The Start-Up of You

A friend sent me this article by Thomas Friedman upon learning I was leaving the relative (perceived) safety of my job to join a start-up.  Really impactful read for me.  Particularly liked this ...

Hoffman argues that professionals need an entirely new mind-set and skill set to compete. “The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone,” he said to me. “No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it’s now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur approaches starting a business.”

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

On February 27 I'm joining a company called Tap.Me.

It's a startup.  It's advertising.  It's gaming.  It's mobile.  It's mobile in-game advertising.  But better.  Solid.  

I'll be responsible for developing and leading brand relationships.  I'll also lead Tap.Me's own marketing efforts.

I like the idea.  I like the people.  I like the space.  Startup is on my bucket list.

Admittedly I won't miss scrambling to submit my time sheets on Sunday night.  But there are many things I will miss.  The incredible team I've built.  My talented colleagues - many of them now friends.  The clients I've had the privilege to work with.  The unique Ogilvy culture. The world-class resources that made me a better marketer and person.  World-class.

Humbled by how gracious Ogilvy's been to me over the last few weeks, and last five years.

Thank you

Photo: woodleywonderworks

A Meeting With Steve Jobs

A nice, quick read by a woman called Christine Comaford on how many years ago she convinced Steve Jobs to take a meeting with her - one that clearly had a huge impact on her life and career.

"Forty five minutes later Steve released me. Sitting in my overheated car in the sunny Redwood City parking lot, my head bursting with the remarkable, complex, complete vision of Steve Jobs in my head, I made a commitment.

I would no longer see barricades. Stumbling blocks would now be seen as stepping stones to something better, or something to crawl over or walk around. Previous limitations would now be a mere triviality, at worst a slight inconvenience. There were insanely great things to create and we were here to create them and that’s all there was to it. All thoughts to the contrary were irrelevant."

There's some practical tips at the end about getting meetings with VIPs.  They are good.  I just caution you to think about the line between aggressive and annoying.

 

7 Informational Interview Tips

Proving that this blog is truly destined to have no particular direction, I was thinking recently about informational interviews.  And as you can see from the title, I couldn't make it to a list of 10.

I've been on both sides.  Basic truths, whether we like it or not ...

  • The interviewer is nearly always doing someone a favor.
  • The interviewer usually has no idea what the mystery 30 minutes is on their calendar that day. And it's only at that final moment do they realize the connection to the young person sitting in front of them.
  • The interviewee is nearly always scared to death.  Understandably.
  • The interviewee - no matter what they're told in advance - always thinks there's a shred of chance that they'll get hired, despite no job existing.

Having been around for a few years, here's my advice for the youngsters whose parent and professors have opened the door for an informational interview.  In no particular order.  Sometimes you get one chance - make it count.

  1. No brainer - find the person you're meeting and follow her/him on LinkedIn and Twitter.  Follow.  Do not stalk.  There's a difference.  Trust me.
  2. Come prepared with three smart questions about the industry.
  3. Take notes.  Like with a pen and paper.  Write down quotes.  Key words.  Additional questions.  I'm shocked when people don't take notes in job interviews.  How can you pen a thoughtful and meaningful follow-up without notes?
  4. Speaking of follow-ups, here's one you won't hear often:  wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  OK, now.  The point is, if you send a follow up note mere hours after the meeting, what does that say about your ability to reflect?  Wait a few days - trust me, no one's watching the clock on this. Take your time.  Be thoughtful.  Review your notes (see #3).
  5. Sit up straight. Like professionals are meant to do.
  6. Don't be afraid to ask for something. But make it very specific.  "I'd be thrilled if you could introduce me to one of your junior staff members.  I would love to bend their ear for 30 minutes so I can further understand how to break into this business."  Or "Is there someone in your industry who you know is hiring that you'd be willing to introduce me to?"
  7. Do your research about the company, but be very careful about offering too strong an opinion about what you've read.  Educated = good.  Opinionated = dangerous territory.  Depends on what stage your career is at.  But generally, newbies should listen

 What am I missing?

5 Keys to Being a Successful Intrepreneur

Both my father and step-father were successful small business owners. One of my MBA co-majors was Entrepreneurial Studies.  Which leads some people to ask why I haven't pursued an entrepreneurial career.

Actually, despite spending most of my years at large companies, I have. 

2roads

To be more precise, I've pursued an intrepreneurial career.  One spent making new opportunities for myself within large enterprises, at times where they didn't previously exist.

Here are my five keys to a successful intrepreneurial career:

  1. Build your network:  As in every other aspect of business, new opportunities come to those who make time to meet new people, explore new areas, and [quite frankly] are likable and easy to work with.  I almost never turn down the chance to meet someone in my organization - I never know what it could eventually lead to.
  2. Speak up:  Unless people know you've got the intrepreneurial bug, they might not consider you for new opportunities.  Advocate for yourself!
  3. Dabble:  Try new things.  Go to new trainings.  Play around with new technologies.  In short, explore.
  4. Understand how to translate your skills from A->B:  Often times the greatest opportunities are in areas that you don't have direct experience.  Well then, you just have to learn how to draw the parallel between what you are good at, and what the position calls for.  Sell it!
  5. Have an open mind:  People who wear blinders miss great opportunities - I've seen it a million times.

If you are a successful intrepreneur, what am I missing?

No, MY Day Was Worse Than Yours

Picture 1 Self-reporting,  particularly when it comes to self-reporting how hard we work, is for some reason a topic I've been really interested in lately.

I was already convinced, even before reading this article from the Wall Street Journal called Overestimating our Overworking, that most people [including myself at times] are wildly inaccurate in terms of how much they think they work vs. reality.

Now comes another little gem from the Journal, Misery Poker: It's One Game Worth Losing.  It's about the one-upsmanship taking place between co-workers, friends and spouses ... whose life [home and work] is tougher?

I particularly like this passage [and the image in this post, credited to David Gothard]...

Some say the pressure may be turning us into narcissists: To protectourselves, we push others away. "It's 'Hey, I'm tap dancing as fast as I can, so if you think you have problems, take a look over here,' " says Ed Dunkelblau, a psychologist and director of the Institute for Emotionally Intelligent Learning in Northbrook, Ill.

Overestimating Our Overworking

Mind-the-gap

This is a topic that's been interesting me lately.  Fortunately, along comes the Wall Street Journal with a little piece called "Overestimating Our Overworking." 

Pull quotes below explaining the discrepancies between what people really work, and what they claim to work:

The first is the gray definition of much white-collar labor. 

The second reason people overestimate is that they discount exceptionsthat don't fit the mental pictures they create of themselves. If you work four 14-hour days, then quit after 8 hours on Fridays, you'd think a "usual" day was 14 hours, meaning that you work 70-hour weeks. But you don't. You work 64 -- maybe.

Finally -- and this is the big one -- work is a competitive sport. In an era with little job security, we all want to seem busy and hard-working. If publications such as Fortune call 60 hours "part-time," what professional would claim to work less?

An Unintended Consequence of Harsh Economic Times

The economic news is grim, for sure.  Just today the New York Times reports nearly 600,000 jobs have been lost in January alone.  And just look at the list of companies ... whether you work on an auto assembly line or make advertisements, no job is untouchable (except perhaps outplacement services). 

But today, on the anniversary of Bob Marley's birthday [you know, One Love, One Heart], I'm struck by an unintended consequence of all this bad news.  I've noticed, even more so than after 9/11, a sense of empathy.  A sense of one-for-all, all-for-one.  A sense of, I'll help you out, because I may be asking you for help a month from now.  Or even better, I'll help you out because it's just the right thing to do.  A sense of, let's share some good news in all this misery.

Maybe I'm blind to reality, but don't you see it?  A few examples on my radar:

  • Jeff Woelker takes the time to post tech-related job openings in Chicago on Chicago Tech Report.  I haven't asked him about why he takes the time to do it, but I can only guess it has something to do with Karma [and that he's just a good person]
  • Noah Brier and Rick Webb have started a Twitter handle @mediaisthriving to serve up some refreshingly positive news about the media industry.  A welcome respite from all the bad news.
  • As I previously posted, David Armano activated his social network to help a family in need, with incredible results.
  • I notice a tremendous amount of chatter on Twitter between job seekers and industry leaders.
  • Even I have gotten into the act, fielding several calls, tweets and emails from people looking to make contacts.  I try to help the best I can.

So while very insightful men like Steven Overman express a sense of disappointment in how brands are behaving during this extraordinary time, I hope he sees that many everyday people are rising to the occasion - in our own small, but hopefully impactful, ways.

Please share your stories of positivity ... they will most certainly be appreciated.

P.S.  Happy birthday, Bob.

Bob marley

Take 2: Hiring @ Ogilvy PR

A few weeks ago I posted about an exciting opening at Ogilvy PR's Chicago Office.  I'm going to try this again. 

The Chicago office is looking for an ace DigitalStrategist who knows the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. We are the next generation word of mouth agency (within an agency) focused on creating conversations online, not just building destinations. You are going to need at least 3-7 years experience developing digital solutions for clients. You will have proven strength in creating and executing strategy, understanding research, managing complex interactive programs that leverage social media and word of mouth. You’ve probably worked at another agency or pure digital shop, preferably a brand name one.

You understand aspects of development – what it actually takes to build Web 2.0 solutions. Hopefully you have worked all the way through making a project a success via online marketing, visibility and outreach. You’ve probably obsessed about creating client value throughout your career. You believe in our ability to make things better: better creative, more client value, and even our ability to create a great workplace experience. You know that social media is far more than blogs and have a record of designing innovative strategies.  You use social networks as a tool in both your personal and professional lives.

Helpful Links

Click here to read more about Ogilvy PR's Digital Influence group

Click here to read more and apply for the position [job is listed under "Hot Jobs" - Digital Influence Strategist]

Hiring: VP, Digital Strategy (Chicago)

Ogilvy PR is hiring a VP, Digital Strategy in our Chicago Office.  Visit the listing on Ogilvy PR's career site here.  Be sure to mention my name in your cover note.  A blurb from the listing ...

Ogilvy Public Relations is seeking a digital-savvy communications professional to join the Chicago office as a Digital Influence Strategist. This is a great opportunity to showcase your creative, research, and analytical capabilities by providing insight into conversations taking place in the digital space and extending that insight into powerful engagement strategies. If you are passionate about social media and you are ready to use your digital communications experience in a fast paced and creative environment, then this may be a great next step in your career.