Archive for January, 2009

Make Yourself “Fire-Proof”

January 28, 2009

It should be no surprise that the easiest jobs to cut in any downsizing are the ones that cost the company money rather than make it money.  If you know you’re in the first group, start acting like you’re in the second.  That means if you’re the receptionist, be alert to the possibilities for new business in every phone call.  If you’re in an administrative position, be creative in suggesting ways to save the company money.  If you’re in IT, try to spot opportunities for new projects that will generate revenue.  If you’re the janitor, offer to take on the window washing and paper shredding as well.  Let it be known that you are creative and eager to add even more value.  Position yourself as someone who’s part of the solution, not part of the problem. 

 If you’re already someone who is clearly in a revenue generating position, continue to shine – no company wants to cut its income stream. 

If you know you’re costing the company money every day you show up – start polishing your resume.

Can’t Stop me Now

January 26, 2009

Is your industry getting killed with all the changes that are happening right now?  We know people in real estate, banking and construction are running out the door in search of new opportunities.  Here’s another one you may not hear as much about – publishing.  Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Harper Collins are laying staff off left and right.  Salaries are being frozen or eliminated.  Publisher’s Weekly predicts that 2009 will be “the worst year for publishing in decades.” 

But what does that mean if you’re a wanna-be-author?  Are all your hopes dashed – or do you perhaps have better opportunities than you’ve ever had before?  In this week’s issue of TIME, Lev Grossman writes in Books Gone Wild that people are reading more and it’s never been easier to get a book out to an eager audience.  Wooing agents, begging for a publisher, fat advances, printing on paper and shipping on consignment are probably things of the past, but there are no barriers for delivering a complete manuscript via a blog, podcast or cell phone.  Let the readers decide – and if they like it, the product can then be created in another profitable form.  (More about turning your writing into income in Write to the Bank.

Most every industry is the same.  If you are in the restaurant business it may not make sense to be open every day, just waiting for customers.  In New York City there is a restaurant that is only open twenty times a year.  You have to have an appointment and pay in advance.  No empty seats, no wondering if you’ll cover the overhead.  I’m talking to mortgage lenders who can’t keep up with the flood of new customers for refinancing, builders who do nothing but specialty work and can’t turn out the work fast enough, and bankers who have plenty of money to lend and invest. 

People ask about my business.  Here’s the deal.  If the economy is great, people know they have options so my business is great.  If the economy is bad, people have to be looking for new solutions, so my business is great. 

What about your business?  I suspect the same can be true for you.

All Beginnings are Hopeful!

January 26, 2009

This is actually a quote from the president of Oxford University, spoken to the entering freshman in 1944, in the midst of a world war.  This is a concept that we have seen confirmed throughout history.  In working with people going through change, I am often struck by the discouragement, frustration, and frequent anger and resentment they share. 

I have come to recognize however, that those feelings always tell me that the person is looking backward, at something that has already occurred.  As soon as we are able to create a clear plan for the future, those feelings quickly begin to dissipate and are replaced by hope, optimism and enthusiasm.  In all my years of coaching, I have never seen a person who has a clear plan and goals who is also depressed.  They just don’t go together.

We are now in a new “season” as a country and in starting a New Year.  While there are lots of opinions on the political and economic fronts, it seems to me that people are in general more optimistic and hopeful than they were a couple of months ago.  Saturday Joanne and I stopped to pick up a video cord at Best Buy, and the crowds were heavier than right before Christmas.  I am being overwhelmed with people who want to launch new businesses – releasing ideas they’ve had for years and they are excited that now is the time.  And the anticipation is not just an American phenomenon.  My alanytics show that in this time period —  Jan 19, 2009 – Jan 25, 2009 —  our website was visited by people from 76 countries.  It seems people everywhere are looking for new beginnings.

Viktor Frankl, in his wonderful little book, “Man’s Search for Meaning“, relates his observations of people in the German concentration camps.  Age, health, education or ability could not predict those who survived the atrocities there.  No, rather it was only those who believed that there was something better coming tomorrow who were able to survive and ultimately walk away from those camps.

Feeling discouraged?  Miserable in your job?  Just lost your business?  Draw that proverbial line in the sand.  What appears to be the end is actually a new beginning.  Welcome the new beginning tomorrow!   “All beginnings are hopeful.”


“Dreamers of the Day”

January 19, 2009

Your dreams may be the real beginnings of the future you want.

In Seven Pillars of Wisdom, T.E. Lawrence says, “There are dreamers, but not all human beings dream equally. Some are dreamers of the night, who in the dusty recesses of their mind dream and wake in the morning to find it was just vanity. But the Dreamers of the Day are dangerous people because they act their dreams into reality with open eyes.”

Now there’s a clear picture. “Dreamers of the Day” are dangerous because they “act their dreams into reality with open eyes.” We are hearing a lot about dreams this week. Our new president has inspired people to think big, and never stop believing that big dreams can come true. Certainly, his own life story is a clear example of that.

In today’s sophisticated, technological world we often dismiss our night dreams as the result of too much pizza or having too much on our minds when we went to bed. But what about those day dreams? Are they to be dismissed as just random thoughts passing through our brains? Should we pay attention to those “dreams” or just hunker down and be “realistic” and “practical” with the economy in the shape it is? With jobs being lost, homes being foreclosed, 700 billion dollars up in smoke, and General Motors on the brink of disaster, surely now is not the time to dream. Or is it? Haven’t you experienced in your own life how those times of trials often release your best ideas? Have you ever taken a dream and acted it into reality? Isn’t that where your best ideas started?

Could your “dreams of the day” be the seeds of creative problem solutions and the opening door into your greatest new opportunities?

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate accomplishments.” — Napoleon Hill
As a life coach, nothing concerns me more than beginning the coaching process with someone who says they have no dreams. No dreams traps people in jobs they hate, relationships that have never blossomed, and cars, houses and clothes that serve nothing but utilitarian functions.

Don’t underestimate the value of your night dreams for problem solving and creative approaches to your situation. And by all means, keep dreaming during the day. Tap into those recurring thoughts and ideas that have followed you for years.

“All successful men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.” — Brian Tracy

If you can’t dream it, it won’t likely happen. Success doesn’t sneak up on us. It starts as a dream that we combine with a clear plan of action. Become a Dreamer of the Day and watch your success soar.

Even the Bible tells us — “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov 29:18)  We are not going to perish as individuals, families, companies or a nation — unless we ignore those beautiful dreams of the day.

No Way — Hyundai!

January 18, 2009

Here’s another ridiculous “bail-out” offer.  Hyundai has announced they will allow a customer to buy a new car and then return their Hyundai vehicle if they experience “an involuntary loss of income”, i.e., lose their job within 12 months of purchasing one of their ten new vehicles.

Just a few details.  Hyundai will absorb up to $7500 in negative equity for buyers who walk away from their loans.  Let’s see – the MSRP on a basic Sonata sedan is $24,050.  So if a year from now you turn that baby back in, they may decide it’s worth only $12,050 – which is about what a year old Sonata is selling for now.  If you had paid $2000 in payments during that year, and they absorb the $7500 “negative equity,” you would still owe $2500.  And now you have no car and bad credit.

I’ve got a better idea:

  • 1. Pay cash for your car.
  • 2. Start your own business. Be like Hugh Jackman’s character in Australia“No one hires me, no one fires me.”

Here’s a 1998 Mercury Mystique I purchased recently to help one of Joanne’s young friends who is just making a new start.  It’s flawless inside and out – cold air, great mechanical records.  I paid $800 and then another $330 for new tires.


Why would a person put themselves in a position of double jeopardy:  a job that may not last and a car where you know you owe more than it’s worth from day one.  There are better options.

Gimmee a Raise

January 8, 2009

It’s the beginning of another year and many of you are hoping for a raise this year.  Ask yourself this:  “How much profit did I make my employer today?”  If the answer is “a lot” you have a shot at getting a raise this year.  If the answer is “none,” it’s time to get your resume updated.

An employee cannot be just an expense to the company.  The rule of thumb is that the efforts of any employee must generate 3-5 times what the company pays that person.  Don’t expect a raise just because you’ve been with the company one more year – especially as most companies are looking for ways to eliminate employees.  If your efforts are not adding profits to the company every day, you are extra baggage that they will look to discard.

Raises are given because you are worth more than what you are currently being paid.  How can you make your company more successful?  Do you see ways to decrease costs?  Systems for increasing efficiency?  Will you sell more this year?  Do you help others complete their assignments when you are current on yours?  Those are legitimate ways to expect a raise.

The economy doesn’t determine whether you will get a raise – your contributions to make the company more profitable will — even in a “recession.”

Go Ahead — Eat that banana!

January 1, 2009

Here’s a story from ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko. Imagine a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage there is a banana on a string. Before long a monkey walks over and reaches for the banana. As soon as he touches the banana, all the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. After a while another monkey makes an attempt to grab the banana — with the same result. All the monkeys are instantly sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to reach for the banana, the other monkeys will try to stop him.

Now forget the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and obviously goes over and starts to grab it. But to his surprise, all of the other monkeys attack him to prevent him from touching the banana.

Next, remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. Now all of the monkeys currently in the cage stop the new one from getting to the banana. Replace the third, fourth and fifth monkeys with new ones. Each one becomes a willing opponent to allowing anyone to touch that banana.

Now, none of the monkeys in the cage at this point were every sprayed with cold water. But they continue to prevent each other from grabbing that banana — the one food that they should all naturally love. None of these monkeys ever approaches the banana again. They have no idea why it’s off limits — But that’s just the way things have always been done around here.

Sound familiar? If you walked in to your work, church, marriage or neighborhood as an unbiased outsider, what would you question about the “normal” activities there? Are you accepting old traditions that defy the intelligence or spiritual insight you have today?

Do you still kiss your spouse when you arrive home or have you gradually become accustomed to just doing what most people do when they’ve been married 10 years?

Are you looking for meager salary guarantees and benefit packages — and depriving yourself of the rich opportunities for free-lance work?  Are you convinced no one is hiring because of what you’re seeing in the newspaper? 

Does your company require you to be at the office each day because you could not do the same work from home, or just because it’s always been done that way?

Does your church sit in pews, sing 3 songs and have a 30 minute sermon because that’s the best way to complete God’s work here, or just because that’s become a cultural tradition?

Are you continuing to stick with something that isn’t working simply because you’ve bought into the lie that “Winners never quit and quitters never win”?

This is the first day of a brand New Year.  Take the next 7 days to challenge all your daily assumptions. You may be surprised how you can uncover some readily available fresh, tasty bananas right within your reach!