Visiting Google-plex this week: got questions?

Very excited to be able to visit the Google campus in Mountain View this week. Please send me your wish list of questions, prompts, concerns…

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…


Healthy lifestyles – traditional employment – Philadelphia

Check-out this list of Delaware Valley employers recognized by the Philadelphia Business Journal for promoting healthy lifestyles. For those seeking traditional employment, this seems like a useful criteria! Of course, I’m offering this as information without specifically endorsing the validity of this list, assembled by a 3rd-party source through a survey: Caveat emptor!

SWOT & SNAG your next job: Part 2

This time, I’m touting this approach via a well-respected recruiter,  Nick Corcodilos, (author of the Ask the Headhunter books, blogs, articles, etc.)   To view the post in-context, look for “Get HIred: No resume, no interview, no joke:

Cut out the middlemen
Your challenge is to avoid the process that takes your keywords but ignores your ability to learn and to stretch. The alternative is simple: Cut out the middlemen — HR and the recruiters and the headhunters — and go directly to good managers you’d like to work for. Find out what work they need done, and show how you will do it. Show how you will boost their business and they will hire you.

Read that again: Go to good managers you’d like to work for. That means making choices before you approach anyone about a job. It means avoiding the cattle calls. It means avoiding waiting in line. It means avoiding asking for jobs from people you don’t know who don’t know you.

If you understand this, you have an advantage: Everyone else is diddling the job databases, while you’re out talking to a handful of managers you really want to work for who really want and need to hire you. No resume, no interview, no joke.

Here’s what to do next
Pick three companies or managers you really, really want to work for because they are the shining lights in their industry. Then come to The Blog and describe (briefly) three problems or challenges each company really needs someone to tackle. (You don’t have to name the companies.) And I’ll show you what to do next to get in the door. No resume, no interview, no

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…

Online Education: an open-access breakthrough?

Check-out this reference to Stanford’s experiment with 3 engineering/hi-tech classes being offered via YouTube

More than 160,000 initially enrolled; 35k demonstrated their engagement in the class by submitting homework during the first 3 weeks of the class. We need to know more about the demographics of this group and how this current cohort has been been recruited. (So far, we know that most have full-time jobs; <1% are from China, as the government blocks YouTube).

The emergence of high-quality online education presents huge challenges to “the Academy” as developed from ancient Greece. Yes, online education is still emerging from a birth process that was tarnished by all sorts of unscrupulous organizations and offers. However, with Stanford’s forray into this field, as well as MIT’s Open Courseware, it may be time to consider the long-term implications of online learning for the huge range of educational stakeholders: students, faculty, institutions, communities, and of course, the global economy.

What does this mean for college access? Could the enthusiastic response to these classes lead to the vocationalization of higher education? Does online education offer an accessible and affordable portal to income equality that sociologists and educators have been seeking on-campus?  (Here’s a link targeted to prospective online students)

If online education were embraced by those who are customarily shut-out of quality brick and mortor educational environments, tremendous cultural consequences would follow… How would our upwardly mobile dorm and cocktail-party behaviors be transmitted? Who would  bring the beer!

Carry the possibilities further, from a safety and personal security perspective… Given the revelations from Penn State Univeristy this week, perhaps online access would offer  the upwardly mobile and powerless in our society a path toward income equality without becoming subject to the will and neglect of the powerful, who control the Academy …?

IMO, online education is a sleeping sociological giant….

Upcoming glimpse into work & life of India

Next week, David and I begin a travel adventure in South India – we are so excited!  We’ll be guided by our son, who lives in Hyderabad and works for a nonprofit venture capital firm with offices in Pakistan, Tanzania, Kenya, and India.

We’ll visit a few cities (Hyderabad, Chennai, Pondicherry, and Mumbai); also several rural locations, including a tea plantation, a wildlife sanctuary, and many ancient temples (holy to several religions).  Our plans are to stay in small hotels and “homestays,” where we hope to interact with the owners and staff, as well as with Indian travelers.

I’m hoping that you’ll help me learn about work/life in India.  Think about the questions you would ask if you were having tea in India.  Please share your thoughts with me over the next week; I hope to be able to bring you up to date several times/week.  Namaste…

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?      

Think outside the ballpark re: Encore Careers

Watching and reading about the NLCS, I am beginning to see that encore careers are not really about age.  My evolving revelation: 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.

Think Cody Ross, the San Francisco Giants player who has become the nemesis of Philly fans during the NLCS.  As part of a team  described as a collection of “scrap parts,” Cody Ross has become a baseball folk hero.”  Against the most powerful trio of 2010 pitchers, he has hit 4 homers in 3 days, a performance that has put his SF Giants ahead of the defending league champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.

A radio announcer in SF dubbed him “Babe Ross,” a reference to Babe Ruth, once a pitcher who was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees –  a big oops!  Ross will celebrate his 30th birthday in December 2010 – I think this may be the equivalent of age 45 -50 for a small business owner or wage earner, like most of us.  If you look at Ross’ baseball biography, some interesting career-related facts emerge:

  • He did not play college baseball. Many  of the highly-compensated in business have no college degrees or have unremarkable academic credentials.
  • His goal had been to be a circus clown, a legitimate career in the arts which requires vigorous training.  Clearly he is a successful career changer!
  • His first 4 years were quite mediocre – his best year was 2007 with the Florida Marlins, a team that placed him on waivers in August 2010.  Is this comparable to a layoff with limited outplacement?
  • San Francisco picked up Ross’ option primarily to prevent their rivals, the San Diego Padres, from acquiring  him.  Applying baseball strategy, as competitive intelligence would be applied in the business world.
  • Cole Hamels, the 2008 MVP of the Phillies and (losing) pitcher of Game 3, said of Cody: “He’s hitting pitches that most normal people can’t hit at this time.”  Is it possible for we regular folks to find opportunities that most others can’t respond to at this time?

“It’s been a dream come true,” said Ross, who went 4-for-14 with a homer and three RBI in the Division Series. “It’s been an unbelievable experience for me.”

Is it naive to believe that those of us between 45 – 65 years of age can identify opportunities (perhaps through S-W-O-T analysis) and  make their encore career dreams come true?

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