always often get picked on about my murse (“male purse”), being gay, whether I’m keeping my testicles in it and so forth. But all jokes aside, which are quite warranted, there just aren’t enough belts, holsters, pockets and hands to hold and carry all the junk I typically use when I’m away from the desk for a few hours.
Skinny jeans are getting tighter and glocks are getting bigger. Gotta compromise.
So I had an interesting conversation while traveling with folks that are carrying around backpacks about the contents of the murse so here is what I have in mine when I’m traveling:
- Paper copy of all my travel documents – drivers license, passport, one or two credit cards. I don’t like lugging around original documents because they are both bulky and I don’t want to lose them so they stay in the hotel safe.
- Address and map of the hotel I’m staying at. Cause Google Maps will kill your iPhone battery faster than you can drop the phone on the ground.
- Backup iPhone… or two. See above comment about dropping it.
- Portable battery, cables.
- iPod Shuffle and headphones. Because sometimes it gets boring.
- Snack ziplock bag. For change. Because if you keep your iPhone and your change in the pocket you may as well just put your screen into a blender.
- Foreign language cheat sheet. Emergency contact information.
- Baby wipes. Cause third world.
- Tic tacs.
- Tickets, passes, etc. Nothing will get you robbed faster than fumbling around with your wallet full of cash while trying to find a ticket, bus pass, etc. I keep my $ in a belt and ID/tickets/passes in my wallet.
It deters pickpockets more than walking out of an all you can eat buffet in skinny jeans – when you have stuff in front and back pockets and go into a crowded bus/line/market you’ve got a lot of places someone can hit. With a murse, you just need to keep a good grip on one thing. Cause you no longer have to worry about your manhood. If you’re really paranoid, you can just loop it into your shirt.
To a life well traveled.
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For the record, I hate the posts where someone successful tries to lecture people on how things should be done when you haven’t reached your potential yet, it’s condescending and I hope this isn’t seen in such a way.
I was asked recently how my work habits have changed over the years, how does getting stuff done evolve (or does it) – so here are just 3 tips that I wish I had back in the day.
1. Manage Your Agenda, Delegate Away
As many of you have seen here, I have a physical paper agenda. It never leaves my sight. It will never, ever, ever be digital – I like the idea of writing things out because for the most part I stops me from thinking of anything else – while computer activity is prone to multitasking.
I only deal with one thing a day. Everything else I get done in a day is an awesome bonus but as a human, I can seemingly only give my full and undivided attention to one thing at a time. I also tend to do so away from the PC. There is a joke around the office that you don’t open the door to my office if you see me sitting at the desk with a pen in my hand or going over a pile of papers.
The biggest change over the years.. is that I have a lot of great people around me. And I can’t be involved in everything or participate in everything. So some ideas just go to others for implementation.
Do this: Find out what you shouldn’t be doing. Even if you have 0 employees, there are many things you may be doing that could be outsourced. Yes, even if they cost money. If you can focus on more revenue generating things that only you can do and give up things that anyone else can do you’re taking the first step in independence from your business.
2. Eliminate Distractions
When you’re trying to make it in business your attitude has to be never say no. This inevitably leads to you being taken advantage of, dragged into endless meetings and focus groups and non-profit action committees, dinners, events, fundraisers, conferences, Facebook groups, mailing lists, even usenet for some of you dinosaurs.
Then you have internal and external “drama” that others like to bring to you as a matter of small talk that will drown your productivity – nothing like grown ass men and women gossiping like teenagers at lunch break. I had an employee where every meeting seemingly started with wasted time discussing people and topics that don’t matter – and I’d find myself repeatedly saying “Focus! What are we working on?”
The most significant bit of relief for me was the day I simply deleted firstname.lastname@example.org email account that received thousands of messages each day. Think of your Twitter on steroids – long discussion threads, even longer messages, even more at stake – for everyone except me. I didn’t bother unsubscribing, I just nuked the mailbox.
Do this: Track yourself throughout the day. How much time do you spend on actual work that matters? How much of what you do is actually getting you to (quantifiably) move forward – and start chopping.
3. Compress The Clock, Find Another Challenge
I don’t want to mince words, people that own companies and talk about work life balance should be shot. Dead. If you don’t have passion for your business or live to fulfill your vision and enrich not just your life but that of your employees and your clients – without compromise – you should get the fuck out of the way any let someone else do it. Believed it than, believe it now, anything less than the best is a felony. Hat tip to Vanilla Ice.
But what I wish I knew back then, and the way my life has changed significantly, is in finding other sources of passion and excitement in my life that compress the clock and allow me to get things done faster. Because I have other shit to do. I can’t spend 22 hours working on a project today, going over it a million times and looking at it a thousand different ways because today is my kids last day of first grade and I promised I’d take him somewhere special for dinner to celebrate. I also want to get a run in today because it’s National Run Day. I have inlaws staying with us tonight, we ran out of ovaltine, I have a few phone calls – you get the idea, I can’t stay at work till 11PM to move us one inch closer to the finish line.
If you think work life balance is about trading one thing for another you’re buying pipe dreams from people that failed at life. Unless you’re a sadistic bastard that likes to feel like he is failing one group of folks after another. That’s not what it’s about, you will NEVER be happy if you’re constantly feeling unhappy about striking a harmony between your career and your life. Your career is your life. Your life is your career.
You just need to have your career feed your life and have your life make you more productive in your career.
For me, it’s the realization that things just aren’t going to be perfect. There will never be enough Vlad to go around to please everyone but whatever mode I’m in CEO/dad/husband… I’m at it 100%. And I feel absolutely fantastic while I’m in one role after another because I get the ultimate satisfaction in each moment. There isn’t “fuck, I don’t want to go to work” day or “Wish I never had kids” day in my life.
As my wife recently remarked… “You don’t do anything small. You wanted to ride a bike so you bought a Ducati. Fine. But now you have 5. Wanted to do a triathlon – you’re now doing 9 of them this year and we have such a thing as a spare triathlon bike? You don’t do things modestly”
Do this: Find things that you love to do. Appreciate every moment you get to do things that make you happy. If they don’t make you happy, change them. Live to fill your life with things you want to do so no one thing ends up sucking the life out of you. When you’ve got other fun shit to do you’ll find yourself getting things done a LOT faster than when you’ve got the whole day to willow in the misery of a problem that won’t solve itself.
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Before I get out of here for my summer vacation I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the phone with my partners and we’re chatting about the usual stuff that’s required for growth. If you’d like to chat please call me – if you’re waiting for me to call that’s a 5 figure queue and my schedule gets set by demand… unless you’ve got something fun going on then I’m there.
Making money from IT Solution Providers
I should first offer a disclaimer that the word VAR is a four letter word in my business. So for the purposes of this discussion (and our business model in general) the following doesn’t include businesses that aren’t first and foremost about service.
There are four successful business models for making money off SPs:
1. Overpriced, high touch, we-do-it-all solution.
2. Free solution that sells something else on the side.
3. Reasonably priced but widely distributed thing everyone buys.
If you are considering going into a business that provides any sort of a solution to the SP base you need to pick a horse and stick with it. Here are brief descriptions:
Overpriced, high touch, we-do-it-all solution. This works if your solution requires quite a bit of skill to put together and maintain. Here you’re actually providing more of a service and consulting/implementation than an actual product. Think of it like Mark Zuck – “If they were going to build Facebook, they would have built Facebook” – if your solution was both easy and simple most companies that have a lot of money would have already built it – so good luck trying to sell them something if they already have middleware in place. Ditto on the low end, they want it but can’t afford it and you’re not going to make money by selling things at a loss.
Free solution that sells something else on the side. If you don’t have a large sales force and a support team then you likely also have a weak marketing budget – good luck getting in front of the client and harassing them into buying your stuff. But if they are already using some of your stuff it’s infinitely easier to get them to pay a little for some other stuff. And eventually they’ll end up in the product #1 where they are actually paying a lot for something very personalized and custom. Yes, Shockey Monkey.
Reasonably priced but widely distributed thing everyone buys. Think things like antivirus and backup software – expensive to develop, expensive to support, difficult to build out, requires track record and increasingly higher costs as audits and certifications are required for even the most elementary stuff.
Pick one and stick with it. As every failed IT business will tell you, once you give into the temptation of a “big client” that soon becomes a major part of your revenue and then bends your profit margins over.. it’s far less risky to get a ton of clients that contribute a little than to kill yourself over that “whale” client. But that requires hard work and vision and strategy and…
Service business is about relationships. But what do relationships look like when you’re likely never going to meet most of your clients in person? The key is availability and responsibility. I wish I had a dollar for every time an existing client has told me that I come off like a total dick on my blog and Facebook. No shit, why do you think you’re reading this horseshit in the first place? When you’re actually working with us things are obviously quite a bit different – and the persona that you will play on the Internet to people that will never see you better make it seem like they can approach you and rip you a new one when you fail. Your clients need to know that they can come to you at any time, for any reason and that someone will take care of them.
Long term strategy. Some stuff will work and some stuff will not, that’s the nature of business. But working with solution providers isn’t like working a transactional retail cash business – solution providers will see you as a part of their business. When you do good, they don’t notice. When you mess up, you make them look bad. It’s the instant Office Space moment where you get to be kicked by their client, their clients rep, their low end IT guy that took abuse on the ticket and likely the manager/owner that now has to apologize for you. So if you don’t have the mindset of “I will not fuck up” then this is a non-starter. When you sell them something don’t ever expect them to cancel. Communicate as such, lead up as such, explain as such.
Beware of hobbyists. This is the most important thing and most valuable piece of advice I can give you: Money talks. If your client comes to you with more problems, questions, inquiries and requests they are likely very diligent and thoughtful people. And in my experience, they don’t have a lot of clients that will make this a good business venture for you both because they spend more time tinkering than selling and managing. Unfortunately for me, I was that fucker that spend most time trying to make things perfect early in my career and I advise you to avoid that type of a person like a plague. Ditto for coaches (I still get daily emails and calls from one expert after another promising to bring me business if I hire them on to help my clients with business, newsletters, web sites, sales strategies, marketing, cold calling, etc), ditto for prominent personalities that you can’t pinpoint a revenue stream (professional conference attendees, vendor shills), people you can’t reach on the phone (if you can’t get to them how do their clients?), professional networkers and dealers (we can connect you with a person that can connect you with 5,000 leads) and other common sense scum of every business line.
If you build it… they will come. But will they come in an adequate volume to make you profitable? Remember that folks that have a lot of money to spend may already have some sort of a solution in place and those less fortunate probably don’t have the time, resources or willingness to put the solution in so you’ll have to do it for them. Whatever you do, be nimble and test multiple models until you start building up a base from which you can hire, replicate and grow your enterprise.
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The following is my opinion of the Apple Watch after wearing it for two weeks.
Before you read any of this please understand that what works for me likely will not work for me – wearables are personal and as such tend to reflect not just your style but also your needs. With that in mind, my motivation to purchase the Apple Watch were two-fold:
1. Replace my dying Nike Watch. Comparable TomTom or Garmin device would have cost just as much, been very bulky and otherwise useless. The Apple Watch replaces Nike Watch, Nike/Fitbit fitness/activity tracking band and isn’t something I need to think about charging, syncing or updating separately the night before a marathon.
2. Reduce interruption-driven environment that a smartphone fuels.
For me, that second point is huge enough to strap a bulky, ugly, digital leash across the arm from my beautiful gold and diamond Rolex. It’s as far as it gets from style and straight into functionality. This is where I might be slightly different from you but hear me out:
Ever since my first smartphone I’ve never been able to glance at it and just move on with my day. As a CEO I get a ton of email, ton of requests for meetings, tons of notices, text messages, etc. So every time I look at my phone it doesn’t end with me just knocking something out and moving on – I end up replying to a few emails, review some notes, listen to the voicemails and notifications.. and hey, while I’m at it let me see what’s going on with my Twitter and Facebook. And crap just keeps on streaming in while I’m hopping from one thing to another. By the time I look up again it’s lunch time. Or my favorite – I pull over to reply to an important item and 30 minutes later I’m still on the side of the road working out of my car.
This is the recipe for the least productive executive ever. I’ve fired people who couldn’t stay on point and now I’ve become the same distraction driven guy who needs to strain to get barely anything done.
Apple Watch – The Bad
The onboarding experience feels very much like it was designed by Microsoft. It’s clunky. It doesn’t work. It makes no sense in many ways and there are far too many holes that immediately make you look for the box and figure out a way to return it.
In my experience, the watch took forever to patch itself and become useful. Except it wasn’t. Without downloading the first update, which didn’t show up initially, none of the third party apps would actually show up on the watch. So I wasted about an hour on Google trying to figure out why my brand new watch couldn’t install a single third party app due to “Insufficient Storage, delete some songs and photos and try again”
After I got the apps I got started with personalizing “the most personal device Apple has ever made” – which is the biggest load of crap ever. Watch faces are highly inflexible, navigating around different ways you can customize them is annoying, different faces have only certain stuff you can put on the face and there is no way to mix and match them (for example, certain widgets like battery info are available only on some faces).
Then you get to the point of customizing your apps so when you tap the watch you can get to everything you want – this is sort of like trying to solve the rubik’s cube. Every time you move one icon it moves 4 others in seemingly random ones. Trying to get Apple supplied apps to move is significantly harder than moving third party ones and there is no way to remove Apple apps at all. But it’s an annoyance that you quickly forget once you get the stuff where you want it to.
My initial experience with the watch was anything but positive. And for a while it certainly went straight downhill as one app after another was either disappointing, annoying or just plain slow.
Apple Watch – The Good
The longevity is much better than I expected it to be. I got the 42mm model which supposedly has a better battery life so ymmv.
The weight balance is quite nice, even though the device itself is bulky you don’t feel it when you’re walking around. It doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to clip the wall at every opportunity and so far… no scratches.
Apps… work. They give you some basic information and for the most part make looking at the watch as opposed to pulling out your phone far better. And quite intuitive.
Apple Watch – The Best
The best part of the watch is the reduction of interruptions. Hear me out:
Watch vibrates or beeps for txt messages, emails, tasks and so on. When it does, turning the phone towards your face makes the screen come on and notification is displayed. It takes a fraction of a second to “glance” at it and decide if you need to deal with it immediately or not.
Responding to stuff is ridiculously easy. You tap it and you get a ton of options to automatically respond to the note. I have a few things ready to rock right away which are my typical responses. Get something I need to act on but I’m in a middle of something else – tap respond and select “OK, I’m in a middle of something I’ll get back to you in a sec.”
The other thing is that Siri on the device is absolutely flawless. Even with my broken accent and slurred speech. Siri gets me. And when I say “fuck” it doesn’t type “duck” – it’s fucking brilliant.
I hope the third party apps improve and that the watch customization improves. I won’t hold my breath for that, it’s Apple and they don’t care what you want. The Nike watch has already been put in the drawer right next to the Fitbit and the Band and all the other stuff I used for training.
The amount of my life I get back as a result of it makes this thing worth it’s weight in gold. Except you’re a f’n moron if you buy the gold one. Also, buying bands from Apple is insane – check out the stuff Chinese are selling on eBay – I already got a crocodile band and a stainless steel one on their way and as soon as it’s back in stock, carbon fiber. The default sport band is exceptionally ugly and definitely has the look of a sex toy (not that I’d know) so you’ll definitely be getting something else.
Notifications and glances are absolutely brilliant. I’ve discovered that my wife is actually pretty awesome in the process, as our time together is no longer sucked up with me taking a quick look at my phone and being mentally gone for 5 minutes at a time.
Siri and txt apps are great and they are integrated absolutely flawlessly. I can look down and respond while driving without taking my eye on the road.
Interruptions and distractions are removed by the fact that the watch isn’t very useful. Think of it how certain functionality was always something you went to your laptop after you got your smartphone? Same thing here – watch is the notification/leash device, need to actually get something done.. well the phone or laptop aren’t that far away.
Note: My wife feels quite differently about her watch. She sees it as a leash, something that I can get in touch with her at any time. But so does everyone else, so it interrupts her at work (she is a scientist with a real job and does quite a bit of math so beeping and pulsing things aren’t quite helpful in that environment). Her battery doesn’t last for 2 days. Using the built in fitness functionality annoys her and MyFitnessPal app leaves a lot to be desired. Getting the info from the Apple app is kind of annoying, you need 3 taps and 3 swipes just to find out how many steps you’ve taken. So like I said, your mileage may vary.
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I love big cities. I love Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London, Sydney.. most of all Dubai. I love the energy and I love the outlandish displays of wealth and luxury. Not just because I’m a hater.. cause fuck those rich people.. But because it’s a concrete, observable, proof that if you work hard you can make it far in life.
I’ve met enough brilliant people in my life to know that on any given day I’m average.. at best. Being brilliant, charismatic, well connected and a dedicated psychopath being able to believe every lie still isn’t a guaranteed way to success. No matter what, you still have to hustle.
So as I’m walking by these, rather insanely overpriced, things.. generally holding a $3 hot dog or kebab.. I know I’m probably not going to be launching a rocket to Mars or curing a disease – but neither did 99.999% of these people either.
Bottom line is.. it comes down to how hard you are willing to work. How much you’re willing to sacrifice. How much frustration you’re able to put up with.
How many times you’re willing to fail and head to bed beaten.. just to jump out a few hours again and go at it one more time.
Over and over and over again.
As unfairly as things are stacked against people with low income, they are equally or more overcompensating those that overachieve.
So when I look at wealth, I don’t see it with a grain of cynicism. They aren’t all African war lords, Wall Street bankers, Russian oil tycoons or scam artists. Sure, there are some – but for the most part there are few people that are willing to work a lot harder than the many others who just wanted to relax.
So I put in insane hours. I also put in crazy hours running, biking and swimming that beats that desire to “quit” and slow down.
Until I meet a lot of people that made it without working hard.. it’s the only way. And it’s my way and I like it.
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It seems like everyone I talk to on Facebook is in a process of writing a book these days. It’s a noble pursuit, one that will have you eating well above the dollar menu at McDonalds one day. But I’m also asked for an opinion or worse, contribution, and I hate to be discouraging. I also hate to to sugarcoat what I’d like to say so here is my take on it, my experience with it and hopefully something useful:
Y’all is wasting your time.
There are high points. I know, I know – you get to call yourself an author, just the fact that you got an ISBN number will impress people who know what that means, gaming Amazon sales ranking will get you a ton of social media cred, you’ll be able to leverage this into a speaking opportunity that will pay above minimum wage, you’ll rake in credibility left and right…
Except you’re writing junk very few will buy, far less will read and almost none will implement.
But clearly you have time to piss away so here is something I would like to challenge you to do.
Start A Blog
Unless your name is Karl, you’re not going to be making money selling home décor tips to the homeless. Or technology advice to people with complete contempt for it. Karl has already done it. And from 20 different angles complete with seminars, webinars, worksheets and even Mad Libs for MSPs. Game over as far as trying to help people goes.
So if you’re writing for prestige, writing to open conversations, writing to engage people on your level (or above) in a meaningful exchange of ideas.. the book isn’t going to cut it. I’ve got a pile of books, that explore ideas that could have been summed up in a blog post, that I know I’ll never get to. Yet I’m on top of blogs every single week.
There is a reason why blogs (or for attention challenged Twitter and Facebook) and social media are so popular – they help connect people and start the conversation. And, it turns out, you can learn a lot from others.
Vladville, written in a crude street language, is such not because I dropped out of middle school – but because that’s what keeps people reading and commenting. Offer a polarizing idea and you will get feedback not just from people that agree but also from people that disagree and will take the time to educate you on their point of view.
You don’t have to write either – if you have the knowledge you can record videos and podcasts too – all of which will bring you an audience far wider than your book, all of which will be consumed by more people than you’ll ever imagine, all of which ultimately generate more interactions than you’ll know what to do with.
You will earn much more from a conversation than you will from a lecture. Unless you’re serious about committing to a business of writing books, you’re infinitely better off starting conversations that help fuel your existing business.
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Once upon a time, in the long long ago, I started writing a book on Cloud Services. More specifically, I wanted to write a book to help people build or add a cloud line of business inside their existing technology service.
So I laid out our entire process – that was the book outline.
Then I started outlining each section first starting with how things actually worked.. and then a list of ideas, suggestions, recommendations and ways things really should work.
The more I worked in this world of fantasy about how things “should work” instead of as they really are the more it became a wishlist than a blueprint. And I realized that if I ever actually completed and published this work of fiction I would lose all credibility and self respect. Yes, I’d become an IT coach.
Disingenuous As A Service
Let me be clear – I am not a genius. Not by a long shot. Yeah I’ve built some nice businesses and lots of beautiful disasters over time – some worked out and some didn’t – but there is no real skill in consulting, just the self confidence that your pile of bullshit will actually get a cashable check after you send your
victim client an invoice. And this is not just a slam piece on coaches, which I’ll destroy the few that aren’t out of business already later, rather than the inevitability of business reality.
Here is my theory, business managers fall into two groups:
1. Those that know the uncertainty in what they are doing, consider opinions, act, evaluate, revise and actually do the hard work needed to succeed. There are few of these out there.
2. Then there are those that are certain that someone else knows exactly what they are doing. And yet, instead of becoming millionaires and billionaires running successful franchise spanning the globe, they retire to their basement to sell emotional security and confidence conveniently wrapped in a blueprint that can’t fail – they haven’t tried it but other people are paying them for that advice so surely it must be worth something!
Listen, I get it, it’s hard running a business. Everyone needs a cheerleader. But I get the same SPAM you all get – for all the promises about transforming your business that you’ll get what you’re actually getting is a bunch of wishful thinking combined with the ugly realization that everything you need to do will require a lot of hard work or a ton of money for someone else to do it. And if you’re smart enough – you realize that no third party understands your business like you do or the kind of talent you have or the kind of clients you serve.
I can boil the whole effort of any consultative effort to you in a single line:
Ask your clients what they want, ask your team how to do it.
Then figure out how to make $ with it.
This first coaching advice is free, if you need more I am available on contract basis.
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I have a lot on my mind but relatively little that I can blurt out in a Vladville post… but since the email@example.com is piling with pings, life checks and requests for info, here is a brief and unorganized update.
I’m alive. I’m at work, at both jobs, just all over the place and doing great.
That last part is a total lie. I’m literally, figuratively and physically overwhelmed with everything I’ve got going on. It starts with work related anxiety over the amounts of money that are in play. I try to remind myself that I’ve got everything in the world I’ll ever need, that business is just a game of numbers.. but while I’m on my 2nd warehouse of cars the “numbers” aren’t just that to the people that depend on us making the right decisions, exceed our clients expectations, launch everything flawlessly and continue to rock at everything we do.
Top that off with some personal issues. My third job is being a father and trying to make sure my kids don’t grow up with the same bad habits their daddy has. So while I’m all done being mentally drained at work I have a part time job of talking, chauffeuring, organizing and trying to keep them off junk food and sugar… where I’d rather have a few shots of whiskey… which I can’t have because I’m trying to shave some of the weight I gained during the marathon weight (all carbs, all the time) to a more trim triathlon weight and diet that’s significantly less carby.
The combo of all this isn’t healthy… But like everything else…
And that’s what I’ve got going on. I’m trying to focus on what is important right now, what makes a difference, what my time is immediately most effectively applied towards getting the entire plan put together. I’m trying to ignore all the whiny bitching I’d rather be doing because I honestly don’t see how it does anything for me or what I’m working on, just wastes time. And honestly I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t fun, hard as it may be.
The core of this blog is explaining the mistakes I’ve made or the mistakes others make in the technology business. So I’ve got a lot of things to write here. I just don’t have the time – and that my friends is the difference between reality and fiction so the book writing and coaching will have to wait a little bit.
Carpe Diem. Or YOLO. Whatever works.
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Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of getting sucked into Facebook debates on the value of college. From dumb people pounding their chest over how rich they are and how much college sucks to old disaffected liberal arts majors arguing that college isn’t a trade school. Let’s just say your mileage may vary. Reality is, no matter how much your counselors and professors lie to you about your job opportunities straight out of college, you will not be starting in the upper management.. and on your way up you’ll have to deal with a lot of people.. ewww #amirite
Dealing With People
Not something you’re taught in college.
And I hate to tell you this my fellow millennials.. but you’re fucking weird. And to older folks you’re just outright awkward. So when you walk into that job interview, looking and behaving nothing like what they are used to, it feels like wearing a full suit to the beach. And it only gets worse from there if you actually get the job.
So for the love of god.. get a customer facing part time job while you’re in college.
Learn how to deal with people.
Learn how to diffuse angry people, learn how to read body language, learn how to control your emotions, learn how to prevent insane and rude people from ruining your day, learn how to figure out what people actually want, learn how to communicate with people effectively.. observe and learn.
I know what you’re thinking.. “But Vlad, I’m a marketing major with a minor in psychology, I’ve read a ton about this and gone over so many case studies I can lecture for days” – I’m impressed. But without any actual experience you’re just another homeless realtor and trust me people around you can tell and you don’t want to be pushed into the immature corner by the very people that may be in charge of your career and success.
So go – get out there. Some people may tell you there is no honor in working a minimum wage job, that you shouldn’t waste your time on thing that aren’t directly related to the field you want to be in, that you should focus on your classes 100%, that the only thing that matters is who you know, what you know.. And everyone has an opinion.
But when you get a job you will be dealing with people. A wide variety of crazy, tired, drugged, angry, vengeful, unfocused, distracted people. Get ready for it now because your first day as a professional is not a lab experiment, you won’t be able to reboot the people you accidentally insult. Get ready – and bring that fact up in your job interview: People like me!
No matter what business you end up working in, trust me, it’s a people business. Even if you’re a coroner or crime scene cleaner.
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I’ve been out of the job market for a while and I’ve also been out of the HR / interview part of our business long enough to actually be surprised with how poorly college students are prepared or even informed about how to interview for a professional role. If you are looking for a job, I hope this helps.
1. Always dress professionally. Always. There is absolutely no excuse: not the weather, not the company, not the job title, not the connection you have or the area that you live in.
2. Find out what the company does before you go in. Nothing screams I don’t really give a damn like not even checking out the company before you head in for an interview. You don’t have to read the 10K but you have to know the company mission and have at least a basic idea of who the people interviewing you are.
3. Try not to act like an entitled millennial. Job interview is not the time to start haggling over pay, benefits, time off. It’s also not a good idea to ask for the corner office. The purpose of the job interview is to figure out if you are a fit and an opportunity for you to sell yourself to the company for the role you want. Make them want you. Once you actually have an offer in hand is a time to haggle.
4. Ask actual work related questions. Every person I have ever interviewed wanted to know about the perks, the flexibility, the time off. I understand that is really important to you. But you haven’t gotten the job yet. Ask about the company. Ask about other employees. Ask about the company future. You know how so many job interview sites train you to answer “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” – how come a single candidate didn’t think to ask that of the person interviewing them?
5. Ask for a tour, show interest. Don’t take the HR process for granted, these people actually work for the company you are interviewing for. Ask questions about the work environment – fast paced or slow? How often do you stay after 5PM? How many hours a week do you typically put in? Do people ever get together outside of work? Where do you go for lunch? Ask actual questions that go beyond the role-responsibility-company that is going to be spelled out for you anyhow.
6. Bring your resume. Bring your references. Bring your portfolio if you’ve got one. Bring your collateral. Bring your relevant course schedule. It seems that everyone has gotten the memo about a resume being a one page affair. Fantastic. It got you in the door. What else can you show me so I don’t have to fill in the blanks myself? The more you leave up to my imagination and judgment the worse.
7. Do not reschedule. If you can’t even keep it together before I’ve met you…
8. Answer questions completely, fully and honestly. Interview questions are your opportunity to talk, explain and sell why you should get the job. If you just provide short answers that makes my list of questions mighty short because I figure you’re hiding something.
9. Show up early. Show up at least 30 minutes before your scheduled interview. Odds are, you’ll waste at least 10 of those trying to figure out where to park, how to get to the office, sign in with security, etc. What do you do with the other 20 minutes? Drive around the office and figure out where you will have your lunch. Is there a nearby daycare. Is there a bar in the walking distance? How about a post office or Kinko’s or anything else that you forsee yourself needing to do on your lunch break. If the office is in the middle of nowhere and you have a 30 minute lunch and have to drive 15 minutes to the closest Wendy’s…
I hope this helps you. Listen, the odds are against you in the current employment environment so, no matter how much you may hate it, you have to sell yourself. You already have their interest, keep on offering reasons why you would be a valuable asset for the company. For every position we offer we get well over 1,000 candidates. Of those about 900+ are immediately dismissed – so that gives you less than 10% chance that you’ll even get a phone call and less than 1% chance that you’ll actually get a job offer out of it.
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