Get. It. Done.

August 10th, 2010

bootstrap_business_coverI just read one of my newly favorite business books called Bootstrap Business.  It really was quite brilliant – even though it was longer than I normally read it was full of a lot of meat: advice, stories, case studies, practical ideas, etc.

Highly recommended. Get Bootstrap Business here (amazon affiliate link).

One thing that I’m almost positive I read in there (I read about 4 books at a time and might have gotten mixed up) was how to make sure you are getting things done.

Not just being busy, but actually moving forward in a strategic, methodical way.

Rich Christiansen suggested you simply make two lists… one of IMPORTANT things you need to do today and one of URGENT things you need to do today.

Then, make sure you do the IMPORTANT things.

Brilliant, really.

The URGENT things will be done, I promise.  They have to get done.

Don’t the IMPORTANT things tend to get pushed aside and delayed? But if you focus, every day, on making sure that IMPORTANT things are getting done then you are moving forward.

Thanks Rich, for one tiny tidbit that has already had a significant impact on my business!

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Is The Job Search Kicking Your Butt?

August 6th, 2010

Kimba Green recently wrote a great post called 10 Reasons Why Unemployment is NOT Going to Kick My Butt!

Read it here, at Job Mob.

How about you – are you getting your butt kicked?

If so, do this feel-good exercise: write your own list of 10 reasons why it is not going to KICK YOUR BUTT.

I know it is hard. I know it sucks.  Despair, depression, feelings like a third class citizen.

But you have to get back up, and you can win.

You will win.

What are your reasons the job search isn’t going to kick your butt?

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Birthday Reminders: How I find birthday dates

August 5th, 2010

I used to get dates of birthdays by going into Facebook and seeing the list there… but I don’t go into Facebook enough to make that worth my while, and I’m not connected with enough real contacts that it is worth my time to check it out.

My new favorite place to get birthday dates is, of all places, Plaxo.  Weird, huh?  I get less spam contacts on Plaxo and Plaxo sends me an email that has this:


This is from a real professional contact… I had no idea his birthday was coming up, but since we’re connected in Plaxo I got the reminder.  Nice, huh?  (well, nice unless you are worried about your privacy – if you don’t want your birthday floating around go check your Plaxo security settings).

Immediately I go into JibberJobber and put the date in there, if it’s someone I want to keep in touch with.  I went to the Contact Detail Page I had for this contact and double-clicked on the birthday field:


Now I can get the reminders I want because JibberJobber:

  1. sends me an email on the first of every month with a list of birthdays coming up in the next 5 weeks.  This way I can see if there is any planning I need to do for anyone.
  2. Sends me an email for each birthday. Be default we send it two days before the birthday but I’ve changed my settings to get it the day of.  I send birthday emails so getting a reminder the day of gives me an easy, actionable email to send from.  (go to My Account, Preferences and you can set it to zero, which is the day of)
  3. The email address of the contact is in the email so I don’t have to login to JibberJobber to see what their email is.  It’s easy and convenient.
  4. Stores this info forever, even if the person isn’t connected with me on Plaxo, FB or any other system.  I don’t know what will eventually happen to those accounts and I want to keep this info handy and under my own control, so I like to have it there.

Pretty cool, huh?  This is why I think even grandmas should use JibberJobber (to get reminders of their grandkids’ birthdays)

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Job Search Alternatives

August 4th, 2010

Let me try and related a story I’ve made up, just to prove a point.  I hope this comes across well (I like telling stories but I usually need months go perfect them).

Image you go to a restaurant every night for dinner.  Every single night you have a nice dinner… sometimes there is something new on the menu that delights you, but you can always count on something that is just fine.

Then, one night you go only to find out they are out of food.

The doors are still open, the lights are on, and the servers are still there.  You can even hear cooks in the kitchen making noise.

But there is just no food.

What are your options?

You can keep coming back, night after night.  But there is just … no…. food.

When do you stop coming back?  Where can you go for dinner?

What if you went to the restaurant across the street?

What if you went to the restaurant across town?

Could you go to a restaurant in another city?

Could you possibly make your own dinner at home?

These seem like reasonable alternatives.  They might be out of your comfort zone, but they might help you get food in your belly.

How does this relate to your job search?

Many job seekers are finding there is no food in their restaurant.  The doors are open, the lights are on, the cooks are in the back making noise, but there is no food.

What are the options?

Going across the street is like looking for competitive companies in the same industry… that might be a great alternative (depending on what’s going on with the industry). I think too many are stuck doing this in an industry that just isn’t hiring, though, and you spin your wheels.

Going across town or to another city presents some major inconvenience but there comes a time when the hunger trumps convenience and it makes sense to look somewhere else (while staying in your profession/industry).  Or, maybe you have to switch professions or industries AND go somewhere else.  I know someone who recently took a great opportunity in Detroit, moving his family many states away.  Good move, or dangerous?

Making dinner at home might be like starting your own business, or consulting or freelancing.  It is scary, and nothing is certain, and you’ll have to learn a lot of new skills. But isn’t there a difference in the quality of food that a restaurant prepares compared to your favorite signature dish that you’ve perfected?  Making your own can be so very rewarding… working on your own can be, too.

I’m not suggesting that these are the only alternatives to a job search, but if you get miserable enough, and can be honest with yourself while you read the writing on the wall, perhaps it’s time to look at alternatives.

What are other alternatives I’ve missed? … or, how’s this story/analogy?



Am I really a Project Manager?

August 3rd, 2010

When I started my job search I was looking for opportunities with a few titles, including:

  • Project Manager
  • Business Analyst

I don’t have  a PMP but I had enough hours that I could have taken the test… just didn’t want to put the time into it, even though most of the job postings talked about getting the certification.

A funny thing happened in my job search, though… when doing searches on a particular job board for “project manager” I came across, just by chance, a title that was totally new to me: PRODUCT manager.

As I dug deeper I found that a product manager more appropriately described my experience, and what I loved to do.  I defined a product manager as the “mini CEO”… that is, the person who had P&L responsbility for a particular product, or product line.  This was the person who had somewhat complete control over the product and had to have their fingers in many pots (development, project management, strategic planning, competitive analysis, customer and delivery aspects, etc.).

This was what I really wanted, but I hadn’t known it beforehand.

I enjoy project management and have a lot of respect for project managers.  I can say the same thing about business analysis.

But I was more of a product manager than anything else (haven’t you seen that in my own business ventures?).

Thank goodness I learned that, eventually, from a job board (of all places!).

How about you? Have you been focused on a handful of job titles to the point where you are not thinking about what you really should be looking at? (of course, if you haven’t thought of it yet, the answer is probably NO, unless you feel like the titles you are looking at are incomplete or, for some reason, off).



Networking Groups: Knowing when it’s time to leave

August 2nd, 2010

I’m not talking about when it’s time to leave a networking event, I’m talking about permanently leaving a group you are in.

A few years ago I networked in a Yahoo Group (an excellent place to network).  This group was run by someone with a beautiful smile and a seemingly helpful persona, but I had a different experience than most.

My contributions to this Yahoo Group, with a lot of job seekers, were sincere and helpful.  When someone asked a question that I could (or should) answer, I spent a fair amount of time constructing a response that was encouraging and had enough meat that the person would be able to move on.

At least half of my messages never made it to the group.  They were flat out rejected by the moderator, who sometimes would construct her own response that had a lot of similarities to my response.

One time, she responded saying that it was HER group, not the Jason Alba group…. by this time I was just about done having all of my free help and thoughts slapped down.

I didn’t want to leave the group for many reasons.  This was a large group that was very active and I got as much value as I put into the group (and I put a lot of value into the group).  I struggled with leaving for months, and finally I did.

I left the group.  I left the opportunity to be known, be helpful, keep my ear to the ground on issues, and get reactions to my ideas.

I was saddened to get to that point, but something unexpected happened.

When I left the group I became liberated. I was elated.  Seriously, I was so happy to be out of the control of the group owner, and not have to worry about my contributions being slapped down more than 50% of the time.

No one really knows why I left…  I STILL get emails from people that were on that group, wondering where I went.  I do wish I could contribute to that group… but being free has been so liberating.

I know some of you go to network events, or network online in certain groups, where you feel quite unappreciated. Perhaps what you bring to the table is undervalued and you are essentially treated poorly (perhaps even abused).

Here’s my advice: leave.

Move on.

Leave the group.

Don’t stay for the others… they’ll eventually figure it out for themselves.

There are two reasons to participate in networking:

  • To Give…. of your time, ideas, encouragement, etc.
  • To Get…. moral support, ideas, encouragement, etc.

If there comes a time when the management of the group, or event, thinks that you are a threat, it’s better to go somewhere else and do what you do best than to stay there.

You’ll know when it’s time… when the stress weighs on you and you wonder why they keep doing things a certain way (which is wrong) and you keep getting slapped down… it is time to move on.

And that’s okay.


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