Back to School/Work, inspired by Mike Rose, Daniel Pink

Was inspired by Krista Tippett’s “On Being” interview with UCLA education professor & educational philosopher, Mike Rose.  The conversation celebrated the authentic integration of learning and work by honoring those whose work seems pedestrian – the waitress, the plumber, the mechanic.  Rose raises the banner for those whose work reflects their intelligence and ability to achieve tangible outcomes, without the benefit of certifications or degrees.  At the same time,  Rose is an advocate for  teachers and educational institutions that  integrate these learners into academia; for authenticating and adding value to “the academy” through the contribution of these workers/students.

I see some elegant connections between this approach to experiential learning and Daniel Pink’s explanation of what drives people, e.g., autonomy, mastery, and purpose (elements of Pink’s Operating System 3.0).  IMO, those seeking meaningful work can find some useful support and direction in  the work of these thinkers/writers/bloggers.  Check-out the APM interview with Mike Rose; the TED talk with Daniel Pink; embrace this thinking as you return to find meaning at school and work…


Recipes & remedies for a stalled career…

I love the good common sense offered by my colleague, Billie Sucher.  Not only does she offer good home-spun remedies and recipes, she is a capable and energetic career professional.  Check-out her latest, written from her “sick-bed”  and posted on Career Hub.

SWOT and SNAG your next job…

Making the connection to one more story of successful job transition through S-W-O-T  Analysis (see previous my posts on this topic).  This time, the author is a former academic who frames her recommendation in the jargon of racket sports, (see The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Sweet Spot of Nonacademic Job Search.

Regardless of the way it is framed,  preparation for job change or career transition must begin with an analysis of what you offer in relation to the needs of the targeted employer or industry.  Once you have identified and clarified your own personal and professional strengths, you must focus on understanding the challenges in the space you are trying to enter, e.g., where is the “sweet spot” of opportunity for you to SNAG that job you’ve targeted through S-W-O-T analysis.  It is so intuitively simple, yet it takes concentrated effort and sometimes some guidance.  Try it…

Job Search Success Tip: Cover Letters can be key

Read the testimonial I received this morning – no more explanation needed.

Karen -
I have to share – I received a huge compliment earlier this week on the cover letter you designed.  It came from the hiring director I met with!!

You were right – in many aspects it is more important than the resume itself.  Often it is all one takes the time to read so it has to catch their eye, be well written, yet to the point.

Will keep posted on my progress -

Thank you -

Apply Pink to Talent Acquisition, Career Transition, & Access to Education

I’m still working through my response to A Whole New Mind… and Drive… Now I’m challenging myself (and you) to apply the “new Operating System” to the field of talent acquisition, career transition,  and student success.  Pink claims that Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose are the basic elements of our new “Conceptual Age.” He indisputably demonstrates that these elements have displaced the traditional concept of rewards and punishment as motivation for solving all but the most routine problems.  I want to dig deeper; I want to think and discuss how these three elements can be applied to the dilemma facing individuals who wish to navigate the world of  employment, higher education, and entrepreneurship.  From where I sit and work, I see a disconnect between our 21st-C. workforce, which is creating the Conceptual Age, and the processes that govern recruitment, transition, and access to education.  I think the latter are stuck in the Industrial or the Information Age. How can we integrate the gatekeeping process with the Conceptual Age?

While I want to be an advocate for Pink’s “Operating System 3.0,” it has been my experience that few of those charged with admissions or recruitment actually seek-out those who admit to a preference for autonomy vs. teamwork; those who prize mastery over multiple task management; those who are purpose-driven vs. driven toward tangible outcomes. Is there a disconnect  between what science knows about human behavior and the talent acquisition process that is embraced by colleges, universities, and 21st-C. employers?  Do “fancy pants” consulting firms talk the talk of innovation while actually promoting more of the same management systems, supported by traditional incentives?

Can you chime-in with some thoughts about how Operating System 3.0 can become an engine of a more mindful transition process?  I’ll be coming back to this from time to time; your comments and ideas are what will make this discussion “pop.”

Career Acceleration MAP® (Mindful Approach Program)

Discouraging news about employment and the US job market affects job seekers and career changers.  It discourages the very behavior that we so desperately need to encourage: risk-taking, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurism, etc.

For many,  the  economic news causes people to stay in dead-end jobs, to invest too heavily in education/training, to give-up the job search altogether. Yet to others, the economic news offers opportunities (even with job growth at zero, more than 4 million job seekers are hired every month).

After a long hiatus, this post marks my return to this blog to comment on all matters related to jobs and careers.  My hope is that I will be able to offer something new to the discussion, whether in the form of  a new tactic, a new perspective, or a new challenge for readers.

In some way, I hope to contribute to our economy by stemming the negative behavior of would-be career changers and job seekers.   To that end, I will provide a Mindful Approach Program® – a MAP – that I believe can lead thoughtful people toward personal satisfaction and career acceleration.

You can expect that upcoming posts will be focused on “mindfulness,” which we’ll define in future posts. My current thinking has been influenced by so many incredible people, and by the work of Prof. Ellen J. Langer, who offers the following inspiration for the desks of thinking/working people:

“Mindlessness is the application of yesterday’s business solutions to today’s problems.” IMO, your can include traditional resumes, job postings, and “passive job search” to the heap of yesterday’s solutions; more to come…

Acting in tandem to the above, Langer and her team suggested:

“Mindfulness is attunement to today’s demands to avoid tomorrow’s difficulties.” IMO, such attunement requires a host of “right-brained” skills and abilities, including reframing, renaming, and redefining.

More on this in the weeks to come.  You can look toward the publication of my CAN_MAP®, a compilation of my CAN-tested tools and tactics to help you move toward a mindfulness as it relates to your work.  Thank you for reading and commenting…

Networking Valentine: What’s black & white and read all over?

Periodically, I like to remind my readers and prospective clients to look for networking and new business opportunities in the most obvious place: your daily newspaper.  It is still black and white (whether online or in-print), and it contains many gems if “red” (sic: read) all over!

Let’s take a look at the Monday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, with its daily focus on different business themes (Monday = “Small Business”).  Since there is no business news over the preceding weekend, the editors publish the weekly “Business Calendar” and “People in the News” in the Monday edition. (BTW: It seems the calendar may not be accessible online anymore, so you’ll have to decide if there is sufficient ROI to warrant .75cent investment in the good-ol’ fashioned newspaper.)  My ROI analysis:

Business Calendar for week beginning Jan. 31st:

Week beginning Feb. 7th:

In the “People in the News” section, find names of people you know (or want to know) at companies that are alive and well: they are hiring and promoting people.

And of course, you can indulge in some of your own out-of-the-box thinking by reading about what others are doing, e.g.

  • Rajant Corp of Malvern, a maker of wireless communication networks whose products are now successfully exported to Australia, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere, improving our balance of trade and local economy;
  • A cabinetmaker and fine woodworker “went with the flow” of a career change (suggested by his Dad); his elevator remodeling business is projected to generate $50 million in annual sales, with a new factory on the drawing board for western USA.

S-W-O-T: Another version of “Ask what you can do…”

Those in career transition – seeking new careers or new jobs – are frequently encouraged to be proactive in their search.  Coaches use words such as “brand,” “value proposition,” “significant selling points” to describe the “pitch” that candidates must make to stand-out from the crowd – to be a purple cow in a herd of black and white cows. purplecow in herd

Recently, I’ve been trying to generate some buzz around this concept by suggesting that candidates can create value for an organization by responding to what is most needed and least expected.  I’m not sure if the connection is transparent to others, but to me, this concept is reminiscent of the words spoken by John F. Kennedy on Jan. 20, 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you;  Ask what you can do for your country.” While my version is not so stirring, the concept has a compatible ring for those in career transition.

All this rises to the surface again this week, following the recent death of Ted Sorensen, who was the speechwriter to JFK and probable author of the most famous call to action uttered by the 35th President of the USA.  Media reports have suggested that Sorensen offered a S-W-O-T analysis to Barack Obama in November 2008; it was too late for the President to heed Sorensen’s advice to wait for a better Opportunity to implement his ideas; for a less Threatening political climate.

The burden is on you, the candidate, to understand the needs of the industries and organizations you are interested in; to discover what the strengths and weaknesses of the industry are; to identify people who can add a deeper dimension to your understanding of the needs of the company.  This process is explained by this author and others as S-W-O-T analysis.  Ask what you can do to meet the needs of your future employer…

Back to the ballpark: success when most needed & least expected

Let me take you back to the ballpark:  The San Francisco Giants have won the “World Series,” defeating the Texas Rangers in 4 games of 5 played in 2010.  They were clearly the underdogs, having barely qualified to meet their Division rivals during the last game of the regular series.  The Giants didn’t go into this series with marquis players:  they were described as a rag tag group of “cast-offs” and “spare parts.” Yet they managed to win the most coveted prize in baseball, despite the highly touted players they faced from Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Texas.

I want to take you back to the ballpark to suggest that the answer may lie in an idea I suggested during my previous ballpark blog post. Here it is:  Anyone can create an opportunity to embark on an encore career by creating great value for an organization when it is most needed and least expected.

The key is “most needed and least expected.”  The San Francisco Giants met that test.  How can those in career transition meet this test, and as a result, realize career goals?      

CAN-do strategy: in-your-face problem solving (Fast Company, 11/09)

Check-out the “Made to Stick” column that appears in the monthly publication, Fast Company.  Brothers Chip and Dan Heath write cutting-edge commentary on entrepreneurship, innovation, and the integration of Web 2.0 tools.  The November 2009 contribution “caught my fancy” with an irreverent approach to solving marketing problems.

The Heath brothers describe an intractable problem faced by a Procter & Gamble business unit.  The group director may have invoked the famous words of Albert Einstein, who said:  “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Unable to solve a problem within the P&G domain, the group director took the team on a field trip to the San Diego Zoo – looking for answers on another turf!

Observations of plant life and animal behavior sparked eight fresh approaches to the CPG problem, driving home the point that “…someone else may have a different perspective…problems that are difficult in one domain may be trivial to solve from the perspective of a different domain.”

The work of the Heath brothers promotes innovative thinking and problem solving strategies.  Their clever and slightly irreverent metaphors drive home the point that solutions to problems may be “in-your-face,” and yet not visible through your own mirror.  Clearly, the message is to search outside our own borders, beyond our own companies, and outside the paradigms created by our industries.  Maybe it is time to bring back my own irreverent metaphor for those in career transition:  the unicellular paramecium.

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