Do you think Philly is a ‘thinking’ city?

Inquirer Business news today:  Philadelphia has joined what sounds like an exclusive club of “thinking cities.”  So should we puff-up our collective chest and thank our  92 post-secondary educational institutions for generating the “thinkers” – college graduates?  Maybe the collaboration between the Phila. Chamber of Commerce & academia solved the brain drain that has contributed to Philadelphia’s population drop?  How to reconcile this ‘thinking’ brand with the Eagles fans who throw snowballs at Santa Claus and ask youz if you want your steak sandwich wit wiz or widdout…

Of course I’m setting up a contrary conclusion.  Mike Armstrong, Phillynews.com blogger, has reported on an interesting, albeit geeky report that attempts to identify geographic clusters that share similar engines for generating their local economies. I think the report validates the need to find one’s authentic brand – whether a city or an individual.  Read on…

While it is indisputable that our global economy is based on ‘knowledge,’ this “Knowledge in Cities” report makes it clear that  economic development is not a “one-brand suits all” proposition.  The authors make the case that is important for business and political leaders to recognize their regional “brand” or regional economic identity so their human talent can thrive.  Here are a few descriptions of these regional brands:

Thinking Regions: High knowledge about arts, humanities, IT and commerce; low knowledge about manufacturing.  Philly joins 33 other areas, including NY-Northeastern NJ, Olympia, WA, San Diego, CA, and Victoria, BC

Innovating Regions: Very high knowledge about IT, arts, commerce and engineering; low knowledge about manufacturing.  In this group, you’ll find 14 regions, including Boston, MA & NH, Madison, WI, Raleigh-Durham, NC, Trenton, NJ, and Washington DC/MD/VA.

Comforting Regions: High knowledge about mental health; low knowledge about engineering and production. Look for 29 areas, including Amarillo, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Quebec City, QC, Springfield-Holyoke-Chicopee, MA, and Pueblo, CO.

So, should these descriptions of regional economic identity influence your career management plan?  How can you use this data to more efficiently target your skills, abilities, and knowledge to meet the needs of your local labor market?


Obituary for Personal Branding?

I was raised at a dinner table where the “devil’s advocate” helped us learn to  form opinions, so I am ready for a second-helping of the debate about the death of the personal brand (thoughtful post by blogger, Mitch Joel).

First of all, I am also turned-off by the use of the word, “personal” in the same phrase as “brand:”  it seems like a tautology.  When describing brands, we are accustomed to thinking of those who are people in law only, e.g. Nike, Coca Cola, Nordstrom.

It took me some time to get over what I perceived to be the bastardization of The Brand Called YOU, an article I still have in a hard copy of Fast Company.  Indeed, some folks have cashed-in on the concept, but I could not abandon what is otherwise the most effective argument for a self-reflective and proactive approach to career management and entrepreneurial success.

So I went back to the source and re-read Tom Peters’ 1997 article; I found a perspective that may take “personal branding” off the Obituary page: a Solomon-esqe view:

  • The problem seems to be one of semantics:  the process that Peters advocates is the time-honored self-assessment and S-W-O-T analysis that career strategists have promoted for years.  There are lots of acronyms, e.g.: “SSP’s – Special Selling Points, VIP’s – Values, Intrinsics, & Passions,” “Unique Value Proposition,” etc.  ”Brand” was indeed the term chosen by Peters – maybe he did so precisely to raise eyebrows and create a “buzz?”  The term may sound sleazy, but the process is justifiably respected by career professionals and employed under many names.
  • The Brand Called YOU describes personal marketing strategies, both online and traditional.  Let’s consider whether it is the marketing that may have added a layer of  sleaze to a process that has otherwise been the province of some very conservative career coaches and resume writers.  It is entirely possible that some of the tools and tactics employed in career management today are better suited to Advertising Age.

We are all looking for a process that will help clarify and convey our features and benefits.  Many career professionals  have refined the process; many are articulate and respected advocates of candidates for employment and entrepreneurs.  Let’s not prematurely bury a respected process and strategies because we don’t like the terminology.  Long live “the true you,” “the essential you,” “the unique U,” or “the brand called you.”

Panel Discussion: Using Web 2.0 Effectively – LaSalle University Bucks County Center

The public is invited to a panel discussion sponsored by the Alumni Relations office of LaSalle University.   Panel members will address topics of interest to job seekers, career changers, and entrepreneurs:

  • Developing your personal social network presence
  • Developing corporate strategies and policies on social networking sites
  • Protecting the organization and the employee

Web 2.0 strategies have started a shift in thinking : what are the predictions for growth using Internet building blocks?  How do we plan for changes?  How can we maintain the personal or organizational image we choose?

_________________________________________________________________

8:30 – 10am, Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LaSalle Bucks County Center, 33 University Avenue, Newtown, PA  18940

Sponsored by LaSalle University IT Leadership Panel and Alumni Relations

_________________________________________________________________

Panel Members:

Alicia Stonesifer, LaSalle University

Karen P. Katz, Career Acceleration Network (CAN), LLC

Bette Walters, Esq., ALCO Industries

________________________________________________________________

Gray Matters in the Office

Here’s what we already know: The demographics of the workforce are a train coming down the track.  While we are currently experiencing a 9.5% national unemployment rate, the burden is disproportionately born by younger workers (more than 50% of non-students are unemployed – referred to as the Dead End Kids).

Here’s what many don’t know: The AARP (Pdf)  predicts that by 2015, there will be more jobs than trained employees – indeed, the group expects a gap of 35 million jobs.  It is becoming more and more likely that those who entered the workforce in the 1970′s will not become “snow birds” anytime soon.  Are they making it more difficult for younger workers to enter the workforce?   More results from the AARP’s  2005 report, “American’s Aging Workforce:”

  • By 2015, 20% of the workforce will be age 55 and older
  • The highest growth rate in the workforce will be among those 55-64  (an increase of 51%)
  • Concurrently, there will be a decrease in the population of workers age 35-44   (a loss of 7%)
  • Today, most  middle and senior managers are Baby Boomers, age 42-60.   40% of this cohort  hold college degrees; unlike their  Traditionalist predecessors,  who were more likely to perform physically demanding work,   most of these collegiate Boomers should be able to continue in professional, technical, and managerial roles well beyond retirement age.
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Executives: Where to find your next position in 2009?

Thanks to ExecuNet for sharing their quarterly projections.  Our economy requires that talented people walk into the some of the same doors that others have walked out of…

To stimulate growth, companies are looking for people who can prove their value to an organization.  Do your homework – SWOT your target organizations – and present your unique value proposition.


B. Executive Job Functions Most in Demand for 2009


Employers are emphasizing business development and sales roles that can
push organizational performance in a challenging economy, according to
ExecuNet’s exclusive Recruiter Confidence Poll. Executive recruiters
believe leaders with proven business development and sales experience
and a track record of consistently high results will be most in demand
in the executive employment market over the next six months. Leaders in
a host of engineering functions, executive recruiters say, are also
among those with the most promising career options in this tough
economic environment.



Where Recruiters See the Greatest Growth

in Exec Hiring in Next Six Months


Business development

17.3%
Sales 15.0%
Engineering 10.4%
Operations management
(incl. supply chain, logistics, quality)
8.7%
Marketing 8.7%
Consulting 8.2%
Finance 7.9%
Research and development 7.7%
General management 7.1%
MIS/Information technology 6.2%
Human resources 1.5%
Other 1.2%


Source: ExecuNet

Posted by Karen P. Katz

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Social Networking is buzzing in mainstream media outlets

Social Networking tools, including Twitter, have attracted a lot of attention among traditional media outlets.  The latest edition of BusinessWeek magazine (March 16, 2009) includes a nice piece on how Twitter is used and how its founders are handling acquisition efforts by Facebook, Google, and Yahoo.  The article I'm referring to has yet to appear online:  look for "Six Million Users: Nothing to Twitter At."

NBC's TODAY show conducted interview with Kirsten Dixson, one of the authors of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building your Brand.  Personal branding is one of the aspects of online identity management that Kirsten discussed with Jenna Wolfe and Al Roker this morning.

If you don't think that carving out a place for yourself online is important, think again! 

Posted by Karen P. Katz

Chronicle of Philanthropy Live Discussion – Career Preservation: Become an Indispensable Asset

The Chronicle of Philanthropy

“The Recession and Your Career: How to Become an Indispensable Asset” – a live text-based discussion held January 13, Noon – 1pm

Review the complete transcript of this Question/Answer session at <http://philanthropy.com/live/2009/01/asset/>

Join the next Live Discussions on January 20 @1pm, a special time.  The topic will be: “Making Your Marketing Message Matter”


Discussion points for January 13 program:

As the recession deepens, an increasing number of nonprofit
organizations must look more closely at cutting costs — and at the grim
possibility of laying off employees.

In turn, many employees who have felt safe in their positions are now worried about the stability of their jobs.

What can employees do to prove that they are indispensable? What steps
should they take to bring more value to their organizations?

What can employers do to ease the fears of staff members and inspire them to improve their performance at this critical time?

Guest Panelists who contributed to this discussion:

Nick Fellers
is president of For Impact-The Suddes Group, a training and consulting
company in Ostrander, Ohio, that helps nonprofit groups and their
executives with organizational development, career development, and
fund raising.

Karen Katz is founder of the Career Acceleration Network, (CAN), LLC, a
career strategies company in Philadelphia. She is an active supporter of Net Impact, an international nonprofit organization whose mission is
to make a positive impact on society by growing and strengthening a
community of leaders who use business to improve the world.

Lynne Sarikas is director of the M.B.A. career center at
Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration, in
Boston. She previously worked as vice president for development at the
United Way of Massachusetts Bay.


An early New Year “WoW” – Shift is happening

Recently returned from two weeks out of the USA – an amazing journey to Eastern Europe, closed-out by a quick visit to London.

I'm struggling to catch-up on so much, including this blog. So in the meantime, I suggest you click here to watch and listen to an interesting and disturbing video sent to a professional association list serve by Debra O'Reilly (thx).  Please share your reaction to Shift Happens.

Innovation at the B-schools: walk the talk?

Recently I was honored to serve as a career coach to participants of the Net Impact Conference, held on November 14-15, 2008 at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  The vast majority of program participants were MBA students, attending excellent programs throughout the country. 

I was very impressed with the students I met: 

  • they offer outstanding undergraduate records of achievement at excellent schools;
  • their volunteer experience is targeted to support their interests and goals;
  • they are eager to contribute in a socially responsible manner in the corporate and/or civil society space. 

While each candidate was distinguished in some way, I came to the conclusion that it was unlikely that any of them would have gotten to the first-level interview on the basis of the resume they presented.  They told me they were "forbidden" from changing the format of their resume: they must confirm to a school-wide format for inclusion in the "book" to be shared with on-campus recruiters.  Hmmm…why is this a problem?

The reason can be summarized by a reference to the lyrics of Little Boxes, written by Malvina Reynolds and popularized by Pete Seeger:

…All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same…

Our social and economic times cry out for innovation:  we don't need more managers, doctors, lawyers…all of whom come out just the same.  We need innovation, and I am not referring to Innovation 501 taught by a Distinguished Professor who may never have stepped foot in a corporate setting except as a highly-compensated consultant, who provided services as a side-business. 

These students deserve an opportunity to distinguish themselves, not in a competition for grades, class rank, or signing bonus, but in a way that allows them to understand their unique value proposition.  It is my belief that the schools should let these students out of their "Little Boxes," so they can dedicate themselves to "Tikkun Olam-repairing the earth." 

Francisco Noguera brought up a more contemporary and general view of the career strategy I was advocating:  see Seth Godin's little book, The Purple Cow.   I submit that Business Schools, whose ranks are swelling as the economy declines, walk the talk of innovation. 

We CAN reach the Winner’s Circle – the 2007 post-Louisville plan

Just back from the Louisville Career Masters Institute Conference  – time to post the plan to reach the Winner’s Circle in 2007 & beyond:  Derbyracelg

My immersion into professional development activities leaves me even more invested in providing you with the most current ideas and strategies in career development.  My head is spinning with the success stories of the most successful career coaches, résumé writers, recruiters, and business developers in the country.  So what’s in it for you, current, future, and past Career Acceleration clients?

    "The Brand Called YOU", the article by Tom Peters that I have sent to most of you, is the center of a relatively new movement in career development.  Those of you who are already working with me have been developing your Value Proposition or Brand as it relates to target organizations; we’ll do this more purposefully and broadly from now on.

   We’ll be more daring as we differentiate you from others in your field.  I’ve been emboldened in my thinking about your résumés, prospecting letters, and cover letters.

•    We’ll work together more selectively in building and nurturing your network.

   We’ll work together more effectively in bringing together all the actors in the career development sphere – other career coaches, recruiters, HR professionals.  Your success is THEIR success too.

    We’ll practice using Web 2.0 technology to achieve our goals, and move toward Web 3.0 so we are never relegated to technological irrelevance and incompetence.

Thank you for choosing to work with me; thank you for helping me to learn and grow alongside you as we reach for our shared success in the world of work.  Inspired by the UBS tag-line, let’s commit to You + Me = Success 4 Us.

Posted by Karen P. Katz

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