The One Thing We Don’t Want to Admit About Elliot Rodgers

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SHOW DATE: MAY 28, 2014

Elliot Rodgers, who killed 6 people and injured 7 more near the University of California on a shooting spree, has left us thinking.

It’s disturbing what Rodgers did. But we get angry too. Really angry. And we fantasize about doing things to our co-workers.

Truth is, there’s a little bit of Elliot Rodgers in all of us. And if we don’t acknowledge this, our negative thoughts will fester, take form, and boil over

Elliot was indeed insane on some level. But we all daydream in the office, we all have that little bit of psycho. Everyone gets to a place in their heads where they get fed up. Dan Savage, the popular sex columnist and podcaster, admitted that the Columbine massacre was terrible. But, as a gay man in high school, he admits that if he had a gun, he wouldn’t know what he would have done.

We’re half-sane, and we’re not looking to hurt anyone physically, but we do sometimes rage. We do get angry. We get crazy inside and we want to do things to hurt people, verbally.

It’s not just about pulling out a gun. It’s the gossip we tell behind people’s backs, the lives we destroy by stealing jobs, spreading rumors, ruining careers. There’s a lot of ways we Elliot-Roger people.

To just sit and avoid the issue that you have a little bit of crazy, to watch the news and dismiss the fact that you have a bit of Elliot Rodgers in you, is just letting that anger grow.

It’s easy not to take anything away from this debacle, to say “I’ll never pick up a gun and point it at a human being.”

But we lash out and make mistakes all the time.

How can you stop your own version of Elliot Rodgers?

Here’s a few quick tips to quell that top before it blows:

1) Ask somebody else to speak to the co-worker: Don’t rely on this one too much. But if you’re overly emotional and can’t think straight because you’re mad at your co-worker, ask a third-party to intervene. Get them to send a moderate response over email, or get them to talk to the co-worker in person. You’re doing two things here: you’re letting go of your ego by not proving how “wrong” the other person is, and you’re allowing yourself time to cool.

2) Rehearse what you will say out loud: “You’re an asshole.” Sounds better in your head, doesn’t it? Now look at your face as you say it in the mirror. Rehearsing out loud is always a great indicator of whether what you’re about to incur more fury than pacify the conflict.

3) Wait a day or two: Let yourself cool for a day or two and you’ll find the issue losing importance in your mind. In the moment you’re crazed. Two days later you forget what you were even angry about.

Elliot Rodgers felt like the world was unfair to him. We feel like that in the workplace sometimes. Acknowledge it. Shine light on it. Don’t keep it in and let it fester, or it’ll end up hurting you and those around you.

Top 10 Mom Habits That Translate To Stellar Job Skills

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Motherhood gives you all the skills you need to lead (or get a job).

Today one of my best friends told me that she does not have a job. I’ll call her Olivia. For recognize-ability’s sake. Each day, this single mum (she’s a Brit) wakes up at dawn, makes sure her two boys are up, makes their lunch, organizes their after-school schedule, makes sure they are clean and pressed (well maybe not) and heads them off to the subway, like the postman neither snow, nor sleet, nor—you get the point—she gets the job done.

Then Olivia returns home to make sure their finances are in order by running an in-home office so she can greet them in the afternoon and make their dinner, help them with something called Algebra and Earth Science, make their dinner, order them off the TV—six times—and wrestle them to bed, teeth cleaned, bodies scrubbed. But she says she doesn’t have a job.

Here are some other things Olivia does:

  1. Negotiates. They are always trying to manipulate bed time, play time and homework.
  2. Teaches communication skills: Please and thank you, say hello to your neighbors and write thank-you notes. (I think that’s called employee development.)
  3. Admits when she is wrong. “Maybe slapping him across the face was a bad idea. I will go and apologize.” (I did not claim she was perfect) And sometimes, as Auntie Evan always says: “Sometimes ya gotta be a bitch.” All top leaders know this.
  4. Responsibility: Admitting to who, when, and where he lost his retainer and makes sure he’s the one to find it.
  5. Is willing to be “the bad guy.” No, you may not stay up past 10.
  6. Is a role model: Shows up on time and also hangs out with cool, gay people like me.
  7. Takes them to foreign countries to understand and interact with other cultures. (Again, I think that’s called employee development.)
  8. Does her best not to speak ill of bizarre family members—like their father.
  9. Talks about them behind their backs (lot’s of bosses do that to let off steam)
  10. Asks for advice on childrearing from friends and professionals like teachers. (Sometimes she even listens)

So, in short, I’d say she has a job that teaches her all of the skills a leader needs to have. I wonder if we can hire her at Forster-Thomas Inc.? Why—because above all else, she is passionate about what she does!

–Uncle David

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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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The One Thing Sterling Got Right

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SHOW DATE: MAY 14, 2014

The whole Donald Sterling issue is bugging us.

We get it, we know how it feels to be put down for being a minority.

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While all the energy is being put on hating this senile old man, who’s clearly a moron, there’s one little thing he got right: help your community.

Donald has a point when he says Jewish people help their people underneath.

This begs the question: what’s good for the community and what’s good for you?

If you’re a minority, and you’re in a world where your people have difficulty getting a job, and you’re in a position of influence, help them. You become known as a networker that helps people get jobs. Not only are you raising your own standing in your community, you have a better chance of being helped by someone above you as well.

It’s easy to beat Sterling up. He’s a target you can’t miss. But there’s something to learn from his remark. When you can bring in a team of hard-working people that you know and can identify with, you’re going to be seen as a rainmaker in your community and in your office.

Sounds like segmentation, like Auntie Evan is being a separatist, doesn’t it? Jews hire Jews. Black people hire black people. Women hire women. Gays hire gays.

Here’s the fine print: if you’re sitting there with two equally capable people, and one of them is a person who you identify with and who’s had difficulty getting jobs in the past, hire them.

Don’t get caught up in your anger like those raving against Sterling, or you’ll start sounding like that crazy gender studies professor. We’re called Job Talk, not Identity Talk. We’re here to help you excel at getting a job, and one of the ways you can do that (all things being equal) is to help (and be helped) by the people in your community.

Take away the sole thing Sterling got right and look into your world and find someone you can help.

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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Stop Complaining About Your Job – You’re Not Selling Tangerines in China

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I’ve been traipsing through Asia over the past month—it’s one of those hybrid trips; a little work, a little play, a lot of airports, security checks, and death-defying taxi rides. For a hybrid trip, it turned out to be a lot more work than I expected. As much as I love meeting potential new clients and creating new business opportunities abroad—I have to say, holding yet another meeting while Beijing’s Forbidden City beckons through the window, unexplored, just sucks. Sometimes, I just hate being on the job.

After two weeks of more work, less play, Uncle David and I made to Yangshuo—a tourist town just south of Guilin, China, where the Li and Yulong Rivers meet.

Arriving in Yangshuo wasn’t as relaxing as we’d hoped. The “Shangri-La” hotel that Uncle David booked turned out to be Shangri-Less-Than-We-Could-Tolerate. This beaten-down hostel with no Wifi would have been charming, even adventurous with its breathtaking view of Yangzhou’s karsts mountains and jade green rice paddies (water buffalo included). But I’m not 25. This began our search for a new hotel as the sun set and the brownout flickered.

Two hours later, I finally found myself sitting in the Imperial Suite in the center of Yangshuo. Trust me, this isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. I didn’t feel like an Empress, I felt bedraggled, cheated, beaten-down, and angry at my life.

Then David pulled the curtain back in our air conditioned room to view the hopping nightlife on West Street—and there she was. A 60-year-old woman sitting by herself selling tangerines on a tourist-trap street at 10pm. She was bored out of her mind. Dozens of tourists walked past her without so much as a glance in. Still, she never stopped working. At her feet were two stacks of red plastic take-away bags. To the left, they were crunched up; to the right, they were expertly folded. I watched her carefully and neatly take a minute to fold each as if she were handling an Hermes scarf. She was clearly creating busywork to occupy her mind. Or was it pride of ownership? Whatever it was, anger wasn’t part of it.

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I watched her on and off until midnight, and I couldn’t take it anymore: Out of respect for her diligence and commitment—not to mention my own OCD appreciation for her folding skills—I ran downstairs, and purchased more tangerines than I could eat in a week. I think I spent about 12 yuan, or $2.

The next night, threading my way through a packed pedestrian street, I saw another woman. She was selling assorted fruit—bananas, oranges, passion fruit—on a woven-bamboo plate. People were pressing past her, annoyed, like she was the car clogging the expressway. But the way she kept the fruit neatly organized on that plate every time someone jostled it struck me again: pride of ownership. I will never know if she loves or hates her life, but one thing was obvious: nothing stopped her, she wasn’t complaining, she was doing her job the best she could. I bought another bundle of fruit I’d never finish.

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The next day, Uncle David and I trekked 800 steps (that felt like 8000) up to the scenic vista called Moon Hill. We’re not in bad shape, but by the time we could get to the top, I was so sweaty and bedraggled I refused to let Uncle David memorialize the climb on his camera. The view was amazing, but my eye went straight for an elderly woman hunched protectively over a Styrofoam cooler filled with cold water bottles and Coca-Cola. I don’t know if I’ve met a happier person in China or anywhere. After I bought a bottle, she shoved a tattered journal into my hand and grinned ear to ear (bless all four of her teeth). The journal was full of notes and blessings from travelers worldwide. “Never thought I’d climb a mountain and find a 70-year-old woman at the top selling water!” said one, dated several years earlier. “Zheng climbs these 800 steps every day! God bless her.”

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I admit—I’m a job complainer. Nobody thanks me enough, nobody appreciates me enough, I don’t get paid enough, I work too hard, my colleagues don’t understand, my mother doesn’t respect what I do…this is just the beginning of my list.

So, encountering these three women blew my mind. I can’t begin to compare what they go through on a daily basis to the ease, support, compensation, and appreciation I receive just for making it to work on a Monday. Not to mention the break I get most nights and weekends. Or the simple fact that I could consider taking a week off in Yangshuo between business trips in Beijing and Shanghai with my husband.

The change was immediate: stop complaining! Sometimes the wifi won’t work. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want—in work and in life. I wanted to scratch my own eyes out the next day when Uncle David, beaming with childlike excitement, grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s go to the Chinese Nibble Fish Spa!” Nothing sounded worse to me in that moment than dunking my feet into a nasty aquarium (who knows how many people had been there that day) and let freaky frenzied fish nibble the dead skin from the soles of my feet. I could feel the complaints start to bubble up. I knew the drill: I would agree to go with David and do whatever stupid thing he was excited about today, and then complain the entire time. Misery loves company, and I can sometimes be a bit aggressive making sure those around me are as miserable as I am. But why do that to Uncle David? Why ruin it for him? In fact, why ruin it for myself?

That’s when I realized that the decision to have fun or be miserable was all in my head. I white-knuckled it, stuck my feet in the water, and turned around my whole attitude. I ended up having a great time and very soft feet.

We’re still in Yangshuo, and one of the clients we’ll be meeting next week in Shanghai just wrote and asked us to meet him at his favorite bagel restaurant—about an hour out of our way. Oh God. That was the last thing I wanted to do. Didn’t he understand that I didn’t know the Shanghai subway system and would probably get lost? Did he really think that a New Yorker who regularly eats the best bagels in the world would care about some knockoff Shanghai version? Or was this all an ego trip, to see how far out of my way I’d go to get his business?

Wow—I hadn’t even left China and I’d already forgotten the lesson of the three Chinese vendors. I’d forgotten how much fun I ended up having with the nibble fish. So I decided to change my iPhone screensaver to Zheng up on Moon Hill. Now I’m reminded of how to live a complaint-free life every time my phone rings.

I get that your life sucks sometimes. Like me, you are certain that no one respects your work and you’re annoyed that your family wants to go to Six Flags, when all you want to do is kick back. It’s so easy to complain, so easy to ruin the moment. So enjoy the three pictures I posted here. Put one up on your monitor at work. Put another up on your bathroom mirror. Put the final one in your wallet—and next time your spouse is excited to do something you aren’t, or your boss wants you to work overtime, or your mom complains you don’t call her enough—just look at one of these pictures. Remember what an amazing life you have. Be thankful, take pride of ownership—because only you own your life, and only you can sell yourself out to complaints, anger, and regret.

–Auntie Evan

The Secret to Sticking to Life-Changing Resolutions

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SHOW DATE: APRIL 30, 2014

We just got back from an amazing Asia trip, and it’s helped us get a new look on life and work.

We’re here to help you get a new perspective on yours.

The great thing about cathartic getaways is, whether you’re lying on the beach looking up at the stars or immersed in an entirely different culture, it really shakes up your life perspective.

On the plane from China, Auntie Evan made some serious resolutions (including no more wheat; gluten-free baby!). The decision that really stuck out, however, was his promise to stop complaining on the job.

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How did he reach such a drastic resolution?

After the beautiful Dr. Seussian Silver Cave in Yangzhou, Auntie Evan and Uncle David get to their hotel room overlooking the town and nightlife.

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Auntie Evan looked out the window and spotted this elderly Chinese woman folding plastic bags, slowly, one after another. From the left she took unfolded bags and laid them out neatly on the right, selling tangerines on the side for 5 cents a dozen.

After two hours, she was still there. After dinner, she was still there. She’s there for 12 hours a day.

And here Auntie Evan is complaining about not enough stamps in the office. In retrospect, his life is amazing, and so he decided to give up complaining about the petty things.

But Uncle David was immediately skeptical, curious how Auntie Evan is going to make this stick.

So we called up Roberto, our office manager at Forster-Thomas, on the show. After a hearty laugh, Roberto told Auntie Evan: “In the last 24 hours I wanted to murder you so many times.”

The latest Auntie Evan complaint? A newly broken lock on the file cabinet.

The lesson? When you overlook the 1000 things your co-workers, employees or interns do for you and focus on the single tiny thing that wasn’t done right, it makes those around you at work (and life) question if they’re actually good at their job, and it makes them question if they really want to work there in the first place.

That’s not the message you want to send people.

We get that creating real change in your life is not easy. But we’ve got a streamlined process for anybody who has a resolution or wants to change their behavior and stick with it:

1) First off, keep that moment that first inspired you to jump into action alive (Auntie Evan took a photo of Folding Bag Woman).

2) Empower someone to keep you on track and call you out when you derail.

3) You can’t make the person you give power regret their role by punishing them every time they tell you what you told them to tell you (read that over).

Have people around you act as a support system and let yourself be helped. That life-changing resolution will stick.

Sure Signs That You Need a Vacation NOW

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 26, 2014

Your body might be telling you that you need a vacation ASAP.

We read an interesting article by Inc.com’s Jeff Haden, where Haden interviewed Jeremiah Bishop, a pro mountain bike racer.

Bishop, being a high-performance athlete, knows his body really well. He gave some excellent indicators that you may need a vacation NOW:

1) Check your emotions: if you’re having emotional mood swings that put you out of character, that’s one sign you need a vacation.

2) Check your weight: Bishop says that if you’re having 1% swings in your weight per day, you’re in trouble. Your weight fluctuations are a sign you need to stop stressing and haul your ass to the nearest plane.

2) Check your urine: as a village drunk once said: “The piss is in the details!” If your body is exasperated, you tend to get dehydrated more often, which causes your urine to be darker.

 

Co-Worker on Vacation? Time to Prove Your Mettle

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 26, 2014

If your co-worker or supervisor is going on vacation, let your evil side come out and use the their absence as a way to get a promotion.

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Did we say evil? We meant EFFECTIVE.

It doesn’t mean steal their job necessarily–although Auntie Evan has done that before–but this gives you a great opportunity to prove your mettle.

In fact, while working as a guidance counselor for a nonprofit, Auntie Evan got to prove his worth when a co-worker went away for vacation. The nonprofit liked his work so much better that they promoted Auntie Evan to a supervisory role.

Instead of taking it easy when your co-workers are on vacation, step it up, especially if it’s your supervisor that’s away; they’re nervous about everything staying in order while they’re away, so once they come back and see how you’ve maintained peace and avoided snafu, only good things will come.

Job Talk Daily Live – March 26, 2014

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