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I Can’t Kill The Weeds.

July 30th, 2007

Morning GloryI moved to Idaho about 12 years ago (we moved away more than 3 years ago). When I moved there I frequently visited my new bride’s grandma who, amongst other things, was great at gardening. One of the major pains in her life was a weed called Morning Glory, aka Field Bindweed. It is pretty stuff, but it takes over your yard, wraps around other plants, and spreads kind of like strawberry plants (where a shoot travels above ground and then roots somewhere else). It’s actually pretty nasty.

Grandma would call this, I think, Satan’s star. She really, really hated this weed.

She told me that you just can’t get rid of it. There is no poison, no strategy. Makes sense, considering the roots are known to grow more then six feet underground. Heck, what do I know about weeds? I’ll trust a gardener who has been doing this more decades than I could imagine.

Fast forward about 10 years, I’m now in Utah and working on my own weed control strategy. Morning Glory is prevalent in my yard and garden, as I haven’t been quite sure how to get rid of it. I also have a dandelion problem, and I found some good spray that doesn’t affect the grass but really does kill the dandelions. As I sprayed them one afternoon I thought “I’m going to spray this Morning Glory vine and see what happens.”

It died a few days later.

For over 10 years I had this expert voice in my head telling me that it was impossible, and just on a whim I proved it wrong. It made me think about other things that I have been told, and how that has shaped my decisions.

A job search takes one month for every 10,000 that you need to make. In other words, if I want to make $80,000, it will take eight months to find my next job. Of course this is not true! I think this is probably a good rule of thumb for financial planning, and will be affected by the state of your relationships (aka, networking).

College is critical, masters is becoming critical. I do not regret my decision to get a CIS degree, and an MBA. And, I’m a huge proponent of furthering your education. However, please don’t think that getting degrees, even in hot fields, is going to minimize any pain or problems in a job search or your career management. The same goes for degrees from these online MBA rankings. Even with my CIS degree, my MBA and a job seeker’s market I could hardly get an interview.

Don’t waste time or money on cookie cutter professional help (namely, resume writers and career coaches). I’m a DIY (do it yourself) kind of guy. When I was let go the idea of hiring someone to write my resume or give me career coaching was crazy. Shoot, aside from all of my schooling I was smart and achieved – job titles included IT Manager, VP and general manager. I’m sure that if I had professional help with my resume and my job search strategy I would have landed a fulfilling position much earlier (of course, JibberJobber would have been a fleeting thought, so it’s good I didn’t get help – but I strongly recommend getting professional help).

“That Life” is for other people, not me. I grew up middle class, so that life would be the poor folks or the rich people. Guess what? I can be rich too. I’m not sure how it is going to happen, but I’d like to try a life of no financial worries. On the flip side, I can be one of the poor folk. I didn’t expect to, after all of my education and accomplishments, but unemployment has a funny way of draining your bank account and landing you right in the middle of the “poor” category. While it’s been a good experience for me, I don’t recommend it.

Job boards are useless. Well, that’s a message that I took away from a two day career management class. I misunderstood the real message at first but now realize that job boards are not necessarily the best way to find a job to apply to… but they are an excellent source to collect information for networking (or a job search, obviously) and do competitive intelligence research. And to top it all of, it’s cool that they actually do work. I know plenty of people who have found their current job on a job board.

Entrepreneurialism is for that crazy uncle who’s on his 12th multilevel company, or for someone like Bill Gates or Steven Covey or someone like that (but certainly not for me). Here’s another huge extreme … it’s for the nutty guy who has never, and will never be successful. Or it’s for the uber-successful person who has already done that and is now worth billions of dollars (and somehow made it look easy). I fall right in the middle, I think that everyone should create some kind of side business, or additional income stream, so that we aren’t all dependent on one employer and one income (which is rather fickle).

The bolded statements above are not my beliefs, they are just some old business wives’ tales. I don’t subscribe to them, they are too superficial and outdated.

What are some old business wives’ tales that you think need to be eliminated?


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23 Responses to “I Can’t Kill The Weeds.”

  1. Jason, all great ‘myths’ that need to be dispelled.

    One thing that people should get ‘over’ is not telling their relatives/friends when they are in a job search. Telling them (and the rest of your network) is an easy and quick way to get connected to folks that can make a hiring decision in your favor.

  2. Chuck says:

    Apparently there is a belief out there that the only way to achieve success as a professional is to grind it out in a series of sacrifices of health and happiness until the day when you’ve made it.

    There’s a current discussion of that belief, the truth to it, and the lies in it, here for any who are interested.

    Good post, Jason–thanks for sharing.

    -Chuck
    http://www.ihateyourjob.com

  3. Chuck says:

    Oops, I apparently don’t know how to link to things. That discussion is at http://www.ihateyourjob.com/more-problems-more-money/ for any who are interested.

    : )

    -Chuck

  4. Karin H. says:

    OK, I play ‘devil’

    Women are not suited to run a business; they are too feeble, too soft, too disorganised

    ;-)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  5. Carolynn says:

    You need a lot of money… a great idea… an amazing team… better equipment or products, etc. before you can start a business.

    I think, in general, you simply need two things:

    A. Something that solves problems for people.
    B. A lot of elbow grease.

  6. Hey Jason, good article.

    From my personal experiences, I would agree with all of your points. However, I do know of a couple people who got significant benefit from working with a resume writer. Working with the writer helped them focus their goals – for one, re-entering the workforce after some time off. I think the same benefits can come from collaboration with a close friend or colleague, but in those circumstances, the resume writer helped.

    I would also point out that while you suggest “cookie cutter” helpers are not beneficial, “value added” people can definitely help. The resume writer I am familiar with was also an active networker in the field for which she was providing help, and she was able to open a couple doors with introductions. That was invaluable for the people entering a new market (same field, different region). I also have a couple friends who have benefited immensely from having career coaches (but in the old-school “mentor” model) helping them navigate their careers – in both cases across companies. I think the notion of getting help from a generic “career coach” is exactly that – generic – but leveraging a relationship to get targeted advice and benefits over time is worth pursuing.

    As always, another good article on JibberJobber. Thanks and keep it up!

  7. Jason Alba says:

    @Scott – as a clarification, the points in great are what I’m calling old business wives’ tales… so I DON’T agree with them. Here is the flip side, which I agree with much more:

    A job search can be faster or slower than this 1month/$10k thing. I’d recommend planning for it financially, but work hard to beat it.

    College is cool and important, and we need more smart people. But college is not a requirement to become successful, and is not a GUARANTEE that we’ll be “fine” in our careers.

    Get professional help with resumes and career experts. It is worth it.

    Being born into a comfortable middle-class life is not guarantee that this where I’ll end up. I believe that we have control over our destiny, with a lot of fortune and luck mixed in there. Even though there are things outside our control, I’m still working hard to control the outcome.

    Job boards are useful… just not for what we all think they are for. Did you know the CIA has a ton of analysts that read newspapers all day long? They aren’t doing it so they can keep up on what the reporters are reporting… there’s hidden pearls all over the place (same with job boards)

    IMHO, everyone can and should be an entrepreneur. At least to some degree.

  8. Thanks, Jason.

    My apologies for scanning and not reading. Shame on me for typing without really reading. Or really thinking. Egg on my face.

    Funny – I am an entrepreneur now, started my own company a little over two years ago. I just applied for a contract position via craigslist (yesterday). It has never taken me 1 month per $10K. And I’ve grown out of my childhood economic strata very effectively. Oh, and I don’t really use my degree for work any more – although I still believe it massively helped me to get it.

  9. Great article Jason. I always believe this, no one has the right answers. If there was some magical formula for success, everyone would know that formula and everyone would be rich and successful.

    The thing is that there is no formula nor method of getting what you want out of life. That’s why I take chances and follow my heart. I might fall flat on my face, but, it’s a risk I am willing to take.

    I always say “Hesitation Breeds Doubt”. The longer you wait to fulfill that dream/goal/aspiration, the more you doubt you can do it.

    Heck, not to sound morbid or anything, but, we all will perish from this earth one day. Why not go out knowing that you at least tried?

  10. All good observations. I wonder though if you’ve killed your morning glory “for good,” or if it will come back sooner than you know.. :) Anyway, I particularly liked the point about “that life.” That’s how I grew up as well, and you do learn much from being on one end of the spectrum, particularly the hard end.

  11. Jason Alba says:

    So… check this out. I get e-mails asking what the poison is :p Here’s an image of the bottle: http://www.fertilome.com/ProductShots/HiYield/Color/2,4-D%20Amine%20No.4.jpg.

    I figure if the bottle is this ugly it must work. Kind of like, only bad tasting medicine can be effective, right?

  12. So what did you use for the morning glory…

  13. Uh, YEAH! What did you use on the morning glory??

  14. Hahaha. Two comments up. I see it. Nevermind.

  15. I am loving that your morning glory is a “selective” weed killer. Very fancy.

  16. I tell you what, I’ve gotten Poison Ivy at least 5 times this summer, I wonder if this stuff will kill the HELL out of the Ivy!

  17. Ryan Smith says:

    I can definitely relate to your thoughts on the “that life” myth.
    I never expected to be in the current, very tight, financial situation that I’m in. I guess that’s what 8 months of unemployment will do to you.
    I would absolutely love to give “the life” of being financially set a whirl. My current situation would certainly have given me the training to appreciate it. They say that money can’t buy happiness, but they should try giving poor a try sometime.

    Hire Ryan Smith!
    http://hireryansmith.blogspot.com/

  18. Hmmm says:

    Hmmm. I’m going right out and buy me some of that bind weed poison. It’s been a curse on the garden for years. The only thing it (bind weed) doesn’t kill (by strangulation) is the dang forest of volunteer trees that sprout everywhere. Maybe this poison will work on weed trees too.

  19. Meg says:

    How about “build it and they will come”. Any website / blog owner will tell you that’s just for the movies ;)

    Great post, and analogy.

  20. Brad Attig says:

    Jason,

    The “month per $10K of salary” myth gives you a solid guideline to frame your search but it isn’t written in stone. I agree that you need to plan financially as if it was the honest truth. I think even more important is getting into the mind set that a job search can be a long and arduous task.

    People start their search and then the lack of activity, the rejections, the feeling that the only reason you get up is so that someone can knock you back down again takes hold. It can become downright depressing or worse. If your mindset is “hey, I make $60K and could be looking for 6 months” then the first month’s less than stellar activty might not be so hard to take.

    Of course, you really need to set goals for each day and week of your search and stay positive (and use JibberJobber). If you happen to plan to be out of a job for 6 months and land one in 4 months, think how good you will feel.

    Use the extra money to take a vacation, you worked hard to find work!

  21. Hey Jason, I was tagged by a new friend of mine,
    Troy Bettinger
    of

    NotJobs
    , and couldn’t think of a better person to tag than you.  You
    can read all about it on my blog in the post:

    8 things you’ll never need to know about me!
    . Enjoy.  :-)

  22. Hey Jason! I wrote about you in my blog today! Great article!! Terri

  23. Jason Alba says:

    Maybe I should write a blog just dedicated to killing weeds. 22 comments?? Okay, so back to the topic… excellent thoughts you guys! Thanks for adding to this conversation (and thanks Terri, for the post about me :) )

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