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Month: November 2009

7 steps to network yourself into business opportunity

Network our way through the recession?

There is a funny video about Linkedin going the rounds that I found from @jackiecameron1.

Unemployed people sign up to Linkedin in a desert of jobs. Everyone is networked, but to each other, to no one has a job.

What use is networking if there are no employers in the group?

Networking is not hitching a ride!

What is very apparent in the rather delightful (and accurate) spoof  is that no one is doing anything.  Everyone is trying to hitch ride on everyone else!

Who in that network is trying to make anything happen? Who is inviting other people to help, even for free?

Networking out of a desert of jobs

To take the metaphor of the desert further, if anyone got the group organized to look for water, they might find some!

Why doesn’t anyone start some useful activity?

The simple answer is that no one there trusts anyone else. If they did, they would invite them to do something!

How do we begin to organize that group?

Here are 7 steps for organizing a group who seem to be out of ideas, out of resources and who don’t know each other well.

A  Show Confidence in Your People

#1 Begin!

#2 Be active.

Do something! Sit down and make a sandcastle! See who helps.

B Help Your People Gain Confidence in Each Other

#3 Change the sandcastle so that people are helping each other.

Move your position so that you are handing sand to the person building. When another person joins in, move to the the end of the line.

#4 Move the line slowly in the direction that seems most promising.

At the same time, get people to sing so that they become more aware that they are a group.

Keep your attention on the sandcastle by-the-way!  People are only going to be bothered with the sand castle if you are!

C Work with People Who Trust the Group

#5 Position a reliable person at the end of the line while you start a new line.

Make sure the person at the end of a line knows to sing out if they see anything unusual on the horizon.

D Bring Information About Opportunities Into the Group

#6 When someone sees something unusual on the horizon, don’t create a stampede.

Move the whole bicycle wheel, by changing the direction that the sand moves. Move the sandcastle builder to the other end and reverse the direction of sand. In an orderly way, move the other spokes. Keep it playful!

E We Are All In This Together

#7 Continue and continue!

You might decide to abandon your group and go it alone.  Yes, it might be slow moving the group along and it might feel as if the group is slowing you up.  But aren’t your chances of finding water higher in an organized group looking out for each other?

It is easier to think straight when things are really bad

It sometimes feel that deserts are too much to cope with.  I am also going to tell you that deserts are better than abandoned farm land. You are lucky. Yes, you are!

Let’s imagine, you simply find yourself in a abandoned but essentially sound farm.  You don’t start building a useless sandcastle. You do something useful.  You start to plough the land and plant seeds.  The difficulty is that you have now fixed your group to that field.  You will be unable to move slowly across the horizon to a better place.  In modern parlance, your solution is not scalable!

That’s why I like the idea of deserts.  We are willing to abandon sandcastles and rebuild them elsewhere.

When you chose your seed project, build something, anything, where we can see results and where we can all help! Keep the projects short and sweet so that people can see results and move them as we spot other things on the horizon.

Experiments in extreme living

What I want you to do is to build something with the resources under your feet.  And invite someone else to join in.

When the person joins in, give them a prime spot and support them.  Invite another person.  Keep building.

That’s is the challenge. That is the task!

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A good organization is good for all the players, A, B, C to Z

I am not attracted to elitism; I want to hear solidarity

I really don’t like to hear talk about selecting the “top 10%” or managing some people, they so-called talent, differently from other people.  I am not attracted to elitism; I want to hear solidarity.  Partly this is a matter of temperament.  It is also a matter of technicalities.

I am a personnel psychologist by trade. I do selection.  Y0u can’t position a business to work for only a few people!  You will not be able to secure your labour supply.  And without a constant supply of labor, you simply don’t have a business!  So please, don’t be disloyal and ridiculous!

That doesn’t mean we treat every one the same though.  We treat them differently because their needs are different.  But we are equally committed and loyal to everyone.

Can’t do it?  Yes, we can.  I’ve run a class of 850+ students and I was able to run it with a policy that “each and every student was as important as the next.”  You can run you much smaller outfit with the same even handedness.  I am not going to let you off!

As it is Sunday, a motivational story

The Two Pots

A Water Bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years, this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty.

Love us for our unique flaws

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.

We’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.

 

Found on wow4u

 

 

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Don’t let the recession take over your life! Live anyway.

Nile Crocodile
Image via Wikipedia

Overwhelmed by the threat of the ongoing recession?

In Africa, we have a lovely though terrifying expression.

When we up to our armpits in crocodiles, it’s hard to remember that our goal is to get to the other side

What do we do when we are surrounded by crocodiles?  Ignore them ~ they’ll have you for lunch.  Scream – a stress reliever that accomplishes nothing?

Read on!

Threat captures 100% of our attention

The threats of job loss, business failure,  mortgage default etc and boring etc have become very real.  For everyone.  These are the crocodiles.  They grab our attention and we can think of little else.  At best, we hope they will go away.

Well they won’t.  Like crocodiles, they have found us.  We didn’t find them!  They are not going away unless we make them!  And right now they are taking over our entire lives.

Reclaim your attention by labeling threats as threats (not goals)

The trouble with crocodiles, and recession-type threats,  is that they are so scary, we completely forget our goals, and indeed that we ever had any at all.

The mental trick to claiming back our attention and capacity to think straight,  is to label a threat as a threat.  Neutralizing a threat is not my objective.  Fighting crocodiles isn’t the goal (for most of us).  Getting to the other side is our goal.  We need only to neutralize the threat to getting to the other side ~ not neutralize the threat itself.

Go it?  This is how it works.  When we label a threat as an annoying distraction, we focus all our knowledge, knowhow and strength on sorting it out, and sorting it out quickly.  When a crocodile threatens us, we get over our initial panic and we poke  our fingers in the crocodile’s eyes .  The crocodile is neutralized sufficiently and get on our way to the other side!

Pick our battle ground and have the battle it promises

It’s still a battle, of course. We could lose. We will get hurt.  We are still frightened.  So it is heaps smarter not to play in crocodile infested waters in the first place!

If we am going to, and sometimes we have to, sometimes we find ourselves there by mistake, then we’d be very wise to keep a sharp look out for predators and to be ready to paddle into the deep water they don’t like.  The battle goes not to the swift or the strong, but ye who thought ahead and pays attention?

We must also be prepared to have a fight, win quickly, and not worry to much about it when it is over.   There is no point in ranting and raving about crocodiles when they are a part of the very life that we have chosen.

They are there.  Deal with them.  On their own terms, not in terms of some fantasy.

Deal with them as threats to be neutralized sufficiently to be on our way.

On our way!

Which is   .   .   .  which way?  We have been so busy fighting crocodiles that we have forgotten!

Do an elementary SWOT on the back of an envelope!

  • T = Threats.  You know those.  That’s all you’ve been thinking about lately.  The crocodiles that threaten to eat us up.
  • W= Weaknesses.  You know those. All the little things you’ve been angsting about.  All our worries about crocodiles are bigger than us!  The things that are out of our personal control.
  • S=Strengths.  You have a canoe and you know the crocodile hates deep water. You read books and it doesn’t!  What have you got going for you?  List every small thing at our disposal.
  • O=Opportunity  Where is the opportunity?  Have you forgotten?  Where is the opportunity in a crocodile infested river?  Look around and spot it.  Get there!  Now!

And poke out the crocodiles eyes.  You are bored with crocodiles now.  They are just at threat.  They are not our purpose.

Don’t forget your goal is to get to other side!

A long recession

This recession is going to go on for a long time.  Live your life anyway.  Get on with it!  Pay the recession as much attention as it needs just as you pay the crocodile as much attention it needs.  Then go on your way!

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5 ways to tell a winning organization from an organization on a losing track

Select your organization well!  Your well being depends upon it.

We all want to see ahead.  I am going to tell you that we cannot.

Yet we as surely as we court disaster when we get behind the wheel of the car when we have been drinking, we can run our organizations recklessly. You will get out of a car that is driven by a drunk, and you should aim to stay away from badly run organizations or at least to replace its management!

Let’s assume for a moment that you are one step back and you are choosing an organization.  Yes, choose. Even in a wicked recession, we choose. We choose which jobs we look at.  We choose which companies we research and approach.

Even as outsiders, there are 5 things to look out for to check the health of the organization.

These ideas are based on “systems theory”.  I hope any systems theorists reading this will comment.

One: We are continuously mindful of how well we are doing as a team and what it takes for the whole team to win

In plain language: Do people say “we” and do they talk about real things.  Do they say things like “In December, the market is slow for us.”

Do they talk in terms of taking everyone with them?  Do they make sure all the stragglers keep up and do they all cross the finishing line together?

Two: Everything matters, everything is connected to everything and connections get stronger with use!

In plain language: When you first approached the organization, did they start to “dance” with you?  Or were they stiff and rigid?  At the other extreme, were they hopelessly muddled?

Do they treat you like “white water”?  Do they work with the river and paddle gently or do they, at one extreme, fight the river [you] or at the other, not guide their canoe efficiently [be too relaxed and out-of-it]?

Is there feeling “give and take” or is the a feeling of force and rigidity or the opposite, no order at all?

Three: History happens once.  Nothing will ever happen again

In plain language: Do people in the organization tell a story of where the company came from and where they are going to?  Or is the company a skeleton of procedures without any flesh?

When they  talk to you about your story, do they attend to relevant parts or are they distracted by inconsequential details?

When something surprises them, do they ask questions or do they dismiss what they don’t understand?

Do they ask you how you would do things out of curiosity (and not as a test of right and wrong)?

Four: Birds fly in a flock without anyone giving orders!

In plain language: Are there 2 or 3 principles that govern this organization and are those sufficient to coordinate team work?  Do people point to the team work with evident pleasure?  Do they marvel that so much gets done with so little bossing around?

If you ask them what it would take to succeed on the job or fail on the job, can they give you 1 or 2 points or do they point you to manual that they haven’t read?

Five: Has the organization made unusual discoveries about what is good, true, better and possible?

In plain language: Do people talk about times when they were working as usual and then they stumbled over a new solution that was much better than they had done before?

Are they slightly mystified about how that happened?  That’s a good sign.  Mutation is healthy and it is only mutation when it is a surprise!

Qualify the organization

In sales, we only spend a lot of time on customers who need our products and services, who have the money to buy, and who intend to buy.  We “qualify” our customers.

We also have to qualify our organizations and move towards those who are healthy!

Rating an organization

When you talk to someone about a job, rate the organization on each of the five points.  How do they stack up on a scale of  0 to 25?  Try it and rate organizations that are right under your nose.  See if you haven’t got far healthier organizations right under your nose where you live!

Join up with people who will last the recession!

An inflexible organization will not last the recession.  And nor will one who is not organized at all.

Look for a healthy firm.  They will have the internal flexibility and mindfulness to adapt to the chaos in the environment. They will organize their affairs so you can grow. They will enjoy what they do and you will too.

Happy hunting and happy choosing!

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Shift gears before Christmas with Inpowr

New beginnings and getting going

I’m shifting gear a little with projects. Some tasks are moving to the perfunctory box ~ get them done and get them done fast.  And I have new tasks that aren’t hard but they aren’t habits yet.  I could easily founder simply because I haven’t done them often enough to slide into them without thinking.

Getting over dithering

As I dithered, just a little, in the normal way we do when we settle to something big, I came across a post that I wrote about Inpowr, the Montreal based web2.0 platform where you rate areas of  your life and set goals.

A digital reminder

Inpowr has some good looking interfaces.  Moreover, it pings you every day at your chosen (Montreal) time and reminds you to review your goals.  That makes it great.  To develop some good habits, it helps to have someone to nudge you!

Choose between your positive and negative versions of events

A tip though: Inpowr will ask you to rate your achievement of each goal on a 1-5 scale.  Don’t just rate and move along.  Expand the task a little. Describe how the day went.  Rate 1 and answer the question.  Change your rating to 3 and answer your question.  And then change your rating to 5 and answer the question again.

Answering all three questions helps you to see your negative and positive thinking and choose between them.  Which is most useful to you?  The negative or the positive version?

Privacy

Oh, and do watch the privacy settings.  It is possible to make your goal setting open to the world.  Maybe you would prefer your exercise to be private.  Check your settings!

21 days on Inpower

Inpowr runs on 21 day cycles.  What can you accomplish by Christmas?

 

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Blog your dream alive! Begin this weekend

I can’t start . . . that’s my problem, I don’t know where to start!

If you have been scouting the internet for advice on turning your dreams into reality, then you will have come across advice to begin. Just begin!

“Arrgh!, you scream. If I knew how to begin, I wouldn’t be asking!”

Well, here you go. This is what you can do to begin.

It’s within your power and it is a test of whether you mean to begin, ever.  Or whether you will be a lurker in the shadows of your dreams to the end of your days on this earth.

Bring your dream alive through your blog

Whatever your field, whatever your concern, whatever your dream, I want you to blog evey day. A quick picture from your phone, if you have one, and a short text describing what you saw, what surprised you and what you would like to know more about.

Example

Here is a good example of a format that would suit you: the Timbuktu Chronicles. These are stories of entrepreneurship and inventing in Africa. Captivating, isn’t?

Steps for blogging your dreams alive

#1 Sign up to Posterous and make 3 accounts

  • Account one is your long term record of who you are: MyName.Posterous.com
  • Account two is for your children and relatives: ApetName.Posterous.com
  • Account three is for the development of your dream: MyDream.Posterous.com

#2 Update your MyName account weekly

Post one update of how your career has progressed this week. Salute your colleagues. Give your clients some airtime.

#3 Update your account for your children and relatives daily

Take a picture of something you are doing and put it on line. Describe what you are seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing and let them see it too. Let them share your life.

A quick picture and a caption of what is what you walk past, eat, smell and hear when you are not with them.

#4 Add a snippet to your dream collection every day

And never break the chain!

Everyday, add a picture of something you noticed that is relevant to your dream. Or summarize what you are reading. Or connect the dots between points in your field.

Maybe over the weekend, add a summary post : the best 7 videos on . . .

Start collecting the jig saw puzzle pieces of your dream, one piece a day.

After all, by the end of the week, you will have 7 pieces!

Have you begun?

It’s a relief, isn’t it, to begin, just to begin!

Do subscribe to my jojordan.posterous blog here and I will subscribe to yours!

The best of weekends to you.  Set up your blog!

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Get to the heart of what will be the vibrant, interesting, & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century?

New management

When I went to university, we were told that management is the art of getting work done through people.  A passport to laziness and exploitation!

Today, we say management is developing people through work.

Work should be fun.  It is fun for some of us.

And work should be fair.  Not only should we receive a fair day’s pay for a fair days work.  We should be growing as a person and capable of doing more with each hour of work that we put in.

Rewriting the training manuals for jobs and careers

In 20th century management manuals, Stage 1 of work was doing.  For about 10 years, roughly from 16 to 26, we learned a trade and built breadth & depth through education and exposure.  Our job was to cultivate a deep knowledge of our materials and tools, appreciate our customers, and adapt what we did for their needs.  We wanted to learn enough about the wide range of situations that we might encounter in the future so that we could go with the flow and make a living as the years went by.

Sadly, of course, markets change and revolutions happen in technology.  With very little notice, customers defect to other products and markets, competitors outrun us, or the technology changes sufficiently to require another 10 year apprenticeship.

In the ‘olden days’, HR departments were responsible for seeing ahead and retraining staff ahead of any abrupt changes.  By definition, the HR Director’s job was to spot changes on the horizon and get everyone retrained in new ways without disrupting today’s operations.  There was a reason for that high salary!

You are now your own HR Director

Today’s management theorists and leadership coaches counsel another approach.  They recommend that each of us scan the horizon for changes and retrain ourselves in good time.

This is quite hard to do.  As noobes, we barely understand the business.  We don’t have data to see ahead.  Indeed it might be kept from us.  And training tends to focus on skill  rather than the ‘sweet spot’ where are skills are deeply valued by our customers.

The sweet spot where your skills are deeply valued by your customers

I know that there has been a lot of research on how to train people on the sweet spot.

  • I recall attempts to train doctors by introducing them to patients from day one.  The conclusion, I recall, was that the pre-clinical training was necessary to speed up communication between noobes and experienced doctors and the experiment was abandoned.
  • Cognitive psychologists have developed computer games to test whether it is better to learn the market before we learn the underlying technology of our business.  They concluded no.  First, learn the technology, then try to make money.
  • Military psychologists have found that youngsters trained to manage their attention on computer games performed better as fighter pilots.  In the game, the recruits played the part of captains of de-mining vessels.  Each ‘month’, or game cycle, they would concentrate on the overall outcome of running the ship and concentrate on learning one of the functions only ~ navigation, finance, HR, etc.  The limitation known with this approach is that under pressure we often go back to the “level” that we first learned, requiring, once again, that we can see into the future and pick our “level” correctly.

It seems easy to mess up our mental models of the sweet spot and what we need to do to manage it.  We can overemphasize the money end and underemphasize the skill.  We can also learn to manage situations that are too small to sustain a living.

More research needed on managing our own training for 21st century jobs and careers

None of these experiments have focused though on developing a sense of the sweet spot and organizing skills and commercial acumen around a sweet spot that morphs, ebbs and flows.  I know no experiment where “subjects” were explicitly trained to monitor what is happening around them, to think of their own skills (and the skills of their team) and bring those together into a rewarding balance.

I wonder what would happen if we learned to think that way from the get-go?

 

Organize your own thinking about vibrant, interesting & lucrative jobs and careers in the 21st century

If you want to try, to organize your thinking about the sweet spot between your skills and the needs of customers, this is what I recommend.

Pick on anything you did today that you enjoyed and draw out 3 spokes

  • name the key technical skill that you used to provide your customer with value
  • name the customer and describe his or her needs
  • name the sweet spot and try describe it in one sentence

These three spokes correspond logically to three factors associated with successful business teams:

  • The teams ask questions more often than the give answers
  • They concentrate on the outside world a little more than on themselves
  • The look for what is going well and are positive 5x more than they are negative

Become your own HR Director

I think it will take quite a few lots of 10 to 15 minutes jotting down notes for this way of thinking to come easily.  But when it does you will be your own HR Director

  • Looking ahead
  • Retraining on time
  • Finding the sweet spot where you feel vital, involved, entertained, valued AND rewarded!

Do let me know how it works out!

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Happy Thanksgiving from UK!

Thanksgiving in UK

We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here ~ at least not en masse.  But Americans who live among us do.  Some celebrated early and have regaled us with stories of botched gravies and seasonal accompaniments. Others have desperately needed lettuce.  And others insist on making cranberry sauce from scratch.

Naive questions from foreigners

I asked my American colleagues what you are celebrating.  They were dumbfounded.  It’s an excuse to eat one said.  Another sad you were celebrating the first harvests of the Pilgram Fathers ~ and then laughed embarassedly!  Political holidays are always so awkward!

So Happy Thanksgiving to you.  May you have a good time with your families and safe travels!

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Were your grand-parents Luddites? And do you take after them?

Are you like your grandparents?  Or are you very different?

I’m quite excited by all the new science that is going on: biological engineering, nanotechnology, the particle collider, and so on.  We seem to be on a cusp of new age of technology.

Many people are very disapproving, of course.  And they probably think the internet is dangerous as well!  I wondered today.  Do you think their parents were Luddites?  Do you think their grand parents were Luddites?

I am not saying the twins separated at birth are likely both to be Luddites or both not to be Luddites!   But I did wonder if families have a tradition of welcoming technology, or treating it with raucous disdain?

Is your approach to new science and development similar to your grand parents?

I’d love to know!  Luddite or not? And does Ludditism run in your family?

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