Tag Archives: career management

Who has time to stand still?

18 to 30 year olds, take note – and then action.

Brazen Careerist (BC) has evolved to position itself as the #1 site for career management among Generation Y…you know who you are.

Watch this to get a better idea of what the new and evolved BC is about.


As one of the founders, Ryan Paugh, shared with me: 

Our vision is to create a career management tool that helps those with less experience level the playing field.  Sites like LinkedIn are wonderful if you already have a Rolodex full of connections, or if you have years of experience to share with potential employers.  But what about people new to the workforce?  And what about people who want to make a big career shift?  How do you network?

We’re creating a place where instead of experience, your ideas are most important. We encourage people to connect through blogs, groups, comments, etc, and build relationships with each other. I’ve never had a worthwhile conversation on LinkedIn and I’d like to see a career management tool that fosters real conversations. I think Brazen Careerist will help do that :)”

And what does that have to do with my blog – and with you, for that matter?

For those of you who don’t know, I’m one of the earliest adopters of the Brazen Careerist community. 

When looking for a place to feature my blog; a place where my ideas would be heard; a place to have meaningful conversations with like-minded people who are doing great things in the community –  I found Brazen Careerist. (It helped that they are ranked #1 by Alltop)

After some persuasion*, the editing team at BC invited me to be a guest blogger.  Later on they syndicated my blog.   As a result, my posts are now featured as regularly as I publish them on my own blog. (Click here to see for yourself)  Something I’m most grateful for.

For more than a year I have been connecting with like-minded people around the world.  And I’d like to invite you to do the same.  Your career will benefit – big time.

How do I know? 

Because BC is a community of do-ers not talkers. 

I invite you to browse through the profiles of members. I trust that you will find young professionals commited to achievement, to contribution – and as some have expressed, to changing the world.

NOW go do something for your  career, join – it’s free. 

Better yet, take the plunge into conversations. At times you will finhat some may disagree with your ideas. Don’t take it personally. Soon you will find that it’s healthy disagreement. Rarely does meaningless  chatter develop. 

I’ll see you at BC.


*During their early days, BC was only for 18 to 30 year-old bloggers. Eager to join, I made my case by telling Ryan that I still get carded at bars – which is true.   Shortly after I was allowed to join as a guest. (and that’s one of my writing career‘s milestones)

Not a sports fan? Don’t fake it…

(Networking for Loners revisited)

Shawn Graham’s post about networking over at Courting Your Career got me thinking about – well, networking.  Admittedly he makes a valid point about how following sports is a great strategy to break the ice particularly with people from different backgrounds.   I agree that as a Latin American if I were a football, a basketball or a baseball fan, it may have been easier to connect with others on the US college scene.   Now that I’m living and working in Sydney, I would probably find more connections with locals if I’d be a footy, a rugby or a cricket fan.  However, as much as I enjoy playing tennis, cycling and swimming, I have trouble faking an interest in watching others play – let alone memorizing their stats.  And even when I know that my tennis game is bound to improve from watching the pros at work, I have trouble stretching my attention span to watching a full match.

For those of you who are also at a loss for words when the conversation gravitates towards the latest sporting news, know that there are many other effective ways to connect – without trespassing no-go zones. (My personal ones are: gossiping, politics, sex and religion.)

  1. Food – As an experience we all share and most everyone enjoys, food is a universal glue amongst us all.  Thankfully, unlike sex, it’s acceptable to share our love for it with strangers. There’s also no need to be a gourmand to be an authority on the subject.  Sharing our finds of eateries around town, our sick & twisted encounters during our travels, or our own experiments and creations (whether successful or not) all make for a sure way to bond with people.
  2. Wine, beer and hard liquor – This is not reserved for snobs and it’s certainly not about sharing with strangers what a fool you made of yourself while drunk at last year’s company Christmas party (save that for the bar scene).  There’s more to speaking about booze than drunkenness and hangovers.  Not enough has been said about grape varietals, single malt whisky and boutique beers, seriously.
  3. Books – Only at high school parties it’s uncool to talk about what you’re reading. Sharing with someone what’s on your night-table or your favorite author is a sure way to connect in a non-threatening way.  Personally, whenever I meet someone I find interesting, I ask them about what they’re reading. That’s how I’ve found some really great reads – and bonded with bosses. (feel free to label me ‘geek’) Why if you don’t read? (which I find hard to believe if you’ve made it this far in your career), keep going down the list.
  4. All things culture –There’s no need to try too hard (or dress up) because whether it’s theatre productions, concerts, movies, exhibitions, or the opera, most people enjoy some form of art.  Speaking with others about the many expressions of art is such an easy way to keep your finger on the pulse of culture. As a bonus, you stand to find out about events that you would’ve otherwise missed.
  5. Travel – It’s more the norm than the exception to meet people who have travelled beyond their country borders (except for Bush Jr. – that’s as far as I’ll trespass the no-go zone).  Whatever you do, avoid giving someone a laundry list of all the places you’ve travelled to.  That’s what nouveau travellers do.  Besides, one of the easiest ways to connect with people is by listening.  Also, we all love stories.  Systematically running down a list of all the stamps on your passport is bound to bore people and make you come across as obnoxious. Focus on experiences you’ve lived overseas.   Feel free to throw in tips.
  6. TV shows – How much can you talk about Desperate Housewives at a business meeting without coming across as unprofessional?  For hours if your client is into it as much as you are!  DH aside, it’s likely that people watch some sort of TV show.  Aside from being an easy way to connect with people, finding out what they watch is a good way to learn something more about them. (For the record DH is my favorite form of brain candy and I indulge once a week – not twice – on Monday nights, Sydney time.)
  7. Sports – No, not watching them, playing them. And you don’t need to be a jock (like some have labeled me). In our health conscious world, it’s more common to find people who are active than those who aren’t.  And how refreshing it is to see how the business world no longer revolves around golf. You don’t need to look that hard to find colleagues and clients who regularly run, bike, swim, practice yoga, hike or play basketball, tennis or soccer.  In that sense, I’ve found that sports are a great conversation starter.
  8. Them – So you have this one-of-a-kind individualistic individual in front of you and you’ve failed to connect with them through any of the topics on this list.  What now?  Talk about them. I guarantee that will do the trick. We all love to talk about ourselves – especially with someone who shows a genuine interest in us.  Besides, as humans, you’ll find that we’re not that different from one another. We all have dreams, fears, feelings. Albeit the content of all those may be different, but we experience very similar things.

It is possible to network without faking it.  I know this after trying very hard to fake an interest in watching sports.   After a few failed attempts – marked by falling asleep shortly after the national anthem – I’m glad I stuck to my guns and instead looked for other ways to connect with people. Staying true to myself and sharing my real interests has made a big difference in my own path.  Beyond what faking it would have achieved. Guaranteed.


Photo by Dallas Photoworks.




Why my first guest blogger is anonymous

This is a big leap of faith for me.  

For the very first time since this blog was launched I’ve reached out to ask a reader to write a guest post.  This reader is one of those highly talented but unassuming people who likes to fly below the radar.  That’s why he has asked me to keep his post anonymous.  For the purpose of this post, lets call him Joe. (This reader is also in the habit of sending me quite relevant and thought provoking comments via facebook.)
I agreed to publish Joe’s post – even if it meant leaving out his real identity – because I believe that doing so is very much in line with my vision for this blog; and my writing career in general.  In order to inspire and empower my readers, I do not believe that I need to brag about anyone’s flashy titles or qualifications. What adds real value to my readers is a person’s insight and experience.  That is what I believe everyone should wear like a badge of honor – not whether they are a CEO, a director or have an MBA. And that’s exactly why Joe’s words deliver.

I hope that like me, you’ll find many lessons in Joe’s search for his career’s ‘g-spot’.  

Finding “that”*

I was at a funeral recently and arrived a few minutes late.  I was taken aback to hear how inspired and passionate the priest was delivering the speech.  This was probably because he was a close friend of the person who died. He said something very important that we often forget because we are too busy living our daily lives: “Leave a mark before you go and do it by living to the fullest”.
I’ve been thinking about his words ever since.  
Plenty of priests, rabbis, monks, parents and friends repeat this. As do we, but are we really doing it? Only the person inside each of us can really answer this.
When Silvana invited me to participate in this blog I was a bit cautious about what to write.  After considering several subjects, I decided to write about how we go about finding the right career and choosing what we do – because I believe that our decision resonates beyond what most us are aware of.
A career is not about academics or money it is about finding the lifestyle that makes us truly happy, something that if taken away from us, makes us cease to exist.  What we study or even the jobs we hold are not what define us. It’s deeper than that. It is how we chose to live and what we are 24/7 that defines us.
Then how does one go about finding the path to live to the fullest?  
Some are born knowing what they will do, others grow into something, others have a great talent and others happen to find it by some crazy accident.
For me, finding the right path, the right job, the right place to be and live, what I call “that” has come after searching and falling for many years. I have shoved my nose into so many industries, places, jobs and what not that I think I have more stories than answers to the question above.
And what is “that”?
A friend of mine once said that being in love is wanting to be at the same place every day and not getting enough of it. That’s exactly “that” because finding the perfect career or lifestyle is about loving what you do to keep doing it forever.
Today I work in the music business.  I’ve been doing so for over 5 years.  To be honest I am not leaving it until someone drags me out after they have killed me. Growing up I never dreamed of doing something like this nor was music an important part of my life, like it is for everyone in my industry. I stumbled upon it after 6 years of being a serial entrepreneur, working in the telecom industry, recycling, aeronautics and the internet. (I got to know the internet industry quite well when the Y2K stock market bubble blew up in my face, hard.)
I used to think the music business was easy: you have a talented musician, show him on a stage and thousands will come by some magical reason. I decided to embark on this “easy” task by buying music business books and making phone calls.
Then I hit a brick wall so hard it took me a while to get up. This is an industry like any other, governed by laws, treaties, costs, financial projections, negotiations, contracts, inventories, time management and all the little things we deal with in any business. Artists are products.  And I cannot tell you how many thousands or hundreds of thousands there are, plus the millions who want to make it. If you want cutthroat by all means join in.
The difference with other industries is that this is a qualitative one. Every product we sell reaches the senses, nothing more. Music hits the emotions like no other vehicle and for some reason it fit me perfectly because all business decisions are based on how the qualitative mixes in with the quantitative, the money. How do you pick a single for a new album? How do you know how to charge for a single concert? How do you sell your artist to an ad agency who wants to place his/her song and image for a brand? We don’t sell carpets that cost $100 to make and sell it for $200 because it fits the market price range. We sell talent and this cannot be measured. This is the beauty of it.  That there are very little formulas in this business; we make them up as we go. For some reason that I still don’t know I am perfect for this (or I like to think so) and want to continue at it for a long time. Since I found it somewhat by accident I am lucky enough to say that “that” found me, but I had been looking for it as well, I just did not know that it was the music industry. I am plain lucky I guess.
When it comes to making the right career choice it may sound a bit silly but do it from the gut, which is nothing more than mixing brains and heart. In other words, there is no magic in finding the right career.  It just takes a lot of wanting to explore, falling down and getting back up a million times until you find “that” or it finds you. Being what you do will make you do it well.  Most importantly it will define how far you want to take it.
I like Oriental philosophy very much so I’ll leave you with this quote from Confucius: “Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
*Read at your own risk

Why on Earth are you here?

Even during an economic downturn, finding meaning in our lives is not a privilege reserved only for a select few – it’s everyone’s responsibility.

At the risk of sounding too preachy, I’ll borrow some insight from Jewish wisdom that says: ”The day that you were born was the day that G-d decided that the world could no longer live without you.”

That means two things:

First, that we all matter to this world. 

Second, that it is up to each one of us to find out exactly why we were put on Earth – so that we can fulfill our unique purpose. (I can assure you that while paying bills is part of life’s package – it is not anyone’s main reason for being)

Here I share with you the process that helped me uncover what I’ve come to call my reason for being.

To get your mental juices flowing, take time to imagine what you would do with your life if you did not have any bills to pay.  If it helps your imagination, take some time to relax before you answer this question.   Close you eyes if it helps you relax.  Take a few deep breaths.  Let it all go.  Once your mind is still, imagine that it’s your 80th birthday (or 100th depending on your gene pool).  What would you like your friends and family to say about your achievements and your contributions?  What about your adventures?

Now consider the following three dimensions of your work life:

  1. Distinguishing skill: This is something that not only you are able to do well, but you are well known for at work.  Think about the tasks or projects for which you are the ‘go to person’.  For example, among my friends, I’m the go-to-person for career advice.  It’s been that way for several years even before I decided to write a book on the subject.
  2. Predominant interest:  It’s possible that you have many interests.  Even so, pay close attention – observe yourself.  What one interest do you keep going back to?  Which is the one that has not been a passing fad in your life?  If you’ve been drawn to fads all your life, what is the theme of those fads? In my case self-improvement has been the undercurrent of most of my interests.  Whether I’ve taken up meditation, read books on leadership, or spent time learning about health and nutrition.  The predominant theme of all these activities is self-improvement.  Consequently I’ve read hundreds of books that are directly related to the subject.
  3. Obvious strength:  Beyond being a skill or something that you can do, it is part of your essence as a person.  It is not something that you learned through practice.  Instead, it’s something you can do innately.  For example, people who know me well, like my husband of eight years and some of my bosses, have mentioned that I’m great at persuading people about things I believe in.  I did not learn how to do this – and no one taught me this. It’s something I do – and I don’t know why.  If you’re having trouble identifying this, ask people who know you well.  Ask colleagues, bosses, relatives or friends.

Where your distinguishing skill (career advice), predominant interest (self-improvement) and obvious strength (persuasion) intersect is your unique reason for being.

When I took time to complete this exercise, I discovered that my reason for being is:

To inspire and empower people around the world to create, follow and succeed on their path and consequently become better citizens of planet Earth.  To achieve this I will empower you with insight and know-how to claim control over your career and succeed on your own terms.

It’s your turn now.  I’d love to know why on earth were you put on Earth. 

10 tell tale signs of a meaning LESS job

According to Jewish Mysticism (a.k.a. Kabbalah) the number 9 represents truth*.  Since it’s 2009, I’ve taken the liberty to declare this my year of finding my own truth. 

Part of my commitment has been to discover what gives meaning to my life.  That includes finding meaningful work.  Those things that bring meaning to my life are what I call my truth.  And as I have my truth, I  believe that you do as well.  Some of you may already know what that is.  In case you don’t, read on to see how you can tell if your current job is devoid of meaning.

Here are the tell tale signs:

1.      You feel that it’s enough to do as little as possible in your job. 

2.      You start to crave external rewards, like bonuses, a pat on the back or a ‘well done’ from your boss.

3.      You play the blame game – and flick-off responsibility for your well-being at work to your boss or employer.

4.      You are stuck focusing on ‘what happened?’ rather than ‘what can I do?’ whenever a challenge comes your way.

5.      Little annoyances feel like big obstacles.

6.      It seems that most of your friends’ jobs are better than yours.

7.      You feel jealous – instead of happy – for other people’s achievements.

8.      You spend more time planning your next holiday than developing a five year plan for your career.

9.      Drudgery rather than excitement is your prevailing mood during the week.

10.  Paying bills is your only reason for being – and for getting out of bed every morning.

In my next post I’ll share with you an exercise I completed that brought me closer to finding my truth at work .

Stay tuned.


*Thank you Rabbi Shuey Rosemblum for sharing your wisdom.

Is your job meaning full or empty?

On my latest trip to South America I met a remarkable woman who I’ll call Maria.

Maria took care of my grandfather for many years until the second that life left him a week ago at age 96.*  As thankful as I am for her unconditional support and care for grandpa Pipo during his last years, that’s not the reason why I found her to be a special person.

Here’s why. 

After the funeral, Maria and I became quite close and she opened up to me.  During one of our last conversations she confessed that she had a dilemma and asked me for some advice.  She was in the middle of deciding whether to accept what most of her colleagues would consider an attractive job offer.   My grandfather’s second wife offered Maria the opportunity to stay working in her household and keep her company for an indefinite period of time.  In her new role she would not be required to take care of sick or elderly people.  In essence, Maria was offered a cruisy job for a very competitive pay.  Even so, Maria was conflicted because she happens to take pride and find meaning in her nursing role.  Keeping a healthy person company – although is easy in comparison  – does not give Maria the fulfillment that she finds in knowing that thanks to her, an elderly person has a better quality of life during their last years on Earth.

Maria’s dilemma reminded me of a situation I encountered some years ago while I was attending a sales conference as a medical sales representative.  During an afternoon break I overheard one of the more senior sales reps say to a group of rookies that they should give their new job at least six months, because after they got the hang of things, they wouldn’t have to do much – and still get paid well.  That conversation has stayed with me over the years because I’m still trying to figure out how someone can stay at a job where they get paid to do ‘not much’.  In this situation one might think that employees are short-changing their employer.   In my mind, the only one getting short-changed is the employee who is wasting their lifetime doing ‘not much.’

New York Times best-selling author and ultra-vagabond Tim Ferriss may not agree with me.  He might argue that making money without having to work is the ideal scenario because it means that there’s time to do other things in life – like dance Tango.  That’s fine by me if a vagabond existence brings meaning to someone’s life.  If it doesn’t, then a cruisy job comes only at the expense of the employee – not the employer.

Like Maria, doing something that I find meaningful brings meaning to my life.  That is one of the reasons I go to work.  The question is what brings meaning to your life?  Is that what you’re spending your lifetime on?


*Thanks everyone for your kind words and support. Given that Grandpa Pipo passed painlessly at 96, I feel sad that he is gone, but happy that he had a full life and I’m hopeful that he is in a better place. Fingers crossed that I inherited his gene pool!

Nimble is the way

Even if I may not always agree with what Dr. Sullivan has to say over at ere.net (like what he wrote about talent swapping), his out-of-the-box thinking is quite refreshing.  Recently he wrote an article about proximity recruiting.  Proximity recruiting is about finding candidates through face-to-face interactions – as opposed to non-physical recruiting including job ads and boards.  If you’ve been to a career fair, then you experienced vanilla-flavored proximity recruiting.

In his article Dr. Sullivan presents the example of a start-up company that took proximity recruiting to the next level.  Because I found their story inspiring, here are a few of the details. 

In need of talented staff, when this start-up got tipped by insiders of one of the biggest and most innovative players in the market that they were restructuring and laying off several hundred of their employees, the start-up team got to work.  Rather than passively wait for those employees who lost their jobs or were about to, to find their company on the internet or at the next career fair.   They created their own opportunity to engage in proximity recruiting.  Literally, they set up a taco stand outside the big player’s offices.   As those who were affected by the restructuring left the building, they were invited for a free meal – which included a chance to meet and greet the team and learn about job opportunities. 

Some might see this as a desperate and maybe even unethical move – because it can be said that the start-up’s aim was to steal talent from the other company.  Fair enough, but it’s already common practice for companies to steal clients from one another – that’s what astronomical sales and marketing budgets are for.  And more important, their strategy worked.    Since in the age of twitter nothing goes unnoticed or stays quiet, the start-up received free publicity – which in the end resulted in more people learning about them – and their innovative ways – and some eventually applied for a job.

The moral of this story is that the start-up used its small size to its advantage.   In a nutshell, they were nimble because they were quick, responsive and resourceful. 

You and I as job seekers can choose to follow their lead.  In the current economic climate being nimble – as employees or self-employed – is a necessity.

How are you thinking outside-the-box?  Or are you staying stuck, paralyzed by your fears, waiting for the calm to restore?

*Thank you sportsscribe at flickr for the photo

Be Where Like-minded Young Professionals Go for Advice

It has been an active end of year. 

My first book is in the editing stage, my posts are appearing on more and more places in the blogoshpere (thanks everyone for your support!) and I’ve been invited to contribute to a number of blogging communities.  

As I shared with you earlier, I’m now part of the Women For Hire Be Gutsy Blog.  I’m also part of the blogging communities over at Damselsinsuccess and of course Brazencareerist.  To my absolute delight, recently I was invited to contribute to the Tools For Life blog at Qvisory.

Very much in line with my own vision, Qvisory is a nonprofit online advocacy and service that was created specifically to help 18 to 34 year olds take control of their money, their career and their health. I’m thrilled to be part of their team of volunteer contributors.  I’ll update my posts regularly.

In my first post I cover the pros of having a day job before going into business on your own.  Based on my own experiences as a serial entrepreneur and strategic job hopper, these are some of the tips you’ll find: 

1.    Make mistakes on someone else’s tab

2.    Receive free training

3.    Get ideas

Read more of: Why Bother With a Day Job When You Want to Be an Entrepreneur?

And no, this is not a self-promotion. My intention in sharing this with you is to pass on a few online resources which I’ve found valuable in more ways than one.  

Happy, healthy and abundant holidays everyone!

*Like the picture? Go to flickr

You either have it or you don’t

A few days ago, while I was at the hair salon, Debbie*, the twentysomething who was washing my hair, offered to give me a scalp massage.  Without even thinking about it I accepted her very generous offer.  Shortly after she started, it became obvious that she was not good at it.  Aside from missing all the pressure points on my head, her hands had no strength and even felt weightless on my scalp. Sure I’m aware that my assessment of her performance is harsh and to some extent ungrateful.

But hear me out before you judge me too harshly. 

It was Debbie’s subpar performance that made me think about what happens when a person chooses a career that requires them to use skills which they do not have a natural talent for.

Taking Debbie’s example, from how she performed a simple activity with her hands, it appears that she doesn’t have a knack for using her hands, yet has chosen a career which depends on her manual abilities.  I’m open to your opinion, but I suspect that her lack of talent in giving scalp massages is strongly linked to her potential (or lack of) as a hair-dresser.  Granted she’s relatively new in the field, and she could certainly learn the trade, but I think that she’ll never get to be a superstar.  And my main concern is that if she continues to do something she’s not great at, she’s incurring an opportunity cost.  So are her employer and her customers.   The tricky part is she’s just so friendly and has such a great attitude that her employer is probably willing to over-look her lack of talent and her customers are willing to put up with a mediocre service because it’s being delivered with a smile.  

The question is will she be much better off (and successful) doing something that comes naturally to her?  For example, I think that she’d be great in sales or customer service.  By observing her, it seemed that she was enjoying herself and was great at speaking with people and booking appointments over the phone.  Down the line, because she has experience working in a salon, she could sell beauty products and eventually manage a sales team.  All activities which use her communication skills more than her hands.

It might be too late for me to tell Debbie all this, but it’s not too late for any of us to learn from her example.  Take time right now, as I did (while getting a lukewarm scalp massage) to think about your own strengths and weaknesses at work. 

List all those skills that you have that you feel you acquired quite effortlessly and that you tend to be better at doing than most.  Then be honest with yourself and list all those things which do not come naturally to you and that it’s taken quite an effort for you to learn. 

Looking at your list of strengths, do you think you’ll be able to get paid for any of your strong skills?  For example I’m told by those who know me that I have exceptional hand-eye coordination and that I’m a great communicator.  I did play college level tennis but I never developed the strength of a pro.  On the other hand, I’ve made a good living in business development by building strong relationships with clients.  As far as my weaknesses go, while I know enough about balance sheets and income statements, I know that accounting is far from a strength of mine.  It took me way too much effort and time to get a passing grade in my accounting courses in business school.  Consequently I’m not going for the CFO position.

Now what should I do about Debbie?  Should I give her a copy of this post and save her some time?

*Name made up to avoid over-using pronouns.

Like the picture? Zio Dave at flickr