Thursday, October 04, 2012

Will The Debate Matter

Anyone who watched or followed the debate last night has figured out by now that it was a bit of a one sided victory for Governor Romney.  The President looked bored, frustrated and had body language that suggested he would rather be anywhere else in the world other than the University of Denver.  The pundits pinned Obama's rough performance on many different things (including the ridiculous suggestion from Al Gore that that altitude affected the President) but in the end it is fair to say the President was not as well prepared or ready to compete as the Governor.

All of that is great for Romney but it remains to be seen if the voters in the only states that matter now (OH, FL, NV, NC, VA, WI, IA and CO) will be swayed to go for the Republicans.  It is too early to tell if Romney's "bump" will last and if it tilts the race his way. Right now the President is still in the drivers seat and will be tough knock off.  However the President blew it last night.  Had he been the strong performer it is possible he could have put Romney on the canvas for good and taken away any momentum.  The Governor now has some wind at his back and has a real chance to pull this out.  If he does the Obama campaign will rue the day they allowed their guy to mail it in the way he did.

Don't Pick The Bad Thing

This AM I met with the Mayor of Edina to discuss getting involved.  I did this as part of my overall grand plan in case my bid for City Council falls short.  I really want to be involved in the future of the city so it's important to have a plan and our conversation was quite enjoyable.  I really was energized by how I believe I can help. I am putting my all into the election but this is a long term play for me. All in all I am excited by this next phase of my life. It will not be my career (and I do not want it to be) but will be a fun and interesting adventure.

The balance of the day I was able to meet with a potential new co-worker and an old friend from graduate school.  The potential co-worker was a great gal and I would enjoy working with her.  I was impressed with her knowledge and she seems to be a lot of fun.

The old friend from grad school is doing well and it was great to catch up with him. We ended up discussing what it's like to be guys like us at this point in our careers and he too is thinking about what his next move might be. He is doing fine in his gig but starting to wonder what could be next.  I was glad we connected again.  It was a great discussion.

Then at 630 I received a call from a recruiter who was attempting to place me for a gig.  I had interviewed over 5 weeks ago and along the way they were telling me that I was "on a short list" of people and they were "impressed by me." I felt confident it would break my way but as the days turned to weeks my belief waned. Tonight they told me that they chose another candidate.

Rejection is a part of this process and the reality is your best shot at getting the right job is by putting yourself out there and taking chances.  When you do that you will get rejections and some of them will not be easy to take.  I have found it is harder hearing how great a candidate you are and how liked you are and then they still do not hire you.  It is far easier to hear you are just not the right fit.

A learning from the latest one is something we can all consider.  Do not keep people hanging.  Yes these processes take time but the candidates are people not robots and the time spent waiting and not knowing can be difficult to manage.  I certainly have no hard feelings as I got my shot and was treated well.  I hope the person they hired succeeds.

So, of course, I find myself dwelling on this moment and letting it affect my otherwise positive day.  Easy to see how that can happen but that does not mean it is the right way to go.  You have to put these things in proper perspective.  It is really hard to do but if you are going to make it through this kind of thing it is on you to make that happen.

So I roll on.  I have 2 second round interviews coming up in the next two weeks and am excited about both of them.  Hopefully I can land one of them as they would both be fun and I would learn a lot.  If I strike out I will soldier on.  I always do.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Life On The Outside - What I Have Learned From The Job Search

Back in April the company that employed me for over 11 years let me go (along with 399 others).  It was not at all a surprise as the organization was struggling through some tough times and I was part of a team that in the end it was decided was doing work that was know longer critical.

I felt very fortunate as I was ready to leave and pursue new challenges and essentially push myself out of the nest I had been living in for over a decade.  The company gave me a long severance, I was able to secure positions for my teammates and I got exit gracefully.  I felt very lucky to go out the way I did as most people do not get such an opportunity.  The organization was beyond good to me and I will always have loyalty to them. They did not owe me anything but gave me a very generous landing.

I was officially done May 5th and prior to that I had 4 interviews and 2 offers.  I ended up turning both down because I was not convinced either was worth moving for especially so early in the process.   I really did not know what to expect but had hoped I would be in a permanent position by Fall.

I spent the Summer taking guitar lessons, learning to cook/bake, running half marathons and spending more time with my kids (they are 2 and 7).  I added a lot more value around the house, threw my hat in the ring for City Council and overall enjoyed the time. I did do some interviewing but my beginning spurt of opportunities dried up pretty fast and I went through a string of no interviews. But I was not worried because I had focused on two areas and was working the network to make those happen. Consulting and business development were where I wanted to be so I worked my angles to get that going.

In the late Summer I had a few more opportunities break my way and now as I write this I have an interview for a business development gig tomorrow and with a consulting organization on the 12th.  I have also been able to secure some consulting work directly to stay busy.  So with 9 months left on my exit package I would have to say I am very lucky to be where I am sitting now.

So now feels like a good time to draw my experience and see what I have learned throughout the process. I boiled it down to 5 points (there might be more, I don't know but this feels right) and wanted to scribe down why they are important to remember.

1. Kindness: I am fortunate to have a large circle of people who have shown more than a passing interest in my situation.  I was and am overwhelmed by the continued offering of support from both close friends and distant acquaintances.  It continues to amaze me the lengths folks will go to lend a hand.

2. Perspective: I have told several people I feel like a ghost.  Someone who used to be part of the working world but who now looks on from the outside.  That, of course, is nonsensical.  It is an example of how easy you can lose yourself in think way too myopically.  The reality is I am healthy, with a lovely healthy family and an amazing support network.  I was fortunate to have a great education.  Most folks do not have these things.  Keeping perspective is key and perhaps the hardest thing to do. The idle time makes it easy to let yourself get swallowed up by the unknown but it is so counter-productive.

3. Make Yourself More Uncomfortable: I am 39 with, hopefully, a lot of career left in me.  Now is not the time to play defense but to take more risks.  That is easier said than done but I would argue is truly where you can find yourself and how you can unlock your true potential.  In this process I have faced a lot of rejection and it has not been easy.  I have avoided the easy route and that has also not been easy.  But it has been worth it and I have changed a lot in a short period of time.  Pushing myself to be more uncomfortable has been a gift.

4. Remember The Good and Especially The Humbling Moments: The process itself calls on you to truly become much more humble.  I have lost out on opportunities I wanted for very trivial reasons.  Some folks do not call back or answer you at all.  You are constantly on the offensive and hustling and that is really hard.  But it does give you perspective (learning 2) and it does make you more resilient.  Plus you do have moments that are not out of the Bataan Death March.  You find new friends, mentors and unlikely allies.

5. Enjoy It: When I got out of graduate school in 2000 I was broke, single and jobless.  Yet I was thinking of going on a trip because when was I going to have the time again.  What sealed it was my dad telling me "you're already poor and a trip is not going to make you much poorer.  Plus you're never going to get the time back."  I ended up going and the 3 weeks was a life memory I will never forget.  I'm older now with more responsibilities but I have more now than I did then (support, money, etc).  Even though I have the  pressure of providing for my family enjoying this time is key.  I have had so many positive memories that will not fade and at some point life will lead me back to my career and the days of getting my daughter off the bus or taking my little man for AM walks will be over.  I will miss it terribly so I need to enjoy it now.

We will see if I am back writing in another three months what else I have learned or if I will be working by then.  I hope it is the latter and if so I really hope that I am smart enough to remember my learnings and am going out of my way to help those who find themselves seeking employment.  I am betting on myself that I will do the right thing.

Thanks for reading...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Would Steve Have Done?

About a week or so ago Apple decided that they would withdraw from EPEAT's green certification program. The theory was Apple's own standards for environmental standards was, to quote the Krusty the Klown seal of approval, "our program is not just good, it's good enough." Enviro-Peeps did not take the news kindly and the city of San Francisco swiftly tossed Apple out of their purchasing program as apparently EPEAT certification is a must have for participation. Apple was besieged by so much negative hype the company made a rare backtrack and is coming back into the good grace of EPEAT. Never mind the fact some Apple products are engineered in such a way that they cannot follow EPEAT standards or that Apple itself has a standards program for recycling. Apple is now falling prey to the pressure of non-business related special interests who feel the standard they set is more important then innovation the manufacturer creates. This story would be different if Apple neither cared nor supported environmentally responsible handling of their products after use. They do. All this does is create a situation where a business acting responsibly no longer can solve their own issues but instead has to coddle a third party that makes a living setting standards to give themselves purpose. No way Steve Jobs makes this move and it seems ridiculous that Tim Cook is. Apple does not need EPEAT and if San Francisco does not want to buy their gear because they are not part of a third party group that creates no value than that's SF's problem. Stick to your principles and be proud of your solution.

Apple Gives In To Green Pressure

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Forgotten Special Interest Groups

For years now the talk of special interest groups drew ire and bile from the public at large. It started with Big Tobacco and has moved onto Big Oil, Big Pharma and will likely lead toward Big Food (McDonalds) and Big Retail (Wal-Mart). In a nutshell we have sequestered these groups into scary categories so we can have a public enemy. Someone or something to blame for whatever ails us.

Big Oil is the one talked about because of last year's spiking gas prices and record profits. Pols lined up on both sides of the aisle and talked of "windfall" profit taxes and demanded congressional inquiries on price gauging. Not shockingly no one was showed outrage 10 years ago when oil was $10 a barrel and the industry was in a tailspin.

So we're in the business of naming scary categories and in order to roll with the cool club let's please show we are objective and add Big Labor the lexicon. When they are not busy blaming everyone but themselves for out of control cost structures in the auto industry they are black balling the President to close successful charter school's in Washington DC.

For whatever reason we romanticize the teacher's and labor union. We see them portrayed as the "little guy" fighting to educate and keep America producing. While that may have been true at one point, today it is simply not. Today's labor is nothing more than a legion of hacks more interested in protecting the weak performers in their rank and dragging down standards to non-competitive levels. The next step in this continual downward slide will be when "card check" comes online in the next two years. This is Big Labor's big move. Card check will eliminate secret ballots and require only someone to check a box in order to join a union. While labor claims it will make it easier to organize (duh) what they neglect to state is that it will proliferate corruption and intimidation. There continuing exploits only make America less of a great place.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Barney Frank...DC's Most Dangerous Man

It's easy to take potshots at the AIG situation. Giving bonuses to executives(especially retention bonus's - why retain people who've led you into this mess, but I digress) from the once proud American titan seems ridiculous. However, it's has led to high degree of nauseating public statements from both the right and the left who are shocked, shocked by this display of greed.

Of course, left out in this debate is the fact the government knew about the bonus program when they took the company over. They had to and if they didn't it is still more proof they have no business running a business period. The reality is that the bonus program amounts to a tenth of a percent of the overall haul we have given Hank Greenberg's former company. In the scheme of it all it's a sum that is not even worth debating.

What is worth debating is the unsteady hand of Barney Frank. The man who force fed horrible lending programs under good names (E.G., Fairness in Lending Act and Community Reinvestment Act) and used tactical race baiting and the lap dog Washington press to get his way has led us into a major part of the problems we are facing today.

Barney wanted more expansion of home owners (even those that were clearly not qualified) and did it by forcing banks to lend to people who didn't even have to prove their income and deftly quieting their lobby by making Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the official garbage collector of these bad loans. They then sliced up the loans and exported the garbage into the marketplace at large.

There's plenty of blame to go around with the mess that is going on and there is not one person that deserves to take the fall. However, I personally am tired of listening to Barney scream into the microphone about greedy corporations ruining America when he in fact has a hand in this as much as any slimy ivy league Wall Streeter. Without his Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac crusade things would have been markedly different. He needs to shoulder responsibility for his ham handed leadership since the Lexus Liberals of Boston don't have the werewithal to do it at the polls.

Barney, I'm tired of your socialist leadership and willingness to ignore your role in our current crisis. You're the most dangerous man in government right now and you need to be stopped. America, wake up to the fraud of this man.