Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Plans

I am in the midst of thinking about how to manage a change in my life goals. I am not really melodramatic at all, I just have no other way to get at this particular line of thought. I want to make a break with what I have been, a project management professional, for the past 15 years. I think it is time to reinvent me.

I started working on a Ph.D. in September of 2003. I know that seems a long time ago, but in the doctoral level degree pursuit it is not at all unusual to spend seven years on the process. This is especially true if one is going at it through distance learning. Let's deal with my pet peeve right up front. Distance learning is not correspondence courses, and I should know as I did a lot of those while in the U. S. Army. I can honestly tell anyone interested the difference, but the important thing is to hear me when I say it is a rigorous program of learning characterized by one-on-one interaction with a Mentor, Professor, or Instructor. (Depends on what your school calls these professionals.)

Anyway, I decided I needed to use this terminal degree. Moreover, I want to use it as a Mentor teaching other distance learners. This position is called "Online Faculty." Many colleges and universities are now opening such "online" programs, and I think they are quite lucrative and I know they can be expensive. I want to toss my hat into this career area. I am soon going to have the terminal degree, and I long ago realized I enjoyed mentoring and coaching. This is where I want to be.

Later on I will enter a discussion on the misery called AACSB versus ABCSP certification of collegiate business schools. This is one you should not miss. It is a classic.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Feeling uneasy

I mentioned having signed up for Twitter the other day, and wow is that ever a busy place. Plus, you can follow (link one way) with some pretty big and celebrity named people. I am following Brent Spiner. In case you don't know him, he starred as Commander Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has done a bunch of other movies and stage work, but for me he will forever be Commander Data. Well, he has over 780,000 followers. Wow, that is amazing. What that means is over 780,000 people are reading his "What are you doing" posts. That, you see, is the premise of Twitter. Short, and straight posts that say what one would currently be doing, and to some degree it is Ok to be open about what is happening ... "going out to grab a burger at Wendy's" or, "Sitting in class, and it sucks." That last one is my personal favorite, I happen to know the person that posted it.

So, Brent Spiner has over three-quarters of a million followers. Guess how many he is following, and this is straight from Twitter because it shows the numbers and contact information on all followers and following contacts. (Following is the other half of the Twitter equation, I follow you and you reciprocate by following me.) Brent is following five people. That is correct, five people. One of those he follows is Wil Wheaton, he also of Star Trek: TNG as Wesley Crusher. Another is LaVar Burton, also of Star Trek: TNG as Commander Geordie LaForge. I have not looked at other celebrities, but is this not illuminating? That many people care to read Brent Spiner's mundane one-line posts about the daily stuff he is doing. Wierd is just a not big enough word for this phenomena. Somebody in a Psychology doctoral program ought to be doing a study about this, it is just that wierd.

Now, having opened this bucket of worms, let's think about this social media stuff. What is the biggest thing going there? Marketing is the short, and to-the-point answer. Almost everyone there is trying to sell something to everyone else. Nearly every post is set with a hacked URL that will lead anyone that clicks it to a website that is either an opt-in page to get your email address, a landing page with stuff to buy, or a membership website they want you to join and start paying a monthly membership fee.

I am beginning to feel like I did back when I did the job in Indonesia. We went to Bali for our mid-rotation break, a long weekend away from the mine, and stayed in a nice hotel getting a lot of sleep and eating good food. Well, we took a taxi to the shopping strip to look for stuff to buy and bring home on the next rotation. Oh my goodness, when we alighted from the taxi about 50 local guys started trying to convince us to go to the store for which they were front men. My work mate and I were being grabbed by both hands and our arms, with incessant chatter to "follow me," and "no, with me here I have better shop for you." We finally broke loose and ran into a shop and just stood there trying to figure out how to evade them. We eventually gave up and ran to a taxi and told the driver to take us to our hotel.

On the way there the driver started asking us what we wanted, and trying to arrange to take us to the store he was fronting. When I got back to the hotel, I made myself a promise ... stay there and rest and then go back to the mine. No more shopping for me.

The parallel is that our social media sites have devolved into the same kind of behaviors. I am on Facebook, My Space, Linked In, and now Twitter. All are corrutped by this insane behavior. I kid you not, every other post in Twitter is about some scheme, and on Facebook, it is every group seemingly. Linked In is just now starting to have this corruption infiltrate there, and it is sad, as the concept of networking is a really fine idea. But try to make some speed doing this on any of the social media today. You will suffer the swarming virtually therein that I suffered physically in Indonesia.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What gets you through stress periods

I was just chatting with my good friend, Justin, and we were talking about times of stress, yes we have loads of that while seeking a doctorate. How do we react to the stress of our Dissertation Proposal getting hung up in committee and the school review team? I usually will pound out verse and try to wring the misery out of my soul through writing. He tells me he tends to do the opposite.

Just as a way of getting your thoughts, I decided to post a little poem I wrote here. It may feel a bit dark, but it is really just reflective of the passing of time in our lives. I hope you like it, and please comment.


I know the weight of time, and I know of nights grown long
But I would not have missed the trip, it were worth the going on

I hear the long, low haunt of the train, calling me strong
And I know my friends are there too, saying keep on

I remember dylan, joplin, and a few nights of not much wrong
But other times I remember the loss, the pain grown strong

I remember the times of fog, mind cramped by stress and misery
But other times I remember the joy, a new patch of life not dreary

We cannot shake the time of growing trials, and the learning therein
But we can really learn and know the path to settled time is within

Who can speak of tomorrow with certainty, we don’t know it at all
But we can know today, right now, and not let it become a deadfall

We can learn from yesterday, and all that it brought us in total
We can become more than the all our fears and pains sum total

So, you are the first to read my little bit of verse. Comment away!

Shoot, now I am tweeting

Well, I finally did it, I signed up for Twitter. I was not sure it was a great idea, but since so many are doing it, and apparently like to do it, I finally had to give in and set up an account. I can report it is easy to open the account, and the profile is pretty effortless. What may not be so effortless is the business end of the process -- tweeting.

It seems you gotta go to the site and enter a line or two talking about what you are doing. Crap, I just mowed the yard, and walked the dogs. That is interesting to exactly who? Oh well, I can always say I am doing interesting stuff! Most of the time we are all sitting here at the keyboard trying to think of something nifty to report in a tweet. I see this could get out of hand.

My other effort is to think up something interesting to say on this blog. Do you see a pattern developing here? Dog, this could become embarassing -- I need a content source!

I also need to get another article written to publish online so I keep my article count growing. I published my 16th article the other day. It is titled; 7 Attributes of Effective Leaders. I think it is a fairly well written short article outlining a few things I hope will help those trying to become effective leading teams. I noticed the article view count started to grow right away. That is good, now if only some of those reviewers will leave a comment or two letting me know what they think about the quality of my writing.

If you want to review some of the articles I have written, please do, and leave me a danged comment! They are found here; and I do get by there every day to check for comments.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feeling a little political today

My good friend and I were chatting about this situation between the Cambridge Police Officer (Sgt. Crowley) and Professor Gates. It seems there were agendas all around, in my humble judgement. The officer is certainly in the weakest position here, tangling with a well known Harvard professor, who just happens to be acquainted with the President -- Barack Obama.

Could that have been more devastating to his position? I rather doubt it, but he is holding his own. Support from the Policemen's Association of Massachusetts is helping his side a bit. The biggest stumble for Sgt Crowley is the President interrupted his Press Conference to announce the police acted "stupidly" in this matter. Whew! That cannot make your day.

Now, the President has backtracked a bit as the facts are coming in supporting the contention that all sides may have acted a bit rashly. Professor Gates apparently has a hair trigger attitude when it comes to being approached by policemen, and his first reaction was "racist policeman" profiling a "black man in America." I think he could have taken a less confrontational approach and gotten out of the situation with both sides saying, "Oops." Apparently, that is not his method of dealing with a policeman.

Bottom line here; the Professor apparently has an agenda that says, "attack policemen as racist cops" and they will run away, the policeman has a "don't attack me, and don't mention my Mom" attitude," and the President has a "let's jump to a conclusion" approach (apparently he assumed -- wrongly -- that Cambridge officers are racists, and all black Harvard Professors are unable to behave badly in public. I reckon everybody was wrong.

My old, now long gone grandmother, used to say, "if you can't nothing good, don't say nothing." Looks like all these fellows could have use dthis sage advice, eh? Might be a lesson in there for them, and us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let's talk about networking

I suppose everyone thinks that after several months of searching for a position (any opportunity) one develops a feel for the process. Probably, but realistically, probably not, as it is a really complex process. If you have searched for a viable, money-earning position you have the understanding to enter into a discussion with me on this process. If you have searched for a viable, money-earning position in this down economy, and have landed an interview that makes you an expert in job searching.

Absolutely important in this process is the artof networking. When I say networking I am definitely not talking about Linked In, or Facebook. They do have some good things going on there, and you may even get a Recruiter you meet there to take a copy of your resume (presumably to consider you for a job they are acting upon). Truth be told, they are not really doing that at all, they are gathering resumes to hope they can find one perfect fit in the pile. In most cases they won't be successful either, as the perfect fit usually does not exist. So, who is finding those jobs and getting hired?

It is networking, but it is more like the old days of 'who do you know.' If you can draw upon a friend with a named contact in the internal recruiter (think HR) industry, you have found a strong first step. A lot of scam artists talk about the 'hidden job market.' They don't have any more access to that market than you or I. They will take your money and promise to get you in "there" -- there being the receptionists desk. You have to get past that receptionist. So, what I am saying is save your money.

The best way to get access to a real job opening, and stand any chance of landing the job is to have someone on the inside pushing your resume onto the desk of the hiring manager. That takes muscle, and that muscle usually comes from someone with credibility inside the company. A friend has loads of contacts in many different companies. He is a former CFO, and knows a bunch of recruiters (internal and external) by name. They owe him a few favors, and he is willing to help you get a hand up into the inner well of the company so you can get a shot at a job. This takes a lot of set-up, and a lot of nourishing the system to keep it working. But, this is the system that will land you the good job.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hunting for work in a down economy

I suppose there are many folks looking for work in this down economy, and I happen to be one of them. What activity lends the most success to this effort? Local networking groups? Or is it the social networking websites? I suspect it is a combination of the local networking groups and, for me, Linked In. I have been attending a couple groups and have made a number of good contacts. The big shortcoming is we are all job seekers!

I really have found Linked In to be profitable for my job search. I have made a huge number of connections there and many of them are in the recruiting industry. The real tough thing is to sort the ones out that are not even in the niche of your search by industry. It is time consuming. Add to the value of the social networking sites is the contacts one makes off-line may direct one to a contact online. Makes a huge success if as a job seeker you can actually link up with the person. I have found two of those and I am scheduling a chat on the phone.

I want to endorse the direct contact method to get some traction in your job search program. Find a Mentor, or a Colleague that may be willing to give one an assist and the job search can take a whole new life. It is often said the jobs are filled by someone that knew someone already inside the target company. I really believe that is so true.

I am also building my dream into reality as I try to find a day job. I set about applying to as many online faculty positions as I could find colleges and universities with online programs. I think I have gotten about 50 applied to thus far. Probably 10 or so have responded. And several of those have advised me they have no open positions. I keep looking and applying. It is the only thing that makes sense.