It’s Graduation Time. Lesson One.


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:

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


“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.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch:  Networking Tips for Young People.

Read 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


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.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch:  Networking Tips for Young People.

Read: Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?

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

Hank Blank’s Story About Laguna Niguel Connectors.


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

Follow his updates on twitter @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


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. Continue reading

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


I had a great time recently speaking to the students at CBU Graphic Design class on How to Rise Above the Crowd.  My presentation was about how to transition learning into a career. My expertise comes from my experience as a person who has to create a job each and every day as a solopreneur in the New Normal.

Young people can certainly get a lot of advice these days on how to get a job.  Most from people who live in the Old Normal and don’t walk the physical or digital sidewalks of the New Normal.

You can listen to politicians who largely live an entitled life and whose hearts don’t beat in the New Normal.

Your college professors will give you advice as well but if they have never worked in the business world and strictly have an academic background their advice will be largely theoretical. Like a nun advising you about birth control. I love you Sister Mary Agnes.

Your parents will give you lots of advice but there is a good chance that if they have been employed for more than ten years with the same company that they found their last job in a newspaper  and not from a recruiter calling them because of their Linkedin profile.

You can get advice from your peer group but that will largely be peer wisdom.  Better for a bar.

First, young people need to understand that your focus shouldn’t be about getting a job; it should be about creating your long term personal brand strategy in the working world of today.  You see in the New Normal you will have at least 12 jobs at different companies but your brand will be yours forever.  Twenty years from now there may be no employees only contract worker bees. You need to focus on developing a long term career strategy versus just a job at just a company.

You need to be a brand within a brand.  Even if you work at Apple you need to have your own personal brand and your own unique identity and it needs to be coherent.  Consistency is key in branding.  Your brand says everything about you.  Your brand includes the way you dress to your personal branding material to your on line social media strategy.  Your social media thought leadership should amplify your brand.

Here are the mandatories for young people today and into the near future.  You must have your own personal website.  You must have your own personal business cards and carry them at all time in addition to the business card of your employer.  You must rock on Linkedin because it is the social media channel of business.  You must own the first page of Google.  All ten postings with a presence that is consistent with your personal brand.  All of the digital platforms that you use must be based on your name and not an alias.  Do not tweet about tacos.  Tweet about show how smart you are.  Most important, develop a powerful personal network that others don’t have that reflects your brand and the resources you uniquely offer.

You can connect with Hank on Linkedin

Follow his updates on twitter @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 Graduates are Looking for Jobs in All the Wrong Places.

Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?


I read an interesting article by Jan Norman in the OC Register today on Solopreneurs. Yes, I get the OC Register and the LA Times delivered. I read the article after I scanned the New York Times and the Globe and Mail on my iPad.

Now I have written about How to Create a Job by starting a Consulting Career in the past, but there were a number of items in Jan Norman’s article that resonated with me. I was not really familiar with the term solopreneur. Guess I should read more. There are almost 17 million Solopreneurs in the country. That’s half the population of Canada. The army of Americans working independently grew by nearly one million in 2011.  That is not surprising when the unemployment rate in California is 10.7%.

The solopreneurs straddle every age group and live everywhere. That seems to make sense.

Many Solopreneurs trekked out on their own because they got fed up with the bad bosses, the archaic workplace rules, the dysfunctional workplaces, and the false promises. I know a number of people that are stuck in the wheels of Metropolis. They work very long hours in a demanding workplace where the attitude can be if you don’t like it there is somebody in line to take your place. The New Modern Times. Some employers are stepping on toes in the New Employer Employee Dance. Being a solopreneur allows you to break the company yoke.

The burdens are high for a solopreneurs. They work very long hours, and over half of them worry about the lack of predictable income, the ability to retire and the absence of security. Many of these concerns sound pretty much like the same worries of the working class. I have always said that having to create a job for yourself every day is like being perpetually unemployed. It also makes you extremely grateful and close to the pulse of life. You notice different things. The people with signs at every shopping strip exit asking for work and food. The weary in people’s faces when the search has been too long. When somebody tells you to have a good weekend on a Friday it doesn’t feel the same as when you are employed because you will probably work on the weekend. The calendar moves differently for you.

What caught me in the end was that the majority of solopreneurs are happy. Over 70% were highly satisfied with their independent work style. I don’t think that employers at most companies would get those marks on their company’s employee satisfaction surveys.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch: How to Create a Job.