Book Review: One Hour Business Plan

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Can you truly expect to complete a business plan for a real business in one hour?  It’s not very likely.  The author of One Hour Business Plan, John McAdam, admits that his book could easily have been called, “One Hour Business Plan Foundation.”

Whatever the title, I found it a terrific entrée into starting a business.  The author challenges the reader to ponder answers to some very relevant questions.  So, before you begin spending a great deal of time and money, why not give some thought about whether your business idea will meet an unfilled need, is it something the competition is already doing and doing well, just who is your target customer and  last but not least, how much money will you make.

It could be an hour well-spent.

Job Search Tips for the 50+ Crowd

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I recently viewed a webinar called, “5 Simple Tips to Beat Age Discrimina​tion in Your Job Search” which was publicized in a LinkedIn group called, Jobs, Career Coaches and HR ” Interns Over 40.  With the exception of the heavy-duty sales pitch at its conclusion, the speaker, Carl Chapman offered some powerful job search tips for the older job seeker.

As most job seekers ought to know by now, a resume should be viewed as a marketing piece.  Job skills, tasks, and responsibilities should be expressed in terms of accomplishments.  In that we mean, dollars and cents.  Simply saying that you “were responsible for” preparing monthly financials or the annual budget is no longer deemed effective.

Imagine being a hiring manager.  You want to know why he/she should hire you.  If you said that as the finance manager you saved the company $1,000,000 or as a sales manager you increased sales 20%, wouldn’t those statements be more impactful than stating “you were responsible for…”

At a job interview, appear enthusiastic and energetic – have a “spring” to you step, said Chapman.  If you exercise on a regular basis, it’s bound to show.  if the interviewer asks what you did over the weekend, please don’t sound like a couch potato.  Avoid saying you were knitting, crocheting, or watching sports.  You don’t want to appear sedentary.  In other words, you should project a youthful image.

When interviewed, be sure to convey what you can do for the company.  Discuss what you bring to the table. Chapman suggested sharing what you plan on accomplishing over 30,60 or 90 days if hired.  It’s an interesting strategy that could be a bit too bold, I’m afraid.  However, a toned down version could prove to be effective.

Give the interviewer the impression you’re open to change. If you know you will be working for someone younger, let them know you’re coachable and are open to constructive criticism.  If necessary, work with a career coach or engage in role playing exercises with someone younger than you are.

Ask questions about the company and the industry.  Seek out the interviewer’s opinion.  A little bit of flattery might not hurt.

To counter the assumption that older workers are not tech-savvy, be sure to maintain an active presence online.   So, join groups and submit postings in groups or post updates in LinkedIn.  Lastly, take the time to keep current.

A Toast to Starbucks!

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Here is a testimony that sheer grit and determination can help you land the job you want.  Recently,  I was working with a job seeker who was over 50 with a multi-year gap in employment.  She had taken time off to serve as the primary caregiver for a an elderly parent followed by a paid stint as  a caregiver position through a home care agency.

At the time we met, she decided now was the time to conduct a job search in earnest.  With a fresh eye, I helped her tweak her resume to emphasize her strengths and weed out what was no longer relevant. We were talking about companies that might be interested in her skills and abilities when one day, she said, “How about Starbucks? I replied, Gee, it sounds like fun and so did she!

So, Ann (different name for privacy) applied for a position at Starbucks and lo and behold in no time, she had an interview lined up. Admittedly, I was a bit dubious about where this process was going to go. “This was not really happening – an older woman getting an interview at Starbucks? She’s got to be kidding!” She asked me for some advice about what to wear and what to say at that momentous occasion. I made my suggestions fearing that her fate could be in my hands if my opinion was apt to be all wrong. But, within a week, she landed the job!

Thank you Starbucks! You turned one person’s life around! They have a bargain as well – a hard worker and a conscientious one!

A Better Way to Work a Job Search

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Recently, I was scanning some posts in some LinkedIn groups written by job seekers who were soliciting their availability or skills with the hope that someone might come forward with the perfect career opportunity.  Hypothetically, the posts could have been as follows:

  • “I am relocating to San Francisco and I’m looking for a marketing position…. Does anyone know about any such jobs.”  or
  •  “Please have a look at my resume or profile to see if you know a company who could use my skills and expertise.”

To me, it’s wishful thinking if you think this approach is going to work.  Don’t expect much to materialize when you wait for the jobs to come to you.

At some point, whether you’re applying for jobs that are listed on job boards,  being filled by recruiters, or beating the pavement on your own, you need to show that you can provide a valued service. See what Thomas Friedman, the respected journalist for the New York Times writes in his piece called, “How to Get a Job”.  The importance of providing adding value, cannot be said enough.

Ask the right questions

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Are you a master at addressing new people you meet, engaging them by asking the right questions? Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, in their book, Power Questions emphasize that focused questions will help you build relationships and win more business.

It makes sense. Most people are flattered when you express an interest in them. When you ask open-ended questions of a new acquaintance or  of a new client, you set the stage where you can actively listen letting the person opposite you  do the talking. Listening is a powerful tool when you take the effort to absorb and synthesize what you are hearing.

Here are several useful tips from Power Questions they the authors refer to as the Socratic Approach:

Instead of “telling”, ask.
Instead of “being the expert”, encourage others to share their expertise.
Instead of “controlling knowledge”. Obtain the experiences of others.

Now for the one I like the best:
Instead of “showing people how smart you are”, “show others how smart they are.”

So, the next time, you are meeting someone new, see what you can learn about your new acquaintance by asking the right questions.

Just Say “No” to Job Boards: Say “Yes” to Social Networking

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A few weeks ago, while I was hanging out at an airport en route to Nicaragua for a cycling vacation, I happened to notice an interesting article about the importance of of networking when looking for a job (Unfortunately, I don’t recall the source).

Did you know that applying for jobs on Monster, CareerBuilder and the like could actually hurt your chances of landing a job?  Apparently, some corporate recruiters regard those job seekers who rely on online applicants as losers.  Yes, losers.

So, what does that mean? You have to rely on Linkedin, Twitter, etc. even more.  Go ahead and connect with people at companies where you would like to work.  Find out if you can have a few minutes of their time to find out key information and share what you have to offer.

Be sure to join groups to broaden your network to increase your odds of having Linkedin connections within your reach (2nd level).

Lastly, be visible online. Read the article How to Say ‘Look at Me!’ to an Online Recruiter which appeared in The New York Times by Phyllis Korkki.  Recruiters and employers are looking for candidates who are technologically “with-it.”

Dare to Try Something New or Different

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It’s a new year and it’s the time to apply the word (new) to whatever you are doing – whether you are looking for a job or running a small business.  If the old routines are getting you nowhere, get out and do something bold and daring! 

For job seekers, start making some bold moves, if you’re not doing it all ready. It’s time to take a different approach. Knock on doors, go to networking events, make some phone calls.  Why not find out what worked for others. Meet with recruiters, employment agencies, job coaches.  Ask them to review your resume.  Find out what they think about your job search strategy.  Check out a book for job hunters from the library.  Then, go ahead and apply a new strategy.

The clock is ticking.  No procrastinating allowed.

Convey Your Message in Three Minutes: the Successful Elevator Speech

In our daily lives, we all have to communicate to influence the actions of others.  Sales people in particular know this fact of life very well.  They have to gain someone’s attention and they may only have a few minutes to get beyond the introduction.  Similar, a job seeker maybe out and about trying to convince prospective employers that their skills and experience are worth paying for.  A three minute introduction might be the launching point of a expanded discussion down the road.

A while back, as a business librarian, I began attending networking events at various chambers of commerce.  At a monthly gathering I used to attend, we would stand around in a circle and each person would have an opportunity to give a 1 minute elevator (it was all we had time for).   Over time, I began to observe which speeches sounded the most effective. Clearly, many of the introductions went as follows, Hi, my name is Mary, I run a full-service insurance agency, please call me if you are interested in purchasing insurance”.  Once you heard enough of those, you tended to tune them out.

However, there were others that were creative, they were novel and had lots of pizazz.  The best ones were so memorable probably because they made us all laugh.

So, where I am leading with all this?  I recently picked up a book called, Small Message, Big Impact: the elevator speech effect by Terri L. Sjodin.

The importance of having a well-planned short and concise speech is not all you will learn. It provides great tips and tricks to help you get the foot in the door or pique someone’s interest to want to learn more about you.

Social Media for Small Business Made Easy!

 A review of Face2Face:Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections by David Lee King

Many people are quite comfortable using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube in their personal lives but are clueless about where to begin as business owners or professionals. David King provides a very clear and concise approach to encourage business owners and professionals to establish dialogs and relationships in the online world. It’s a terrific resource. Topeka and Shawnee Public Library (where the author is employed as their Digital Services Director) is certainly an excellent example of how to make effective use of social media for any organization.

The Effective Manager

I generally shy away from management books for they tend to put me to sleep.  For a new manager or any manager who would appreciate some management tips, Work Happy by Jill Geisler is a one of those rare management books well worth having a look at.  If you are short on time, simply peruse the chapter headings to decide on the segments that interest you.   Even the headings are quite illuminating.

I have always believed that to be a good manager it was important to know yourself well and to be willing to face up to the good, the bad and yes the ugly aspects of your personality.  Looking into the mirror and glaring at the blemishes is surely a bold thing to do.  So, the chapter, Manage Yourself, So You Can Lead Others is a good one.  Can you face up to your weaknesses and work on them?  Are you able to see things as others do? Or, as a manager do you know that you are always on view as if in a glass fishbowl?  So, keep in mind your staff will not be very forgiving of your bad mood or bad hair day.

I must say that the very last chapter says it all.  Giesler, writes in the title of this chapter (15), For Great Bosses, It’s Always About Values.” She focuses on the values of integrity, humanity and levity.  With “levity”, we must not forget to have fun.  Lastly, what will be your  legacy as a leader and how would you like to be remembered?

To me, it’s all about the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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