Jan 31 2010

Branching Out

I thought I’d try something new. And for me that took a certain amount of bravery.

I recently asked if I could be part of the author set of a local blog. They said yes! Now I have to really pay attention, focus and do some serious writing. Fortunately, they don’t have quota’s or time line’s. You post when you have something or grab a topic and tie in Portland.

Even braver, in my opinion. My first post at OurPDX professionally puts me to task!


Dec 15 2009

questions

Should I have put a question mark after “question” in the title? Or would that have been redundant?

Hmm?

One would think that this would be something I could do. But I find it harder than anything. What is it? Answering that question at the end of an interview, “do you have any questions for us?” That’s me being interviewed for a job. Do “I” have questions?

I had an interview yesterday. It was for a job that could be interesting. It would be a place to pull all of my experience together. I think it would be stable. It is a job that I actually would like to do. And one I can certainly do. There is a bit of a but, it’s with the state and three hours south.

I applied back in October thinking that they would never call me. They called last week for an interview. So off I went yesterday in a rental car. No reason to drag everyone in at this point.

It was a panel interview. Five people, two with the state and three from the community that are involved with the office.

When I interview people I do have a set of questions in mind before we start. But I also want to try to find out how they think and how they have a conversation. So I very often stray from the written questions. And work to have them do all the talking.

Yesterday, like many others they were right on track and did not stray from the questions. They were good questions and they took turns asking them.

The one that always trips me up, “give us an example of a difficult change that you had to implement…?” Life is loaded with drama and difficulty. The last thing I want or need is anything being perceived as difficult. So I don’t create it.

I think I achieve that by not working behind a curtain or veiled in secrecy. Nothing I have done to date has or needs any level of secrecy. It’s what thousands of people do everyday and have done for years. And no one has a unique way or market on the business of recruiting. Guess what everyone, you are all doing exactly the same thing! So there is no reason to not let the people around me know exactly what is going on.

That said, I’d like to think that because of that the space around me is fair and non-threatening. It’s a place that can and would grow leaders. A place that works together not against each other. A place void of difficult scenarios.

So I haven’t had “difficult” changes or situations. I have had challenging situations and changes, but not difficult. Difficult is finding out one of your dear friends has breast cancer. Difficult is finding out one of your dear friends loses her beloved four legged companion of 16 years. Difficult is having dear friends that long for and deserve to be married and recognized for the commitment of 18 years together, but can’t. And fear what that might mean as they grow old together. They have a long way to go, growing old, that’s difficult!

Difficulty in the work place is temporary and unless you have your hand inside someones chest waiting for a heart or another body part, it just doesn’t matter.

Now maybe I’m oblivious, like Portland driver’s, and have no awareness of the wake that I leave behind. But I think I’m pretty in touch and am the first one to know even before the wake begins and stop it.

I don’t know if they will call me back for the second round? I don’t know if I asked them enough questions? But I know what I will do next time. I will ask them the same questions that they asked me. If these will be the people that I will be interacting with on a regular basis, I’ll want to know how they handle difficult change. I’d want to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. To what extent, they think, non-management employee’s should be involved in decisions. What is it they hope the new manager accomplishes in the first six months. And certainly, how do they develop long and short range goals with partners over which they did not have authority.

That’s what I will do next time.


Oct 20 2009

DO NOT CONTACT ME DIRECTLY – I WILL NOT RESPOND

A few weeks ago I got an email from Carl. I don’t know Carl. But he had been reading my blog and asked if I would share a link to his site on my blog.

I’m always a bit embarrassed when this happens. I’m happy to include great blogs on my blog roll! But to include mine on his? It’s so random and hasn’t really taken shape yet, in my opinion.

I guess I’d like to think that only a couple people even know that I do this and only a couple people actually read it, like my Mom and Tiny Elvis Girl. Even more than that, that it’s not something that people can find.

Carl does have an interesting site called, Smart Unemployment . The site has some great stuff on it. Things like unemployment eligibility, career resources, COBRA: Everything You Need to Know, information that can be really helpful!

Oh, the title of this post. I cut and pasted that directly from a job posting on LinkedIn. This is a HUGE pet peeve with me.

I realize that people are busy. I realize that for every job there are most likely hundreds of applicants. I realize that companies don’t often staff adequately so that recruiters or hiring manager can really do their jobs. But this says more to me. More than just I’m too busy to truly engage the applicant pool that might be interested in working for the company I work for. Resumes are words, but to hear some ones voice and to talk with them has value beyond the gold star your applicant tracking system give someone.

I have been in one form or another a recruiter for more than 15 years. I have worked to fill jobs with 4 applicants and 400 applicants. The best applicants that I have come to know and place in positions are the ones who reached out to me or contacted me directly.

I am unemployed. I think I’ve written that here already. I’ve applied to several jobs. I have tapped and tap my network at every opportunity when applying to positions. At the advice of or encouragement of another recruiter or individual I have reached out via direct email or phone to people who are doing the hiring. No response?

Carl has a lot of great, helpful information on his site. All just for the taking. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’d be willing to bet he never wrote at the bottom of a job posting, DO NOT CONTACT ME DIRECTLY – I WILL NOT RESPOND

Thanks Carl!


Jul 22 2009

agree ~ disagree

There were about 25 at Souk on Tuesday, to talk about the recent perceived misstep by the city to get some help “refreshing” the cities website. Designers, agencies, associations, writers, theatre and a guy from the city! I was very glad he was there. But not the person or persons we wanted for the conversation. And while disappointed the invited city officials who invited the design community to enter a contest to win the honor of changing the way Portlandonline.com looks, couldn’t make it. I wasn’t surprised.

As a community, we have before us a unique opportunity. That with the right wit, savvy and controlled passion we can generate and create great change. Just because this strikes at the core of what we do and how we survive, does not mean that in one quickly pulled together meeting we would be ready and prepared to educate those that we deem in desperate need of education.

I’m not a web designer or developer. But I’ve found jobs for a few here and there. With this statement from the letter alone;

The fact that the contest winner or winners will receive one year of recognition on every page of the over 140,000 City web pages and all the additional web traffic that will generate in search engine optimization and brand recognition for the winner is a highly valuable commodity. PortlandOnline receives about 2.5 million hits per month.

It seems, (an assumption on my part) that they might not truly understand SEO and how that may or may not translate to measurable ROI for the “contest” winner. Yes, 2.5 million is a lot. But who is behind those 2.5 million hits? What percentage is thinking, while I’m looking for that carpool info or affordable housing, I’ll check out the design and maybe have the team that did this do a site for me.

Actually, if I had the cash and a business that I needed a site for, I wouldn’t be interested in someone who does work for the city or government. Unless I was a city or government. I’d go to sites that I liked or had similar concept and product and approach them. Now they might be the agency who “refreshed” the cities site. But PortlandOnline is not where I would go to find talent.

A contest is what my classmates did in art school to get their design up on a billboard in Kansas City. Actually, that had a cash prize with it as well. Point is, it was a “student” contest.

Some great stuff came from this roundtable last night. Someone who wasn’t there at the meeting Tweeted, that we shouldn’t care. I disagree, I think we should. So I said, “who cares? We should all care, it’s principle. No one’s work should be procured via contest.” They responded back, “I’d say you shouldn’t speak for others. if a pro, student, amateur wants to do the #portlandonline site they are free to (do it free). I disagree. I like the idea of a larger conversation that has engaged many who are speaking together.

I kind of blew it off. But now I’m a bit annoyed and confused by the statement, “I shouldn’t speak for others”? Well, “I” wasn’t really speaking for others, I was indirectly conveying the tone of the dialogue I thought I heard that we had earlier in the evening. I’m not going to sit back and let the talent that I know have their work devalued because someone doesn’t understand the value of it. I don’t understand that kind of thinking? Or how there is a difference in “speaking out”? They were using the hashtag #portlandonline so had to have been following the conversation? Should I not care? Should only they speak and not me or anyone else? Still confused…

I don’t claim to know anything or have the answers. But to take any talent, designer, architect, barista, factory worker, engineer and make light of what they do by asking them to participate in a contest?

Grabbing a comment from the Rick Turoczy's blog,

“To borrow a point from @Mattg (on Twitter), you don’t see the city asking for volunteers to fill in pot holes, do you? Would that be acceptable to you?”

To me? No, but then I shouldn’t speak for other’s. I’ll be quiet now. Maybe.


Jul 2 2009

working on a new resume

What do you think about this?

resume cloud

Too short? Not specific enough? Ok, what about this?

me20v22009

(disclaimer: just finished second version, checking for errors)


Jun 25 2009

A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture – Peter Bregman – HarvardBusiness.org

A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture – Peter Bregman – HarvardBusiness.org

Posted using ShareThis


Jun 5 2009

Bob Sutton’s “15 Things I Believe”

I think I have mentioned him here at least once. I like to read the blog of Bob Sutton, the author of “The No Asshole Rule”. I wish that I could say I have finished the book. I’ve started it along with many others and it is in the pile. I read his blog frequently and always agree with what he has written. Which makes me feel good because he writes for the Harvard Business Review, teaches at Stanford and is a fellow at IDEO. Three things I like very much.

I have posted this before, but I am posting it again. On his blog he has a list, I love these!

15 THINGS I BELIEVE
1. Sometimes the best management is no management at all — first do no harm!
This doesn’t mean a free-for-all. I think it is a statement for respect. I don’t claim to know much or have any answers. But I have found that by listening, engaging with those around you equitably you will create an absolute team. Respect and decency can take you a long way. Someone tweeted today, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
2. Indifference is as important as passion.
And it doesn’t mean that you don’t care. Passion, I think can also be confused with agenda. For me indifference just means that you are willing to be open to what other’s think might be a better way to approach a solution. Indifference can keep you open to other’s ideas and suggestions. You may have the best solution, but being open to other’s just makes for a more productive environment.
3. In organizational life, you can have influence over others or you can have freedom from others, but you can’t have both at the same time.
This is not, in my opinion a statement about isolation or being a lone wolf hiding out in a cube. Which is better?
4. Saying smart things and giving smart answers are important. Learning to listen to others and to ask smart questions is more important.
Uh, yeah! When was the last time you really listened? I think it was Fierce Conversations training. One exercise allowed you to ONLY listen. You could not respond at all. I find this very easy to do. For a couple of reasons. One, most of the time I don’t have anything really interesting to say. Two, I am very aware of the need to be heard. Really, truly heard. So I want to listen so that others feel that they are being heard.
5. Learn how to fight as if you are right and listen as if you are wrong: It helps you develop strong opinions that are weakly held.
This makes me feel better about having an opinion and changing it upon listening to someone. I thought maybe I was to easily swayed.
6. You get what you expect from people. This is especially true when it comes to selfish behavior; unvarnished self-interest is a learned social norm, not an unwavering feature of human behavior.
I expect people to be real, true, honest, respectful and descent.
7. Getting a little power can turn you into an insensitive self-centered jerk.
ABSOLUTELY! I don’t have the power, never had it, never want it.
8. Avoid pompous jerks whenever possible. They not only can make you feel bad about yourself, chances are that you will eventually start acting like them.
Not sure about this one. But I do make it a practice to avoid jerks. Life is too short.
9. The best test of a person’s character is how he or she treats those with less power.
I know this is true. I have seen it realized and I work very hard to adopt this everywhere I am. Treating someone of lesser power like someone with less power comes from a place of fear and insecurity.
10. The best single question for testing an organization’s character is: What happens when people make mistakes?
Lot’s of finger’s go out. I’ve seen a lot of people over the years not take responsibility and be accountable for what they have or haven’t done. I have one a few occasions taken responsibility for things that I didn’t do, but felt that to continue the professional relationship it needed to be done. It actually helped with my credibility.
11. The best people and organizations have the attitude of wisdom: The courage to act on what they know right now and the humility to change course when they find better evidence.
Wisdom, the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight (dictionary.com).
12. The quest for management magic and breakthrough ideas is overrated; being a master of the obvious is underrated.
I think that for the most part management magic is an illusive concept. How many can say that they had management that knew what they were doing? Management that understood how to motivate and encourage their employee’s to deliver, to go above and beyond. How many of you have had management that gave as much as they ask for? I don’t think you can take and take and be successful. You have to be willing to do give more and do the dirty work. You have to be part of the solution, be willing to admit that you don’t have all the answers and help look for solutions.
13. Err on the side of optimism and positive energy in all things.
Easier said than done!
14. It is good to ask yourself, do I have enough? Do you really need more money, power, prestige, or stuff?
I have enough. But need just a little bit more. I’m un-employed; I think I can ask for a little bit more.
15. Jim Maloney is right: Work is an overrated activity.


May 16 2009

collaboration

I’m still sorting out my thoughts on this. Collaboration is hard. But it seems that people love to talk about it. I’m also thinking about this great post on author Bob Sutton’s, “sir we don’t actually do what we propose we just propose it.”

Ground Hog Day the movie, have you seen it? This is the best way I can think to describe the dialogue and conversation about the topic of creative industry in Portland. Each conversation starts at the same spot and get’s one word further each year. This is at least year 9.

Why are we still JUST talking about creative industry in Portland? Agendas? Strategy? Value proposition? Egos? Mixed messages? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!

If done right, creativity can be very glamorous. So the fascination is so compelling you could charge admission. But who really has been successful with creative? Think about it. I’m not going to say.

I don’t say mainly because it would be my opinion and my perception of the product.

Part of the problem, I think, is that the creative process never stops. So you are never really done. So how can you put it into a functioning, organized organization or association? And how can you let one person manage that? What is their agenda?

In the last two weeks I’ve been to two separate events, in the creative space, topic being communication and collaboration.

The most interesting thing for me was the Oregon Arts Summit, the Art of Collaboration. There were about 300 people there. I knew 5 people. Which seems odd to me, only because I’ve been involved in the arts and creative industry in Portland for more than 10 years. Who was this audience?

What was very clear to me is that people communicate an idea of collaboration but no one really knows how to implement it. They let their fears or take over. Or they don’t think outside of their immediate reach. They limit their resources. Or let the lack of resources dictate what is possible. Maybe if there were a LinkedIn for interests and causes. Then you could actually see your true network of resources to enrich your program, organization or company. They seem so stifled by what they don’t have, the big gap of what ever it is that makes them a real success that they can’t see past it. They can’t see past, we don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough time…we don’t, we don’t, we don’t. I’m reminded of my “I think I can” talk with my little friend Sophia.

I’m sure I will come back to this topic again.