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If You Are Very Frustrated At Work…

February 27th, 2019

jibberjobber_frustratedAfter I landed my dream job, and the dust settled, a little before my boss quit (which would be the demise of my dream job), I was having various frustrations at work.

I was frustrated that my voice wasn’t heard, regarding improvements or ideas.

I was frustrated that the hierarchy at the organization, which felt overly fabricated, was limiting my (and others’) ability to make more of a difference (even though it was a “flat” organization)

I was frustrated at the amount of red tape, office politics, and positioning for power, and how that took so much time and energy, taking away from getting work done.

I was frustrated at other things, but you get the point.

What I’ve learned is that those frustrations are probably very normal for someone in my situation, going from an entrepreneurial environment to a corporate bureaucracy.

My dream job had zero security. I just had to live with, and get used to, those frustrations. I could see myself slipping into a corporate role where production was not as important as politicking and “playing the game.” The problem is that was not satisfying for me. The paycheck was (almost) satisfying, and the benefits were cool, but those pulled against my integrity, and that was the most frustrating thing.

If you find yourself in a place where you are very frustrated at work, my advice is this: figure out some side hustles. Figure out how to make money doing other things. I’m not saying you will leave your job, but the power you get from having other income is amazing.

These side hustles can be your creative and work outlets. You can build them to be real income-replacing businesses, but even just having some extra money come in, and having something that you are 100% in control of, can be just what you need to release some of that frustration.

I dare you. Give it a try.

 

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Why Horrible Managers Thrive

February 25th, 2019

jibberjobber_horrible_managerI was recently talking to a friend about a horrible manager he works under. The stories he tells… yuck. Not creepy or inappropriate, but just horrible, horrible leadership.

A few months ago I was chatting with a colleague about a horrible, horrible VP he worked under. Again, not creepy, but the types of management and leadership stories that make you cringe and think “I’d never work for that person.”

I bet most of you have stories of horrible bosses.

Why does this happen? Why is it this still a thing today?

I have theories. None of them are good.

My theories are generally based on two things:

The first has to do with the bad manager. I think the “bad” manager might be super charming (like a narcissist can be super charming), and this gets them their job. Maybe, they continue to be super charming to those above them, but horrific to those below them (on the org chart). Management doesn’t really see this because they are too busy with their own stuff and have more of a hands-off leadership style.

The second has to do with very poor leadership above the bad manager. Assuming the leaders know there are problems with this person, for various reasons they don’t address the problems head-on. Perhaps they are afraid of the bad manager. I knew someone who had so much dirt on the owners of an organization that this person was assured a long career and a great retirement (she had a lot of power). I knew someone who was just a bully, and the leadership above this person was afraid to do anything lest they be bullied. Just a couple of the many, many examples.

What is baffling, to me and the JibberJobber users I’ve talked to about this (they bring it up, not me), is WHY are these people still in their positions???

“Bad managers” is a real problem in today’s workforce. Having a bad manager put me in instacare thinking I was having a heart attack (it was just a pre-ulcer, which the stress of two degrees, having a family, and other stuff never did to me. But this bad manager had a serious impact on my physical health). Having a bad manager will have an impact on your grumpiness, your relationship with loved ones and neighbors, your self-esteem, etc.

Why, oh why, do bad managers get to thrive?

It’s like the good employees get friendzoned (I’m sure their is a better word for this) while the bad manager gets the big prize.

What does this mean for our career management?

 

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Speaking of Soft Skills (Favorite Friday)

February 22nd, 2019

I came upon this post this week, where I talk about a forbes article that quoted me with 2 of the “7 most universal soft skills.” I mentioned creativity and curiousity, of course. the other five were interesting.

What really got my attention, though, was what people put in the comments. There are some very smart and observant people talking about soft skills they think are critical.

Check it out her: Universal Job Skills.

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“Some people think you have to have a personal brand… “

February 20th, 2019

I heard this statement recently.

Yes, some people think you have to have a brand.

The reality is, though, you already have a brand. It’s not like you have no brand, and you are a slouch. It could be worse, actually. You might have a brand with negative consequences… that you are lazy, undependable, a grouch, etc.

The pundits say you need a personal brand.

I say you already have one.

The question is, is your existing brand what you want it to be?

In my $5,000 on-stage presentation I talk about having an intentional brand, one you purposefully work on, vs. having an unintentional brand. This is likely a brand you don’t know about, or a brand you aren’t happy with.

I want you to understand that you already have a brand (whether you “need” one or not). And that if you are not happy with that brand, you can do things to make it a brand you could be happy about.

I even have a Pluralsight course on personal branding: Developing a Killer Personal Brand.  Want a 30 day pass to Pluralsight, where you can see all of my courses? Just let me know :)

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Creativity: The Most Important Leadership Quality (?)

February 19th, 2019

jibberjobber_creativityBack in 2010 Fast Company had an article titled “The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity”  Of course, I heard this during my workout yesterday, while listening to a Ted talk :p

The soundbite that stuck out was that about 60% of CEOs cited creativity as the most important leadership quality.

This stood out to me for two reasons. First, I recently finished creating a Pluralsight course on how leaders can boost innovation in their teams. Really, this is a big fat course on how to be and think more creatively. Whether you are a leader of many or a leader of one (yourself), creativity is important. Even back in 2010 it was important.

By the way, the article has a bunch of interesting nuggets… what they thought about “integrity”, what they thought about global business, etc. Check it out.

The second why the article stuck out was because for years my two favorite “c” words are creativity and curiosity. I wrote a blog post about this, but I can’t find it right now. However, here’s some quotes from me on Forbes where I talk about creativity and curiosity, again from 2010: The Seven Most Universal Job Skills.

I never, ever thought I was creative. I couldn’t draw well, I wasn’t very good at artsy stuff… One day I was talking to some career coaches and I said this to them and they got pretty excited. “You aren’t creative? Jason, you created JibberJobber! You wrote two books! How can you think you aren’t creative?”

It was then that I learned that creativity doesn’t mean being an artist. I learned that we can all create, and that we can all think creatively.

Furthermore, I’ve thought a lot over the years about how much we create vs. how much we consume. I am concerned that we live in a society that is hyper-focused on consumption, which takes the time that we could otherwise produce (or create). I’m not saying we can’t relax, and we have to always create… but I think we are here on this third rock from the sun for a bigger purpose than to just binge watch Netflix and Hulu our entire life.

What can you create?

How can you make creativity a part of your brand?

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The Path To Success Is Not Perfect (or is it??)

February 18th, 2019

jibberjobber-career-successI was listening to a Ted talk this morning and this soundbite caught my attention: The path to success is not perfect.

I immediately thought about those Family Circus comics where a kid was supposed to go “straight home” and went all over the neighborhood, a few times, in anything but a straight line, before he got home.

We have a plan of how our careers will go (mine was a pretty straight path to some executive corner office…. undergrad, MBA, and then a quick path up management to the executive level). Pretty simply. Pretty planned.

Alas, when I’m pressed to describe my career it was not the straight line… it was not even a soft curve off of the straight line. It was more like the kid in Family Circus, with circles, backtracks, tangents, and going places that had nothing to do with the end goal!

Back to the phrase… in my mind I thought: “The path to success is not a straight line.” Notice I changed it from “not perfect” to “not a straight line.”

Is there a difference?

Generally, your path to success will not be in a straight line. You’ll have setbacks and things that feel like circles. These can be SO frustrating, especially when you are in the moment! But, like mutual funds, which generally move up and to the right, your career generally works out well. Looking back you can kind of laugh at those setbacks and loops. Maybe.

Not a straight line.

But, for you, can it be perfect?

I look at all of the things I’ve done… it feels very eclectic. Indeed, it has been eclectic. But each of those weird things built on one another, and got me to where I’m at today. I have not yet “arrived,” and I’m not yet “done.” But each of those things have helped mold my thinking, my strategy, my strengths, and my wisdom into what they are. If you read my blog last year, you know it was a combination of weird skills that got me my last dream job. They were looking for a mismatch of weird specialties, and I had it.

For me, my path has been perfect.

Not easy, not always fun, not always financially rewarding, but perfect.

I’m writing my own path, as are you. What seems like a mistake might lead to a super opportunity in the future.

So, chin up, adjust your perspective, and keep moving forward. You never know what greatness awaits you.

 

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The Nature of Different Income Streams

February 15th, 2019

When I was at Bamboo, I worked on eight to twelve courses that would have become a part of their online academy. I left Bamboo in November… and that was it. I didn’t get anymore salary, nor benefits, nor anything. I was paid while I was there, and then when I wasn’t there anymore I wasn’t paid. That’s how a “job” works.

Contrast that to when I paused my work with Pluralsight about three years ago. Since I stopped doing courses (I have recently finished two more courses, and hope to do more), I still got paid my royalties. Even though I was gone, even though I stopped doing work for them, I still got paid.

Very different income streams, right?

Here are other scenarios:

When I was a kid, I charged $5 to mow lawns. I would mow a lawn, get paid $5, and maybe come back in a week or two. If I was organized and strategic, I could have built up a really good business each summer. I wasn’t that strategic.

I could have worked on getting a clientele, and then paying my friends $3 or $4 to mow the lawns of my clients. I wouldn’t make as much, but I could scale that pretty well. I’d shift my focus from doing the work to (a) managing the workload, and (b) getting more clients.

Both have pros and cons.

I am not anti-job. Definitely not. I think there is a level of fulfillment that you can get from a regular job that is great.

What I want you to think about, for your own income security, is how to create long-term income streams that are not dependent on you being at work, or having a job. Further, how can you create income streams based on providing value instead of just putting in the hours?

I’ve heard from people who have closed million+ dollar deals, and then got laid off. They brought considerable value to a company, but the only thanks they got was written on a pink slip. Yuck.

When I think about creating or finding or investing my time in a new revenue stream, I think about the earning potential. Lots of earning up front? Okay, that sounds good. Not much up front but potentially a lot down the road, or in a “long tail”?  That could work, too.

I’m not going to tell you what kind of income stream to pursue. But I will encourage you to think about the nature of your “investment” (even if it is “only” your time). How will this income stream contribute to your financial independence?

The other side, again, is how you spend your money… that is an important part of this. But first, focus on the nature of your income streams your are thinking of.

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Innovation: Sparking Imagination With Field Trips

February 14th, 2019

In my most recent Pluralsight course on innovation, one of my tips was to go on some kind of outing. The idea is that when you get out of your regular environment, and see different things and ideas and designs and solutions and even different problems, you can get out of a thinking rut. And hopefully, that brings some level of innovation to you.

I experienced that on my five week trip to Europe, and a recent trip to Hawaii. But you don’t have to go far to get out of a creative rut. If you always show at a certain grocery store, shake it up a little. I find that different stores do different things… well… differently. From design to colors to floor layout to signs to stocking to product to customer service to checkout… innovation abounds all around us. Another inexpensive idea? Last summer we went camping for a week. I worked during the day at my office, but after work I’d go to the campground to be with my family. Lucky for me (and my coworkers!) my office had showers :p

In my email this morning I saw this:

innovation_field_trip

Now of course, this is an ad to get local business leaders to bring their teams to the aquarium for meetings…. but there’s something there!

As a job seeker we can easily get into ruts. Same boring, unproductive thing, every day. Maybe what you need is a complete reset. Change things up. Work from a library or a coffee shop. Get out, change your attire, change the order of your schedule (do email at noon instead of at nine).

If you want to check out my innovation course, get a 30 day pass from inside JibberJobber. Email me if you have questions.

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Job Titles and Credentials vs. Value

February 13th, 2019

On my Self-doubt in the job search post, I got this comment from Patricia:

“I have a Ph.d, have taught at prestigious universities, worked for research firms, and a public school system. Now I am over qualified for everything.”

This is kind of sad. I know what Patricia is saying because I, too, did things and had credentials that seemed to make me employable. I was told there were certain things to do to further my career, and I did them.

When I went into my first real (and unplanned) job search, none of what I did had mattered. My CIS degree didn’t matter, even though it was technical (“not technical enough”). My MBA didn’t matter (MBA means “more bad answers”). The fact that I had recently been fluent in Spanish didn’t matter, because the roles I was looking at didn’t care one iota. My past titles didn’t matter, either because they were at a very small company or because the titles I was going for weren’t related enough.

Let me seemingly tangent with something I learned as a speaker. This is Speaker 101 level material: know your audience. I may speak to two different groups on the very same topic, with the very same presentation title, but give two completely different presentations, because the audience is different.

How is this “know your audience” topic different than preparing for a career? I took generic, general career advice and applied it to my future without really even thinking about what I was doing. The building blocks I was accumulating was almost in name only. I was not recognizing the raw skills that I should have been focusing on, instead going after titles and credentials. I assumed (oops, bad on me!) that if you saw a title or a credential, you would understand what went into achieving that title or credential.

I didn’t need to tell you everything that got me there, or kept me there, or made me successful, if you could just see my accomplishments on my resume.

That was a very poor assumption.

Looking at Patricia’s comment above, if you think about it you can probably take ten minutes and brainstorm what it takes to get a PhD. The massive amount of research, creativity, working within a very structured organization (but with enough ambiguity that you need to be creative and take initiative), etc. Presenting, writing, analyzing, persuading, researching, … what else?

You could take ten minutes each and figure out the skills required for any of what she mentioned: teaching at universities, working in research firms, and working in a public school system. I feel like 10 minutes of brainstorming might just barely scratch the surface.

More than understanding the skills, what about understanding THE VALUE.

I want to disconnect titles and credentials from value. I don’t care of if you were president of this or that, I want to know what you did. Here’s an exercise for you (all of you): describe yourself only by the value you bring or create, and not by using any titles or credentials. 

It’s true that, many times, our experiences and credentials help us get into opportunities. How many jobs that you are qualified for say something like “must have a degree” or “MBA preferred”? Having certain things can help you get in the door. But, the successful hire will be the one who ultimately brings value in their role.

I’d rather hire someone with no big past titled-history, who does wonders for my company, than someone who has had all kinds of big titles but can’t seem to make any progress.

Personal experience: in my first big job search, in 2006, I didn’t get any jobs (barely any interviews) because of my overqualified titles. I learned to kind of dumb-down my resume a bit, and remove the big titles and just change them from CEO to “manager” (an ego blow, yes, but the right thing to do based on what I was applying for).  I was putting my titles in front of my value, and I didn’t understand that.

Am I discouraging you from growing, and getting credentials, and education, etc.? Absolutely not! I am encouraging you to do two things:

  1. Understand what you bring to the table. How will you help the organization with their objectives? What can you do to move things forward? Don’t go based off your titles, rather your skills and abilities.
  2. Figure out how to communicate #1. It can be very difficult talking about ourselves, especially when we feel like we are explaining the obvious. But we must become masters at this type of communication. This is a big part of career management, and because jobs don’t have the “security” that they had a few decades ago, we should find ourselves repeating these messages more and more frequently. This is the new normal, and it’s our job to get great at it.

To all of the Patricia’s out there, great job on what you have accomplished. Now, just look at it through a different lens… a career management lens. This should reduce your frustration, and it should help you have much better conversations with your prospects.

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Budgeting Epiphany: Dave Ramsey Says To Budget Monthly

February 8th, 2019

My wife and I have created various budgets over the 20+ years of our marriage… but we haven’t done much more than just create them. Usually they were created in a time of financial frustration.

This last weekend we packed our bags and holed up in a hotel to talk about finances with no distractions. I want to share one epiphany that I had this weekend.  I’ve heard Dave Ramsey say you should create a new budget every single month. We never did. We just created a big annual budget, based on past spending, and then kind of divided each line item by 12.

For example, we have seven people in our immediate family. We spend about $100 on a birthday. With this annual-budget-logic, we’d take that $700 budgeted, divide by 12, and put $58 in each month on the “birthday” line.

The problem with this is that in February we have two birthdays. In March we have none. So the reality of what we should budget in February is $200, not $58. And in March, it should be $0, not $58.

Looking at the year, it kind of makes sense. Looking at the month, it’s all kinds of messed up.

So, we put together a February budget (based on our annual budget, but changing things we knew needed changing for just this month).

Folks, money is a big deal. In a marriage, money is one of the top five issues. Another top five is communication. This year’s JibberJobber theme is income streams… what you spend is a negative income stream. Let’s get serious about it.

I’m reminded of a guy I met who was unemployed… and had been for a while. He had a nice car and a nice house and what looked like a nice life…. and told me that his past financial decisions, and how he spent his money, and how he managed his debt, made his transition much less stressful than the average job seeker. It was a beautiful thing to witness.

How much fun would your job search be right now if you didn’t have the stress that living paycheck to paycheck, and being backwards on your money?

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