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You should know the Rule of 3 June 28, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", business intelligence, career planning, career success, coaches, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Personal Success, The Plan, Veracity.
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Today, more than ever, it’s important to face up to the idea that your employment or professional success may be impacted by factors beyond your control.  In this blog executive coach John M McKee discusses how to apply a planning approach that’s used successfully by organizations to your own career.

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Headhunters are receiving a lot of resumes these days. 

One I spoke with yesterday told me that her office is being flooded with them while there’s still no dramatic increase in hiring.

2011 is, and will remain, a difficult year.  Depending on which stats you believe, it’s likely that we’ll close the year in the US with about 8.9% reported unemployment, growth for the economy will be about 2.2% in real terms.  For most businesses, the prospects are no more positive.  Clients are developing an attitude of playing it safe and spending – in many cases – the minimum possible.

More than ever before, I’m hearing requests for information and guidance. To boil them down, they are, more or less in one of these areas:

  • How can I guard against ending up as another one of the statistics we’re seeing on the news every day?
  • Are there tools or approaches that one can use to help ensure that (s)he is proactively managing his/her career more assertively?

Here’s one I’ve found to be very successful.  It’s called The Rule of 3. It’s predicated on the premise that nobody should be managing-by-crossed-fingers.

 The Rule of 3 is the opposite of hoping.  You know:  Hoping to not get fired, or Hoping that one’s clients will start buying more, and then Hoping they’ll pay their bills more promptly.  Crossed fingers as a strategy isn’t going to do it.  Much better to buy some lotto tickets.

The Rule works for an individual who’s employed, self-employed, or contracting.  It works for small business and large organizations.

It assumes that none of us is smart enough to ever see everything ahead.

It’s about keeping options open, being thoughtful, and rolling with the natural shifts in cycles.  I suggest you give it some consideration, and noodle about how to apply it to your situation.

So, my advice is – starting today – determine 3 options for your professional life. I’ll use an example of someone who works for an organization to show where these options could be:

1. I have a job and will do whatever it takes to keep it.  For most people, this means stepping-up.  Doing, and being seen and recognized for doing, things beyond which others in similar roles would ever do.  Showing – more than ever – that you’re the one who the company simply must keep even if others have to be laid off.  It could involve more work, more hours, helping out in different areas beyond your role, taking courses to show that you are capable of doing other projects or activities.  You want everyone to know that you, more than anyone else, are a keeper.

2. Accept the reality that you still may lose your job. Despite your best efforts personally, other factors can come into play. The company may go down, or the offices where you work may be shuttered, or your department could be outsourced.

With that as a possibility, now is the time to start planning what the ideal alternative would be.  What I mean is:

  • “If I became victim of this environment, what would my preferred outcome be?
  • If I could choose my next job, what would it be and where would it be?”

Get clear on this and start investigating, while you’re still in your current role, what it would take to get that other job.  It could be internal or with another company or another industry.

Now you’ve got the beginnings of a back-up plan that you could use in the event of the worst case in the current job.  With some groundwork now, you would be in a strong place to move from a sacking to a job you could be happy with.  Start taking actions that will help ensure you will not be immobilized by actions taken by the current employer

3. Recognize that your preferred outcome may not materialize as expected and hoped.  So, you lost your current job and then went after the preferred alternative but your plan didn’t come together as intended.  Now what?  Here’s where the Rule of 3 is even more important because, as ugly as it is, you’ve already contemplated this scenario.  You’ve noodled about other jobs, or sources of income, that you could do and that would keep some cash flowing into your life.  Not necessarily the kind of activity you’d prefer; but it can keep the rent paid and buy you some meatloaf.  Creating this fallback plan while you’re still employed is important because you’re doing it more dispassionately.  Your ego is intact, your common sense more in play.  I once had a company executive tell me his #3 was working at a call center providing service to others.(!)

Hopefully, neither he or you  will never have to use your #3; but creating a plan now that is more likely to help you through the possible worst case scenario will reduce the chances of having to find out.  You are becoming more active in managing your future and increasing the chances of effectively dealing with any problems that may arise.

For more ideas about creating a plan. Check out my new book The Plan.  Right now it’s available as a download at no charge.

Here’s to your future.

John

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Why get a degree? April 4, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, career planning, career success, Career Wisdom, CBS Interactive, Coaching, DIRECTV, Gen Y's, Job advice, new jobs, Personal action plans, The Secret, Veracity.
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For most people, getting a degree today has become a bad investment.

I believe that most of these individuals would be better off simply getting into the workplace sooner.  It’s not that I’m against education – I’m actually a strong advocate of lifelong learning.  It’s just that – for most college kids – the job market is no longer likely to provide any kind of ROI.

Consider these stats which I picked up in Forbes Magazine:

During the past 30 years, overall inflation in the US was 106%

Health care costs went up 251%

College tuitions and fees?  Up 439%!

Translation: the cost of tuition / room / board are increasing at a rate 6 times faster than the average earnings of a college grad.  Combine that with the fact that there are fewer hi pay jobs today as a result of global hiring, and the math simply no longer is right.

Many very successful people are college dropouts.  They include Steve Jobs (Apple) , Bill Gates (Microsoft), Clare Danes (actor), Richard Branson (Virgin), Dave Thomas (Wendys), Albert Enstein.  I’m in the same boat (– although clearly not in the same league..)

I discussed this trend more deeply in my 2nd book Career Wisdom.   At this point I now use a ‘rule of thumb’ when giving students ideas to noodle about their career:  Don’t go into any type of work that can be done faster or cheaper:

– by a computer (eg: accountants hate Turbo Tax)

– by someone overseas ( this now includes doctors by the way)

– online (eg: lawyers hate sites that do divorces or estate plans for 1/4 their cost)

We are truly moving into an era of the creative class where people are valued for their new ideas and approaches.  And we’re also moving into an era of  hands-on work, where a job cannot be automated or done elsewhere – these include mechanics which pay pretty well and flipping hamburgers.

Just don’t get stuck with an education bill for a hundred thousand dollars with a false expectation that you will be able to pay it off and then find out that the “job” you’d expected is now done in a different way and you’re too expensive to hire.

Here’s to your future!

John

More insight here.

The media is listening February 26, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", business success, Canada, career planning, DIRECTV, life balance, Personal action plans, Personal Success.
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Last week I was invited to go to San Diego today to appear on a live morning show on KUSI TV.

The kicker is – our book, The Plan, isn’t even in stores yet!

It won’t be for sale in the local Barnes and Nobles of the world or even at most bookseller online sites for at least a week – so being asked to discuss it at this stage is great.

Here’s the link to the interview clip.

As far as I know the hard copy book can only be purchased today at this site.  Although if you visit our website for the book you can buy it there.  download an EBook version of it for only $7.99.  The cool thing about the digital book is that it has active links to additional resources.

Looking forward!

John

 

Survey: Workers remain nervous about employment August 31, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, career planning, career success, Career Wisdom, coaches, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, new jobs, unemployment action, Veracity, Women.
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I got a call for an interview from Associated Press Business Writer Tali Arbel. She wanted my thoughts about how to handle the “first day on the job”.  Thought I’d share her article from today’s Yahoo Business Section. Hope they are valuable for you or someone you know.
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STILL NERVOUS: Americans remain nervous about their job security and the strength of the economy, according to a survey by jobs website SnagAJob.com.

Worries about jobs are pervasive: 35 percent of those polled this summer said they felt their jobs were less secure than in 2009. That’s an improvement from how respondents felt a year ago, though, when 52 percent said job instability was worse than in 2008.

Part of the reason for worry may have been the experience of being laid off. The survey showed that 34 percent of people who said they had changed jobs in the past year did so after losing their previous position, up from 25 percent who said they had changed jobs because of a layoff in summer 2009.

The number of people polled whose top fear for the future is losing their job has tripled since the 2007 survey to 9 percent, this summer’s survey showed. Saving for retirement and college education remained the biggest worry throughout the four years that the survey has been conducted.

SnagAJob.com, an online jobs board, randomly polled 1,000 U.S. adult workers by telephone from July 8-26. The margin of error for the poll was 3.1 percentage points.

BACK TO WORK: The first day on a new job can be overwhelming. The new hire has to interact with hordes of unknown co-workers, customers or clients, figure out the responsibilities that go with the new job, and learn the layout of a new work space.

Career coaches offer tips on how to have a first-class first day:

• BE OPEN AND FRIENDLY: Present yourself well to co-workers in an effort to form bonds. Walk around and introduce yourself to everyone. Keep conversations brief, polite and listen more than you talk: Ask questions about workplace operations and culture.

Follow “the rules that they teach us in kindergarten. Play nice, share, be cooperative,” said Paul Bernard, an executive coach with his own consultancy in New York.

• CONNECT AND LEARN: By being cordial and curious, you begin to form relationships that may help you later on. Your goal is to turn new co-workers into allies or mentors within the organization, said career and business coach John M McKee, who has run a business strategy and coaching firm, Business Success Coach.net since 2001.

Being friendly and asking questions also helps new hires figure out how the office works and what their role should be.

“There are informal power brokers in all organizations,” McKee said. Learning the unofficial structure of the workplace can help you achieve your goals.

• DRESS THE PART: During the interview process, keep on eye on attire. Overdressing on the first day can appear arrogant, McKee said. Underdressing, on the other hand, is just as bad: It looks sloppy and disrespectful.

Still, slightly conservative is more appropriate than too casual, said career strategist Daisy Swan, the owner of Daisy Swan & Associates in Los Angeles. “Don’t go overboard with anything: jewelry, perfume cologne.”

• ADAPT AND STAY POSITIVE: Often the reality of a new job will include more responsibilities than were presented during the interview process, especially since companies cut costs during the recession. If that’s the case, the new hire needs to be ready to grin and bear it, Bernard said. It is “dangerous to complain … people mess themselves up by being negative,” he said.

There’s also no need to refer to an old employer. “The way you did things at a previous job may not apply to where you are now,” Swan said.

Noodling about success August 13, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, business success, career planning, Career Wisdom, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, life balance, Personal Success, quality of life, Satisfaction.
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Does who you know really help make you more successful?  Yes, says John.  But his thoughts on why may surprise you.

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“Am I making progress?”

It’s a good question to ask yourself.  It helps keep you in touch with how you’re doing.  I suggest you ask it frequently.

How you answer it can make a big impact on how you feel afterward:

  • “No. I’m no better than I was last year.” – is probably going to bring you down.
  • “Yes!  I’m making great progress,” – will likely bring a little smile to your face. You’ll feel more confident.

When meeting with clients, I like to learn about the people they spend most of their time with.  I believe that we become “most like” the 3 people with whom we spend the most time.

Noodle on these –

If your career is a priority, are you spending time with individuals who can help you to become more successful, who have success and provide ideas you can use to improve your own life?  Or, are you spending time with people who hate their jobs, don’t like “work”?

If you’re looking to improve your personal life, do the people you spend most of your time with have successful personal lives themselves?  If so, they’re probably doing some things right that could improve your situation.  But if they’re miserable, it’s likely you’ll start seeing the world through their eyes.

Is money an issue? Who’s going to help you become a better money manager – a pal who “wishes” she had more herself, or another individual who has clearly figured it out?

I’m not saying we should dump our friends just because they can’t help us to become more successful.

But I am saying that you’ll become most like those with whom you spend the most time.  So – manage your time accordingly.

Here’s to your future,

John
@Twitter:  JohnMMcKee1

$6 got him a job May 13, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", business success, Business Success Coach, career planning, Coaching, new jobs, Personal Success, succeeding during a recession, unemployment action, Veracity.
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Came across this today, and I agree with others at You Tube that it’s probably the most clever approach one could use to get a job.

Looking forward!