The Harsh Truth About Your “Dream” Job

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SHOW DATE: MAY 21, 2014

We were inspired by an article we read recently in The New York Times by Gordon Marino, “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’.”

In a nutshell, it discussed the culture shift that has been taking place for the past 20-30 years that created this mentality that you’re a failure or sellout if you’re not following your passions into your professional life.

Example: if you love music, and you were applauded as a child for your musical abilities, you are a failure if you’re not a rockstar, or a sound engineer, or working in digital rights marketing.

We want to blow up this destructive paradigm.

You’re destroying your happiness and your power at work because you’re stuck in this mindset that you’ve failed at life if you aren’t working as a poet, or musician, or writer, or lawyer, or whatever you’ve been applauded for as a kid.

But it’s not all black and white. We understand.

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There’s not a day that goes by where Auntie Evan, whether helping kids get into college as a private guidance counselor or talking smack on the radio, where he doesn’t feel that his current position is maybe an excuse for not becoming the performer he always wanted to be.

It took Auntie Evan many years to get past the “I’m not going to be a famous writer, performer, director” phase. Just the other day, Auntie Evan was in Florida visiting his mom and her friends. One of them went up to him and said, “I always thought you were going to be a famous actor.” She didn’t mean to be hurtful, but ouch.

If you feel this way about your job, we’ve got news for you: you can’t get more money, and you certainly can’t get a promotion if you’re the miserable person who wears her ”failure” on her sleeve.

Would your boss really trust you if he knew that every day you were itching to get out of work and take that audition, or finish that certification?

Good news. We can help you get out of this destructive mentality.

Shift your thoughts from performing for yourself and those around you and start focusing on fulfillment. What fulfills you? What is your true calling? It might surprise you, but this might be something you haven’t paid much attention to because you were wrapped up in performing for others, or what others told you you were good at.

You still have that childhood idea of fulfillment and it’s killing you.

If you’re latched on to that one thing that fulfills you, you’re missing the point. There are many things in life that can be fulfilling.

First, make a list of what you can and cannot live without. Next, pinpoint what fulfills you in your current job, whether it’s creating things, security, money, leading, making an impact or working with your hands.

Consider the possibility that an auto mechanic who loves working with his hands and who has a shop two blocks away from his family can be more fulfilled than a starving ex-optometrist musician doing free gigs at the back of a Chuck-E-Cheese. Just consider it.

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When Taking Initiative Bites You in the ***

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SHOW DATE: MAY 7, 2014

We were watching the news about Obama’s recent jump on the climate change awareness wagon. The real kicker? Environmentalists are still not pleased.

Yep, Obama got slapped on the wrist by the same people who were supposed to be his allies. He also got slapped by those who weren’t behind the issue, but we all knew that was coming.

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We can totally relate.

Job Talk Daily always rants and raves about taking initiative at all times. And that makes sense: if you want to be a leader, if you want to get promoted, you need to take initiative. Plain and simple. But sometimes taking initiative can bite you in the ass.

This can happen just as easily at home as on the job. Uncle David, who has a chronic habit on putting aside household chores, recently decided to take initiative. Instead of passing by a carton of spoiled milk like he usually would, he threw it away and told Auntie Evan about his accomplishment. Auntie Evan, of course, was infuriated. The milk was about to be returned to the store in exchange for cash.

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While this example of initiative is on a microcosmic scale, this happens all the time in the work environment.

We’re here you take through initiative the right way. If you’re going to put your foot forward, keep these precautions in mind:

1) Don’t feel like you’re doing someone a favor. You’re not going to get a pat on the back. Just doing something and thinking you’ll get rewarded for it is a dangerous mentality and can do more harm than good. You’re not doing a chore for your mom, you’re being a leader.

2) Always ask the questions you need to ask, don’t make surprises. Initiative and surprise should be mutually exclusive in your vocabulary. Start off by telling people the plan. At least then they have a chance to give you feedback. Part of taking initiative is preparing people for this great change you’re undertaking.

3) Taking initiative may not always come through. You have to be willing to dust yourself off and start over. At the end of the day, you’re taking a gamble. (But you’re taking less of a gamble if you ask questions first.)

Initiative is not ambush. Because that’s what it feels like when you come out of nowhere with unapproved changes. Let the other party participate in the transformation. Being a lone wolf, and saying “look at me, look what I did” makes you look like a brown noser, not a job hero.

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Fire of the Week: Justin Bieber

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 12, 2014

Bieber’s body guard was recently sued for beating a photographer.

He was called in as a witness, and, of course, his usual disposition garnered some hyena journalism.

This isn’t anything new. The reason why he’s our fire is that his attitude reminds of the countless young employees we’ve seen and worked with over the years.

These are workers in their early-to-late 20s who cross their arms and attempt to make themselves feel better by putting up a cocky front when their actions are being reprimanded.

Young professionals need to grow up (and grow a pair) and take the high road and listen before they get ego-hurt.

Feeling “Right” In Your Work Attire is More Important than Being Fashionable

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We recently read a fascinating article by Anne Hollander, author of Sex and Suits.

She discussed common subjects such as what you’re supposed to wear if you are in fashion or marketing or whatever. This was not the interesting point.

What caught our eye was when she wrote that people are more at ease and comfortable when they are dressed for a specific context.

Depending on the milieu you’re in, the clothing you wear has to be appropriate in the context you’re in. Well, duhhhh you’re thinking, what’s so interesting about that; after all, if you’re a garbage man you wear a sanitation uniform, if you’re a broker you wear a suit.

But within that realm of appropriateness, you need to find the style you feel most comfortable in.

Let’s say you work at an investment bank. You figure, suit and tie. You still have to wear the appropriate dress code, but you don’t have to don an Italian suit like the other bankers. In fact, if you’re not comfortable with the trend, don’t follow it. Wear a Hugo Boss.

Don’t follow the crowd. You will get promoted and get more money if you are at ease and more comfortable at work. Just stay within the universe of what’s appropriate.

 

Hire of the Week: Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford

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What does it mean to get your hands dirty for your job?

Take congressman Hartford as an example. He worked a day as a UPS worker to get a feel for the average laborer.

Yes, we know a (sizable) motivation behind the stint was to get favorable press coverage. But now Hartford actually has substance behind his representation: he’s experienced minimum wage work while most other politicians haven’t.

The same goes for a sales rep. Trying out your client’s job–called “shadowing”–gives your pitch real substance. After all, you’ve done what they’ve done, so you must know what’s best for them.

 

 

 

IS COLLEGE WORTH IT? GOOGLE’S BOCK SAYS NOT REALLY–WE SAY BS

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 26, 2014

We were reading a Thomas L. Friedman opinion article yesterday in the New York Times regarding the shocking statistic Google’s Senior VP for People Operations Laszlo Bock threw out about their employee pool: Google has teams where 14% of the group doesn’t have a college degree.

Bock said that college degrees aren’t necessarily vital for getting a job. We say that’s bullshit.

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We get what Bock’s saying about putting technical skill over an official document.

At the end of the day, though, you have to understand the breadth of the world, the history of World War II, how to speak another language and what to make of Leaves of Grass to bring that creativity to the workplace.

No matter what happens in life, you’ll have an easier time transitioning from job to job with a college degree.

We can’t tell you how many people have written Auntie Evan about Bock’s comments. What most of us have come to believe is that having a college degree is a $200,000 expense that doesn’t serve anybody.

It’s a big commitment, we get it. There’s a multitude of ways to tackle the money problem from a financial aid standpoint, but that’s another article entirely.

Thing is, Auntie Evan can spot a person without a college degree a mile away. Do you need to have a degree to be in sales? Of course not. But when you’re sitting across from a marketing major and they’re talking about Sophocles or they’re reading the paper about a problem with the whip (a political party’s assistant leader), and you’ve never taken a class on ancient playwrights or political science, it shows in your presentation.

How is a political science degree going to help you sell a house? If you can’t be dynamic, on your feet and ready to adapt to any subject or conversation on a sales job in order to better connect with your potential customer, you’re going to fall behind as a salesman. Or as anyone else, for that matter.

This is not true for everybody, of course. We’re just saying having a college degree is going to bump you up in any job you’re going to take on.

On the Flip Side…

You may not need to have a degree. Are we contradicting ourselves? No. We want to look at the flip side and assess for whom a college degree is unnecessary.

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College made Uncle David’s entire life. Yet, he understands that college, for many people, is a drain on their finances, their resources and their life.

What got Uncle David excited about the Bock interview was that Google doesn’t look at GPAs and standardized test score exclusively anymore; they look at leadership, humility, flexibility—they’d rather have somebody on their job who’s a flexible thinker and who can adapt to changing circumstances than somebody with a high GPA.

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Now, granted that some positions don’t exclusively look at your diploma, let’s get back to a real world example: Tom, one of our star essay coaches at Forster-Thomas, got a degree in theater and later in film and went on to be in the television. He didn’t necessarily need his degree, but when he was out of a job he came to Forster-Thomas and excelled—he was able to think laterally on his feet and came to us with a stack of innovative ideas and potential products for the company.

We say it’s his liberal arts degree that helped him bring so many new ideas to the table. It’s the same story with our office manager, Roberto. He knows how to speak to people, how to sell, how to present in front of a room full of clients—and it’s thanks to his theater degree.

Our conclusion? Don’t go for the dropout life. Take the high road and become a better employee in the process.

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If you decide to go the path of college-less digital vagabond-ism, here is more info about Enstitute, where entrepreneurs (most of whom didn’t get a college degree) are apprenticed by mentors as they work together to get their startups in full gear.

 

 

Sex with co-workers is OK, as long as…

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 19, 2014

Sex with Employees?

Having sex with your co-workers; it gets you all tingly just reading it.

You know you do it, you know you wanna do it and you know you’ve done it before.

We say go for it. You go girl. You go boy. Do it and have fun. It doesn’t matter, AS LONG as you’re performing at an Olympic level at your job (and hopefully in bed). It’s a release, it’s necessary and it’s healthy. When you’re working as hard as you are, a cathartic fling will keep you from crashing. There are some points to seriously consider before you get nasty, though, which we’ll list later.

The topic comes up after an influx of media coverage revolving around the hook up stories in Sochi. Gold medalist Jamie Anderson even deleted her Tinder app because it was too distracting.

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And it’s not only sex. You can freely speak your mind, be outrageous, really push the edge of a “work personality” when you’re giving you’re A-game day after day. Few can question your more “out there” actions or your free disposition when you’re working your ass off and doing amazing things.

Bottom line, if you’re the Jamie Anderson at your job, go for it. If you’re making it rain money and everybody’s lives are better because of your work M.O., do it. Maybe some little nothing may turn around and say something—don’t worry. When you’re great at what you do, their words won’t carry far.

Gearing Up Emotionally

The only office flings go wrong, even if you’re both Olympic-level employees, is when one person wants it and the other doesn’t. You have to understand there’s a cap on this game. The person that gets called out is the one who’s freaking out that they’re not getting it anymore.

That means being a mature adult and moving on when it’s over. This is VITAL if you want things to go smoothly afterwards. Keep in mind 15% of office hook ups blossom into long-term relationships. 85% don’t.

Emotionally gear up to move on fast if you’re thinking of hooking up, or don’t do it at all. Keep it on the down low and be satisfied with the good sex you had along the way and then look for your release elsewhere. Myriad office hook ups go sour because one of the employees got too emotionally hung up on the other. People might talk, they might talk, just be prepared.

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Now, if your office has rules about this—yes, actual veritable rules that explicitly state “no employee relations”—you are risking your job, no matter how well you perform.

And try to avoid sleeping with managers and bosses (anyone directly above you, for that matter), or employees you’re managing yourself. It only makes the field more prone to drama.

Sex in the Office?

Now comes the more deliciously nefarious question: you have the keys to the office, you know when the boss is out… do you do it?

For some employees, such as our office manager who lives with three other roommates, bringing someone back home is not always an option. Worst comes to worst, and keeping to the fact that you’re performing at your best on the job, try it. Once. Just be slick about it. To quote Auntie Evan, “if you ain’t slick, don’t use your…”

But we don’t encourage it. Just like you don’t eat where you defecate—or worse, vice versa—you want to keep the office (and its tables) strictly for job-related tasks.

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And yes, if you really want to know, our office manager has indeed done the dirty at our office. Listen to last Wednesday’s Job Talk radio show here, where he describes the experience—and hear some of our callers talk about their hot flings as well.

FYI, we are now on livestream, so you can see what we’re up to during peak hours—unfortunately, this is strictly professional, so no webcam material. Just our office manager’s handsome face.

Joke of the Year – I’m in charge!

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I’m in charge!

All the organs of the body were having a meeting, trying to decide who was in charge. “I should be in charge”, said the brain, “because I run all the body’s systems, so without me nothing would happen”.

“I should be in charge”, said the blood, “because I circulate oxygen all over, so without me you’d all waste away”.

“I should be in charge”, said the stomach, “because I process food and give all of you energy”.

“I should be in charge”, said the rectum, “because I’m responsible for waste removal”.

All the other body parts laughed at the rectum and insulted him, so in a huff, he shut down tight.

Within a few days, the brain had a terrible headache, the stomach was bloated, and the blood was toxic.

Eventually the other organs gave in. They all agreed that the rectum should be the boss.

The moral of the story?

You don’t have to be smart or important to be in charge … just an asshole.

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Why Coming Out At Work is So Important

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The other day on “Job Talk,” Uncle David told a story about coming out during a final job interview in the 90s during the Internet boom. The company was called Deja.com and the job was to basically be the automobile section editor. If memory serves, the site did something like rate and rank products—like Consumer Reports. Needless to say, it was a very testosterone-driven environment. Though it was based in New York City, this was still pre-partner privileges and pre-gay marriage—and boys will be boys, be it in TriBeCa, Tinseltown, or in Texas circa now.

On air, David told me how scared he was when I demanded that he go in and require domestic partner benefits—like health insurance—for me.

While I might have had right on my side, he had fear ripping through his. I never knew it at the time. Why? Because I don’t have my own “coming out at work” story. Why? Have ya met me?! At the risk of stereotyping myself, I am by all standards a little cliché—three snaps up and all.

So everywhere I ever worked, one of two things was true: You either just knew, or you were a moron. On the other hand, unless Uncle David is going on and on about Night of a Thousand Stevies or American Horror Story: Coven (both involving his beloved Welsh Witch Stevie Nicks), he can pretty much pass for straight. (He fooled his ex-girlfriend—for years, that beotch. #IWillCutHer.)

But being able to “pass” didn’t help him, his team at Deja, or later at Individual Investor magazine. I feel horrible that he was scared, but being the elegant, powerful man that he is, he looked across the radio booth at me and said “Thank you. Thank you for pushing me to come out at work, whatever the reason.” He went on to say that in that moment during the interview, everything shifted—for him. Turned out, the boss didn’t care and, in the years that followed, he would often ask David about me… just like any co-worker might ask about a wife.

What a shock! Gays are people too. And everyone needs to be able to share a little bit of the personal during the professional. After all, work and life collide. It’s just that simple. Mixing the personal and the professional makes for better teams, coworkers, and companies. It makes the bottom line better for everyone.  Even me. Uncle David got promotion after promotion, recommendation after recommendation, and went to the next job out and proud. (And he bought me a condo in Brooklyn.)

Here are some reasons why it’s so important to come out at work:

  1. Honesty is the best policy. One lie just leads to three. How long can you keep coming up with reasons not to be fixed up with the boss’s niece when you’re currently dating his nephew? How do you keep that story together? And why are you and Paul constantly hanging out on the weekends? Why did you both show up at the rodeo together—without dates? What a tangled web we weave, etc., Shakespeare quote yadayada. It’s just tiring. Isn’t your job hard enough? Do you really need to moonlight as a different person?
  2. Worry time eats up work time. If you’re worried, you can’t do your job well. As Wayne Dyer said: “…The activity of worrying keeps you immobilized.” (Who’s Wayne Dyer? I don’t know, but thank you Google.) Whoever he is, his words ring true.
  3. When you come out, everybody comes out. About everything. There will be a giant sigh of relief among your coworkers, your project team, the boss. And then everyone can get out of your business and attend to the business of doing business. That means mo’ money fo’ everyone.
  4. The life you save may not be your own. One of your coworkers is struggling with this too. It may even be your boss. Yes, just like NFL football players, bosses are gay people too. And what if your coming out meant your boss had someone he or she could talk to? Now who’s getting promoted? Jews keep it in the family, so do Asians, so do African-Americans—why not LGBTI? #sorrynotsorry

I get it. It’s not New York City everywhere—not even in NYC. And not everyone’s gonna be okay with it. You might be living in Baytown, Texas, where Uncle David grew up—and you might be a middle-school teacher in a very Christian world where being gay is something that can be “cured.” (Homophobia is far from over.) I know you’re afraid you’re going to get fired. And that’s a real concern. But that’s when bravery comes into this picture. There’s a little boy or girl in that class or in your town who needs you to be brave so that they don’t end up as the one in five teens who commit suicide because he’s gay (or has a brother who’s gay). You might have just given rise to the next Michael Sam—especially in Texas.

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– Auntie Evan

Follow Auntie Evan on Twitter: @AuntieEvanSays

Hear Auntie Evan on the radio: Job Talk Daily Live 

FIRE/HIRE OF THE WEEK: COPENHAGEN ZOO DIRECTOR BENGT HOLST

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Every week, Auntie Evan and Uncle David scour the news to find a Hire or Fire of the Week. Hires display impeccable aplomb and go above and beyond what they’re expected to do on the job. Fires do the opposite. Tune in every week to see who’s getting Hired or Fired next.

SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 12, 2014

Our hire and fire of the week is Bengt Holst, Copenhagen Zoo director, who allowed the autopsy of a giraffe in front of a live audience, subsequently feeding the remains to the zoo’s lions.

Naturally, animal rights groups went ballistic and Holt was showered with death threats.

He responded by claiming that if it was a pig, nobody would have lifted an eyebrow.

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But it wasn’t a pig. Holst didn’t think through how others would perceive the autopsy, and, as a consequence, his job (and technically his life) is now threatened. You have to consider how others will perceive your actions on the job before you act on them.

Truth be told, Holst is also our hire of the week.

The display was meant to show children the more visceral and non-Disney side of nature. He put real-world education above the threat of controversy.

Sometimes taking risks on the job under the threat of scrutiny will make you stand out from tepid co-workers who always play it safe. But there’s a thin line between smart risks and getting fired.