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Take a piece of the pie with this business approach April 2, 2012

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, Business, Business Success Coach, Canada, Career Wisdom, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Gen Y's, Job advice, Notes for Business, quality of life, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Four Windows Process, Women.
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Today’s situation calls for some old ideas.

Consider:

  1. The economies of many countries are battered and bruised by recent events.
  2. Many individuals, formerly employed and making a good living, are having a tough time.
  3. Others, particularly millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) with energy and a good education, aren’t able to get a job.
  4. Organizations, strapped for cash, are unable to create the new, innovative products needed to compete.
  5. Communities in many areas are not able to maintain necessary services and upkeep. Staffing of must-have services like fire and police departments are seeing budgets slashed.
  6. Governmental bodies/elected officials don’t seem up to the needs of the job.
I speak to people around the world each week – most tell me that things are tough. Some report that markets are tougher than they’ve ever seen. Even in the so-called BRIC countries (originally Brazil, Russia, India, China – now expanded to South Africa) things seem to be going off the rails.
It’s time to revisit some old ways of doing business to get things moving again. I’m talking about ideas born in earlier tough times – back when it looked like the good times were gone forever.
Here’s one that I think has long legs, it’s an approach that can work now in different cultures and economies. It’s succeeded in environments as diverse as Winnipeg, Canada, a small town in California, and Mondragon, Spain.
The idea?  The Co-op.
For those of you not familiar with co-ops – Wikipedia defines them as,  “an autonomous association of persons who voluntary cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. Cooperatives include non-profit community organizations and businesses that are owned/managed by the people who use its services (a consumer cooperative) and/or by the people who work there a worker cooperative.”
  • In Mondragon, a web of co-operatives manages that country’s 7th largest business.
  • In Manitoba, the provincial government has promoted the establishment of new co-ops to help build that economy into its most vibrant in decades.  When I was there recently I was impressed with lower gasoline prices and service people while filling up my rental car.
  • In California, the success of co-ops can be seen in programs initiated by the Mayor of Richmond who has promoted the idea to create new organizations and employment opportunities in a place that is facing little new income or growth otherwise.
The US has a history of cooperative movements, many economists contend that this idea saved the lives of individuals, towns and organizations during the 1930s.  The benefits include new employment opportunities, revitalization of communities and downtowns, greater self-respect for workers and management, and a highly engaged workforce who can compete toe to toe with any individual or any organization.
Could you use a break?  Ready to try something old? Check out co-ops.
Here’s to your future!
John
Executive leadership coach

150,000 showed up this weekend May 2, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, Business Success Coach, Career Wisdom, Coaching, DIRECTV, Manswers, Personal action plans, Personal Success, professional speakers, quality of life, SWOT analysis, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Four Windows Process, unemployment action, Women, women in management, working after quitting.
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This past weekend I was on a panel discussion at the LA Times Festival of Books.  

It was very encouraging to see that a “book fair” could bring about 150,000 people into downtown Los Angeles on one of the hottest days of the year.   Who’d have thought, in this day of ebooks and free online information about everything, (not to mention expensive gasoline @ $4.50 a gallon) that they’re would be this many folks prepared to make a trip to the campus of the University of Southern California, or USC, as it’s know around here.

Amazing and wonderful turnout.  The Times are to be congratulated for promoting this event, now in it’s 16 year I believe, and helping authors and readers come together in a well managed and very pretty environment.  The woman who headed it up for the newspaper, Maret Orliss, did an awesome job looking after everyone’s needs at once.

I was there, (supported, again, by beautiful wife Susan,) to participate in a panel discussion and book signing event for my new book, The Plan.  It came out in February and has been getting some good reviews across North America for being an easy to use and interesting book for anyone wanting to take control of their destiny.  I’m real pleased with how the momentum is growing.  My co-author, Canadian consultant and mentor Helen Latimer, put a lot of time into creating a “tool” as well as an interesting read.

The panel was called, Finding Life in Work.

Our moderator, Dennis Nishi, a writer himself, with articles in papers including The Wall Street Journal, had done his homework.  It was a treat to speak to someone who actually had read the book beforehand!  I was pleased that my belief that everyone should take advantage – and get  the benefits – from creating their own SWOT analysis, was widely embraced by the other panelists.

I know that many cities have book festivals.  Most people do not attend them and I’d guess it’s because they don’t think there will be much to interest them.  But having seen so many people of all ages actively engaged this past weekend, I’d encourage you to try it out.  You may learn something but even if you don’t, it’s a great way to connect with those in your city

Have a great week!

John

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.

New book,The Plan, launches tomorrow! February 14, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Action Plans, business and career coaching, career success, Career Wisdom, Coaching, life balance, quality of life, Veracity.
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“Is this it?  Is this as good as it gets?”

Ever ask yourself questions like that?  If so, you’re certainly not alone.

As a business life coach, over the period of many years, I’ve asked many hundreds of people to rate how they’re doing.  My questions were usually like these:

  • How successful are you?
  • Has life turned out like you expected when you were in school?
  • Are you satisfied with your personal (or financial, or career) life?

What I found was that most people are not happy or satisfied with how things are going.  Only a very-small percentage rate themselves well, while most rated themselves not-very-good at all.

So, in my coaching practice, I started digging into the lives of those in that small group who had rated themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.  I wanted to see if there was anything that they all shared.  Was there some thing, or certain actions they all did that helped them have a great life, one they enjoyed – while the bulk of the people lived lifes that they weren’t happy with?

And – as I uncovered – there was.

I started testing these ideas with my clients.  Together we found that they could turn their lives around.  And it didn’t take a long time to change how things were going for them.  My clients repeatedly told me that they’d moved forward – into new successes, and were enjoying life more fully.

Breakthrough!

After seeing how effective this approach was, I got together with a trusted colleague, the Canadian consultant and mentor Helen Latimer,  to co-author a new book.

Our goal for this book was singular: To help as many people as possible to have a better life.

In it, we’d share insights from real people.  We detail the experiences of clients and others who’d found out how to live satisfying and successful lives.  We wanted to provide solid information and tools that anybody could easily use in her or his life.  It worked.

Our new book is called The Plan.

In The Plan, we share everything you might need to dramatically change your life.  We provide insight, tools, and worksheets that are easy to use.

We know this book will make a massive change to your life because we’ve seen the results first hand.  Check it out.  I know you’ll be glad you did.

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.

Better than sex? August 24, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, business intelligence, Business Success Coach, Career Wisdom, Coaching, DIRECTV, emotional decisions, Job advice, life balance, Personal action plans, quality of life, The Four Windows Process, women in management.
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Some people actually say that their job can be better than sex. In this blog, business life coach John McKee discusses what may be behind that thinking.  And why it’s dangerous.

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Can work be better than sex?

Some time ago I was working with a guy who was the business development lead for new ventures and strategic partnerships at his company.   It was clear he really enjoyed his job.  He was good at it, helping his employer to successfully move into new areas never considered before his arrival.

I remarked that it was clear he loved what he was doing.  His response was particularly telling:

“John, when things come together, this job is better than sex!”

Ever considered just how seductive the job you do, or the company you work with, can be?

– You can have huge praise lauded onto you; raises, bonuses, and promotions.

-And each action comes with a nice message – “You!  You’re GREAT! We love what you do around here!  We’re SO LUCKY to have you!  We don’t know what we’d do if you ever leave us!”

Pretty heady stuff.  It doesn’t take long until it starts to feel very nice.

On the other side, the home front; not many folks get those kinds of compliments or that type of praise heaped on them regularly.

So, in ways like above, and others, companies can romance you. As a result, you can become very emotionally attached to them. And like any affair, this feeling can cause you to lose perspective when considering options – like leaving them.

Recently I was working with a woman employed at a large soft drink company.  She’d just been offered a job by a competitor. That job was a significant jump in responsibility – a level that would probably take her a couple of years to reach with her current employer.  In addition to a bigger title, the other company was offering a company car (which she didn’t have now,) a much bigger bonus, and she could telecommute a couple of days a week if she chose.

The last was important because she was a new mom.

Yet she didn’t think she should take the offer. When we huddled together to consider the pros and cons; she realized that she wasn’t making a lot of sense. Then she justified her thinking by saying that she felt “obliged” to stay at the current place.  “They’ve been good to me in the past, and it’s really not that bad.”

Not THAT bad!

She sounded like a lot of folks when they’re contemplating leaving a lover, husband, or girlfriend because the relationship has gone downhill.   They usually recall the good things from the past and forget about the other opportunities which may exist to have a happier, more satisfying life with another person.  “It’s not really that bad…”

In the end, she made the right decision and is very happy.  But it wasn’t easy for her.

And – by the way –  that’s exactly what companies want you to feel: obliged to them.

They want their best talent feeling loyal and dedicated to them.  So they design their compensation plans to act like golden handcuffs. They may even offer two or more incentive programs so it’s even harder to walk away.

But in the end, any relationship based on stuff which cause us to temporarily feel good but does not provide any authentic joy and long-term satisfaction will crater.

And if a relationship is going to collapse, it’s better that you’re the one who walks away first.

John