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Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin

(Guest post by Kevin Donlin, Co-Creator of the Guerrilla Job Search System.)

“How can I find the best companies to work for?”

That’s a question most job seekers ask almost daily.

It’s hard to answer … because it’s the wrong question.

Here’s the real issue beneath that question: “I don’t want to have to think hard about finding the best companies to work for.”

Admit it. You — like me and all humans — hate to think.

It takes time. You have to pick and choose. You might make a mistake. And it can give you a headache.

But unthinking behavior is a sure way to stay unemployed.

So, let’s re-phrase the query, because a well-phrased question is half-answered.

If you’ve been job hunting for more than 4 weeks, ask this question instead: “What have I NOT been willing to do to find the best companies to work for?”

That’s better. And easier to answer. In fact, here 4 things you can do TODAY to find the best employers to work for …

1) Look at your connections on LinkedIn.  I mean really look. Pick 5 people 
     you admire, view their profiles, and look for the following:
    *  Where do they work now? (Could you work there?)
    *  Where did they work before? (Could you work there?)
    *  Who are their clients? (Could you work there?)
    *  Who are their competitors? (Could you work there?)
    *  Who are their vendors? (Could you work there?)

Do this for 5, 10, or more people, and you’ll surely find 5-20 prospective employers.

2) Make connections at your last employers.  Specifically, think about
     everyplace you’ve worked before. Now ask yourself the following questions:
    * Could you work there again? (Could you work there again? Don’t snicker —
        getting re-hired happens every day.)
    * Could you work for your former clients?
    * Could you work for your former competitors?
    * Could you work for your former vendors?

3) Find companies in the news.  Spend 15-20 minutes researching the
      Business section of your local newspaper, looking for fast, smart, growing
      companies. Can’t find any? Consider moving (or looking harder).

4) Ask 5 people you admire.  I saved this for last, but it really ought to
      come first. Because, the more conversations you have, the more people
      will know about your job search — and the faster you’ll get hired.  So, ask
      the 5 most connected people you know for advice.

Tip: Take them all out for coffee, bring a legal pad, take notes. In 30-45 minutes, you’ll surely come away with answers that will shorten your job search. Total cost: Less than $30.

[If you’re in the job market and want to try something new, you can see Guerilla Job Search secrets caught on video and learn more here.]

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HealScottFrost.org was created by friends and family of Scott Frost to raise money to help defray the tremendous costs of his recovery and rehabilitation from a May 10, 2009 off-road dirt bike accident that damaged his spinal cord and left him temporarily paralyzed from the neck down.  Funds raised also will be used to support a non-profit foundation being created to benefit patients and families of spinal cord injuries.
Heal Scott Frost

Heal Scott Frost

We’d be very grateful to anyone reading this blog who has an extra $100 and a generous heart to help get Scott back on his feet and sleeping in his own bed again.

On the day of the accident, difficulties in getting medical rescue to Scott nearly resulted in his death. A friend riding with him witnessed the accident and spent 50 minutes fighting desperately with the 911 operator to direct police and fire and rescue to the unmarked area accessible only to off-road capable vehicles.  Scott’s friend also tried unsuccessfully to get a LifeFlight helicopter dispatched, but Henderson, NV rescue protocols require an on-scene determination before a chopper can be launched. 

Believing he was dying, Scott asked his friend to get his family on the phone and he told his two teenage children and their mother goodbye.  After losing consciousness and nearly an hour after the accident, the LifeFlight helicopter finally reached the scene. 

Scott was taken by helicopter to UMC Trauma Center where he was determined to have suffered a central core contusion of the cervical spine, torn anterior cervical ligaments, a herniated disc between C3-C4, a broken nose and dislocated left shoulder.  He spent nine days in the ICU and underwent a five-hour surgery to repair his neck, which included fusing the C3 and C4 vertebrae.

He now is a patient at Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital (DCRH) where he remains until he rehabilitates enough to safely continue his recovery at home.  The quality of care and intensive therapy he is receiving at DCRH is exceptional.  The medical director and staff believe his progress is nothing short of phenomenal, but also acknowledge it will be months, if not more than a year, before he regains most or all of his original abilities.

The costs for Scott’s medical treatment and rehabilitation already are substantial. Just two months after the accident, the bills have topped a quarter-million dollars.  Insurance will make a dent in the total cost of his full recovery and rehabilitation, however Scott will be left with bills amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, and ongoing rehab will cost thousands per month.

Scott is now working with his friends to help him create a foundation based in Southern Nevada that will provide services regionally to spinal cord injury patients and their families.  An entrepreneur and single father, he also continues to run his nightlife entertainment company – Titan Nightlife Group – and raise his two teenagers.

Thank you for your consideration.

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UPDATE:  Zappos.com is one of the savviest marketers and social media users in business today, but according to a story running in AdAge.com, the company’s recent advertising agency review process has once again highlighted the problems organizations create for themselves when they aren’t prepared to handle the demand they generate.  Read the full article here.

UPDATE RE: FACEBOOK USERNAMES:  Facebook was ready.  At one minute past 9pm Pacific Time/midnight Eastern Time June 13, I went online and grabbed my Facebook vanity URL (facebook.com/marklolson) with absolutely no technical or account issues.  Congratulations to Facebook on being prepared for the demand they created.

Just past midnight Eastern Time on Saturday, June 13, Facebook is going to launch Facebook Usernames and give virtually every one of its 250 million users the opportunity to grab the vanity URL of their choosing on a first-come, first-served basis.  Residents of the Bay Area will feel it first at 9 p.m. when the lights dim noticeably and the ground trembles slightly from an epicenter at street level in Palo Alto.

The big question is this:  “Are they ready?”  Is the Facebook server farm ramped up to make this a pleasant user experience with minimal wait times and clear system messages?  Or will this become just another in a long list of business/Internet case studies for how not to match supply to demand?

We’ll know very quickly even if we don’t try to make the change at that moment.  Within minutes after midnight Eastern Time, the blogosphere/Twittersphere will explode with evidence of users’ experiences and on the West Coast there will be plenty of time for TV stations to cobble together stories of success or failure.

What too many businesses forget is this:  It’s not the “pitch” that matters, it’s the “catch.”  The “pitch” makes headlines…the “catch” makes money.  Let’s look at a few examples of pitch-and-catch to illustrate:

Oprah and KFC – On May 4 this year, KFC used an offer delivered via the Oprah show for free food using a downloadable coupon good only for a two-day period.  Advertising Age reported, “…should have been a promotional coup.  Instead, it turned into an unmitigated disaster when the company was unable to execute and actually had to rescind the offer.”  KFC “maintained that the chain prepared thoroughly, given the time constraints,” AdAge reported.  Uh, KFC, no you didn’t.

The Catch – To any San Francisco 49er football fan, Dwight Clark’s Jan 10, 1982 end zone fingertip snag for a touchdown and victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game is legend.  If he doesn’t bring it down, it’s just another toss from Joe Montana.  That’s why it’s called “The Catch” and not “The Throw.”  [See also: Willie Mays’ 1954 World Series Game 1 over-the-shoulder catch of a deep shot off the bat of Cleveland’s Vic Wertz.]

Harry Potter – When Harry Potter Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released on July 21, 2007 thousands of Potter fan-atics including a substantial percentage of children lined up outside bookstores to get the first copies available at midnight.  Unlike some video game releases (think Grand Theft Auto), bookstores used the opportunity to host “Potter Parties.”  Kids dressed as their favorite characters, read passages from prior editions, and picked up their new books without a fuss.

Perfect storm at McCarran Airport – The City of Las Vegas worked hard to get the NBA All-Star game played there in February 20, 2007, but what many travelers remember about that weekend was not the score, but the three-hour wait at McCarran Airport security check-in to get on their flights home.  A perfect storm of tourism demand overwhelmed one of America’s largest airports as people heading home from the game weekend met up with tourists there for the Chinese New Year, President’s Day three-day weekend, and holdovers from the MAGIC convention.  The lines wrapped more almost a mile outside the airport in the rain.

 

The takeaway from these and hundreds of other pitch-and-catch disasters is this: Plan first for what you want to have happen, prepare for the worst-possible case you can imagine, then worry about creating the demand.  People/buyers/customers/fans remember the last thing that happened to them first.

For Facebook, that means putting all your IT and customer service people on high alert and on station till the wave passes over.  There will be time for sleep later.  Handle the first 24 hours like you knew this was coming and were ready for it, and you’ll be basking in the afterglow next week, not dealing with aftershocks.

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Every week I’ll highlight a word that catches my attention. As a marketing and communications professional, I stress simple, straightforward language in my work, however I’m always watching for the evolving lexicon of the market. For growing vocabulary, I recommend these sites: FreeRice.com, UrbanDictionary.com, InvestorWords.com, BusinessDictionary.com, Merriam-Webster Online]

 

The word for this week is — Gravitas. This is a great word made popular recently because it was it was uttered by Amy Poehler on the season finale of Saturday Night Live during the Weekend Update segment when Poehler and Seth Meyers were lambasting Arizona State University for declining to grant President Obama an honorary degree in conjunction with his commencement address there: “…honorary degrees carry all the gravitas of a ‘#1 Dad’ coffee mug.”

 

Listed in Wikipedia as one of several virtues that Roman men were expected to possess, gravitas means “sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility and earnestness.”   Or in Houston its a restaurant known for its American Bistro Style cuisine.  Or a real estate marketing firm in South Florida focused on urban residential developments.  Or a professional competition video gaming team in California.

 

The authentic use of the English language, especially words still close to their etymological roots, is increasingly being lost as schools dumb down their curricula to accommodate the Twitter/text messaging attention spans of students at all levels.  Even the unrelated use of the word to label businesses and affinity groups undermines the lifetime value of the word.  I’m sure similar statements have been uttered by writers in every generation for hundreds of years.

 

Two of the most valuable classess I ever took in high school were Latin I and II from Mr. Kimball.  He also taught German.  Actually, it’s a miracle I got that option considering my grades 9-12 took place at Morton High School in a small farm town of 12,000 outside Peoria, IL.  I took the classes because I wanted to improve my fundamental knowledge of English in order to be a better writer and speller.

 

Considering what passes for communication and language these days, if it takes a late-night comedy skit to send new generationals to their online dictionaries, I’m good with that.

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I watch more television than I should, but that doesn’t give advertisers the right to offend me with their commercials. 

There are probably hundreds of commercials that different people consider offensive based on their personal beliefs, but this is my blog so I’m going to name two campaigns on the air right now that make me NOT want to buy their products.

CASTROL EDGE “Think With Your Dipstick” (view commercial)  Since when did it become OK to blindside assault a man in his front yard or at a bowling alley with a long, thin metal rod?!  By a fake Scotsman in cliche Scottish attire.  It’s not funny…it’s a FELONY.  Getting whipped with a dipstick is very painful.  Moreover, the faux-Scot yells a distasteful “stop thinking with your dipstick” at his victim…a ridiculous play on an even more exhausted cliche that men’s brains only exist in their penises.  (note: no women are hit with the dipstick. Maybe Castrol believes women don’t or can’t change their own oil, or even choose the oil they want in their cars.)  Maybe the message here is “the beatings will continue until sales improve.”  This is the equivalent of paid media waterboarding.  And just as I’m positive former Vice President (and GOP blowhard) Dick Cheney would change his tune about whether real waterboarding is torture if he ever had it done to him, perhaps the Castrol Edge advertising executives who thought this campaign was a good idea need a dipstick whipping.

QUIZNO’S “Toasty Torpedo” (view commercial).  This one pains me because my daughter and I both love to eat at Quiznos and we’re good friends with the staff at our regular spot.  But I never once thought of the 500 degree oven that toasted our sandwiches as an anthropomorphic rectum.  First, to provide some balance, I think the new Torpedo sandwich is a solid new product and for $4 is a good deal.  Eating it is another matter…unless you eat it like a SqueezePop using the sleeve it’s served in, it’s easy to find half the contents in your lap before you finish.  But in this campaign, Quiznos employee Scott has this exchange with the talking/flashing sandwich oven (which speaks in a voice that is a combination of HAL 2000 and a bad porno voiceover):

OVEN: Scott, I want you to do something.
SCOTT: I’m not doing that again.  I burned.
OVEN: We both enjoyed that.
[Oven introduces Toasty Torpedo sandwich.]
OVEN: Yes Scott.  You make one.  Put it in me, Scott.

Are you kidding me?!  A deep male voice beckons Scott to put something in him…that makes the Quiznos oven a 500 degree rectum.  And I’m supposed to be salivating at the chance to eat what comes out the other side?!  What’s even more telling is that these commercials now air only after 10pm.  An edited version runs before 10pm.

Hey Quiznos…the $5 Footlong jingle from Subway is lodged deep in my brain.  I don’t like where you’ve lodged your Toasty Torpedo.

UPDATE: AdAge.com wrote on June 25: “Dear Fast Feeders, Please Keep Your Meat Away From the Ladies. Sexualized Sandwich Bits Are Getting Tired, Disgusting.” http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=137541

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G.L. Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur and venture investor / operator / incubator / mentor and chairman of JobDig.com Tweeted today about a post on his blog “What Would Dad Say” that originally was published on Dec. 30, 2008 entitled “The Six Word Resume Contest, It’s a Meme.”  In it he challenges readers to “post your favorite six word resume ideas to your blog.”  At the moment, my favorite six word resume idea is about  me:

Organization in Transition Aspiring Greatness: Leader

UPDATE: Click here to learn how to find your next job instead of waiting for your next job to find you.

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Transparency is all the rage in business and government these days. Which seems funny (as in headshaking versus LOL) to me because the opposite is opacity and deception. What Chief Marketing Officer or VP of Marketing in his or her right mind would advocate to a board of directors a strategy of treating customers like mushrooms (keep them in the dark and bury them in crap).

 

Yet marketers allow their companies to do this actively and passively every day, and it really needs to stop.  Here are a few simple examples I’ve encountered recently:

  • Food packaging. Single cans of tuna at the grocery store shrank from 6.5 oz. to 5.0 oz. in the past year with no visible change in the can form factor or messaging on the can, yet the price stayed the same.  Besides the honesty in packaging argument, recipes often state quantities in terms of how they are packaged, not just weight/volume.
  • Cell phone plans.  Let’s use Verizon as an example because I tried to find this information recently.  What are the peak and off-peak Night and Weekends (i.e. free) calling hours in their plans?  The hours are not listed anywhere on their website or my bill.  They sell the benefit, but don’t publish the terms so customers are left to guess and run up overages.
  • Auto repair.  Why can’t I go to the websites of car dealerships and auto repair companies and look up prices for standardized repairs like oil changes, brake repair and transmission service?  These companies have set prices (and times required to make the repair) in the computer programs they use to run their businesses.

Transparency often requires the point of a spear.  It took a threat of an act of Congress – the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2004 – to force credit card companies to voluntarily make it easier for their customers to know and understand what they were being charged to use their cards.  This legislation has died in every Congressional session since and a 2009 version fights for its life even now.

 

We could debate all day which is the greater offender, business or government.  The Transparency in Government Act of 2008 is “a broad legislative effort intended to make the work of Congress and the executive branch more transparent by creating laws and regulations that would bring more information online and available to the public in a timely manner.”  Organizations like the Sunlight Foundation and Transparency International exist to end corruption, promote accountability and establish the systems to improve access to information.

 

So what can marketers do to promote transparency, and build trust, in marketing:

  • Work in the Open – Expose the process of research, development, and planning to internal audiences, strategic partners, vendors, etc.  There is an art and a science to marketing, but it’s not magic.  Invite input, share assumptions, debate findings, publish conclusions.
  • Communicate With Constituents Like People – How many articles/blogs/tweets/etc. need to be published before professional communicators stop issuing news releases and creating website content that demonstrate they never speak with real people?  Use the “Mother” test (“if my Mother can understand it…”).  Speak in plain English.  State clear benefits.  Better yet, if a clear benefit can’t be stated in plain English, don’t.
  • Be the Conscience of Your Organization – Marketers bring the voice of the marketplace back to internal audiences while serving as brand champions back to the marketplace. This gives us a position from which to call “bullshit” on bad ideas, misleading messages, and inferior products and services.  The most influential marketing execs are not afraid to exercise that responsibility.
  • Demonstrate Accountability – Establish at the outset the criteria that will be used to measure success and the methods for that measurement.  Publish them to the organization.  Evaluate the results of marketing efforts and publish them as well.

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