Girl Talk Career Blog

July 10, 2010

Hair-Brained Money-Making Ideas

Filed under: Unique Money-Makers — lisalahey @ 11:39 am
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  Selling and buying hair is in huge demand, Girlfriend so if you’ve got a great head of hair you have a one-time ticket in 12 months or so to make a small windfall of money.

In some poorer countries such as the Philippines and Mexico women sell their hair to contribute to the household income. Mind you it doesn’t go very far but hey, when you live in dire straits better than nothing.

You on the other hand are probably looking for a bit of spending cash and there are 2 easy ways to sell it:  EBay and other online websites that sell your hair for you (probably for a fee so check that out in advance). A couple I found are The Hair Trader.com and Online Hair Affair.  I have no idea if these are reputable sites since I’ve never sold my hair but I thought they looked rather interesting.

If you’re going to put your hair on the market there are a few details you need to consider:

  1. You must be a virgin.  No silly, not your personally but your hair certainly does.  That means no dyeing, perming, streaking, highlighting and anything else you can think of that alters your own original hair in any manner.  Wig makers want “virgin” hair and most won’t settle for anything else.
  2. Rapunzel would never qualify. She let that prince climb up and down her luscious locks. Talk about hair abuse!  You have to care for your hair like its a newborn baby. If its not in mint condition you won’t get a cent. Keep the following in mind:
          Don’t brush your hair often. 
          Don’t shampoo it a lot. 
          Keep it under a hat and braided when you are outside during the summer. 
          Don’t swim in chlorinated water.
          Wear it pulled back (gently) into a loose plait often to keep it from getting tangled.
          Use hair clips as seldom as possible since they are known to break hair.
  3. You must have at least 10 inches of hair to cut.
  4. Get your ends trimmed regularly so they don’t split.
  5. Keep your body in good health. Eat well. Exercise. Everything you put in your body affects your hair.
  6. A buyer will want proof of the length and thickness of your hair before she purchases it.  You need to take a few photographs of your hair from different angles.  Make sure your hair is freshly conditioned and stand in a light that reflects its sheen for the best picture possible.
  7. Don’t mail your hair until you have payment.
  8. You have to get your hair cut by a professional stylist so head out (pun) to a hair salon. The stylist will cut it off above an elastic band so your hair is already bundled.
  9. Any hair that is not inside the elastic band, has been picked up off the floor or is not in a ponytail disqualifies the entire head of hair for sale.  Yikes!
  10. Expect to make between $300.00 and $2,000.00.  Yes that’s a heckuva wide range and most people probably fall somewhere in the $900.00 – $1000.00 area. 

Why is it that one woman gets a huge amount of money and another woman doesn’t? There are a number of factors to explain this financial phenomenon:

  1. The longer your hair the better the price.
  2. The thicker your hair the better the price.
  3. Naturally curly or wavy hair usually nets a bigger price tag than straight hair which is much more common on the seller’s market (think Asian women).
  4. The better condition the hair is in the better the price.
  5. The better the seller’s negotiation skills the better the price.

However once your hair is cut don’t hold out for too long to sell it as it will go down in value, much like shares in the stock market.  When you get a decent buyer who offers a fair price take it!

If you don’t get a decent buyer considera charity such as Locks of Love, that provides free wigs for people with cancer and other diseases.  Nice. There are a lot of them out there including: Wigs for Kids; Angel Hair Foundation; Angel Hair for Kids and Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

Can’t bear to part with your mane? You can still make money with it as a hair model.  Salons are always in need of hair models with hair that is reasonably long enough to cut and style.  You won’t make a lot of money. You and the hairdresser will likely negotiate in advance that if she wins the contest and there is a cash prize you get a certain amount (no it won’t be 50-50 since you get a free cut and possibly colouring job).  In fact that free cut, colour and style may be your only payment but if you get it done by a top stylist at a well known salon then why complain?

July 3, 2010

The Wordle on the Street…

Filed under: Resumes — lisalahey @ 4:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

By now you may have heard of wordle.  I would love to meet the type of brainiacs who invent this stuff.  Wordle is very helpful for job seekers.  Nope, its not a linkedin or a twitter.  It’s not a service where you post your profile (yawn) and try to catch an HR recruiter’s eye.  Among a number of things, wordle is a de-coder ring for tweaking your resume by targeting key words in job descriptions that are posted on the internet.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Log onto wordle.com
  2. Select Create Your Own
  3. A window pops up with a huge empty box where you can paste text.
  4. Copy the job description from its site and paste it into the empty box in wordle.
  5. Hit Go.
  6. Wordle thinks for a few seconds and then it brings up the coolest-looking screen that blasts all of the keywords in the job description in colour with the most significant words (they occur the most often in the ad) appearing the largest on the screen. Now you know what the company is really looking for to fill this role.
  7. Go back to your resume and compare it to the keywords in the wordle decipher box.
  8. If your resume doesn’t significantly reflect the keywords in the job description wordle has identified for you then you need to change it.

Now in pics:  

This is the wordle box and the text is verbatim  from the site:


  here is the little ol’ go button you hit and then you get something like this:
 
 
The largest words here (obviously not a job description but anyway) are birthday  Mrs  day  year, meaning those are the words that occur the most often in that “description” or article or what have you.  Obviously then you would alter (but do it honestly!) your resume to reflect those words.  Cool. 
It’s another clever way to get your resume accepted and not rejected by HR resume-sorting computer technology and of course the HR human eye, each of which are equally important in getting that all-important interview.

June 21, 2010

Ghastly-Workers and How to Deal

Girlfriend we’ve all worked with difficult co-workers before and sometimes we’ve been stymied when it comes to maintaining a professional relationship with them.  Not fun but it happens and as long as you’re in the work force that will probably be the case from time to time.  Hey, that’s life.  Here are a few of my personal “favourites” and some suggestions as to how to deal:

1.   The Control Freak.  I worked with a CF once.  Her name was
       Gloria.  Gloria hated it when I had to leave the office and work
       next door for a different department.  One day she yelled loudly
       about it and told me I had to stay in our office and do some work here (my work was completed).  Gloria wasn’t my supervisor!  That was someone else and he had specifically requested that I work next door whenever I had the time.  How to deal:  I have no idea why me doing extra work for another department agitated this woman so much.  I told her she was not permitted to act in the capacity of a supervisor with me and I left the office to go ahead and work next door.  Now, I would handle it a little differently probably by meeting with her when she’d calmed down and telling her that I wouldn’t tolerate her tantrums and that she was to mind her work and I would mind mine.  I don’t know.  Inferiority complex perhaps?

2.   The Slacker.  It amazes me how many people take a job then exert a great deal of effort … at avoiding work while managing to look busy.  How about doing your actual job instead?  Most higher-ups aren’t clueless as to what is happening below and as soon as layoffs hit you know very well that the least productive among us are going to be shown the door firstHow to deal:  Unless that person’s productivity affects my work and my results with a project or with my daily tasks I wouldn’t interfere.  Of course if I’m her supervisor that’s a different story entirely.  Then it is my job to straighten her out.

3.  The Drama QueenEverything’s an emergency!  She’d suit the role of Chicken Little, running about and shrieking “the sky is falling!”  Of course most of the emergencies are about her and not necessarily her work responsibilities.  How to deal:  If she distracts you and tries to pull you away from your work you can’t allow it.  You’ve go to be firm with the DQ and tell her you’re unable to help her and perhaps she should speak to management?  Otherwise ignore her.  Actresses respond to an audience, so don’t be hers.

4.  Dazed and Confused.  Now I actually feel sorry for DC.  Sometimes this woman seems clueless when she’s not.  She’s intelligent enough or she wouldn’t be employed.  It’s quite possible that DC has a learning disability that makes it difficult for her to process incoming information, especially when it’s strictly verbal.  How to deal:  When you get paired up with DC to work on a project, break her role down into simple steps for her.  Assign her no more than 3 simple tasks.  Write them down for her so she can cross them off when she completes them.  Stay patient. She really is doing her best.

5.  The Bully.  Of all the office co-workers this is the one I believe needs to be put in her place and fast.  No one should work with a bully, whether its the boss, the boss’s boss, or your colleague. How to deal:  When she tries her attitude out on you stand up for yourself (literally).  Keep your cool. The more you lose control of your emotions the more she will bully you. When you are calm let her know you weren’t hired to be abused.  Document the encounter in writing.  If it happens again, document it and get yourself into the boss’s office.  Sometimes mediation is the only answer to the office bully’s tirades.

For a full, fun, frightful list of co-workers from hell click this link to a powerpoint presentation I put together all by my little self:  27 Ghastly Co-Workers and How to Deal with Each and Every One of  Them

Enjoy!

June 20, 2010

Academy Award for Bizarre Interview Candidates

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 9:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

There are tons of blogs out there offering valuable advice about how to get a call for an interview then how to nail that job interview and walk away employed.  Many of them are written by HR recruiters so they must know what they’re talking about. 

My hunch is that the following candidates have not perused any of these articles.  Or perhaps they have since the utterly bizarre behaviours these candidates displayed were not mentioned in any of these blogs (understandably).  Hopefully the majority of people job hunting have never committed these gaffes and never will.

Now on to the awards.

Weirdest Email Application  …  and the nominees are … 
A woman submitted a link to her personal website where she posted nude photographs of herself. 
A man submitted his email name with the address hotdate69@hotmail.com.
And the Award goes ….. to the woman with the nude pics.

Weirdest Apparel … the nominees are …
A gentleman showed up for a job interview dressed from head to toe as a clown.  A clown.  Fright wig, makeup, the whole scenario.  His reasoning?  He moonlighted as a clown at children’s parties and without having time to change he went straight from a party to his interview. 
A candidate stood up in the lobby to greet the HR recruiter and his pants fell down to his ankles.
A very attractive blonde woman showed up wearing a blouse with several buttons undone and a tight mini-skirt.
A male candidate wore an open shirt that revealed a hairy chest, wore a medallion and strong cologne.
A woman showed up in her housecoat and slippers.                                                                                         
A candidate wore a jogging suit to an interview for CEO.
And the Award goes to … the gentleman dressed as a clown.

Weirdest Hygienic Behaviour …  the nominees are …
A gentlman clipped his fingernails during an interview (at least he didn’t pull off his shoes and clip his toenails).
A gentleman smelled his armpits as he walked up the hall with the HR recruiter to the interview room.
A candidate admitted he wasn’t used to wearing dress shoes and proceeded to showing the HR recruiter the “bloody big blisters” on his feet.
A candidate wet himself.
A candidate vomited on the recruiter’s shoes.
A candidate removed his shoes and socks and applied medicated foot powder to his feet.   
And the Award goes to … the gentleman who applied foot powder to his feet.

Weirdest Comments … the nominees are …
A gentleman was asked why he was the best candidate for the position and he slammed his hand down onto the HR recruiter’s desk shrieking “because I get the job DONE!”
A candidate recited poetry.
A gentleman admitted he was terrible with numbers. He was applying for a job as an accountant. 
A candidate wanted to know how many young women worked at the organization.
Another candidate admitted s/he was not wanted in that state.
A candidate admitted he was fired from his last job for beating up the boss.
Another candidate challenged the recruiter with “I’ve never heard such a stupid question.”
A candidate discussed a conflict with a former work colleague and admitted the resolution was that they were both fired.
A candidate told the HR recruiter that she’d only had sex once in her life and the result was her 10-year-old son.
Another candidate asked the HR recruiter if she could pick him up for work in the event that it rained since he didn’t have a car.
Perhaps this was that candidate’s cousin but he asked the recruiter if she could drive him home after the interview.
A candidate asked the HR recruiter if he wasn’t hired could he take her out sometime.
A candidate asked the recruiter how much they paid her for doing the interviews.
When asked why s/he was leaving their current job the candidate revealed quite happily “I s–t my pants every time I enter the building.”
A candidate asked the HR recruiter if she could take a 10-minute break every 15 minutes as she worked.
A candidate told the recruiter that she often overslept and had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. 
A candidate admitted s/he went to jail for domestic violence but they wouldn’t get angry with the recruiter (unless they weren’t offered the job probably…I have a feeling the recruiter didn’t tell this person that to his/her face).
When asked when s/he could start the candidate stated they would have to ask their mom first.
A candidate asked the HR recruiter what the recruiter meant by “two weeks notice” since s/he had never quit a job…s/he’d always been fired.
A candidate admitted he didn’t have a fixed address since he lived in a gypsy camp at an airport.
The candidate wore her walkman during the interview telling the HR recruiter she could listen to both at the same time.
The candidate said her long term goal was to replace the interviewer.
A candidate offered the interviewer $5,000 for the job.
A candidate offered to have sex with the interviewer if she was hired. 
A candidate offered the HR interviewer cocaine.
And the Award goes to the candidate who admitted that he “s–t himself” whenever he entered his organization’s building.

Weirdest Overall Behaviour … the nominees are …
A candidate went into the corporation’s cafeteria after his interview and helped himself to a sandwich, then sat there and ate it.
A candidate asked the HR recruiter if he would meet for a drink afterward.  Since the recruiter was a man I wonder if the candidate was a woman? What the heck, if you don’t get the job maybe you’ll get a husband.
A candidate challenged the interviewer to an arm wrestling match.
The candidate fell and broke his arm.
The candidate ate a hamburger during the interview.
A balding candidate left the interview for a moment then returned wearing a toupee
A candidate fell asleep during the interview.
A candidate sang the national anthem.
A candidate tried to sell the HR recruiter a car.
A candidate did a Ben Stiller impression.
A candidate answered her cell phone then asked the HR recruiter to leave her own office because it was a private conversation.
A gentleman stared up at the ceiling the entire time he was interviewed.
A candidate did yoga during the interview.
A candidate stretched out on the floor to fill out an application.   
A candidate wouldn’t get out of the chair unless he was hired so the recruiter called the police.
A candidate tap danced around the HR recruiter’s office.
A candidate took out a copy of Penthouse and looked through it.
A male candidate’s brief case fell open and an assortment of ladies’ panties and perfumes fell out.
A candidate told the HR recruiter there was a bomb in  his brief case and if he wasn’t hired he would detonate it. He flipped the switch and ran.
And the Award goes to … the gentleman with the fake bomb in his briefcase.

Quickest Exit … the nominees are …
A candidate told the HR recruiter he had to hurry and leave since he had another interview to attend.|
A candidate fled the interview because his dog got loose in the parking lot.  
A candidate fled the interview when he heard there was a drug test.
And the Award goes to … the candidate who fled after learning about the drug test.

Weirdest Interview Bluff … there is only one nominee so this candidate wins by default.
A candidate answered his cell phone during the interview and had a prolonged conversation with an HR recruiter. He hung up and told the HR recruiter in front of him that he just received another offer with a higher salary and he wanted the recruiter to match it.  When the recruiter refused the candidate admitted there was no other offer and that he made it up to bump the salary higher.

Watch a youtube mockumentary of an interview with many of the blunders listed above.

June 18, 2010

Newsworthy Networking: Tipping the Sympathy Scales

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 3:03 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 

 Girlfriend, in the world of networking now I’ve heard and seen everything.  This story is utterly true.  It is a networking story that will make your head spin and warm your heart yet it happened right before my very eyes.

It all started with a few teardrops. I went shopping with a friend (“Patsy”) the other day.  We were browsing about doing our thing and finally made our way to the checkout.  My friend looked up and lo and behold there was her high school friend she hadn’t seen in ages! They were both delighted to see each other again.  It was all very Leave It To Beaver Suddenly my friend’s friend (let’s call her Nora) began to cry.  She tried hard not to.  I was stunned.  She wasn’t making any sounds but tears were streaming out of her eyes and she was red-faced.  I asked her what was the matter but she couldn’t even answer and tried her best to compose herself.  The store manager was on the ball. She came over, excused Nora very nicely, finished checking us through and we left. 

Patsy and I of course mused on that one all the way home. 

“I’m going back to see her before I go home today,” she told me.  “I have to find out what’s wrong or I won’t sleep tonight.” 

You’d better call me and tell me or I won’t sleep either!” I shrieked, which wasn’t true of course.  I just wanted to know.

Patsy later informed me that Nora was a graduate from teacher’s college who was unable to get a job. Nonetheless, she had a condominium of her own to pay for along with her tuition fees and there she was making barely anymore than minimum wage.  No wonder the girl broke down in public and at her place of work no less.  If anything will cause a person to break its got to be money

I repeated the story to my friend “Harvey” who happens to have a father who is a retired school principal.  When Harvey’s friend heard the news he felt sorry for this girl.  He contacted Patsy who is a friend of Harvey’s too and got the full story from her.  Are you still with me?  Harvey, Patsy and I are friends.  Patsy and Nora are friends with each other. Nora is making minimum wage and worried sick about paying her bills.  I’m the tag-a-long and the blabbermouth in the story.  (You know this is all sounding so much like an LSAT logical reasoning puzzle.  What the heck.  Here’s a sketch).

ME     ———-  PATSY  ————–HARVEY 
                          /                       /
                    NORA         HARVEY’S FATHER

Okay so a Venn Diagram would have been more accurate but WordPress ain’t CorelDraw okay? Anyway.

Patsy informed Harvey about Nora’s woes who informed his father who contacted Patsy and got her opinion about Nora.  It turns out Nora came highly recommended.  So Harvey’s father, being the good guy that he is, contacted Nora. He asked her if she would be interested in him putting in a word for her to the school administrator at the school where he had retired from two years earlier.  Ummm…. I don’t think Nora hesitated very long before she shrieked YES!

So Harvey’s father put in a recommendation (not a reference since he doesn’t know Nora and there is a qualitative difference between the two) and Nora submitted her resume.  Since then I don’t know if Nora got hired but I’m betting this story will evolve into Nora paying her bills and living happily ever after in her condominium.  Wow. 

True story.  What were the odds?  Things could have played out very differently.  Suppose Nora had a stiff upper lip and  didn’t break down at the cash register that day.  Suppose Patsy and I didn’t shop at Nora’s store.  Suppose Nora didn’t know Harvey.  Suppose Harvey’s father wasn’t a retired school principal.  Nora in all likelihood would have no leads whatsoever and still stressed to the point of emotional breakdowns, poor soul.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.  Talk about networking with a weird twist.  Which brings me back to the beginning.

It all started with a few teardrops…

What Tiger Woods Teaches Us About Career Strategies

Filed under: celebrity careers — lisalahey @ 1:51 am
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It started when Tiger’s wife smashed his car window in with a golf club after he accidentally ran into a tree. The first news that went around the internet was that the famous golfer was in an accident and his panicked wife broke the window to get him out.  Not long afterward  the truth came out about his infidelity and his wife’s outrage.  It took all of a few hours for the internet to shoot the story around the world. In due course dirty Tiger Woods jokes were all the rage and soon after that girl after girl came forward looking for her sleazy fifteen minutes of fame with more stories about his many infidelities. If Andy Warhol was alive he would have picked up the phone and told Tiger to play it cool and let them have their fifteen minutes until they disappeared back into the petty obscurity from whence they came, that it would all be over pretty soon.  And had he been alive to say those words Warhol would have been right.

Everywhere I went people would make Tiger Woods jokes to me or comment about Tiger Woods and his infidelity. 

“Isn’t that terrible? What kind of man is that?” they’d say.
“A man with a helluva golf swing,” I’d reply.
“Have you seen how many women he’s fooled around with behind his wife’s back?”
“I’ve seen how many golf tournaments he’s won in the past two years,” I’d shrug.
“Do you think his wife should leave him?”
“I think he should keep playing golf,” was my reply and still is today.

My point is who cares what the man does in his private life?  I don’t care.  I care about his golf swing.  I care about the fact that he is the first black American man in the golf sports sphere (coincidentally alongside Obama being the first black American man in the political sphere) to trail blaze  through four centuries of staggering American racism to make history with his natural brilliance and innate talent. 

Why does it astound people, let alone even hold their interest, that Tiger Woods likes women?  Would it have been better if he liked little boys? Athletes cheat.  If it isn’t with women, it’s with steroids or drugs. Sadly those opportunities seem to arise far too often in the world of professional sports. Let’s break this down a little further shall we?  A famous, good-looking, young sports hero who engages in sexual dalliances on the side of his marriage.  That’s a first in sports history. NOT. I’m not excusing it.  I feel bad for his wife. She must be hurting terribly. And I feel sad for his kids who deserve a secure family with two happy, close parents. That’s the biggest tragedy insofar as his personal situation is concerned but even that’s none of my concern or my business. 

I suspect the biggest fear Tiger faced was getting dropped by his sponsors and never doing another endorsement.  Shattering his image in the American eye. Wearing the Scarlet “A” on his forehead as if we lived in the pilgrim era.  I can understand his worry about his corporate sponsors and not because of financial reasons obviously. It would be the principle of the thing, the public humiliation and judgment about his character that would surely hang over this man like a dark cloud for years to come. And that isn’t fair.  How many of our sports heroes have gotten away with the same thing?  They simply weren’t caught and because we don’t know about this, we revere them to this day.  Consider that if Mrs. Woods hadn’t taken a golf club to Tiger’s car window the world wouldn’t likely know about his infidelities and he’d be carrying on with the same impressive reputation that he’s ever had.

Now let’s think for a minute about our careers and our private lives Girlfriend.  Do you ever worry when you’ve been out partying it up and you run into a colleague that word will get back to your boss about your drinking, flirting and possible promiscuity (egad! how dare you go home with a guy)? What is the main reason you’d worry?  If you’re entry level or mid-management with an eye towards promotion you’re likely to think “OMG! Now they won’t take me seriously enough to give me a promotion!”  Hopefully you’d be wrong but unfortunately there might be situations where you’d be correct. Why? When you get a job that is anything above stock boy or cashier get ready to be judged by your colleagues, your boss and the clients of your corporation about each and everything you do.  You work for them, you represent them. You screw up, you make them look bad.  You do well in your community, you make them look good.  They don’t just sign your paycheck. They own you body and soul.

That’s not fair!” you scream wildly.

Of course it isn’t.  Neither were all the silly remarks and jokes people made about Tiger Woods when he screwed up and it reached the internet and national news.  Now lets take a faux pas you may have committed at one point in your career and magnify it in front of billions – not millions – billions of people. How did Tiger sleep at night? Was that fair?  Now it’s up to you to decide whether or not you can work with an organization that believes it owns you.  Some corporations don’t care.  Some certainly do. The higher up the ladder the more it matters. If that’s an issue you cannot live with then consider becoming an entrepreneur, or working for a company that is more open-minded and unconcerned about its employees’ private lives.

A few blogs ago I mentioned a book called Weirdos in the Workplace written by John Putzier. I offered you the Coles Notes version of the corporate receptionist who moonlighted as a pole dancer and the CEO who stuffed $10 bills into her g-string every night.  Of course she got hauled into her boss’s office and told she’d best avoid that sort of work or she wouldn’t remain with their organization much longer.  Her response was “then perhaps you should say the same thing to the CEO.”  And in fact, they did.

My friend is a schoolteacher and her industry publication asserts very clearly that “a teacher cannot wear both hats, one within and one outside of the profession. A teacher must conduct himself or herself as if he or she was a teacher at all times.”  Can you imagine? But that’s the nature of that game.

And think of the recent news about Facebook faux pas that have cost many young people their jobs.  Now to be sure going online to diss your corporation or your boss warrants a firing or at the very least a serious conduct report and a suspension without pay.  However that situation entails an employee going out of his or her way to seek out public attention and declare their unhappiness with their work or state what a jerk their boss is and that’s just plain stupid.

And speaking of games, what does it matter that Tiger stepped outside of his marriage when he can swing a golf club the way he does? He should still play the game and play it with pride. His corporate sponsors shouldn’t drop him. The best defence in this situation is not to address the press with a phony plea for forgiveness (whatever he does DON’T pull a Todd Bertuzzi). Play it cool. Act like it didn’t happen. Play golf. In due course the pitiful nobodies who’ve tried to take a ride on Tiger’s fame and fortune will lose media interest and slip back into their blank, meaningless void exactly where they belong.

Golf anyone?

June 13, 2010

Steelers vs Dodgers: Who is Your Money On?

Filed under: All Things Office — lisalahey @ 9:06 pm
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Recently I made a sports gaffe in front of my brother that tickled him no end.  Someone I know had been talking football to me. Me.  The last woman in the world who has a clue about sports of any kind since that just isn’t my arena (pun).  At any rate for some reason I brought home the word “Steelers” in my head from that conversation. Later in the week I chatted with my brother on the phone. Trying to sound as though I knew a thing or two about football I asked him quite casually, “are the Steelers playing the Dodgers anytime soon?”  Where the name Dodgers came from I don’t know.  Must have heard it on the radio that week.  Without missing a beat my brother managed to keep the stunned amusement in his voice on the down low and he replied “Lisa the Dodgers are a baseball team.” 

Ohhh.  So I guess the Dodgers won’t be playing the Steelers anytime soon eh?” was my brilliant comeback.  He finally let loose a snicker and replied “Well if they do I can’t say what the score will be but I’m reasonably certain the Steelers will kill them.”

I laughed hard at that one, not at all embarrassed by my own stupidity. Hey, I’m used to it. 

Later when I was reflecting on the hilariously stupid question I’d asked my brother and his pleasantly dry reply something occurred to me.  Would the Steelers necessarily “kill” the Dodgers?  I decided my answer to that unlikely hypothetical scenario is:  It depends. If the two teams agreed to play football then the Steelers will win by default. Clearly the Dodgers don’t want to find themselves in traction for the remainder of the season (and perhaps their lives) so that’s a no-brainer. 

Now let’s say the Steelers (even more amused than my brother) agreed to a baseball game against the Dodgers. If the Dodgers have a good manager they won’t allow this game to be declared a default.  They will show up.  They will be nervous but they will be there.   The Steelers will be there too,  as confident as lions about to go after a poor unfortunate Christian in the gladiator ring, snickering, hooting and hollering at the Dodgers.

If the Dodgers have a good manager they will make sure the Steelers are up first.  When this happens approximately 8 minutes into the game, everyone will know that the Dodgers indeed have a good manager.  So will the Steelers since they and the Dodgers will realize that the game is over. The Dodgers have won and soon they will “kill” the Steelers by a landslide. 

How do I know?

I know very little about sports but I do know this much. Football players and baseball players have to be able to do three things:

  1. Run
  2. Throw
  3. Catch

But baseball players have another skill required to play their game.  They have to be able to hit. Not the kind of hitting that a footballer does, you know full body impact and knocking the bejesus out of each other.  Nope. In baseball you need precision. You have to be able to hold a narrow bat, stand confidently at a plate staring at a potentially lethal weapon as it comes flying at your head (without protective headgear) at speeds of up to 100 mph easily, plan your timing, swing and hit that ball out into the park.  We know baseball players can do this and have been doing so since they could walk. We don’t know if football players can do that. My guess is they cannot or at least not anywhere near the professional level of a baseball player. About 8 minutes into the first inning the Steelers will have struck out and it will be time for the Dodgers to take their place at bat – confident, strong and ready to emerge victorious. The lions will be subdued and the Christians will take their place beside the Roman Emporer.

A good manager would have known this well in advance of the (hypothetical and admittedly ridiculous) game. He would not have looked at the size and weight of the footballers and said “uh oh. We done.”  He would have looked at the skill required to play the game, the likelihood of the Steelers to have acquired one particular poignant skill  and he would have known that this game was a no-brainer for his team.  He would have told them that in the locker room. The Dodgers would have started the game a little nervous and ended it bursting with confidence and pride. (And if they are a classy bunch they would manage not to point and snicker at the Steelers since they have more than evened the score on that one). 

How does that apply to you, Girlfriend, or to anyone in the workplace?  Muscle and hustle don’t cut it in this world.  Precision and skill cut it.  Results cut it.  Courage cuts it.  You can be the unflashiest and least likely-looking employee in a business and be quietly raking in commissions that would knock the socks off the biggest blusterer. When you get promoted and Ms. Big-Mouth doesn’t you won’t be at all surprised even though she and everyone else will be.  The squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease, not if you work for a corporation with a perceptive and not-easily-impressed CEO. In other words, a good manager.

When the recession hit Bay Street in Toronto, Ontario a lot of young MBAs stopped showing up at work in blue jeans and started showing up in 2-piece suits and ties.  Foolish mistake.  They were still operating on the muscle and hustle principle, the visuals and the bragging. If I was a CEO in such a company, the change in clothing wouldn’t impress me that this person wanted to keep his or her job. It would make me suspicious. Wasn’t she or he doing their best work before the recession hit?  Does the wardrobe change signify that I should take a closer look at their sales figures?  If they suddenly shoot up at about the same time my employee turns up in a Giovanni suit then the recession certainly has come to my office. That person will be fired and not because of company cutbacks.  Nope.  She’s out the door for consistently under-performing long before the recession hit (silly me, not figuring that one out until she conveniently waved that red flag for me under my nose).  She doesn’t want to keep her job because she’s a good worker and cares about my corporation and her future here.  She’s worried about paying her mortgage.  Fine.  Go work for someone else and pay your bills.  I want my people to appreciate their job opportunities with me.  I want them to want to be here for a lot more reasons than just the money.

Don’t worry about your $1,000.00 suited colleague in the next cubicle.  Don’t feel intimidated by the woman who keeps bragging about her latest client acquisition.  Keep on doing what you’re doing Girlfriend.  You’re doing just fine or you wouldn’t be there.  In fact my hunch is you can circle commissions around the loudmouth next door.

I’ll see you in the VIP office.

June 1, 2010

Rockin’ PowerPoint 2007

Filed under: All Things Office — lisalahey @ 10:54 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Yes I know I’ve written all about how I love PowerPoint before but I’ve not enclosed a sample of my PowerPoint work or how to rock Powerpoint either.  It’s so easy I couldn’t help but put the two together…all for your use, Girlfriend.

Now I am aware that there are those amoung you with a Ph.D. in PowerPoint 2007 so lest I embarrass myself I will come right out with it:

  • This is an instructional Ppt for making a great basic slideshow – not your truly advanced big-time Steven Spielberg production.
  • I use bullets (like these ones) on nearly every slide even though a lot of people hate that.  Why?  Let me explain:
    My show is like an online manual.  How do you read a manual about putting something together?  In bullet form of course.  Do you really want paragraphs and paragraphs and you lose your place and have to go back and figure out where you were, cursing away the entire time?
  • Don’t you hate it when there is TONS of text packed onto one slide? Bullets are great for scaling that down.
  • I do use lots of graphics, lots of movement and even a pretty little instrumental background accompaniment just for your enjoyment.
  • I have lots of links to videos to offset my very simplistic instructions.
  • I threw in a couple of funny videos to make you smirk.  Who says learning isn’t fun?

I would love feedback but of course hardly anyone reads this blog (woah is me).  If you do somehow pull it up and check out my show do comment – good or bad I’ll leave it be and even respond to it if you like (I won’t be rude and I won’t sulk, I promise).

Enjoy! And bless your little soul for watching Rockin’ MS PowerPoint 2007  ….

May 25, 2010

Kids Make the Best Salespeople

Filed under: career worthy — lisalahey @ 2:27 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

You’re a saleswoman. You are you just don’t remember it very well. From the time you were in Girl Scouts (or Girl Guides or Brownies), to the time when your school was selling chocolate covered almonds to the time when you were selling god knows what for some youth sports organization you have been in sales and you’ve probably been quite good at it too.  Maybe you’re still in sales and now you are stellar at it. Congrats. I’m envious. I suck at sales or at least I think I do. I don’t know because I don’t have the confidence to try it anymore, not like when I was a Brownie or selling chocolates for my school.

Even when I sold chocolates I found that usually getting through one caseof them was the best I could do. If I happened to return to school to get a second case to sell that was unusual and I never ended up selling all the chocolates the second time around. At the time I didn’t know why. But now I do and it’s one of the reasons I have enough sense personally to stay away from sales but that’s another blog entirely. Here are a few reasons why kids are great at sales and usually are natural sales reps:

  1. They’re cute.  When the doorbell rings and you open it expecting to see some bloated, decrepit neighbour and it’s a sweet little smiling face that is unexpected and it’s just cute.
  2. They usually smile at you when you open the door.
  3. They have their product held up very visibly for everyone to see, no surprises there.
  4. They let everyone know straight up they’re selling something. No b.s.
  5. They usually have no ulterior motive. Selling cookies for Girl Guides isn’t going to make anyone richer. In fact it doesn’t make GG richer either.
  6. We want them to succeed and feel good about themselves.
  7. They’re honest (at least about why they’re selling whatever it is they’re selling).
  8. They’re usually confident probably because they are new to this game and it’s exciting.
  9. They have nothing to lose. Their mortgage doesn’t depend upon their commission.
  10. They don’t negotiate. They can’t. That means you know they aren’t holding back on you to line their own pockets. They’re given a price to work within and that’s that. No haggling.
  11. They don’t sell defective products (almonds are almonds and they don’t need a warranty).
  12. They’re guileless.

You were all those things once and maybe you still are in some ways. If you are in sales however you know that isn’t true. If you aren’t in sales then you probably can check off about 10 out of 12 of those items on the list as your personal characteristics.  Adults aren’t as impressive in sales and not in terms of their commission obviously. But as soon as someone tries to sell me something I am immediately suspicious and annoyed. I know if I want something. I know if I want your help. You cannot and will not talk me into anything I do not want. My mind is made up as soon as I look at whatever it is you are selling. Seriously. I’m a Virgo and man we are stubborn. 

When I walk out of a change room after trying on a dress that makes me look pregnant and the salesgirl says “how did you do?” I have learned to say quite blatantly and loudly enough for every woman in the store to hear “I love the dress but I’m too fat!”  Do I give a rot? I mean seriously by the end of the day I will have forgotten about the dress, the store and the salesgirl anyway and I’m sure it is entirely mutual. I’m not a person to her I’m a commission. I understand. She has a job to do and a mortgage to pay. That’s why I am not influenced by her (or him) since clearly her opinion has to be biased and false. She has to lie in order to make her money. Kids don’t. They never try to get you to change your mind. If you say no thanks they say okay and they leave. Why don’t adults do that? Oh right I know.

Sales rep training is all about persuasion and getting a person to see why they need something in spite of their instinct to say no. It’s all about breaking down barriers and natural resistance, in other words treating people as if they are stupid. How do I know this? I’ve been trained in sales. I was good at it. I hated it. I didn’t like selling a product even though I was totally honest about it and my trainer never once said to lie or b.s. anybody or work against their natural resistance (I didn’t do any cold calling).

But as I trained I went along with a woman who did try to do just that not once but twice with the same man who was gracious (or stupid) enough to allow her to come back onto his premises. He insisted he felt the product “wouldn’t fly” and that he wasn’t interested. After we left she said to me “he’ll buy.” I wondered what meeting she had been at that I apparently had missed. Personally I wouldn’t have let her back on the premises when she returned the second time, let alone a third time if she ever went back. (Incidentally the client was right – the product didn’t catch on and he saved himself a bit of money).

Adults ought to learn to do the same thing as kids if they want to sell a product. Really. Consider some of their silly sales tactics as if we, the feeble public, don’t get what it is they’re doing:

  1. Don’t say ‘sign’ the contract. Say ‘authorize’ since ‘sign’ sends up a warning flag to people.
  2. Find out what that person’s weakness is personally and prey upon it.
  3. Ask the client questions about her needs before you begin then plan your sales pitch around that.
  4. work under the principle of the 7 reasons why people buy stuff:
     1. Make money
    2. Save money
    3. Save time
    4. Save effort
    5. Improve health
    6. Increase pleasure
    7. Elminate pain

Personally I find it creepy when a person gets all kinds of contrived, psychological sales training to read my needs and mind and try to sell to that. I hate being treated like a marionette and the sales rep is the puppeteer. There are people who disagree with me of course but that’s usually whenthey refer to using children to make adult sales. Not the same thing at all.

 I bought a car in February this year and I am in love with it. However no one sold me the car. I went to the lot armed with the knowledge that this was 90% likely the car I would buy. I found it on the internet, I checked out the price and the appearance, the mileage on it and the year and I drove down to the lot to take it for a test drive. As soon as I saw it I knew it would be mine. The salesman didn’t say a word to try to sell it to me. He didn’t have to and he seemed to know that. Mind you his company sells only used cars from Enterprise Rentals and all of the cars are in great shape, given an inspection before they are sold and of course with the law being what it is in Ontario now sales reps have to be forthcoming if a car has been in an accident or not.

I would have bought the car that day except the colour I wanted wasn’t on the lot. The next morning I went back and purchased it and four days later I drove it home. No joke. He didn’t sell me and it would have been to his detriment if he did. I would have just shut him down anyway. I think the reasons I bought the car that day are because a lot of things happened there that paralleled sales transactions with children:

  1. I liked the product.
  2. I wanted to buy it.
  3. There was no pressure on me to buy.
  4. I already knew I wanted it before I even got there.
  5. He was guileless.
  6. He had nothing to hide and he had to be very forthcoming when we asked about the car’s history. It was also easy to trace it.
  7. I went to him so clearly it was obvious he had something to sell. No surprise there.
  8. He was pleasant. He smiled a lot.

I bet he sold a lot of Boy Scout cookies when he was a kid.

May 24, 2010

When Help Becomes a Burden

Filed under: work imitates life — lisalahey @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

My friend “Arnie” has a brother who drives him nuts. His brother, “Todd” hits him up for money on a regular basis. A long time ago it used to be for futile business ventures that never seemed to pan out. Of course Todd didn’t consider that a loan from Arnie. He saw it as a business investment and an opportunity for Arnie to rake in a few bucks if he was lucky.  He never was. Over the years, Arnie got more successful and Todd got stupider. He didn’t go to school. He didn’t pursue a serious career. He job hopped and he seldom got any decent references between lily pads (surprise, surprise). 

Now Todd is a “leech”. He has gone from needing the occasional hand up out of the mire to being a constant burden on my friend. Arnie on the other hand is a “saviour”. He is the type of guy who can’t wait to help his brother out of a bind. Perhaps there is a co-dependency there and Arnie may need to take a closer look at his own behaviour too.  Everyone in a family acts out certain roles at given times in their lives. Clearly Todd is the Black Sheep and everyone expects him to screw up which is the one thing he does flawlessly. Arnie on the other hand seems to have a mix of roles gravitating between both Hero and also just Regular Guy, if there is such a thing. I mean he’s not a superficial stereotype. He is a well-rounded,  happy and highly intelligent person.  But insofar as the relationship between the two brothers is concerned, what’s in it for Arnie? What’s in it for Todd.  There has to be a mutual exchange of some sort or the whole mess couldn`t continue.

But Arnie and Todd’s co-dependent relationship makes me wonder when does family have the right to pull back the purse strings and no longer offer financial “assistance” (that will never be repaid) to an unemployed or underemployed relative?  Clearly Arnie struggles with that one. So does Todd.  Recently Arnie found himself in yet another financial dilemma not only because his ever unfortunate brother needed his help. Years ago Arnie foolishly co-signed for a loan for Todd (another of his business ventures) and forgot about it.  Then suddenly a collection agency contacted Arnie and informed him that Todd had defaulted on his loan and they were coming after Arnie for it. Arnie is again faced with the very real burden of his brother’s financial woes and in order to sort it all out and keep his credit history clean, Arnie went out and took a second job. Egads. My head is starting to spin.

To be sure Todd isn’t a bad guy. He’s just irresponsible and unable to handle his own finances. In fact Todd has difficulty managing many aspects of his life. In other areas, he is quite responsible and organized. Like many of us he has good and bad characteristics. Arnie, too. I mean the more he jumps in and comes to Todd’s rescue the more Todd is going to look at Arnie as a financial lifeline and not take his own responsibilities seriously enough. I almost wish Arnie would ask the question that is begging to be asked here  “am I my brother’s keeper?” 

I think Arnie has asked and answered it but is answer is skewed.  He thinks he is Todd’s keeper to the point where his own life has become disrupted and he doesn’t seem to know how to establish a boundary. Mind you Arnie has vowed never to co-sign for anything for Todd again. No more money lending of any sort for any reason. No more this and that. At least that’s what Arnie says to  me time and again. If Todd was less of a dufus and Arnie was more of a dufus then perhaps they could meet in a comfortable, somewhat fair middle but that is not likely ever to be the case.

I read a great chapter of Jason Seiden’s e-book How to Self-Destruct, a satirical look at the idiot mistakes people make in the corporate sector every day as they wonder why their careers aren’t going anywhere. He briefly posed the question, “when people refuse to help themselves why is it that the only people who suffer are the ones around them?”  That was the question that caught my eye and made me think about Arnie and Todd.  Judging from Arnie and Todd’s example I would have to say because one of those people is a natural fraud and the other is a natural martyr, as in the type of person who seems to gravitate towards those who do them harm because he gets some sort of reward from it.  Still I could hardly believe it when Arnie told me a few weeks after all this business went down and he secured a second job for himself that he mumbled, “from now on when Todd calls me for money and it’s really necessary I will pay the source directly rather than put it into his hands“.

Oh, Arnie.

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