Category Archives: Finances

Are You Committing Any of the 8 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting?

3 minutes to read

I’ve spent the last four years helping veterans reintegrate into civilian life. Despite all the resources the military has put into transition assistance programs, half of veterans struggle. You may know what I mean. It’s not just disabled vets or those with PTS who have a hard time. The unemployment rate for veterans remains higher than civilians. Young male vets fare the worse. As well, veterans report being underemployed at double the rate of non-veterans. So many who get a job feel lucky. And in fact, often it was just dumb luck. As a result, you don’t want to leave a job for fear you won’t get lucky a second time. Civilian life was supposed to be great. But when you’re stuck doing work you hate it isn’t. While you got solid skills in the military, you didn’t learn to take advantage of them.

Are You Committing Any of the 8 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting?

Transition Assistance Programs Don’t Work

The programs go by many names, as if updating nomenclature modernizes content. But the classes remain outdated or counterproductive. They emphasize resume writing. In order of importance, this skill ranks no higher than 8th in priority. Training dealing with social media profiles leaves out the most important issues. Alternative career paths such as entrepreneurship are hardly mentioned.

You’re told to apply for a disability rating even if you’re perfectly healthy. Had I taken this advice, joining the reserves would have been difficult to impossible. And to boot, I would have lost out on the best health insurance plan out there.

The military has its hands full turning civilians into warriors. It has neither the resources nor the ability to turn warriors back into civilians. Although your fellow citizens will help you, you must take the initiative.

Through training and coaching over 1,600 veterans, I noticed eight ways they shoot themselves in the foot when job hunting. Several relate to mindset. None are dealt with in transition programs.

Job Hunting Deadly Sins

Veterans who smoothly reintegrated didn’t make these mistakes:

  • Thinking you’re entitled to a job and its corollary that your job search is all about you.
  • Not having clear objectives for your search.
  • Treating civilians as liars when they say they support veterans.
  • Believing it is or should be about having the right skills.
  • Considering what you post on social media to be off limits from employers.
  • Thinking all you have to do is post your resume on job boards.
  • Applying for a job at a company where you don’t have an internal advocate.
  • Not asking for the job if you want it and not following up properly or at all.

Take sin #1. Contrary to popular belief, America doesn’t owe you anything. You volunteered to serve our country. You were paid, fed, housed, given healthcare, and trained. If you were in the enlisted ranks you were clothed, at least partially.

Sure, sometimes life was hard. You spent a lot of time away from your family. If you were in combat, you faced danger and may have taken human life. Most civilians don’t do anything like this. But if you joined post-9/11, you knew what you were getting into.

How do you feel about working with people who have a chip on their shoulder? Annoying to say the least, right? Why would a civilian employer want to hire you if you have an entitlement attitude?

Your job search isn’t about you alone. You need to focus on finding an organization that can benefit from what you bring to the table. When an employer sees the value you deliver he’ll hire you. Embed this mutuality into your mindset.

If you feel entitled, you need to examine your attitude. Realize how you damage your relationships with others and yourself. The cure comes from gratitude and service. Write a list of the things to be grateful for. Read your list every day. Add new items. Keep building it. If you cannot think of anything, have a friend with a positive outlook give you some ideas.

Go help some people less fortunate than yourself. A man sits out in front of my synagogue almost every day asking for money. From what he collects he puts money in the charity box. He understands service. You can do the as well or better.

Over the next seven weeks, I’ll go through the other deadly sins and how to deal with them. By learning to avoid them, you’ll set yourself up for success.

Which of these is preventing you from getting the job you want? Please comment below.

You Need to Be a Salesperson

2-½ minutes to read

Any lucrative career opportunity will require some type of selling. You may sell a product or service. But minimally you have to effectively market your abilities to get a good job. Yet, when I speak with veterans most will not consider learning to sell. The moment they hear the word they think of shady methods, abuse of customers, or just plain sleaze. It’s a shame. In today’s civilian world you cannot escape having to sell yourself. Lack of this valuable skill closes many doors.

You Need to Be a Salesperson

The Misperception about Sales and the Military

Recently I was talking with a friend about differences between military and civilian life. I told him civilians sell their qualifications to get the job they want. But service members don’t. On further reflection, I oversimplified the situation.

The military’s massive recruiting effort shows you don’t need to market yourself to get in. But beginning with basic training, your ability to sell how well you’ve adapted to military life impacts the rest of your career. One of my first counselees is a case in point.

Days after arriving in Okinawa, I was asked to speak with a young, female Marine. She had gotten drunk the night before and showed up for duty unable to work. Unfortunately, this was not her first infraction. She had a reputation as a troublemaker during boot camp and follow-on training. Once I learned all the facts I saw her situation was not her fault alone. But we could not overcome the poor way she had presented her character. She sold the Marine Corps on the idea she wouldn’t accept its ethos. In the end, she got kicked out.

The need to sell yourself in the military doesn’t stop with character. Through a well-defined career path, you can show your willingness to develop new skills and leadership ability. Then you have the opportunity to prove mastery on the job. Your success determines the quality of the jobs you’re offered next time you comes up for orders. There’s not a lot of room to market yourself directly to the detailer. (Note: The detailer determines a service member’s next billet.) That’s because he learned about your performance from the supervisors of your last job.

Like with any pyramid structure, those who make it to the top have superior sales ability. They bring the attention of decision makers to their skills and achievements. This is as it should be. Senior enlisted people and officers lead. This duty requires mastery of using influence to meet a desired outcome. At the pinnacle, general and flag officers interact with civilian leadership to determine and implement national defense strategy. If they are not adroit at selling their ideas, the defense of our nation would break down.

Intentionality as a Salesperson

For both civilians and service members, the best salespeople advance. The difference lies in how aware each is of this process. Since it’s part of the system, many in the military don’t realize their performance determines their future employment prospects. As a result, they don’t develop the skill of intentionally selling themselves. Worse, they get the idea that it’s not necessary. “I didn’t have to do this in the military. Why should I have to do it in civilian life? It’s not fair. It’s wrong!”

Organizations need astute marketers and self-marketers more than ever. You need to learn how to sell yourself. You’ll need to be assertive yet humble. Rather than staying stuck in the military model, work to gain the skills to make yourself standout. You took off the uniform that made you look like everyone else in the military. Now unmask the inner you so employers and customers can see your true value.

What keeps you from selling yourself well? Please comment below.

3 Reasons You Must Read to Succeed

2-½ minutes to read

Like most of us, I got advantages and disadvantages from my upbringing. We’d lived in five different cities and eight houses by the time I was nine years old. Maintaining friendships has been a challenge for me ever since. My dad was an engineer (electronics not train-driver). Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he would get work on a project and once the contract was done move on. Not a recipe for financial stability. But I was fortunate to have received many blessings from my parents. After their love and belief in my success, the most important is they made me a reader.


Being Literate and Going to College Aren’t Enough

By 1969 only 1% of the U.S. population couldn’t read. However, this statistic hides all but the utilitarian benefits of reading. Just because someone can read signs or simple forms doesn’t mean he’s reaping the advantages that come from literacy.

I’ve written before about why getting a degree won’t make you more money. These days an undergraduate degree is about as valuable as a high school diploma was 30 or 40 years ago. Master’s and doctoral degrees do not lead to wealth. Less than a quarter of the 400 wealthiest people in the United States have an advanced degree. Your success depends on two things:

  • Knowing what it takes to be successful, which colleges don’t teach at any level.
  • Increasing your value to your organization or clients.

So if college doesn’t guarantee success, what will?

Steve Seibold interviewed over 1,200 of the wealthiest people in the world. He found the one pastime they have in common is reading. Two factors distinguish the reading habits of wealthy versus middle and lower income people.

  • Rich people use books to educate themselves on how to be more successful.
  • Middle-class people read to be entertained.

Even more so, wealthy people value the life-long learning that comes from books.

  • 67% of wealthy people watch an hour or less of television a day and only 6% watch reality shows.
  • 23% of poor people watch less than an hour of television a day and 78% of them watch reality series.

If you want to succeed, get in the habit of reading books on personal development, success, and that give you the most advanced knowledge in your field or industry.

Read to Succeed Because…

Beyond the ability to create wealth, reading leads to better health. Michael Grothaus reports reading reduces stress and may stave off depression and dementia.

Not to sound like a Ronco commercial, but there’s more. My top three reasons for being a reader are:

  • You learn without getting the hard knocks of life.
  • You have experiences you cannot have any other way.
  • You can challenge your ideas in a safe environment.

What good comes from developing relationship skills by trial and error? Many excellent authors and books will help you do so more elegantly and efficiently. My favorite for business relationships is Judy Robinette’s How to Be a Power Connector. Dr. Mark Goulston deals with professional and personal relationships in his book Just Listen If you have a particular relationship challenge, post a comment or send me an email. I’m happy to recommend a book.

You’ll never ride to Samarkand on a fleet Mongol horse or live the genteel, 19th-century life of an English country gentleman. But Patrick O’Brien will take you to China and Mongolia in The Road to Samarcand. Anthony Trollope invites you for a long visit to Barchester in Framley Parsonage. Though some may dismiss these as worthless novels, they contain many lessons about leadership, human inter-relations, and the values that support strong relationships.

Exchanging ideas with another person can build a more solid connection. But it can also lead to arguments. As well, you may want to explore an idea so you can engage with someone more intelligently. No matter how heatedly I attack what’s written in a book, it’s never slugged me.

You can improve every area of your life without leaving a comfortable armchair. Develop the habit. Read to succeed.

What are you reading? Please comment below.

Build Relationships Physically, Mentally & Spiritually

3 minutes to read

Back when most of my friends were single they used to tell me about the dreaded “conversation.” You know the one I mean. Rarely did a personal relationship develop at the same rate for both people. So one would ask the other, “Uh, where do you think we’re at?” It was a huge risk. The response usually foretold the end or catapulted the relationship to a new level. As difficult as the “conversation” was at least you could have it with interpersonal relationships. Being that direct in business doesn’t work.

Build RelationshipsPhysically, Mentally & Spiritually

Build Relationships

My business philosophy is it’s better to keep a good client than to have to find a replacement. So while property management and real estate appraising are fairly cookie cutter businesses, I tailored my services to the specific needs of a client. One didn’t trust the US Postal Service with delivering checks. So I hand delivered them myself for several years. Then I transitioned to a messenger service. It cost me a few extra dollars. But such personal service led to the client twice raising my fee without my asking.

Whether you work for a company or run your own the stakes are the same. Your ability to build relationships that deepen over time is more valuable than your hard skills.

Much relationship building can be done on the job. But there’s a limit. Many people are uncomfortable sharing more than pleasantries at the office. Others maintain a work persona as a shield against letting people get too close. You’ll have to spend time outside of work developing strong, enduring relationships.

If you hate doing the “let’s go out after work” thing look for alternatives.

Think Physically, Mentally & Spiritually

What common interest was the basis for your initial connection with someone? Use that as a base and expand from there. If your initial affinity was business consider engaging the person in another aspect of the physical realm or in the mental or spiritual ones.

Some options to try are:

  1. Sports & Recreational Activities. Are you passionate about cross-training? Maybe the person is interested in getting into the box. Is the other person a committed lacrosse player? Try it. You may like it. Ask him what sports he likes. Ask her which recreational activities she’s involved in.
  2. Health. When someone is sick or has a chronic health challenge, your sincere support will be welcome. Periodic emails or better hand written notes can make it easier for them to bear their burden. So can a call or phone message just to let the person know he’s in your thoughts. In cases of serious injury or illness picking up her kids or running an errand will be appreciated.
  3. Learn Together. Do you need some training or a class that the other person could benefit from? Suggest you take it together. Is the person learning about a subject in which you have expertise? Offer to help him.
  4. Hobbies. Passion’s are as varied as people. Want to be my friend? Find me some kosher chocolates. I need 43 more to reach my goal of having tried a 1000. Like with sports & recreational activities, be curious about what the other person likes. You may grow to love stamp collecting because of the bond it created between you and a colleague.
  5. Community Service. I have a friend who took a woman to work at a soup kitchen on their first date. Crazy? She fell in love with and married him. A lot of companies have community service programs.  LinkedIn lists causes a person cares about. Working together to help others creates lasting memories and deep connections.
  6. Family Celebrations. Get together for a holiday. Invite your colleague and her family over for game night with your family. Fancy or simple, it doesn’t matter. Think about when you were single. Would you have liked to spend Thanksgiving with a family rather than home alone? Offer the invitation. She’ll be grateful even if she has plans.
  7. Worship & Bible Study. Are you amazed to see this on the list? Perhaps religion isn’t discussed in your workplace. So be it. But if you reach out with sincere interest in providing someone with an interesting experience, no strings attached, you may be surprised how many people will appreciate it. We are blessed to live in a religiously diverse country. Yet many people seldom have the opportunity to nourish their souls. You can give them the chance.

At this point you may be thinking these are all things you do with your friends. You're right. In the final analysis creating deep, enduring business connections is no different. You may not socialize with colleagues as often as you do with your friends. But to build relationships you still need to engage people in the physical ∞ mental ∞ spiritual realms.

What interests have you shared with others? Please comment below.

How to Get Lucky on Purpose

2 minutes to read

If a man be lucky, there is no foretelling the possible extent of his good fortune. Pitch him into the Euphrates and like as not he will swim out with a pearl in his hand. ∞ Babylonian Proverb

Wouldn’t it be great to win the lottery? Think about it. You get a pile of money without doing any work. It’s just unadulterated good luck. You’re set for the rest of your life. All right, so 70% of people who win the lottery spend or lose the money within five years. You have to admit. You’d love to be that lucky.

How to Get Lucky on Purpose

You Choose to Get Lucky

Where you want to get lucky makes a big difference. If you choose the lottery, you’re working long odds. Your chances of winning range from 1:13 million to 1:292 million. With blackjack and craps, which have the best odds in Las Vegas, you’re destined to loose in the end. Some professional gamblers can beat the house. But if they win consistently the casinos throws them out.

Rather, look for a venue where knowledge and hard work give you an edge over the other players. While investing has risks, you can mitigate many of them. Many people call playing the stock market gambling. Done intelligently you can make a solid return on your investment. Real estate provides ample opportunity to hedge your risk and take advantage of luck.

The best place to get lucky is in business. Develop a career in sales or another area where your salary is based on performance. All you risk is your time. Entrepreneurship presents you with the chance to invest time and a little money. The payout can be significant.

The first step to getting lucky is choosing the game with the best odds for success.

Enticing the Goddess of Good Luck

In his classic book, The Richest Man in Babylon, George Clason’s eponymous character identifies three ways to get lucky:

  1. Be alert for opportunities. Take Them. How many times in the past have you kicked yourself for not taking advantage of good fortune? Were you offered a great job that required you to stretch your abilities? Did you have the chance to learn lucrative new skills but didn’t commit the resources? You won’t get lucky passing them up.
  2. Share your good fortune. Have you had the chance to make a great investment but didn’t have enough money? A profitable piece is better than nothing.
  3. Stay in the Game. No matter what your situation is today, you can make it better without money. Talk to people. Find out how you can help them. Then do so. Let them know what kind of opportunities you’re seeking. Be specific. When you’re out there every day, good luck will find you.

Lady luck seems to be a fickle, serendipitous fairy that flits from flower to flower at random. Successful people know you create good fortune through intentionally creating favorable circumstances. Forget gambling. Choose one of life’s real games with the best odds. Play it consistently. You’ll get lucky.

When have you gotten lucky? Please comment below.

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