Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Greatest Disability

What, do you suppose is the disability which causes the greatest barrier to success?  Cerebral Palsy?  Traumatic Brain Injury? Deafness?  Heart problems? Total Paralysis?

These can all be very serious conditions, but I believe that the MOST disabling condition is a lack of vision.  I don't mean physical blindness, but rather difficulties in seeing yourself, your skills/abilities, and the reality of the world and your personal situation.

All too often, people live in the past, then remember and re-create that past into their present reality. There is a now old, and great movie called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray (  The synopsis is that a man lives the same day over and over again.  That is a terrible way to live-people are meant to move forward in their lives.    

Even more, an inability to have a bold, but realistic, vision of the future is self-limiting. Yet again, I quote the great Career Counselor and Philosopher, Yogi Berra "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else".

Now, when we talk about grand words and concepts like "Vision" to automatically assume that a long term, ultimate life or career goal is involved.  While that may very well be the case, it  is equally valid to take things in smaller bites, and think about your vision for next month. 

Good Luck and Best Wishes,


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Zig-Zag Life (Or When you come to a fork in the road, take it).

Over the years, I have come to a realization: We ask people to plan a career and a life based upon straight lines. What is your life goal? “You are clearly here, and you want to be someplace else, someplace better. So please define the straight line path from A to B.”

That is incorrect, most of the time.

I realized this from an experience in my personal life. I recently remodeled my house, and at the start of this massive undertaking, the goal was to make the house nice, and then either sell it or rent part of it. I needed to get the task done, and then see where I was at, and what my options would be.

So, here I sit, surrounded by wonderful, recovered hardwood floors. My house is nice. I can now either choose to rent the apartment downstairs, or I can sell outright. I started out with a straight line goal of “make the house better”. I invested time, energy, and money into the project.

Now I face a “Y” shaped decision point...Should I sell and cash a rather large sweat equity check? Should I sell the (now nice) house, and purchase another, smaller and less nice house with the profits? My straight line decision just became “Y” shaped.

Now, if I choose to sell and take the profit, I can live in a paid up (yet less nice home)....Then I face ANOTHER “Y” point...Do I simply live there, or do I seek another place I can remodel and flip for a profit?

You see my dilemma. I started with a straight line life goal of “Live in a nice place”. I wound up zig-zagging along through life. Suddenly, I am confronting Landlord responsibilities versus stable cash flow, or target markets for a potential house flip down the road.

This made me think that as Parents, Coaches, Counselors, and supports to others, we often advise ourselves and others to set a goal, and then doggedly press forward, no matter what.

However, I have come to realize that my life, at least, does not move in a straight line. Barriers and walls intervene. Life happens.

Walls and barriers appear. Now, I have often suggested that when a wall appears, there are three options:
  1. Go Through the wall, knock it down.
  2. Go Over the wall, transcend the barrier.
  3. Go around.

That is the point of this article. We too often think of the “easy” and pat way of going through. That works sometimes, admittedly. Yet, I have learned that there is another way, and it does not involve blindly going straight ahead.

Please consider that life is flexible and flowing, and as such, straight lines are accepted, but they are not always the best choice. Zig-Zag just a bit, and when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Just for clean-up, I have a renter moving into my house next week. She is a fine young lady, and I took the fork in the road when I came to it. Such is life.

Good Luck and best wishes,


(With a nod and a tip of my cap to a wise man, Yogi Berra)

Thursday, February 4, 2016


My apologies fopr the delay in posting, I have been taking care of other assignments.  Tonight, I have carved out time because something interesting happened today.

Today, I was assisting a job seeker, and the topic of Pass/Fail classes came up.  Now, I often discuss the Pass/Fail situation, both with younger recent college graduates, and with older returning workers.  The discussion is much different for each population.  Colleges, Universities, and other institutions stress the GRADE POINT AVERAGE in many cases.  This is because colleges often teach that past performance is, in theory (they are incorrect, BTW) a predictor of future outcomes.

Please don't misunderstand me here.  If you are a 22 year old person with a fresh and sparkling Bachelor's degree, a good GPA is a valid item to list on your resume and in your Core Message to employers.  That is because you have no relevant, real world achievements in your chosen filed in all likelihood.  This high GPA shows that you can complete assignments on time, read, write, and speak English, and are competent in basic mathematics and such.  These are all attractive qualities to a potential employer.  Absolutely talk about your achievement with a prospective employer.

However, what if you are a 40 (or more) year old career changer?   This person has completed college, has a Bachelor's in say, Nursing, and an R.N. designation.  Does a potential employer REALLY care what your grade was in "Introduction to Anthropology 101" in 1997? Probably not.   They care if you are qualified (Pass/Fail=Yes/No).  More importantly, the career changer focuses upon other achievements, life accomplishments, and selling points.  At some point qualification and ability surpasses GPA.

I believe that for most people, that change over happens in the late 20's to mid 30's.

Regardless, I think this idea raises a larger philosophical question...Is Life an exercise in GPA (getting the highest possible score), or a Pass/Fail (get the qualification/achievement and move along)?  I won't pretend to know the answer to the question.  I think it cis a moving target, changing as we move through life, and our needs and values change.  I am open to discussion on this topic,

Good luck and best wishes,


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Busy Jobs

Busy Jobs

As a consumer, it occurs to me that there are some careers where one definitely wants to be left waiting, and others where this is unacceptable. For example, when it comes to Surgeons, I absolutely do NOT want to go to their office, ER, or Surgical Center and find them anxiously waiting on me. Setting down their FaceBook or Candy Crush, they proclaim “I am SO glad you made it today, I WAS SO BORED today.”. I would find this “concerning”, if not downright “distressing”.

Likewise, when I am filing my taxes with the IRS, I prefer the services of an accountant who has a messy desk. Though I do demand a certain level of order, organization, politeness, and customer service, I would rather not have an Attorney (Thank you again, Angela) who is sitting next to the phone awaiting my call.

Sometimes, when folks are busy, it is because they are good at what they do. I want THOSE competent performers in my life.

Now, there are OTHER jobs where waiting for service is a problem. Paramedics, Law Enforcement, and Firefighters leap to mind. Similarly, I would not want to sit next to a busy Interstate for hours waiting for a Tow Truck driver.

A Server in a busy restaurant poses a challenging problem on this topic. On one hand, the restaurant is good (or trendy, at least), and busy. That indicates that you are in a good place to eat. The slow service might be attributable to the fact that your Server is out back, smoking (possibly tobacco), while your order sits and fades away under a red heat lamp, with Mel ringing a bell and screaming “ALICE! Pickup!”.

But then again, maybe the slow service is the fault of an excellent and overworked kitchen. Who knows? Why exactly do we pay Servers below minimum wage, and hold them responsible for things they may or may no control? 

I would absolutely wait for my food, happily and patiently if Gordon Ramsey were the chef. Wait 4 hours for a cable guy to drill a hole and install 2.5 feet of wire in my wall? Not as much patience.

I think that tells us that the skill and talent matter. If you are in a job where you are feeling overwhelmed and flooded, then maybe it says that you are talented and good at what you do. Looked at a certain way, this is a GOOD problem.

How to deal with the issue is for another article, which is forthcoming.

Good luck and best wishes,


Thursday, November 5, 2015



There are many job seekers who have professional supports and assistance in their job search. Some have Recruiters (Headhunters), some are enrolled at their local workforce development or Veteran Services agency, and others have disability-specialized supports. There are others, such as College Placement Offices, or Worker's Compensation, and the same concepts to follow apply as well. This article is not about the quality of the services, it is about the job seeker understanding the basics of the environment in which they swim.

Regardless of the source of support, it is important to understand the rules and umbrellas under which your 'Headhunter” is operating. Starting with the Recruiter, there are two types-Contingency and Retained. Contingency Recruiters typically are only paid when they make a placement, and that fee can be up to 25% of the annual salary and bonus (excluding benefits). They get paid when buttocks begin to warm a once-vacant desk chair. In all fairness, it is not quite that mercenary, because they want to establish relationships with the employer (so that they can get another paycheck next time), but at the end of the day, they get paid when you get hired.

You are a product which is for sale. Retained Recruiters offer their services to the company, for a flat fee, present them with a “slate” of 4-7 screened candidates. You are still a product for sale.

Being a product for sale is OK, as long as you realize that the real customer is the employer, and not you.

Moving along to Workforce Development (WIOA), Veteran's Services, and disability services, as in anything, your mileage may vary. In my opinion, the key thing to recognize here is that you are a number. Politicians and bureaucrats will take any opportunity to take credit. I recently had the opportunity to attend a state-wide meeting where the public agency took great pride and credit in their increased outcomes. They went on at great lengths about their initiatives, new policies, procedures and so forth. At no point did they mention that during the reporting period, the unemployment rate dropped by 50%. However, there were high-fives, hugs and sincere back pats because things improved by 25%. In this environment, you, and many others like you, are products for sale. Here, the real customers are the politicians, bureaucrats, and taxpayers.

All that said, here is the real point of the article. You are a product, and that is OK. Just understand that reality, and don't turn over responsibility for your job, your career, and your life to a Recruiter, a Bureaucrat or a Politician.

Certainly, access those services. They can be one tool of many in your toolbox. Don't relinquish responsibility for our job search to another party. Be in charge, accept responsibility, and use the supports and services available. Just remember, they answer to customers too, and that is likely not you.

Good luck,


Saturday, October 24, 2015

What's the Difference?

What's the Difference?
An updated, bullet-pointed, article to a previous post.

As a Career Counselor and Certified Disability Management Specialist, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with many different people. The people I serve are of all ages, from teens to retirees. They are of varying educational and skill levels. Sometimes they have no real accomplishments on the job, and other times, they are highly regarded professionals. I have been fortunate to have helped people with every job title from A (Architect) to Z (Zoo keeper).

It is fascinating that the teen worker seeking their first fast food job at McDonald's experiences the same process as the CEO of that same billion dollar company. That process is:
The point is, no matter if you are a beginner, or a CEO, there is a processto the job search. Take consistent, achievable steps, and work toward your goal.

Good luck,


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Time For A Change

After a nearly two year hiatus, the writing bug has returned, and I am updating again. My current interest and focus is along the career counseling line, and I have chosen an easy topic to know come of the rust from my keyboard.

Time For A Change.

My grandfather worked for the Armco Steel Company for 44 years. My father was with Montgomery Ward for more than 35 years. Those days are gone, and job changes are a simple fact of our economy. Grandpa and Dad both built solid Blue Collar to Management careers. They moved up the ladder a rung at a time. Now, in many cases, you have to change ladders to get to the next rung. The question is “How do I know when it is time to change?”

First, you have lost your passion. Your productivity has faded over time, and things that once seemed to matter, well...not so much anymore. Sunday nights (or whenever you return after a day or two off) are terrible these days. Anticipation has turned to dread.

Another sign that it is time to leave is if the organization is in trouble. This trouble may be expressed through re-organizations, sudden management shifts, or the departure of co-workers. In the Armco and Montgomery Ward era, companies sometimes were much more loyal to their workers, and this was a two way street. In today's reality, for right or wrong, companies are willing to take whatever actions they feel are needed. This includes right-sizing, terminations, and other actions which employees might see ass adverse.

Life is change. This applies to companies as well. Has the organization taken a different ethical direction which does not fit your personal or professional beliefs? Has the workplace culture changed? Do you get far less feedback from your supervisor? Do you have a new supervisor? This last point is an important one, as very often, people work for managers less than the company.

Have your job duties and responsibilities changed? Have you become under-utilized and bored? Perhaps things have gone the other direction, and you are stressed. If you feel like you are doing the work of two people, or that your duties are irrelevant, it is time to change things.

The theme of this article is that change is important in the decision to stay with a company, or to leave. It has to be a manageable level of change, and shoud offer opportunity for personal and professional growth. Workers should have reasonable opportunity, without being forced to drink a firehose of constant change.

Regardless, if a job change is due, then, remember to not burn bridges, and if possible, to line up your next job beforeyou go.

Good luck and best wishes,