It's important for me to get out of the office on a regular basis and talk with groups of people who, in the neat language of business jargon, are part of a statistic called "job churn," the movement of people in and out of the labor market. Right now, churn—which suggests violent splashing—is making us all feel like we're traveling on very rough seas and producing a lot of queasiness.
Although I regularly see individual clients in career transition who often feel as if they are in a small boat in an ocean of uncertainty, I find being in the company of a group of people who have given up an evening or Saturday morning to attend one of my presentations a very different experience.
It is more like riding the subway or a bus rather than driving my own car. When I use mass transit, I'm just another passenger sharing a journey with others from one stop to another. It's no longer the other drivers and me in our separate vehicles en route to different destinations. We're all in it together, which is exactly how it feels when I step into a library meeting room, community center or church hall and start to talk informally with people who have come to hear me speak. And, just like the subway, I never know who will sit down next to me or how my world will expand as a result.
Such was the case a few weeks ago when I met an attractive middle-aged woman at one of my seminars who claimed she already knew me.
I was standing in line at one of those office superstores to buy a plastic file box as preparation (and motivation) for the annual ritual of cleaning up my files, and I happened to glance up at a huge poster with an incredible promise. There, within that very building, it claimed, was everything I needed to be "wildly organized".
Like all clever advertising, the idea had its appeal, particularly for someone trying to keep a lot of balls in the air, someone who felt just the opposite—confined and out of control.
But is it possible to be "wildly organized"?
Thirty-four years ago this month, I put my oldest daughter on a school bus for the first time. The emotions that were a part of that day come back to me every year when I see school supplies on sale, and when the first day of school comes around and I see kids congregated at the bus stop at the end of our road, I relive the experience.
You don’t forget how frightened and small your firstborn looks climbing aboard a big yellow bus that is taking her away from you. I can still see her bravely walking toward the steps in a new dress and shiny shoes, biting her lip and clutching a Flintstones lunchbox, a large name tag handpainted by her kindergarten teacher (it was tear-stained by the time she got back home) hanging from a purple wool string and flapping in the breeze.
I hid my feelings behind a camera, and when the pictures came back (we sent them away in those days) I discovered there were a dozen of the school bus pulling away that I didn’t remember taking!
For those of us who live on the outer part of this hook of sand known as Cape Cod, Hyannis is our “big city”. It’s where most of the big stores we shop in and the larger businesses and organizations we rely on are located.
To get there, you almost always have to deal with heavy traffic, especially during the warmer half of the year when the second-homeowners and the tourists are with us, but if you know your way around, you can avoid a lot of congestion and a good deal of aggravation by getting off Route 132, the main road in from the highway, and turning right onto Bearse’s Way.
On the Saturday morning last May I was scheduled to make a presentation in the conference room of a community bank, that was exactly what I intended to do.
There’s good news for those of us who think we can’t sell. The salesman as we have known him is becoming extinct.
The unprecedented access to information that is available at our fingertips on the Internet and elsewhere is causing his habitat of hype, bravado, and manipulation to shrink, and soon he will disappear.
He’s met his match—the educated consumer.
Every summer at the Nauset Regional School here in Eastham, Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Institute hosts a number of important thought leaders in the fields of psychology and organizational development.
When I moved here seven years ago, I didn’t know that this exciting educational venue even existed, much less that it would turn out to be almost in my back yard, even closer than the beach!
Although the dream of finding and holding on the right job with the right company and never having to look for work again is still alive, there’s an increasing number of people who need look no farther than the contrast between their own and their parents’ employment histories to see that it is more myth than reality.
They have learned the hard way that security is no longer tied to a single company, no matter how impressive its corporate headquarters, stock price, or benefit package.
I was catching up with a dear friend, talking about all that had happened in her life since she was laid off from a company where she’d worked for many years. Although she had been restless long before the layoff, she had postponed taking action (despite my urging), hoping that seniority, a track record of glowing reviews, and being well-liked in the company would allow her to hang on for a few more years, long enough to cross the retirement “finish line.”
Today, as we all know, work comes in two basic varieties. It may be a conventional employment arrangement, traditionally known as a “job”.
Or it may take the form of a contracted service, consulting assignment, preferred vendor status, etc., traditionally known as freelancing.
When I started out as a career counselor, the job was the coin of the realm, and the complicated rituals associated with getting and keeping one took place on a strictly person-to-business level.
On the other hand, consultants, subcontractors, and other types of freelancers have always built business-to-business relationships by providing services directly connected to the needs and goals of the clients they serve. By virtue of the value added by these services, they are granted “temporary” admission to the organization.
In my experience, it’s highly unusual to find a young person just starting out who is able to recognize when his career is not going in a direction that will ultimately lead to work that is fulfilling, and who has the courage to change course early on. Josh Siegel is just such an exception.