Archive for the ‘Executive Job Hunting Tips’ Category

Where the Jobs Are, Part II

September 26, 2011

Pack your bag for a road trip and get ready to roll!

I ended Part I by encouraging you to fasten your seatbelt and get ready to be surprised about where, geographically, the jobs are happening in this country, and what appears to be shaping up into a bonafide trend.

Earlier we talked about industries that have experienced job growth (Yes, job growth!! It does still happen!) in America since 2006, and the nature of changing job descriptions. The June 2011 issue of Wired Magazine did an amazing job of discussing where the opportunities are popping up, and how shifts in job descriptions may offer many of us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. The magazine is optimistic about the potential that is shaping up in the job hunting landscape.

I offer you some towns worth checking into, according to Wired Magazine’s June 2011 issue:

Provo-Orem, Utah has become an attractive location for IT talent. Wired reports that Overstock.com recently opened a development office there and plans to hire over 150 employees. Also, Brigham Young University there fosters startups that are ultimately sold to bigger players.

Do green jobs interest you? Fort Collins, Colorado has revved up to meet the growing demand for clean energy.

Waco, Texas has recently attracted three aerospace companies, and is known as an excellent geographical area for aviation maintenance, avionics and dispatch.

Longview, Texas is also hopping, particularly in industrial manufacturing and distribution. Eastman Chemical employs more than 1500 people there.

Moving into the Midwest and beyond, Bloomington, Indiana has become a hub for the biotech industry and is home to the Cook Group, a $2 billion medical device maker.

Reading, Pennsylvania is now the place where batteries are made, including new types for hybrid automobiles. A company called East Penn has received a $32 million grant from the Department of Energy and has hired 150 people to help it churn out over 2.8 million batteries per year by 2013.

Finally, in the South and Southeast, Spartanburg, South Carolina has become a Mecca for plastics production, and hosts the country’s only BMW factory.

Plus, notably, there is renaissance along the I-85 corridor, which Wired reports has become a new region for middle-class manufacturing opportunities. It’s no secret that this strip of Americana has a labor pool of low to no-income Americans, and is among the statistics for the lowest per-capita income in the country. The following companies have established manufacturing facilities along the Interstate:

Hyundai Motor America located and opened its only US factory in Montgomery, Alabama and employs 2500 people. Firstmark Aerospace in Creedmoor, North Carolina produces components for airplanes. Centurion Medical Products supplies kits for surgery implements made in Salisbury, North Carolina, and has recently expanded it operations by 20%. Jobs there include professional positions such as engineers, chemists and biomedical specialists.

Also popping up in the Carolinas are Kemet, a precision capacitor manufacturer in Simpsonville, South Carolina, and Comatrol, a manufacturer of hydraulic components in Easley, South Carolina. Atlas Lighting Products, a maker of industrial lighting fixtures, is expanding orders as I blog in Burlington, North Carolina, due to its energy-efficient products. Wired mentions two other companies who are moving forward at a productive clip: Hartness International, a packaging machinery manufacturer, and Wabtec, a railroad components manufacturer, both in South Carolina. Wabtec sells to urban rail systems and recently increased its staffing by 25%.

The opportunities for work in this recession do exist, even though they might require a relocation. Whether you decide to pursue them – or not – is up to you, but if you’re currently unemployed and need to put food on the table, these leads are here for you.

Like I said up top, get ready to roll. Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses. The future in these locations is so bright, you might have to wear shades! Don’t take my word for it. Drop in on Wired and see for yourself!

Di Chapman is the founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Executive Outplacement and Leadership Coaching service. Find out more about Di at www.powerconnectionsinc.com, www.LinkedIn.com/in/DiChapmanwww.thedailyjobhunt.wordpress.com and www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi

What’s YOUR Story Today?

May 3, 2011

Boy, have I got a story for you!

If you need a shot in the arm today … or a word of encouragement … or a kick- start to keep going, I believe there is inspiration here for the taking, whatever your challenge is today.

I won’t even pretend to tell you that everything is rosy out there right now. Our recession, and its destruction of our jobs, our savings and our retirement funds, has dished out to us what can seem like an insurmountable hardship. This I know. We’ve talked about platitudes, we’ve talked about getting out in the community, and donating time to great causes. We’ve talked about trying new things, and de-aging our perspectives and physical appearance.

The news on the job hunting wire can seem daunting. Truth is, the American workforce faces its toughest challenge yet. As Harold Meyerson in The American Prospect says, “America’s leading corporations grow more and more decoupled from the American economy. Their interests grow increasingly detached from those of our workers, our consumers – and our economic future….Unlike any recession in American history – including the Great Depression – this one has come at a time when America’s leading employers can return to profitability without rehiring large numbers of American workers.”

This is a particularly difficult situation for job hunters who are over 45 / 50 years old. We’re in the industrious “boomer” segment of our culture. We’ve always believed that if we work hard enough, we’ll set the world on fire, educate our children, and retire with many good years ahead of us. We’ve certainly made it a prosperous place. The current recession slammed us, and our future.

So, if walking in your own shoes today, while you seek to find ways to re-enter the job market, your community, and your life, seems particularly grueling, I hope this story of inspiration, contribution and personal purpose will buoy you on the choppy seas. The story is about a 56 year-old friend of mine named Beth Sanden, who was partially paralyzed in a training accident while preparing for one of her Ironman Triathlons several years ago. Beth’s life changed in an instant when she was thrown from her bike, breaking her back. Her journey as she learned to live with constant nervous system pain, and even to walk again against all odds, has been remarkable. She is a world-class athlete still today, unstoppably raising awareness and funds for other physically challenged individuals.

With walker, cane, and hand-cycle in tow, she travelled to China last week to compete in the Great Wall of China Marathon outside of Beijing against able-bodied competitors. Beth finished the 26-mile race, conquering the Great Wall of China, in approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes.

My hat goes off to Beth Sanden. She has overcome her physical challenges, reinvented herself, and has become a global emissary for the Challenged Athlete Foundation ( http://www.challengedathletes.org ), helping thousands of others in need of limbs, wheelchairs, walkers, and exercise equipment that can give them back their mobility and participation in the community around them. Beth’s personal favorite is the hand-cycle. It unlocked her future as a competitive challenged athlete.

Beth’s efforts on behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation were documented in two news stories presented by ABC in Orange County, California:

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/storysection=news%2Flocal%2Forange_county&id=8107699

and

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/storysection=news/local/orange_county&id=8100181

http://www.great-wall-marathon.com/Themarathon.aspx 

Check them out!

Each of us has our own metaphorical “Great Wall of China Marathon” to run at some point in our lives. Let Beth Sanden’s story be an inspiration for your own!

Di Chapman is the founder of Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc Executive Coaching, Career Management, and Leadership Development service.

AGE IS A STATE OF MIND

February 15, 2011

Can we talk?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a very long time, and want us to be honest with each other. I believe that if you’re in the market for a job, and you’re over 45 or so, you need to think about what “age” you project to others. This topic has many layers of discussion, and I want to address one here that has to do with “first impressions,” i.e., how you look when you walk in the door of an interviewer’s office.

I know, I know. I read the blogs, discussions, and columns on Linked In, career sites, and numerous publications. Many of you are offended at the suggestion that we plant ourselves in front of the mirror and take a physical inventory of “how we look” when job hunting. It can seem inappropriate and insulting to suggest that looking “younger” can be advantageous when we are actively seeking a new job.

But, I will go on record with my opinion about how necessary it is for us to come across as having as much youthful energy as possible when we are competing in the hunt. It’s particularly true if we are unemployed and in transition, since unfortunately, that alone puts many of us at a disadvantage in the job market.

“Isn’t the only important quality a person takes with them to an interview their capabilities and experience?” we can insist. Of course, it’s critically important, but hear me out on this. Simply put, I believe youthful energy must be addressed by all of us “over-40-somethings” if we are going to compete in a youthful job market. I’m not suggesting that you don the attire of a 20-something year old, and tug at your miniskirt when you get out of the car; or adopt the posture of “pants on the ground.” I am, however, encouraging you to see that “Age is a state of mind,” and if you begin to think and act more youthfully, your exterior appearance will undoubtedly begin to look more youthful as well.

Take a moment right now to look in the mirror. What “age” do you see looking back at you? And I don’t just mean outwardly. There is so much more to vitality. Do you see a spark of energy? Do you see someone who makes an effort each day to look as healthy as he or she possibly can? We are all different, and your vitality factor is relative to your past health and life experience. The point is, once you honestly assess your physical appearance and your ability to alter it in a positive way, you will know just how “youthfully” you can realistically come across.

How Has Our “Less than Youthful” Image Evolved?

Now, here’s the rub, for all of us who started our careers circa 1970, ’80, or before: even though we feel younger than ever (Don’t you? I do!), and more able to produce better results than ever, and to take on challenges with more focus than ever, we are dogged by a collective belief that says “Aging is unattractive, overweight, out of shape, burdened by health problems, tottering, having no physical relationships, and being ineffective.”

If you were an alien from another planet landing on earth and tuning into television with your highly evolved powers of observation, you would be barraged by the images of “Help me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and “When the moment is right, you’ll be ready … but be sure to see a doctor if you’re ready for more than four hours!!” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the point.

Somehow, grown up, mature adults have projected the impression that we ARE those things, or the stereotypes would not exist.

So, step in front of the mirror. How would you describe the image you see? Yes, it’s daunting, but you must go through this reality check. And, below, I list the questions I call my “age indicator test.” Yes, there are things we do, or don’t do, that affect how we appear to others … that can affect your perceived vitality factor, and perhaps reduce the age your image projects. It’s up to you to decide to take or leave the questions. But, your answers directly reflect your interest in “de-aging your first impression.”

This “age indicator test” is appropriate for men and women BOTH:

  • Do you smoke? If so, why?
  • Do you exercise regularly? Or are you making excuses for refraining from exercise that is appropriate for your health and ability?
  • Do you need to lose weight?
  • Is water your beverage of choice? Or do you drink mostly sodas (regular or diet), or alcohol most days?
  • Are you getting regular checkups with a healthcare provider to make sure you are as healthy and energetic as you can be?
  • Do you schedule regular dental care and oral hygiene?
  • If you have a health or dental condition that requires care, do you make sure you receive it?
  • Do you enjoy active pursuits that keep you moving?
  • Do you do your best to keep up with current wardrobe, eyeglass and accessory styles?
  • Do you make sure you have at least one interviewing suit, fully accessorized including current shoes?
  • Do you keep up with current hairstyle and hair color trends? Do you seek professional stylists to help you with your appearance?
  • If you are a woman, do you utilize makeup appropriately, and make sure that you stay current with trends?

Bonus Questions:

  • Have you sought assistance with turning back the clock by seeking nutritional counseling, dietary guidance, or taking nutrition courses?
  • Have you utilized a personal trainer to guide you in the type of exercise that can benefit you with your particular physical body type and health history? Do you follow his or her advice regularly?
  • Have you sought the advice and services of a dermatologist, esthetician, and/or plastic surgeon to address issues of aging skin?
  • Have you sought services for teeth whitening, veneers, replacing outdated crowns, or straightening?

Before you dismiss my “age indicator” questions as being too focused on physical appearance versus experience and wisdom, please keep in mind that the two are not mutually exclusive … and when paired together, can produce powerful results. Both experience and youthful energy are highly valued in our culture. Why not commit to pursuing both if you are able? Why not have both in your corner when you are looking for work? If someone told you that bringing more health, vitality, and youthful energy to your life could increase your success at interviewing for work, wouldn’t you heed the advice?

Look, if you’re like me, you want to have confidence that there is much more of life and productivity to come, and you want to project to others that you are energetic enough to jump into them. I don’t ever see myself as unproductive or put out to pasture. And, I don’t want any potential employers to see me that way either. So, why give them the chance?

Perhaps you’ll join me in this perspective. Then … go get ‘em.

Di Chapman is the founder and president of Words to Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service, and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Communications Inc. Executive Coaching and Outplacement Service. She can be found at www.LinkedIn.com/in/dichapman and www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.

Finding Balance at the Speed of Life

October 27, 2010

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Ghandi

Yes, I know I’ve used that quote in my writing many times, but if you’re in transition, losing sleep over the future, negotiating for a new job, or hopeful that an offer is going to be your light at the end of the tunnel, Ghandi’s wisdom bears repeating. I’m reminded of traveling from Paris to Lyon, France, on the TGV high-speed “bullet” train years ago. High above the ground, the train clocked speeds of 125 miles per hour and more. The countryside literally flew by.

Doesn’t it seem like life right now for most of us is a speeding bullet train, with the added uncertainty of the stability of the tracks? We’re speeding faster and faster into an uncertain future, teetering on the rails of life, like a roller coaster dipping and climbing … and we’re holding on tight.

I know all too well of which I speak. I used to be Superwoman! Since summer’s end, though, I’ve been behind in everything – I’m like a hamster on a wheel, squeakily spinning it with as much velocity as I can muster, but to no avail. Yes, I’m moving faster, but the complexity of all of the issues and events of life during this recession have slowed me down mentally and emotionally. I’m “still kicking,” but with less clarity, more confusion, and more of a sense of overwhelm-ment than ever before. Superwoman has flown off the planet, and I’ve been left holding a five-pound bag containing ten pounds of overdue everything: blogging, twittering, phoning, reading, writing … you name it. Stop the world!!! I want to get off!

Can you relate?

Trust me, I have always been one focused professional, never making excuses about my shortcomings, always returning calls promptly, meeting deadlines, and going the extra mile for my commitments. But, I’ll admit that right now, I’m wondering when I’ll get my balancing act back in swing. If you’re wondering the same thing about yourself, you are not alone. The uncertainty of what our economic future might be collectively, and even more unsettling, what it might be for each of us individually and our families, is enough to knock even the toughest players off their game.

Are you losing sleep over the loss of a job – whether it’s your own, or a loved one’s? Are you uncertain of what changes landing a new job will bring? I just went through that with my husband – eight months of executive unemployment.

My husband and I are thrilled about his new job, and I’ve never seen him happier. However, wait for it – wait for it – we are now in a “commuter marriage.” His new job is three time zones and about 2000 miles away! BUT, and it’s a BIG but (go ahead, laugh, it’s a fun pun!) – we are so thankful that during this time of unparalleled recession for us and our peers, we are blessed with work.

Are you watching the clock on your finances, tossing and turning as the plans you made for retirement have unraveled? I get it. Retirement? What retirement? The AARP Association reported in its most recent bulletin that 51% of American households won’t be able to maintain their standard of living once they retire. In fact, we must change the notion of seniors as “non-contributors” in our society, and allow them to be productive way beyond what we have traditionally considered “retirement age.” It’s an economic necessity to keep us from plunging the largest demographic in human history into poverty, all at once. Thank goodness, “50” is the new “30.” We Americans are going to need to extend our working years into our 70s.

For now, I’d like to suggest you look at some productive ways to keep going to meet the road ahead of you, wherever it leads. I want your “take-away” today to be a renewed energy and resolve, courage to keep going, an “aha!” moment, or just plain inspiration for staying the course. I’d like you to take some action right away:

  • Look at yourself as part of the solution to our tough times, even if you’re in transition right now, looking for a job yourself. Doesn’t that give you a perspective of potential, instead of fear or lack?
  • Get out and circulate in the community, and consider taking a volunteer position or a “day” job in a busy place that will keep you meeting new people and feeling like you’re contributing to life.
  • Be proactive about the upcoming mid-term election and get out and VOTE! The biggest issue of this 2010 election is JOBS, hands down. Be a part of the buzz. No matter what your political party or inclination, pull that lever in the polling booth. It’s powerful! And while you’re at it, why not volunteer to help build a great turnout?
  • Count your blessings and start each day anew, with expectation of great potential in everyone you meet and everything you do. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Look for a “break” and the good in everything you see!

Finally, lighten up on yourself. Take a breath! My message here is “If I can do this … you can do this, too.” But it takes courage, acceptance, patience, and resolve, and the willingness to see that the struggles many of us are experiencing this year are the gateway to truly understanding what it means to be human, and to live a life of purpose, passion, and transformation. It can be a pathway to self-improvement and a new happiness in the simple things in life.

You can do this! Honest!

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. executive outplacement, coaching and career management service. Her Linked In profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/DiChapman. You can also follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/InspirationalDi.

The Energy Formula for Success

July 13, 2010

“Passion + Purpose = Potential2

Look closely at yourself in the mirror. Are you the kind of person employers are looking for?

I have the distinct privilege of being able to interview talented and oftentimes amazing people as a lifestyle reporter and guest host for the Internet radio show “Better Times After Fifty.” An underlying theme in my interviews reveals that every success story I hear on the air shares some very important characteristics with the others. Successful people know what they love to do; they know what they love to offer their customers, employers, and employees; and they know how important it is to fulfill their missions of helping people change their lives for the better. They’re crystal clear about this. Their passion and purpose exponentially created, and affects, their success. I don’t think it’s coincidental.

What is it that comes together in sync for the success stories of the world? I believe it’s passion and purpose that channels the energy of success, and the result can be an exponential burst of potential. As you seek a new job, it may be time to press your own reset button to resurrect a fire in your belly, to muster your enthusiasm and desire to radiate the knowledge, talent, and capability you can invest in a future employer. Perhaps a snippet from my own life can be an inspiration and help to yours.

When my inspirational quotation teddy bear business was featured in the Simple Truths’ book Customer Love, it was an amazing affirmation of my commitment to bringing my “best self” to every transaction. Throughout lean times and great times, I have always insisted on living with the energy of passion, purpose, and potential. Many of you, too, have given your all to careers where you performed at peak capacity 40, 50, and 60-plus hours a week, year after year. It wasn’t always easy to put on a game face and charge into work with all cylinders firing. But, you did it, and by doing your best to contribute to the success of your past employers, you sowed a portfolio of talents that you can offer another one going forward.

My inclusion in Customer Love motivated me to study the book and read all of the stories related within it. I’m glad I did. The “lessons” and principles portrayed in Customer Love will raise your energy for living every day, for every interaction you have as you look for work, and most certainly for every job interview. Customer Love could literally be a guidebook for anyone who wishes to “knock the socks off” of a potential employer. Even if you don’t think your job is one that actually serves “customers,” reinventing your own perspective to one of a “customer service” mentality will drive up your energy level, enthusiasm, and ultimate success at finding a job. These characteristics are what employers look for as they sift through a line of job applicants.

If you’re struggling with the “Why me?” question that often follows a job loss, another book that can hold pearls of wisdom for you is Betty Mahalik’s Living a Five Star Life. I found two helpful nuggets in Betty’s book. “We often make our experiences harder than they have to be by our resistance to change, growth or stress,” she says, “…use stress to take you a step closer to …what you want to become.” Later in the book, she quotes an unknown source who said, “Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through life without any obstacles, we would be crippled.” Perhaps loss of a job can be an unexpected transition to living a better life.

Your job hunt is all about improving YOU. Stay receptive to the possibilities of finding work in new arenas, or learn to look at the same old job in a new light and with new eyes. Make a promise to yourself that you will bring your best to every interview, every phone call, and every opportunity to connect with others.

Stay energetic, stay passionate, and stay confident.

Commend yourself for the achievements you have attained in life thus far, and define your goals and the value you will bring to your next job. Muster up the fire in your belly. As Emerson once said, “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.” Even if the man is job-hunting!

Finally, take a tip from Susan Howington, CEO of Power Connections, Inc.  Susan assists executives who are “in transition” after being laid off. She sees job offers coming in to her clients who have polished their appearance, defined their value propositions, and practiced the steps of improving their energy level. “The jobs are out there for energetic applicants,” says Howington. “When clients approach potential companies with an enthusiastic ‘What can I do for you?’ attitude, good things happen. They’re absolutely getting jobs!”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections Inc. www.dichapman.com

www.powerconnectionsinc.com

Resolve to be a “Contributer” to Life

June 8, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Presence of Greatness

“Someone out there needs you more than you need them!” – Lt. General Hal Moore

It’s February 15, 2010, President’s Day, and I’m shivering in a brutally cold whipping wind in Montevallo, Alabama. The skies are blue and the sunshine is beautiful, though, and there is an air of expectancy and anticipation that buoys my every step. “Thank goodness I’ve worked in outdoor conditions of all description,” I think to myself. “At least I’m thoroughly bundled up.” The reality is I’ve spent many a production day in sweltering 95 degree heat, with 50 to 60% humidity, trying to salvage a silk blouse and a hairdo. I’d take the cold any day!

I step inside to check on last minute details in my notes, and to make final phone calls; and stop to compliment two polite and lovely women who await the start of an eventful and unforgettable day. They are currently in a quiet hall, chatting softly, giving no hint as to the magnitude of the convocation that will start shortly, or to the growing crowd gathering at the end of the driveway, stepping into line as they exit their vehicles. I take it all in, literally savoring every second of the energy and expectation and excitement that whirls around me.

I can’t imagine being anywhere else at that moment in time, and am still in awe of how God and the universe say “yes” to heartfelt intentions, to a deeply rooted sense of purpose, and a determination to find a way to somehow contribute to the world, no matter how great or how little you are able to put forth. So, literally running from location to location on an outdoor campus with freezing wind at my back, I’m elated at the prospect of what is to come, and know that this will be a day I will never forget.

Like every unforgettable day in one’s life, there is a back story. And my particular story about that amazing day in Montevallo, Alabama is directly related to the gift of a book, and what the words within it meant to me. “In the Presence of Greatness ….” Mac Anderson writes in his forward to the Simple Truths book A Tender Warrior: 5 Leadership Letters To America, “I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by General Hal Moore’s kindness, humility, and his passion for life.”

You see, a year ago, in February 2009, I had the distinct privilege of meeting Mac Anderson in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a follow-up to the inclusion of my story in his 2008 book Customer Love, and when I had the chance to speak to him on a “poster-perfect” day in the gorgeous Arizona desert, I was open to any inspiration and possibilities that a conversation with such an accomplished man could render. I was there with complete “heart, soul and intellect” at attention, and when he put an advance copy of A Tender Warrior in my hands, electricity went through me and sparked what I can only call “a knowing:” I was drawn to the General, and with each touch of the pages, I knew I had to somehow, some way, be in his presence.

So my story today is not just about how I traveled from sunny Southern California to unseasonably cold Alabama to be a part of an event that would honor Lt. General Hal Moore, and it turns out, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., as well. It’s a story about how deeply-rooted purpose gave me the courage to reach out again and again to someone I felt an enormous amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for; and in so doing, found myself in the presence of greatness all around.

We ALL Have Something to Contribute to Life

I remember a day, many years ago, when I had the privilege to meet Alma Powell. “Young or old, you still have something to give to your country,” she said. Now that I’m squarely positioned in the “mature” segment of our population, I think a lot about the wisdom of this statement, and believe that it applies to life as well.

Who’s to say that a person of a “certain age” contributes less to our world than someone of youth and physical prowess? I plan on living at least another 50 years on this planet (I have to – I have way too many plans to check out earlier!!), and not in one mental image of myself down the road do I see a woman who is not giving back to my community, country, friends, family and earth. I will leave this world kicking and screaming if I don’t make a difference. And, honestly, part of the drive within me to do something significant comes from a huge recognition of the trails blazed and conquered by those who have come before me. My achievements are meant to be an acknowledgement of the debt I owe to those who created the life I have, and who did so in uncertain, difficult, and often deadly circumstances. Giving back is part of who I am.

So, when I was offered the chance to come to Montevallo, Alabama to honor General Hal Moore as he was appointed Distinguished National Honorary Chair of The American Citizenship Trust and its American Village Campus; and to see him present the American Freedom Award to his longtime friend General George W. Casey, Jr., and posthumously to General George W. Casey, Sr., a fire in my belly said, “Go!”

I did, and I didn’t look back. In anticipation of what I knew was going to be an amazing experience, in the midst of the events of the celebration weekend, which included the 88th birthday celebration of General Moore, as well as a 10th Anniversary celebration of the American Citizenship Trust, I opened myself up to meeting amazing people like Tom Walker, Founder and CEO of the American Citizenship Trust, and his wonderful, accomplished staff at the American Village.

I met the man called “Driver,” the author of A Tender Warrior, and his lovely and spirited wife Char. I had the pleasure of meeting Brian Sobel, of Sobel Communications, a specialist in military history and events, who has interviewed and written about General Moore for publication numerous times.

But, I cannot tell a lie. The event truly came alive for me the minute the beloved Vietnam War hero himself, Lt. General Hal Moore, walked into view, a handsome soldier with a huge, beautiful smile. When he passed by me in the processional, I knew I was right where I was meant to be that day. And when he delivered his prepared speech with strength and conviction and energy, nearly 600 of us were electrified. We were truly “in the presence of greatness.”

Authenticity is Contagious and Powerful

There is one more observation I’d like to share with you about General Moore that I witnessed on President’s Day. I saw what I can only describe as the “magic” of this man. As he spoke about the importance of young people to our future, he was bold at the lectern. As he described his sadness about the blood of his soldiers on his hands, he showed the soft side of the warrior.

When he presented Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., and Casey’s father, General George W. Casey, Sr., with the National Freedom Award, his smile lit up the room. His love for the Army Chief of Staff, who was like a son to him after the death of his father in Vietnam, was demonstrative, and returned with genuine admiration from the man who now leads our country’s Army. Photos snapped of the two men side by side throughout the day reveal a bond so heartfelt, it lifted all of us who had gathered at the convocation, and infused an easy atmosphere in the press room, where I was helping direct the media crews.

But, here’s what I will never, ever forget for as long as I live: When it was announced that “Liberty Hall,” the venue for the convocation that day, was officially going to be renamed “Lt. General Hal Moore Hall,” we saw the purest, most radiant reaction of honest-to-goodness joy and surprise on our hero’s face. I imagine that everyone there that day feels himself or herself to be a better person for witnessing that moment.

“Suit Up” to Make Your Dreams Come Alive

What else did I learn while in the presence of greatness? Believe every day that your dreams can come true. The event at the American Village Campus introduced me to heroes from all walks of life. I saw the manifestations of the dreams of so many people, like Tom Walker, his staff, and Driver. I saw the joy in a beloved hero’s face as he became the official honorary chair of the American Citizenship Trust at 88 years of age. And, yes, I was there to see it and help with it. I suited up. I lived my dream.

If there is anything I would like you to take away from reading about my amazing experience in Alabama, it’s this: if you decide to follow your dreams, no matter who you are, where you are, or how old you are, the incredible can happen. As Geothe said many, many years ago, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”

Di Chapman is the Founder and President of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc. Executive Outplacement and Career Management Services. Her website is http://www.dichapman.com

Get “Outside” Yourself and Open Up the Possibilities!!

May 5, 2010

Springtime is here, and even if your spirits are in a funk because you’re searching for work, there is something to be said for getting outside. I refer often to the importance of exercise, and to the critical act of getting out “on foot” to make sure you know everyone and everything in your neighborhood. We Americans can be very good at moving about our daily routines at the speed of light, missing the who, what, why and how of the goings-on in our own neck of the woods. There is value in getting to know the neighbors, the businesses around you, and the conditions and concerns that affect your town. But this message is about much more than that.

It’s important, yes, to always be broadening your personal sphere of knowledge and influence. And you know what? It doesn’t stop there. Julie LaCroix, MA, CMP and I put our heads together recently, and agreed that there are definite ways that an executive in transition can make a powerful statement to the community, and even the world, by taking on a cause, or participating in an inspirational event. Seriously, the adage about how 90% of success is “just showing up” doesn’t just relate to job sites. It also relates to your personal involvement with your community.

Your willingness to be present at the activities of others, particularly others who are striving to do great things with the little they have, or under less than advantageous circumstances,  makes an enormous statement about who you are inside. Likewise, your willingness to give of yourself and your resources, no matter how small a contribution you can make, says volumes about your character. They’re demonstrations of “the stuff you’re made of” and will not go unnoticed.

If you’re stumped about where and how you might contribute to your community while you get outside yourself, literally and figuratively, I’d like to give you some brief examples of things that have appeared on my own personal radar in the last few weeks:

Unless you live in a cave, you have probably heard of The Boston Marathon. It’s never been something that has had great meaning to me, other than my obvious respect for anyone who is able to participate in such an event. (How DO they do that?) But, interestingly enough, it has touched my life in a couple of unexpected ways. First, my sister-in-law was the first woman to enter the Boston Marathon. (I know!! Can you believe there was a time in 20th century history when it was thought that women and girls were incapable of such physical feats?) Then, just a few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, a world-class athlete who was paralyzed while training in 2001, completed the event – coming in 2nd place among the 24 female hand-cyclists who qualified. Beth Sanden literally bypassed her paralyzed legs, and with an emotional and mental strength that can move mountains, and a heart with the fortitude of a giant, used her arms to propel herself to the finish line.

Beth has always been a hero and a role model in her community, with a thriving personal training business in San Clemente, and a global player as an athlete. But, when she was thrown from a bicycle while taking a curve on a training run in 2001, her spine was shattered. All of us who know her well, remember her months in the hospital, the beginning of her journey back to “life” and her intention to be present in the lives of her two teenage daughters at the time. She had lost her ability to run her business, to use her legs, and to attend to the daily tasks of motherhood, at least for a period of time. Talk about losing one’s sense of self – Beth knew she had to reinvent herself if she was going to be the mother, wife, girlfriend and contributor to the community she always believed she would be.

Slowly, methodically, and painfully, Beth dove back into life. She went from a wheelchair to a tripod cane, then to a regular cane. She began to swim laps daily, using buoys on her legs. She became an active member of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), a group of individuals who have been paralyzed or suffered loss of limbs, but just keep on going, reinventing themselves as champions, all the while raising money for other victims of accidents who need wheelchairs or financial assistance. In 2006, Beth completed her first triathlon in five years atop a new CAF handcycle. She kept going, and going and going …. and then, she made history, at 55 years of age, in the 114th Boston Marathon. It gives me goosebumps. And if you ask her how she did it, she will tell you she has tremendous faith, and she wants to give back. In every photo you see of Beth, she is with her fellow athletes at CAF, and her smile ignites the scene.

The second thing that got me thinking about how our lives can make an impact on others, and get us “outside ourselves” was when Judy McCoy, a woman who shares one of my evening fitness classes, approached me about helping her promote her nonprofit group’s fundraiser that was held on May 1st. Judy knew that I guest host a radio show (www.bettertimesafterfifty.com) and wondered if I could arrange an on-air mention about the event. Judy’s group is called Ordinary Women, Inc., and they support orphans in Kenya. They are dedicated to placing orphans in local Kenyan families, and providing food, education, and medical care to each child. It was one more reminder to me that there is a whole world of magnanimous activity that goes on in our communities, creating heros among us. We just have to step outside of ourselves and look around to find it.

Getting back to Julie LaCroix, a Career Management Consultant at Power Connections Inc. Julie assists executives in transition every day.  “Sometimes you  gotta do what you gotta do,” she says.  And at the top of the list is taking part-time, temporary, or volunteer work to stay in top form.  “Show your skills, but most importantly, show YOU,” Julie advises.

Start with your attitude and build from there.  First, show these organizations who you are and what you are like to work with.  Then show them your skills.  “You have nothing to lose, so go out on a limb!” Julie exclaims, “Surround yourself with interesting people who can get to know you through working with you. And while you’re at it, do something great for the world!”

Perhaps your efforts won’t lead you directly to an interview or a job, but look at it this way: the relationships you build will most likely bring referrals, and your pro bono work counts as consulting. With the right attitude, you will succeed at communicating your brand, keep your skills sharp, build new relationships, look like a consultant, and generate valuable references and referrals.  Do what you “gotta do”!

Besides, there are people out there who need you, your energy and your talents. I’ve named just a couple of them above. There are so many more. What are you waiting for? Get going!

Di Chapman, President, Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service (www.dichapman.com) and Chief Communications Officer, Power Connections Inc. Career Management and Executive Outplacement Service (www.powerconnectionsinc.com)

Attitudes That Transcend Platitudes

April 16, 2010

The Enormous Potential of an Uncertain Future

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble

Oh, my goodness. You’ve just made it through tax time… and to top it off, perhaps you’re “in transition” looking for work, or in a job situation that needs to change. Maybe it’s time to pay school tuition, or pick a college. You might be dealing with a health or family issue that is draining your “reserves” of energy, time, and resources. Given one, two, or ALL of the above, it’s perfectly normal to feel stressed, possibly depressed, or absolutely overwhelmed. And, honestly? Platitudes are probably the LAST thing you want to hear.

I understand. But, one thing life has taught me with absolute certainty is that every day holds the potential to create the life you wish to have. Again and again, timeless wisdom tells us that the potential of an uncertain day, an uncertain future, an uncertain circumstance, is unlocked by an attitude of expectation. Every day offers new moments, new hours, and new opportunities that can be full of expectation for a new you – and it starts with attitude.

But don’t take my word for it. History is full of wisdom from those who have gone before us, giving us quotations like the one above. When you need a “shot in the arm” to keep looking for work, or inspiration to “keep your eyes on the ball,” or the mental fortitude to “get up and get going” another day, try to consider the proposition that there is often truth in the platitudes that swirl around us. I’ll take that a step further, and tell you that there is also fruit to bear that goes beyond the direct advice they give…. The platitudes about attitudes are just the beginning. You know, The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And there is always more than one road to your future, or as Lt. General Hal Moore says, “There is always one more thing you can do to influence the situation in your favor.”

As an entrepreneur for most of my adult life, I am a firm believer in the power of expectation. I meet each day with the anticipation that it will bear fruit – whether my time is booked with clients – or not. I expect to make a living each day, and I take it a day at a time. Funny how a “freelance writing and media production” business that started out by taking it one day at a time, hitting the pavement, shaking hands, introducing myself wherever I was, and whenever I could, blazed a trail to … now, over 20 years later. Did I travel in a straight line from “zero to making a living?” Did I create everything I dreamed I would have in the form of stuff? Hardly. So far, my life has dealt me a very trying hand, losing two brothers and both parents at a very young age, having a tumor removed, watching my husband lose his job in this recession, investing in a business that failed, and dealing with a malicious identity theft, just to give you a few examples of some of my own challenges along the way.

I’m acutely aware of how immobilized the events of a lifetime can make you feel, no matter what your age or circumstances. I’ve experienced it myself, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times in others. So, for just a few moments, I’m asking you to suspend your doubts and disbeliefs about the possibilities for good that await you today. I’d like you to withhold your skepticism as you read this, and muster your courage to imagine that your future can hold even a fragment of the dreams you have. Just for now, hear me out. Read on to see some of the ways that I “reset my attitude” on a regular basis. For me, it’s about delivering quality service and products in my business, creating daily happiness, and plain old survival. For you, it could be about something else. Just for now, in this moment, consider a few tips and actions that can make a difference in your life:

  • Set out to give a slice of joy to someone today. Notice I said a “slice.” You don’t have to bite off more than you can chew. Perhaps for you it means a “whisper,” a compliment, a “thank you,” a phone call, an E-mail, or a wildflower. Acknowledge and accept the perspectives of others. We’re all doing the best we can right now, in the “shoes” of our circumstances. If need be, set your ego aside for just one moment and reach out to others; “put yourself in their shoes.” There is something you can offer someone you know or love that won’t cost you a thing. And you know what? It can give you and them the possibility of a new outlook, or infuse your lives with a little optimism. This simple act alone can take your attitudes beyond platitudes.
  • Get out on foot. Take a walk, and say “hello” to everyone you meet along the way. Notice everything, and marvel in the characteristics of your neck of the woods. Is there something you can do to help your neighborhood? Do you know the neighbors around you? Do you know their habits and routines? Admire their canine companions and their efforts to exercise. We Americans have become way too sedentary, and that lack of motion in our lives affects us in more ways than one, physically and mentally. There is a whole world out there, right in your own neighborhood, your own town, and your own city. You won’t see it or experience it any other way but on foot. Taking a walk will clear your head, make you healthy, and introduce you to new friends and new ideas for charting a course to a more healthy and vibrant life.
  • Do your routine tasks in a different way. We are the habits we do every day. Deliberately changing one thing daily can change everything. You’ve heard the platitude “You are what you eat.” Take this to heart literally AND figuratively. Your daily routine keeps you in the place you are NOW. Take a look around you and catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror. Your daily routine has created the images you see. When you learn something new, your brain physiologically changes. When you alter your diet and exercise habits, you reshape your waistline. When you make an effort to listen to someone else’s story, you expand your beliefs and your tolerances. When you take a new route to the market, or venture into a new one altogether, you see things you’ve never seen before. When you visit a coffee shop that’s off your beaten path, you meet new people. When you make new choices, you create a new future.
  • YOU are the architect of your life. There is a famous quotation that is often mistakenly said, “Circumstances make the man.” The actual quotation by James Allen is “Circumstances don’t make the man, they reveal him.” Who you are is attributable in large part to how you have responded to your circumstances. I grew up in a home where my parents loudly opined about all of the politics of our country. As a young adult, I mimicked their words and attitudes boisterously as well. Then one day, with the emergence of a new issue that I felt strongly about, I realized that I could change my opinions if I wanted to. A light bulb literally went off in my head. “Wow. I don’t agree with my parents on this issue. In fact, I don’t agree with their politics at all anymore.” I gave myself permission to change my beliefs in mid-stream, and I’ve never looked back. At my core, I ceased to be the person I was at a young age, and I have taken responsibility for that ever since. My actions reflect who I am.
  • Let yourself EVOLVE with the transformation of a new decision. Make the decision to trust that your life will bring forth a new bounty. You CAN be different than you are now. As human beings it is hard-wired within us to fear the unknown, and to be terrified of change. But, as much as our fears give us comfort because they are what we know, they also bind us tightly, and can imprison us with self-doubt and inaction.

Simple changes in your attitude and routine can affect literally everything about you and bring on a new job, a new relationship, a new outlook, new horizons, new friends, and a new body, just to name a few of the potential benefits. If you take it one day at a time, you can move beyond the platitude “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” and create today, tomorrow, and ultimately your future, what it stands for, and your legacy. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s something worth thinking about.

Di Chapman is founder of Words To Your Advantage, a speaking and writing service; and the Chief Communications Officer for Power Connections Inc., an executive career management and outplacement company. Her website is www.dichapman.com.

“The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time”

March 22, 2010

No offense, but this line from the country western song says it better than any beautifully crafted phrase. It’s bad enough that you’re on the street, pounding the pavement again after a lifetime of executive achievement, constant promotion, and picking and choosing between “cherry” offers. Your entire career flowed uninterrupted  as it paved an impressive trajectory right into … now. And, honestly? You need to face it. The year 2010 could be the year when you get a job offer that is “less than perfect” than what you had in mind.

Look, I know this totally sucks. Truth be told, if you are one of the elite FEW in this world who are independently wealthy; if you can be comfortably retired due to careful financial planning throughout your working years; or if you have just decided “To heck with it, I’m dropping out of this rat race,” perhaps you can just sit this one out. But, if you’re reading this column, chances are you need to work to support yourself and your family. And that means you might just want to consider offers you would have laughed at before 2008, 2009, or 2010.

So, perhaps the primer below will help you adjust your perspective on the jobs you consider before you dismiss any that don’t “fit” into the neat little package that you call “your career.” In almost everything we do in life, there is almost always more than one way to achieve a desired end. Your job hunt is no exception. This is not the time to stubbornly turn down flat job offers. If you’re having a hard time right now believing this, perhaps some talking points might help you adopt a new attitude and a new plan:

  • Did you get an offer that is not what your idea of a “future” was? Not the right company name you had planned to put on your resume? Not the image you had in mind? Let’s be straight about this. Tell yourself it’s time to take a new perspective on the number of ways you can accomplish a goal and move toward your future.
  • Get over yourself! The events surrounding your job loss and subsequent search for your next opportunity are not all about you. No sir. No ma’am. Your job hunt is about you, your family, your community, your peers, and your contributions to all of them; and theirs to you. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do to remain a member of the team and get back in the game. So, get over it! Moping, isolating, or snapping at those you love is extremely unproductive, so start anew each day and with each interview. If you get an offer, look at the glass as half full. Then, figure out a way to completely fill it.
  • Set your ego aside. No matter with whom you interview or for what, your unemployed status is not someone else’s problem. So, act politely and graciously toward every interview and every offer. You’re not a gang member or schoolyard bully. No arrogance or cynicism, or criticism is allowed of anyone you meet during the interview process. Act like a grown-up and mind your manners.
  • Listen to advice from those you know well. If you’re a displaced senior management executive, this one can be very tough, but friends, peers, and even family members might be able to point out some things about job offers that will help you make your decision.
  • Consider ALL offers. Show genuine appreciation and thanks to everyone who interviews you or meets you for coffee during this period of your life. You’re in good company right now. Believe it or not, we’re all doing the best we can, and hoping for the best for our future, even the one who’s interviewing you for a job. We’re all in this together.

Once you’re back in the swing of a new job, your entire picture will change. Your esteem and confidence will pick back up. More importantly, you’ll once again be sitting at the lunch table with the guys who are employed, and there is tremendous power in that.

For now, remember that the only thing truly certain in life is that things will change, no matter who you are. Terrifying as that may seem at a time like this, it also holds great promise. Taking an offer for a job that might not be the one of your dreams is not necessarily the end of the road. It could be a portal to a future that holds more than you ever imagined.

Diane Y. Chapman, Founder and President, Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service; and Chief Communications Officer, Power Connections Career Management, Coaching and Transitions Service

Success is Never Final

March 15, 2010

We welcome an expert Career Coach with this TDJH Tip Tactic post, and are delighted that she has chosen to publish her valuable advice with us here at The Daily Job Hunt. Julie LaCroix, M.A. Ed., CMP, has been following along with The Daily Job Hunt twitter tips since the beginning of the year, and has sent me feedback and wisdom that I’d like to start sharing with you. We’ll start with her comments about how being “in transition,” i.e., unemployed but looking, is an excellent time to do some soul-searching and a reality check. Here are Julie’s thoughts:

Do you really think this is the last time you will be faced with being in transition?

This transition is not your last, so make the most of it. Use this transition as an opportunity to do the hard work to create a differentiation platform for yourself now, so you have something to build on next time.

Once you dive deep into your experiences to pull out your passions and expertise, you have defined your brand. In hunting for your next job, be sure you are positioning yourself to build on those. Make this work count. Make sure you can build on what you already know and love and are good at. Look for roles in organizations that will enhance the brand you have developed. Here are some ideas:

– In the transition process, have you learned that you are really good at working with large sets of data? Then be sure you are developing expertise in your new job that enhances the use of technology.

– In the transition process, you have realized that you don’t really like to manage people? Look for a job that allows you to manage processes instead.

– Are you an IT project leader with a combined skillset of aggressive project management, yet a collaborative leadership style? Look for a CEO who is looking for rapid change, but will allow you to manage the project autonomously.

Keeping your expertise in mind, your next job can help even further develop your brand.

Develop your brand now. Build on it during your next job. Have a powerful branding message ready to launch for your next transition; you may have developed a strong and successful brand for yourself, but it won’t be your final one.

Julie LaCroix, M.A. Ed., CMP, Career Management Consultant and Coach, Power Connections Executive Career Management and Outplacement Services