Friday, August 31, 2012

Such a Good Example

Lately I feel like juniors have a sense of privilege that the second they are done with school the industry should have a job ready for them. When that doesn't happen, graduates are deflated and discouraged, cursing the very industry they aspire to be in.

When you search and search and no job turns up, you gotta look beyond your resume and put some other efforts in. I have counseled so many students about cultivating themselves outside of school and what is on their resume. Constantly read, research, listen and learn. Find interests, travel, explore and expand their horizons. Most times it is through these extraneous efforts that a job ends up popping up.

Following is a note I received and I thought I'd share it as an example of someone discouraged by not finding what she wanted and then deciding one day to do something about it. She analyzed what she truly loved, she spent time researching, she took other related-to-advertising jobs, learned what she could and came at the industry in a whole new way. Such a good example of initiative we can all learn from:

Dear Ms. Gorman,

I hope this email finds you well. 

I am not sure if you remember me but my name is Lizette Lee and I am from Sydney, Australia. Over a year ago, I asked for some advice with regards obtaining an internship in the US as I was then studying Pre-press and Graphic Arts. The reason for this email is that I want to take the time to re-thank you for sharing your wisdom regardless of your very much limited time to do so. You were very nice to me, even though I came from a land far, far away and was lost as a street puppy. 

I would also like to let you know as well how I am doing. After our brief email exchanges, I was fully frustrated with the results of my applications, decided to give up and be complacent with my dead-end waitress job as it was paying the bills, anyway. I must say that I never stopped reading your blog along a lot of other resources you constantly post on Twitter. After a year of suppressed frustration, I decided to re-jumpstart my career track. I also was able to determine that advertising was not really what I was looking for but rather, I realised I am more passionate with marketing. I believe I was not fully able to distinguish the both so well and it led to confusion of what I really wanted. Blogs like yours and those you link out (i.e. Baby Food for Creatives) gave me a clearer understanding and drew the big picture of the advertising world that textbook definitions could not. 

For now, I am re-opening my career path by doing a lot of self-studying, offering myself to work for free in marketing agencies and studying how Social Media works in a bigger perspective by reading plenty of published journals, researches and statistics. I've grown to learn that I want to build my career towards specialising in Social Media strategies when I worked as a research assistant (Mostly doing proof-reading work, but I learned a lot!) for a German(why he needed a proof-reader) researcher from the University of Sydney in the subjects of Disaster Management using Social Media. I've just started to to create/use Social Media streams(Twitter, LinkedIn) to learn from usage and stabilise a public identity for potential employers. I also started a new blog, which I hope, someday, could be as insightful as yours. Once again, thank you very much for your generosity of sharing your brain and maybe 10 years from now I will bump into you and be able to personally thank you.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movin' Up

The great reward for all your years of hard work and talent is the eventual promotion to manager.

For some folks, that means managing their peers. Can y'all say ugh?

This has happened to me and from experience it is not an easy road to navigate. People who were your buddies, who lunched with you, who listened to your boss-griping are now your subordinates. Kinda awkward.

I recently coached a group of new managers, a few of whom are now managing former co-workers. These are the four tips I shared:

1. Establish a safe distance.
You definitely don't want to snub your past co-workers, but you must establish some managerial distance however major or minor you need it to be. Think of it this way, you can no longer gossip with these folks. You can no longer bitch about the company. You can't laugh as they snake office supplies or ignore their spent hours online shopping. Yes, you can still grab lunch together but maybe now not every day. Your allegiance shifted when you became a manager, you are now a representative of the company more so than a worker bee. Just a bit of social space will serve you well, especially when tough issues come up - like layoffs.

2. Firing always sucks.
There is no way around feeling like shit when you have to lay off or fire a past co-worker. It feels bad. It will always feel bad. No two ways around it. Accept that and then do the best you can when faced with reducing staff. My trick is to cut their head off. Not literally :), but mentally. It works for me if I look at them as a headless worker that may require removal from the company for whatever reason. When their head isn't attached (in my mental picture), I can be less personal and more objective about the business decisions that need to be made. May sound harsh, but this remedy came about after crying alongside folks I had laid off because I felt so bad about doing it. Boss crying = not good.

3. Be consistent.
Most people want to know what to expect from a manager. Being consistent in your methods, your style, your conversations is a good thing. Yelling one minute, coaching another is the kind of psychotic manager stuff that leads good people to quit.

4. Be you.
Authenticity reigns. I manage people with the same style I do most everything else in life. Straight-forward, to the point and quick with a dose of teaching and mentoring. Staying true to my human nature helps to make the relationships with my employees more real and easier to maintain. I am not faking anything. And you know they can see right through any behaviors that don't seem like "my style." Your style may be a whole different collection of adjectives, but the goal is the same: be you.