Category Archives: Workplace Smarts

How Should I Publish? New York or On My Own? What Should I Do?

Should you publish to enhance your credibility, reputation … or just launch into a new stage of your career … or a new career.

                       

Not a week goes by that these questions don’t surface via email or a phone call:

  • Should I try to sell my book to New York?
  • Should I self-publish?
  • What’s the difference between the two?
  • What should I do?

Fair enough … all valid questions … all important. Without writing a full chapter for one of my books, let’s address these.

New York, New York
Before you decide that New York is your route, you need to ask yourself why you want to publish via New York. Do you know how many books are typically sold via New York? Do you know how much money you will net in royalties? Do you feel that you may be tainted if you don’t publish with a New York publisher? Could it be your ego speaking?

Truth be told, many, many authors feel that New York has greater credibility. Maybe—maybe it doesn’t matter. The better questions you need to address include: Who is your market? How are you going to reach out to them? Are your buyers going to go to book stores to find you? What is your game plan? Better yet, do you have one?

More times than not, authors come away a tad sour from their New York experience—they thought it would be so much more—that the publisher would pitch and market the book everywhere; sell gazillions of copies; get them a blizzard of media; they would make oodles of money; it would be so much fun; and all would live happily ever after.

New York will produce, print and publish your book approximately 18 months after you sign the contract. It promises to do all that via the contract you sign. New York also brings distribution channels—that doesn’t guarantee you are going to be in a book store. And that’s just about it.  Authors must understand that in the great majority of cases, they—not a publicist supplied by the publisher—are going to become the PR and marketing pros. Publishing with New York means that you aren’t fronting the production fees for your book—which could easily run into the thousands of dollars—but that’s where the book stops.

The average author with New York sells around 500 books these days—it’s why, if they take a book, the advances are quite small. Oh, the big names of New York Times bestseller status do get advance dollars—but they are in the minority. Most authors, especially first-times are looking at the dregs. And that 500 copies sold only produces a few thousand dollars.

 

 

Or Not …

Why would you consider taking another route … the route where you do it yourself? Start with:

Timing. If the traditional New York publisher’s round-trip for publishing a book is 18 months, the self and independent routes are far more attractive. Once an edited manuscript goes to layout, timing is a few weeks and printing another four (offset is four-five weeks, digital less than two weeks, POD a few days), an author is looking at printed books arriving in less than two months. Much more attractive, especially if there is an event that the author can be selling books at—meaning full, or close to, full retail price.

Quality. It’s morphed—New York has cut corners—from paper quality to even the amount of glue used for perfect bound books. Authors, using the vast networks available to them via the independent publishing route can discover a variety of pros to assist them. Yes, you pay upfront … but shop, negotiate where you can, make sure you check references and get samples of work before you sign anything.

Control. If wanting the final say of what the cover design is; if approving what the interior looks like; and if specifying time lines are important to you—than being in control is something that plays in your court. When you self and independent publish, think of yourself as the general contractor. Yes, it takes work … lots of it … but the pay-off and satisfaction can be significant.

Money. If you put together your Platforms and Marketing Plans—are committed and see the publishing process as a business, the money can be significantly greater publishing it yourself versus with New York. When you sell any books directly to a buyer, you get the money … also directly. If you want to make a living via authoring, learning how to publish yourself—either in the “self publishing” or “independent publishing” route—can be lucrative.

What Should You Do?
Don’t think of New York as an either/or option. You can do both, and it may make sense to just that. In fact, one strategy is to publish on your own, do well with the objective of getting an editors attention in New York, who in turn makes an offer. Not an uncommon thing for a successful self or indie publisher/author to receive.

Start your learning curve today. Get involved with legitimate publishing groups. Join them, attend their meetings. Meet and schmooze with other authors—what worked, what didn’t? Who did they work with that they would work with again and who would they avoid? Look at their books? If they are eBook authors only, same questions.  Most important, understand whatever option you choose, this thing called publishing is a business. There are expenses/outgo … and the ultimate goal is to have income/revenues.

For me, I started with New York in 1979 and 18 of my 30 books have been with them. It’s been a long journey. I learned a lot. But it wasn’t until I started publishing on my own in 2000 that I began to really know publishing … and know it well, I do. Would I publish with New York again? Maybe. Maybe not. Right now, I like the Control, Quality, Timing and Money options.

  Judith Briles

 is the Author and Publishing Expert, The Book Shepherd (www.TheBookShepherd.com) and the Founder of Author U (niversity (www.AuthorU.org), a membership organization created for the author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 30 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Her next book, Author YOU: Creating and Developing the Author and Book Platforms will be available fall 2012. Catch her radio show, Your Guide to Book Publishing on Thursdays at 6 pm, EST. http://rockstarradionetwork.com/shows/yourguidetobookpublishing

Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. Join the Author U LinkedIn group and add your voice. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.

 

Book Publishing: Eat, Prey & Kind of Love …

Eat, Prey & Kind of Love …

First of all, I have to tell you . . . I did not like Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love. Oh, there’s no question that the author is talented. It’s well written—about a married women who doesn’t want to be married. She’s got to do a re-direct on her life to find herself, so she’s taking a year off and schmoozing, speaking Italian and eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Indonesia.

Did I mention she does love her husband, David—the one she doesn’t want to be married to? What scares the hooey out of her is having a baby—something that, in the early days of their relationship, they agreed they would do when the big 30 hit. Fast forward to now; it’s approaching and our author is a blabbering mess.

Here’s what I didn’t like about the book and the author: she did not communicate to hubby that babies weren’t her forte and that it wasn’t going to work for her. Then the two could have come to closure instead of her dumping him for a new language, some pasta, and eventually meeting a guy who wasn’t interested in increasing the population.

What’s this got to do with authoring and publishing besides the book itself? Everything. Let’s start with clear, effective communicating, which is what many of the iUniverses, AuthorHouses and those who package publishing projects don’t do. My favorite thing about AuthorHouse is the coining of the word “authorcentric”—it’s a very cool word and one that I embrace. I wish AuthorHouse did. Then there’s iUniverse, which claims to be the champion of “supported self-publishing.” What’s supported self-publishing? Per iUniverse (via its website):

Self-publishing your book with the support of iUniverse is a professional, affordable, and fast way to get your book into print. Compared to publishing on your own, it costs you control of some aspects of the publishing process, but only in exchange for less hassle and expense. iUniverse professionals with book-publishing expertise will educate and guide you through the entire process for an affordable price. Supported self-publishing also enables you to test your marketing abilities and learn about the publicity process without emptying your bank account or making it your full-time career. And, because you control the rights to your book, you can get started with supported self-publishing but move to a traditional publisher—or choose to self-publish on your own—after you have experience and a track record.

Let’s look at the folks at AuthorHouse via its website:

AuthorHouse has grown into the largest self-publishing company in the world – responsible for helping more than 40,000 authors publish more than 60,000 books. AuthorHouse allows you to maintain creative and financial control of your book while receiving all the personalized attention and support you need – from publishing to promotion and everything between. AND AuthorHouse has  print-on-demand service that combines high-quality production with speed to market. Plus, formatting options and distribution capabilities can help set your book up for selling success.

Each boasts about its marketing services (very expensive), low cost entry into publishing for the author, generous payments (really?), distribution capability, etc., etc. AuthorHouse and iUniverse are just two of the many, many who proclaim themselves as “self-publishers” but who are, in reality, Vanity Presses. Period—nothing more, nothing less. They are huge and have a literal boiler-room approach, just like a hounding credit collection agency would—dial and re-dial … “If you don’t respond by today at two, our special offer will no longer be available … blah, blah, blah.” They eat, prey (on writers), and probably just love themselves. Communicate clearly? … nope. It’s grey everywhere.

They all use a POD model—which I’m the first to admit has a spot where it’s the right method for a quick print or end of life. But for the serious author/publisher, the one who intends on making money with a pBook format, this is a pass.

Self-publishers who are truly serious about their books and being successful need to step, no run, away from the term self-publishing. It no longer fits. The correct term is small press or independent publisher. Use it. Embrace it. Wear it with pride.

 

Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd (www.TheBookShepherd.com) and the Founder of Author U (niversity (www.AuthorU.org), a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 28 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook.  If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.

 

 

Book Publishing: It’s Not a Fad … It’s a Trend-Skipping NY

 

Book Publishing: It’s Not a Fad … It’s a Trend

A distinct trend has surfaced with book shepherding clients I’ve worked with this past year. These successful, traditionally published authors are choosing to bypass New York. Yes, if they offered their ideas, their manuscripts to the traditional publishing community via their agents, the odds were extremely high that they would receive a hefty offer to publish the new book. Yet, these authors chose not to. Why?

For years, I’ve been talking about the four primary reasons I left traditional publishing: control, quality, timing, and money. Their reasons matched mine. What publishers do in support of authors has declined to a minor fraction of just 10 years ago; in fact, most have turned into quasi printing houses that include cover design and minor editing only. Marketing has been pushed to the author with the expectation that if an advance had been paid, it would be used to promote the book. Publishing corners have been cut from the quality of paper and covers to the amount of glue in the spines. And authors have awakened to the fact that publishers are leaving a lot of money out of their pockets.

Just as kids grow up, express their independence, and get their drivers licenses, authors now want the keys to the publishing car. And it’s long overdue.

That’s where Author U comes in. You have the keys—with your hands on the wheel, you can go anywhere. The “anywhere” will be based on your platform, your vision, and your commitment. Along the way, Author U will introduce you to pit stops that will fuel your journey. You just have to keep refueling in the process. That’s where the Author U community comes into play along with the variety of programs that are available—some in person, others via computer.

Throughout the summer, the Tech Tool Box, Monday Evening Salons, and Webinars R Us have been active—book creation and book marketing don’t take vacations. Participating in them gives our members the up-front and personal attention by the presenters to dig down, learn the concept or tool, and implement them. Webinars have plenty of seats; Salons and Tech Tool Boxes are limited, with each being sold out. Make sure you check the dates and topics for each within The Resource newsletter and on the Author U website and sign up early.

The rest of the Author U year has been planned. Dinner and a Program will return on September 15th with presenter Jon Tandler focusing on all things legal in the publishing world—come with your list of questions. October 22nd will be a Saturday BootCamp that reveals a variety of “how-tos” in creating an Internet Book Launch, identifying the right partners, and the creating of gifts and prizes and special websites to funnel it all through. On November 17th, Steve Stone will deliver a Multi-Media Internet program with wonderful goodies to add to your website.

Author U starts a new tradition and will be going to the Holiday Mart sponsored by Denver’s Junior League in October. Participating members will have the opportunity to sell their books to thousands of pre-Holiday shoppers that are attracted to the event every year.

There’s lots on the Author U Highway … choose which pit stops will supply the fuel that you and your book needs.

 

Got Book? … Take Advantage of Seasonal Selling Now

Book Publishing … Take Advantage of Seasonal Selling Now

If your book is ideal for a gift (and it’s a rare one that is not), seasonal celebrations are ideal to reach out to your followers … why not your book as the gift? This month, of course December is hot. But so will January … for the “how-to” crowd, this is the high GOYA month—Get Off Your Ass—and get started (or re-started).

Game plan your “kick-start” now by:

1          Creating an email offer your “special” with a direct link to where you want them to purchase your book. Title, describe, and cover should all be included. Give them a heads-up with an estimate of how many days for arrival. If you are the sender, make sure you offer to personalize each book.

2          Contact all on your email lists; your Twitter followers; your Facebook friends; LinkedIn connections; and Google+ Circles and Huddles. Remind them who the ideal recipient is and that your book is a wonderful last-minute gift.

3          Don’t be shy … ask your friends and “followers” of the above to contact their local libraries and request your book Ask your friends and family to recommend your book as a gift item to others or buy your book to give to others.

4          Without being a pest, promote via your social media contacts with “hook” lines to entice the reader.

5          Ask your friends and social media contacts to re-treat from Twitter; ask them to recommend your book to their personal networks.

6          Remind them that Kindle, Nooks and iPads will all be hot gifts this year. Your book would be idea to give as a “gift”—Amazon.com, Apple.com/iPad, BN.com—all have ways to buy books for gifts via their sites.  (Yes—make sure that you have them available on all these platforms—if you are using Smash Words only, make sure that you include the link to Smash Words—otherwise, the average person won’t know to go there to purchase an eBook.

7          Think about creating a “deal”—a buy one, get one free … or if you have additional titles—create a “bundle”—any three for: … Use your imagination.

8          Offer a coupon for “something” if they email a confirmation number that they bought your book or fax it to you. It could be a credit of money toward another purchase if they buy from your site. Or think about sending them a “bonus” gift. Maybe a special report you’ve created that ties into your book’s topic or expertise. Or possibly do a cross promote—offer a “gift” from someone else … and they in turn can do the same with your info.

9          Create a Gift Basket of Books—gather up a few other authors (books that are in a different genre than yours)—include covers, brief descriptions, links to buy—and everyone cross promotes to their lists. These can be morphed with different events—Mother’s Day; Thanksgiving; New Year Beginnings; Birthdays, etc., etc. Have fun—be creative.

10        Always be on the alert with media events—if something is popping locally or nationally in the news—and it ties to your books title, theme or expertise—parlay it to your advantage.

Ten tips to move your book. None of this is difficult—just a little organization; getting your info and contacts together; and start your promo engines.

PS—my book, Show Me About Book Publishing is perfect for anyone who is interested in publishing. Available pBook and eBook formats on all platforms.

http://www.amazon.com/Show-Me-About-Book-Publishing/dp/1600378552/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323470521&sr=8-1

Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd (www.TheBookShepherd.com) and the Founder of Author U (niversity (www.AuthorU.org), a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 28 books including Show Me About Book Publishing, co-written with John Kremer and Rick Frishman and a speaker at publishing conferences. Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook.  If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.

 

Gimmicks, Gadgets & the Buzz Factor

Gimmicks, Gadgets & the Buzz Factor

At a recent three-day convention, I was slated to present the opening keynote for the next day and a workshop on communication the third day. It has always been my practice when time permitted, to come in a day early so I could hear other speakers, feel the energy of the group and if there is another main speaker, to make sure that I hear him or her.

It allows me to observe audience reaction to the speaker and the topic as well as the opportunity to link what I say with some theme within the speaker’s talk. Sure enough, I did alter part of my presentation—her theme was all about change. My keynote would be around the title of one of my books, Stabotage! How to Deal with Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace. Within that talk, I always reference change—it’s one of the factors that seeds conflict.

The speaker had looked good. Loved her colors and the way she interacted with others before she began her program. And then all the gimmicks came out. Special lighting, video, hiding gadgets within the audience, audience participation and moving around—lots of bells and whistles.  Now, I love gadgets and gimmicks … I just don’t want to be OD’d with them. What was cute in the beginning became downright tiresome, almost boring. As I watched and listened, I felt that her talk had been given so many times and that the choreography of it and her body movements were so canned that she could be having an out of body experience and still do her talk. I came away with, “I’ve heard this a zillion times feeling.” Hmmmm.

The next day, I was up early and so were 400 attendees. They were energetic and enthusiastic. Some were life-long friends within the nursing profession and multi-meeting attendees; others were new to the conference. I loved their buzz and watching them with their greetings and interactions with each other. What I did notice, though, was there was no buzz about the previous day’s speaker. Nothing, almost as if she hadn’t been there.

Because of what she covered, I knew that I would only have to “kiss it” within mine, deleting a good 10 minutes and allowing me to add tidbits to a key point that I would like to spend more time. In doing this, I would reference her presentation the day before and move to the point that I could expand. What I did do, was add in something that wasn’t even covered or hinted in her talk about change and did it with a couple of slides that I put together after I heard her.

The buzz after my talk lingered until the conference ended. Attendees would come and speak to me at my book table and share that they had just been talking with their friend and they loved it when I said ______fill in the blank. The Buzz Factor … it’s important.

Because the group was running late from their lunch, which preceded my keynote, I had to cut up 20 minutes of my presentation. As a speaker, you must be flexible and adapt to just about anything, including chopping your own talk if necessary. Which I did … still, the audience listened, adsorbed and came away with relevant info for their workplaces.

To create the Buzz Factor, you can leave your audiences laughing, crying or thinking … but you can’t just leave them. I didn’t—my goal as a speaker has to always have entertainment, lots of humor but lots of meat that can be chewed on, processed, regurgitated—all loaded with ideas and concepts that can be implemented. Gadgets and Gimmicks can be fun … but they are like Chinese food—great during the meal, but after processing and gone too quickly.

Carefronting Employees in Your Midst …

Carefronting Employees in Your Midst …

 You’ve been recently promoted to manager of your department.  You loved being on staff, but the management role hasn’t been what you expected.  Your pre-management department friends seem to have new expectations from you (as you do from them).  The camaraderie you relished for the past two years has almost disappeared. 

 On top of that, Bertha, one of the best employees you’ve ever worked with seems to have had a personality transplant.  She routinely challenges your authority, grumbles about anything and everything, and appears to be the creator of some of the conflict your department is experiencing.

The quickest way to reduce red ink culpraits is to address them when inappropriate behavior surfaces. Your reward for resolution is increased retention, higher productivity, increased patient satisfaction and a less stressful workplace. 

Your solution cycle starts with observation, communication, confrontation and spelling out clearly what the consequence is if the behavior continues.

  1. Recognize that soft skills—effective communication and conflict resolution— are as critical as clinical skills.
  2. Make effective confronting a habit, not something that is done as a last resort.
  3. Teach communication and conflict resolution to everyone on staff.
  4. Identify Red Ink styles and behaviors and confront them immediately.
  5. Let marginal employees go.  Learn to de-hire.
  6. Create a no tolerance zone—bad behaviors are not tolerated or allowed.  Period.

 Don’t concentrate on being the “employer of choice.”  Instead, become the Employer of Choice of Choice Employees.  The real choice should be to keep the keepers and lose the losers.  The end result is a healthier workplace . . . a win-win for all.

The Wrong Fit

 Have you ever been in a situation where you know that it could have been avoided? It usually comes from a wrong fit.

 People often ask what groups I speak for. My response is always—it’s better to ask what groups I don’t speak for. Puzzled with my response, I continued—I don’t speak for Teachers, Attorneys, Government … and Men After Dark. Simple.

 Teachers often talk when speakers speak; it just too much work proving one’s self to the legal beagles; government has a couple of strikes—sometimes it’s a challenge to get paid and the energy level that is generated from a government employee is rarely higher than a stair step; and the men, will the men are best having a humorist or sports celebrity speak during evening hours versus someone what wants to delete conflict in the workplace like yours truly.

 Too many times, things don’t work out because you may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t say yes, when in your heart, no is the better answer.

Bullying Behavior Is Still in the Air … Clear It Out

Nasty and demeaning behavior is alive and well in the workplace today. It’s not exclusive to gender and breeds easily. In fact, the bad economy acts as a breeder.The Susans (and Sams) of the workplace who practice the art of being pit bulls, bullies and jerks are the latest topic of author and management consultant Robert Sutton. In his best-selling book, The No #$%hole Rule (Warner Business Books), he identifies his “dirty dozen”—common, everyday actions that #$%holes typically use:

 Personal insults
 Invading one’s “personal territory”
 Uninvited physical contact
 Threats and intimidation—either verbal and/or non-verbal
 Sarcastic jokes and teasing used to insult
 Withering e-mail flames
 Status slaps intended to humiliate the recipient
 Public shaming or “status degradation” rituals
 Rude interruptions
 Two-faced attacks
 Dirty looks
 Treating people as if they are invisible

So, what do you do with a Susan or a Sam—who may be a boss or a co-worker?

If you are a manager, and not the pit bull, start quantifying what the behavior is costing you. How much time do you spend dealing with the employee that is an outcome of their behavior? How much is spent with staff that is the recipient of the bully’s output? Have HR professionals been called in—what’s their time worth? Have you had to interact with those senior to you? Is overtime paid out that could be tied to last minute demands or not getting things done? Has counseling been required? Have others quit because of the bully—what are your recruitment, replacement, and retraining costs? Could this person’s behavior contribute to lower productivity among other workers, even causing some to toss in the towel and transfer or quit?

The moneys mount up. Just replacing someone can cost you between one to three times an annual salary! Loss productivity factors in both reduced output, the need for overtime or temp help and added stress to staff. Few people say that the reason they are terminating is because of a specific person, it’s usually “a better opportunity,” “more pay” (even if it’s a nickel an hour more), or “less of a commute.”

Pit bulls (with and without lipstick) and bullies are key causes of good people exiting a workplace. Keeping them can have staggering costs. In the multiple worklace studies that I’ve done for my books (the latest is in Stabotage! How to Deal with the Pit Bulls, Skunks, Snakes, Scorpions & Slugs in the Health Care Workplace), over 51% reported that they had quit jobs because of the toxic behavior of their co-workers and bosses.

Unless their contributions are worth mega millions to your workplace and it would vaporize without them, it’s time to end it. The sooner, the better

Sutton advises, “Don’t hire #$%holes and don’t let them get away with it.”

For employees, he encourages them to change the “norms”—what’s acceptable and non-acceptable among co-workers; to get out; or create an attitude of indifference toward them.

In my own research and work with organizations, I know that the more confidence you display (even faking it), the less likely these creeps will attack you. Why?—it becomes too much work on their part to bug and/or pull you down.

When a company allows and enables rotten behavior, they support bad business practices and tell their workers they don’t count. Dumb.

Limping Leadership

What happens when a team, a group, a company or an organization loses its vision, its organization, it energy, its leadership and/or its passion? Simply, it dies.

Some deaths are sudden. Most are prolonged, and can be agonizing.

Gumblings and complaints about the leadership or management (people who don’t care–people who don’t appear or seem to be invested in the company or group–people who really lack organization experience–people who fail to connect–or people who don’t know that they are the wrong fit).

Concerns about apparent visual declines in surroundings or methods of communication (magazines or newsletters decline in quality, or disappear; emails are nothing more than a bunch of words without some type of catchy graphic; management/leadership fades into the background; physical surroundings begin to look worn or tired; or sponsored events become a minor reflection of yesteryear).

Too many leaders within the company or organization don’t really lead; they act as parking attendants.

If you are a member of a group or organization that appears to be limping along, what should you do? Nothing is not your answer. If this is your employment–dusting your resume is a good idea; re-evaluating what you do and where you want to do it; IDing what other companies employ people like you or produce the product or services that you are so good at creating; go to the CEO and let them know you’ve got a killer strategy (if you do) to add to the value and profitability of the company; move on.

Association–profits and non-profits typically die or limp along for years when a powerhouse leader or board moves on. These organizations usually have a high degree of turnover–their bylaws mandate it. And that’s the problem. Unless each new team of leadership is as strong, as visionary and as organized as its predecesor, the limp factor becomes engaged. If you are a member of such a group, you are going to have to have a serious discussion with yourself. Ask: are you getting anything out to belonging to the group … hanging with the members, any benefits that it has that you can’t get elsewhere, what? If you really can’t think of any, than it’s time to move on as well. Don’t renew your membership.

It is painful to watch a company or organization that you care for or have been deeply vested in begin to implode. Painful.
With that said, when it’s over, it’s over. Grieve, but move on and find new life. Don’t become a parking attendant.

And that, is a very good thing.

Finding the Right Job When Business is Broken

I’m a tad surprised with the mega responses and queries I’ve received about a recent column I did on job searches for the Denver Business Journal. Calls and emails from people from all over the country. There’s a variation of it in ezinearticles.com or you can read the full version at the Journal’s website.

The thrust is that Business is Broken … and the way to seek/search for a job is not writing a resume nor contacting HR. It’s all about creating a Value Proposition Letter and getting it into the right hands … namely, the CEO.

Your letter requires research on an industry you want to work in; a region or community you want to live in; the top three companies you would like to work for; and digging in and determining what’s hot (and not so hot) within each company.

Then you create the letter that specifically addresses the key issues where you have expertise. Identifying your skills and experiences that can solve a problem, grow a product and become a pivotal part of the team to take the company to their next level is the purpose of your Value Proposition Letter.

CEOs make decisions. Why not for you?

Being Realistic in a Job Quest

In case you’ve missed the news, times are not great.  Unemployment is creeping up.  Google’s recent announcement of a layoff post the DoubleClick acquisition has splashed across the nation’s news outlets.

Now, it’s not uncommon for a company to do some housecleaning when a merger or takeover occurs.  The news was that it was Google doing it, the workplace environment that’s taughted as one of the best in the country.

If the financial numbers continue to decline, slow downs in strong businesses will be expected.  When slowdowns happen, cutbacks and layoffs follow. Have you been caught?  Will you be caught? Are you someone looking for another position?

If you are looking, or thinking about it—below are six tips to enhance your job search:

1       Identify what industries are hot, growing and passé

American has evolved from manufacturing to service. Health care, teaching, and security all provide service. 

Half the top jobs are in health care.  Nationally, nursing averages $56,000 a year—in Colorado, it’s higher. With the aging population and alternative health options, home health professionals are booming

A growing population creates teaching opportunities and the field of security has expanded significantly post 9/11.

Energy will continue to be in the news.  With oil over $100 a barrel and gas now marching toward $4 a gallon, careers in oil and gas and alternative energies will offer opportunities and seek out talent.

Green is hot.  Fear always creates opportunity.  Global warming, the breaking of ice shelves, and photos of polar bears looking out to the water (instead of at ice and snow) have fueled research, companies and jobs.

The world is flat—think international.  If you have cultural skills and second (or more) languages that can be transferred to the marketplace, tap into them. Both American and International companies covet workers with second languages and business skills.

2       Don’t be greedy 

Do you homework on salary ranges before you interview.  Because a job paid an amount two years ago doesn’t mean that’s the norm today.  Greed is out—reduce your salary expectations.   Websites like Monster.com can help with current ranges.  Don’t forget your local papers. 

One of the button pushers for prospective employers is unrealistic salary expectations—dump yours.  Once your foot is in the door and you’ve proven your          worth, you have a better chance in getting an increase.

3       Find out who’s hiring

Do your homework—look closely at related business articles in this publication as well as others the Rocky and the Post.  Do Google searches on names that pop up and see what related articles reveal.  Even if a company is having a rough time, you may have the talent and skills that could fill a void. 

Don’t let your resume pigeon-hole you. Decide what you want to do, then tweak the language on your resume to fit it. Just because you are an engineer doesn’t mean your have to solely look for positions that require an engineering degree.

In your cover letter, include what the company will gain if you were hired; if you were able to determine any problems or challenges it was encountering, how your skills can assist in solving them and what your availability is.           

4       Be flexible 

Your idea job may not be within 50 miles from where you currently live. Today, flexibility needs to surface.  If you are single, moving is easier.  If you have a family, a family powwow is in order.

Don’t Get Stuck.  Let’s face it, not many people want to move, whether it’s across town or to another state.  With the          Internet, let your fingers do the walking—the search engines can deliver information sources in seconds on just about anything you can think of.         

5       Learn to sell yourself

Companies hire people to fill a need—they just don’t go about creating jobs because they like to write payroll checks.  Why are you good at what you do?  What benefit do you bring to them?  What problems can you address with your skills?   

Companies today look for what creates revenue—sometimes it’s in the form of increased sales; and sometimes it’s in the form of eliminating losses.  Which will you do?  Put together a verbal sales presentation of YOU before heading out for any the interview.

If you feel that a job is right for you, ask for it. Try something like, “I feel with my background, I can do a great job for your company; I’m available now, when would you like me to start?”

6       Don’t wait for the phone to ring

Even if the “perfect” job doesn’t surface, do something.  Many companies hire temps, who turn into full-time when the pressure is off.  It’s far more common to hire from within.  A plus for you is that you are on the inside and can determine if you want to work there.

Meanwhile, you can hone what skills you have, as well as acquire under their roofs.  And, you’ll be creating a track record ready to add to your list of skills when the market does improve.

It’s not all rosey out there.  You can, though, do some prep work to put you ahead of a job seeking pack.

What is Seen is What You Say

Have you ever been at a function, be it with a dozen or many, many more, and you’ve done one of those brain-dead things … you’ve forgotten the name of someone you were just been introduced to?You painstakingly try to remember the guy’s name, hoping that someone will come along and call him by his name and bail you out. You hesitate to ask again, truth-be-told, you don’t want him to think that you weren’t listening when you were initially introduced. No one comes to your rescue.

What gives? Are you brain-dead. You can recall the tie, the color, even the knot, just no nameAre you displaying early signs of dementia setting in?

Nope, in fact, you are normal. Most people size up someone in that first meeting based on the visual take—body language, facial, hand and feet gestures/positioning, what colors, clothing and accessories are worn—you name it, anything that the eye can take in registers on the imprint scale. The simple fact is that you just didn’t hear the name; you had other things on your mind.

The media spends a lot of time covering politics. In the 60s, John F. Kennedy debated Richard Nixon in the first televised presidential debate. If you watched on TV, Kennedy won; if you listened on the radio, Nixon won.

The deal breaker—it was the 5 o’clock shadow that the camera, along with no makeup—displayed to the viewing public. They didn’t like it.

When it comes to the first impression, the eyes have it.

What’s important to you is to know and understand that your body language and how you visually present yourself could be a deal breaker. Today’s best leaders and communicators know that a commanding visual presence says competence and confidence.

One of the outrageous masters of communication was entertainer Victor Borge. His reading of a text, any text, couple with his sound effects for every dot, comma, colon; semi-colon, question and exclamation marks, and quotes were hilarious. It was also dead on.

He added his facial expressions and used his hands to add to the shapes of the various marks. No one forgot his performance. The viewer/audience was thoroughly entertained and remembered what he was reading to boot.

So it goes with your own interviews and performance evaluations. Not that you have to do a Victor Borge, but it’s career smart to understand the language of non-verbal communication.

Let’s start with some of the Don’ts:

§ Don’t put your hands in your pockets or keep them “stuck” by your side … it may be read that you are insecure;

§ Don’t slouch in a chair … it says that you are not interested, even lazy;

§ Don’t slump when you stand … it can be read that you aren’t paying attention or don’t care;

§ Don’t wear just anything … if it’s a wrong fit, style, color, it says you didn’t take the time to prepare;

§ Don’t wear colors that dull your skin tones … the wrong color can actually make you look sick;

§ Don’t break eye contact … when you break away, it can feign a non-interest;

The Do List is critical:

§ Do lean forward if sitting … it shows some interest and enthusiasm;

§ Do pay attention to your hands and nails… are the clean, manicured—hands speak volumes;

§ Do be animated … use your hands and your face expressions to accent key points;

§ Do pay attention to your arms and legs … if they are uncrossed, it says that “I’m not blocking you out…”;
Do keep eye contact … it says I’m listening and connecting;

§ Do wear colors and styles that are flattering … this goes for women and men alike;

§ Do communicate, in writing, after the interview … a hand-written thank you note for the interview is just smart and can put you on the short list for follow-up.

Masters of communication know that a job interview or evaluation can be made before one word is spoken. It’s happens with what you physically present yourself as, along with what comes out of your mouth and how you bring the two together.

Any signs of insincerity, disinterest or disrespect will get you out the door as quickly as a blatant overture that you don’t give a twit.

By paying attention to what others see, you will discover that they will pay attention to the words you use and say.
Your body language says more about you that thousands of words. You want to be seen as an informed, responsible and savvy person. Are you?

What To Do When the Boss is a Steam Roller

You’re beat. It’s been a long month. You note the clock says 3:10. You need a break.

Your boss walks into your cubicle and drenches any plans of you roaring at a game. Another project has become urgent. One that you knew was out there, but your boss didn’t express any concern about timeframes when you approached him the previous week. Goodbye Avs.

What happens when your boss is a cross between Attila the Hun and a Mack truck? He only moves into gear when the battle of the deadline approaches.

Knowing how to stand up for yourself is a key skill every employee needs to learn. At sometime, any one of us can lay claim to the fact that we are overworked or treated unfairly. Bosses mismanage, don’t manage and micromanage. Some do all three.

Dealing with them requires professionalism, even when you don’t feel they deserve an ounce of it.

It’s critical to your personal success to be able to stand up to the boss when their behavior gets out of whack. Yes, times are tough out there. Data shows that with the declining economy, fewer are willing to say, “Take this job and shove it.” The question becomes, “Can you keep the job and shovel around it?”

Some bosses make demands that make sense to them, but not to the staff. Let’s say your boss is a workaholic morning person. All meetings are in the early AM, before the normal days starts. You don’t get paid extra for the show up early demand, and frankly don’t care.

What you care about is the time factor—getting in 45 minutes early is a problem. With three school kids under 10, your mornings are like a three-alarm in a fire station. Leaving early to attend the mandatory staff meeting doesn’t rate even one-alarm. Your co-workers also have early AM challenges.

What do you do? Ask your boss for an appointment, one that won’t take more than 15 minutes. Next, choose your words wisely. This isn’t the time to come in with a laundry list of complaints. If it’s the early AM meeting issue, then that’s what you focus on. If you know he likes coffee, bring a cup with you.

Ask if there is a specific reason why meetings are held so early—lay out your problem, including that most of the staff are having childcare and school drop-off problems. Then listen.

You will hear a variety of responses including one of convenience; it allows for a full work day; it’s not so rushed and everyone can chit-chat before the meeting and day starts; and, because that’s when I want it.

Listening allows you to grab a portion of the response and use it to shape your response and offer back. If it’s one of chit-chatting, you can agree that it does take up a lot of time.

“How about if everyone agrees to forego all the catch-up and schmoozing and just jump into the meeting? That will allow us to start 45 minutes later. We will be less stressed out and will be able to be more focused and productive when we start. Would that work for you?”

When you stand up for yourself, you take a pro-active position within the workplace. You want to avoid being accusatory or confrontational. Calm and cool is the motto here; when emotions surface, people over react. The last thing you want to do is push the boss’ hot button.

Last minute projects are a commonality in the workplace. Sometimes things just pile up during the course of the workday. At others, they seem to pile up at the end with a demand for instant completion or a boss expects you to do the work of three within the scope of one day.

Project pileup can cause other deadlines to be missed. Even though you succeeded in dealing with the crisis deadline, the others that got bumped could come back and get thrown in your face at performance evaluation time. If that happens, you need to have your facts in place.

Your conversation will go something like this, “I want to be successful and support the work you do. When you came to me with last minute projects like the Smith Design, I asked your input or reprioritizing the other projects you had me working on. You recommended that I push these three projects until the following week. Did I misunderstand you?”

Any boss who has got a drop of sense in them (and over 90 percent do) will back down.

What happens and you aren’t feeling so clever when the challenge comes? Stay cool, thank him for his input, then go get your facts to support why you bumped the projects. Most likely, he will reassess and up his performance evaluation.

Employees must learn to not be afraid to speak up and ask for what they want and need. If you have too much on your plate, ask your boss to assist you in reprioritizing what’s important to him. If early or late meetings don’t work for you, you need to say so. There’s always a laundry list of things employees grumble about. Grumbling will get you nowhere.

Bosses have to sometimes be taught on how to treat people. Employees become the teacher.

You’ve Been Fired!

When the dotcoms went dot bust a few years ago, employees celebrated their inclusion to the jobless ranks with pink-slip parties. Your entry ticket was showing your termination notice at the door. No notice, no party. Being fired became a badge of honor—if you hadn’t been, you just weren’t in.

Fast forward to today. The workplace is still in transition. People still get fired. No one is immune, no matter what the size of the organization. The term firing can be softened with the “laid-off” and “downsizing” words, but it doesn’t reduce the blow. You’ve been axed.

Whether you’ve given the sack, the pink slip, downsized, laid-off or fired, it’s not a picnic. With a firing, the twins of fear and failure escort you to the door. Negative self-talk beats you up. The ego is bruised. According to envelope king Harvey Mackay in his latest book, We Got Fired! (Ballantine Books), opportunity may be knocking. 

Mackay says, “There is no job security for anyone—the best thing to do when you have a job is to be prepared to be fired at any time and to be armed with information. And, being fired just might be the best thing that could have happened to you.”

We Got Fired! profiles 28 well-known successes—from actor Robert Redford to tennis star Billie Jean King to New York mayor Michael Bloomberg—all who got sacked along their way to fame and fortune. Hitting rock bottom, they found ways to re-invent themselves from determining what went wrong and what was learned. Even Donald Trumps weighs in. And why not? This is the guy who tried to trademark the words you’re fired.

So, you’ve got the news (or your gut tells you it’s coming), what should you do? Mackay has gleamed several “must dos” to create the comeback kid and nail your next job. Included are:

• Realize that getting a job is a job. It takes work to start the paychecks flowing and some of it’s pure drudgery. Create your routine—phoning, keeping visible, searching—consider it a temp job until the full time one starts. Get out—networking is going to create far more contacts and probabilities than sending out reams of resumes. 

Seek mentors—they can be the traditional (older and experienced); next-step (a few years ahead of what you were doing—or would like to do); peer (equivalent to you in time and experienced but skilled in areas you aren’t); or reverse (younger to older). Their connections can become yours. 

Go online and stay on top of news within the industries you are seeking employment. While online, put your name into a Google.com or Clutsy.com search and see what comes up. It always makes sense to find out if you are listed anywhere and what is being said about you.

• Forget blame. Bite your tongue and skip the blame game—yours or on others. What’s important is what you learned in your last job and how does it make you a better employee.

• Don’t burn bridges. This is the “eat your words” part of the exit. Even if you think your boss, or the company, is an A1 jerk, button up. You never know when you are going to reconnect with a former boss or employer—the reconnecting can come from employment or contacts. It’s a small world and people know people who know people.

• Don’t wing interviews. Try your pitch with people you trust and get their feedback. Companies hire people to fill a need—they just don’t go about creating jobs because they like to write payroll checks. Why are you good at what you do? What benefit do you bring to them? What problems can you address with your skills? 

Rarely is a job offered to someone who needs it—it comes because you have something that is needed/wanted. Today’s companies look for what creates revenue—sometimes it’s in the form of increased sales; and sometimes it’s in the form of eliminating losses. Which will you do? Put together a sales presentation of YOU before heading out for any interview.

• Research, research, research the project. Do your homework—look closely at related business articles is this publication as well as others in your area. Read the headlines—the good news and the bad, you never know where an idea can pop up. Even companies that are having tough times may want you if you have got the info and skills they need. The Internet makes an excellent partner in probing what’s out there.

In the spring of 2004, the recruiting firm of Korn/Ferry surveyed 3000 managers/executives. Sixty-eight percent of them were concerned that they could lose their jobs unexpectedly. 

The pot is big—being fired doesn’t happen to the minority—it can happen to anyone . . . management or staff. If a pink slip is lurking, or has arrived, your new job is now finding the new job. Take the lessons learned and put them in your career tool kit. They’ll come in handy.

You May Talk Too Much . . .

During the past month, I’ve had several queries about personal information, as in, how much should be revealed within the confines of the workplace?

Consider this—you are the parent of a driving teenager, a challenge that post teen parents will empathize with you on. Your son has been practicing his independence with the car, his responsibilities on the home front, and in general, he’s being a royal twit. 

You aren’t getting enough sleep—you are worried; you’ve even had a call from the police that your former pride and joy has recently been picked up for drag racing during rush hour; and your neighbors are grumbling about the level of noise generated from his side of the house with windows wide open. You aren’t a happy camper, and for that matter, either are your son and the rest of the family.

What do you do? Bite your tongue, ground the kid until voting age . . . and share your exacerbation with coworkers? Is there a difference in what men say in the workplace than what women say to each other? 

You bet, and for women, it can ruin a career. For years, men have been dinged for not sharing personal information about themselves, their families, and their fill-in-the-blank. 

Women rarely feel hesitant to share and confide personal fears, concerns, hopes and aspirations to . . . anyone and at anytime!

Most likely, if you are a male, you probably won’t say anything at work about the latest escapades of your son. 

If you have an after-work activity—sports or a workout—you might, and I say might, confide in your partner that your son is acting out and raising hell at home. 

You may issue ultimatums to him, but creating a running banner with your colleagues and friends is unlikely.

The Big Deal
Now, let’s switch genders. Women enjoy talking about their kids—the good and the bad. It’s being part of the club of womanhood/motherhood. If you are a female, everyone at work will know the intimate details of what he’s done this time. 

You may even lace your commentary with a few, “I don’t know how these parents of teenagers make it through . . . I’m at my wits end from non-sleep and counter-fighting all the time. Joining the military is beginning to sound good to me.” 

As others nod their heads in agreement, you may be thinking, so what? What’s the big deal if I share what goes on at my house?

The big deal is that the word spreads. Let’s say you are being considered for a major promotion—something that has been a true career goal for you. 

You are on the short list and know that a decision will be made within the next two weeks. You are also willing to admit that your primarily competitor for the position is as equally talented as you are. 

You want this position, but deep down, know that if either of you gets it, the company will be in good shape.

The big day comes and the position does not have your name attached to it. In fact, the office grapevine questions whether you will be able to make it through the teen years; that the last thing that you need is another responsibility added to your shoulders. 

After all, you did say that you were at your wits end and that you didn’t know how parents got through these years—didn’t you?

Personal Strategies
It’s a smart career move to have some rules about what you share and what you don’t share in your workplace. Start with:

Personal Problems—we all have them, some to a greater degree than others. Unless it’s a major health issue or something that directly effects your work, it’s best to strongly filter what you bring into the workplace and divulge to and with others.

Previous Mistakes—everyone makes mistakes—mini ones and major ones. If it’s behind you, it’s in the past. What did you learn, what can you use, and do you really need to tell the workplace world that you created a major disaster for an employer three jobs ago?

Money Issues—the economy is tough for many right now with the cutbacks and shutdowns. But, is this the time to grumble and complain about the level of Holiday debt you created or how the car payment is pushing you toward bankruptcy? 

If money really is a problem, contact a group such as Consumer Credit Counseling Service for help in getting back on track.

Personal Confidences—if someone tells you something in confidence, it’s supposed to be retain in confidence—at least, that’s the usually assumption that women carry. 

It is so easy to share information casually. Women routinely connect with others this way, men don’t. A word to the wise: if you don’t want it repeated, don’t say it.

So, I’m with the guys: don’t be so open to everyone, everything. There is a time and place for divulging personal information. Across the water cooler, in the cafeteria or just in general chatter is usually not the appropriate playground.