Archive for September, 2011
Tags: Business, Cartoon, Farside, Fun
Tags: Career, Employment, Frank Parsons, Harvard, Job hunting, John Lees, Labour economics, Motivation
An estimated 12% of all humans who have ever lived are alive today. This slice of humanity has more life choices available to it than any previous generation. Four generations ago, the average European worker had about five-to-ten obvious occupations to choose from. Today we have tens of thousands of choices, but we don’t have the thinking tools to match.
The idea that people should match themselves against jobs is relatively new, and mostly based on military recruitment. However Frank Parsons — an engineer, lawyer, and early champion of what was then called “vocational guidance” — argued in 1908 that there are three steps to selecting a career path:
- A clear understanding of our “aptitudes, abilities, interests, resources, limitations, and other qualities.”
- A knowledge of the “requirements and conditions of success, advantages and disadvantages, compensations, opportunities, and prospects in different lines of work.”
- “True reasoning of the relations of these two groups of facts.”
Parsons’ phrase “true reasoning” is interestingly opaque — something that speaks to us of the late Victorian mindset, the optimism that any problem can be solved if, like Sherlock Holmes, we weigh up the evidence with our rational minds. Yet, as we will discover, logical thinking is only modestly helpful when it comes to choosing a career. I am interested in how we actually make those choices, because they matter. Twenty years ago we had time to experiment with a range of work and lifestyle options. Today, the rising burden of student debt and the tightening of economies means we have to choose earlier.
We start by looking for jobs that resemble activities you enjoyed in school, whether this involves writing papers or handling test-tubes. You look for a sector that will be like something you have already enjoyed or shown some talent for. This approach fails to alert us to the thousands of sectors available, and fails to show us that there are few people practicing “pure” geography, history or mathematics in the world.
We don’t face occupational choices as a blank slate. There are powerful influences: parental jobs and expectations, peer pressure, the media, jobs we see as children (if you spend a lot of time in hospital chances are you will want to work in healthcare). High status occupations hold great sway, so top graduates still aim towards medicine, accountancy or law. We are shown a tiny, biased selection of jobs in TV and film (when was the last time you saw an order picker or a quantity surveyor working on TV?). We believe we are making informed choices but in fact most of us are sampling through half-closed eyelids, even mid-career. We need to build better maps.
David and Fiona, two recent clients (names altered), are good examples of two different approaches to career-focused decisions. Both clients were kind enough to run their decision process past me in slow motion. David has just taken a job offer he is uncertain about, while Fiona is partway through a very different process:
David: Making a Routine Career Change
- I feel trapped in job without any choices.
- I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a limited picture of what is out there.
- I waste time trying to think about plusses and minuses, picking ideas up and then dropping them again when something puts me off.
- I have a broad, slightly undefined range of options in mind.
- Something comes along which is a rough match for one of these options, so I decide to take it.
Fiona: Running a Controlled Experiment
- I feel trapped in my current role but I do what I can to fix the job I’m in before I turn to the job market.
- I start a conscious program of mapping, finding out what’s out there without worrying too much about whether it’s an exact fit.
- I put research before job search. I keep asking questions, keep meeting interesting people.
- I develop a very good map of what’s out there. I develop a range of well-researched options, so I know what I am looking at and I know how to get there.
- I meet interesting people and they remember me.
- I match job offers carefully to ensure that I get at least 6 out of 10 from my wish list before choosing one.
These two processes are not just about different thought processes, but about mapping opportunities, gaining confidence, and making lateral connections.
My advice for anyone caught in career choice dilemma is this: stop trying to decide. We believe we’re choosing thoughtfully but mostly we just go round in circles, shooting down ideas one after another. Put your energy into idea-building. Imagine you were doing research for someone else — keep digging, keep making connections.
All work is a compromise between your longings and what someone else needs. We all need to think differently about the way we choose career paths, and learn to find the “almost exactly right” job, not just the next thing that comes along.
Tags: Decisions, Guilt, Problem Solving
Don’t let people control or affect your decisions through guilt or derision. If the only reason you might change a decision is due to someone else’s negative response, consider the purpose your decision is intended to serve and whether your reason for changing your decision is worth not fulfilling that purpose. For example, if someone’s trying to guilt you into joining a complaint with which you disagree or accepting a settlement that undermines your interests, carefully consider whether soothing that person’s sensibilities or interests are worth the loss of your goals.
Tags: Business, Customer, Internet Marketing, Marketing, Marketing and Advertising, Marketing strategy, Pay per click, Search engine marketing
If you think your products and services are worth a buy across the globe, then an internet marketing campaign is the solution you’re looking for. This will enable you to reach out to anyone on the planet. Whether it’s managing customer information, launching a public relations campaign or building sales.
If you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot of blah, read on.
An internet marketing campaign has, you guessed it, everything to do with the internet! It helps you use the internet to advertise or sell goods and services. There are lots of creative ways you can do that, some of the most popular being:
- Pay per click advertising
- Banner advertisements
- Email marketing
- Search engine marketing
- Blog marketing
- Article marketing
Each of these has its advantages, and what you choose to use depends a lot on your business goals. For the moment, let’s look at the benefits of pursuing an internet marketing strategy in general:
24×7 visibility – Customers around the globe are relying on the internet as a primary source of knowledge, so you need to be right there.
Zero in – Internet technology can help you identify your target, like no other. Web analytics (which is jargon for understanding the behavior of visitors on your site) has the ability to identify and track potential customers, and saves you the bother of a wild goose chase.
Cut costs – It’s no secret that it would cost you an arm and a leg to run a full-blown campaign on TV or other media. The internet is an extremely cost-effective medium in comparison, and therefore gives you the chance to pass on some of those savings to your customers.
Seize the moment – You never know when there’s somebody with a need that your product can satisfy – an internet marketing strategy enables you to be in the customers’ face at all times. When the impulse to buy seizes your customer, you need to be there, pushing your wares.
Give them what they want – If you’re a reseller, an internet marketing strategy will allow you to understand your customers’ needs better, and then customize the product offering to their needs. For example, online sellers of music could create a personalized compilation of favorite tracks. This will help secure customer loyalty and build favorable word of mouth.
Build a buzz – By allowing customers to interact with each other you can create a loyal community. Take eBay for example.
If you’re thinking there’s got to be a catch somewhere, well, you’re dead right! While deciding on your internet marketing campaign, it’s useful to bear some things in mind.
Information overload – With all the information available online, it’s not surprising that most customers are either comparing prices or worse, are confused! So you need to be creative while deciding your internet marketing campaign, to make sure you stand out among the crowd.
Fear of fraud – The internet is not without its share of rogues, and that could make prospective customers feel vulnerable. You need to reassure them about the safety of doing business with you. Reputed online sellers will ensure that they link up with secure payment gateways. eBay even gives useful advice about trading safely.
No touchy-feely – most people still think of the internet as a place to gather information, but would rather purchase at a store where they can experience the product. You can actually do something about this – for example http://www.amazon.com allows prospective book buyers to read selective pages before they decide to buy. Alternatively, you could frame an attractive exchange policy or money back guarantee.
A problem of image – You’ll find that a lot of rival websites have queered the pitch with their slow response rates and laughable customer service policies! You’ll need to work that much harder to undo the damage.
As with any business decision, you need to think carefully about your internet marketing campaign. While you’re the best judge, there are professionals like http://www.wilsonweb.com, http://www.web-source.net and http://www.marketingtips.com that could help you make that call.
Tags: Business, Crystal ball, Future, Futures Wheel, Management
While taking courses for the IB management masters programme, I ran into something that intrigued me. This thing is called a futures wheel. The idea is that you take a trend that is likely to affect your business/life/whatever and you stick it in the middle. See the picture on the right. Then you try to brain storm and think of all of the things that might happen because this trend or event happens. The first layer of circles (red) are what happens due to the trend. The third (green) level is what has happened due to the second level changes.
Let’s take rising gas prices as an example. If gas prices rise the following things might happen:
- People might walk more
- Because they walk more they may want new shoes
- They buy socks too
- People buy smaller more fuel-efficient cars
- Trade in older cars
- More junk old cars
- price of large cars drops
- Niche revival of old cars
The list can go on and on and you can go as deep as you want. It’s like the “tree falls in the woods” thing. I found this so intriguing! It gives you a great way to think about the future and how you might change your strategy when possible change is coming. Give it a try and apply it to your own business and life.