What Do You Do?

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What do you do? Good question. I was at the PRSA Western District Conference in LA recently.

Very few Advertising folks go to PR events. That is why I go.

There was an evening networking event and somebody asked me what I did? It stopped me for a while.

I don’t know why. I know what I do. Sort of anyway.

I always have my business cards in my back pockets. Both of them.

A lot of people would say I am a networker.

I always hand out my cards showing the back first. It says BLANK in large letters. Most people like that.

Always gets the conversation started. The smiles and the chuckles. That’s why it’s there. I’ve never changed the back. I have changed my job descriptions on the front over the decade I have been in business. Continue reading

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News From the New Normal: #2

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In case you missed it the New Normal was created by a unique convergence. Like many changes do. The first iPhone was launched on June 29th, 2007, Lehman Brothers collapsed on September 15th, 2008 as social media platforms became mainstream. The big bang happened and the world changed forever.

I got a LinkedIn invite from somebody I didn’t know the other day. I get a fair number of those and like connecting. She had worked for a large company in OC. You have all heard of them. Publically traded. She had a great title and experience so I readily accepted.

I followed up with a note saying how did we connect? Was it a blog or did I reach out? I try to follow up on LinkedIn invites.  What do you do?

She said that she was part of a large lay-off at her company. Continue reading

Networking with Uber.

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I love Uber. I first used it in Chicago on Memorial Day Weekend this year.

I used to work at JWT Chicago in the Hancock Building. I felt the power of working in a 100 story building in my early 30’s. The lights of the city were always on.

When we hosted client lunches on the 95th floor I felt that I could see my hometown Toronto.

The office was founded in 1891 I was told. Twenty years after the Chicago Fire.

Unfortunately JWT Chicago closed a few years ago in the New Normal. Continue reading

Networking In Buenos Aires.

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I just came back from my 6th visit to Buenos Aires.  I first went to Argentina in 2005.  The country had had a recent financial haircut in 2001 when everybody woke us and found out that their personal worth had been cut dramatically.  The country offered great value and talent.

My interactive partner Dante Fiorini is in Argentina. I met him in person on our first trip.  I call him most days on a local OC area code and stay connected.   It’s the New Normal.

I was in Buenos Aires again in early September of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed and almost everyone in the U.S. got their haircut.  In fact many of us continue to have buzz cuts as the recovery has not favored all proportionately. It was kind of strange to be so far away and watch the world melt in another language.

Networking is a little bit different in Argentina.  I first find the people very gregarious.  It is tough not to think that when you meet a person for the first time and they give you a kiss on the check. People talk to each other in Argentina.  We took a shuttle from Dante’s place in Mar del Plata (surfing capital)  to Buenos Aires.  People were dropped off at various places in the cities.  As they walked to the door they said “Ciao” to everybody on the bus they passed.  They just wanted to acknowledge that we shared the experience of a bus ride and had successfully arrived.  We said Ciao to everyone we passed as we left as well.

We had coffee one morning at Josephina’s Café.  It is a very nice place near DDB.  I visited with the Managing Director during my last trip.  An obvious regular came in.  She kissed all three waiters on the check and then sat down.  Try that at your favorite Starbucks.  It seems a little bit more sincere that the obviously scripted “How’s your day going so far?”

I didn’t see too many smartphones in Buenos Aires.  Mostly because they cost a lot.  This has some advantages.  People talk to each other and are not slaves to their screens.  Even those people who have Smart phones do not seem obsessed at checking them constantly as if their phones were their umbilical cords.  Phones are still just something that ring from time to time while you talk to people, read a paper, a book or maybe just stare off into thin air and do nothing.

Maybe I am wrong but I think the people in other countries understand that your phone doesn’t tell you if your heart is beating. Your life does.

When we were leaving at the airport there was a family of four sitting together at the same table. They were obviously Americans and all had sat there staring at their iPhone screens.  Alone together naturally.

I am planning my next trip.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

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

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Connect with me on Facebook and see some photos of Buenos Aires.

Watch a Video on How to Create A Job.

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The Kryptonite of Consulting.

Who’s Hiring?

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I was listening to a story on NPR the other day about whether the stock market recovery had led to an increase in hiring. And the bottom line answer was a quick and emphatic no. I read another article that said if job growth continues at 2012 levels it will be another ten years before the country recovers to full employment. I am not sure that I believe that full employment will ever happen again.

I read a lot of different points of view about the current prospects for graduates.  The New York Times recently wrote that unemployment among college graduates was only 3.1% and that they were faring well.  Then I read another article that said that there were over 5.5 million young people out of work and that the high rate of unemployment was a national crisis. I know youth employment is a powder keg globally.

I do not really worry about college graduates that much as I believe that most youth will figure it out. That is based on my observations of what has happened to the sea of young people around me over the years.  I do worry about young people who have already marginalized themselves at a young age.  The unemployment rate among young people with only a high school degree is 19.7%.  Many will be bound to jobs of labor where they will never be able to sit down at work.

The problem is more acute among people 50 plus. Now some of these people have marginalized themselves by not building bridges to the New Normal.  We all have to evolve or we will be left behind.  Ask Kodak.  Many of them are pretty much invisible to companies and hiring managers.  Overlooked and abandoned.  The irony is that their situation was created by companies that let them go.

Many companies have been doing very well recently.  They stockpile money.  Their shareholders get paid and profit.  But companies rarely look into the firing mirror. If they did many would be invisible.  They do want us to like them on Facebook though.

Another irony of companies is that most are just composed of simple people that aren’t part of any grand scheme. Some work and some get fired and then a great gulf separates them.  The working and the unworking.  Two different worlds. Two different places to go on Monday morning. The new great divide.

So what do you do if you feel left behind? Well the first thing that you do is that you don’t do the things that you did in the past. I recently reached out to a transition group sponsored by a church group to see if they needed any speakers. I have spoken countless time to numerous transition groups. From Catholics to Mormons and almost to Muslims. Those in transition follow many beliefs including none. The Great Recession cut its swath across all faiths. An equal opportunity unemployer.

The person who I connected with told me that the attendees at their events preferred people from the employment industry. I lit a candle for them that night. Entering the New Normal by using the rear view mirror of the past doesn’t work anymore.

I like to look to youth for some answers. Some of them have shunned the corporate path for the entrepreneurial track. The follow their vision which has only the road map of their passion. No experience. Limited business skills. Limited money but unlimited reserves of dreams. I surround myself with them.

I reflect many days that I would have been left behind with many others in the Old Normal if I didn’t create my own future a decade ago when I started Blank and Associates. A couple of bumps in the road caused things to change. The first thing I did was not chase the Old Normal and stopped looking for jobs that no longer exist.

I don’t know all the answers but I know one thing. It is not the ways of the past.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Read: Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand

How Not To Get Left Behind in the Old Normal.

Watch: She is Not a Great Networker.

Life in the New Normal is Just Like Playing Hopscotch.

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This is a recent blog that I wrote for Marketing Executives Network Group or MENG.

Remember playing hopscotch? It was easy to play.  All you needed was some chalk. Maybe you stole it from school.

Life in the New Normal is very much the same game.

Just like hopscotch it all depends when tile you land on.

Just like in hopscotch in the New Normal many people have one foot tied behind their backs. A balancing act of intention and resolve but precariousness.

Some companies are hiring and some companies are still firing.

It all depends on what tile you step on.

Stepping on the getting hired tile can be very difficult especially if you are over 50.  Some are younger than Baby Boomers yet many people think they are out of the game.  I am glad that I stopped looking for work in the Old Normal way a decade ago.  I learned new games.

I always thought that getting through the eye of the needle was a tough parable.

Getting hired if you are a long term person in transition is even harder.

The irony is that the companies that fire people hire people slowly but they want you to like them on Facebook instantly. Please like me they say.  Here is a contest.  Here is a game you can play to win a gift certificate. Here is how you connect with us.

Many companies are sitting on piles of cash because you buy their products.

Companies don’t look too often into the firing mirror.  Some wouldn’t see a reflection.

In the New Normal I hear from people that are killer on social media.  They teach on how to harness its power.

However they send out emails saying they need work.  They aren’t landing on the right tiles.

In the depth of the melting of the world in the fall of 2008 as the financial markets crumbled I would be travelling to speak on Networking Your Way to New Business.  I could have been in Des Moines, Duluth, or Oklahoma City.  The world melted on the coasts first and not in those parts of the world. Business was tough. I came home and told my personal witch I felt like a fraud. “We teach what we need to know,” she said.  That is why she is my personal witch. I have lent her from time to time to other people who need a little brain alignment.

I spoke recently at a local college about how on why people shouldn’t find a job.  I had a follow up coffee in my hood with a young chap who was born on the other side of the globe.  My sister was born in Beirut.  He had some friends in Dubai and was heading there. He was younger than my kids.  He asked me to connect him with somebody in my LinkedIn network from that part of the world.  I never met her but she reads my blogs from time to time.  She connected him with another contact  in her LinkedIn  game and he got a job with a Multinational Agency in her part of the world.   He is probably 23.That is how Hopscotch is played today in the New Normal. Some people have one hand tied behind their backs and some people are free and growing.

It’s your turn to hop in the New Normal.

You can connect with Hank Blank 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

Why Reinvention is a Virtual Necessity

Watch Surviving the Great Recession.

Are You Connected or Disconnected in the New Normal?

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We have all read the stats.  A billion people on Facebook, hundreds of millions on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Billions of blogs including this one.

I was reading an article in the New York Times this morning on my iPad while lying in bed. I had to make sure I wasn’t missing any e-mails at 6.30 AM. The article was about the anxiety of the unanswered e-mail.  Yes we have all had it happen to us.  We send out an e-mail and there is no response.  We wait a few days and then try again.  Nobody home.  We agonize if we should send a third e-mail to a post box called rejection when they clearly aren’t listening to us.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with somebody yesterday who was lamenting how personal interaction protocols have been breaking down.  I have heard the words many times before.  It’s rude they say.  It’s just not right. It’s unprofessional.  All of the above.

Now in today’s New Normal when I listen to somebody who is expecting to hear back because they sent their resume to a company I just shrug my shoulders.  My expectations are very low but when you looking for work you want the elevation of the courtesy of a response.  A little career reassurance. Maybe an e-mail saying you aren’t right for this position but you sure have done a lot of nice things in your career.  Sixty seconds that can lift a weary soul, create a company ambassador and put a smile on a human face.  But then again I have low expectations today.

People sometimes reach out to me by phone.  I am pretty easy to find on Google. They call me on my cell. They can be from other cities, other countries even. My Canada. They committed time to finding me.  I make a reciprocal effort to contact them, maybe spend some time researching them before I call but not too long because I have to get right back to them.  We chat and I follow up with some thoughts, maybe some free ideas, maybe something more.  And then I wait.  I wait and then I call.  I e-mail and then I wait and then I stop. I have changed my expectations. Chasing rejection is futile.

I have been listening about a lot of recent books about the impact of the internet on our lives. There are Ted Talks on being Connected but Alone.   Many people have a hard time getting to the gym but we have no problem accelerating our response time to any electronic stimulus to instantaneous in an over busy world.  We could probably solve a few problems if we all put a similar commitment to a few of the world’s problems.

Yes protocols, politeness, and even plain manners have to a degree disappeared in the New Normal.  Maybe we all have to remember the echoes of our mother’s voices that we did when we were growing up.  That benchmark of never disappointing was seldom breached. It embedded a pattern of behavior in the future but there are no mother’s voices echoing in e-mails.

There is your reputation. That tends to endure.  Maybe even more so in the online world of today.

So at the end of the day how well connected are we in the New Normal?  As connected as you want to be if you put down the phone and walk away from the computer and talk to somebody in your Starbucks line. It might lift your expectations when they write your name on the cup.

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.

Why I Network with People In Transition.

What Kind of Client Are You?

Watch Why Young People Shouldn’t Try To Find A Job.