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    Entries in career (160)

    Thursday
    Feb012018

    Steve's 12 Rules For Life

    Apologies if this '12 Rules for Life' meme is a bit worn out (I confess to have only just seen it in the last week or so here and here and since I am pretty much absent on most forms of social media these days I have a feeling these kinds of things come and go and I usually don't catch them), but since it reminded me a bit of blogging say, 10 years ago when these kinds of themes were passed around in blog 'tags' and comments, I thought I would give it a shot.

    So here goes - in no order of importance, relevance, research, or general applicability. 

    And, there are lots of more important rules - like the ones concerning family, relationships, etc. that I have no desire to even try to offer advice, let alone rules. Consider these the most unimportant, but somehow vital 12 rules for life you will ever read. If you read them that is.

    And now here goes...

    1. Pick up the tab - You don't have to do this all the time, just sometimes. There is nothing more awkward than handing a server or bartender seven different credit cards to try and settle a $132 check. Pick up the tab and you just made six friends. And made a deposit in the bank of good karma. You may need that one day.

    2. No talking in a public restroom - with the exception of someone in authority if they need to shout 'The building is on fire, everyone evacuate!'

    3. Do whatever you can to control your schedule. Most of us will end up with some kind of job or career where bosses, colleagues, customers, clients, etc. all have some kind of claim on our time. The more you can limit the number of people who can lock up your time and the amount of time you have to be available to others, the more you will be able to focus on what you truly want to do, and I bet you will be happier overall. Call it your own 'Executive Time' if you have to, and block your own calendar.

    4. Don't stress over the dessert or the third slice of pizza or the french fries or whatever you consider your dietary weakness. No one ever looks back on their life and says 'Gee, I wish I drank more water and ate more salad.' 

    5. Jog/walk/move a little bit more. Sometimes when I travel I have to take two pretty long connecting flights in a row. And sometimes I see the some of the same people get off the first plane, where we had all been sitting for three hours or so, and immediately park themselves down in another seat to wait an hour just to get on another three hour flight where once again, we will all be sitting. It baffles me. And while you are at it, you don't need to find the closest parking space to the grocery store or post office or theater. Park a little farther out and walk for two minutes. It's fun. 

    6. Never place a bet on any animal that can't talk. Betting on ones that can talk is also advised against, but it is fun. Except for tennis. Don't bet on tennis, it is pretty likely the match is fixed.

    7. Don't spend too much time on social networks. I know, that 'rule' is everywhere. But even Zuckerberg has admitted that Facebook (heavy use of Facebook anyway), is not that great for you. Check it like you check your snail mail - a quick scan for a minute as you bring it in from the mailbox and then maybe for 15-20 minutes later as you sort out what is important, what can be trashed and what you need to read. Reading long lists on blogs is, however, very admirable and good for you. So keep doing that. Well done.

    8. Sign up for TSA Pre-check. Even if you only travel a few times a year it is worth every cent. 

    9. Figure out the three things or types of work that you like to do the most, (or which you want to become more proficient), and make sure you reserve time every week to work on these three things. Keep (loose) track of the time you spend on these things and do a kind a self-audit every few months to determine two things. One, are you actually making time to do the things you really want to do? And two, are you getting better at these things? I think the thing that holds us back the most at work and maybe even in life, is that we are not good or comfortable with self-examination and making an honest assessment of things. If that sounds like a bit of a confession/admission you are right.

    10. Set expectations (where you can). In a project or a negotiation or even just 'normal' business, people are generally going to be happy or at least satisfied as long as they are not disappointed or surprised. If you have to, set an email auto-responder during your busy times, (maybe all the time), that lays out when people can expect to hear back from you or the time it will take for you to take some action. If you email me today, (it's a Thursday as I write this), and I auto-respond I will get back to you by Monday COB, then at least you understand not to expect a reply on Friday. This is also a confession/admission of sorts.

    11. It's ok to be a snob about something, (wine, beer, cheese, movies, books, etc.) but not everything. Popular culture is called that because it's you know, popular. Lots and lots of people drink Coors Light, eat at Taco Bell, and go on Dunkin' runs. Jumanji grossed about $340M in 2017. And the people that drink Coors Light and hit the Taco Bell on the way to catch Jumanji? You have to work with them, serve them as customers, and socialize with them. You are not any better than them because you like some triple-hopped craft IPA that was brewed in someone's backyard. 

    12. Don't listen to anyone's rules about how to live. Except for number 8 above. You will never regret not waiting in the 'regular' line at security.

    If you decide to post your '12 Rules' somewhere let me know in the comments, or add a rule or two of your own there. 

    Have a great day!

    Tuesday
    Jan302018

    Critics

    From the Wikipedia page on Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)

    Perhaps one reason Sibelius has attracted both the praise and the ire of critics is that in each of hisJean Sibelius is not hearing any of your crap. seven symphonies he approached the basic problems of form, tonality, and architecture in unique, individual ways. On the one hand, his symphonic (and tonal) creativity was novel, but others thought that music should be taking a different route. Sibelius's response to criticism was dismissive: "Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic."

     

    You are either a creator or a critic.

     

    Choose your side wisely my friends.

     

    Have a great day!

    Friday
    Dec012017

    Steve's Holiday Gift Recommendation #3 - Sprinkles are for Winners

    Almost two years back I riffed on the Progressive Insurance ad titled 'Sprinkles are for winners'. To save you some time and a click, I really liked (and still do) the spot.

    Competition is hard. Trying is good. But there are winners and there are not-winners (losers), and in most forms of endeavor, the winners get the spoils and the sprinkles.

    Here's the original Progressive adin case you need a reminder. Email and RSS subscribers will need to click through.

    Pretty cool.

    My affinity for the message and the ad is what brings you this weeks Holiday Gift Recommendation - a simple gray 'Sprinkles are for Winners' shirt courtesy of One 10 Threads.

    Simple classic style, to the point, and available in men's, women's, and even tank styles, you will be the favorite uncle/aunt/brother/sister/cousin if you drop one of these beauties on someone who is on your holiday list.

    I dig this shirt. You may see me in this soon.

    Reminder - I have no affiliation and receive no compensation if you purchase any of the gift recommendation items.

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday
    Nov302017

    It doesn't matter if the robots aren't coming for your job, they are coming for your neighbor's job

    After reading a flurry of pieces over the last few days about the progress being made in self-driving vehicle technology, I was reminded that one job category that seems likely to be highly pressured by this type of automation is commercial vehicle driving. You don't have to be a genius to realize that once Tesla (and others), get enough of their new commercial trucks into service, that Generation 2.0 of these trucks will attempt to not just eliminate diesel fuel and noxious emissions from their products - they will try to eliminate the driver too.

    And you probably caught something about Amazon's newest experiments with retail stores that have no cashiers. Or maybe you have heard about fast food giants like McDonald's or Panera pushing more self-service kiosks into their locations, to reduce the need for human cashiers and order-takers. Or the hotels that are using mobile robots to deliver room service meals to their guests. And the list goes on and on.

    And maybe after reading all these stories you say to yourself: "Self, these technology advancements are amazing. But good thing I am a (insert the white collar 'knowledge' job you have here) and not a truck driver or a cashier.' 

    And whether or not the robots are coming sooner or later for whatever 'knowledge' job you have today is probably debatable, let's pretend for the moment in the words of Big Brother, (yes, I am fan), - 'Knowledge worker X, you are safe'. Phew. That is a relief.

    But here is the thing, the kinds of jobs that are most vulnerable, most likely to be adversely impacted by automation are ones that are held by millions of people. Have a look at the chart below, from BLS data from May 2016.

     

    Look closely at that list of the Top 10 'most-held' job categories in the US and think about which of them, (Clue: It is almost all of them), are going to be increasingly pressured by technology, automation, and 'self-service'.

    There are about 150M people in the US labor force give or take. The Top 10 job categories in the above chart represent about 21 or 22 million workers - roughly 15% of all US workers. That is a huge number, especially considering that half a percent or a full percent moves in the unemployment rates are such big news.

    The potential and the consequences of labor automation are concerns for everyone - whether or not your job is 'safe'.

    And one last bit of food for thought. This issue, this challenge of automation and technology threatening jobs is also going to be a local one. Check out this chart below that shows the largest private employer for each state in the US. See any cause for concern?

    When Walmart decides to move more aggressively into online, self-service, robot customer service pods, and Amazon-like efficiency in their distribution centers there will be an impact too.

    But that's ok. You don't work at Walmart.

    But I bet you know someone who does.

    Friday
    Oct272017

    What do you think you know about job hopping?

    Probably my favorite movie of the last few years is The Big Short, the adaptation of the Michael Lewis book detailing the run-up to the financial crisis/meltdown in 2007 - 2008.

    If you have not seen it, take some time this weekend and do so, you will be glad you did.

    But why I bring it up is that the movie opens with an on screen quotation, which is attributed to Mark Twain and that reads as follows:

    It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.

    If you know the story of The Big Short you'll know why the Twain aphorism resonates. Again, take some time this weekend and catch the film if you haven't.

    But back to the point, or, rather, here's the point I want to make and why I thought of that quote this week.

    What do you think you know about job hopping? Meaning, do you think, as I suspect most of us do, that younger generations of workers, (younger Gen X, Millennials, etc.), are more likely to 'job hop', i.e., have shorter average tenures in their jobs than prior generations?

    I mean, that seems to be the convential wisdom, that the Millennials in particular have shorter job tenures, are much more likely than us older types were to leave a job that either is not working out for them, or for what they perceive is a better opportunity, and overall are less attached to workplaces and employers than we were in the past.

    Do you think that is more or less true?

    I admit, I did, (without ever looking it up), until I caught this piece in the Economist recently, Workers are not switching jobs more often. Here is a quick chart and excerpt from the piece:

    EVERYBODY knows—or at least thinks he knows—that a millennial with one job must be after a new one. Today’s youngsters are thought to have little loyalty towards their employers and to be prone to “job-hop”. Millennials (ie, those born after about 1982) are indeed more likely to switch jobs than their older colleagues. But that is more a result of how old they are than of the era they were born in. In America at least, average job tenures have barely changed in recent decades.

    Data from America’s Bureau of Labour Statistics show workers aged 25 and over now spend a median of 5.1 years with their employers, slightly more than in 1983 (see chart). Job tenure has declined for the lower end of that age group, but only slightly. Men between the ages of 25 and 34 now spend a median of 2.9 years with each employer, down from 3.2 years in 1983.

    And here is a quick chart showing tenure not really moving, at least at younger cohorts, over time.

    So yes, Milennials switch jobs more frequently than older workers. Younger workers have always switched jobs more frequently than older workers. The data shows that the phenomenon hasn't really changed much over the last 30 years.

    What's really striking from the chart is not just that the 25 - 34 age cohorts is basically exhibiting the same characteristics with respect to changing jobs than they did 20 or 30 years ago, but that the largest and steepest declines in job tenures are seen in the Men aged 45 - 54 group. That group's average job tenure has declined from 12.8 years in 1983 to 8.4 years by 2016.

    There are tons of possibly reasons for this, primarily how the events so well portrayed in The Big Short put so many of this group into unforeseen unemployment, as well as how technology, automation, and outsourcing have seem to affected this group more significantly than other labor cohorts.

    But that is a post for another day.

    The main reason this one stood out for me is that the data shows pretty clearly that what we think we know for sure, that Milennials are job hopping, low attention span miscreants, probably really isn't true.

    What else about work, and careers, and employees do we know for sure that might be, in the words of Twain, 'Just not so?'

    Have a great weekend!