Jerry always held a job where he was paid for performance. He always worked hard and loved work. He was meticulous about keeping records. Plus, he could have become a pro-bowler, he was that good, but he didn’t like the potential earnings. When he moved to Southern California, he played football on Sundays with Elvis, would have been a movie star if stage fright didn’t overcome him, and married Miss Hungary, who was a Miss World finalist. Of all the great stories Uncle Jerry tells about his life, some of the funniest and most inspiring are about jumping around the bowling alley putting up pins, and avoiding being knocked out or badly bruised by incoming balls and flying pins.

Kurutz writes that his hometown still has the same setup in the bowling alley, and the pin boys do the same job, and take home the same money he did. The pay is the only thing that stinks about the story.

What’s amazing is that high school boys or girls putting up pins and dodging danger in the pits today, can grow up to be a top apparel executive like my uncle Jerry, a New York Times reporter like Steven Kurutz, or if I am lucky: someone who works for me.

That’s the Millennial I want to hire, as do lots of other executives and business owners. I want to hire individuals who know that sweat is a sign of strength. Who think and move fast. Who knows laboring in the background to make things right in the front of the house is a great job on the road to future success.

When you put together your work history – not your resume or LinkedIn profile – but your actual working life: try to find a job that shows you can sweat, pick up heavy items, or do repetitive tasks with speed and verve.

I could easily turn down an Ivy League MBA for employment. But a pin boy or girl? You have an unbeatable competitive advantage.

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We Must Like You to Hire You

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

ShadowPortraitIn all the time I’ve been working, coaching, teaching and speaking: I have never met anyone who is too stupid or uneducated to get the job they really wanted. I’ve never met a business owner or someone who wanted to be an entrepreneur who lacks the intelligence or ability to build the enterprise they really wanted to captain.

It’s been about 15 years, and I’ve directly met over 50,000 people, plus many more from speaking to audiences around the world. So, I have a lot of proof that you can do pretty much what you want to do.

Your life is pretty much what you make it.

If you feel you’ve got a skills or information deficit, at your fingertips on a moment’s notice, you can learn almost anything. Just Google “how to roast a prime rib to medium rare” or “how to do a laparoscopic spay.” True, that last one presupposes you run a veterinary clinic, but most often the skills or knowledge you need are all over the web, with plenty of videos to give you second opinions, workarounds, alternative approaches and some good arguments.

In addition to various search engines directing you to real time resources, you have an abundance of remarkable educational institutions offering free courses on science, technology, management, design, and nearly every other topic you can yearn for.

Of course as an educator with UCLA Extension, I must mention you have access to an abundance of high quality on-ground and online courses for a fee. These 2-day to 12-week courses often turbo charge your learning, because you apply new skills as you study with teachers who are working in the field you want to enter.

There’s so much knowledge, it’s impossible to say you can’t become exactly what you feel driven to achieve. And, if you can just watch videos: you pretty much have the intellectual capacity required for that dream, along with the resources.

So it’s not for lack of intellectual capacity or opportunities for skill-building that most people find themselves stuck in a bad job or failing in a poorly run business, or failing to fulfill their desire to be an entrepreneur, consultant or anything else.

And, it’s not for lack of employers or customers who want to pay reliable, motivated and personable individuals to help them achieve their goals. Truly.

That’s the secret. If we don’t like you, we won’t hire you or retain you.

Very few people are really personable and likeable. The researcher Anderson along with many others who have expanded or contracted his seminal work on personality, determined there are 555 traits that define anyone’s personality. More than half of those traits are undesirable ones.

Your worst personality traits ALWAYS overshadow your good ones. You may be hostile, irritable, selfish, ungenerous, boring, discontented, trouble-making, a gossip, negative, annoying, attention-getting, confused… the list is long.

Unfortunately, the people who are stuck, can’t land an interview, can’t get funded, can’t stay in business or otherwise fail are leading with their worst traits, or letting them run amok when they need to be corralled and defused – before we meet you.

It all but kills me when I meet someone who could be so happy, satisfied, proud, and financially stable except for the fact that their negative personality traits are like a bad odor that won’t go away (so everyone else does).

Stop thinking you are being victimized by some outer force – although you may be. Most of us who succeed, overcome the odds, including a bad economy, less than ideal bosses and all the other things that are just a part of business and life.

Would you like an inventory of the 555 traits, and an assessment of your personality? Email me at [email protected]. Subject line: 555

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Why Were You Fired?

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Some of the most successful people in business were fired from a previous job. Vivian Giang does a nice rundown of the rich and once fired. Mark Cuban, Madonna, Michael Bloomberg, JK Rowling, and Walt Disney are just a sampling. So, if you’ve been “let go” for unsatisfactory performance: you’re in very good company.

Unfortunately, when a recruiter or hiring manager asks you this question – it’s not to congratulate you on joining the ranks of these business stars. It’s to uncover an issue that might affect your performance in this new position.

That’s the key issue: what did you do that might predict your future performance?

If it’s something like stealing, lying, or perpetrating a verbal or physical attack on a colleague: Ricky Ricardo would say, “you’ve got a lot of ‘splaining to do, Lucy.” But, it’s not impossible to get a job, even after such antisocial behavior, especially if you’ve paid the price.

Perhaps you served time in jail, did community service or otherwise made restitution. Penitence alone won’t be enough to clear the slate. You’ll need to prove that you’ve learned a great lesson, made major changes in your thinking and behavior, and remain accountable to someone who may be monitoring, mentoring or otherwise helping you stay on the straight and narrow.

Daniel is a client of mine who threatened his boss with a gun, after an argument about an investor. In fact, Daniel didn’t have the gun at work, but he did have a gun at home. The threat was vague: “You know, I have a gun at home,” Daniel said. That was enough – more than enough. Daniel was fired. While he didn’t go to jail, Daniel had to deal with a lawsuit. And, his reputation was severely damaged.

It was a terrible time in his life, but it gave way to a much-needed personal reckoning. Daniel went into extensive therapy, both one-on-one with a therapist and additionally in group therapy that lasted several years. Among the best outcomes was Daniel changing careers, to one with much less interpersonal stress. He removed himself from managing people. He went to work in horticulture. Being in nature, nurturing plants and slowing the pace of his life are the keys to his successful self-reinvention. He remains in a weekly support group, and he mentors people struggling with the issues he overcame.

Showing that level of self-knowledge, taking responsibility for his actions and sustaining his commitment to change got him his next job, a great one where he has responsibility for managing property.

He actually looked forward to the “why were you fired,” question from the recruiter when he interviewed for the position. He didn’t just admit what happened: he was eager to share the turning point in his life. Note: I’ve changed the client’s name and a few details to protect his privacy.

If you’ve been fired for any reason, recruiters are seeking to understand what happened, and the reasons for your action. They are equally interested in how the termination changed you: what did you do to remedy your thinking and behavior? How do you manage yourself today, that’s remarkably different than the way you were at the time you were fired?

As a career and business coach, I’ve heard just about every difficult situation human beings can find themselves in. And, I have been part of helping clients make simple changes and achieving near miraculous redemption, as these good people got themselves back on the road to success at work and life.

If you have been fired, you may need some help getting back on track, or simply with an accurate and uplifting way to tell your story. You can email me: [email protected] Subject line: Help.

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Angry? Frustrated? Recruiters Want to Know!

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

FrustratedBusinessmanWhen a hiring manager, recruiter, investor or potential partner asks you how you handle frustration and anger: what will you say? Of course, I recommend the truth, so you might have to be really picky about the example you choose to share.

After all, you’re not being asked about every instance where you lost your temper. You get to choose one. Choose wisely.

It will pay off if you have a particular situation in mind, with an answer you’ve practiced so your rage gene doesn’t provoke your Incredible Hulk response. No one wants to hire a mean green menace, although we know that even a softy like Shrek has his limits.

Start your discovery process by meditating a bit on what’s recently frustrated or irritated you. You might also want to focus on an inanimate object, like when your car battery died on the way to the airport or your phone update wiped out all your photos. Focus on what happened, what you did to calm yourself down, how you took care of the situation and what you learned from it. Got that?

1. What happened?

2. How did you return to a calm, problem-solving state of mind?

3. What did you do to take care of the situation as quickly and effectively as possible?

4. What did you learn from the experience?

Your personal brand is at stake here, because we all get angry, irritated, frustrated, and worse. So, you want to communicate that you’re human and get upset. But, you also want to be seen as a person who is really effective, able to acknowledge difficult feelings and recover from them quickly.

This is a great time to showcase that your personal brand includes resilience and recovery from failure. You also want to make it clear that you are someone who learns from mishaps, and takes responsibility by having alternative plans whenever possible.

Can you see how this tough question is actually a gift to you as you reveal the nature of your personal brand? Can you see how this moment allows you to show some of your best qualities?

Here’s an example, from my client Dylan. He starts off his answer with a smile – a little bit rueful and a little self-deprecating. That smile is contagious, and the recruiter will smile, too. And, those smiles increase Dylan’s likability! Pretty good for Dylan’s personal brand from the get-go. Here’s what he says:

I wish I were a better mechanic, since I really love the Mustang my dad handed down to me. It’s a classic, which means not every repair shop has the parts that seem to wear out or give out pretty regularly. A few months back, the car stalled on the freeway during morning rush hour traffic. I was horrified. I was that guy that you hear on traffic reports: car stalled in the middle lane of the 405 and stopping traffic all the way back to the airport. I was so angry at myself for making me and all these people late for work. I’m a Triple A member, so I called them immediately and they got me out of there. That day I made the decision to keep the car only for weekend trips with my dad, who really is a great mechanic. And for workdays, I bought a brand new subcompact that gets about 40 miles a gallon. It’s much cheaper on gas than the Mustang and perfectly reliable. It was a good lesson for me: to choose efficient and effective over sentimental, when it comes to machinery. Next time I’m mentioned on the radio, I’d like it to be about something good I’ve done.

Can you see how Dylan’s personal brand now includes good decision-making? Can you see how he used the opportunity to talk about his dad and the time they spend together? Can you see how his good humor comes through?

What can you say that let’s a recruiter know that you can handle your anger or other negative feelings, and use them to your own and the company’s advantage?

Do you want to know if you have an anger problem? I have a self-graded assessment you can have for free. Just email me at [email protected] Subject line: Anger.

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First Column on Syndicated PersonalBrandingBlog

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Employers Reward Savvy Networkers Who Don’t Fear Strangers

The quality of your posts influence the size of your compensation! Read more on my first post for Dan Schawbel’s amazing publication and empire: PersonalBrandingBlog.com. A shout out to my predecessor Beverly Macy and the dozens of people who read it early on Tuesday AM and tweeted it around the world – and to the bloggers and media who brought the story to a gob-smacking amount of sites. Read the full article Employers Reward Savvy Networkers Who Don’t Fear Strangers on PBB.

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