It’s Graduation Time. Lesson One.

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It will be graduation time soon.

So what kind of world will you be graduating into?

There will be at least two worlds.

The first is one you can’t control and that world is called the New Normal.

The New Normal Started in September 2008 when the world almost melted when Lehman Brothers went away. You may have never heard of Lehman Brothers.  They were a 156 year old company when you were in your teens.  Those effects are still being felt today.

It probably didn’t mean as much to you then as it did to your parents.  But then again you may be graduating from a school neither you nor your parents wanted you to attend because of it.

It may have happened before you even entered college but it has defined the world you are graduating into.  Things are getting better but things are different and you will live in that difference unless it changes.

The New Normal affected your college experience.  Few courses and more competition for them. Larger class sizes. Longer graduation times.  I read an article in the New York Times that only half of first time college students graduate in 6 years.

What’s up with that?  I went to the University of Western Ontario which you have never heard of and I got two degrees by staying for 6 years.  That’s how I got to California.

In fall 2012, a record 21.6 million students are expected to attend American colleges and universities, constituting an increase of about 6.2 million since fall 2000. More people for fewer jobs.  I graduated into the kind of past.

The average student college debt will be $27,000. Yea.

The current unemployment rate in the U.S. is 7.7%  Better.

The unemployment rate among people under 25 is 16%. Ouch

The unemployment rate among people under 25 in Spain is 55%. That gets people into the streets. As the Rolling Stones sang in the 60’s the time is right for fighting in the street boys.

That world didn’t impact graduates much in the Old Normal but it is does in the New Normal.  As Marshall McLuhan said when I was going to school “It’s a Global Village”. You may have never heard of him and you may not have been to Spain but you are living his prediction.

You need a new lens to see in the New Normal.  In the Old Normal your parent’s friends were more old people.  In the New Normal they are data bases. Mine them.

The second world is the one that you can control and that is the world you personally create around you. How well resourced are you?  How well LinkedIn are you?  How resilient are you?  How well rounded are you?  What would make you interesting to a company? How wide is your network?

More on that in Lesson Two.  Soon to come.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

You might enjoy these articles.

Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand

The Slash Generation.

Watch this Video on Why Young People Shouldn’t try to Get a Job.

 

I’m Just Trying to Figure It Out

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“I’m just trying to figure it out.”

People often tell me that they are trying to figure it out. After all the books, blogs, free and paid webinars and seminars on how to get to the next place – yet the majority of people don’t have a roadmap on where to go next.

Just the other day, I heard a young person say they were trying to figure it out. They were rooms away from where I sat, but their lament traveled through the air to me. They were looking for a magic way, but life isn’t as organized as Disneyland. Young people are the slash generation that many elders don’t see; also the untrained generation. Institutions don’t invest as much in our youth as they have done in the past. The obligation of mentoring and nurturing youth may have been lost or abandoned.

There was a story on NPR recently, which reported the number one psychological issue in campus health clinics today is anxiety. Young people are anxious that if that they graduate today in the New Normal, they aren’t guaranteed a job, even with a college degree – maybe even with an MBA. They have no clue on how to provide the basics for themselves once they graduate with huge student loans. That’s a big worry that can become a heavy yoke.

I can see that. Many “Millenials” have by now spent a quarter of their lives living in the great recession. Their parents may have been downsized; their homes may have been in foreclosure.  They may have lost trust in the safety net of their parents helping them out financially. Some, in fact, may be helping their parents.

I often have a Starbucks and listen to business owners that want to take it to the next level. They tell me they are trying to figure it out. I have some clarity for them on days that can even be blind for me. Such a paradox – or could it be an irony? A metaphor? Do we teach what we need to know?

I have met too many people over the years that have been launched into the world of transition they didn’t anticipate before. Some come to me with the weight of living in the New Normal, saying they are just trying to figure it out. They weren’t trained on what to do when one is jettisoned into transition. When they worked for somebody, they often did all the figuring it out, but nothing further.

Here are some ways to try to figure it out:

1. Stop worrying, because worry won’t make the road clearer. Instead, it creates a fog. The best worry buster is an intense workout, or whatever else may work for you. Anything that disengages you from your brain for just the right time can bring you back to it focused and ready to take on the task at hand.

2. Figuring it out can be simplified if you surround yourself with other perspectives; you’ll never figure it out if you surround yourself with yourself. The best way to train for a marathon is to talk to someone who has run one before. They will tell you that running tight to the curves will save you a lot of steps over the 26.2 miles or 42Km. The best way to figure it out is by talking to people who have walked the same struggle.

What do I know? I have lived in the New Normal all my life. I’m just trying to figure it out.

 

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You may also enjoy these articles:

Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?

Networking in My Hood.

She’s Not a Great Networker.

Why Every Solopreneur Needs an Intern from the Slash Generation

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This is a post that I recently wrote for MENG.

I am a consultant and have used paid interns for the last ten years.  First my kids, then their friends and recently graduates who are looking for their first real career job but need to get some real world experience.

I don’t like the term intern.  It’s from the Old Normal.  I prefer to call them Assistants.  I wish I could come up with a catchier name.  In the New Normal, Assistants are part of the Slash Generation.  In the Old Normal the availability of intern positions is dead as a doormat.

I have written about this from their perspective in an article called Why Graduates Are Looking for Jobs in All The Wrong Places.  In it I wrote that recent graduates who need experience could cross that goal line by working for Solopreneurs like me.  Many of my interns are now in the corporate world.  One of my Assistants recently got married and his wife works for my first Assistant that I hired ten years ago.

They are all different.  Some have their own podcasts, some love YouTube, some Tweet others don’t.   Some love music and play in bands.  All text and use Facebook. They all PowerPoint better than you.  They are all unique.  They are all valuable.

Since I am a Marketer I have found that I have had the best success with Assistants that came out of the PR, Advertising or Marketing school programs.  They know the basics and they know the jargon.  If you are in Washington I know somebody that speaks four languages.

My assistants help me with tasks. These are the things that we need to do but shouldn’t do as consultants as you can’t bill for your time.  For instance repurposing my thought leadership. They don’t write my blogs but they certainly can think of places to post my content.  I could spend time posting my blogs on my fifty Linkedin groups but why should I?  Should I go to the UPS store to send out packages or should they? I would rather pay somebody $12 an hour and pursue initiatives that could monetize me more.

I often speak on Networking, New Business Development, and Social Media.   Many organizations do not pay for speakers.  Should I use my time to chase non paying gigs or use my Assistants for the initial outreach?  We all have too many things to do with less time.

Most Millenials came out of their womb texting.  They were born into technology.  My current Assistant built her own computer.  Why would I sync my iPad and iPhone when they can do it?  Who knows more about Apps?

I love it when my Assistants come to me and ask have your ever thought of doing it this way?  No I say but let’s start. We all need a little realignment.

In the end it is a win win for everybody.   They need you and you need them.

They improve my productivity and I can go back to what I like doing best.  Being an Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You can also read some other blogs that may be able to help you.

Why Graduates are Looking for Jobs in All the Wrong Places.

Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?

How to Create a Job By Creating a Consulting Career.

Hank Blank’s Story About Laguna Niguel Connectors.

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I am one of the Founders of Laguna Niguel Connectors.  I remember the original touch point as if was today but I could be all wrong.  It was in the summer of 2008.  Somebody introduced me to Randy Miller and we had a Starbucks in my hood called Laguna Niguel.  Population 62,979.  Average household income of $98,000.

We were about a year into the New Normal but nobody recognized it yet on a grand scale.  I had but I live very close to the streets as a consultant who has to create a job each and every day.   The melt down began in 2007 but many people were still embracing the lie that things were OK.

Randy and I innocently and briefly talked about building a local networking group of like minded people.  We had another planning meeting at the same Starbucks with Dipak Shan and Gregory Gaines. Our skin colors, nationalities and backgrounds were all very different but our hearts beat the same way, We talked about some very simple principles.  About paying it forward.  There was no great grand vision because nobody knew the misery that was coming.  Somebody created a Linkedin page in August 2008.  We soon had our first meeting and 23 people came to the same Starbucks.  In September of 2008 the bank too big to fail failed and the world quickly melted.

Almost three million people lost their jobs that year.  That’s the entire population of Orange County.  Some were in in Laguna Niguel.  Their average income was no longer $98,000.  Then the meetings got bigger and bigger.  Very quickly many people started to come to Laguna Niguel Connectors because there weren’t that many places to go for so many people in transition. When over a 100 people were gathering outside that Starbucks the Baristas asked me what’s going on here?  It is a cult I joked or a local Amway meeting.  They laughed and moved on.

Today Laguna Niguel Connectors has over 3400 members.  We have satellite chapters that people organized.  We have volunteers organizing events. Many angels came out over the years.  We have name tags.  We now meet twice a month. I like the meeting at Salt Creek Winery the best.

One of the lessons I have learned is the possibility of serendipity and innocence.  What if Randy or I had decided not to meet at that Starbucks? What is Dipak or Gregory wouldn’t have attended the follow up?  Would there have been a Laguna Niguel Connectors?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  Some group would have been created because the three million people in transition from 2008 and more from the following years needed some place to go.

One lucky serendipity that  made Laguna Niguel Connectors successful was that outside that Starbucks there was a large area for people to meet and congregate.  What also worked was the fire hose of social media and the growth of Linked  aligned with the millions of people losing their jobs in the coming years. Those people quickly learned  about the power of creating their own personal brand on the Internet.

What also worked was the power of the people that came.  The majority didn’t have a job but they had great value and they found a  place to meet and get support and offer their skills. Laguna Niguel Connectors became  place to learn how to navigate the New Normal.  The meetings thankfully are smaller, the attitude of people to pay it forward the same.

That Starbucks is closing soon I have been told. I hope it is a sign of things to come.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You can also read some other blogs that may be able to help you.

Why I Network With People in Transition.

How to Stay Strong When the Search is Long.

How to Create a Job.

The Slash Generation

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I spend a lot of time with Millennials.  I knew many when they were teenagers. Some younger.  I have used smart paid interns for over a decade.  My first intern now works at Oakley.  Another intern that worked for me in the past recently got married.  His new bride works for Oakley as well and reports to my first intern.  Yes pretty crazy.  I have written about some ideas in this area in a post called Why Graduates Are Looking for Jobs in All the Wrong Places.

I recently went to a New Business Conference up in LA sponsored by Think LA.  One of the closing panelists was Mike Sheldon the CEO of Deutsch LA a very large and successful agency.

He shared a comment that resonated with me. Not totally sure about the context but he talked about using the power of account coordinators/slash video people and using their passion to get things done at the agency.  As I remember they used them for research or interviews.  They were hired to do one thing but their passion skills were also being utilized in other ways.  That only happened because they were recognized.  Somebody saw the slash skills.

Now CEO’s of major agencies rarely talk about harnessing the power of entry level people but that has been something I have doing for years.  Maybe I live closer to them.  I bet Mike has children.  I bet he has a daughter.  I could be totally wrong.

I believe that we can do great things by capturing the power of the Slash Generation. It is a win win opportunity.  Many young people have a hard time entering the work force and many employers often try to evaluate young people by old rules and need to change their hiring lens. I am not talking about the advertising industry here.  It has always embraced outliers to a degree.  Few companies today would hire somebody with no college degree that studied calligraphy like Steve Jobs.

I believe that the Slash Generation also needs to bring their slash skills to the forefront more and not neuter them. Conformity shouldn’t be the aspiration of youth.  It is the compromise of later life.  Forget your parent’s resume template.  That is from the Old Normal.  The resume, bio, curriculum vitae of the Old Normal has to become an infographic of you. Can’t do an infographic then make it highly visual. Young people don’t read and old people are tired of reading.  It should outline both your achievements and your passions. Do not suppress you passions.  Photography, building computers, being a DJ can be valuable to the right company.  If companies don’t get it they aren’t right for you.

If companies want to hire their potential future success based on the criteria of the Old Normal they will be left behind. Company growth doesn’t come from rigidity.  It comes from adapting and reinvention. Who better to reinvent you that the future generation?

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

You can watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You can also read some other blogs that may be able to help you.

Graduating Into a Recession

The New Glass Ceiling.

Why Young People Shouldn’t Try to Find a Job.

Networking Tips for Young People Who Hate to Network.

Why MBA Schools Need to Teach a Course On What To Do When You Get Fired.