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When Your World Seems To Be Crashing Down #CareerManagement

January 23rd, 2020

Last week I got a message from my adult daughter that started in a way that no parent wants:

“I’m okay, but…”

She was driving down a road when a kid pulled out in front of her (he didn’t look both ways before he pulled into the road). A crash was pretty much unavoidable in that situation. Luckily she, and her 5 year old passenger, were okay. The other kid was okay too. We think the insurance company will “total” her car. Not only did this moment of indiscretion cause physical pain that would linger, but now we have to spend time with the insurance companies and figure out a replacement vehicle. No one wins in this situation.

sam-car-1

We feel blessed and lucky that everyone walked away intact.

Saturday morning I was with my son at our rental house (which is a long story, I should write about that in another post) fixing a water leak. We had spent a considerable amount of time and money on this project, finding a leak and then paying for a plumber who ripped out a lot of Sheetrock. We had to replace carpet and all of the Sheetrock… it was a big project and had taken a lot of time away from my day job.

I get a call from my youngest daughter’s phone, and a crying girl tells me I have to come home RIGHT NOW. I try to figure out what is going on, is someone dying, etc., and learn that the caller is actually my middle daughter who just got her driver’s license. Just days earlier I had officially put her on my insurance. Her license was barely a week old. This girl has been on fire for the last school year, very disciplined in all that she does, and we have seen a lot of personal growth in her. Really cool stuff. She was on her way to the gym but made it only about 20 feet out of our driveway when she hit demolished our neighbor’s brick mailbox.

She did not bump the mailbox. She demolished it, and then drove over it! Within 48 hours we have our second totaled car.

This time I came home to a police truck and an ambulance, with my daughter inside getting checked out. Fortunately she walked away okay, although her wrist is beat up and pretty bruised. It puts her out of violin for a while (she is first chair) so she can’t practice or play… and it changes her gym routine. Oh, and yes, more insurance phone calls, and a weird conversation with our neighbor.

How did this happen? Don’t ask me.

I’ve had enough, you know? My wife and I decided years ago that we want a boring life. This is the type of excitement that we could do without.

Note: I still haven’t called the insurance company to make a property claim about my water damage. When I called about this Tay vs. the Mailbox accident (I’m now naming them, just to keep them straight), they said “oh, you already have a claim for your daughter.” “Um, yeah, this is for my other daughter….” ūüėź

What do you do? You press forward. You love your kids. You are grateful that nothing worse happened.

Side-story-that-merges-in-with-the-main story

My in-laws, who live in our house, had left Thursday morning for a road trip to Arizona to see my father-in-law’s brother. They got news Thursday night that my oldest got in an accident. Then, Saturday they got news that my middle daughter was in an accident.

They were driving home from Arizona and a few hours south of our house they hit a snowstorm. No big deal. We live in Utah. We slow down, drive careful. But outside of the snowstorm my father in law hit a puddle and spun out. I’m tired of telling accident stories by this point, so I’ll just share a picture of his totaled car:

They have the same insurance company as we do. I’m sure they are getting tired of claims filed from my address!

I did the math on this situation… we have totaled 3 cars in the first 3 weeks of 2020. If we extend that out we are projected to total 52 cars by the end of the year.

Please, oh please, don’t let that be the case.

Give me boring.

I should say, I do not want 52 totaled cars by the end of the year.

It’s been a stressful few weeks for my household and our insurance adjusters. And it’s been a little stressful.

But seriously, things are okay. We have insurance. Everyone is okay, although sore and bruised. Cars (and mailboxes) can be replaced.

While cars are crashing all around, my world is not crashing all down.

Years ago, when I got laid off, it felt like my world was crashing down. Everything I had been working on culminated into me sitting around with no income, wondering what I could do for a living. Wondering if I could even get an entry level job at a burger joint.

I felt like it was all crashing down, but indeed it was not.

My perspective was darkened by depression and by focusing too much on my immediate needs and fears. Looking back at that time, now, from my current perspective, I can see that it was just part of the path I had to go down.

That path is part of my story, and it is a reason why I am where I am today.

I’m not done, mind you, but I’m in a better place than on that dark and dreary Friday the 13th when I got laid off.

My message to you is that whatever you are going through, recognize that it is not your destiny to remain there. You will grow out of it. Or you will be pushed out of it. But your future can be as bright, and stable, and peaceful, as you want it to be. It might take time. It will take work. But your current now by no means has to be your future.

Work through this time. It will be okay.

P.S. Just for fun, here is a picture of the almost done water damage job. This is before the carpet,¬†texture,¬†paint, etc. Looks like a small job but it certainly didn’t feel like it when we started :/

 

 

 

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Soft Skills Deliver Hard Results: WOW!

January 22nd, 2020

Pluralsight Soft Skills MatterNOTE: not sure why the bunny pictures. But I figured “soft”… and bunnies are cute. And that is just the mood I’m in right now :p¬†

Check out this awesome post from HealthLeadersMedia titled Soft Skills That Deliver Hard Results. There are some super quotes in here… which I’ll include below.

I am a champion of soft skills. I generally like people, and want people to have rich and fulfilling lives. As long as I can remember I’ve cared about how people get that fulfillment, and have enjoyed learning about and from people.

JibberJobber is a tool to help people get back to fulfillment. I love talking to my users, and meeting job seekers when I present.

In 2012 I was asked to create a course for Pluralsight, which lead to me working on over 30 courses, many of which are soft skills courses. As I’ve been able to spend time and brain cells on soft skills I’ve fallen in love with the topics, which go broad and deep. From communication to listening to empathy to emotional intelligence to personality assessments to communicating up (and down)… I’ve been blessed to have my head in this space for a long time.

A few weeks ago my 16 year old daughter was chatting with me about my courses and she said something like: “It’s really cool that you can teach soft skills to programmers, who have really good hard skills, because when you have soft skills and hard skills… wow!”

Out of the mouths of babes, #amIRight? (<– Don’t judge too hard on that, I hear “am I right daily from my 10 year old son :p”)

Anyway, back to soft skills. I have always taken the position that the work I do on soft skills courses, along with my colleagues who talk about teams, HR stuff, project management, and other soft skills, add a very important and complementary line of thinking and training for people who are excelling in their hard skills.

Here are my Pluralsight courses. Did you know that if you watch my courses I give you upgrades on JibberJobber? If you don’t, ask us how… it’s easy.

Jason Alba Pluralsight Courses

Having said all of that, let me share some quotes from the article, which you need to read. It really is awesome. Read it here.

“It’s time to think about incorporating a culture of joy and love into your¬†[work/company/team] to turn things around.”

“‘Soft” skills’ used in work environments are the new “‘hard” skills.'”

“if implemented well, softer skills can help healthcare organizations reap hard results in employee engagement, patient safety, and nurse retention and recruitment.” This article is for healthcare professionals, but the point is transferable to your industry. Soft skills can have a real impact on your culture and your bottom line, and other things: ”¬†‘hard’ issues like financial goals, patient outcomes, and patient experience that healthcare organizations are eager to achieve.”

“The American Medical Association estimates physician burnout costs range from $500,000 to more than $1 million per physician.” How much does burnout cost you, and your employer?

Culture. Empathy. Love. Joy. Resilience.

These are all words used more than once in this article.

Can you imagine working in an environment where those things are prevalent? Can you change your own environment by focusing on those things?

This is why I love the courses I get to work on at Pluralsight. Soft skills matter.

You can find my soft skills courses here:

Jason Alba’s soft skills courses on Pluralsight

Job Search Soft Skills

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Pluralsight Course: Leading With Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

January 10th, 2020

Pluralsight Leading With Emotional Intelligence

My latest course on Pluralsight is live, and I honestly think this is my most important course that I may do, ever.

Leading with Emotional Intelligence 

If you need a 30 day pass, let me know. I’ll see if I have any left.

I think if everyone in the world works on the five principles of emotional intelligence (EQ) with the proper intent (not to manipulate others). Of course, working on emotional intelligence means working on social skills (that’s the fifth of the five main pillars of EQ)… so better listening, better communication, etc. But the other pillars add perspective and context to EQ.

This course has explanations of EQ, as well as specific exercises you can work on right now to start improving your EQ. However, I had to keep this course close to an hour. If I had eight hours I would have used them up.

My ask is that you view this course as a beginning. It’s not a PhD level course. It’s not a masters level course. It is meaty, but there is much more to talk about. Let it be the catalyst to ask yourself the right questions (What do I do with this information? Where do I go from here? Do I agree with it all? Are there exceptions for me?).

Leading With Emotional Intelligence Pluralsight Intro Slide

I try to answer the questions in the discussion section. I am also happy to answer questions via email or on Twitter or whatever. I want this to be the beginning of a discussion. Want more? Then let’s talk it through!

I hope you enjoy this course, and use it as a launching pad on a serious personal journey. I know I think differently now, after having spent time on the topic, and thinking through the elements of emotional intelligence.

Need a 30 day pass on Pluralsight? I might just be able to hook you up… let me know and I’ll see if I can get you a code to redeem.¬†

Leading With Emotional Intelligence Title Slide

 

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That Time I Networked With Randy

January 9th, 2020

JibberJobber Network Clubs

A hundred years ago, in 2006, I forced myself to get to a network meeting for job seekers.

When I say forced, I really didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to take the time, which I thought was not as productive as sitting on my laptop monitoring Monster job postings, and hoping to be one of the first to apply. I didn’t want to network with people who didn’t have a job because, frankly, I judged them to be broken, or unhireable, or whatever. Yes, I was that much of a jerk. I know some of you have the same thoughts, though.

But really… what good would networking with people who didn’t have a job be? How could those who needed, and couldn’t give, help me?

I was a short-sighted dork.

But on that fateful morning, after a couple of false starts and fake attempts, I walked through the doors and experienced something that would be life changing.

As we went around the room so everyone could introduce themselves, I listened in awe. You see, I was expecting broken people with bad careers and having made poor career choices. But I heard person after person share their 30 second pitch, and was shocked that the people in the room were accomplished professionals. They were well spoken, well dressed, and really cool people.

Why were they there, then? Every person had their own story (which they didn’t share in their 30 second pitch). I learned about company mergers and acquisitions, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had a toxic boss, I learned about discrimination, and other things that go into downsizing. Of course, some people were there because of their own doing… but it was there that I looked around and realized:

I was not alone.

For about six weeks I had been alone. Very alone. And lonely.

But going to a network meeting with job seekers was exactly what I needed to start to heal. Instead of sitting on Monster waiting for a new posting to apply to, judging myself and wondering what was wrong with me, I could talk to, listen to, and learn from people who had great careers and were also unemployed.

It really was an epic moment for me.

And then there was Randy. Randy was at least ten years older than I was. He was, in my mind, an executive. When he did his 30 second pitch I thought “oh my, that is almost exactly my pitch!” Project management, product management, general manager. The difference was that I was coming out of a tiny company with little-to-no mentoring, and very small-scale experience. I guessed that Randy had 20 years of REAL general manager experience. He was the real deal.

Randy came, a few weeks later, to say he landed a job, and thanks for everything. He then pulled me aside and told me about how LinkedIn was so critical to his job search. I was hesitant… I was already looking at job boards all day and felt like I had too many accounts elsewhere… did I really need to get on LinkedIn, too?

Laughable, I know.

Randy made a huge impression on me. I saw in him what I could be in the next 10 or 20 years in my career. I saw a strong, self-confident professional who was at a not fun part of his career, but held his chin up and moved forward, optimistic that he would land well.

He gave me hope for the future. His example encouraged me to move forward. He helped me understand that job clubs were not full of broken people or losers.

Whether you go to job clubs to learn about job search techniques (mine were outdated), to network with others (job seekers make some of the best networkers), to get your name out there (stand in front of 30 or 60+ people and give a good 30 second pitch and you’ll start this process), or just to be around other humans… I don’t care why you go. Just go. Go so that it can be your lifeline.

You never know, maybe YOU will be someone else’s lifeline.

Here are some other posts I’ve written about job clubs over the years:

10 Reasons to Frequent Job Clubs

The Power of Job Clubs

The Power of Job Clubs and Job Ministries

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Banal Comments And Your Reactions

January 2nd, 2020

Over at Pluralsight I just turned in my 35th course, which will be titled Leading with Emotional Intelligence.

I have to be honest, I was excited to do this course… but I didn’t realize how much doing this course would impact me. I had a stack of books about emotional intelligence on my desk, I had dozens of tabs open with articles about emotional intelligence, and I watched a lot of videos on Youtube. I was immersing myself in what others were talking about so I could formulate how I could really share.

A friend offered to come over and chat about emotional intelligence, as she teaches about it weekly at a high school. My wife and I spent a couple of hours with her, getting a brain dump, which was fascinating and way more interesting than any research I had done so far. I took pages of notes, learning about the five pillars of emotional intelligence, and understanding how impactful EQ really is in this world. A couple of weeks ago I tweeted this:

I am convinced that the world would indeed be a better place if leaders, and everyone, had higher EQ. That is, we were more aware of our own reactions and triggers, and we “self-regulated” better, and we were aware of and genuinely cared about others. (those are only three of the five pillars of emotional intelligence, but just those three would have a huge impact!!).

Back to banal. In a recent course I delivered I got a comment from someone that it was banal. Banal isn’t a part of my every day vocabulary (although I’ve thought the word daily since :p), so I had to look it up. It is at the Shakespearean-insult level:

– so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
– lacking freshness or novelty
– implies a lack of any significant or convincing quality.
– devoid of qualities that make for spirit and character.

Synonyms include trite, inane, sophomoric, dumb, stupid, bland, and vapid.

Yeah, so, banal is not a compliment.

If you put yourself out there, you need to take the good and bad. I’m fine with that.

Years ago I wrote a post about or to career center employees because they didn’t support, recommend, or get JibberJobber. Individually many did, but it was so disappointing to not get the support I thought I deserved.

My coach wrote me a multi-page email telling me to never do that again, and that if they didn’t get it, it was really my fault. It was a scathing letter, and he was 100% right. Lesson learned.

I reacted.

This year, in 2020, we will have plenty of opportunities to react. The Pluralsight course I just did was a deep dive on emotional intelligence. Reacting is a big part of that…. starting with self-awareness (what sets me off? Why do I feel certain ways in certain situations, or because of certain people?) and then going to self-regulation.

Self-regulation. Or, self-control. When we regulate our emotions and feelings (not the same thing). When we have more control over what we do, think, say, express. When we are in more control, and more intentional about what and how we communicate.

I took a few days to think about how to respond to the comment about my banality. Then I left a very short, kind response. And I walked away. That’s it.

I’d rather spend my time building up people than fighting and arguing. I don’t need to be right, but I know some people need to feel loved. And that’s what I’ll work on in 2020.

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