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Shorter, More Concise, More Updated Pluralsight Courses by Jason Alba

May 29th, 2020

Earlier this year I was asked to update a couple of my Pluralsight courses. I shaved about 20 to 30 minutes from each of these:

Effective Email Communication (1 hr 1 m)

Informational Interviews (1 hr 1 m)

DID YOU KNOW? Every time you watch a Jason Alba course on Pluralsight you can self-report (in JibberJobber) and get additional premium JibberJobber days added to your account! 

The effective email communication course is an hour of my tips and ideas on writing better, more concise (see a theme?) emails. Emails that are read and responded to. And, I needed to update some things because I think that was a course from 2013.

I updated my informational interviews course because, well, they asked me. I cut out the superfluous and tightened it up. More importantly, I’ve had a few years to really fall in love with the power and effectiveness of informational interviews as a power strategy for job seekers. I even created the Job Search Program, which centers around informational interviews. I am impressed that this “networking on steroids” tactic can be used by people not in a job search… for example, people who are looking for funding, or partners, or customers, or to expand their team.

The reason I put so much time into JibberJobber and my Pluralsight courses is because I want to share the message of HOPE. And it is my HOPE that these two courses will help you become better at what you do, and what you want to do.

Check them out!

JibberJobber Jason Alba Pluralsight Courses

 

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The FREE Pluralsight Job Search and Career Seminar Series

May 25th, 2020

Starting next week, on Monday June 1 (at noon MST) I will be hosting the six-session Pluralsight Job Search and Career Seminar Series.

SIGN UP HERE

I’m excited about this series because we are going to talk about awesome stuff that they should teach us in school, but generally don’t! We’ll talk about ideas, strategies, and tactics that are important to each of us… here are the topics:

June 1: The Interview Process
June 2: Personal Branding While in Transition
June 8: Job Search Process and Systems
June 9: Networking
June 15: Onboarding Yourself to Your Next Job
June 16: Finances

Pluralsight Career Job Search Seminar Series with Jason Alba

Whether you sign up or not, please share this with anyone you know who is in a job transition.

I expect to soon hear that the U.S. has reached 40,000,000 unemployment claims. That means that 40,000,000 (FORTY MILLION) people have filled out the forms to say “I lost my job, can I get unemployment insurance?” The last report I read was that we (the U.S.) was at about 14.7% unemployed. Still a ways to go from the 24.9% unemployment during The Great Depression.

But none of us lived through that (well, probably no one reading this blog post). Let’s put today’s unemployment into perspective using a comparison with a more recent event: 9/11. From wikipedia:

After the terrorist attack various repercussions took place that affected the U.S as a whole. Due to all the money and claims that were being put out to help aid the victims of the attack, as well as different security and laws to protect the U.S, caused several layoffs and un-employments. Specifically, It was said that 462 extended masses were layoffs because of the attacks that displaced approximately 130,000 employees.[44] The unemployment rate inclined to a total of 5.0% which is significant.

Unlike The Great Depression, most of us can remember the horrid events of 9/11. Many of us know people who were directly impacted… people who were at Ground Zero, people who lost their lives, or people who lost their livelihood. It was devastating on so many levels.

The “economic impact,” according to Wikipedia was that we hit 5.0% unemployment. 130,000 people were “displaced.” There were 462 mass layoffs.

What we are going through now dwarfs that. 130,000 compared to 40,000,000?

The number of people who have their careers impacted is THREE HUNDRED TIMES more than 9/11.

I can’t compare a terrorist act to the virus. I haven’t cried about the pandemic, while I remember staring at the TV with tears streaming down my face, watching the towers fall. But I’m afraid that what we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg with the economic devastation that we might see over the next few years.

I remember when I lost my job in 2006. The economy was STRONG. It seemed like anyone who wanted to have a job could have a job. Anyone, that is, except me. Unemployment around the country was low. Unemployment, however, in my house, was 100%.

Was I broken? What was wrong… with me?

I didn’t know it then but this became my turning point. This was when I realized that giving my career and future to my boss, to HR, to company owners, or ANYONE else was a great disservice.

This is when I realized that I needed to own my own career. I was in charge of my “continuing education,” regardless of the company budget or what conferences they would send me to. I was in charge of my professional networking, and going to networking events was NOT “cheating on my team” or employer. I needed to keep up on my skills, my network, my brand, and my future.

Promises from bosses were nice and flattering, but when the boss changed, or other circumstances changed, the promises just didn’t hold water.

It’s what I would call career management. It is about self-empowerment, no matter what’s going on around me. It’s about being in control more than giving control to others. It’s about, as Dick Bolles said, options. “Having options,” he said, “gives people people hoping.”

This series is more than a few clever tactics. It’s more than strategy. It’s more than “security.” It’s about empowerment through options. It’s about hope.

And hope is exactly what the 40,000,000 people who have filed for unemployment need. Hope is what we all need right now.

So let’s do it. Let’s let ourselves talk about rebuilding the economy, and our future.

Join me here, won’t you?

 

 

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Assess and improve your skills NOW

May 21st, 2020

Years ago I was asked to speak in Turkey. About a month before my trip I emailed my contact and asked “who else is on the agenda? What are they talking about?” I wanted to know when I’d have my hour, and make sure my presentation was complementary to the other presentations for this conference. Her reply changed my next month:

“You are the entire conference. You will be speaking from 8 in the morning until we end at 5.”

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I spent the next month brushing the dust off of all of my presentations. 45 minutes on LinkedIn. 45 minutes on Twitter. 45 minutes on Facebook. 45 minutes on blogging. 45 minutes on personal branding. 45 minutes on career management, etc.

The trip was exhausting. I didn’t schedule enough time to acclimate to the time change and got very little sleep the “night” before the presentation. Also, my presentations rely on a bit of humor, and I get my energy from the audience reaction. However, in Turkey I had an interpreter who was in a little box in the middle of the room. I’d say a joke and about about 30 to 60 seconds after my joke, 33% of the audience would quietly chuckle. It was a stressful day, on very little sleep. Alas, I did fine and the audience was gracious.

After my day full of presenting a guy came up and said “a group of us meet privately once a month to talk about business and stuff, we’d love for you to come tomorrow morning.” I went, and it was amazing. Eye opening.

I remember thinking “my friends at home are so worried about the next episode of [insert sitcom or drama series here], while these entrepreneurs in Turkey are HUSTLING.”

JibberJobber Upskill Now Passion

The level of strategic thinking and desire to build and create and perform was almost scary. The difference I saw in that small group of people who met in a little restaurant compared with my own network back home made me want to scream. We, in the U.S., needed to focus more on progress and creating and entrepreneurship and careers and the future and less on our comfort.

Those were some of the thoughts I had in that morning meeting.

Don’t get me wrong… it was super exciting to be in that room with that high level of strategic thinking. I loved it.

And so here we are today. We’ve gone through the Great Recession of 2008. That impacted people I (and probably you) know. On the flip side, we’ve recently gone through a recent “great economy,” with super low unemployment, and a time of less stress and worry, which for many led to letting our guards down.

And then overnight we went from talk about the best economy ever to “we are approaching the Great Depression.” The news announced over 36 million people filing for unemployment. I’m sure the numbers are much greater with entrepreneurs who have had to close doors, and people who just haven’t filed. One out of five, I read. That is NUTS.

On social media people were saying “this is the time to retool, to get better, to go to school,” or whatever. Write your book, do that project, etc. If you didn’t… if you chose to binge-watch Netflix, you were wasting your quarantine.

JibberJobber Binge Watch

Dorks waste their quarantine, right?

So, I honestly don’t care if you binge watched stuff. If you needed to do that just to mentally survive, go for it. Maybe you have been hustling with a ridiculous commute and a non-stop schedule, and this quarantine was finally a time for you to take a breath and slow down. If that was you, I’m glad you were able to finally slow down. I hope it was a time of self-reflection and gave you a minute to really think about your future.

But here is my invitation to you: think about your future, and your skills, now. And tomorrow, and for the rest of your life.

Don’t wait for a better economy when there is less stress. Don’t wait for a worse economy when you have some down time. Figure out where you want to be, and figure out how to get there.

Should you go to college? Maybe. Should you upskill on Pluralsight? I’d  almost always say absolutely yes.

Maybe you should just change the books you read, or the shows you watch. Maybe take one $10 class on Udemy or Coursera. See what your community college offers, or go to a Home Depot Saturday class.

Don’t wait for the kids to move out, or the weather to get better. You can learn, and upskill, NOW. Prepare for the next upswing in the economy, because it will come. Or, prepare for the next downswing because that too will come.

That group of go-getters in Turkey wasn’t waiting. They weren’t waiting for better living conditions? They just needed a laptop and an internet connection and they were off and running. No excuses. They wanted a better way of life for them and their families. There was no “when this happens, then I’ll do that.”

Early in JibberJobber, when I started to see some very moderate successes, people would ask “are you happy?” I thought about that a lot… I wasn’t unhappy. And then I realized what my real answer was:

I was happy. Definitely. I was just not satisfied.

JibberJobber Satisfied Happy

I invite you to be happy with where you are at. Enjoy what you are and what you have. Be proud of what you have accomplished. And then, out of dissatisfaction, and a yearning to be and create more, learn. Skill up. Try more. Do things. Make progress. Not because you are unhappy but because you know that you want to make progress.

It doesn’t have to be crazy progress. This is a long-term game.

Do it NOW and you’ll be ready when opportunities come up. You’ll have done the work, put in the time, have built the skills, and know the value of opportunities. You’ll also be educated enough to know what “opportunities” are dangerous or not worth it. Because you spent time skilling up.

That is my invitation to you. Now. Not when it’s easier, or some mythical time of when it’s better for you. Now.

Want to chat about it? Drop me a note and let’s jump on a call.

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Jason Alba and Snowfly

May 15th, 2020

Yesterday I wrote about writing a book during quarantine. I said:

In one of my projects (more on that tomorrow) I found a need to write this ebook.

Many years ago I met a couple of guys through our home school community who bought a company. I liked both of them as humans and we became friends. It helped that our wives were all friends, too.

I watched them buy and work on this business and secretly wished I could be a part of it. I saw potential in both of these guys, and was impressed by their work ethic, passion, and technical ability, and of course the potential with their product.

The timing was never right, though. They had some stuff to do before they would be ready for me and I had some work to do before I’d be ready to join them.

Last Spring I was chatting with Eli about the company and said “you know, I’m still interested in investing and joining as an owner.” And he was like “Really?”

A few months later I became an equity owner in Snowfly.com. I don’t have a full-time role, but I do contribute in a few things here and there. I think my most valuable contribution is meeting regularly with Eli, who runs the company, and “coaching” him. I use the word “coaching” lightly because I’m not a trained coach. But our conversations are, imo, enriching.

In addition to that I have a few tasks I manage (including writing for the Snowfly blog, some marketing, participating on a UX redesign team, sales strategy, etc.). Stuff I’m pretty comfortable with. The eBook I wrote was one of those marketing tasks. It wasn’t assigned to me… but it was a great idea that needed to become an eBook.

I’m also on the Board, which is a role I enjoy. I think this is the 3rd board of a business I’ve been on.

What is Snowfly?

Snowfly Employee PerformanceSnowfly is a software company that helps companies improve positive cultures with incentives and rewards. That’s probably the 30,000 perspective. They are actually pioneers in the incentives space, having been founded in the nineteen hundreds, and based on principles of behavior change. They are ingenuitive with their application of gamification (huh? Still huh?), and because of their diverse customer base they have created some wicked cool tools. What’s more, the team is fanatical about improving culture, employee performance, employee satisfaction, and working with organizational leaders to improve KPIs and other business metrics.

Right around the time I started seriously talking with them they were creating a new speech and text analytics system that allows a call center (for example) take recorded calls analyze them. This gives management great insight into what is happening on calls so proper training can be put in place. The impact of this insight is astounding. Imagine how you could improve a collection company’s call center? Better calls, better training, more clear expectations, and correcting problems (which could result in very expensive fines) immediately…? That should provide a better customer experience. Same thing with Sales… imagine a sales manager knowing exactly what’s going on, and what the best (and worst) performers are saying on the phone. This can help guide training (do more of what the best person is doing, and less of what the worst person is doing!) and result in immediate results.

The right team. The right products. And plenty of opportunity to improve on multiple fronts. Sounds like a fun opportunity!

What about JibberJobber?

This doesn’t change anything for JibberJobber. We continue to work vigorously on JibberJobber, and have some big enhancements coming down the pipeline. I am also still working on my Pluralsight courses, and super excited about being able to work at various levels of improving careers (from finding a job (JibberJobber and the Job Search Program) to working with companies to make a better culture and place employees want to work and bring their best (Snowfly) to helping individuals improve their soft skills with professional development and communication courses (Pluralsight)… I’m busy.

But I’m having, as the song goes, the time of my life.

Here’s the reality: I’m no spring chicken.

If I’m going to do fun things, now is the time.

JibberJobber Future

What’s in my future?

I’d love to find a company that wants to buy JibberJobber. There, I said it. A company like The Muse, who has done fantastic things in the job search space. They are progressive and have added a lot of value to the job search conversation. But I could also see a job board like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice needing something like JibberJobber. I could also see one of the big outplacement companies adding JibberJobber to their toolset for job seekers. Until the right offer comes along I will continue to build, support, maintain JibberJobber. There are too many people who have accounts that rely on it, and us, and me. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything with JibberJobber until it is right for my users.

I hope to do a few more Pluralsight courses. This will depend on their direction. I already took a 2.5 year break, but have loved getting back into it after I left my last day job. Did I say a few more? I meant a few dozen more :p

I feel like I’m at a really good point in my career, and I’m able to really enjoy what I’m doing. I hope I get to do this stuff for a long time… contributing and sharing in many ways.

JibberJobber Jason Alba Snowfly

 

 

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I Wrote a Book During Quarantine. What Did You Do?

May 14th, 2020

Alas, that sounds rather presumptuous and snarky, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, it isn’t.

It is simply an invitation.

Back to sounding presumptuous, though. I really did write a book. It is an eBook. It is short, But it is still a book. It’s my fourth book. After the first book (I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???) I swore I’d never write another book. A few months later I found a coauthor and we wrote I’m on Facebook – Now What??? A few years later I wrote 51 Alternatives to a Real Job. Before it was done I was on stage a few times and  and had people lined up at my presentations asking when that book was coming out. There was tons of interest in it.

I’ve dabbled with a few other books… one about being an entrepreneur getting mentored (Eight Lunches, where Paul mentors me over eight different lunch discussions. A cool idea but I just couldn’t get past the second draft), and a children’s book called Stuck Duck, about a duck that doesn’t fly south for the winter and gets stuck in a pond that freezes over (I made up the story one night while putting my kids to bed).

Frankly, I just haven’t made time to finish either of those. And, I really need to put my time into higher return projects. Right now I have 3 good-sized plates I’m spinning, and a pet project book doesn’t get any attention.

In one of my projects (more on that tomorrow) I found a need to write this ebook. Over the course of many meetings, and with some after hours thinking, I came up with a concept. This might be my 18 month brilliant idea (I get a brilliant idea every 18 months). I thought “this needs to be in an ebook.”

JibberJobber Write Your eBook

Because this idea, which turned into an ebook, is directly related to one of my big plates, I knew I had to make the time for it. Over the course of the last month I did writing, thinking, writing, gathering input, going through the input, and last night I put most of the finishing touches on my fourth real book.

I’m pretty proud of this book… I feel like it has a lot of my original thinking, and should have an impact on organizations (making them better). I actually lost a little sleep about how cool this concept is. And it was good to be back in the saddle, writing something long form again.

Back to me being presumptuous. When quarantine started there were a lot of people who went into a cave and binge-watched every Hulu and Netflix show they could, hoping when the series ended, the nightmare of unknown pandemic and illness and economic worry would also end. So far that hasn’t happened. Apparently, millions of others went to TikTok, either creating or consuming, looking for a much needed laugh.

And there were still plenty of pundits who said that you had to watch a gazillion courses during this downtime. It was a great time, while the world went to sleep, for you to catch up on projects, degrees, learning, doing, etc.

So what camp did you fall in? Did you panic and hide, or were you successful adulting?

I think, honestly, that is unfair. Some people will have thrived… finally getting a rest from a 2+ hour commute. Others will have finally had a chance to breathe, without pressures of office politics and whatever else they didn’t have to deal with anymore. Good for them, and how cool for them to be able to have immense pressures relieved.

But if you were in the Netflix/Hulu/TikTok camp, that’s okay too. Honestly, it’s just been a couple of months. No one is going to judge you by what you did this couple of months. It will pass, and in a year or ten it just won’t have mattered (hopefully!).

JibberJobber Guard Your Mental Health

And now, I get to my point. For many, life these past couple of months has sucked. From record-high unemployment to furloughs to companies shutting down to wondering what it will be like when restaurants open again… there have been unknowns and hurting and quiet panic.

Probably not a great time to write a book (or work on your degree or do whatever project you know you should work on). But the question becomes, if not now, then when? Will you make the time when things are wonderful? Or will that time be filled with parties and trips and other things you tend to do during the good times?

I don’t know when the right time will be for you. Maybe you’ll be more productive during a down time, or an up time. But my invitation to you is multifold:

  1. I invite you to NOT compare yourself to others. You know what you need to do, you know what it will take… just work on YOU and your stuff. You’ll always be better than some and worse than others… it just doesn’t matter. Do not make decisions based on others (unless you want to introduce some healthy competition).
  2. I invite you to brush the cobwebs off of your dreams and figure out which are still relevant. What could you do? What should you do? What do you know, deep down inside, that you should do?
  3. STOP thinking there will be a better time. MAKE THE TIME. When you are inspired to do something, whatever that something is, DO IT. This is on you, not the economy, not your certifications, not who is the current president, not the weather, not your economic status… it is in you. You are your best ally and your worst critic. Pick a side and move forward.

This fourth book came because my passion was aligned with my role, and I made the time. I spent plenty of time “after hours” working on this book… it’s not something that I just slipped into my normal schedule. But now it’s (almost) done and I can move on… having it done.

What are YOU going to work on? If it’s more Netflix, okay. If that’s what you need, and that will help your mental health. But if it’s something else, like a garden or a book (writing or reading) or a course (creating or consuming) or whatever, I invite you to be intentional, NOW. Don’t wait for a better economy or better news… make the time now.

JibberJobber Invitation

 

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The Time To Look For a Job Is NOW! (Even Through Quarantine)

May 13th, 2020

Sad.

A friend of mine posted that he is sad, and snappy. This line particularly stuck out from a long facebook post:

Maybe you weren’t at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy. I know this person was living a great life. He isn’t wealthy but he really was living a great life. Rich with friends and doing what he loved. And then everything is taken away.

Combine that with news that we are at 24, I mean 27, I mean 30, I mean 33 MILLION people unemployed. And those are just those who have reported for unemployment insurance. I guarantee there are more. Not to mention people who had their own businesses who have shut down.

It feels like no one is hiring (here’s a link to a spreadsheet of who is freezing hiring). Except that companies are hiring (here are some jobs in Utah for product managers (my dream job) and UX/designers).

Whether you are part of the unemployed, the furloughed, or whatever, there is absolutely no reason to NOT do job search stuff right now.

In my Job Search Program I guide you on a six week journey of informational interviews, or, as I say, “networking on steroids.” Even with all of the economic question marks right now, with no one knowing what Fall or Winter will look like, there are things you could do for your job search. I’m not sure if you’ll land next week (people are getting hired right now) or in a couple of months, or early next year, but you need to get ready. You need to do things to put you in the running.

So what can you do when it feels like there is nothing going on, and no options? Here are nine ideas:

Personal Branding Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Personal Brand Blue Orange

Fix up your LinkedIn Profile. This is your professional landing page and it shouldn’t suck. Here’s my Pluralsight course on that…

Write something to let people see your subject matter expertise, thought leadership, and/or professional passion. This could be as simple as ONE LinkedIn article (here’s my LinkedIn course for proactive strategies)… just think of it as a smart email. Or, you could write a guest blog post for someone with an established blog. Or, consider your own blog (post once a week, or once a month?), or start tweeting. But you gotta share your expertise somewhere, if you want your personal brand to grow.

Fix your email signature. This is what I call the “secret weapon of personal branding.” Secret because everyone could easily have one, but hardly anyone does it well. Strip out useless info (including inspirational quotes) and come up with clearly branded statements to help others know who/what you are.

Networking Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Networking Chatting

Make your list and check it twice. Really, spend some time on this. If you are bored at home you have time to do this. Your list becomes your game plan. It can be the most important list you ever make. Do it in a spiral notebook, or a spreadsheet. Or, if you are serious about career management, keep track of your contacts in JibberJobber. We were designed to replace the job search spreadsheet!

Figure out your target companies. This is also a critical part of your game plan. You’ll want to figure out how you will network into those companies. Maybe you do research on LinkedIn and figure who does, or has, worked there. You can spend a lot of time planning and preparing… time that most of us have right now.

Call someone TODAY. And tomorrow. And pretty much every day. Do this strategically. Not just to chat, but to have an “informational interview.” This is, I think, the most effective job search tactic you can employ. I know it might feel weird, and you might feel uncomfortable. But do it anyway. It will be worth it when you land your dream job. Here’s a course you can get on Pluralsight (the free 10 day account will get you full access) on Informational Interviews. If you are serious about your next job, get on the Job Search Program.

Multiple Income Stream Activities To Do Right Now

JibberJobber Multiple Streams of Income Money

Brainstorm and list ways you could make extra money, even if it is only $100/month. I am super passionate about creating multiple income streams so that when your main stream goes away you still have income. Read this post to see how it worked out for me. There are plenty of lists online you can research to see what might work for you. I’m not saying to burn the ships and become an entrepreneur (although that might be right for you). But imagine making a few hundred, or a few thousand bucks a month that don’t go away when your job goes away.

Learn from others who have multiple revenue streams. I’m not talking about the tons of people on Youtube that are like 18 and telling you how to get rich like they did. Maybe you read books to learn (Multiple Streams of Income, Rich Dad Poor Dad, etc.). Maybe you talk to friends who are entrepreneurs. Maybe you talk to financial advisors. Maybe you talk to the 15 year old kid who is doing stuff (because they aren’t afraid to fail, like us older people are). How you create your other income stream(s), I have no idea. But you can get ideas and inspiration from others to create your own recipe for success.

Try something. People ask me if they should major in entrepreneurship at school. My answer is NO. Why wait to get a degree on how to be an entrepreneur when you can try something right now? Whatever your skills are I bet you can find someone to pay for them. Walk dogs (seriously), paint numbers on curbs (seriously), clean window wells (seriously), or whatever. Dave Ramsey’s go to alternative revenue stream he always recommends is to deliver pizzas. This requires hustle but you can make good money doing that. The biggest issue is usually getting over your pride and other false constraints and just jumping in.

Do something. Don’t get overwhelmed with things out of your control… each of the nine ideas I listed above are in your control.

If you are wondering what this has to do with finding a job right now, or job search activities, every single one of these nine tasks can be a part of you getting your next job. I’ll never forget the phone call I got in 2006, out of the blue, essentially offering me a job. Why? Because I had started JibberJobber. I showed what I could do, I showed I had hustle, and creativity, and could get things done. And I had a job offer. Just starting my own revenue stream led to a job offer. Mind blowing.

You got this.

JibberJobber Like a Boss

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Xeriscape Doesn’t Mean Xero Maintenance

May 6th, 2020

Three and a half years ago we bought a new house. We got a great deal on it, but more importantly, it fit our very unique needs. I can’t imagine another house that would fit our needs like this has.

There are a lot of perks to this house. It was built very nicely and has a lot of amenities. We finally live in a cul de sac, and are zoned so we can have chickens. Our last house was great, but it didn’t meet our wish list of features. This one hit every one of them and has other features we didn’t even know about.

The previous owners spent a lot of money on xeriscape. For those of you in lush areas, with lots of rain, you might not know what that means. Basically you forego beautiful lawn for a desert/rock landscape. It can be very beautiful. For a long time I also thought it meant it was much easier to care for. No more mowing, or fertilizing? COUNT ME IN!

JibberJobber Career Management Xeriscape Extreme Example

However, there’s a problem. I think this house is about 15 years old… which means the landscaping is about 15 years old. Great… things are more mature. It also has 15 years of dirt, dust, and debris that has accumulated on the weed covering (just below the rocks).

Basically, year one, there was no dirt for weeds to grow in because it was just inhospitable weed cover. Fast forward to today, we have a healthy layer of dirt above the weed cover that seeds can do their thing and, like magic, my yard is green again. Except it’s not the green I want :(

I find myself spending time out in my yard that I thought was going to be maintenance free. I spend more time spraying or weeding that I would mowing and fertilizing.

The lesson here is that my xeriscaped yard needs maintenance.

And so does your career.

Even if you have all the education you think you need, you still need to learn.

Even if you work at a super secure and stable company, you still need to have a brand outside that company (think: Enron, or any of the many casualties of Covid-19).

Even if you are a thought leader and have done a great job branding yourself, you still need to network.

Even if you have done all of those things, and have had a fantastic career, you still need to show you add significant value.

Even if. Because no one has a xeri-maintenance career.

That’s why I’ve been doing JibberJobber for 14 years. That’s why I love users who use JibberJobber for networking even between job searches.

The need for maintenance never stops.

If I stay up on my weeds then I just need to spend a little time here and a little time there. But if I let it go for months, or years, I’ll have an overwhelming mess on my hands.

When I got laid off in 2006 I had an overwhelming mess on my hands. I had not spent any time on career management. When I got laid off in 2018 it was barely a blip on my radar. Because I’ve been doing career management things.

I invite you to work on your career maintenance RIGHT NOW. Won’t you join me? 

 

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Gambling With Your Career and Job Search

May 5th, 2020

Many, many years ago, around 2000 (I can’t remember exactly) I had a “nice” government job. Okay, it wasn’t nice at all. I hated it. It was mind-numbingly boring. I was absolutely going nowhere, but it was a job that had decent government benefits.

I made $11/hour. I was trying to decide whether I was going try and “work my way up” in the organization, or what I would do for a career. The thing was, the really great poshy jobs were very few and far between. You had to wait for someone to die, and even after one or two deaths we learned that didn’t always mean their role would be opened for someone else.

i was bored

The future was grim, and I wasn’t interested in making $11 (or $22 or $33) per hour the rest of my career. Even if they government benefits were “great” and working for the feds was “secure.”

I wanted more. A lot more.

I took a gamble and interviewed for an internship I heard about from a professor. Believe me when I tell you, it was a miracle I got the job. The upside was I’d learn web programming in a real, corporate environment. It was quite on opportunity! The downside was I’d take a pay cut (to $10.50 an hour) and get ZERO benefits. Since I was an intern I got no health insurance, no vacation, no sick leave… I basically just got paid when I worked, and that was it.

But this was starting a new path that could become a career, as opposed to being a warm body with the word “clerk” in my title. This was an opportunity to get on a real career path.

For me it was a no-brainer. I didn’t look at the 50 cents difference and think “that sucks.” I didn’t look at the two-almost-three weeks a year I got in vacation (I was really close to moving up to three weeks a year… yahoo!), or losing health insurance and think “this is stupid. I need to stay with the Feds!”

Fun story: when I accepted the job one of my colleagues, a couple of decades ahead of me, came to berate me for leaving a safe, secure job to go to private industry. I was going to lose everything, he said. The risk wasn’t worth it, he said. And when this happened, it would be very hard to come back and get my ($11/hour) job. What a fool I was being, he said.

Instead, I looked at it as a low-risk gamble. Of course, I was at the stage in my career (at the very beginning) when gambles are easier to take. I had nothing to lose… we were renting and had very low expenses. I don’t know what car I drove but I know it was a junker that was either paid off or close to it.

Fast forward a few years. When I lost my job, where I had been IT manager and then took over a software shop, I was high on the hog. Not my salary, but my position. I was running a company with a brilliant team of developers. I figured raises were coming soon, as soon as we could fix the mess we were in. But I was optimistic, hopefully, and working on righting the company.

I didn’t realize then that that was the biggest, highest stakes gamble I had taken. I gave my all to that company and role. I didn’t network, I didn’t even think about other jobs or careers. I trusted the company and owners to treat me right because I sure know I gave them 200%. In the end, though, I was a “business decision,” and thrown to the curb. I had recently moved, for that company, to a much more expensive area and had a house that was more than twice the value of my house I had left. My wife was pregnant and my growing family had growing expenses. It was really, really scary.

Giving everything to that company was a gamble I made where I lost all my chips.

career gambles

Fast forward a few months and I start JibberJobber. This was my new gamble. I already had my degree and my MBA so going to hide in school wasn’t an option. Looking for a new job was an utter failure. So I let my optimism and hope win, and chose to be an entrepreneur (still hopeful I’d be an executive at some awesome company one day). It helped that my first marketing efforts and phone calls were very well received. I got a ton of interest with JibberJobber while making zero progress as a job seeker.

So I gambled again. Not much to lose, right? I had already lost everything. Of course, I hadn’t lost my family, my house, or my mind, but losing my job/role/salary/title felt like losing everything.

Over the next few years I’d gamble a few more times… on writing a book, on trying to speak professionally… and then on Pluralsight.

When I was on my early calls with Pluralsight, where they were telling me how it worked to be a “Pluralsight Author,” I thought “this doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get paid a lot to talk about this stuff from stage… and the amount I’d get per course seemed really, really low compared to that. Further, I’d have to sign my intellectual property away, at least to the point where I couldn’t/wouldn’t do courses for Pluralsight competitors.”

I felt like this was a pretty significant gamble. Indeed, it was. The first, and next, and next quarterly royalty checks all added up to maybe almost as much as I’d make from one 45 minute on-stage presentation. I considered it a dud… a failure. I lost the gamble. I didn’t lose anything, really, except I had that little issue of intellectual property I had signed away. But I didn’t plan on doing that with their competitors so it really wasn’t a big deal. But it wasn’t rewarding.

I gambled, and I lost.

Did I really lose?

Or so I thought.

If this is your first time reading my stuff you probably don’t know I have 34 (and counting) courses on Pluralsight. Why, if I lost my gamble back in 2012, did I keep making courses?

Because the gamble paid off. Nicely.

When I look back on my career, leaving the Feds paid off. Starting JibberJobber, writing a book, becoming a professional speaker (which means paid speaker), and learning how to create online courses for one of the most prestigious online learning platforms… my gambles, paid off.

Not everything I’ve done over the last couple decades paid off. I’ve had plenty of failures, false starts, pivots, etc. But as I look at what I’ve done, I haven’t taken the easy or the logical best choice.

Today, this month, this year, YOU will have a chance to take a gamble. I won’t disparage you if you take what looks like the easy road. Not one bit. Everyone has to choose their own path, make their own decisions. In doing so, you’ll make your own gambles. Should I go or should I stay? Should I skill up or do I stay on the path I’m on? Do I do something ridiculously hard (like go back to school while working full time) or do I quit and focus on school or do I just keep working and maintain a fun work/life balance?

These are all gambles.

Should I write a book?

Should I make a course?

Should I start a business?

Should I invest in real estate?

Should I move to another country, learn a foreign language, and get into international business?

Should I trust my company to be around, and keep me around, for many years?

Should I follow my boss when she leaves?

Should I take the promotion, even though it feels scary and uncomfortable?

Should I look for a job in a different industry or role?

These are all gambles.

Just as much as staying and doing nothing (or making no changes) is a gamble.

Career Gambles Scary

I know gambles can be scary. Some of you have a very low risk tolerance, which means being an entrepreneur is not at all appealing. But staying in one place is way more of a gamble than it was back in 1980.

It’s scary. It’s still unsettling for me. But it is also very exciting. Change can be fun. Learning can be fun. Growth can be fun. Education doesn’t stop when you leave a classroom… I educate myself almost every day.

This is our new world. It’s a world where you are invited to take more control of your career. This has been my message for the last 14 years that I’ve been doing JibberJobber… and since the Covid-19 pandemic, with businesses shutting down, it’s never been a more important invitation.

Please, be purposeful in your gambles. Don’t let others make the gamble for you. I did, and it failed, and they didn’t care. It hurt me and my family, but didn’t matter to them. This happened in 2006 when I got laid off just like it happened in 2018 when I got laid off.

I’d rather take the consequences of my own gambles than the consequences of the gambles from other people who have zero interest in my life and future.

And now this is my invitation to you to be serious about your career gambles.

Career Gamble Invitation

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Pluralsight Discount: 10 Days to Decide

May 4th, 2020

Today Pluralsight announced they are discounting their pricing for the next 10 days by 33%. This is a great time to invest in YOURSELF! Click here:

Pluralsight 33% Off

I’m a sucker for a deal. I don’t care about 5% off or 15% off…

But 33% off? I’m digging that!

Last month (April 2020) I spent a lot of time blogging and youtubing about Pluralsight and my courses.

Pluralsight just sweetened the deal… this comes out to about $16/month and you get full access to the entire library of over 7,000 courses.

That is a great investment in YOU.

Isn’t that an investment worth making?

Upgrade here.

 

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