Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Meg Wrote a Book!

My friend, Meghan (Meg) Wier, wrote a book! Confessions of an Introvert: The Shy Girl's Guide to Career, Networking and Getting the Most Out of Life has just made its way to Amazon! Apparently, she mentions me, albeit indirectly, in this book. It is apparently under the section about people who have had a profound influence on her life.

I'm joking. I do believe I am in the book. I don't know because I have yet to receive my complementary copy. As soon as I do, I will post a comprehensive analysis. Meg is good people though. She's given me great advice and marketing help over the years. If you find yourself becoming a wallflower during networking events, this is the book for you!

Meg walked up to me one day at a job fair in a local mall and demanded a job. I gave her a reporting analyst position where she crunched numbers all day. It seemed like the appropriate position for someone with a background in graphic design and marketing. :) I think she still holds that against me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The World is Flat

I just finished reading Thomas Friedman's bestselling, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century and I am afraid...very, very afraid. This is a MUST read. Now. You can go download an article he wrote for the New York Times called "It's a Flat World, After All" which is a 6-page summary of the book but it won't have the same impact as the book.

The Top 10 Forces That Flattened the World:

1. 11/9/89 - The Berlin Wall came down. Setting off a chain reaction that reaches China. 6 months later, Microsoft releases Windows 3.0. People, other than scientists, can connect PCs to telephones and send emails and view content via the likes of CompuServe and AOL.

2. 8/9/95 - Netscape goes public. This IPO tiggered the dot-com boom, which triggered the dot-com bubble, which triggered the massive overinvestment (billions!) in fiber-optic cable. Then the bubble burst leaving the banks owning a lot of fiber which they were happy to sell for pennies on the dollar.

3. Work Flow Software - As the walls went down and the PC, Windows and Netscape enabled people to connect with other people as never before. We found ourselves needing programmers to develop new applications. We needed to get everyone's applications talking to each other. XML and SOAP allowed application to application interaction which is the foundation for web-enabled work-flow.

4. Open-Sourcing - Linux.

5. Outsourcing Y2K - businesses wanted to fix the Y2K problem quickly and cheaply. They turned to India. Then the e-commerce push came. Both HUGE opportunities for India. They delivered mission-critical, high-quality products. By the time the dot-com bubble burst, India had developed a great reputation. With companies forced to cut IT budgets, India was there to do the work that needed to get done cheaper AND better.

6. Offshoring - In a range of industries. Not just call centers. China arrives on the scene once they joined the WTO in 2001.

7. Supply-Chaining - Wal-Mart's basic method of buying directly from the manufacturer to get the deepest discounts possible. They got the manufacturer's to cut their costs; they worked the supply chain with those manufacturers to further reduce cost and friction; and constantly improve Information Systems so it knew EXACTLY what it's customers were buying and could feed that info to all the manufacturers.

8. In-courcing - FedEx/UPS provide the means to develop and support a complex global supply chain for the little guy. Small companies can now act big. They can sell in places never before possible. You've seen the commercials.

9. In-forming - Google. Yahoo. Search engines. It the ability to build and deploy your own personal supply chain of information, knowledge and entertainment. It is about SELF-collaboration.

10. The Steroids. Digital, mobile, personal, virtual. All analog content is being digitized. And it can be manipulated quickly, and sent anywhere wirelessly.

Triple Convergence

1. Around the year 2000, all these flatteners started to converge and work together to create a new, flatter, global playing field. As this happend, both businesses and individuals began to adopt new habits, skills and processes to exploit it. They moved from largely vertical means of creating value (command and control) to more horizontal ones (connect and collaborate).

2. This merger of the new playing field with the new WAYS of doing business was the second convergence. This continued the flattening process.

3. While this was going on severl BILLION new people walked on the the field of play. They were from China, India, the former Soviet Union, South and Central America.

All of this doesn't just affect people and companies. It will and is effecting how countries organize their economies and geo-politics.

How will America compete? This book is scary enough until you hit this point. We are WAY behind in education. You have to constantly upgrade your skills. How do you become "untouchable":

  • Workers who are "special" - Peyton Manning, Bill Gates, Bruce Springsteen. These jobs can never be outsourced.
  • Workers who are "specialized" - knowledge workers who are specialized and have a niche. Their skills are always in high demand.
  • Workers who are "anchored" - barber, waitress, doctors (sometimes). Their jobs have to be done in specific locations.
  • Workers who are "really adaptable" - they constantly acquire new skills, knowledge and expertise that allow them to constantly create new value.
We are BEHIND. Friedman points to three gaps we are currently facing. The ambition gap, the numbers gap in the lack of scientists and engineers we are producing, and, finally, an education gap. The longer American kids stay in school, the worse they perform.

As he says..."this is not a test. This is the beginning of a crisis..."

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Lifehacker points to an site which provides a nice summary of Dale Carnegie's MONSTER business/relationship book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Solid, basic advice for anyone at any time. I don't know what happened to my copy of this book but it needs to be a permanent fixture in your library if you are serious about making some kind of statement. Don't look at it as a "sales" book. Look at it as a networking book or a relationship building book.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Jonathan Byrnes Live!

The latest edition of HBS Working Knowledge came out yesterday. With that comes the latest "Bottom Line" column from Jonathan Byrnes on Managing Change. Regular readers know that I have become a HUGE fan of his column/work.

Byrnes also announced the launching of his personal site. It collects his columns back to 2002! Woot! I was hoping that it would list his course materials from his classes at MIT. MIT has a site called OpenCourseWare where they list online classes curriculae, notes, reading lists, etc. Well worth a look on its own.

I've linked to the site over on the right -->.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Relationships, Networking and a Correction

For the last year or so, I have been working at a startup customer management outsourcer. Emphasis on the startup aspects. Today, I agreed to an offer from a local telecom company. This decision was largely a financial one. In short, I needed the money. My family just could not survive at the salary I was bringing to the table.

This decision was a hard one for two reasons. First, I put all of my energy into this company. I have a long standing relationship with one of the owners. We are a small shop and we all have become very close. The second reason is that I had received another job offer. After struggling, scratching and clawing, and coming as close to giving up....and I mean REALLY looking into that abyss....I received 2 offers within a 24-hour period.

After a year of networking, countless resume re-writes and versions, a personal marketing plan (thanks Hannah!), targeted lists, and using linkedin.com to meet all sorts of people, BOTH of these jobs came down to long term relationships I have had with people from a previous position. One came from the guy that gave me my first call center/technology/IT opportunity connecting me with a head hunter. A guy I do not spend anywhere near the amount of time with that I should. The other offer came because a guy that used to work for me took a position and thought I would be a good fit for other challenges they were facing.

It is ALL about the relationships. I don't know if the size of your network matters. I've spent a lot of time, effort and energy in working and developing my personal "network". I'm pretty proud of the number of connections I have on linkedin. But at the end of the day, it came down to two people that are invested in me. And I in them.

Now...I also have to correct my post about how commerce seems to stop somewhere around Thanksgiving. [link] I had a TON of activity in December. A third company I had been working with started to get going. I ultimately opted to not follow through with them. It was a cultural thing. I was apparently wrong and bought into the business lore. Things definitely happened. Oh, and don't worry....I'll still be posting.

UPDATE: I spoke with Harry Joiner from MarketingHeadhunter.com today. I was reminded that Harry played a big role in my job hunt. Harry took time out of his busy life to provide me with mentoring and advice on positioning myself. Be a hammer! Thanks, Harry. I owe you.

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