Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is Craigslist worth the time it takes to read it?

I am actively seeking a full time job so I look at the job ads on Craigslist at least once a day. I really wonder if anyone ever finds a job this way. Many of the ads are from people who are also looking for work, not offering employment. Others list numerous requirements, up to but so far not including the ability to walk on water, and then a salary that is pitifully low. The wages in Florida where I live now have always been well below what I was accustomed to in PA. Now, with the economy the way it is, they are even worse, but those in the ads are just insulting. Other ads are so obviously scams yet keep appearing over and over.
I'd love to hear any success stories on this method of job search.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

I wanna be an "Outlier" when I grow up

Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" is fascinating but at the same time frustrating. I learned that something as seemingly irrelevant as a birthdate can mean the difference between being a star hockey player and an average one, or becoming a Silican Valley millionnaire or not. Now that I know that my parents' attitudes didn't prime me for success and that I wasn't born in an unusually lucky set of circumstances, what do I do now? Aside from putting in the 10,000 hours to gain expertise in a field, is it too late for me? In some of his examples, Gladwell touches on the possibility for retraining to occur in order to overcome these obstacles. Where do I get me some of that?

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

How deep is the OCEAN?

Although I have a master’s degree in Psychology in Education, I learned something new from Sam Gosling, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas. In his book Snoop: What Your Stuff Says about You, he bases his research on personality on a framework called the Big Five: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (OCEAN.) I had never heard of this theory before, only the Myers-Briggs types which Gosling says are less widely used in academic psychology. Someone had better tell that to the University of Pittsburgh.
Anyway, Gosling attempts to predict how strong people are in each of the OCEAN dimensions by looking at the items in their bedrooms or their offices or even the songs on their iPods. All of this seems fairly simple if you ask me. To conclude that someone is conscientious by examining a book shelf on which the books are in alphabetical order doesn’t require much of a leap. But first you must make an effort to look. If you do, you will undoubtedly learn helpful things about a potential employer or mate.
More interesting to me was the section on stereotypes. Gosling’s student researchers made certain assumptions about subjects, some accurate, some not, based on jumping to conclusions instead of basing assessments on what they actually saw. For example, once a researchers determined that a subject was female, they assumed she was high in both neuroticism and agreeableness without any other clues. It turns out that women are, on the average, more neurotic as defined by OCEAN than men so that stereotype held true; however, women were not automatically more agreeable.
Gosling gives a detailed analysis of how he goes about snooping in recounting how he was asked to describe the personalities of Charlie Gibson and Mike Barz from Good Morning, America. I would like to have heard what each of the newsmen said about Gosling’s conclusions or even what their co-anchors said. Was he correct? Guess we’ll never know.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

It all comes down to selling

If Craig M. Cortello's book, Selling the Fuzzy Widget, is any indication, he is not the stereotypical long-winded, wear-you-down kind of salesman. He presents fifty principles in chapters of two or three pages each. The titles and subtitles of the chapters are even snappier and draw on pop culture to make their points. For example, a chapter using the Joan Rivers phrase "Can We Talk/" is about building relationships through communication and one using Yogi Berra's "Déjà vu All Over Again" is about the importance of repeated exposure to one's prospects. Cortello refutes the myth of the born salesman. He asserts instead that people must build on the foundation of their own observations of human behavior. By using principles from experienced sales professionals, they can avoid common pitfalls and improve their skills more rapidly than they would through trial and error. Cortello's book focuses on selling professional services but is an excellent tool for anyone who sells anything. And in this day and age of image and branding, that includes just about everyone who has any kind of job and hopes to keep it.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dreaming of entrepreneurship

Michael E. Gerber has crafted an entire career in and around the topic of entrepreneurship. His latest book is Awakening the Entrepreneur Within. He certainly has the concept of networking down cold. On the cover above the title is a blurb from Jack Canfield, no slouch himself when it comes to entrepreneurship. The foreword is by Ken Blanchard, another heavy hitter in these circles. Inside are 55 other endorsements. A bit of overkill, if you ask me. This book does have some good information but is also a sales pitch for Gerber’s latest venture, The Dreaming Room. For a mere $5,000, you, too, can work for two and a half days with Gerber, then form your own Dreaming Group with six people you want to help you achieve your dream. And each of them will have to come to the Dreaming Room. After all this has taken place, you will purportedly have the support of an international Dream network. You can also revisit the Dreaming Room at any time, providing you bring another dreamer with you. It sounds like an awful lot of cash going into Gerber’s pocket to me.
Gerber breaks the entrepreneurial personality into the Dreamer, the Thinker, the Storyteller, and the Leader. But his examples show these traits as occurring in partnership rather than in an individual.
Nearly half the book discusses in depth another company that Gerber is creating, or maybe is just imagining in order to illustrate his ideas.
The most valuable insight I got was that entrepreneurship is not about the one who creates. It is about the one who consumes. You can dream all you want but if nobody is buying you won’t succeed.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

One Minute Entrepreneur

I am a sucker for these "One Minute" books. They are easy to read and pack in so much good info. This one follows the life cycle of a business and shows the pitfalls that can easily occur at various stages. I really like the idea of keeping a notebook full of nuggets of good advice. I only wish I were lucky enough to have such dynamos as mentors.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Great brush up course in behavioral psychology

I was familiar with Amy Sutherland since I had read her earlier book about cooking contests. When I got her later book, What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage: Lessons for People from Animals and Their Trainers, I was equally impressed. She spent a year interacting with professional animal trainers and then began applying what she observed in dealing with her husband, friends, family--even people behind her in line at the bank. She gives all the basics of behavioral psychology in a very easy-to-read manner. Her use of examples from her own life shows that the techniques really do work quite successfully on husbands and other two legged animals.

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