Conquering career transition can be both brutal & rewarding. I’m writing a book to help military vets win either way. By end of summer 2015 I’m going to publish a comprehensive guide to conquering career transition, specifically tailored for military veterans. This is an independent endeavor, so your support is very welcomed and highly needed. Whether you pre-order 1 or more copies or just help promote the campaign, your efforts can help get this book into the hands/onto the tablets of tens of thousands of unemployed & under-employed transitioning military service members.
Recently I was talking to a friend and he said he had no interest in being an entrepreneur. Curious, I asked why. There was one simple reason: he didn’t like to make decisions with limited information. As an entrepreneur, so many decisions have to be made with little or no data and lots of gut instinct. For many people, especially perfectionists, making those kinds of decisions over and over is terrifying.
For me, I like to keep in mind that I’m trying to make a good decision, learn from it, and move forward. Here are a few thoughts on entrepreneurial decision making:
- Perfect information never exists, never
- Limited information is normal, and often good enough to make quality decisions
- Almost all decisions aren’t permanent (thankfully!)
- Constantly learning and adapting is key to get to the right answer
- Moving forward is better than standing still
When the next decision is required on limited information, make…
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2014 was a pivotal year. Lots of challenges presented themselves, but by the grace of The Most High we made it into 2015. I’d like to thank all who continue to support my blog site. I do my best to write meaningful and useful posts, and will continue to step my game up in 2015. As we move forward, here’s a quick look back at 5 of my most read posts in 2014:
1. WHY MEMPHIS? – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/08/18/why-memphis/
2. WHY COFFEE SHOPS ARE BETTER THAN GOLF COURSES FOR SMALL BUSINESS DEALS – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/08/04/why-coffee-shops-are-better-than-golf-courses-for-small-business-deals/
3. WHAT TEACHING 2ND GRADERS IN SUMMER SCHOOL TAUGHT ME ABOUT TRUE LEADERSHIP – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/07/21/what-teaching-2nd-graders-in-summer-school-taught-me-about-true-leadership/
4. LEADERSHIP STYLE – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/01/10/leadership-style/
5. THE INEVITABLE NUMBERS GAME IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP – https://solutionsbylex.com/2014/06/02/the-inevitable-numbers-game-in-entrepreneurship/
Make it easy for people to change their preferences or cancel the service, so they don’t leave angry. “It engenders a negative brand perception if you make customers pick up the phone and wait in line to stop paying you.”
-Michael Dublin, CEO of Dollar Shave Club
Above is some sound advice for business owners to strongly consider. Recently, as a customer, I’ve experienced the frustration of dealing with a business that makes it difficult to cancel its services. The business I’m speaking of in particular is a fitness club called French Riviera Spa, and I’m annoyed at their stupid billing policies.
First, I take responsibility for signing their membership contract, without thoroughly examining the terms as I usually do with any contract before endorsing. Second, I comprehend and respect the need to protect one’s business from potential loss of revenue. But, and excuse my language, “it’s a damn gym”! Should I choose to cancel and move on then, at most, charge me for an extra month and let’s keep it moving. But the worst thing to do is what French Riviera Spa did: attempt to shackle me to a service that I no longer desire.
Why am I writing about this? Well, besides venting, I viewed this incident from an entrepreneurial perspective. Because I travel, sometimes I join different fitness clubs depending on my location at a given time. When able, I try to stick to a consistent fitness club brand. If I happen to return to a particular location, then I go back and join a fitness club that I may have once left. Well, needless to say, there’s not ever a chance of me rejoining as a member of French Riviera Spa, a sentiment that I’ve come to find out is shared by quite a few previous members.
My point overall is, this particular fitness club has completely ruined an opportunity to gain repeat business from me and others in the future, due to utterly ridiculous billing policies. I am not one to be shackled, and most people feel the same way. Of course I found a way out of their policy, and I am warning others to not join such a club unless it changes its billing policies. If you own and operate a business, I hope that you will not make the same mistake. Follow the sound advice of Michael Dublin, and make it simple for people to change their preferences or cancel the service.
TECHcamp Memphis 2014 was a unique and enhancing experience. Although there is some room for the event to improve (I’ll touch more on that shortly), I honestly appreciated this conference, particularly as a newcomer to the Memphis area. I learned quite a bit, just in the first few hours. My favorite session was run by Stephen Hackett of RelayFM. In 4 short years this guy has become a podcast guru, and in the first 20 minutes of his presentation he inspired me to revisit, restructure, re-brand and eventually relaunch my own podcast concept. Not only did he share the story of his successes, but he also gave some detailed insight on how he’s managed to monetize his podcast craft. If you’re a podcast fan, or interested in starting your own, I highly encourage you to follow Stephen Hackett on twitter (@ismh) for more information.
The event’s introductory keynote speech as given by Juan R. “Chago” Santiago, Vice President of Systems Engineering Practice and Business Intelligence at CIO Services Group. He is very motivational and encouraging, identifying his attitude as his number one asset and reason for his long-enduring success in technology. I whole-heartedly agree with his statement that “obstacles and challenges are just opportunities for growth”.
My other favorite session was with Mr. Al Pickett, Vice President of Diversity at Start Co. in Memphis, TN. He presented his “Business Model Canvas” concept for the entrepreneur track. Al Pickett is also author of “The Blackprint: New Rules for Winning – Finance, Freedom, and Flexibility“.
My 2 Cents on Future Improvements:
* More Lead Time/Stronger Marketing Campaign: I found out 2 days prior from a friend about the event. Up to that point I hadn’t noticed any social media promotions or any other form of advertisement. This to me is why the turn-out wasn’t as robust as it should’ve been
* 30-Minute Sessions instead of 1-Hour Sessions: Yes most attendees are full-on geeks and techies, but that doesn’t change the natural attention-span of most people. Give the same great material but in smaller doses of time.
* Cooler Tee-Shirt Design: This might seem nit-picky, but this is something I see as an opportunity to form a stronger bond between the tech community and the art community. Why not have local artists submit competing designs, and then have potential attendees vote on which design they want as an incentive to show up and as part of the promotional efforts leading up to the event? This improvement may also help to diversify the crowds who attend in the future.
The struggle is real! The disparity between existing skill-sets and the plethora of open jobs on the market is extreme. Most people, even those who possess college degrees, do not have the subject-matter-expertise that many organizations are currently seeking. Or, at least that’s what the primary message is throughout society.
I think a more accurate view is that most people, and their resumes, do not effectively communicate their skill-sets and experience in a way that translates directly into what companies are looking to hire for. There are so many different layouts, lingos, standards and preferences across industries and company cultures, that crafting an efficient resume has become as challenging as the job hunt itself.
On top of that, it seems that almost all recruiting and staffing is being outsourced. This is normally an additional hurdle to get over in the process. However, when dealing with authentic talent management, a true professional helps to decipher the cryptic language of employers needs, while effectively translating what you have to offer into a clear winning pick for employers to roll the dice on.
So, what’s my point? I have three. Point one: DO NOT GO IT ALONE! If you’re just posting your resume on monster.com, simplyhired.com, indeed.com, and other online job boards without a direct point of contact, then you are truly wasting your time and energy. Point two: not just any recruiter will do. You need to vet these recruiters in the same manner that they’re going to vet you for potential employers. Check their background as much as you can. Do they possess any knowledge themselves on the field you’re competing in? What is their placement rate? How long do they typically take to place their job candidates? And so on. Point three: make a genuine connection and build an on-going working relationship with the right recruiter, once you find him or her.
We are alive in some trying times, but, where there’s a will there’s a way. And, where there’s faith, there’s even more in store. Just keep in mind that faith without works is dead (James 2:20), and social media without genuine connection doesn’t allow for eye contact and hand shakes. What does that mean? It means to get up from behind that phone, tablet or computer, and go out and shake some hands while looking folks square in the eyes. That is how you will surely find your next great opportunity.
Here’s a few recommendations on how to advance your earnings and enhance your overall worth –
–FREELANCE: Working independently is challenging but very gratifying and amazing. Here are some sources to help you get started, or to enhance your capabilities and reach if you’re already freelancing – Catchafire.org (a great way to use your professional skills to make a difference in society); FreelancersUnion.org (connect with other freelancers, access free resources and link into a national benefits platform); and HowToBeSelfEmployed.com (an online community and great support)
–CONTINUE LEARNING: Education is the great monetizer. In other words, learning more often equals earning more. And sometimes you don’t even have to spend money to learn. All you need to invest is time and effort, with sources like www.gibbon.co, www.instructables.com, www.lifehacker.com, www.coursera.org, and www.codecademy.com
–WORK PART-TIME AT HOME: Check out companies like “Convergys“, and dig through websites such as www.FlexJobs.com to find the right work-from-home job for you and your situation. What you’ll primarily need to operate is: an operable, fast and reliable computer; a dedicated, wired internet connection; a call-center style headset; and a clear, free-of-distractions workspace in your home
–LOOK UP & AHEAD: Examine job descriptions of positions ahead of yours, and then make sure that you have what it takes to perform that job. Pay particular attention to the skills and contributions required of that position, and then empower yourself accordingly
Face-to-Face conversation is truly a lost art among us millenial-generationers. I don’t mean casual conversation, because we’re all good at that. What’s up? How are you? What are you doing this weekend? That’s not what I’m getting at. I’m talking about holding real, substantial, meaningful conversations among one another.
How many of us go beyond sharing our dreams and start discussing plans and strategies? And how many of us actually do that on a regular basis? When’s the last time you and your friends had a conversation that sparked an immediate action? Healthy dialogue is empowering. It even drives innovation and creativity, and we need more of it.
Recently a friend of mine dropped by to check out how my business is doing, and to share with me his business ideas and plans. Not only was I thoroughly impressed with what he brought to show me, but I was also deeply inspired just from a simple hour-long dialogue. When he left I had about 5 new ideas floating around in my brain, and I was moved to act on 2 of those ideas already. Not only that, but now we both understand exactly how our businesses compliment each other and how we will be able to help support one another’s visions.
Who knows what the value of our conversation amounts to be. I predict that we’ll both be making a few million, or at least a few hundred thousand dollars just based on our talks today alone, if its in the will of the Most High of course.
As in Proverbs 27:17, “Iron Sharpens Iron”. We should be constantly challenging each other, enhancing one another, and helping to increase each other’s personal value.
Right now I truly believe that Memphis is the perfect city to reside and thrive in. I am from a larger, more developed city (Atlanta, GA), but I recently left it to see what the “Bluff City” had to offer. As a military veteran who has traveled much, I am an optimist who will always make the best out of any location and situation. But let me tell you, so far, Memphis has surprised me greatly. My family and I have already grown to love it here: of course the food is amazing; the small business community is vibrant; the education reform movement is very powerful here; there are a ton of inspiring non-profits at work here; the cost of living is low while the quality of life is high; the city’s history is grand; and it has a glorious future in store. That’s just a general idea of why I choose Memphis, and why I think a lot of other young professionals and entrepreneurs should also. Now, let me share with you 7 more specific reasons why Memphis is the place to be:
– Memphis is the 2nd Most Generous City in the United States (based on percentage of income given to charity)
– Forbes ranked Memphis as the 2nd Most Affordable City in the United States
– WalletHub ranked Memphis as the 5th Best City to Start a Business in
– The restaurant CHIWAWA in Midtown Memphis serves up some authentic American & Mexican Street Food and tasty beers from local breweries
– Arguably the best barbeque you’ll ever have is at COZY CORNER BBQ (it is not franchised out, so you have to come to Memphis to get a plate)
– The Tech & Startup scene here is remarkable: check out Mid-South Makers, Start Co., and Forge Memphis for a glimpse at what’s happening here
– Teach For America and other education-driven organizations are having a major impact in a positive manner on the community as a whole
To achieve a Personal Brand Breakthrough, the following aspects must all be addressed strategically:
REPUTATION: what do your peers, subordinates and leaders think and say about you?
BUY-IN: do you believe in your self enough? what supporters do you have that believe in your brand?
EDUCATION: be it a four-year college degree or a short-term certification, education and training is a key asset to always build upon throughout life. make your self as marketable as possible by ensuring that your education and training align with your career and business goals.
AFFILIATIONS: get connected to organizations that are relevant to your industry, your goals, etc.
KNOWLEDGE BASE: spend every spare minute that you can to become a subject matter expert/guru in something. it’s great to be a jack-of-all-trades, but you should really specialize in something also.
TIME MANAGEMENT: spend time branding your self according to a purposed schedule. for instance: post to your blog on Mondays; perform a ‘Social Sunday’ by doing important Tweets, FaceBook updates, and Google+ stuff on that day; etc.
HURDLES: perform a S.W.O.T. Analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats)
RESOURCES: get your arsenal together, including but not limited to: business cards, an online CV, a premium LinkedIn account, and any other resource that will help your personal brand be strong
ONLINE PRESENCE: this ties in with resources, but I wanted to address it separately. you should be present on every virtual platform that could possibly generate leads (clients, potential employers, etc.)
UNIQUE ATTRIBUTES: differentiate your self from your peers and competitors in every way imaginable
GROWTH POTENTIAL: how much more could you still learn and do? what can you act on immediately?
HONORS: awards, recognition and accomplishments are important to brag a bit about when it comes to your social media profiles, your resume, your blog, and so on