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Archive for August, 2007

A few weeks ago my wonderful daughter introduced us to an incredible web site www.kiva.org. Kiva enables people “who have” to lend money directly to people who live in the poorest economies of the world. As you may know, many of these countries are ruled by tyrannical dictators who have no interest in helping their people or they lack the stable currency and financial institutions that facilitate the everyday commerce we take for granted. Recently my wife and I became “investors.”

As your browse the site, notice that remarkable things people are doing for themselves and their community with loans as small as $25. Equally remarkable, virtually 100% of these loans are paid back in the prescribed term.

What does this have to do with Career Secret Sauce?

There was a great movie made in the year 2000 that portrayed a heartwarming story about a little boy who came up with a way to make a positive difference in the world by simply doing something nice for a stranger and asking them to do the same for someone else; Pay It Forward.

Any of us who enjoy the use of a personal computer and the Internet are probably already better off than 90% of the people in the world. Having a great career and making good money helps us provide for ourselves and our families, but it also enables us to engage in acts of charity to help others; people we will never meet.

For me, Kiva provides the perfect tool for me to “Pay It Forward.” First off all, it’s not simply a handout; it’s helping people help themselves. Second, it’s a way for me, as an American, to directly improve the reputation of the United States in places that may have the wrong impression of our generous country. Third, it’s just a loan for a few hundred bucks — they WILL pay it back. Of course when they do, we’ll just turn it over and make new loans to new micro-entrepreneurs in other developing countries.

We enjoy a multitude of blessings. Kiva enables us to Pay It Forward with one simple painless act.

Dave 

   

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been building the case for becoming a presentation master as a way to advance your career. In the days to come, I’ll be sharing some of my personal public speaking secrets. But no matter how much you study the art of speechmaking, sooner or later you’ll need to practice what you’ve learned. This is not as easy as it sounds, if your only venue is your place of work, with your boss, coworkers, or customers as your “opening night audience.”

My advice — “don’t practice with live ammo.”

Seek speaking opportunities in front of people you don’t know and may never see again; for example Toastmasters International. You can find local chapters everywhere and learn a lot about speaking from these experts. Then imagine your boss’s surprise when you open your mouth for the first time in front of an important audience and out comes a great speech — talk about job security! 

Dave

Chicago Lawyer Wins World Championship of Public Speaking

CONTACT: Suzanne Frey
(949) 858-8255 or
sfrey@toastmasters.org

 

CHICAGO LAWYER WINS
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF PUBLIC SPEAKING

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. – It was the World Series of public speaking, the Olympics of oratory, the final bout for the heavyweight title of “World Champion of Public Speaking.” Who would win? Recently, a crowd of nearly 2,000 Toastmasters from around the world gathered in Washington D.C. to cheer for their favorite speaker at the Toastmasters International Speech Contest.

Edward Hearn, a Toastmaster from Chicago, Illinois, emerged victorious and claimed the title of 2006 World Champion of Public Speaking. His speech, “Bouncing Back,” dealt with the importance of resiliency. He explained, “In life, all of us will have circumstances where life treats us like the toy punching bag I had as a child. It will knock you down. The question is, how will you bounce back?”

Hearn is a lawyer and minister who enjoyed speech and debate classes in high school and moot court in law school. Until now, he considered public speaking a hobby. Winning the speech contest was the step he needed to reach his goal of becoming a professional public speaker. Hearn’s theme of “failure is not final” was based on personal experience: It took him seven attempts to pass the bar exam, and he eventually became a successful criminal defense attorney.

The speech contest culminated Toastmasters International’s four-day annual convention, held August 23-26, 2006, at the Washington Hilton, in Washington D.C. A panel of 20 Toastmasters judges evaluated 10 contestants from different parts of the world, all of whom had advanced to the finals following a year-long process of elimination, using club, area, district and regional speech competitions. Criteria used in judging included speech content, organization, voice quality and gestures.

Second- and third-place winners in the World Championship of Public Speaking were Douglas Wilson, of Sumter, South Carolina, and Rich Hopkins of Spokane, Washington.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. The organization currently has 211,000 members in 10,500 clubs in 90 countries. Since its founding 81 years ago in October 1924, the organization has helped more than four million men and women give presentations with poise and confidence. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org.

They are champions: From left: Douglas Wilson placed 2nd in the Wold Championship of Public Speaking; Edward Hearn placed 1st, and Rich Hopkins placed 3rd. Ed

World Champion: Edward Hearn
District 30, Region 5
Speech title: “Bouncing Back”
Second Place: Douglas Wilson
District 58, Region 8
Speech title: “Defining Moments”
Third Place: Rich Hopkins
District 9, Region 1
Speech title: “What We Knew Then”

 

The winners of the Interdistrict Speech Contests

Contest A; Jock Elliott, District 73

Contest B: Mohammed Ali, District 79

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The Great Escape!

Although I did work a little as an independent consultant in 2002 and 2003, most of my career on a company payroll. I never really considered working for myself. When I was younger, I needed on-the-job experience. After I got married I needed a steady paycheck to pay the mortgage, so again I remained a “company man.” That’s why Career Secret Sauce is mostly about “working the system” in a company that someone else owns and operates — that’s my story.

But it doesn’t have to be yours. Everyone has the option to strike out on their own and create their own “business”. You can start the next Facebook, or just install home networks for $100 and hour. If you do, you will have the ultimate control over the balance between your lifestyle and career. Of course it is also pretty risky, but it is one way to escape office politics once and for all.

If you’re just starting your career and you think this may be a path you’d like to take, you can vastly reduce the risk of freelancing with a little planning.  In this article, Penelope Trunk talks about working for someone else as a launch pad for going it alone.

If you think this could be your thing, read on…

Dave

 

Many paths lead to dream jobs

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Today’s workers have three, clear priorities: Flexible hours, work that leads to personal growth, and the ability to spend a lot of time fostering personal relationships.

These are not the characteristics of jobs that typically attracted the best candidates. Most lawyers have terrible hours, most doctors have little flexibility, and most consultants sacrifice personal time for time on the road.

So, what’s left? What are the dream jobs today? What are the career paths that challenge assumptions of conventional success but achieve the top priorities of today’s workers: Flexibility, personal growth, and fun co-workers.

A big piece of the dream career path is to get out of doing entry-level jobs by taking a career path that allows you to jump. Some people start companies in their dorm rooms so they have good experience on their resume by the time they graduate. Some people freelance after graduation so they can find good work for themselves, prove themselves, and then get a mid-level job when they look for an employer.

Some entry-level jobs are still good, though, because the company offers so much in exchange. These jobs are inflexible and demanding, but they provide a couple of years of high-level, intensive training. Examples include being an analyst for an investment banking firm, going into a structured training program at a company such as Proctor & Gamble or General Electric, or going to a top-tier consulting firm that makes mentoring and training high priorities.

Doing these jobs is almost like going to business school but, instead of paying for it, you get paid. And then you leave.

Today’s dream jobs are different than those of the past, but just as competitive — tough to position yourself for and tough to keep. Take the example of bloggers. Some, like Heather B. Armstrong at dooce.com, or Darren Rowse at Problogger.net, do a great job of supporting themselves and their families with their blogs. They have flexible, interesting work, they learn a lot, and work in a community they really connect with. But the percentage of bloggers who can do this is very small.

Working at a venture-capital firm or a hedge fund is also a great way to go. Good hours, fun work, great money. But very few people will be good enough at what they do that these sorts of jobs will be open to them.

If you cannot figure out how to get to the top of a field, figure out how to keep your options open. The worst career track for today’s worker is one in which you’re stuck — where career change would require you to start at the bottom again. Multidisciplinary, knowledge-management paths give you flexibility to move among disciplines and departments. Careers that are brain-intensive but not time-intensive allow you to work on developing your next thing while you’re doing your current thing. These are dream jobs because they allow you to create work around the life you want to lead.

And, of course, don’t forget entrepreneurship. The reason so many young people are starting companies is not because jobs are hard to find; it’s because dream jobs are hard to find. But starting your own company allows you to work with your friends, pick your own hours, and learn on a very steep curve.

So, what does this look like in real life? Take a look at Nataly Kogan’s career. She started out working for a top-tier consulting firm. Then she got a job at a venture capital firm. And today, at age 31, she has founded her own company, Work It, Mom — fittingly, a community for women to figure out the answer to their own dream job after they’ve had kids.

Kogan is a great example of someone with a dream job because the job doesn’t feel steady. She’s at the beginning of a wild ride through entrepreneurship. There used to be a smugness to the partner at the big law firm or the brain surgeon with the de rigueur, stay-at-home wife. The people with dream jobs today don’t know where they’ll be 20 years from now — or even next month.

Even those who may appear to already have their dream job may be scheming to move on to their next one — at a start-up, for example. Google is a big matching service for smart people who have ideas and smart people who want to work on a new idea. A huge number of Google employees are waiting to go to a start-up founded by someone they know inside the company.

We do not have a finite set of respectable jobs anymore. We do not have a single path to the American dream anymore.

What we have is multiple paths that converge on flexible, rewarding work that accommodates a personal life. And we have paths that do not get you to that.

The dream job of the new millennium plays to your strengths. So find them. Because that dream job will not unfold in front of you like a 1950s-era corporate ladder.

You need to go after the dream job every day of your career if you want to get it.

Penelope Trunk is the author of “Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success.” Read her blog at blog.penelopetrunk.com.  

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The best thing about establishing yourself as a good speaker is the freedom that goes with it. Since your boss and coworkers probably fear public speaking, they see your skills as a special gift they can’t understand — some sort of super power. But as long as you’re saving them from having to do it themselves, they’ll give you broad latitude to modify your work habits before and after a big presentation. Paul, who I mentioned earlier, was the first person I knew to really exploit this. He lived on the south side of Boston and had a dreadful commute. He was always looking for an excuse to “work at home”, and eventually discovered “presentation prep” as an excellent standing excuse. Once or twice a month, he’d call to tell me that he had a major presentation coming up and that there were too many distractions in the office for him to prep there. He would ask if it would be okay to work at home; where he could concentrate. Although I was skeptical of this ploy, I always said “sure”, because I knew that I would likely get a letter or a phone call in the next few days commending Paul’s performance. Occasionally, presentations would be so “draining” that Paul would need a half a day off to recuperate. As long as his presentations kept earning rave reviews, I gave him all the room he needed to make them happen; it was helping my career as well

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