Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meet me in Woodland Hills!
I'll be making a presentation at Passport to Reading on self-publishing and selling/signing copies of my children's book "Imagination: A Journey of the Mind." The day promises to be fun for all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Here is the full interview with Samuel Greengard, author of “AARP Crash Course in Finding the Work You Love: The Essential Guide to Reinventing Your Life.” The excerpt is running in print on October 16th.

Q: How is recareering defined?

A: Unfortunately, there's no neat and clean dictionary definition of "recareering." In fact, the word isn't even in most dictionaries. In Finding the Work You Love, I adopt a broad definition of the concept. Recareering isn't just trading one job in for another. It's all about consciously shifting to an entirely different line of work. Yet, however a person approaches this topic, the goal of the undertaking is unmistakably clear: to find greater clarity in work, and thereby life. Ultimately, recareering knows only the bounds we place on ourselves.

Q: What is the greatest challenge people face when recareering? How do they overcome this?

Individuals face considerable challenges when recareering. First, there's the need to know that you're making a wise decision and selecting a career and job that's right. This may require counseling, therapy, discussions, research, and a lot more. Just because you love arranging flowers and you're good at it doesn't mean that you will make a great florist. You may have to deal with cranky customers and have to work with whatever is in stock at the moment. So, the first thing is it's crucial to know yourself.

A second challenge is getting much needed support from family and friends. It's tough to fight the current. If a spouse or partner is against the change, it's going to be even tougher (which may or may not be a reason to steer away from a recareering effort). It's best when everyone can talk the situation through and understand how it will impact them--and other family members (including children and parents).

A third area is the financial aspect. It may cost a lot of money to back to school or gain additional training. A different career may also lead to less money or more income over the long-run. And it could alter retirement plans. It's important to factor all of this in when examining a possible career change.

Finally, there’s the actual process of landing a new job in a new career. This requires special preparation, particularly for older workers who must craft a resume and interview well. Let's not pretend that age discrimination has vanished. Unfortunately, it is alive and well, though the best anecdote is to be so outstanding that an employer feels you are a can’t-miss prospect. This means keeping skills up to date, understanding technology, and displaying a passion and commitment to your work…and a particularly field.

The good news is that long-term labor shortages and demographics favor skilled workers—including older workers—and those who confront the challenges and prepare adequately are in a position to reap the rewards.

Q: How does one "Find the work they love?"

A: The first step is to imagine and dream. As I mention in the book, ask a child what she wants to be when she grows up and you’re likely to get an earful: anything and everything from doctor to toy maker; astronaut to veterinarian. That’s because kids—and the parents, teachers, and family members who raise them—promote the concept of dreaming and exploring. Fast forward a couple of decades and most of us are plowing through a heaping dose of reality. We have families to support, bills to pay, people to impress, and we feel we have an investment in our existing career. So, if you’re considering making a change, the first step is to start with a blank slate and imagine what you’d really love to be doing. Give yourself license to dream.

The next step is to understand the reality and nuances of a various career options. This involves researching various possibilities—something I discuss heavily in the book. It may also require personal or career counseling, personality testing, and even test driving a new career--something that Portland, Ore.-based VocationVacations specializes in. Another strategy is to do some volunteer work and learn about a particular field, and/or talk with people who are successful in that line of work. The theme here, if there is one, is that it’s essential to find the right match. “Finding the Work You Love” has the word “love” in it for a reason. When we love something or someone we’re going to be a whole lot happier.

The final piece to the equation is taking a leap of faith. It can seem incredibly risky to jump from one career boat to another but the thing that career-swappers must remember is that life is all about risk and growth. Stagnation is a risk in itself and the lack of action can lead to bitterness, unhappiness and a sense of diminished self-esteem. It’s also important to keep in mind that there really are no mistakes when it comes to career issues. It’s an ongoing learning experience and we can often learn as much from what we don’t like as we do from what we like. The key is to continue moving forward, make smart decisions, and learn as we go.

Q: What's your best advice for someone considering the big switch?

A: Just do it. If you’ve prepared adequately, there’s a very good chance that you will have the time of your life. “Finding the Work You Love” is filled with inspirational stories of people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond who have reinvented themselves and discovered true happiness.

Q: Does today's economy necessitate recareering (someone can't retire) or hinder it (I can't afford to change jobs/careers now)?

A: The economy is in shambles right now. Layoffs are accelerating and we’re all watching our retirement savings evaporate. But it’s important to stay focused on the big picture. If you wind up losing a job, you may need to examine whether you want to stay in the same career or make a change. It’s a natural time to engage in a self-examination process. But, otherwise, there’s never a perfect time to consider recareering. It’s best if the process isn’t focused on external factors and events but an internal need to do something more fulfilling and meaningful. So, the economy and current events should always take a back seat to following your passions, desires, and dreams.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In my September 18th column, I excerpt answers submitted to fellow writer Christopher Richards on what makes people happy at work. Go here for all the answers in their entirety. Then, let me know what makes YOU happy at work (or conversely, what makes you unhappy).

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's take a moment today to remember all the people who died on this date seven years ago, and to say a prayer for our troops fighting for our freedom.

Monday, September 08, 2008

For my September 11 column, I explain how it's important for those just entering the workplace to assess their skills learned while running a household, raising children, doing volunteer work, participating in school clubs, etc. Here's a good article to help you decide what to use. Now, I'm off to a PTA meeting!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

For my August 14 column, I share some information about a professor who re-engineered an office to allow for increased physical activity. As a result, 18 individuals lost a total of 156 pounds. In the column, I provide some advice for re-engineering your own space and work habits, such as using a mobile phone so you can walk while talking and replacing your chair with an exercise ball (thanks for the idea, Emma!). Let me know what you've done to work more fitness into your work.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Interview with Dan Schawbel

What is personal branding?

Personal branding describes the process by which individuals and entrepreneurs differentiate themselves and stand out from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it across platforms with a consistent message and image to achieve a specific goal. In this way, individuals can enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.In short, personal branding is how we market ourselves to others. It is as much of a state of mind, as a new management practice. Personal branding screams authenticity, transparency and empowerment! Similar strategies can be applied from product or corporate branding as well.

How does one go about creating a personal brand?

The first step is the realization that everyone establishes their personal brand when they are born. Personal brands can evolve over time and it's your duty to manage it appropriately. Many people ask about "creating a personal branding," but the main focus is on discovering exactly who you are and what you're passionate about. The rest typically takes its course. In the online arena, personal brands need to be created though, such as establishing a profile on a social network, developing a blog or writing an article. Your name and face carry your brand in both reality and virtual reality, such that wherever they are cited, your personal brand is at stake.

How does one use his or her personal brand to his or her advantage in the job-search process?

Offline, your brand is how you carry yourself in an interview or the materials you prepare before the interview. Everything you create can be used for you or against you. In today's world, it's all about having the proper combination of materials, including a business card, cover letter, resume, portfolio (if applicable) and website. Most employers see the typical resume format, therefore it doesn't stand out. You have the ability to come out on top if you creatively display your brand, clearly communicate your value proposition and give them a reason to hire you, instead of the next applicant.

Online, you now can weild the power of attracting recruiters to your own eBrand. That's right, you can be the hunted instead of the hunter. In the past, this was just a myth, but today anyone can leverage their brand to achieve success without even applying for a job, despite the poor economy. All you have to do is find your passion, become an expert and use social media as a channel to get your message across. It also helps to network with professionals in your field because 80% of jobs aren't even listed.

What about for career advancement? Same thing or should people change their brands based on where they are in their careers?

People shouldn't change their brands. They can, however, evolve their personal brand over time, as long as it's legitimate and honest. There is an unspoken difference between image management and personal brand management. Image management consultants seek to refine the individual, in such a way that they are relevant and positively depicted to the media. Personal brand management is about being yourself and showcasing that to the world. In most cases, people change careers 8-12 times in their lifetime because they never sit down to understand who they are, their goals, dreams and what type of company they want to work for. They are told by teachers, colleagues and even their parents to "just get a job," when the real strategy should be to research companies and open positions for the one's that closely align to your personal brand. Your personal recruitment strategy should be targeted.

What's your best advice for someone trying to create a personal brand?

There are four steps to building a powerful personal brand: discover, create, communicate and maintain. The most challenging but rewarding step is "discover." Most people go about their daily lives without sitting down and really contemplating what they want to do or get out of life. I would recommend allocating time each week to research, brainstorm and just think about what you want to do. Use your friends, family, teachers, co-workers, books, blogs and online periodicals to navigate yourself through this step. Personal branding works in two main ways: 1) it's your self-impression or how you describe yourself 2) it's how people perceive you. Identify various attributes that apply to your personal brand, such as "intelligent" or "outgoing" and then poll your network to see if they would describe you in those terms. You must start this today if you haven't already.