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:


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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Pluralsight #32: Boosting Innovation: How Leaders Can Create Innovative Teams

February 7th, 2019

My 32nd course on Pluralsight is now live. You’ll only see 31 because I had one course retire (it was replaced by a more updated version). This course is pretty fun, it is titled Boosting Innovation: How Leaders Can Create Innovative Teams.


This course is one hour and forty five minutes. The meat is in the second and third modules, where I give dozens of ideas for leaders to create and nurture innovation on a team.

Some of the ideas you might wholeheartedly agree with. Others you might think are crazy (or, won’t work for your team). Others might be something you’ve never thought about before.

My hope with this course is that you take ideas that you can implement and work, one idea at a time, to create an innovative environment.

For JibberJobber users who are reporting back on the Course Tracker, go ahead and click twice for each view of this course for the next week. That’s right, double the JibberJobber upgrade each time you watch this course.


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JibberJobber How To: Clean Up Your Tags

February 6th, 2019

Tags are… awesome! Tags help us group and slice and dice out data.

I have tags for types of people (recruiters, friends, family, professional contacts, etc.), types of industries (software, Fortune 500, etc.), types of jobs (related to product management, related to executive function, etc.), and on and on.

The only problem is that sometimes I get a little too excited about tags, and I make up new tags that pretty much go unused. And then, instead of having a dozen useful tags, I have 80 tags… 70 of which I don’t use.  And this, my friend, is clutter. This does not spark joy.

Well, I got some good news. Cleaning up your tags is easy peasy. You can do this for Contact tags, Company tags, and Job tags… it’s all the same process.

First, from the main menu, go to the Contacts, Companies, or Jobs dropdown… depends on which tags you want to clean up. From that dropdown, click the “See more –>” option.


On that next page you’ll see a tile for Contact Tags (or Company Tags or Job Tags).  Click that.


Now you are on the tag management page (remember, this is just for tags under Contacts or Companies or Jobs – we don’t mix these up).  From here you can do three main things:

  1. Delete tags (deleting a tag will not delete the record it is associated with (see the x icon?))
  2. Rename tags (spell something wrong? Fix it here. (see the edit/pencil icon?))
  3. Merge tags (have a prod manager and prod mgr and product manager tags? Merge them into one tag here. (see the checkboxes on the left?)


This page is pretty self-explanatory… you can do record-by-record deleting… or you can click the checkboxes on the left and do bulk deleting.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what to do, or how to do it, but I will say that in my experience keeping tags that are unused (like the 5 above) are nothing but a waste. They were a good idea at one time, but I obviously didn’t use them… my recommendation is to keep it clean, and remove tags that are unused.

Have fun cleaning up :)

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When you rely on recruiters for your next job…

February 4th, 2019

You are setting yourself up for a longer, depressing, hard job search.

This is absolutely not bashing on recruiters. Ask many of them and they’ll tell you the same thing. If they even tell you anything at all.

We want to think that finding a job through a recruiter is like buying a car through a car salesman.  Here are our assumptions of how these things happen:

Buying a car: We come to them, we tell them what kind of car we want, they try to match the car that is closest to what we want and what we can pay for, we pay money, they get a commission, and then they go off trying to sell another car.

Getting a job: We send our resume to recruiters, we hope they figure out what we should do and how they can match us to a company they work with or the current openings they know about, they get excited because we are freaking awesome and a perfect candidate, they coach us through the entire process, we get the job, they help us negotiate the salary, and it is a win (for us), a win (for the recruiter, who gets a commission for bringing us to the table) and a win for the company (who gets a freaking awesome hire!).

When we buy a car, the salesman kind of acts as our agent. Yes, they represent the company, but a good car salesman wants to understand what is best for us, and then cater to that. They want to make a great match. From great matches come repeat customers and referrals. They really care about us.

However, when we are looking for a job, I’m sorry to say that there is no agent for us. Okay, I’ve met a small handful of people who are agents for job seekers, but just like with a real estate agent (when you sell your house) you have to pay the agent. For the most part, there aren’t hardly any agents out there.

And recruiters are most definitely NOT agents for job seekers.

It took me months to figure out that I was not a gift to recruiters. That my resume wasn’t going to change their lives. That in fact, they really didn’t care about me, and adding me to their database was about as good as having my resume thrown in the garbage can.

For months I tried to network with recruiters… over thirty of them. It’s what I thought you should do. I heard talk of this at job clubs and read it on blogs. “Find a recruiter in your space,” they would say. Someone who specializes in your title or industry. Then, network with them. Give to them. Open your network for them. They’ll appreciate you, and they’ll reciprocate with opportunities.

Nope, nope, and nope.

At least for me, it was a big fat nope. It was a waste of time. Thank goodness a recruiter finally told me that I’d find me a job a lot faster than he’d find me a job. That’s when I started to rethink the recruiter/seeker relationship. That’s when I stopped networking with recruiters for my job search.

Again, I’m not here to bash on recruiters. I just want you, the job seeker, to understand the nature of the relationship between you and them.

Having a recruiter-only strategy might be as effective as asking every car salesman you know for leads. Now that I think about it, perhaps asking every car salesperson you come across might be more effective than going through recruiters.

In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi talks about “power networkers.” These are people who inherently network. Because of the work they do, they know lots and lots of people, and have some kind of connection or relationship with them. If I remember right, he talks about lawyers and accountants as power networkers. Recruiters should be power networkers. But I’ve found that if you are a job seeker, and don’t fit any of their openings, they are very, very busy and don’t have time to talk to, or help, you.

Bottom line: please don’t have a recruiter-centric strategy for your job search. It will likely be disappointing and drawn-out.

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Career Regrets

February 1st, 2019

Do you have any career regrets? I do.

I’m 45 years old. I’ve had a weird career. It started out pretty “normal” (for the olden days), but with my first real layoff in 2006, things have been very much outside of normal.

Here I am, recently laid off from what was supposed to be my dream job at a dream company, and I am kind of unhireable.  In interviews I’m missing out one one or two things (like a certification, or a very specific experience). In at least one interview I’ve had a young VP of product super worried that I had a side gig, and he thought I wouldn’t do the job because I’d focus on my side gig.

I did what “they” told me to do, years ago, and got a technical degree. And I got an MBA. And somehow, someone said that speaking a foreign language would be really valuable in my career (it hasn’t been, although I do love speaking and listening to Spanish, and the whole new world it has opened up for me).

That old advice almost means nothing in today’s world.

I regret, since leaving school, not doing more for my career management.

The irony is that my best in-person presentation is titled Career Management 2.0.

In that presentation, I focus on networking (relationships) and personal branding. I squeezed this into 45 minutes once, and one time I went for 3 hours (and people asked for more… it was really cool).

And here I am, confessing my regrets.

I wish that I would have gotten my PMP certification to quantify my project management skills.

I wish that I would have developed more institutional product management skills. The lack of this has been a problem in interviews… even though I’ve done product management for 20+ years, the interviewers have made it clear they want someone who has institutional (not necessarily practical) experience.

I wish that I would have taken classes in UX. Not graphics, not design, but UX.  I think this is one of the most important fields for every organization.

Those are the three things I should have dove deeper into over the last 13 years. I would have been able to add considerable value to my JibberJobber users, and probably would have had a six figure job years ago.

After working at Bamboo, I wish I would have also dug deeper into marketing. I worked with some crazy smart marketing professionals there, and learned a lot from them. Oh, how I wish I would have been better at that.

I mean, I wasn’t just sitting around. I wrote 3 books (one has 4 editions, each were complete rewrites). I just turned in my 32 Pluralsight course (doing one course is a huge accomplishment). I became a professional speaker (it’s like a public speaker, but you get paid to do it :p), and published LinkedIn how-to DVDs. I was self-taught in many of these things, and I help people know how to do these things for themselves.

So yeah, I have regrets. But I also have so many hours in the day, and I can’t turn back time. I’m not losing sleep over it. BUT, if I ever get a chance to mentor anyone, or give advice or tips, I will definitely encourage them to continue their education… work on professional certifications and other learnings that are quantifiable.

That’s my regret, and that’s what I’m doing about it.

Now, what are you regretting with regards to your career, and what are you going to do about it?




What Do You Want? Write It Down!

January 30th, 2019

I have a very specific goal for 2019. By the end of today, it will be written down, and taped on my wall (or monitor) so I can see it every single day.

It will guide my thinking and my decisions.

It will help me stay focused.

It will help me avoid being wishy-washy and focusing on things I shouldn’t focus on.

The written goal will be my mini vision board. I’ll see it multiple times a day, and it will be in my mind all the time.

I want YOU to write down what you are after.

Don’t just write: “A job!”

Write something very specific, like:

“I will have a job as a product manager in a funded, healthy, and growing high-tech company. I will add considerable value to my team, the customers, and the company, and I will have growth opportunities. I will make $______, and have a great work-life balance.”

I wouldn’t make it too long, but you can see the level of detail that I’m after.

I have not done this much over the last 13 years since I started JibberJobber. But this year is different. I have goals that I need to focus on, and I will keep them central to my thinking because they will be on my wall very soon.

And you?


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