Monday, November 21, 2011

Maybe We're Not So Crazy

I actually can’t recall when I first met Pete Weddle which is either yet another sign of my senior citizenship status or simply evidence of the fact that I have known and respected him for a long time. I think I’ll opt for the latter.

Over the years, at ExecuNet, we have been fortunate to have had Pete as a speaker at our networking meetings in and around the NY metro area as well as being able to treat our members to his insights via webinars, but what caught my attention recently was a newsletter article that he wrote way back in 2005 which we called: Why You Need to Be a Career ActivistI know, that may seem like ions ago, but sometimes when you stumble across things like this and read them again in the context of today's world, they can often underscore just how "right" the message was.  The fact that the concept became a book just las year would also seem to add to the notion that the message was just a passing thought.  

In reading this piece, it reminded me of not only how well he writes, but also why he deserves the reputation he has as an expert on the world of online recruiting for executives at all levels, be they passive candidates or out there fighting the battle of job search in the 21st century, as well as the solid advice he has for his readers on the smart way to manage their own careers.

In re-reading the article, Pete made some really important points that had big time merit then and still do, especially about how today’s workforce really needs to understand that since the “loyalty” myth has long since evaporated and that in today’s world “you owe your employer performance, not permanence.” From a career development perspective, “your goal is to perfect what you can do at work, and your career is your personal quest to achieve that end.”

Pete goes on to say “Your supercharged performance on-the-job is your best insurance in the demanding, ever changing business landscape of the 21st Century. In good times, it will increase the paycheck and satisfaction you bring home from work. In hard times, it will enable you to land on your feet. It won’t prevent you from being laid off, but it will prevent a lay-off from derailing your career.”

As I read this, I kept saying to myself, why don’t more of us “get it”? It doesn’t seem like it is a concept that is all that hard to understand. When I talked to my partner Mark Anderson about it, he reminded me, as he often does, that maybe more people get it than I might think. He pointed out that 60% of our membership is made up of people who are currently employed whereas when we started way back in 1988 everyone who came to us arrived only after they had lost their jobs. I had to admit he had a pretty good point.

We have been pounding the drum for so long about how critical it is for executives to be proactive about managing their careers and yet it still feels like I constantly hear from members who tell me that it wasn’t until they faced the crisis of losing their job that they decided to “do something about it.” It makes me wonder if anyone is listening.

Reading what Pete had to say, as well as hearing Mark’s stats, made me feel that maybe more people may understand the issue than I realize, and that I just have a tendency to lose perspective when I get tied up in the day-to-day. Knowing me, that is probably true. Sometimes I can’t even remember if I’ve had lunch, but when I see people like Weddle pounding the same drum as we do, it feels good.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

It's Always About Priorities

This is not a paid commercial in any way but I have to say that I am a fan of Bloomberg Businessweek, especially since they changed the format.  Really like the way it is organized, but that is not what this post is about which I would guess comes as a relief to anyone who has read this far.

Along with millions of others, I am also a big fan of Charlie Rose.  One of the best interviewers ever IMHO.  If you don't follow his show on Bloomberg TV, he also has a one page interview in the magazine every week. 

A recent such interview was with Azim Premji, the chairman of info-tech giant Wipro in which Rose sought Premji's opinion on a range of topics one of which was, as you might guess, what thoughts he had about the U.S. and its role as an economic power going forward.

I thought his response was very telling both in terms of his identification of both our strengths as well as our weakness.  Here's what he said:
"The U.S. is a complex country.  It has a high predominance of immigrants who have been eminently successful.  But in the past 20 years, government has increased spending on jails by six times in the U.S. whereas the per capita spending on education has remained the same."
A message in there somewhere?  Ya think!

Anyone who has followed this blog, even sporadically, knows that one of my hot buttons has always been on the subject of education and more specifically, our continued failure as a country to have the political will to make the investments in an educational system whose state of disrepair has to be at least equal to if not worse than our physical infrastructure. 

Said differently, when a well-respected world business leader such as Azim Premji takes note that we think it is more important to increase our spending on jails than on education, sadly it gives us yet another way of underscoring just how little we seem to understand the challenges we face.