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About Careers Today, by Anon

December 17th, 2018

I got an few personal emails from my friends after my layoff announcement. Here’s one I got permission to share with you. There are many lessons here:

Hi Jason,

The thing that just galls me about the layoff piece is this: good people take on personal energy to put into their job. They get invested in it because it aligns with what they want to be doing (passion or not). And companies and their management want us invested in what they are doing, where they are going.

And then the management changes direction. Executives have their contracts and parachutes; we’re lucky if we get severance. The dissonance between “our people are our most important asset” and “your last day is November 30th” is just tough to reconcile.

But the disillusionment of being invested in the plan, the goal, the work and then having it taken away has a particularly bad impact on our egos and self worth.

I’ve become highly cynical about Corporate America, for good reason. I look at corporate pronouncements with a detached, highly cynical eye (the one today was along the lines of “we’ve now completed our simplification of [company name removed] as we have now sold off x, x, and y”). I don’t buy into any direction the company provides, outside of what’s in it for me and recalculating my quarterly “how long will my job last” questionnaire.

It’s not team oriented at all, although I help my team. It’s highly narcissistic, even though I am not. My goal is to be highly employable, knowing job security doesn’t exist. You don’t get highly employable unless you are ruthless in how you handle your career and pay attention to what is happening at work. It has saved my bacon more than once.

Don’t know a way around that, though I wish I did.

Be well, my friend. Fight the good fight.

Cheers…[name removed]

This comes from someone I really respect, who understands careers in corporate in a way I could only imagine.

Years ago I was talking to a SVP of People (a high level HR person) who was complaining that employees just aren’t loyal to companies anymore.

Uh, duh…. yah think????

I couldn’t believe that this person, who I’m sure based on her tenure and title, had at some points in her career been involved in terminating whole groups of people, could even think that we are a bunch lemurs who are clamoring to work at companies and give 110% loyalty, even though with a click of a mouse we could be in the poor house, with our careers devastated.

Okay, maybe that’s too heavy on the assumptions, but to hear an HR professional complain that loyalty towards a company is a thing of the past was indeed shocking. Who created this mess?

If we, employees, didn’t have to worry about our livelihood, how much more productive would we be?  You wouldn’t have to do employee satisfaction and engagement initiatives all the time if were didn’t have this dark cloud of BEING POOR over our heads. I’m not saying that we are entitled to wealth just because we have a job, but the unknown that comes from living in an “at-will” environment is taxing. It makes us wonder. And not matter how “great” you are, according to the “best places to work” surveys, if a better opportunity comes along in a company that hasn’t bought that designation, I might just take it.

Because YOU created this environment that helps me know that YOU do not care about me or my future. HR does not care. Management does not care. When it comes down to it, a decrease in employee loyalty has come because you eliminated any loyalty towards the employee.

And now we are left to fend for ourselves. That’s okay, I guess. It is, as they say, what it is.

But don’t come complaining to me that employees aren’t loyal anymore.

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Losing Your Job Feels Like a Barn Fire Destroyed Everything

December 14th, 2018

Granted, I’ve never owned a barn. Nor have I ever harvested hay. So I’m not sure what losing it all to a barn fire feels like. But I can imagine.

I posted this November 2nd:

jibberjobber_barn_fire_job_loss

I can imagine the work and investment it took to plant and cultivate 150 tons of hay. The hope and anticipation… what does 150 tons of hay mean for your family? For your future? The work of harvesting the hay and stacking it neatly in the barn. A job that could be dangerous and take more hours than I can imagine.

The work. The investment. The hope. The vision. The chance to make a difference.

All of it goes up because of a barn fire. How did it start? Could something like this ever be 100% prevented?

I read this article about a week after I got notice that “your last day with us is on November 30th.”

Every part of the vision I had for my job, my contribution to the company and to the customers, just got set on fire.

Of course, I had an idea this could be coming. But until the words fall from their lips, it’s just my nervous inclination to allow myself to think of the worst. I had been unsettled for a couple of months since my boss, the VP who hired me, had left. Then, the executives questioned the validity of the program… which meant that my future at the company was likely on the line. They said that even if the program were terminated, they’d find a place for me in the company. I heard that from people who had been at the company for years. “We just don’t lay people off.” “Layoff is not in our vocabulary.”

I was told that they hadn’t laid anyone off for four years. And here I was, the lucky guy who got to be “once every four years.”

I was and am upset for a host of reasons. But back to the barn fire… I put a lot of work into my job. Since February, I caught my boss’s vision, and we worked hard all the way until he left to move towards the vision.

And then, the fire came and burned it all down.

Yes, money was lost.

Yes, investment was lost.

But what really hurt was when my vision was burned. I wasn’t going to be able to change the world, in that way, with that opportunity, anymore.

And that was one of the most painful parts of this layoff.

 

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Self-Doubt in the Job Search

December 12th, 2018

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Maybe a few secrets.

I’ve owned my own business for almost thirteen years now. I’m what they call an entrepreneur. I’m living the dream.

I get to work when I want and do what I want. No, I’m not financially independent… but for many years I have not commuted and worked in an office, I haven’t had to ask for vacation leave, I have been able to stop working with people I didn’t like, and I could choose to focus on the part of my business that made the most sense at the time.

The dream.

Over the years, as I’ve toyed with the idea of having a “real job” and becoming a “productive member of society” and having all of the stableness and “security” the salary and benefits that an employer offers, I’ve had one major problem:

I didn’t know what I had to offer.

I didn’t know what skills or abilities I could bring to the table.

I didn’t even know where to start. I called a friend who is a recruiter and said “Rob, I have no idea what position I would even be suited for. Help me figure this out.”

Without hesitating he said I am clearly a product manager.  Oooooh, I like that. Product manager. It is what I’ve done for about twenty years now. I do indeed love all things product management.

So I made a product manager resume and put it out.

I’m sure of what I’ve done, and what I can do, but when I put my resume out I found that hiring managers in software companies don’t care one bit about entrepreneurs who do product management. We are square pegs, they are round holes. They look at us with pity, maybe disgust, wondering what we could possibly add to their team.

Maybe they are afraid of the entrepreneurial attitude. Maybe we are too out-of-the-box thinking for them. Maybe we are better suited for their job than for a lowly product manager role.

I’m not sure why, but the discrimination I’ve felt as a do-it-yourself, self-taught product manager was tangible.

In one interview the guy said “tell me something. Every product manager here wants to start their own side hustle, and leave their position. You have a side hustle, why would you want to come here as a product manager?” It wasn’t a regular interview question…. he was sincerely asking why in the world I would want to stop living the dream and go into corporate America. It seemed backwards to him.

Another, a VP of product, just couldn’t get past the idea that I owned JibberJobber. He was sure that I would not do my the job, but would do JibberJobber all day long while on his dime. I assured him that no, I would do the job and keep JibberJobber to my own personal time, but he just didn’t buy it. I’m not sure why.

I didn’t really know what I had to offer in the first place. And then, when I got these kinds of reactions in interviews I really wondered if I could actually do anything professionally.

I have written three books. I’ve authored 30 Pluralsight courses. I’ve created and maintained JibberJobber, which is really quite amazing. I have spoken across the U.S. and in Europe. I have an MBA and a CIS degree. I speak Spanish and English. I used to program and have lost any current skills, but I can do html-ish stuff fine. I have been general manager and sat on a (hostile) board of directors.

There’s more of course, but looking back on any of these things, how could I possibly have any doubt that I could do this job, or that job, or another job? Any of those things can be broken down into a set of skills and talents… I’m not lacking skills or talents.

But I doubt. I have thought for many years that I am unhireable. Maybe it’s because what seems to be hired is the younger, less experienced professional. “1 to 3 years experience… others need not apply.”

Am I good for anything?

In January of this year my new boss reached out his hand and brought me into a “best companies to work for” company. It was amazing. He saw me. He say my value. He valued it. And he taught me to see my value and value it.

I think that human nature is not understanding who we are and how great we are (or can be). It’s easier to see that in others, but hard to see in ourselves. Especially when the job search goes on. Especially when you get rejection after rejection. Or you continually get a third interview, but they pass on you and go with the other person. How many times can you play second chair and not get a complex about yourself?

Self-doubt is no fun. It is not productive. It puts you in a place that is not good for your networking or interviewing or just getting out of bed and continuing to fight the fight.

I don’t know how to solve your self-doubt issues. For me, I had to do stuff. I had to write another book, author another course, build more stuff in JibberJobber, get another speaking gig. I had to rack up virtual points to validate myself. Not because I needed the ego stroke, but because I needed to chip away the self-talk (and the silence in the job search, which was almost as bad), and prove that YES, I could do things. YES, I did have value. YES, I should be on your team.

It’s a hard battle, but figure out what you can do to win the battle. The alternative is that you find a way to cope, that you sink into depression, and that you go down a path that could be hard to recover from. Figuring this battle out is a life skill. It is what millennial call “adulting.”

Fight this battle because you deserve it for you. And your loved ones deserve a you that isn’t losing this battle.

I know you have value. I know you can do stuff.

Now, prove it to yourself!

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New Orientation Guide for New JibberJobber Users

December 11th, 2018

One of the things I learned at my last company was the power and importance of helping new users get up and running. In industry this is called “on-boarding” (which sounds a lot better than off-boarding, right?).

I recently created a short, easy-to-use guide that will help you on-board yourself quickly with the most important features in JibberJobber:

Guide: Getting Started on JibberJobber

I hope this is helpful for you. Even if you’ve used JibberJobber for a while, it might be a good sync to know what I think is important as far as using the basics of JibberJobber.

Enjoy!

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I got laid off. Again.

December 10th, 2018

In February I got my “dream job” at a “best companies to work for” place here in Utah. It was great… while it lasted.

And then it wasn’t great.

And then it didn’t last.

That’s another story for another day. Instead of going there, I want to share something awesome with you.

Almost 13 years ago I got The Big Layoff. It was… I don’t know, devastating? Life changing?

It was hard. Really hard.

A few months later I came up with the idea for JibberJobber. I was passionate about the idea of creating “multiple streams of income,” in part because of the book by the same title, by Robert G Allen. I read about half of the book while on vacation, and I really wanted to have more than one way to make money.

When I lost my job in 2006, the people who made the decision to let me go took away 100% of my income.

Does that make any sense? Why do we let others, who have very little (if any) interest in our future have 100% control of our income???

I started JibberJobber thinking “if I can just make $100/month, the next time I get laid off they won’t be able to take away 100% of my income. There will be a little part of my total income that they can’t take away!”

Fast forward almost 13 years. I’m sitting in an office with my new boss (not the boss who hired me), and she’s saying all the words to let me go. “Your final day is November 30th…. ”

As she continued to talk, I kept thinking about the three active revenue streams that I have built over the last 13 years. Of course, I have JibberJobber. I also have Pluralsight royalties. And, not by plan but by happenstance, I have two rentals, both generating income.

Three income streams.

In reality, my job was one of four income streams.

I tell you this story because the contrast between my layoff in 2006 was drastically different than my layoff in 2018. In 2006 they took away 100% of my income. In 2018 they took away less than 50% of my income.

Who was empowered?

Which scenario would you rather experience?

For years my Career Management 2.0 presentations where about two things: networking and personal branding. I’ve struggled, for years, to imagine what else should be included.

And now I can comfortably say it is multiple streams of income AND how we spend our money. If you add the financial part to the networking and branding part, I think you can be in much better control of your career present and future than if you do just one of those three. Or if you don’t do any of them (and let your career just sort of happen).

 

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Epic News: My Next Pluralsight Course is Live (How to Have Difficult Conversations)

December 6th, 2018

For the last three years my time spent on Pluralsight courses was winded down significantly. I went from creating about twelve courses in a year (which was no easy task) to zero… I found that stopping that revenue stream left a significant void in my schedule and my income… which is one reason why I went to work for BambooHR.

Miracle of miracles, in October I was on a call with my main contact and we were talking about starting up again. And so we did… and today I get to announce that my 31st course is live! This one is on How to Have Difficult Conversations.

difficult_conversations_jason_alba

I’m proud of this course for various reasons. I think I did a really good job on the course, in general. With the help of Pluralsight and a peer reviewer, I think this is my most visually appealing course (although I make my courses so that you could listen to them on a treadmill, or without visuals).

The idea for this course came from listening to conversations at BambooHR. One of their unspoken themes is around having difficult, or crucial, conversations. In fact, they recently sent everyone the book Crucial Conversations. If that doesn’t tell you it’s on their mind, then what does?

Difficult conversations… with a colleague, a boss, a subordinate (I don’t like that word :/), a spouse, a neighbor, a loved one… with whoever. They are a part of our world. We may try to avoid them but we won’t avoid all of them.

An executive at Bamboo asked me to have a difficult conversation with someone, and said something like: Every time someone has a difficult conversation, good comes out of it. Every single time.

Avoid them if you must, but you are avoiding personal growth. You are avoiding better relationships and a better work or home environment. Avoiding difficult conversations will stunt progress.

Having difficult conversations, with planning and purpose, and do wonders.

Spend 94 minutes on my course, and you should be on your way to having better difficult conversations!

Want free access to my course? Want 30 days of full Pluralsight access, at no cost to you? Leave a comment or message me and I’ll tell you how. No obligation… 

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Starting a Business: Crazy or Inspired?

December 5th, 2018

I was reading about a local (Utah) company that has seen some great success. The part that hooked me in was the struggles the owner and his family went through.  The last line of the last comment (as of right now) says:

 Starting a business is a gamble, and well over half don’t work out, and there’s no getting back the investments you made into it. The fine line between crazy and inspired gets crossed many times.

Yep. Crazy on one side of the line, inspired on the other, and you kind of walk it like a tight rope… sometimes falling on either side.

I will say, however, that the power of having any income streams, more than your job (which for most is the primary income stream) is so empowering.

Even having something that you put on pause, but can fire up again if you lose your job (aka, primary income stream), is awesome.

Imagine this scenario: you have a job, and you have something going on in the background (right now this is called a “side hustle”). One day you get laid off.

When I was laid off in January of 2006, I had no side hustle, and it was a painful and scary journey.

When I was laid off from BambooHR (my last day was Nov 30th, last week), I did have a side hustle. Actually, I have three side hustles. One was completely paused (it is now unpaused), another was very passive (I have two rental units), and the third, JibberJobber, I had my team working on it and directed them much less than I had for the previous 12 years.

Know what? Getting laid off sucks. It is demoralizing, and has a crazy serious impact on your life in so many ways.

There is no way around that. It sucks.

But getting laid off with three side hustles?

Guess who is not as terrified as he was almost 13 years ago, the last time this happened?

It took a lot of work to get here. And now that I’m here, and recently laid off, my message is louder than ever.

People: Manage your careers!!!!!

This includes networking. It includes personal branding. And it definitely includes creating other revenue streams (and managing your spending)!

More to come…

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How to Export from JibberJobber (or, how to backup my JibberJobber data)

December 4th, 2018

I just received the following email/question:

If I sign up for the Premium account, I’ll likely only need it for less than a year until I secure another job. How do I download all the information so that I have it for the future?

I am a big fan of having your own copy of your data … I think the best thing to do is regularly export whatever you want and then putting it into a system like Google (email it to yourself, upload it to your drive, etc.). That way you should be able to access it for years to come.

Here’s a post to help you export your JibberJobber data: Exporting Contacts for Use in Outlook, etc. (if anything is outdated, let me know). The way you export other things, like Companies, Jobs, log entries, action items, etc. is pretty intuitive once you get how to export Contacts.  Also, a great way to export Contacts is to sync them with Google (you can do a one- or two-way sync)

I want to remind you that if you upgrade, it is for a certain period… right now, a year. After the year is up you can either upgrade again or you can let your account go down to a free account.

The important thing to know is that if you go to a free account, we do not delete any data. We also make all data that you have in the system available … you can still search for it, you can add log entries, etc.

Once your data is there, it is there.

I’m not saying there is no reason to back it up, but I do want you to know that if you change your account level (free to premium to free… as many times as you want) you won’t lose any data you put into the system.

I should mention, I’ve been doing JibberJobber for almost 13 years now. Many people have found their dream job, then a few months (or years) later come back into JibberJobber to do another job search. Either their dream job was a dud, or things didn’t work out, or whatever… Remember, JibberJobber is your long-term career management tool… not just your job search organizer!

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