The Blog You've Been Missing

Existential Career Crisis

June 6, 2015

Filed under: Coaching,Management,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 9:17 am

A friend called recently worried about her career. She was apparently having an existential crisis after the end of a major project.

She’s a physician by training, specializing in back and neck injuries, using integrative treatment methods.

But, like many Baby Boomers she had been able to cut back on her work schedule and increase her volunteer activities.bigstock-playing-a-game-of-chess-52764313-758x485

As she said, “I like seeing patients two days a week, but I want something more, I just don’t know what it is.”

As I mentioned in my post “Career Conundrums” this is a frequent problem for older workers who already have a career. You can call them midlife crises or late-life crises, but they are generally an uncomfortable feelings related to “Is that all there is?” Peggy Lee’s 1969 hit.

After a short discussion, it became obvious that, hers wasn’t really a problem with “what do I want to do,” but was more about marketing – an all too common problem.

Turns out, my friend had some very specific ideas about her talents. She had even made a list – before I could suggest it. But she didn’t know how to market herself, or more accurately, just didn’t want to. That’s because sales and marketing requires a whole new skill set.

As someone who has done sales support and sales, I know that good sales people seldom get the credit they deserve.

Knowing what you want and telling the world about it require two very different talents. Most of the time we fail to recognize the difference. The real problem becomes bridging the gap.

Many very creative individuals have come to understand the problem. That’s why artists – actors, writers, painters – have agents. It frees them to do what they like, and leaves the sales, promotion and marketing to someone else.

Recruiters effectively do the same for other professions. Unfortunately, not every field has a specialized recruiter and many recruiters do a poor job of matchmaking.

If recruiters don’t meet your needs, you might look into outsourcing – the latest Baby Boomer growth industry. I don’t mean moving to India, but rather small companies who specialize in part time work. There are firms who place financial officers for  temporary positions or others who do the same for HR. There are even firms who place temporary CEO’s. This is particularly common in turn-around efforts, or for unexpected departures when firms need time to choose a new leader.

These outsourcing specialists are looking for a talent pool they can offer on an as-needed basis. Sometimes they lead to permanent jobs, but more often they are short assignments on a contract basis, which might be just what you want.

Believing that the world will beat a path to your door, because you have great skills is simply naive. You may have  a large circle of friends who know what a great job you did on that last project, but unless you let them know that you are open to more, you are invisible. You cannot be afraid to ask for help.

It requires a lot of self confidence to advertise yourself as an expert in a new area, because it risks criticism.

It also means change, which can be very disquieting.

The trick is to reframe your efforts: to expand your network: and practice your marketing pitch.

Ask a friend to lunch, but don’t approach it as a sales pitch, view it as an opportunity to ask for advice. Once you’ve done it a few times with friends, expanding to less familiar acquaintances will get easier.

Marketing yourself is just as important as the new career. You need to carve out time for it. At the start, your new job is all marketing, but eventually, it should just be part of your new career. But it needs to be a fixed part of your weekly schedule.

Don’t get trapped into a narrow range of assignments you will accept. Everyone sees you through a different lens and may see skills that you did not recognize.

And don’ expect instant results: keep your day job until you have some concrete new offers.

If you’re comfortable with blogs, tweets, or Facebook posts you can build your brand on the internet, but marketing on the internet can take even longer and means exposing yourself to many people who may not be able to help.

Your new career, at least at the start, will come from the people who know you the best.

Change is difficult, but it may be easier if you understand that:

1. Recognizing what you want to do, is not easy – you may need help.

2. You need to list the skills you want to market, but be open to alternatives.

3. You must recognize that marketing is part of your new job.

4. Self-promotion should start with people who know you best.

5. Reframing your interactions as a request for advice will make it easier.

6. Considering  recruiters or outsourcing specialists is an option.

7. You realize change will take time






Post to Twitter

The View from Here

May 30, 2015

Over the 15 years we’ve lived in our home here in the Berkeley Hills, we’ve been witness to a number of stunning views from our back deck.

I thought you might enjoy a look:

No dates, no times, just random scenes over the last few years.

Clouds make The City

Clouds make The City








The fog creeps in

The fog creeps in



Our Golden Gate

Our Golden Gate

Summer sunset

Summer sunset



A sky ablaze

A sky ablaze









Watching over us all

Watching over us all

























Post to Twitter

Emotionally Intelligent Interviews

May 17, 2015

In the last few years emotional intelligence has gone from a consultant’s buzz word to bonafide skill that employers value when they make a new hire.

In many cases it may be the key characteristic that separates one candidate from another.emotional-intelligence-graphic

Emotional intelligence covers a wide range of characteristics, but they are all classified as ‘soft skills’ that can be difficult to quantify. They include self awareness, and self efficacy, but also includes empathy and a range of talents that allow you to connect with your fellow employees.

Emotional intelligence is a key component in your ability to work well and communicate with others.  It’s recognized as a key strength for good management.

The ability to understand your employees and know how to motivate them is often the difference between managing and leading.

I mention all this because mastering emotional intelligence is not easy. While books have been written on how to learn the basics, there is a significant body of opinon which suggests that emotional intelligence is something that cannot be taught – either you have it or you don’t.

Personally, I believe you can teach EI, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of skill people acquire fully through classroom instruction.

Why is this imporntant for your career? Because if you don’t at least understand some components, you may find yourself asking, “Why didn’t I get the job, I thought the interview went great.”

The biggest challenge for most people is self awareness. I have had many clients who don’t have a good understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. Even if you work for a company which does annual performance reviews, and you have a good manager who explains what you might do better, it’s always easier to blame someone else.

Office politics, prejudice, managerial incompetence are always easier to see than your own faults. You can’t depend on friends and loved ones to explain what’s wrong and if they do, it comes with a good deal of emotional baggage.

I recently had a new client complain to me that he, ‘just couldn’t get past that first interview for a new job.’ He couldn’t understand why, even though his wife had been telling him, apparently for months.

He is very competent in his field, but the funding for the project he was working on was running out and he had to find another position. He explianed all this is a monotone voice, with no espression other than resignation. He had, what psychologists call, a flat affect. No emotion, no enthusiasm and certainly not the kind of personality that would make employers want to add him to their payroll.

He told me that his wife had pointed out his lack of enthusism, but he chalked it up to marital issues. When I confrmed what his spouse had told him, he was shocked.

He’s a research scientist and doesn’t really understand why he needs to have the kind of enthusiam that I seem to be suggesting, since his work is pretty solitary, but I tried to convince him that it makes a difference to the person doing the hiring.

We’ll see where his coaching leads, but as a former hiring manager, I can tell you that self awareness is important. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses.

It works on the other end to – you have to know what you’re good at, but I’ll take that up in a future post.

There are host of other concepts that contribute to emotional intelligence. Author Daniel Goleman has made a career out of explaining the characteristics. I would refer you to his books on the subject, or you can just call me next time you can’t figure out why you didn’t get that new job you wanted, EI may be the answer.


Post to Twitter

Can We All Agree – 5/17/15 Edition

Filed under: Can we all agree,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 9:16 am

Can we all agree that any journalist (George Stephanopoulos) who donates to anything associated with a politician, doesn’t understand his job?

Can we all agree that Tom Brady has already been convicted of cheating in the court of public opinion, now he’s just trying to play in a few more games?

Can we all agree that for the second time in two weeks we have lost a true prince of the arts? This time it was B.B. King.



Can we all agree that Jeb Bush had a pretty bad week of campaigning?

Can we all agree that we’re not surprised that even Democrats wanted a say in any deal with Iran?

Can we all agree that when an auction house can sell over $1 billion in art in one week, you can’t help wondering if there was a better use for the money?

Can we all agree that when California Governor Jerry Brown tells critics of his water tunnel plan to ‘shut up,’ he’s not really adding to the political discourse?

Can we all agree that we are disappointed on so many levels that President Obama allowed an oil company to begin drilling in the Arctic?

Can we all agree that Seymour Hersh’s revelations about the raid on the Bin Laden compound, is worth one big yawn?

Can we all agree that when the new leader of Saudi Arabia refuses to come to Washington to meet with the President we have a problem?

Can we all agree that no-one is disappointed that American Idol will end after one more season?

Can we all agree that Verizon’s decision to buy AOL is testament to how great a salesman Tim Armstrong is?

Can we all agree that despite the tragic loss of life in this week’s Amtrak crash, the GOP has no intention of giving them more money for safety, or anything else?

Can we all agree that after The President’s trade bill was defeated one day and passed the next, we’re a little confused?

Can we all agree that if the Republicans in the House could quit taking votes on issues that have no chance of becoming law, they might actually get some credit for getting some things done?


Post to Twitter

Can We All Agree – 4/11/15 Edition

April 11, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 8:00 am

Can we all agree that, whether you support her or not, Hillary’s expected announcement tomorrow is the starting gun for the 2016 race to the White House?

Lauren Hill

Lauren Hill

Can we all agree that despite her death this week, Lauren Hill was a remarkable young woman?

Can we all agree that Ayatollah Khamenei’s criticism  of the proposed outline for a nuclear deal, was really meant for internal consumption?

Can we all agree that Rolling Stone’s response to the blistering report on their handling of the now discredited rape story at UVA, was a black eye for journalists everywhere?

Can we all agree that Sara Brady will be missed by everyone who feels there are too many guns in the United States?

Can we all agree that Rand Paul’s presidential campaign is off to a horrendous start with everyone in the media?

Can we all agree that Jeb Bush is not Hispanic?

Can we all agree that Apple made the right decision to allow construction workers with felony convictions, to work on the new headquarters?

Can we all agree that, at the very least, California farmers should be pushed to grow crops that don’t require excessive amounts of water in a near desert environment?

Can we all agree that police will now have to learn to live with a higher level of scrutiny than ever before?

Can we all agree that the culture wars are alive and well in the United States as some states impose ridiculous restrictions on abortions?

CCF18IHW4AIqCC7Can we all agree that there is considerable doubt that a Massachusetts jury will impose the death sentence on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

Can we all agree that while the White House mockery off Benjamin Netanyahu was pretty funny, it may not have been not politically correct?

Can We all agree that seeing Tiger Woods playing competitive golf again, is good for the sport?

Can we wall agree that two Presidents shaking hands is a good next step in normalizing relations with Cuba? I’m sure there will be  GOP outcry when Cuba is removed from the list of countries supporting terrorism, but that is the next step.

Can we all agree that PGE may never pay the $1.6 billion fine imposed by California?




Post to Twitter

Can We All Agree? 3/21/15 Edition

March 21, 2015

Can we all agree that the ‘arsenic in wine’ news could win the award for bogus story of the month. Now SF lawyers are trying to make a killing off it?

Can we all agree that the last thing we want with our coffee is a conversation about race relations?Unknown

Can we all agree that a Church who tries to drown homeless people has lost its way?

Can we all agree that March Madness has lost a bit of luster? It’s big business and needs an overhaul.

Can we all agree that holding the Attorney General nomination hostage to abortion is a strategy that is doomed to failure? Just another nail in the GOP coffin.

Can we all agree that within the next five years Pete Rose will be welcomed into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Can we all agree that we are shocked, that John Boehner is shocked that Aaron Schock resigned amid a spending scandal that has been going on for two years?

Can we all agree that until last week, none of us could have found Vanuatu on a world map?

Can we all agree that the Governor and other state agencies need to do more to convince the average California resident that the drought is serious?

Can we all agree that the GOP budget produced in the House, just shows how little they understand about governance. Even their own party in the Senate thinks it’s laughable.

Can we all agree that the Israeli election means there will be no peace in our lifetime?


Israeli’s soon to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Can we all agree that the explosion in new options for viewing television content is a little reminiscent of what happened when the government forced AT&T to break up? Or am I just showing my age?

Can we all agree that San Francisco’s texting controversy is shocking for the content and source of the text?

Can we all agree that Chris Borland’s decision to retire from football at 24 could signal a major change for the sport?

Can we all agree that Microsoft’s decision to put an end to Internet Explorer is a realization that they need to give up on the past and begin to innovate to stay relevant?

Post to Twitter

Who Pays the Price?

By now Americans are aware that the products we use can come with unseen consequences. That appears to be the case for the latest smartphone you bought.

Producer Heather White introduces her film "Who Pays the Price?"

Producer Heather White introduces her film “Who Pays the Price?”

A soon to be released documentary movie, “Who Pays the Price?” tells the story of Chinese workers whose lives have been ruined by the jobs they took at factories which flaunt international standards.

Produced by Heather White, Lynn Zhang and Dal Lamagna, the film documents the plight of workers who were forced to use benzene and n-hexane to clean and mark components to smartphones and a myriad of electronic devices we use every day.

The chemicals, are well-known carcinogens and countries all over the world have agreed they should not be used without protection. But in China where they have not signed the international treaty on worker safety, the chemicals continue to be used with impunity.

The film details the life-threatening illnesses that are attributed to the chemicals and the system that has left them with no alternative to a lifetime awaiting an early death. It is a fate that many have chosen to hasten rather than be a burden on their elderly parents.

It is an indictment of both the labor practices in China, and the blind eye that consumers turn as long as they can get the toys they want.

Hospitalized workers in China, injured by unprotected chemical usage.

Hospitalized workers in China, injured by unprotected chemical usage.

“Who Pays the Price” is scheduled to be released this fall and will be the topic of a number of magazine articles later this year, so you will hear more about it I’m sure.

Heather White, a former San Francisco resident, was in the Bay Area last week, hosting a screening of a shortened version, trying to raise funds to complete the project and a planned book.

Ms White, has long been a leader in fighting for the improvement of working conditions. She founded Verite, a well-known verification company which exposed and then worked to improve the plight of workers in textile firms making products for high-end brands around the world. She has now turned her attention to the electronics industry where labor laws and unverified supply chains have made enforcement of even rudimentary standards, almost impssible.

Her goal is not to tell people to discard their smartphones or tablets, but to make them aware of the working conditions that will continue unless some public pressure is brought to bear.

Companies such as Apple and Samsung are certainly aware of what’s going on, but a complex series of factors has made them hesitant to face up to the problems. It’s easier just to deny responsibility and hope to discredit any reports that interfere with their profits.

I urge you to take a look at the trailer on the website and make a contribution or contact Ms White for more information on how we can use our technology without killing the workers that manufacture it.


Post to Twitter

Can We All Agree? 3/14/15 edition

March 14, 2015

Can we all agree with Hillary that she made a big mistake in using a personal email address for government business?

Can we all agree that Rep. Trey Gowdy has some explaining to do since the head of the House Benghazi committee allegedly knew about the problem but did nothing until the New York Times pointed it out.

Can we agree, by the way, that Rep Gowdy, may have the worst haircut in Washington?

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Can we all agree that the various GOP Senators, Governors and former office holders have been remarkably silent on the email issue. Could it be they did the same thing?

Can we all agree that paying up to ,000 for the Apple Watch is a bit risky in an industry that updates everything every 6 months?

Can we all agree that a 75 cent/gallon increase in California gas prices over the last month, sounds a bit fishy even with the refinery issues?

Can we all agree that something is seriously wrong with the culture at the Secret Service after two senior agents, apparently drunk, crashed a car into barriers at a White House entrance?

Can we all agree that the ‘Where’s Putin?’ game is more fun than ‘Where’s Waldo?’

Can we all agree that we are encouraged about reports that ISIS might be having some internal issues and seems to be losing steam on the battlefield?

Can we all agree that an increase in the potential for a major earthquake in California probably won’t make many folks leave town, or buy insurance?

Can we all agree that, despite this week’s violence in Ferguson, MO, the resignations of the City Manager, Judge and Police Chief, could pave the way for progress?

Can we all agree that the 7 Senators who did not sign the GOP letter to Iran’s leaders look like they made the right decision? And at least 46 who signed on, may be having second thoughts.

Can we all agree that Senator Tom Cotton who spearheaded the letter campaign, deserves all the criticism he gets? I’m with Joe Biden on this one.

 Can we all agree that, just like Hillary Clinton handed the GOP a great campaign issue, the Republicans have handed the President a huge club and asked to be beaten with it? And he’s happy to swing away. imrs.php

 Can we all agree that the administration caved in to an NRA letter writing campaign when they withdrew their request to end the sale of armor-piercing bullets? I guess you need them to hunt deer.

Can we all agree that if we can figure out a way to ship oil from Canada to New Orleans there has to be some way to ship the excess snow and water in New England out to the West Coast?

Post to Twitter

This Year’s Rose Winner

March 13, 2015

Filed under: Gardening,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:19 pm

If you follow me on Twitter (@eariess) or Instagram (eariess) you know that I’ve welcomed the first rose of the season to my garden.

This year’s winner is “Day Breaker,’ a colorful tea rose which, I

Day Breaker, 2015's first rose

Day Breaker, 2015’s first rose

suppose, was named after the red sky which warned sailors of impending storms (Red at night sailor’s delight, red in the morning sailors take warning).

Or it might be named after the bloodshot eyes left over from last night’s party. In any case case, Day Breaker is a colorful, medium sized plant, which is disease resistant and sports bright green leaves to set off the red-orange tints of the flower.

For most of you, this is already too much information, but for any garden followers, I thought you should know what you’re getting, if you run down to your local nursery to buy one.

This is the first time Day Breaker has been my earliest rose. You would think that given genetics, that the same rose would be first each year. But, I find the coveted crown seems to rotate around my garden, based on factors that I’m just beginning to understand.

Like most rosarians, I trim back my roses each January. How severely I trim them plays a role, as does the amount of water, fertilizer, and sun. Since I try to treat every rose equally, I’m pretty convinced the trimming techniques must be the deciding factor, although I think I ply my shears with equanimity.

Last year the first rose to bloom was Gertrude Jekyll, a pink/lavender specimen named for a rather famous, horticulturalist and designer from England. In other years, Living Easy has been first, but the truth is, I don’t know what factors lead a specific rose to out-bloom any of the 100 plantsI have.

I just know that my wife and I delight in the first rose, and can’t wait for the show that will surely follow.

As they show off I’ll show you a few.

Post to Twitter

Can We All Agree? 3/8/15

March 8, 2015

A shortened version this week. For more, follow me on twitter @eariess or now on Instagram at eariess:

Can we all agree that if Hillary didn’t keep handing the GOP issues, they’d have nothing to talk about?

Can we all agree that, despite GOP criticism, the President’s appearance in Selma was important? It was nice of the Republicans to send one ‘volunteer’ representative.

Preseident Obama marching in Selma

Preseident Obama marching in Selma

Can we all agree that Bibi must think the bulk of Americans are idiots when he tries to convince us that his speech was not ‘political.’

Can we all agree that based on this week’s episode, the GOP controlled Congress will get nothing done for the next two years?

Can we all agree that the situation in Russia gets more and more bizarre every day? Now a murder suspect has reportedly committed suicide.

Can we all agree that trying to read the Supreme Court based on the questions they ask is a bit like Kremlin-watching during the Cold War?

Can we all agree that when the Cleveland Police blame 12-year-old for his murder, at their hands, they have a credibility issue?

Can we all agree that ‘dismantling’ the Ferguson Police Department needs to start at the top?

Can we all agree that Daylight Savings Time is a misnomer and should be abolished?

Can we all agree that if you want see why Americans should be worried about the Workers Comp system, they should read this Propublica Series?

Can we all agree that when ‘good news’ on unemployment sends the stock market down, most Americans get a bit confused?

Post to Twitter

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »