I’m Just Trying to Figure It Out

Standard

“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

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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

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 Graduates are Looking for Jobs in All the Wrong Places.

Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?

Standard

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.

What Kind of Job Are You Looking For?

Standard

What Kind of Job are you Looking For?

I had coffee the other day in Laguna Beach with a very smart person.  I am grateful that I live close to Laguna.

When I was going to college in Canada I sat on a beach in Laguna and said I want to live here. I wanted a piece of paradise.  It was pretty much out of reach. I had every obstacle in the world to make that happen including my brain and life’s reality.  I have had three meetings at the Starbucks in Laguna this week looking at the beach networking with people. My experience is testimony that dreams are achievable.

My new friend used to work in publishing which is an industry that has changed drastically in the New Normal.  I attended a Business Wire breakfast recently that featured a panel of local press reporters.  They work at places where half the seats are empty. I am sure that the cubes are dusty and the company meetings less exciting.

This has happened to many industries.  I am an Ad Guy.  My former job in the corporate world doesn’t exist anymore so I had to create one for the New Normal. That wasn’t exactly easy.  Lots of businesses have changed. When is the last time you booked a trip through a travel agent or taken a roll of film to be developed?  When is the last time your kids read a newspaper?  Do your kids own a watch?  When is the last time you weren’t multi tasking and just thinking about nothing for an hour?  They are planting farms in intercity Detroit. The world is changing.  The secret is to change before it changes you. To go to the places you want to go before anybody else gets there. That always isn’t easy.

I asked my new friend what kind of job they were looking for and they looked at me and said “I don’t know.” That stopped me for a moment. It sounded like I am looking for a job that doesn’t exist. I have heard that before. There are many people looking for the path of clarity.  I know my new friend will figure it out because of their skills and experience but I thought of the many people that aren’t as gifted as them.

The key to survival in the New Normal is a very broad horizontal and not vertical network.  Like a traffic circle this will give you more opportunities for an exit to a new future.

The train of change will continue to come down the track very quickly in the New Normal.  You just have to make sure you are in the Locomotive instead of the Caboose.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook:

    

Watch: How to Rise Above the Crowd.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkO7efleWX4

What Impact Do You Have on Your Company?

Standard

I recently read or dreamt about how employees will be evaluated in the future. The article basically outlined that employees will not be assessed based on what they functionally do but how they impact their company.

That’s an interesting concept. Making your personal impression within companies has always been vital to career growth but I think the measure of impact of one’s impact has changed in the New Normal.

On occasion, I remember being in late night meetings in boardrooms with much too stale coffee deciding which employees would be terminated because of an account loss or some revenue or expense adjustment. I hated it.

The Finance person would outline how much we had to cut and then we would get a list of most company employees and their salaries. I still remember vividly the questions as we went down the list. Who is (name here?) somebody would ask and somebody would chime in the red head or some other descriptor. I am sure that’s the way it happens in many large companies even today.

Then other people’s names would come up as we went down the list. What were the descriptors that saved them? They are really connected. They are in the know. They know everyone.

In the New Normal when revenue cuts need to be made there are often two great people at a company but often only one chair in the business game of musical chairs. So who gets to sit down when the music stops? The inside person or the outside person? The finder or the grinder? I suggest that it is the outside person or the finder because they offer the promise of new contacts and new revenue.

So how do you become the impact person at your company? The Go to Person? It is pretty simple. The larger your network and the more resources you have the more impact you will have.

In today’s flat organizational environments good ideas can come from anyone if your voice is heard. That is the key to survival today. How do you amplify your voice and your internal presence? How do you create work word of mouth and reputation?

First you need to network internally. In the corporate world we often don’t know each other because of cubes and e-mails. We communicate more but interact less in person. We leave less of a personal impression. The more networked you are internally the louder our voice will be. This means expanding your internal network beyond your work team and your current lunch friends.

Then you have to become the best resourced person at your company. To become the best resourced person, you have to network broadly and with diversity in mind so you are not just networking with clones of yourself and living in a homogenous world. I know some great networkers but they only network in their industry vertical. That is like being 560 on the AM radio in a Spotify world. You need both breadth and depth to your networks.

So what channels is your brand being broadcast on?

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Watch a video called: How to Rise Above the Crowd.

Why Reinvention is a Virtual Necessity.

Standard

I recently wrote a blog called Out of the Game which outlined the importance of staying current and connected on your career path and personal development.

There used to be an expression I would hear quite often.  “They are a dinosaur.”  It was really a description of a person or a company who was not current on emerging trends.  For instance, agencies that were slow to adopt digital solutions versus traditional advertising.

The iPhone is about five years old and more than 75 million have been sold.  Kodak is going into bankruptcy protection.  The Olympics are coming up soon and not too many people will be capturing magic moments using Kodachrome.  A decade ago, Kodak may have been sponsoring the Olympics.

I know a friend who was recently in transition.  They shared with me that the last job they found was in the newspaper ten years ago.  If you told somebody today that you were job hunting in the newspaper they would think that you were pretty much out of touch.

I started blogging two years ago after I heard Tony Heish from Zappos speak at a combined Harvard/USC event in May.  During his presentation he said “Follow Your Dream and the Money Will Come.” That May wasn’t a particularly robust time and I thought to myself that is easy for you to say because you made $100 million on your first deal.

After two years of blogging I have had thousands of people read my blog.  In fact more people read my blog some days than visit my site in a month.

Things change and we need to reinvent and change.  Today your Linkedin profile is more important than your resume.  Your first impression is not created by your Elevator Speech but by your Google presence.

There are two catalysts for reinvention based on my personal experience.  Networking and Youth.

Today’s youth surrounds technology.  You want to be immersed in technology.  Surround yourself with youth.  Ten years ago I started using college students or recent graduates as paid interns to help me with tasks.  They can’t write a blog but they can certainly find places to repurpose it in discussion groups.

I love it when some approach me and ask,” Have you ever thought of doing it this way?”  We generally start doing it that way.

Currently the look of my Word Press blog is being updated by Dalip Jaggi who is 22 year old. He recently developed a couple of mobile apps.  My YouTube videos are shot by SparkHouse in Costa Mesa.  Their CEO, Torrey Tayenaka is 25.  I make a call on my iPhone with a local 949 number.  One of my creative partners Dante Fiorini answers it.  He is in Argentina.

How did I meet Dalip and Torrey?  By networking.  Your network is your engine of reinvention.  The more diverse it is, the more opportunities for growth it can provide.  A constant pattern of networking regenerates you and puts you on new roads of discovery.

The dinosaurs that emerged from the Ice Age weren’t the ones that were the biggest or the strongest.  They were the ones that were the quickest to adapt.  Nothing’s changed.

 

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Watch: How to Rise Above the Crowd.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkO7efleWX4