Archive: November 2011

Why I Am an Entrepreneur

November 30th, 2011

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I had time to unplug and think. I did a lot of the “to do’s” of life and spent time with family but I also had time to reflect on why I have chosen to be an entrepreneur. Most of you have heard me say that I come from a family of them, but that is not necessarily the reason I chose the same path. So why am I an entrepreneur?
Is it because I have romanticized life as my own boss? Because I am in it for the payday? Am I not employable? Don’t answer that one, please. A lot of the reasons came from my first jobs. I did not like office politics or bad bosses. If you are reading this, I still learned from you. I wouldn’t have known what I liked without learning what I didn’t like. Here are some of the things I learned.

  • I have never understood the notion of tenure. Wait your turn. Put your time in. Work your way up. Sure I “get it,” but so many times the corporate system kills good ideas and the employees that have them. Why can’t we all be equal in value just play different roles?
  • I also felt frustrations in working in corporate America. I got yelled at when I called the Chairman to share my perspective on the state of the business. You can bet I was certainly “debriefed” by my boss to make sure he could “help me.” I wanted a more honest place to call my work home.
  • I have often said I started a company because I needed to be congruent with my environment. I needed leadership that led a certain way — open, honest and non-hierarchical. I wanted a fun, irreverent culture. Passion for serving the customer mattered most to me.

These are all things I wanted out of my career but last week I figured out why I am an entrepreneur. I wanted to create a company where others could feel what it is like to be an entrepreneur too. Provide a sort of “prep school” for future small business leaders. I caught up with many friends and family that have traditional employment in this uncertain economic environment and I saw and heard their fear. Some might lose their great job. They have been there for years and years and worked their way up to a nice salary and fancy title, yet they are NOT in control of their own destiny.
Regardless of how long or how bad my day can be, I am 100% responsible for my career. No one from corporate can take that away. I can never be a number in a reduction in force or a casualty of restructuring and re-engineering. Today I read and hear of so many that are holding off on their start-up. The market is bad. Timing is wrong. Bills need to be paid. All are real concerns, but they are obstacles that we can choose to overcome.
Every day I give thanks because I am congruent with my company. I am in control of my own destiny. And maybe I count on the fact that my employees can knock on my door and know the buck stops with me as a little solace that they are slightly more in control of their own careers. Maybe you have never thought about why you do what you do. Perhaps now is the time to find some time to think this one through. Why do you do what you do?

Disconnect to Connect

November 22nd, 2011

Last week, I shared some stories about Rose Burkhard and talked about the importance of unplugging and spending time with loved ones. True to my plan, I’m out of the office this week getting some much needed time to recharge and connect with family and friends. I hope you’re all enjoying a short week and hopefully taking some time out to focus on the important things in life.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Hiring: The Original Temporary Job

November 16th, 2011

It seems that everyone is trying to guess what the story is for holiday hiring this year. Some company’s plans are up from last year, some are down. Many companies are hiring later in the season and others appear to be paying more than in past years. The only consistency is well, inconsistency. This is no real surprise (to me at least) that the hiring picture is so schizophrenic. Holiday hiring is a sampling of the broader marketplace. And in a recovery that is getting better but still uncertain, more work will be temporary in nature. It makes you wonder if temporary work was, in fact, invented at holiday times. The work is seasonal or part-time, peak times.
Holiday hiring is temporary work defined.
A strong holiday hiring season will ignite the economy. I guarantee it. From where I sit our customers are busy. Hiring is coming back strong for the right skill sets. Unemployment claims are down below 400,000 a few weeks in a row. But there is still a stigma about holiday and temporary work. That must change. Workers must embrace today’s new reality, working is better than not working. Staying busy is better than waiting for the perfect fit, especially if you have been unemployed or looking for some time. Don’t believe me? Get your foot in the door and amazing things can happen. Doing a great job gets you noticed. And perhaps an introduction to others in the business. And a full-time job in your field can happen.
At CBI Group, Placers and Barton Career Advisors, we have heard it all around holiday hiring. Here is more advice this season if you or someone you know is looking for work this holiday season.

  • As many as 1/3 of all seasonal jobs will be evaluated for part-time or full-time status after the holiday season. What a wonderful opportunity to show your employer what you are capable of and for you to see if you like working in a particular company.

  • “Hiring does not happen during the holiday.” This is just not true. Yes the world slows down a little. But hiring managers may actually have more time for planning and hiring than the rest of the year.

  • The world is hiring more than retail this holiday season. Temporary work exists for businesses to hire talent quickly; many companies have forever changed their internal hiring resources. And the temporary jobs are abundant well beyond retail. Consider temporary work as a avenue to speed up your job search.

Holidayitis and What I Learned from Rose

November 9th, 2011

That time of year is just around the corner. I look out every year at my employees and I know when they have lost it, checked out and are simply some place else. Some call it “holidayitis.” The affliction hits us all when the excitement and the to do list become too much and for a little while we disappear mentally and/or physically from the workplace. It used to bother me greatly. Just ask my employees.
Until lately. Call it wisdom if you wish, but maybe I have just realized that I can not control everything and sometimes I just have to go with it. And the more I do that, the more I get holidayitis myself. Just don’t tell anyone ok? I think the the holiday season starts off the right way with our national holiday, Thanksgiving. Most of us like to be with the ones we love, enjoy good food and libation and watch football. We give thanks for whatever we have, regardless of if it’s a little or a lot, it is universal. With the exception of cleaning up the kitchen, Thanksgiving does it right.
This year Thanksgiving will be different in our house because last week we lost my grandmother, Rose Burkhard. Before you stop reading — give me a chance to share a few things. To me Thanksgiving is about mindfulness and slowing down to be there in the moment. To be in the moment. I would like to share a little bit about Rose and what I learned from her, it fits the times and the season.

    Rose was 102. She lived on her own until 101. She never learned to drive automatic, she preferred a manual transmission. She rode to school on the back of a horse drawn wagon that hauled ice. Rose married a man of another religious background in the 30’s. Today that is acceptable but back then, this was just not done. She was a part of a small business family that ran a hardware store here in Richardson Park in Wilmington, Delaware.
    She was progressive. She was contemporary. Rose thought worldly when a narrow point of view was more common. She did not understand discrimination, nor was she capable of it. Rose gave her time and worked for the rights of the blind for almost 20 years.
    She never knew a cell phone nor a computer — She had no need for them.
    Well into her 90’s she drank Jägermeister with her grandchildren one holiday season. Impressively she had two shots, not one. She once played 27 Candyland games in a row with me when I was sick as a kid. I think she let me win everyone of them.
    But most importantly I learned from my grandmother Rose that being mindful and in the moment matters. The rest of us text, Email and talk by phone all day long and are constantly interrupted. We are distracted. Frankly, we are rarely in the moment wherever we are. But for Rose, that was her world. Conversations. Questions. Oh, so many questions and stories. She had a memory like no other, usually about people and situations that were long ago but she had the ability to be there for you. To be at peace with what she was doing at that moment. Unlike the rest of us who are constantly thinking about what is next.

So thank you for humoring me this Holiday Season. Put that laptop away and turn off the iPhone for a few days. Do what Rose would do. Engage with the ones you love and really be there for them. And know that is what the Thanksgiving Holiday is all about.

The Power of Alumni Recruiting

November 1st, 2011

Certain industries count on the power of alumni to grow their business. The world of consulting and accounting depends on the transition of alumni into corporate America. It keeps staff moving up and out providing career paths and opportunities for a dynamic workforce. Public accountants become CFOs every day and in many cases, do business with their old firm.
Recently, we have been seeing more organized efforts to achieve recruiting goals through organized recruitment efforts involving alumni. “Because so much great talent is being released into the labor market right now, it is a great time to either start a formal program or upgrade your existing corporate alumni or “boomerang” program,” says Dr. John Sullivan in an article posted the advice section of Today the workforce is going back as retirees look to work differently as contractors or as staff realizes the grass is not greener on the other side (in their new job). A local, Fortune 100 chemical company has had great success bringing back their workforce for special projects and contractual work.
This week, CBI Group approaches alumni recruitment in a big way. This Thursday we are having a networking event for the launch of Placers, the contract and temporary staffing arm of our business. Placers has been around since 1971 and has hundreds, if not thousands of past employees. This week, we are bringing our alumni consultants and recruiters together — a reunion that should be fun and full of story telling and memories.
While there is power in numbers, there is also power in like minded people reconnecting to share ideas, stories, business needs, openings and so on. CBI Group is adding value by organizing it for others to gain. And in that value is the power of our alumni. We will have fun and also get lots of business done in the process!
If you are Placers alumni and would like to join us we will be at the Concordville Inn in Concordville, PA (directions). Frankly any reader that wants to come gets their first drink on me.
Here is to the power of alumni!

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