Weekends were not made for 80’s music

Labor Day Weekend. It sucks. At the end of Labor Day is what I call “big Monday”. Ironically, big Monday is actually a Tuesday. The actual Monday is just a requiem for Summer. I like fall a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it ain’t summer. It’s prettier than summer, and the weather is better, but someway, somehow, it ain’t summer.
This summer, to be totally honest, sucked ass. Any summer where you drive your family to the airport to send them off on a fabulous Summer vacation, sucks ass. That’s the nature of work these days though. Feels like as soon as summer stared, here we are at the holiday commemorating it’s death. Sad.
Still Summer is Dead weekend was OK.
Saturday  we did manage to make it out the fair. We didn’t go last year. That was the first time in our 20 years in Minnesota that we didn’t go to the State Fair. This year Mrs S bought the tickets ahead of time to make sure we’d go. Odd, since by my memory it was she who didn’t want to go last year. Personally, the Fair is the Fair. Money suck and crowd sourced diseases. We went in planning to spend about $30.00 on stuff and only over overshot that by about $270.00. I guess that’s a win? We did meet Tony Oliva, that was cool. Made the whole day actually.
$300.00, holy shit. We bought a Minnesota United soccer jersey for the middle kid, that was $90.00. American. American money for an un-American transplanted euro-sport. Quelle Hell!
I don’t get how come he gets all these not-so-cheap jerseys and I get grief for a small purchase of some overpriced coffee. So what if my Starbucks reloaded itself every month at $50 a crack. Whose counting? You are? Uh Huh, $50.00? Well beans aren’t cheap. And yes I so what if I make a pot of coffee in the morning AND stop off for a dark roast with an extra shot on my way to work.
Addiction you say? You can intervene all ya want dear, addicts have to want to change and I.. don’t. Lack of trust? For 10 years I thought your trips to the hair place for a cut and color were $12.00. I thought Heidi was a kid I couldn’t remember but was putting through college, I had no idea she was the hair chic. Frankly I was afraid to even ask given feedback that I never listen or remember anything.
You see where this is going- he said, she said and then we all said we’re broke and had the nerve to wonder why.
Back to the fair, we may or may not have spent $300, BTW $100 was on hunting licenses. I really wish Mrs S wasn’t standing right next me when the nice girl was ringing me up. Typically that’s a solitary experience. But now that we don’t have any kids with us she didn’t have anywhere else to go. So needless to say that didn’t go quite as planned. She’s MAY have been told over the years, that licenses are about $10.00.
So now we’re even in the “Marital Misleads” category.
For the first time ever the Fair was just the two of us. That was nice. A little preview of full on empty nesting which starts for Mrs S in 11 short months. Started for me 3 years ago when my Daughter become a teenager and I didn’t see her come out of room for 5 months. But I digress. The last couple months we’ve doing more things together as a couple, which has been really fun. Makes one wonder why we ever had kids to begin with, seems like we could have been having fun like this for last 30 years.
After the fair we went to our local Auburn Fan Club watering hole to watch the opening game.
It sucked. Not the bar, the game. The Bar, Bent Brewstillery was fantastic as always. Our friend Bartley Blume over there is making some kick ass beers and spirits. In particular a “Navy Strength” gin. Booze trivia- Navy strength gin is at least 57% alcohol. Why? If you spill it on gun powder, the powder will still fire. BTW, Navy Gin is what Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette mixed with lime juice on Royal Navy vessels to keep Scurvy at bay. And it’s what British Officers mixed with their quinine tonic in India to keep Malaria under control. Who knew how useful gin could be. Am thinking Dr Bombay Sapphire and Mrs Charles Tanqueray, that’s who.
Anyway, after the fair and the game we finally headed up to the lake. 8:00 pm departure. It’s dark these days at 8:00 pm. That means Daddy has to stay awake whilst driving the car after a long day of recreating. I did, but…
We have a “driver picks the listening experience” rule when I dive anywhere with Mrs S and Mrs S JR. My rule. The chicks don’t respect my a-tor-ri-tay when it comes to music. I was chill’n the to new-to-me David Gilmore album when we started our journey. That got me to from my drive way to Gardenview. I distance of about 1/3 of a mile. “You have to change this”, “why” “it sounds like Pink Floyd”. Um.. David Gilmore was in Pink Floyd.
After 30 years I should know that she hates Floyd. Ok..
“What the hell is this?” “The new Iron Maiden, cool huh, these guys are older than me and they sound like…

Wifeacus Interrupts- “They sound like 55 year old men trying sound like they’re 25 again”.
“How dare you… “ “Dude. seriously, they sound like 55 year old dudes getting a colonscopy with no anesthesia. Change it”.
“Put on some 80’s music”. That’s her default. BTW, this entire exchange has occurred in the first .75 miles of the trip. She should have just asked for Donny Iris when we got in the car.
I tried 80’s and the first thing that came up was Chicago. Post good Chicago, aka the Peter Cetera years.
Me: “I can not stay awake listening to Peter Cetera, he blows..”
Her: “if the chicks like Peter Cetera, you like Peter Cetera”.. clever quote for Geico ad I think.

ME: “The ONLY way I’m going stay away listening to shit like “Baby what a big suprise” is because I’m hoping you’re getting all romantically inclined and as soon as we get to the lake you’re gonna..” She interrupted yet again.
“Change it”.

The Cars- good

Foghat- not the 80’s Me- let me show you on Wikipedia while I’m driving at 80MPH on a county road in deer infested countryside.

Nazareth- Yes you are messing with a son of bitch.. She didn’t remember the band or the song because.. wait for it. “THIS SUCKS”.

And so it went. 90 minutes of arguing about music which meant before we knew it we were at the lake. Where it was 175 degrees in the house making me wonder why we ever bothered to go up there in the first place.
BTW, I hate Steely Dan and as I learned, so does she. Common ground, made the whole trip a success.


Filed under Life

First World Problem #1204 The Busted Nespresso

On the list of first world problems having a busted Nespresso ranks right up there with Starbucks running out of cup sleeves and my frustration with high speed internet at the cabin.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Nespresso brand of fine products, it’s Nestle’s answer to the Kuerig single cup coffee maker. Or as I now say, thanks to a friend of mine,, the “one hitter”.

Pun intended.

One hitters as I’ve mentioned before are yet more evidence that this country is not worth saving.

Apparently putting coffee in a filter and running water through it is now so onerous a chore that we’ve decided as a nation, we need a single shot machine that dispenses coffee for us, and allows us to pay coffee shop prices for that cup, right in the privacy of our own home.

And, I’m certainly part of the problem, I own two of the things. At home we have our Nespresso machine. That machine BTW, did the unthinkable and hooked my wife on a solid caffene addiction at the age of 49, well past the age when the rest of us were jonzing for caffeine every morning, She used to report that she didn’t like coffee, and then discovered her Mother’s Nespresso and it’s sexy accompanying milk frothing gadget. That did it. Now she needs a latte every morning or she’s cranky. Or crankier? Leave it Sank.. L e a v e   i t…

The cool thing about Nespresso is that while the machines are sold everywhere you can only get the pods from Nespresso. It’s the same distribution model crack dealers used to use in the 90’s.

My other machine is the Starbucks Verismo. We have that one at the cabin. Basically it’s the same thing as the Nespresso only the machine’s counter footprint is intentionally huge in order to force you to remove any competing coffee makers. They’re strategic those Starbucks folks. Good news is the Starbucks machine actually makes an excellent cup of coffee. The Sumatra in particular is one of the very best cups I’ve ever had. Quite the contradiction to the Keurig which in my experience makes one of the worst cups of coffee I’ve ever had. Ironically, even the Starbucks pods aren’t very good when put through a Keurig. Weak coffee and Coors light, a country of cud chewers.

Back to my Nespresso machine. She be broke. She’s squirting coffee and hot water everywhere except into a cup placed under the dispenser nozzle. When you call Nespresso people with a problem the first answer from support is always “descale it”. That’s the CTRL-ALT-DEL of the single hitter coffee world. Starbucks and Keurig BTW, offer the same advice.

I was 100% sure descaling wasn’t the problem, this felt more like a plumbing problem but I’m game to play. Descaling a Nespresso involves mixing up stinky solution and running it through the machine about 10 times. Which given the problem I had, squirting 210 degree water everywhere, presents a little bit of an issue. My solution- I put the machine in the bathtub and ran an extension cord from the hallway. I sat on the can (lid down please) reading a book and ran water through the machine. Which is how my daughter found me, making the whole exercise worthwhile. as I was able to explaine that I was trying to figure out how to refill my coffee cup whilst being indisposed in the can.

Brilliant eh?

Sneer , “Gross” ,  turn and exit stage left.

Made the whole day worthwhile.

But didn’t fix my Nespresso.

Mrs S, knows about my indecisive nature and general malaise about fixing shit and facing a morning of coffee DTs took matters into her own hands and called Nespresso, She let them know in no uncertain terms that a $200 appliance should last more than a year. (Three years I said under my breath, but hey, she was on a roll) Nespresso is used to dealing with angry 1%ers and really did a nice job calming her down. Matter of fact I intend to call them back to find out what they did.

Options are:

  1. Send the machine and a check for $149 to Nespresso World Headquarters. They’ll either fix our machine or send us a refurbished one, either way we’ll have coffee when we’re done.
  2. Take $100 off their high end $300 machine for being a loyal customer.
  3. Take $40 off a machine like the one we have, bringing the price down to $150.

Basically you could sum this up as buy a new one. We’ll give you Amazon pricing.

She went for it. I kept my mouth shut. And we all drove to Starbucks for an infusion.

Like I said at the start, first world problems.


Filed under Life

Check’n In

Hey there.

Hope ya’ll are fine, been a while since I’ve written anything. LONG while.

Not without good reason mind you. My Nesspresso machine busted a few months ago and I’ve been really busy trying to remember to get it fixed. Then my MacBook Pro crashed, very unprofessional of the thing. Then the backup computer crashed. Finally my SurfacePro 2 got tired of just working and decided to upgrade itself to Windows 10 which made it crash. After all that I had some anger issues to deal with coupled with a bout if irregularity and well…. guess my creative spark just got all up and snuffed out.

I’ve apparently reached that stage in life where literally everything has become a pain in the ass. Or as I like to say, nothings easy anymore.

Here’s a great example. New windows. Mrs S decided that we needed new windows on the four season porch. The windows there are about 20 years old and are leaking so bad that the whole room is more of a 3 season porch these days. Matter of fact the ultimatum laid down was new windows or seal the room off with a sliding door. Since my office and all my musical instruments are out there I pushed for the new windows. Besides, sealing of a great space in the house feels like going we’d be doing the equivalent of property amputation. I like sitting out there. She, does not. Because it’s cold. And there’s your full circle.

Don’t know if you’ve bought windows before,  it’s an interesting process. First you research. I like the internet for research. Nearly everything you ever wanted to know about anything is up on the internets. Except for some reason some high school girlfriends I want to stalk now that I’m old.

Anyway there’s a local contractor search site where you can review contractors and ideas. Now, when a website requires a phone number and email to continue, my alarm bells go off. Luckily I know better than to give these sites real info, so they get my junk email and my google phone number that I never check. Good thing too I received no less than 20 calls from a couple national companies sales folks urging me to call back at once. Fun to listen to these folks get desperate; “This is the 10th time I’ve called you, please return my call”. Even when I change the message to “If you’re hearing this message rest assured I’m never calling you back”. Cudchewers.

Long story short we had some local guys come to the house to do sales pitches. I’m in sales, I don’t want to hear no pitches. And when you set up a heat gun and window pane and ask me to feel the insulating properties of glass,  my response “I’ll take your word for it, I’m not touching your mini window”. Mrs S- not amused. She touched the glass. Shameful.

Now, if you need a demo of tiny windows and heat guns to make a home improvement decision you might need someone to chew your food as well.

So we selected a contractor, wrote a big ol’check for 7 new windows and waited for installation day. All went pretty well except for one set of windows in the Master Bedroom. Mrs S’s room if you will. Turns out yellow jackets can nest inside walls. News to me, but not news to the installers. The installers did their thing, installed the windows where they should and as an additional service, let us know we had a bees nest in the wall, just in case we were interested. Mrs S wasn’t interested at all because she’s not allergic to bees and she was off to Tahoe for two weeks of summer vacation.

I was slightly interested because I’ve had some bad experiences with bees, but you know, what the hell am I going to do about a nest in the wall? Call someone I suppose, a process that can take me up to a year. Tell you what, you know what’s motivating?  A bedroom full of yellow jackets! Imagine how damned interested I became one fine morning I came out of the shower  only to find about 20 bees in the room, buzzing the walls and windows. Ya, apparently yellow jackets chew through wood, (also news to me) which is what they did to get out the wall because the window dudes had sealed them in.

Well shit I don’t claim to be handy. The whole reason we’d even talked to windows guys was because I didn’t want to seal off a room of the house. But frankly I don’t really spend too much time in the master bedroom, I’m happy to shower in the guest bath if needed, so you know, if we have to seal one off, better that room then the porch. Which is what I did. For about three days until guilt or the curiosity got the better of me and I went to check out the room.

Talk about a beephobiamaniac kind of experience. Literally a shit ton (however many that is) of bees on the walls, windows, crawling all over the bed..

Quietly back out and shut the door.

Now what? Options include-

  • Ignore – My usual approach.
  • Search YouTube for creative solutions.
  • Call the exterminator.

Exterminator came the next day               , For my trouble and $100 I got me a 30 minute lecture on the lifecycle of wasps, what not to do about bees nests inside walls. The encore was about how chemicals that kill bees from 30 feet are perfectly safe for people. He also spent about 1 minute actually applying said chemicals. I wonder if it would have been cheaper if I wasn’t there for the lecture part of the deal?

Turns out, it takes several days to kill bees his way, he put some insecticide powder around the openings and let the bees do his work for him, they drag it back in the hive with them. On YouTube there was one guy who used a shopvac to suck out an entire nest of the things. That was pretty cool. My personal favorites are the guys who put the bug zappers in front of the hive and let the bees attack it. Very cathartic. Powder? Not so much.

BTW, we had to add one more window for a future installation to cover the bee nest damage. So, total cost for discovering and eliminating bees from the house? About $17,000.

One more thing, apparently you have to have the house inspected before and after any window installation. The inspection called out that we are short of smoke detectors and the dog’s not licensed. Well, we had a smoke detector in the hallway that was hardwired, but I knocked it down with tennis racket at about 3:00 am one morning when it went off and wouldn’t stop beeping. It was kinda hard to see through the smoke. The dog hasn’t ever been officially licensed and he’s 11. So if ya’ll want, come and take him. He a mean little shit, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now we have about 20 smoke detectors that go off every time my daughter takes a 30 minute shower or when Mrs S even glances at the stove. They won’t last.

There was also some emotional damage from telling Mrs S on her return from Tahoe not to “jump right into bed” until she does a shake down for bee corpses. “And no I didn’t clean’m up, if I had, you’d never believe what I went through while you were vacationing away”.

So there.


Filed under Life

A Long Overdue Weekend Update

I haven’t checked in here with personal details in a long time.

Work and life balance. Haven’t achieved the later yet, haven’t figured out the former so I’m sort of out of mental bandwidth at the end of the day to be very poignant here. No sense in sharing things poorly, if you know what I mean. (And if you’ve read this space, you do)

I’ve made it a point to get to the lake more this year. Last year I was up here about four times all summer. Am determined to do better than this year, and as of this weekend, I officially have. Most of the time I’m up here alone or with my middle son. He’s home from Auburn for the summer as of this morning, still unemployed. Which selfishly is good for me because I get company up at the lake.

This weekend was one of those weekends where the weather forecasting professionals could have been better served using Amish radar instead of their electronics. Amish radar? The window, look out the window because for a day that was supposed to be the “better day” of the weekend, it rained. Nearly all day. Vacillated between heavy rain and heavy mist all day. Sunday I woke up to fog. Really thick fog. And as a guy who grew up in Stockton California, home of the world famous Tule Fog, I know my fog like my Minnesota natives know snow. This, was legit. Thick enough that I delayed the Sunday drive home because I was pretty sure I’d hit something on the way, mostly likely a deer.

Overall a fine weekend right up to the time I turned funny to grab the dock and pulled a muscle in my back. This is one I’ve pulled before, by Sunday morning wasn’t exactly ambulatory. Sent a text off to Mrs S, letting her know “back went out- not good”. She’s been through this before with me. “can you make it home if Eric drives?” Problem was how to get the boat out of the water when you can’t bend or life more then 11 oz without shooting pains down my left leg.

But I’m old, which means I persevere. Go the boat out, Eric was super helpful, although next time we’re up there, we’re going to have to do some boat driving lessons, specifically driving onto a trailer. I’d like to load the boat without having to wade up to my knees to help out. Oh well, growing pains.




Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Interview Boldly

Interesting conversation with a job seeker this week. He’s interviewing with CPG vendor who sells into grocery and mass. As he talked to me he mentioned some concerns about the company. Not quite “red flags” more light red, maybe blush or a light tea rose sort of deal. For one thing this company isn’t as “with it’ as he’d like. The interview process was professional enough but some of the follow up and communication wasn’t so great. They take a long to time call back for one thing. He was getting mixed messages from different interviewers about the role and an appointment was flat out missed. They just seem in tish unorganized.

I get it.

He was also concerned about the company’s product strategy. While he saw a ton of potential, he just didn’t think they were resonating well with retailers. He thought they could be doing a few things differently in messaging and approach. Tweaks, as he put it, not an overhaul. He had the final interview the following day frankly had concerns. To sum up:-

“I just don’t know if they’re going to be open to change and if I’ll just wind up being frustrated.”

There’s two things came to my mind during this conversation, both of which I think are worth considering, especially for my former Target friends:

Compared to Target, most companies are unorganized

Folks, you just came from a world class organization when it comes to management execution. Target is the benchmarkee in this space. You have to expect that most other companies aren’t nearly as robust. Target’s policies and procedures, I would argue, are so robust that at times they seem to envelop team members, prescribing not only what they’re going to do, but how they’re going to do it and what they’re going to think about. In DETAIL. Think back on the Target interview process for example, three interviewers, three sets of prewritten questions, three questions per interviewer. There was a formal process to post for a job, another to schedule the candidates and another to do turn downs and hires. All about consistency, easier to rinse and repeat.

In my experience, those conditions are pretty rare in the world. Be prepared for some ambiguity and some “not quite as buttoned up as I’m used too” situations. And, I can’t stress enough that you’ll have to be ready, and in the right mindset, to roll with the punches. Keep in mind that the smaller the company, the more “roll” you can expect. If it feels weird that you haven’t been called back in a few days or a week, or if you’re thinking that you’ve received mixed messages about the job from different interviewers, let it go.

Your key here, be ready to think on your feet and to stay focused on the big picture. Why you are interested in the job, what superpower are you bringing to the table, and what is the company trying to accomplish by hiring you?

If it’s completely unbearable or if you’re seeing signs that the place is just dysfunctional, respectfully pull yourself out of the interview process. I have one example of a friend who went to work for a small consulting firm that he admittedly felt sketchy and unorganized at the top. He wound up dealing with bouncing paychecks and an unbearable workload. Didn’t take too long for people to figure out who was organized and who could get stuff done, see let Mikey do it. You get it. You’ll just have to go with your gut.

Go Bold in the interview.

In my friends’ case, his gut was telling him that he might be walking into a situation where his company wouldn’t listen to him, shortcut to the frustration zone. Legit concern given the circumstances. But at the same time, he liked the company a lot, he liked the products, he saw potential and most importantly, he liked the people he was talking too.

“If I could just be sure they’re open about change.”

Since he asked me, and given that he had a final interview the following day I offered some free advice. He was really wondering if he should stick with the company or just back out. Given his conflicted thoughts I suggested a course of action that would force the conversation, flip the tables on the interview. He should come to the interview with a three slide presentation to have what might be an uncomfortable conversation, but one better had before he signed on rather than after.

Here’s my suggested outline:

  • Company, this how I would change your messaging and tweak your strategy, and why.
  • This is what I would do in my first 90 – 120 days were I to accept a position here (See what I did there)
  • This is why I have the credibility to make these suggestions.

That a pretty gusty talktrack when you’re the interviewee. But if the company is serious about bringing in someone of his caliber (and the associated expense) to drive change, they’ll hire him on the spot. If the presentation scares them or raises concerns that he’s too aggressive, they won’t. And if they don’t, he probably just learned in 20 minutes what might have taken six months to figure out on the job.

Free advice.

Key message here, as I say all the time “we’re all free agents”. Don’t take a job just because you were lucky enough to get asked, find a job you want. Which means at some point you’ll have to reverse roles and interview the interviewee. Be bold, you’ll learn more about yourself and your prospective employer. All they can say is “no”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

What would you tell your 22 year old self?

This question came from LinkedIn. Something I sort of think about a lot.

I’m an early adaptor if you will, always have been. Technology, trends, you name it, I jump on it early. At 22 I was married, in my first job out of college and in debt with a new car loan. I was getting a jump start on life. Getting married at 22, which seems so odd today especially given how different my kids are, or were when they were 22. At the time however, it seemed like such a no brainer. And 30 years later I’m happy to say, it was. But that doesn’t discount the fact was sort of impulsive, I took a huge risk, statistically it was a bad bet, marriage success for people who tie the knot that young aren’t great frankly, not today and not back then.

Lots of friends of mine in the years to come would ask me “how did you know that she was the ONE?” Fact is I didn’t know, hell she didn’t either we just went for it and over the years we’ve grown, sometimes together, sometimes not as together, but we had a commitment, even back then, that at the end of the day this had to work out, and because of that it was worth investing in the emotional capital to make it so.

G-d willing on August 4th, or sometime around then, we’ll get to celebrate 30 years. And when we do we’ll do to from perspective a having successfully raised extraordinary kids, having surrounded ourselves with incredible friends and basically having almost everything we could want or need. Well, expect that Surface Pro 3 I’m craving, the i7 version with the 512 gig.. but I have time.

Rewinding back to 1985 when I was 22 I’d have to ask a question to my young self, resplendent in the 80’s bushy mustache and oxford cloth button down shirt. I’d ask myself about risk and fear. Here it is: Dude, how is it that you’re willing to take a total flyer on your life partner.. and I mean that in the most loving way really but at 22 should you be committing to life with a woman you’ve only known a couple years socially? Anyway, how could I take that flyer on her and be so nervous about taking a similar risks when it came to my career?

Fact is I craved economic security above all things back then. I never took much risk at 22. Or at 32. Or at 42. It wasn’t until I was 51 years old that I finally took a chance and left a company where I’d been working for 27 years to move to a role at company I’d never heard of, working in a field I had no idea even existed before they called me.

And why? Well, for one thing there was timing, I got a recruiters call at the perfect time, just ended one huge satisfying project and wasn’t sure what would be next. I felt that after 27 years at one company I’d like to try something different, somewhere smaller and more nimble. Somewhere where I could leverage more of the things I like doing; learning, providing thought leadership, persuading and solving problems. And less of the things I don’t like doing, big company stuff. I wanted to “soar with my strengths” and find more passion about work. Thinking about it, it’s the same thing that drove my decision to get married a year out of college. Passion, a feeling of doing what I knew was right, and what I knew I would love.

But not at 22! At 22 I wanted to find a job. I wanted to find security. I wanted a steady paycheck, that’s what came first, job satisfaction would come later I hoped. And it did, kinda. Honestly you can’t stay at place 27 years without some measure of joy. Over the years I learned to enjoy my job, I got pretty good at certain things and I learned more about my passions and what got me excited as I gained experience and credibility. I even figured out how to navigate to jobs I liked and away from ones I didn’t.  It all worked out, but…

But what if my 22 year old self had been less worried about money and short term reward and been just a bit more focused on what I liked doing. What if I’d listened to my Father and took a risk or two instead of settling for the highest paying job I could get out of college? I don’t know how different my life would be today but I’m pretty sure the lessons I’ve learned about risk and change and failing, or rather the fear of failing, I’m pretty sure I would have learned those lessons decade or three earlier and I’d be in a different place now. I would have probably have worried a lot less, taken a lot more chances and had a tish more confidence a lot earlier in my career.

I’d tell my 22 year old self to take more risks and stop looking for safe and secure when you’re only 22 and have nothing to lose. Kid, use those early years in your career to find your passion and build your confidence. If you do that, security will come. Trust me, and oh and your bride over there, just you wait marriage thing is going to work out a million times better than you can imagine.

1 Comment

Filed under Life

Colliding Processes- Sales Process and Job Hunting

It has occurred to me that searching for a job, and going through the whole hiring dealie-do, well this whole process is really nothing more than executing on sales process, a deeply personal sales process because the product you’re trying to sell is YOU.
Little disclaimer here, when it comes selling stuff I’m no expert, as a matter of fact I kinda stink at it. But I do know processes. And I do have a real knack for being able to figure out when a process used in one sitauation might have application in another, and this example peeps, is one of those processes.
For those of you not familiar with the “sales process”, there’s a bunch of them out there but basically they can all be boiled down to about six different steps. They are:

1) Identify and prospect– Know who you’re talking too and make some contacts. (Ok so its two things, but I committed to staying to six which allows me to demonstrates the missing step, adding value)
2) Qualify– Research and get an understanding of your customer’s needs.
3) Propose– Create an offer that meets their needs and yours.
4) Present– Meet and present your proposal.
5) Negotiate– Come to agreement
6) Close– Seal the deal
As I think about this process and these steps, I’ve been thinking about how people could apply them to their job searches, especially if they’re stuck or don’t know exactly how to get started. Hopefully there’s not too many of you Target folks left in that camp. However I would throw out that even you seasoned hunters might want to consider some new about job hunting and approach, maybe there’s some nugget here you hadn’t thought off or better yet, put a few more bullets in your belt when you’re out the job jungle with the other 1700 (and if the rumors are true soon to be another huge bunch more) folks out there.
Here goes, more free advice. You’re welcome.
Identify and Prospect

This is where you’re going to do your research. Some things to consider here-
Internal research, i.e. – soul searching

  • Question #1 what are my super powers and why should people pay for them? We all have a few and knowing what they are will take you a long way. Practice telling them to people in 20 seconds or less. Your little speech should roll out of your mouth like a hymn. How’s this scenario sound, you bump into the hiring manager for a killer positon at a party and when they ask what you like doing all you can answer is… “Um”… Good to think a few things out before you go into the world.
  • Things I hate doing. Knowing what you don’t like to do is as important as knowing what you do. Empowers you to say no.
  • How much risk can I tolerate in my new role? Am I cool with a startup that looks like the greatest job ever or do I prefer corporate cultures with rules and formalities and stead paychecks?
  • My perfect job(s) is (Remember that project you worked on that was your most favorite project in your entire career? Uh huh.. that one, well it just might be your perfect job) the better you can visualize it, the better you can actually do it someday. Or keep doing it if you already are lucky enough to be doing so.

External Research

Now that you know what you like, start finding the roles that fit your strengths. Minnesota is lucky enough to have a department of Economic Development, they can help with this matching. Job counselors, coaches, friends, leaders in other organizations can all provide input into this. Seek help, it will go a long way.

  • Figure out who are the companies that have these roles, and more importantly, what do they call them?
  • Collect data, lots and lots of data, and them, collect some more. I don’t believe you can know enough about a company where you contemplating spending more time than you do with your kids.
    • Companies- who, what, when and where
    • Hiring managers
    • Company org structure- how does the role you want exist within the company you’re thinking about? Will also tell you how they value the role.
    • Get the names and titles of as many employees as you can. Create lists of names, contact information. Keep them somewhere more formal than a business card file. I’ve been doing this for years, keep track of people I meet, taking some interest in what they do and what they’re about, and you’d be surprised how often that comes in handy. One rare compliment that came my way, and really meant a lot to me, came a few weeks ago from a former VP of HR at Best Buy. “You make connections between people and things faster than anyone I know”. Nothing says “LEVERAGE” like making good connections and being able to bring them up at the appropriate time. Critical.
    • LinkedIn- Sorry Luddite friends, LinkedIn is not an option. You have to do it, and you have to it well. It’s the first stop shop every future employer is going to go to try to do a little background checking up on you. It’s become the face of your professional brand. If you don’t have a complete profile, like your picture is the blue face guy? If I’m an employer I’m thinking that A) this person doesn’t know much about job searching and B) They on par with my 80 year old mother when it comes to technical prowess. Neither conclusion of which is good.
  • Networking events- This is where you can really shine. What’s that you say, you’re a closeted introvert and can stand the idea of meeting new people and getting out and about in a group of strangers? Let me assure you I’m right there with, I sort of like I’ve met everyone one in my life whom I want to meet and would be perfectly happy living in my basement. And while that feels true and comforting to me, I’ve found it not to be the case when it comes to most any other thing I can imagine except watching bowling and deer hunting.
    Maybe this will help, 90% of networking, is showing up. There’s enough Extroverts (really way more than I like in the world) who will ask you a few questions which should prompt you to open up and talk about yourself.
    In all seriousness, get up and put yourself out there, I predict you’ll be surprised at how it goes.

    Levity ahead.
    If after deep reflection you really think that any interaction with people is too much, there’s still hope in a rewarding career in the introverted world actuary sciences or accounting. My mother is accountant. You know why people become accountants? Because they don’t have the personality to become morticians.
    Thank you I’m here all week.


Ask yourself, what actual needs are my target companies are trying to staff? This isn’t “We have an open head count and we need someone to fill it” That’s how the DMV works, not the real world. Matter of fact, if that’s all the company is doing, keep this blog post handy you’re going to need again in a few months. If you can figure out what business needs companies are thinking about when they post an opening, like having someone inside feeding you information.

An example for your consideration-
A company in Nashville is hiring BA’s with analytcs backgrounds to support their consumer package good business. That’s what the posting says anyway. What they really need to do is to improve their capabilities in understanding consumer behavior so they can sell more stuff. And not to consumers, to their retail customers because their competition is kicking their ass at shelf and their customers aren’t thinking brands, especially their brands, are important anymore. The BA are going to work on a new consumer measurement tool and a better category management sales system to help them drive more business with their retail customers.

How do I know that? I can read with a capital R. Data has been over the press baby. Was there a press release that said the above specifically? NO. But they’ve all but laid it out in their SEC filings, all of their strategies are outlined in annual reports and analyst briefings, and Glassdoor is littered with postings for web developers and analytics folks. They’re looking for Java, Hadoop and Python. They’re also looking for JDA Space management experience and CAD developers. They’re telling you EXACTLY what they’re doing, you just have to be able to read it from the tea leaves.

Of the companies you’ve identified which ones are really great at the role you want? Which are not? Do you want to learn how to be better/further your expertise at what you do? Lean toward “good at this already”. If you want to have impact and change the world lean towards “Not so good at this”. Free advice.

How committed are these companies to the role? They actually have the role on their books, a title and an office waiting? Great, you’re on your way. If the answer is they really need this role, but don’t have it defined yet, you’re in for an uphill battle, winnable but it will take effort and there will be casualties. This is the “I’m going to write my own job description” scenario. Works better for roles higher in the organization.

The Pay Question

Huh? You do know what you want right? Understanding your salary requirements is critical before you go chatting and negotiating. Keeping in mind you’re looking for compensation, which in my experience is combination of enjoyable work, benefits and actual pay. Only you know how to balance this. but it’s probably a good idea to do balancing act this early on so you’re not trying to do it on the fly.
Work Culture
Culture is SO important to mental and emotional wellbeing. (which leads to physical wellbeing) Some ideas on trying to understand work culture.

  • Check out Glassdoor- see what the employees are saying.
  • Network around and ask what it’s like to work at Acme?
  • Check out linked in- how long have people been in position? How long have they been with the company?

When you’ve done these steps correctly you will have a nicely qualified list of companies where you want to work. A list of contacts in and around those companies you can start to research and contact to get introduced and make inroads with. And in the best case scenario, a list of jobs that you’re going to apply for. You WILL have a clear set of objectives in your head about what you want to do, how much you want to get paid and if your expectations are realistic.
AND that my dear friends is THE start of a focused search plan.

Now you’re going to fill out, contact and apply for roles that are open and waiting for you (the traditional method) AND I’m going to send some notes to hiring managers and department heads for roles that aren’t posted but that I think I would kick ass at (the all in go for it method). After all it never hurts to try, at worst you’ll have some new contacts… Remember, more touches=more chances.
One word of advice and if you look at the mind map I recommended, http://www.xmind.net/m/F3NJ/ is to keep track of where you apply. Keep track of contacts, dates, notes.. and each and every conversation and email. Sounds lame but you’ll thank me later when Gwen, the recruiter from Acme who went on her honeymoon for 4 weeks calls you back when she returns and you can just pick up right where you left off. Unless of course you’ve found a different position.. but you know, keep the options open.

In my mind this analogous to the interview process. If you get to this point, there is nothing is more important than nailing the interviews. Also nothing is more important in then keeping in mind interviews are a two way street. You friends are interviewing the company just as sure as they’re talking to you! . If after a couple interviews your SpiderSense tells you working with these folks would be double plus un-fun.. pull yourself out of the process. Don’t get hired to be hired. You deserve better.

Prepare for the interview, if you’ve done your homework in Qualify, you’re going to be ready. But just to be double dog sure-

  • Know the position you want and are interviewing for.
  • Know something about the company and what they do
    • How’s their business?
    • How’s the financial pictures
    • What’s the in the press about them?
    • What are their products?
  • What do you think you’re going to bring to their party?
  • How does you Superpower apply to their business needs?
  • Have a plan to talk about YOU.
  • Rehearse. Talk to yourself. Talk to a friend. Do a mock interview, CALL ME if you no one will help you. Seriously get this right. Because you’re going to have to prove to them exactly why:

YOU are you the answer to their problems.


Now comes the difficult part that I’ve talked about here before. Glassdoor can help you understand the pay scales and culture at the company. You’re negotiating a compensation package not a salary. Once again, for goodness sake DO NOT negotiate in piece parts and please don’t undersell yourself.
Remember the lesson of the car dealer.
Sales Process – The Car Dealer
They come at you with four things to discuss; monthly payments, trade in value, extended warranty and “off the lot” price of the car. This isn’t because they’re all that complicated or they’re really working on your best interests, they do this because human beings can’t keep track of more than two things at once. While you’re feeling super about your really’sticking it to them on price because the deal you negotiated was$500 under their cost, you’ll totally forget that you sold them your old car on trade in at $800 below market value (So much easier than selling it yourself right? um no) and that you’ve agreed to a 60 month loan that will double the interest you’ll pay on the car. Yea not such a good deal now…

Salary is just a piece of the total compensation package. You’ve got vacation in there, education allowance, sabbatical (yes in the Silicon Valley they’re pretty common), family leave, medical and dental, car/transportation/parking. There’s plenty of things to negotiate.
Remember the sage words of the Teamsters “You are worth more”.

You’ve done your homework, you’ve aced the interviews, you’ve established value for you and the company, now comes the big close. If you’ve done everything correctly on the previous steps, you’re ready to close the deal
Here’s why I’m the best candidate out there for what you’re looking for.
Here’s why you’d be remiss in not hiring me
I’m smart enough
I know all about it this role
I work hard.
And darn it, people like me.
And THAT line of thinking, dear friends, put Al Franken in the US Senate.
Stay with it, I’m rooting for you and we’re all in this together.


Filed under Life