Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ben Casnocha Interviews Marty Nemko

Ben Casnocha just interviewed me.TDTV #4: Ben Casnocha and Marty Nemko.

My affect was too flat and the hat looks stupid but I hope you'll find the content of value. The topics I talked about:
  • advice for worklife success in a lousy economy
  • the wisdom of championing unpopular causes that you believe in
  • why the future really is China
  • romance is overrated
  • the frightening acceleration of media bias
  • the case against work/life balance
  • that life's goal should be productivity and contentment, not happiness
The interview runs 35 minutes.

The World's Shortest Course in Success

I wish I could say that ethics is paramount but if I am to be honest, nothing is more important than intelligence and drive. 

Balance is overrated. Most people of accomplishment work 50, 60, even 80 hours a week. And that imbalance need not be deleterious to their health. A person who works slow and steady on work he or she is good at will be far less stressed than someone who's annoyed by their children's or spouse's shenanigans or who get frustrated with every bad golf shot.

Also key to success: As long as it's ethical, ask for what you want. People who don't ask--for fear of rejection, failure, imposing, etc.--usually doom themselves to far less success than they otherwise could achieve.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thriving (or at least Surviving) in a Diving Economy

Imagine this happened to you: You finally discover what would be your dream job at your dream employer. So you write a letter to the person with the power to hire you--and he politely declines.

That was 15 years ago. Since then, that dream job stays in your mind like the love of your life that remains unrequited. So every year or two, you write back to that employer, sending samples of your work. Sometimes he politely declines but increasingly, he doesn't even respond. So you decide to stop writing to him. Three years pass and then, out of the blue, your phone rings: It's him. "How'd you like a four-week trial on that job you've been wanting." How would you feel?

This story is not a hypothetical. It's real. And this month, it happened to me. What's the job? Hosting a show on work. The employer? KGO radio, one of America's most listened-to stations. A few weeks ago, Jack Swanson, KGO's Operations Director called to say, " Would you like to host for us--so many KGO listeners are suffering career pain. You can help them. We'll try it for four weeks and see how it goes."

In addition to trying to be good on the air, I've done some other things to try to succeed at KGO that are relevant to anyone trying to thrive or at least survive in this diving economy. These strategies have worked for many of my career coaching clients and I'm hoping they might help you.

Lesson 1: Use a moderate communication style; no irrational exuberance. When Jack offered me the job, I was tempted to yell, "Fantastic!" but in that fraction of a second before I responded, I remembered the time I hired someone and he literally jumped up and down in ecstasy. That made me wonder, "Is he a bad employee who's been unable to land a job forever and that's why he's so ecstatic?"

So, in responding to Jack, I just said, "I'm delighted, Jack. Thank you." And on reflection, remaining moderate really is a good idea. I think about how often I tell my career coaching clients: "Watch C-SPAN, which is a parade of the world's most successful people and you'll see that their emotions range only from pleased to concerned, no wider, even if they're talking about the economy's collapse. And remember when Howard Dean yelled a war whoop of ecstasy when he won the Iowa primary? That single moment killed his presidential chances." So Lesson 1: Show moderate enthusiasm, not as Alan Greenspan said, "irrational exuberance." Most Americans claim to celebrate diversity but we're not tolerant of diverse styles of communication. Extreme emotion doesn't read as passion; it reads as being high-maintenance or out of control.

Lesson 2: Unless you're darn sure they're wrong, try it their way. Jack then told me to meet with Trish Robbins, KGO's Executive Producer so I could learn "The KGO Way." My natural tendency is to propose alternative ways of doing things but as I walked into that meeting, I reminded myself that KGO is a top-of-the-mountain radio station and has decades of experience in how best to serve its listeners, so at least for that meeting, I decided to mainly just listen. So when Trish suggested how long the average call should take, how to welcome and say good-bye to callers, the importance of, before the news break, telling listeners what I'll be talking about next, and so on, I mainly just listened and took notes. So, lesson 2: Unless you're darn sure you have a better way, try it their way, at least for starters.

Lesson 3: Unless you're darn sure they're wrong, act on their feedback. Before my first show on KGO, I said to myself, "I'm going to try to be the best talk show host in the history of KGO. Even if I don't succeed, this is the time to really go for it, not hold back."

It didn't work: I tried too hard my first show and Trish told me, "Marty, dial it back." Of course, that felt bad but I didn't want to be one of those people who gets defensive when criticized and did want to let her know I am eager to get better. So I simply said, "Thank you, Trish, I'll do that." So lesson 3: Unless you have a very good reason, accept feedback and promise to work on it. Even if your first reaction is to disagree, to be sure you're not just being defensive, it's probably wise to think about it a while before pushing back.

Lesson 4: Be ready to change gears. Before my first show, Trish asked to me to make the average call shorter than in my previous radio work. I agreed but then when I met her after the first show, she said, "I'd like you to make the average call longer." I didn't get defensive, saying "But you told me to make them shorter!" I recognized that job success normally requires experiments, only some of which succeed. So I acknowledged, "I agree. That experiment with short calls didn't work. I'll make them longer." So, lesson 4: Be ready to change gears.

Lesson 5: Stay alert to your workplace's unwritten rules, the stuff that doesn't appear in the employee handbook. For example, I've gotten the sense that unlike in some workplaces, at which bosses love when you ask a lot of questions, the people at KGO seem to appreciate self-starters, who only ask a moderate number of questions. So lesson 5: Keep your antennae out for the behaviors that are respected in your workplace.

Lesson 6: Strike the balance between displaying competence and appearing like a know-it-all. In that regard, I had a dilemma this week: My producer, J Westerling sent me a copy of the letter he sends to guests he's booked on KGO. Well, when I've booked guests, I also send a confirmation letter and honestly, I like mine better. I deliberated not sending him my letter because I didn't want to appear like I was trying to one-up him. But in the end I decided to send it because I thought it might be helpful enough to him that it was worth the risk--and after all, I had praised a number of his suggestions. The point I'm trying to make here is not whether or not I was right in sending him the letter. It's Lesson 6: Stay conscious of the need to strike the balance between showing you're competent and seeming like a know-it-all.

Lesson 7: It's probably not enough to work smart; you may also need to work long. For example, while I probably could have winged a list of how to thrive in a diving economy, I spent a lot of time thinking how I could make it most valuable and interesting to the listeners--hence I came up with the approach I'm going to use on this Sunday's show: telling the listeners, as I'm telling you, what I've done to try to turn my temp job on KGO to a permanent one. So, lesson 7 again: Think twice before following the conventional wisdom: "Work smart and you won't have to work long." In this economy, that could cost you your job.

If you care to hear how this Sunday's show turns out, you can hear it live anywhere in the world on kgoradio.com, or in many places throughout the West Coast and even into the mountain states at 810 on the AM dial from 7:06 to 10 PM Pacific time. Later, the show will be archived on KGO's archive page.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Top Three Reasons to Oppose Israel... and Why They're Misguided

My friend Jeffrie Givens is tempted to support the Palestinians over the Israelis. I asked her why. Here are the reasons she gave and my responses.

Reason 1 for opposing Israel: Of course, Israel has the right to defend itself but its response to Hamas has been disproportionate."

Why that's misguided. You probably have come to believe the Israeli response to Hamas was disproportionate because you saw pictures of destroyed buildings and injured civilians in Gaza. Did you know that as an olive branch to the Palestinians, every single Jew left Gaza in 2005 and as a thank-you present, the Palestinians elected Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction and has backed up that goal by firing 10,000 ever stronger, ever longer-range rockets at Israeli civilians? Children can't sleep at night and frequently hear Red Alerts, which mean they have 15 seconds to run into a bomb shelter.

So Israel had to try to dismantle the Hamas terrorists' bombing installations, which Hamas embedded in homes, schools, markets, and mosques--using civilians as human shields SO they could obtain the very footage that convinces you of the the Israelis' "disproportionality." Hamas even has a name for its ploy: The CNN Strategy.

Unlike Hamas, which deliberately bombs civilians, Israel made real efforts to warn civilians to evacuate military targets: It sent tens of thousands of text messages, phone calls, and leaflets to those civilians that Hamas wanted to use as human shields. Despite those efforts, some of those innocent civilians were hit. And most Israelis grieve for them--Ask Israeli soldiers how they feel about innocent Palestinians who were injured or killed. Now ask Hamas soldiers how they feel about innocent Israelis who were killed. You'll likely see a stark contrast.

And now, Iran is putting finishing touches on a nuclear bomb and it wants to "wipe Israel off the face of the earth."

So, what would YOU have done if you were prime minister of Israel? Would you have sat idly by?

You may also have come to believe that Israel's response to Hamas has been disproportionate because more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed. What's remarkable is how few Palestinians were killed. Hamas put their military in civilian areas in Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth (1.3 million people in an area half the size of Maui.) The fact the only 1200 people (fewer than 1/3 civilians) were killed is a tribute to the efforts described above to evacuate Palestinian civilians from the military target areas.

Reason 2 for opposing Israel: Israel's blockade of Gaza deprives innocent civilians of needed supplies.

Why that's misguided. First, the checkpoints are open 24 hours a day to allow needed supplies to enter Gaza and for people to leave and enter. Yes, the Palestinians would like more goods to be brought into Gaza but Israel is reducing the flow to pressure its elected government, Hamas, to release Gilad Shalit, who it abducted. And why are there checkpoints at all? Because Hamas continues to try to smuggle missile components into Gaza: the staging area for Hamas's rocket launchings into Israel. Israel has made clear that as soon as Hamas agrees to stop the bombing and recognize Israel's right to exist, the checkpoints will immediately be dismantled.

If you were the prime minister of Israel, would you remove the checkpoints before Hamas agreed to stop firing missiles at your civilians? Remember, Hamas--by charter and its leaders' statements-- is committed to destroying your country.

Reason 3 for opposing Israel: Israel is guilty of war crimes.

Why that's misguided. Israel was accused of firing rockets at a United Nations school in Gaza...until a UN investigation found that wasn't true--Israel had fired against Hamas terrorists who had cynically placed themselves near the school.

Now Israel is again accused of a war crime, this time for using the dangerous white phosphorus to illuminate a civilian area in which Hamas terrorists were embedded. As mentioned earlier, like all Israel military actions, the white phosphorus was used in a civilian area only because Hamas embedded its military there so it could use civilians as human shields--that is a war crime. If you were the Prime Minister of Israel, how would you feel if you were accused of a war crime?

Reasons TO support Israel

Iran's getting the nuclear bomb is a threat not just to Israel but to all of us. Why should we worry more about Iran having The Bomb than about other countries with nuclear capabilities? Iran is different from all the other nuclear powers in that it is the only country whose leader called for wiping another country off the face of the earth. That could trigger a war of unimaginable consequences for us all.

Of course, Israel is not perfect--just as individual U.S. soldiers have made terrible mistakes, no doubt so have some Israeli soldiers. But perfect is the enemy of the good. I believe that all peace-loving people must support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, the only country in which women are treated as equals, in which Arabs sit alongside Jews in Israel's parliament, the country with the highest per-capita literacy rate and highest rate of biomedical patents in the world.

I worry that President Obama's willingness to negotiate more directly with Hamas will send a message to Hamas and to other radical terrorist groups such as Hizbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Al Qaeda that terrorism pays. But in balance, I believe the Obama administration is wise in its willingness to negotiate with a wider range of Middle East players. Also, I am pleased by Obama's plan to offer a more nuanced blend of carrots, sticks, and negotiation to deter Iran's nuclear threat. I am additionally optimistic about peace in the Middle East because of the caliber of people being brought to bear: George Mitchell, Hillary Clinton, Dennis Ross, Richard Holbrook, Barack Obama himself and the increasingly moderate Benjamin Netanyahu. Betting on the triumph of hope over experience, I am cautiously optimistic that we will, sooner rather than later, see that most elusive of goals: a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Top 10 Ways to Gain Willpower

Updated: Mar. 6, 2014

So many people can't motivate themselves to do what they know they should. Here are my top ten ways to gain willpower. Might one or more help you?

10. Embrace work. Work can feel as or more rewarding than play. Even though I enjoy, for example, watching movies, I feel better about working with a client and yes, writing this blog post. Because my work isn't too hard or too easy, it is pleasurable, and I feel I'm making a contribution--unlike when I'm watching a movie.

For my dad, work was a wonderful healer. After surviving the Holocaust, he was dumped from a cargo ship into the Bronx. He took the first job he could find--sewing shirts in a Harlem factory. It distracted him from his past and gave him hope for a better future. He finally saved up enough to open a tiny retail store in a bad neighborhood. While I can't say he loved his work, it avoided his living in the past, and made him feel purposeful, providing a decent life for his wife, my sister, and me.

It may be easier to embrace work if you always ask yourself, "What's the fun way to do this?" Even resume writing, cold calling, and interviewing can be reframed to be more fun. View resume writing as a way to figure out all the good things about yourself. Think of cold-calling as a treasure hunt, a backdoor into a crowded employment front door. Instead of an interrogation, think of a job interview as a first date, in which you're both trying to figure out if you should become more involved.

9. If possible, set an exciting goal. Goethe said, "Small dreams motivate no one." Worried about the risk of a trying for a big goal? You can usually control the risk. For example, use the time-honored approach of having a stable mundane job to fund your ability to pursue your dream. 

For example, Wallace Stegner waited tables at night and wrote during the day. He ended up winning a Pulitzer for his writing and founded Stanford's creative writing program, where his students included Sandra Day O' Connor, Ken Kesey, and Larry McMurtry. Remember too that even if you don't achieve your goal--for example, you never get published--your life is richer for having tried-- and you didn't, in the process, risk destitution.

8. Tell your goal to your loved ones--To avoid the embarrassment of admitting to your loved ones that you failed, you'll be more motivated to complete the task.

7. Don't think, act. The famous psychologist, William James, wrote, "The more we struggle and debate, the more we reconsider and delay, the less likely we are to act." Don't wait until you feel better to start the task, for example, looking for a job. Start and you're more likely to feel better.

6. The 6-step procrastination cure I teach my clients:
1. Decide if the task is worth doing: Picture the benefit. Picture the downside. If it is worth doing, do you love yourself enough to delay the short-term pleasure of avoiding the task for the long-term rewards from accomplishing it? Is it worth getting comfortable being uncomfortable?

2. Be aware of the moment you decide whether to start the task. Being conscious of that moment makes you more likely to choose to do the task.

3. Break the task down to baby steps. Don't know how? Get help.

4. Overwhelmed by the task? Try asking yourself, "What's my next one-second task?" Do that a few times and you may have jump-started yourself.

5. Be aware of your crisis points: when you're likely to procrastinate, for example, cooking when it would be wisest to work on your resume.

6. The one-minute struggle: After a minute of struggle, you're unlikely to make more progress. You are likely to get frustrated and quit the task. So after a minute, get help or see if you can do the task without doing that hard part.
5. Make it a ritual. If you're a job seeker, every day, be at your desk at 9 and take a five-minute break only after you've worked for at least a half-hour.

4. Keep your goal top-of-mind. It's easy to forget that you need to work on that project. Memotome.com will send you a reminder email twice a day. I'm trying to lose 15 pounds so I get emails saying, "Reasons to lose weight: live longer, fit in clothes better, look better. And remember, 'a moment of the lips; a lifetime on the hips.'" Update: Candidly, while this sounded good to me. It hasn't worked for me.

3. Go all the way: Instead of tackling your task in drips and drabs, totally immerse yourself in it. When it was time to start writing my first book, I moved out of my house for a week. I rented a cabin in Bolinas, just took my laptop (and my portable music synthesizer for recreation) and wrote for eight hours a day for a week. I got so into writing the book that it was easy for me to continue writing when I got home.

Another example of my going all the way: The only time I lost weight was when I was on a strict diet in which every day, I ate the same foods adding up to 1200 calories a day. That took the choice out of the matter.

2. Try affirmations. Some experts believe that repeating positive affirmations (for example, "I am going to do this!)-and visualizing your succeeding change your brain's neuronal structure, leading to more positive behavior. Viktor Frankl claims that his positive thinking helped him survive the Holocaust. Sports psychologists use visualization with pro athletes.

1. Have a cheerleader or slave-driver cheering, jeering, and/or guilt-tripping you into action.

BONUS: Don't let setbacks stop you prematurely. When you screw up, remember that winners err often. But winners don't get depressed about it--They ask themselves whether there's anything to learn from the setback, and they move on. Of course, if you fail and fail and fail again at something, perhaps the world is telling you you need a different goal. As Kenny Rogers says, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.

Okay, are any of those strategies likely to help you get unstuck?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Obama is Killing America

Yes, I know I promised to not write any more about politics but I cannot restrain myself.

I warned you that Obama, once elected, would govern as a hard, extreme leftist and many of you scoffed. I warned that his radicalism would get heavily implemented because of the perfect storm of his charisma, a liberal Congress, and the media that had become a spin doctor for his policies.

But even I wouldn't have expected that Obama would have so quickly done so much that, long-term, will hurt our country:
  • A $787 billion first-installment spending spree using your money, designed to make people (already strapped) to buy stuff on credit. He warns that more big rounds of government spending sprees using your money are coming.
Obama seems unaware of the negative consequences of his spending. For example, in extending unemployment checks to more than a year(!), every one of my career counseling clients who are unemployed say things like, 'Good, now I won't have to look for a job until a year from now."--the opposite of what's needed: putting more people to work. Thus, you and I are paying to encourage people to not look for work, just as welfare checks did.
  • A second phenomenally expensive set of bank bailouts, after the first (initiated by George Bush) has been a failure: the TARP assets have already lost half their value and banks have refused to say where the other TARP money has gone. Consensus is that another TRILLION-PLUS of your money will be spent to buy more bad assets. Why? So people and businesses can buy more on credit?! With few exceptions, we should not be buying more than we can afford to buy for cash. Corporations are figuring out how they can be redesignated as banks so they can join the bailout conga line and cash in on the bailout bonanza. And the Obama administration is even talking about nationalizing the banks. Karl Marx is smiling in his grave. Adam Smith and Ayn Rand are grimacing.
  • Calls for large increases in the amount of regulation. Do we never learn? From Prohibition to ERISA, HIPAA to Sarbanes-Oxley, attempts at heavy regulation have proven  bizarrely expensive, metastasizing government programs have proven to be failures, certainly not cost-effective uses of your and my tax dollars. The SEC had 530 Bernie Madoffs, all ignored. The FDA knew about the Peanut Corp of America's salmonella-infested factory and never bothered to force the company to improve or get shut down.
It is impossible to police a nation's behavior. The wisest approach is to make greater efforts, cradle to grave, public and private, to educate people of the primacy of ethics: in parenting education, preschool through graduate school, and in public service messages (See this blog post for more on how to create an ethical America.) Prevention is our best chance; policing ethics can never work well enough to justify the cost.
  • Now Obama will spend many billions more of your money to bail out people who bought a more house than they could comfortably afford. What will that do? People who CAN afford to pay their mortgages will say they can't so they can cash in on the government handout--with you and I paying for it. Most ironic, that means that renters (who of course pay taxes) will be subsidizing overspending homeowners, including those who fabricate their need for a bailout.
  • The Bush administration gave billions of your money to the automakers to straighten themselves out. The Obama administration said, "Send us your improvement plans and if we like them, we'll give you many more billions. What have the car companies proposed? Trim a few models and lay off workers who had no cars to build anyway. That doesn't change the fact that American cars are the same inferior vehicles they long have been--Why do you think so many U.S. lawmakers drive Toyotas and Hondas, not Chevys and Fords. And even the vaunted savior, the electric Chevy Volt, will cost $40,000 versus a Toyota Prius' $22,000. Toyotas are known for reliability while American cars are known for breaking down (by design--A mechanic told me that U.S. car parts are made to last shorter than are Toyota parts.) Would YOU buy an American car? Do you think Obama's giving billions more of your money to implement the above plan will make the public buy a Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler over a Toyota or Honda? Would YOU, especially with U.S. carmakers on the brink of bankruptcy? Even if the government bailout did enable U.S. auto corporations to survive, is it worth taking your tax dollars to do so?
Of course, Obama has only just begun: To achieve his goal of doing all that spending while cutting the deficit, he'll take ever more of our money, borrow yet more (much from the Chinese) and print the rest (reducing the value of our savings) to reward the bad guys and punish the good. Next in line will be people who bought more on their credit cards than they could afford and illegal immigrants who will get an amnesty that will cost you and I many billions on a panoply of social programs. Obama will spend big on solar and wind, which because of physics limitations are likely to be no more than bit players in the effort to gain energy independence and become a nation that uses clean energy. He'll bail out (as always with our money) states and municipalities that spend beyond their means. His so-called "Dream Act" will mean that your children will have a worse chance of getting into public colleges, even the most prestigious, so that illegals can get admitted, usually with worse grades and test scores. and at in-state tuition. And I predict he will force us to use a socialized-medicine health care system that will mean that your hard work in being able to afford good health care will be punished so that unemployed people and illegals will get better health care.

Forty-seven percent of voters voted against Obama but he has broken his promise: He is not even close to governing using principles from both left and right of center. Consistent with his background that the media refused to focus on, Obama is, as I predicted, governing as a hard Leftist, so much more so than anyone could have conceived of as possible in a U.S. president. I do believe that Obama will turn America into a third-world nation, perhaps even before our children grow up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Would You be a Big Brother/Sister to a Neglected Smart Kid?

I am helping Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America to assess the viability of the following idea.

In so many of today's elementary schools, the focus has shifted from bright kids (those with the greatest potential to solve our social problems, cure our diseases, become wise leaders) to low-achieving kids, in part because of No Child Left Behind, which gives schools big carrots and sticks for helping low achievers achieve basic proficiency but no carrots or sticks for helping bright kids to live up to their potential.

As a result, countless bright kids, especially in working-class and lower-middle-class communities, wither in public elementary schools--bored, not even close to living up to their potential.

And if such a kid can't sit still for the six hours a day, five days a week of boredom, he or she is often endlessly put down by the teacher and/or put on a Ritalin leash. This group of kids has an enormous unmet need, a huge gap between how well they could be doing and how well they're actually doing, academically and especially socially and emotionally.


A mentoring relationship is perhaps the most potent way to help people live up to their potential. And that is why I am volunteering to help Brothers/Big Sisters assess the viability of its extending its outreach to specifically include bright kids in working-class and lower-middle class public schools and to Big Brothers/Sisters that would be particularly well-suited to mentoring them, for example, alumni of selective colleges.

So, do you think it would be difficult to recruit "Bigs" (mentors) for neglected bright kids in working-class public schools?

And theoretically, might you consider being a Big Brother to such a kid, for example, speaking with and/or seeing your "Little" periodically, say an hour a week?

Top 10 (Plus one) Job-Search Tips for Introverts

These are my adaptations of ideas in Wendy Gelberg's book, The Successful Introvert.

10. Realize that introverts are, to many people more impressive than extroverts. They listen better, come to the point, are less likely to make impulsive errors, and aren't overwhelming. That realization should make you more comfortable in networking and in interviews.

9. Remember that in reaching out for job leads, you're imposing no more than when you ask a stranger on the street for directions. If an employer isn't interested, she needn't return your call or can quickly say she can't help you. And you can survive the rejection. Most winners are rejected more often than they're accepted.

8. Introverts love when others promote them. So if your resume is impressive, send it to a recruiter and/or staffing company. Find links to recruiting firms at the Riley Guide.

7. The Internet can be your friend. The secret is to spend most of your Net time not in answering ads but in writing to potential employers who do not have an appropriate opening. Once the job is open, the employer will usually be overwhelmed with job seekers.

Just write a 100-t0 200-word email to the person with the power to hire you--Its guts should be three one-line statements: the three thingsyou'd most want that employer to know about you. Here might be one: " When I arrived, the office was a bunch of file folders that were often out of order. Now, I've installed an electronic medical records system."

If you like, attach a work sample or others' glowing statements about you.

Conclude your email by asking the employer if s/he'd be willing to talk with you about possible employment or offer advice on where you might turn.

6. Use the introvert's preference for research over people contact to learn about your target employer and interviewers. But don't learn too much. A quick look at the employer's site, a Google search, and perhaps LinkedIn search are enough. Not only does more in-depth research take time, when a job seeker knows more about an employer than the employer does, the candidate can appear desperate and/or make the employer feel invaded, creepy.

5. You're not bragging about nor exaggerating your accomplishments; you're reporting them. That reframing can help introverts feel better about selling themselves.

4. Write a script for:
  • A 10-second job search statement, for example, "I'm a cost accountant who loves his work but my company just sent all the accounting work to India, so I'm looking for work."
  • A 45-second job search statement, for example, "After getting my degree in accounting, I worked at a small firm and then moved to Deloitte for a promotion. I've gotten really good evaluations all along and so it was a shock when I got a layoff notice--they're moving the entire accounting department to India. My favorite work has been in budget forecasting and having a seat at the table when my boss discusses strategic issues but I'm also fine with tax and audit work. I'm just looking for a job at a good company with good people that's not too long a commute from Oakland."
  • Interview questions you're afraid of, for example, "How come you've been unemployed for 10 years?"
Then practice paraphrasing your script so you don't sound scripted.

3. Employers are suckers for enthusiasm and energy. So, yes, be yourself but be your most energetic self.
2. An interview is mutual: a conversation, not an interrogation. So, apply the introvert's good listening skills during an interview to probe for information and to derive intuitions about whether you really want this job.

1. Schedule breaks to recharge your batteries when you are involved in the social aspects of job searching.


Bonus: Keep your eyes on the prize--Do what you need to do to land a good job, even if some of the necessary activities make you uncomfortable.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Latest from the Green Career Front

As readers of this blog know, I have grave doubts about the wisdom of spending big on most Green initiatives except nuclear and fuel cell research.

However, along with big government, Green is the MegaTrend. So, for those who want to ride rather than buck the wave, I asked Carol McClelland, who runs greencareercentral.com to email me a report on what she found to be new and important at the Good Jobs/Green Jobs National Conference that she just attended. Here are the key takeaways:

Note: All the Doubting Thomas comments are mine, not Carol's.

Smart Grid - To replace our old electrical grid with a blackout-resistant one, a consortium of companies just released The U.S. Smart Grid Revolution: KEMA's Perspectives for Job Creation that "estimates up to 280,000 new jobs can be created directly from the deployment of Smart Grid technologies."

Greenhouse Gas Management. The Obama Administration and liberal Congress will likely impose cap-and-trade restrictions on businesses. That creates a need (well, a want) for experts at assessing how much carbon a company emits. The GMG Management Institute offers courses.

Wind. A short construction cycle means that wind turbines can start producing clean energy just six months after construction begins. Of course, wind-power's low yield of energy relative to its cost of generation and transmission likely dooms it to being just a bit player in the total energy solution but it's an ObamaPriority in the just-passed stimulus package and in future Obama/Congress spending sprees, so many wind jobs should be created. For more info on wind from its advocates: www.newwindagenda.org).(Click on the bottom of the page to enlarge the map of current wind manufacturing facilities.)

Green Hospital Construction and Retrofitting. For info: Practice Greenhealth or attend the upcoming CleanMed2009 Conference.

Energy Efficiency. Obama's stimulus package will help companies that make buildings more energy efficient. Green building supply manufacturers should benefit and building contractors better be offering a green menu or risk losing out on the fad (oops, trend.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Favorite Quotes About Work

I read all 1001 of the quotes in the book, 1001 Best Things Ever Said About Work. Here are my 62 favorites arranged by category:

ACT

There is nothing brilliant nor outstanding in my record, except perhaps this one thing: I do the things that I believe ought to be done .... And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act.— Theodore Roosevelt 

The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete. — Lao Tzu 

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer. — Nolan Bushnell 

When you're going through hell, keep going. — Albert Einstein 

APPRECIATING WORK

It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness. — Thomas Jefferson 

It is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. — Ecclesiastes 3:13. 

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one. — Oscar Wilde  

The nearer man comes to his goal to make his life easy and abundant, the more he undermines the foundations of a meaningful existence. — Franz Alexander  

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one. — Elbert Hubbard  

It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man. — Benjamin Franklin 

To toil for a hard master is bitter, but to have no master to toil for is more bitter still. — Oscar Wilde 

When some fellers decide to retire nobody knows the difference. — Kin Hubbard

ANTI-DILETTANTISM/GENERALIST

That man who knows too many trades . . . .his family starves. — Chinese proverb 

ARROGANCE

Arrogance is too often the companion of excellence. — Unknown wise person  

ATTITUDE

Little things affect little minds. — Benjamin Disraeli 

It takes a strong fish to swim against the current. Even a dead one can float with it. — John Crowe 

If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches. — Rainer Maria Rilke 

Faced with having to change our views or prove that there is no need to do so, most of us immediately get busy on the proof. — John Kenneth Galbraith 

A professional is a man who can do his job when he doesn't feel like it. An amateur is a man who can't do his job when he does feel like it. — James Agate 

CLOTHING

Being a well-dressed person is a career, and he who goes in for it has no time for anything else. — Heywood Broun 

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. — Oscar Wilde 

COMMITTEES/TEAMWORK

A committee of three gets things done if two don't show up. — Unknown wise person  

A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and quietly strangled. — Sir Barnett Cocks 

If you want a track team to win the high jump you must find one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can jump one foot. — Unknown wise person  

What the crowd requires is mediocrity of the highest order. — Auguste Préault

 COMMUNICATION

No one ever listened himself out of a job. — Calvin Coolidge

It's not what you say but the way you say it.- — French proverb

Words that do not match deeds are not important. — Ernesto Che Guevara  

When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, a hundred. — Thomas Jefferson  

DELEGATION

I made up my mind long ago that life was too short to do anything for myself that I could pay others to do for me. — W. Somerset Maugham 

Success means only doing what you do well, letting someone else do the rest. — Goldstein S. 

DIPLOMACY

Diplomacy is letting someone else have your way. — Lester Pearson

A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip. — Caskie Stinnett 

EQUALITY

Inferiors revolt in order that they be equal, and equals that they be superior. — Aristotle

Equality is what does not exist among mortals. — e. e. cummings  

That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane individual has ever given his assent. — Aldous Huxley 

ETHICS

The darkest hour in any man's life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it. — Horace Greeley  

FAILURE/MISTAKES

I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. — George Patton  

More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren't so busy denying them. — Harold J. Smith 

GETTING FIRED

Getting fired is nature's way to telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place. — Hal Lancaster 

GOALS

I always wanted to be a somebody but I should have been more specific. — Lily Tomlin  

Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal and I will give you a stock clerk. — J. C. Penney 

HURRY

They stumble that run fast. — William Shakespeare  

HIRING WELL

If each of us hires people smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. — David Ogilvy 

JOB SECURITY

Perform your job better than anyone else can. That's the best job security I know. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  

LUCK

The worst cynicism: a belief in luck. — Joyce Carol Oates 

MANAGEMENT

So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work. — Peter Drucker 

NEATNESS

If your company has a clean-desk policy, the company is nuts and you're nuts to stay there. — Tom Peters  

PERFECTIONISM

A lot of disappointed people have been left standing on the street corner waiting for the bus marked Perfection. — Donald Kennedy  

The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement. — George F. Will  

Do the right things instead of trying to do everything right. — Peter Drucker  

PERSISTENCE

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge  

PLANS

Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work. — Peter F. Drucker  

PLAYING TO YOUR STRENGTHS

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. — John Wooden 

Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation. — Aristotle 

REWARDS

Don't work for recognition, but do work worthy of recognition. — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  

The highest reward that God gives us for good work is the ability to do better work. — Elbert Hubbard 

RETIREMENT

Retirement is the ugliest word in the language. — Ernest Hemingway  

To retire is the beginning of death. — Pablo Casals  

TALENT

I don't have a lot of respect for talent. Talent is genetic. It's what you do with it that counts. — Martin Ritt  

THRIFT

It is vain to do with more what can be done with less. — William of Occam  

TIME MANAGEMENT

Those who make the worst use of their time most complain of its shortness. — La Bruyère  

Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'll be Hosting A New Career Show on KGO

In addition to my NPR-San Francisco radio show, starting this Sunday, I'll be hosting a call-in show offering career advice on KGO-AM 810, the most listened-to station in the San Francisco Bay Area. It will be broadcast live, each of the next four Sundays from 7 PM to 10 PM.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Palestinian and an Israeli Debate...And Create a New Idea for Lasting Peace

I submitted this op-ed to 10 major media outlets. It was rejected by all 10.

A Palestinian: You claim this land is your land because the Bible says so. Is that the basis on which my family, which owned land here long before the Jews took over in 1948 should be kicked off our land or allowed to live here only under occupation, disproportionate attacks, blockades, and military checkpoints?

An Israeli: Israel's small minority of religious people use the Bible to claim that Israel is the Jews' land, just as the Koran's prescriptions govern Islamic behavior. But beyond that small minority of Israelis, most Jews are secular and believe Israel should be theirs because of their extraordinary need for a safe homeland: For two thousand years, the Jews have been the target of extraordinary persecution: from their destruction by the Romans to the Inquisition to the Pogroms, and of course, the Holocaust. Indeed, it was in recognition of the Jews' need for a homeland that motivated the United Nations to give the Jews that tiny sliver of desert land.

A Palestinian: But that didn't give you the right to treat us as second-class citizens and then, when you developed a military, to be so aggressive to us. Look--in 1967, Israel invaded Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights and took it over--those were not part of the land the UN gave you.

An Israeli: Remember, in 1967, Egypt's, Jordan's, and Syria's military mounted a massive force at the Israeli border and there were calls to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, complete destruction. Would you have done nothing? So, Israel responded.

A Palestinian: But you didn't just preempt and attack. You took over our land: Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights.

An Israeli: If you were a tiny country surrounded by enemies sworn to your destruction, and in the war to defeat them you took small bits of land that would provide a buffer against future attacks, isn't that fair?

A Palestinian: No. First of all, you didn't just take buffer land. You took more. And you then treat the residents like second-class citizens.

An Israeli: As you know, all Israelis, Arab and Jew alike all have equal rights: to education, to vote and so on.

A Palestinian: That's not fair. You know there are countless ways in which Israeli Jews treat Israeli Arabs and Palestinians like second-class citizens.

An Israeli: If, de facto we treat Arabs less well, it is because while we Israelis have built a modern democracy--with equal rights for women, a tremendous prioritization of education, creating world-class scientists who can cure diseases, many of the Arab and Palestinian people are more interested in keeping things pretty much like they were in the 7th century.

A Palestinian: That's both an unfair generalization and very judgmental of you--Who is to say whether your version of society is a better way of life? Look at all your immoral behavior, your shallow materialism? What are you so proud of--that you brought Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King to Israel?

An Israeli: Dunkin' Donuts and Burger King are not core to the difference between the Israeli vision and the Arab/Palestinian vision. Yes, Israel believes that its vision is better, yes better, for humanity. And because we disagree about that, that's why we, like you, believe the only answer is a two-state solution--two separate countries with two separate sets of values.

A Palestinian: I do not believe that, long-term, such different people can live side-by-side in peace.

An Israeli: Candidly, I agree with you, especially because the surrounding countries are all Arab, with such long-standing antipathy toward Israel and the Jews, especially the powerful radical elements: Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, and of course Hamas, the terrorists your people elected, all of which call for the destruction of Israel, wiping it off the face of the earth.

A Palestinian: If you got out of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem, and gave the displaced Palestinians and their descendants the right of return, then I think even the radical elements would agree to peace.

An Israeli: I strongly doubt it. Remember, in 2000, President Clinton brokered a deal in which Israel offered the Palestinians virtually everything they asked for, yet Arafat, the Palestinian leader, walked away. In 2005, Israel left Gaza; every single Jew left, as an olive branch. What is Israel getting as a thank-you present? Rockets, an ever increasing number of rockets--more than 8,000. The entire Israeli town of Sderot has been obliterated. And now, Iran is giving you longer-range missiles that are hitting our big cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba.

A Palestinian: But look what you did--so disproportionate. You have destroyed Gaza, killing so many more innocent Palestinians with your attacks.

An Israeli: When you deliberately embed your terrorists and rocket-launching installations in residential neighborhoods to deter Israel from attacking them--that's a war crime--what do you expect? Is it disproportionate for Israel to do everything possible to protect the million Israelis currently under threat of attack, and countless more with Iran putting finishing touches on a nuclear weapon and Iran's president Ahmenijad, like Hamas, committed to destroying Israel?

A Palestinian: You're right. Israel and Palestine cannot exist side by side.

An Israeli: So, if they can't, either Israel or Palestine must be moved somewhere else.

A Palestinian: Right. Because the surrounding peoples are less likely to attack Palestinians than to attack Jews, I'd argue that it's Israel that needs to be moved.

An Israeli: As you know, some of the most passionate Jews in the Palestinian/Israeli dispute claim Israel is the Jews' birthright because it says so in the Bible.

A Palestinian: There are trade-offs in any agreement. For the Jews to have a homeland where they can, long-term, live in peace without a massive military, they will have to move elsewhere. Remember, our Koran does, in many places, specifically call for the killing of the Jews. And our people contain many fundamentalists, likely to deeply believe in the Koran's orders.

An Israeli: A good point, my friend. Well then, the place where Jews are most likely to be accepted would be near a major Jewish population center in a Western democracy, for example, an Israel-sized sliver of the massive amount of low-cost undeveloped land an hour or two north of New York City.

A Palestinian: That could be New Israel. But how could the U.S. be convinced to donate it?

An Israeli: With the amount of money that the U.S. gives to Israel and the amount of money that Islamic countries and militant groups and other international groups give to support the Palestinians, there would be plenty of money to offer relocation assistance to Jews wishing to move to New Israel who couldn't afford to do so. But there are two million Jews in Israel. Many of them won't want to go to New Israel.

A Palestinian: They, of course, could stay, but they'd be living in a Palestinian state.

An Israeli: So all of Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights would go to the Palestinians. It would all be a Palestinian state?

A Palestinian: Yes.

An Israeli: Well, at least that way, the Palestinians would have the homeland they've long longed for, surrounded by their Arab brethren and with their Israeli enemy 6,000 miles away. And the Israelis would have a safe homeland next to millions of other Jews in the United States, with their enemies 6,000 miles away.

A Palestinian: And after the establishment of New Israel, all the money that currently goes to the military and rebuilding after the Israeli and Palestinian attacks, could go toward things more likely to benefit humanity.

An Israeli: So perhaps it wouldn't just be a pipedream that Israeli and Palestinian children could enjoy their childhood and aspire not to be soldiers or terrorists but doctors, teachers, and artists.

A Palestinian: It is time to replace jihad with jobs.

An Israeli: Hate with hope.

A Palestinian: And maybe even with love.

Getting Unstuck

So many people know what they should do but can't motivate themselves to get started.

Getting unstuck is alchemy, an often irrational combination of one or more of these:
  • Some confidence-building wins, even if in a seemingly irrelevant arena. For example, an IT guy who liked his field but couldn't make himself look for a job got motivated by winning a ping-pong tournament, writing a song he liked, and getting a second date from a woman he liked.
  • Hitting rock bottom. Another client hated his job for years but did nothing to try to find a better one. Then he got fired and immediately started looking. Other people have to fall even further--One client became homeless and was drinking a half bottle of vodka every night. Only then, utterly sick of herself, she started to look for a job.
  • Rigidly scheduling the task. Let's say the task would probably require 10 sessions of work. Think of it as though it were ten sessions of a class--Chances are, you'd go to all (well most) of the ten sessions. Love yourself enough to keep those appointments with yourself.
  • Having a cheerleader to encourage you on.
  • Having a slavedriver, yelling and guilt-tripping you into action.
  • Going all the way: Instead of tackling the task as an add-on, in drips and drabs, totally immerse yourself in it. When it was time for me to start writing one of my books, I moved out of my house for a week. I rented a cabin in Bolinas, just took my laptop (and my portable music synthesizer for recreation), and wrote for eight hours a day for a week. At that point, I was so into writing the book that it wasn't hard for me to keep writing when I got home.
  • Someone telling you "You can't" or "You're a loser!" Your anger fuels you to prove them wrong.
  • Prayer. Many people are motivated by the thought that a higher power is watching over them.
  • Stress reduction: via exercise, staying in the moment, minimizing stress-causing activities or interaction with stress-causing people.
  • Adversity: for example, an illness, a car accident, losing a loved one
  • Affirmations: Some experts believe that repeating positive affirmations changes the brain's neuronal structure, leading to more positive behavior.
  • Falling in love.
Okay, what's going to get YOU unstuck?

The Most Potent Strategy for Finding a Job

For all but very high-level positions, this strategy is the most potent: Send a brief but compelling email to 50 potential employers who are NOT advertising a job you're interested in but who have the power to hire you for a position you'd accept. Follow up with a phone call one day later. For lower-level jobs, the most potent variation on this theme is to simply walk in and pitch the employer.

Why is that strategy so potent?

A job opening is born when an employer has a need but doesn't realize it. If the employer receives your email/phone call or drop-in visit at that point and you help him realize he has an important unmet need that you could fill, he might hire you then and there, without your having to compete with a zillion applicants.

If the employer receives your email when she realizes there's a need but hasn't had time to fill it, you could be perceived as manna from heaven and again get hired with minimal competition.

If the employer receives your email when he's just told insiders about the job, again, your competition is not enormous.

Disproportionately, job openings get advertised when they require rare skills or are so bad that no insider wants to take it or recommend it to their friends. In either case, such jobs are less likely to be better for you than the jobs you could be offered if you contact the employer earlier in a job opening's lifespan.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The End of Political Incorrectness

A decade ago, I developed a personal mission statement: the one-liner from which most of what I do would flow.

That mission statement said I'd champion unpopular causes. I reasoned that if a cause is popular, my efforts would be but one drop in an ocean of advocacy. I figured I'd have greater impact by advocating for changes that I believe are crucial yet contrary to popular opinion. So, over the last decade, I've worked hard on these issues:
  • Small government. I believe that nations are best when government is small and with a balanced budget and no bailouts. Money is most wisely spent when the invisible hand of 300,000,000 Americans, not government, decide where money is best saved and spent.
I believe government should have no role in personal decisions such as abortion, when to die (euthanasia), or on who should be allowed to marry--I support gay marriage.
  • Higher education is America's most overrated and underexamined product. The president-appointed Spellings Commission reported that the amount of freshman-to-senior growth in writing, reading, critical thinking, etc., is astonishingly low.
  • We send too many kids to college. The U.S. Department of Education reports that among the hundreds of thousands of college freshmen who graduated in the bottom 40% of their high school class, 2/3 do not graduate even if given 8 1/2 years. Most mediocre high school students would be wiser to consider apprenticeship programs, short-term career training programs at community college, or learning entrepreneurship at the elbow of good and ethical small business owners.
  • Today, white males are the greatest victims of unfair treatment. Some people believe that still, 50 years after the civil rights movement/reverse discrimination and 145 years after slavery ended, we still must make major efforts to "level the playing field." I deeply believe that argument is fully trumped by the gross unfairness to white men in education, employment, divorce law, health care research, and treatment by the media. Even more important, whenever a less competent/hard-working person is hired, we all suffer: lower quality health care, products, services, etc. In addition, reverse discrimination reinforces racism--for example, when we see a minority in a position who is less competent or hard-working than her or his peers, racial stereotyping is reinforced.
  • High-ability elementary school kids are the most underserved kids today. The gap between high-ability kids' potential and their performance is far greater than for low achievers. Yet today's public schools are driven by No Child Left Behind, which provides schools with enormous carrots and sticks for working with weak students and none for bright kids. The result is that bright kids, especially active boys, if they can't sit still for years of six hours a day/five days a week of dumbed-down instruction, are ever more yelled at and/or put on Ritalin.
  • We must reinvent the high school and college curriculum. Currently, professors (who are out-of-touch lovers of arcana) dictate the curriculum, insisting that quadratic equations, the halide series of chemical elements, the use of the doppleganger, and the causes of the Pelopponesian wars are more important for students to learn than interpersonal communication, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, information literacy, etc. That is not just elitist; it's truly crazy.
  • Society's mind-molders should strive to provide a marketplace of ideas, not brainwash. Ever more, our schools, colleges, and media are abandoning their near-sacred responsibility to present the full-range responsibly held views from both left and right of center so the public can make fully informed decisions. Now, positions that dare veer right of center are usually censored and/or censured, often dubbing them racist or sexist, the worst, most discussion-stifling epithets that can be uttered.
Alas, my decade of advocacy on these causes has yielded no perceivable improvement. I balm myself by thinking that I'm a man ahead of my time. Of course, it's also possible that I'm a man whose time has passed. In either case, I plan to not write any more about the aforementioned causes. (as well as about Obama, as I promised in a recent post.)

I will try to restrain myself and write just in the area in which I've previously had the biggest impact: advice on how to improve your worklife. Hope you'll find it helpful.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Starting a Consulting Business

Are you on the chopping block? Already been chopped? Or are you just tired of working for The Man?

 If so, you may be thinking about starting a consultancy. Here's how:

Sure, if you have great expertise in a high-demand area, consult in what you know about.  

But if your expertise isn't that strong or demand for it is low, you can still establish a successful consultancy. (See below for ideas.)  Like the big consultancy firms do, get the consulting assignment and then hire a contractor(s) with the technical expertise to do the job. 

By subcontracting with a technical expert(s), you may need only  enough expertise to get, not implement, the consulting contract.  Here's how:

1. Do the equivalent of a term paper's worth of research in the area so you know enough lingo and key issues to get a meeting with prospective clients.

2. With or without an introduction from someone in your network, contact 50 potential clients. The model I usually recommend is:
  • Call to say you'll be sending an email with a link to your site.
  • Email that link and a request to meet with them to discuss if and how you might solve a problem for them.
  • Call to follow up. Your goal is learn about what, specifically, they might like you to do and to set an appointment for a subsequent meeting in which you'll bring a technical expert(s) to discuss details.
  •  If there's no response, call once more.
2. Live or via phone or even webcam, bring the aforementioned technical expert(s) to your meeting. 

3. Pricing your consulting assignments: Charge a flat fee (with clearly defined parameters of what that will include) that will ensure that you and your technical person(s) are well paid yet still provides excellent value for the client.

What to consult in:

Pick a consulting area that meets as many of these criteria as possible: 
  • in-demand
  • is complex and technical (If it's easy, most of your potential clients would do it in-house.)
  • will yield the client high return-on-investment
  • is in an Obama priority area (for example, financial regulation, alternative energy, inner city education, health care for low income people, illegal immigrants).  This link shows you how to become a federal contractor. 
  • meets a new government mandate.
  • involves China (for example, manufacturing, import, export).
  • you have considerable expertise
Finally, do a great job. Too often, consultants, especially in their early, hungry stages, focus only on getting the next consulting gig.  The successful consultant is excellent both at marketing and in providing the consulting service. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Final Post on Obama

I am dispirited by the media's accelerating failure to do what it has heretofore always considered its primary responsibility: to provide tough, fair-minded investigation of the issues of the day.


"The media's liberal bias has crossed an important line-moving from their usual unthinking liberal bias to crass partisanship of the crudest kind, practically acting as spin doctors for Barack Obama."  

I teach my career coaching clients to assess the probability of an effort being worth the time. In light of the ever accelerating tidal wave of media-driven ObamaMania, I've decided to move on to topics where my efforts are more likely to make a difference.

So here, I'll just offer my summative thought regarding Obama's policies: Those policies, at their core, are united by one principle: that resources should be redistributed from the haves to the have-nots. In practice, that means redistributing from the pool of people and businesses with the greatest potential for using the resources wisely and for creating positive societal ripple effect to those people and businesses with the least. That formula ensures America's failure. 

That's especially true when Obama's spending will be so massive. On top of the Republican-initiated $700 billion TARP bank bailout which heretofore has been a disaster, Obama wants to spend an incomprehensibly large $1 TRILLION dollars in this spending spree. And experts agree that more TRILLIONS will be spent in Obama's next round or two of spending sprees. And these are trillions the government simply doesn't have and can't get with the proposed tax increases. So, the result will be yet more taxes, including on the middle class, an attempt to borrow huge sums of money from what may be an unwilling world of lenders, and/or print lots of money, which will create painful inflation.

Alas, I believe Obama will able to get his policies enacted to a greater extent than any president in history thanks to his perfect storm of communication skills, a liberal Congress, and an unprecedentedly unquestioning media.

So I predict that Obama's policies will yes, short-term, create jobs and do other public-pleasing things but by the time he's completed his eight years in office, he will have done more to destroy this country than all our enemies combined. 

Of course, the public will not think that: The media has overstated the economy's problems to give Obama nowhere to go but up (for example, today's 7.6% unemployment rate is near the historical average,) will hyperinflate his accomplishments, and blame America's troubles on remnants of conservatism and libertarianism.

That all said, I'd love to be wrong and for Obama to succeed--His intentions are most noble.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hamas, not Israel, is the War Criminal

My op-ed on this topic is the lead editorial on U.S. News & World Report's website.