Where A Woman of a Certain Age Ruminates and Resonates

I started this blog because I have something to say. Keeping up with it has proven to be a challenge -- what can I say? The cobbler's kids have no shoes! Translation - I've been so busy writing for my wonderful clients that I haven't made time to write for myself. So thanks for that and yes to more!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Expertly Expert or Below the Radar Bland?

You can’t read an article these days about job search, branding, or work that doesn’t advise you to become an expert in something. Even the self-help folks have joined the chorus, “Figure out what you’re good at and market that.” Standing out from the crowd takes motivation, focus and effort to make it count.
In the “olden” days, we went to work, did what was asked, got our checks, went home, watched the tube, and got up the next day to do it all over again. Rinse and repeat for the next 50 years till someone gave us a gold watch to go away. We stayed below the radar, stayed out of trouble, and kept our noses to the grindstone. OUCH!
Fast forward to the 21st century – The job market is tight, everyone is cooler than us and we wonder when, not if, we’ll get that dreaded layoff notice. Here’s a newsflash – your place in the unemployment line is guaranteed if you’re just doing your job without doing anything to make a difference or add value.
So how do you stand out? Get noticed in a good way? Get on management’s radar? You become an expert….or at least very, very good at what you do, and maybe even at what your co-workers do, too. After all, if you don’t have anything to offer, why are you there? Filling a spot just to get a paycheck doesn’t serve anyone.
Being an expert at something means you solve a problem, and you do it better than anyone else. It means you want to know more, do more, be more. Propose an initiative outside your job description. Volunteer for the stinkiest project no one else is willing to do. Take a class, join a trade association, connect with others in your industry on LinkedIn. If you do it right, you’ll be the “go-to person” and wear the guru title with pride. Career-wise, being indispensable is an ideal place to be. The more recognition and praise you can earn, the better your chances of staying off the layoff list.
Beware of the bland, become an expert and give all you can.
So, do your co-workers see you as Marvin Milquetoast or Edward the Expert? Tell me what you do to make work better.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Writing - For Real!

“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words.” Eliza Dolittle had a lot to say about words she didn’t want to say. Because I’m a woman, I have a lot to say. Because the magic of creating pictures with words is something I do as naturally as breathing, I am a writer.
But what is real writing? Or authentic writing, as someone once described it. Is a blog real writing? Is tapping out a clever comment in a forum real writing? Or is it when you get paid to put words on paper?
I wrote my first story in third grade. It was about lions and cubs and it was not a paying gig. I brought it home, it was duly noted, “That’s very nice, dear.” And promptly pinned to the refrigerator with the turkey hands and lopsided pink paper hearts.
Even the process of writing enthralled me, especially when I learned to write cursive. Wow! The very act of putting that little hitch at the top of the “r” consumed me. And I won’t even go into the pain of not being able to write straight across the paper – no matter the labor, my lines always took a distressing downward slope -- no uniformity, no flow, and no little gold star!
Discovering my grandfather’s typewriter at 11 elevated me to euphoria. I could put the words on paper that much faster and I just had to have one for my own. I was so disappointed when I didn’t get a typewriter for my birthday that year. Bummer, I had to go to Austria instead. It took me another year, but I finally got one for my 12th birthday. Every time I rolled in a fresh piece of paper, I was a real writer creating real words for real compensation – a big red letter “A.”
I got a trunk full of diaries representing the need to put down words for my own benefit. Early attempts petered out around March. As the years passed, I trade the strictures and guilt of those empty dated pages for undated, ruled paper filled with too many thoughts in my head that need to be expelled. Mostly caused by errant boyfriends or husbands.
The modern word for this process is now called journaling -- if you write in a diary instead of a journal, is it called diarying? Mmmmm, too close to diarrhea for me. It’s writing, people. Let’ keep it simple here. I’m okay with Google becoming a verb because well, it’s a new word. But whether you’re struggling through your sobs in a journal, dabbling in a diary, or blithely blogging blandishments, you’re writing!
So I maintain that if you are transferring words from your head to some place outside your head – that’s real writing. I write because I have to. I tell compelling stories about people to help them get jobs and I’ve been told I have a knack for it.
What do you have a knack for? What do you write about?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Abundance Flows: Mean People Suck

Abundance Flows: Mean People Suck

Mean People Suck

Has anyone noticed that the proliferation of the Internet has given rise to a LOT more meanness? You read a blog, form an opinion, scroll down through the other comments to insert your own clever blurb, and BLAM – personal attacks, bad words, insults and epithets slung anonymously at the writer and fellow commenters. Sure it’s one thing to disagree about politics, celebrities, actions, sports, and whatever else is “trending” on the WWW. But really, when did we stop respecting one another for those differences and start hurling epithets and insults just for the sake of expressing ourselves?
My grandmother, a lady so genteel I swear she was Queen Elizabeth’s right hand man in Canada, used to say to me, “Fool’s names and fool’s faces only appear in public places.” She would have been horrified at the foolishness abounding on the Internet where it seems that if you’re not insulting, rude, or mean, you’re not valid, or paid any attention.
A couple of weeks ago, I read Jason Alba’s blog (http://jasonalba.com/)where he commented on Ford Myers’ article on the San Francisco Chronicle online called “20 Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers.” Jason noted that most of the 60+ comments about Mr. Myers’ article were “scathing.” On further investigation, I found them to be vituperative, venomous and vile. (I do love an alliteration!) Which gave rise to another memory—this time of my mother hammering into us from Day One, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.” While this may sound like an old-school philosophy to some, or even most, when you operate from a place of nice, life is a LOT more fun and you get to meet a LOT more cool people. And a LOT more neat stuff happens to you!
Then there’s that old chestnut, The Golden Rule. (I should state said Rule here, but I want to assume that my esteemed readers know it and are living it.) If all those anonymous insulters and mean people thought about how it feels to be slammed for no apparent reason other than expressing an opinion, maybe they’d find something nice to say first, then a constructive way to venture any criticism. Maybe if we all found something positive to say first, we’d forget about the negative things.
The other thing that gets me about all this commenting is that the commen-TERS have a tendency to turn on one another instead of addressing the original content by the commen-TEE. Keep it relevant, people, and quit insulting other commenters you don’t even know. It’s not nice, and remember, the more ill will you spill, the more it comes back on you.
By the way, from a career coaching standpoint, Mr. Myers’ suggestions were pretty much on-target, though I agree with Jason that the 20 could have been rendered into 10 sound practices for conducting a successful job search. The point is that cynicism and negativity don’t make for a successful anything.
Okay, so in closing, I’m opening myself to the world online in asking: Have you caught yourself writing rude comments to a blog post? What have people written about your blog? What are you going to write about mine? What do you think about mean people?