Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In Transition

The PGA Tour is in full swing. This past week the greatest golfers in the world visited the Tampa Bay area at the event sponsored by Transition Lenses. TV spots during the broadcast of the tournament demonstrated how a pair of glasses with Transition Lenses will adjust to light to protect your eyes and help you to see the world better – especially if you happen to be a professional golfer. The glasses automatically adjust and filter the light.
“I’m in Transition.” Is a short declaration we hear a lot lately when we participate in networking events or business social gatherings. It’s a word that quickly identifies a person exploring job opportunities and is currently unemployed or at least not fully employed. That “I’m in Transition” conversational ice-breaker will likely lead to a short summary of career achievements and perhaps a more pointed challenge to share potential connections at a target company(s).

The word is like a lot of business buzz-words and phrases that get used so frequently it almost becomes cliché. The overuse of the word is unfortunate. But for now, it solves a real problem thousands of smart and talented people have in a tough economy. It is part of a vocabulary that will hopefully begin the facilitation of personal economic rebound. It puts a harmless description on what is often a rough time for a business person.

But aren’t we all in transition? Isn’t it part of the human condition? Change is natural and should be expected. We aren’t butterflies moving from caterpillar state anticipating a total transformation in which we spread our wings and take flight? We are people living with all the ups and downs that go with a full lifetime of experiences. We need to understand that our world changes and we change over time too. We need to make adjustments in ourselves and how we view things.

Too bad the people at Transition Lenses can’t manufacture the technology that permits each and every human being to get an automatic adjustment to environment they are in so that everything seems just perfect all the time. Funny, they used to criticize people who were looking at the world through “rose colored glasses.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rock Soup

Maybe you have heard the story of Rock Soup. It is one of my favorites. I think it is a fitting tale for tough times about leadership and community action.

A soldier, after a bitter was returning home from war. He wandered through the cold and snow.  He was tired and starving. He came to a village, picked a house and knocked on the door. Explaining his plight, he asked for a little something to eat. The man at the door shook his head and responded that he had a family to feed. They were hungry themselves. The scene repeated house after house - the answer was the always the same.  It had been a hard winter. The villagers were all hungry.

The soldier thought, and formed a plan. He gathered some sticks and wood.  He built a campfire in the village square.  He borrowed a black iron pot which was resting against the wall of an empty blacksmith shop. He filled the pot with snow. 

Onlookers stared at him with curiosity.  The soldier then gathered some smooth, dark stones.  He inspected each closely, smelled them individually, wiped them clean, and then placed them gingerly, one by one, into the pot. The soldier then took a big wooden spoon from his knapsack and began stirring the water in the pot and occasionally taking a taste.  ''Mmmmmm,''  he finally said,  ''this is the best Rock Soup I have tasted in a long time.'' 

The villagers couldn't believe their ears. Rock Soup?  Surely he was mad! The soldier took one more taste and then said, ''This is good soup but it needs something, perhaps a carrot. Yes, that's it, a little bit of carrot would make it perfect!''  An elderly villager stepped forward, looked into the pot, paused a moment, then said, ''I think I might have a couple of carrots in my cellar, I will bring them.''  On his return the carrots were added to the Rock Soup.

Again the soldier continued to stir and taste and stir and taste. ''This is pretty good Rock Soup, the carrots made it better, but it is still missing something.  Perhaps a few onions would make it even better.''  Just as the soldier said this a few villagers scurried off.  Upon their return, the soldier was given more than a few onions. Into the pot went the onions.

Again the soldier continued to stir and taste and stir and taste. ''This is very good Rock Soup, the carrots and onions made it better, but it is still missing something.  Perhaps a few potatoes would make it even better.''  The ever-steaming brew by now was starting to smell delicious.  A good number of villagers bustled off.  Upon their return, the soldier was presented with a potatoes enough to fill the pot. 

As he let it simmer, others brought bits of this and that to add flavor.  Tasting it one more time, he exclaimed it was ''Perfect!''  Soon everyone in the town was able to enjoy a bowl of this wonderful soup. All of the villagers proclaimed: “It was the best Rock Soup they had ever eaten!”

Friday, March 2, 2012

So, what do you do?

There is a Chevy Truck TV commercial that opens with a shot of the truck in a guy’s driveway. The commercial cuts to a neighborhood social situation when the question is posed: So what do you do? The commercial then treats us to several quick cuts of the guy with his truck as he does some construction related job, helps someone move furniture, drives kids to school and does yardwork/ landscaping. The spot cuts back to him as he can’t fully answer the question. He just kind of sighs. (Because he does a lot and apparently he is not the kind of guy who brags about his J-O-B.)   

That question is very interesting. Most of us when asked are quick to provide a short answer that might include a job, title or general profession. Many these days are struggling with a delicate way to advise that they are “in transition” and looking for a career opportunity. (Well shoot, aren’t we all IN TRANSITION?) Business coaches often encourage people to fine-tune their “elevator speech” so they can quickly identify who they are what their ideal prospect/opportunity might look like.

Personal branding is important as you leverage the “conversation” in social media. The theory is that people are in fact brands. People need to be true to their brand and deliver on the brand promise. In this way one can improve chances of winning in the game of networking. It is often said that people do business with people; and they prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust. Your personal brand becomes part of the answer to the question: So, what do you do?

A little food for thought: No matter what you do for a living - you are a human being. Have a little self-respect and make an effort to respect those other human beings on the planet Earth with you. We all have worth that is so much more that the somewhat unfair and arbitrary paycheck or commission or fee for a product and/or service.     

Remember: You are who you are, not what you do!