Category Archives: Careers

Game over

Around 15 players in the NFL get the lion’s share of endorsement deals and lottery-style paychecks. The other 1,600 players score six figure salaries, but their average career is only three years.

That means most NFL players need to adapt and learn how to do something different when the time comes. They need to be prepared for uncertainty as fate can knock them out of the game at any time. They need to have a financial plan for when the paycheck stops.

Wow, just like you.

How are you doing?

New York City Mayor Ed Koch died today at age 88. Like any politician his legacy will be debated and written about by historians. While others dwell on his policy decisions a simple habit Koch had stands out.

Koch would famously ask constituents, “How am I doing?” Not just when running for office, not just when he thought the answer would be one of gushing admiration, but a question borne of genuine interest.

How am I doing?

It’s a simple question anyone can employ. Rather than waiting for feedback from others, take a bit of initiative. Now and then, ask colleagues, subordinates and superiors this simple question. Ask your clients. Query your friends and family. Run it past a significant other. It can start conversations. It can make sure you’re on track and provide an early warning sign of something that might need correcting. You might learn something.

Why not try it?

Thanks, man

Tired of negative noise?

Maybe it’s time to wage a campaign of the positive.

Send notes, emails or tweets to companies you like and praise products you use.

Patronize local stores that you want to stay around.

Take a minute and inform a supervisor or business owner about a good service experience.

Send a note to a colleague’s boss sharing how that person helped you get a job done right.

When something is done well be the person who notices and encourages more.

Watch as it comes back to you.

Island

Forty miles from the nearest Scottish inhabitants lies the remote island of Borelay, one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. Ringed by a treacherous coastline and pounded by furious seas it was always clear to experts why Borelay was devoid of settlements.

Except it wasn’t. Archaeologists have found evidence that prehistoric people once lived on the island. How did they get there? How did they survive? The answer may be lost in the mists of time.

Or maybe they went there because no one told them they couldn’t.

Unexpected development

“Want to make God laugh? Make plans,” goes the old adage.

The best stories are those where the main character makes plans to do something and then the unexpected happens. The ship sinks, aliens invade, the wedding is called off and an assassin shows up. We like that, happily grabbing a bag of popcorn and munching away hoping the director heaps more grief on the hero while we root for him to come through.

Except we don’t like it when it happens to us. A flat tire on the way to work? Derails our whole day. Skiing injury? The month is shot. Unexpected layoff? Kills a whole year.

But life is all about dealing with the unexpected. A fantastic lesson in this is “Life of Pi,” if you haven’t seen it, (or read it) it’s recommended. It’s these challenges—both big and small—that test us, promote us, and cause us to grow and change.

Dealing with the unexpected becomes particularly important when someone is paying you to deal with it. Now you not only have your own challenges but those of colleagues and clients.

You’re a character in your own movie, and the screenplay still has a lot of pages to go.

What’s your Monday vibe?

Volkswagen’s Super Bowl 2013 Game Day Commercial “Get in, get happy,” is a fun start-of-the-week pick me up. While you may not have an enthusiastic Minnesotan with a Caribbean accent in your office, you probably have some of the negative-minded folks depicted. Hey, complaining is easy to do.

So what vibe will you bring to work?

Why hate Mondays?

Dung beetle

Dung beetles spend their nights rolling balls of dung to hiding places where they are used as food. Rather unpleasant.

Like many unpleasant jobs in the real world, though, the work the dung beetles do plays an important role in nature and agriculture. Without them, the planet would be a much dirtier place. But we often judge creatures (and people) by what they do—or what we think they do—because it’s convenient. Consider the lion, respected as “king of the jungle.”

If an anthropomorphic dung beetle were to be featured in a Disney film it would probably be portrayed as having one of the least desirable jobs in the animal kingdom. A bumbling, comically-rendered character rolling balls of dung would make an obvious target for gags. It probably wouldn’t be shown as smart, or as some sort of stargazer.

But that would be a mistake. Because dung beetles are more than what they seem. You might say they are cosmically-minded. Incredibly, these beetles use the Milky Way to navigate. Perched upon a ball of dung, they orient themselves using the panoply of stars splashed across the South African sky. No other creature is known to do that. How many people can do that?

Imagine, knee deep in feces, with tiny eyes, and they’re aware of the symmetry of distant stars.

Challenge assumptions!

Don’t say no

It’s easy to say “no.” You probably hear that word all the time.

You can avoid using the word “no” by saying things such as, “Sorry, it’s against our policy,” or “I’d like to…but (insert stock reason).” It’s all the same thing.

The problem is that bosses, colleagues and clients don’t like to hear “no” in any form.

So if you have to say “no” try adding, “but we can do this…”

Set yourself apart.

Nothing’s shocking

Soon you might be able to print your own hamburger.

If that sounds weird or outlandish it shouldn’t. The past hundred years have shown us that. Tubes of metal that fly people across the Atlantic in a few hours? Outrageous. Buildings with over 160 floors? Impossible. Ten-year-old kids with communication devices far more advanced than anything portrayed on Star Trek? Absurd.

If you could be printing your own meat via an ink jet, then you might be doing anything a few years from now. That includes what you’ll do for a living. It’s very possible the job you’ll be doing doesn’t exist yet. It may not have been thought of yet.

How to you prepare for that? Embrace the weird and outlandish. It’s the new norm.