Category Archives: Resources

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2018

Are You Surging Your Growth Through Reading?

3 minutes to read

As in past years, reading a book per week hardly makes a dent in all the great ones out there. This year I focused on personal development and history & biography. My guilty pleasure is detective fiction but didn't find any good new ones.

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2018 (1)

I keep abreast of current works. But I also look back to see what older books and classics I've missed. Here are the best from this year. Why not treat yourself to one for a Christmas or Chanukah gift?

Personal Development

No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career by Larry Smith

So many service members leave their first post-military job within the first year. Larry Smith’s insights will convince you to hunt for a job you’ll love. His practical advice will show you how. He is as generous as he is perceptive. His counsel during a telephone conversation helped focus my book publishing efforts.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

You can increase your income by working long hours for low pay. Or you can work less doing high-value assignments. Cal Newport teaches you how to organize your day to maximize time for problem-solving. If you think you're not creative or innovative, I beg to differ. You do need to find time to focus and go deep.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Don't believe me about your ability to innovate? Carol Dweck will explain why you must develop a growth mindset. A fixed mindset not only limits you. It will inhibit your children’s success. I had to make this change 30 years ago without her help. Mindset would have reduced the time it took me by at least 50%.

The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt

Written before he became president, Theodore Roosevelt’s short book has guided men for over a century. He presents straightforward principles for pursuing a worthwhile life. Look no further if you’re a veteran looking for meaning in the civilian world.

Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart by Dion Leonard and Craig Borlase

I don't care for “heart-rending,” mellow dramatic stories. So the title of Dion Leonard’s book turned me off. But my wife urged me to read this story about an everyday guy turned ultra-marathoner. At times we’re all plagued by self-doubt. Leonard will inspire you to overcome it.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

I struggle to communicate with my daughter. And she feels sometimes she can't get though to me. So we listened to the audio version of Faber and Mazlish’s book. It has taught millions of parents and children how to bridge this gap. We learned and took action. It works.

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom

It may sound strange that I’m recommending this book. After all, isn't religion about empathy? No. Not when it leads to immoral results. Paul Bloom makes the case that our society has focused too much on empathy at the expense of other values.

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History and Biography

Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams by Alvin Yudkoff

Gene Kelly appears to be the poster boy for “born with talent.” Except he wasn’t. Raised in poverty, all he had was hard work and self-discipline. So he trained harder than most other dancers. As a result, Kelly became one of the most successful of all time. Patricia Kelly is writing the definitive biography of her husband. Until then, this will do.

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters by Tom Nichols

Though not strictly a work of history, Tom Nichols shows how our society has devalued expertise over the last few decades. He also delves into why this trend bodes ill for solving the biggest challenges we face. If you think WebMD is as good as a human physician read this book.

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray

It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issues of migration and immigration. Douglas Murray challenges every position on this complex question. He has researched it and interviewed migrants, illegal immigrants, and public officials. If you plan to debate this issue, read Murray now.

If you want to succeed you must read. Let me know if you have a specific challenge that none of these books address. I’m happy to recommend one to help you.

What was the best book you read this year?

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How to Cut Through the Baloney of Job-Hunting

The Only 5 Steps You Need to Take to Get a High-Paying Job

3 minutes to read

Almost two-thirds of veterans say transition assistance programs are at best somewhat helpful for job-hunting. So you know the process is broken. Many complaints focus on a one size fits all training when veterans have a broad range of experience and needs. Others address the lack of civilian-world experience and success among the trainers. Both point to a bigger issue.

How to Cut Through the Baloney of Job-Hunting

It’s Time to Acknowledge the Truth

I’ve written before about how the process taught in transition assistance training wastes veterans’ time. But the problem is much larger.

Veteran transition experts agree on what steps you need to take to be successful in today’s job market. Yet, despite clear evidence that transition training doesn’t work, they’re reluctant to stand up and say so. Remember when humvees had insufficient armor to withstand an IED? Finally, someone had the courage to say this is wrong and must change. We’re at the same place with transition programs.

The military doesn't have the expertise to train service members to become civilians. Its skill works in the opposite direction, turning civilians into warfighters.

Another problem. I bet you hate purchasing something from a company only to be told you have to go to elsewhere when it doesn’t work. Yet the current transition system does just that. Your service branch trains you for reintegrating to civilian life. Then it hands you your DD-214 and its responsibility ends.

If the training doesn’t work, you have no recourse to the provider.

Changing the system will help our fellow veterans who are still on active duty. But until that time, or if you’re already out, you need a solution now.

You Only Need to Take These 5 Job-Hunting Steps

All carping aside, let’s get you clear on what you have to do. These are the only 5 steps you have to take if you want a high-paying job:

  1. Develop a clear, compelling purpose and mission for your life and make goals to execute them.
  2. Establish your Unique Value Proposition. It will turn your military service into high-paying, meaningful work.
  3. Evaluate the depth and quality of your network. Then use and expand it to create the relationships you need.
  4. Target employers where you can maximize your UVP and effectively market to them.
  5. Properly prepare for meetings and negotiations.

You control every one of these job-hunting steps. You…

  • Decide what you want to do and why.
  • Figure out the most lucrative place to put your skills, knowledge, and experience to work.
  • Develop relationships with people who can and want to help you.
  • Choose the companies you want to work for.
  • Go into a meeting to discuss a job as a professional.

There’s no guesswork involved. You don’t need to spam the Internet with your resume and pray you’ll get an interview. People who follow these 5 steps and are part of a group that has proper mentorship usually get a job they want in 90 days. Did you learn this in transition assistance? I didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying these steps are easy to do. You can’t behave the way most job-hunters do, search for work an hour a day and watch television for three or more. You’ll have to stretch yourself. And, the process spirals so as you complete each step you learn how to do a previous step better.

The sad fact is your service branch let you down. But you wouldn’t expect a deep-sea fisherman to train you in computer network troubleshooting. It makes no sense to task commanding officers with something they don't know how to do. Since the military didn’t train you in these job-hunting steps you’ll have to find another source that will. I’ll get you started. Download my 5-Steps Checklist.

At least now you know what to look for. If an organization or coach wants to help you but doesn’t start by outlining these five steps, move on. Since this SOP works for 86% of civilians, it’ll work for you.

How are you getting the training you need to find the job you want?

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How to Gain the Edge Presenting Your Skills to a Civilian

The Best Free Tools for Bridging the Language Barrier

3-½ minutes to read

When you talk to civilians about your military experiences do you feel like a foreigner? You say something and you get that head nod. It’s the one indicating comprehension while the eyes tell you the person doesn’t know what you’re talking about. That’s what you face when job-hunting after military service. The vast majority of civilians have never heard of a military occupation code (MOC). They have no idea what you did.

How to Gain the Edge Presenting Your Skills to a Civilian

You Have to Learn “Civilianese” for Presenting Your Skills

Some military jobs, like hospital corpsman and medic, have clear private sector equivalents. But most, like infantryman and boatswain’s mate, have nothing similar in the civilian world. And, just because you served in a medical capacity doesn’t mean you want to continue doing so.

Like civilians not knowing military terminology, most service members can’t convert a skill, such as breaking down and cleaning an M-16, into valuable private sector expertise. Yet your ability to get a high-paying job will in large part come from just that process.

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To help you, I looked at the most prominent military skills translators. Here’s my assessment of if and how they can help you.

Tools for Bridging the Language Barrier

Skills translators break down into four types from least to most useful:

  1. Job board
  2. Occupation matcher
  3. Occupation matcher with detailed information
  4. Skills translator

They’re all free and easy to use. But, as I discuss below, those in categories 1 and 2 have little practical value.

Category 1 - Job Board: Military Skills Translator asks for your service branch and MOS, AFSC, or rating. It returns a list of related jobs. MOS Code to Civilian Occupation Translator and Stars and Stripes MOS Code to Civilian Occupations Translator are identical. I don’t know if they’re using the same software vendor or one has licensed the other’s. Suffice to say they request the same input, MOC, and give you the same output, a list of available jobs. These two have an interim step confirming your military job whereas goes straight to the jobs.

All are better than a regular job board where you would have to input a job description. But other than that, like all job boards, they’re a waste of time. Only a small percentage of people get a job using job boards. As well, they treat everyone in a MOC the same.

Category 2 – Occupation Matcher:

Department of Labor CareerOneStop Military to Civilian Occupation Translator asks for your MOC and returns a list of occupations. Because it gives such limited information don’t waste your time using it.

Category 3 – Occupation Matcher with Detailed Information:

O*Net Online Military Crosswalk Search asks for your service branch and MOC. It returns occupation matches. When you click on one of the occupations, you get:

  • Detailed Tasks – a list of the duties you would perform
  • Tools & Technology – that you’ll use
  • Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities - required for the job
  • Work activities
  • Work Context – the environment in which you’ll work
  • Job Zone - the preparation you need to qualify for the job including an SVP Code summarizing the level of preparation difficulty
  • Education – typical education level of people holding the job
  • Credentials – you need
  • Interests – the characteristics of a person the job will satisfy
  • Work Styles
  • Work Values
  • Related Occupations - note those with a “Bright Outlook”
  • Wage & Employment Trends
  • Sources of Additional Information

Such comprehensive data gives you a broad and deep picture of a particular job. Spend some time using this tool. The biggest negative comes from not treating you as an individual. You’ll have to research various jobs and decide which ones your unique skills and experiences best qualify you for.

Category 4 – Skills Translator: Military Skills Translator is the only actual skills translator. You input your service branch, MOC, code status, and code category. It gives you a group of skills in civilian language. You can use this group, and ones you add to it, in the Resume Builder function on the website.

O*Net gives you a lot of information. But think about what happens when you’re in a meeting to discuss a job (a.k.a. interview). When asked why you’re qualified, do you say, “Because I plugged my MOC into O*Net and out popped this job”? gives you crucial data you need to create your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), which is the heart and soul of your self-marketing effort.

One caution, I input the same MOC into the skills translator three times and got three different groups of skills. You should do the same thing. Have it generate several sets of data. Then analyze each skill to determine whether it applies to you.

Next Step

O*Net and give you powerful free tools for constructing your UVP. Combine them with what you’re passionate to do. Now you have a path to the kind of job you’ll love. Get started now.

Where are you stuck figuring out your Unique Value Proposition?

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You Made These Most Popular This Year

The Valuable Information You’ll Get in 2017

1-1/2 minutes to read

Building our relationship requires that I provide you with value. I cannot waste the precious time you spend reading my posts. So yearend provides the time to examine if I’m meeting your expectations.

You Made These Most Popular This Year

2016 in Review

You spent almost twice as long reading a post this year as last. And, you were more likely to check out another one. Finally, you were among a growing number of people who came back multiple times for information.

Of the ten most popular posts for the year, listed below, seven cover making a successful transition to civilian life and job hunting. Two talk about how to create and improve relationships. The final one deals with values.

It sounds like you find these topics relevant. Am I right? (Take my 30-second survey to let me know.)

The 10 most-read posts were:

  1. Are You Committing Any of the 8 Deadly Sins of Job Hunting? (A top ten post of all time.)
  2. 5 Common Career Problems: Which Ones Do You Want to Overcome? (A top ten post of all time.)
  3. Why Money Is Not the Root of All Evil
  4. The Truth About Military vs. Civilian Life
  5. A Successful Life Is Like a Jigsaw Puzzle
  6. Know the Most Powerful Word for Getting What You Want?
  7. How You Can Benefit from Blurry Vision (A top ten post of all time.)
  8. You Should Never Go on a Job Interview
  9. 4 Things You Need Besides Skills to Get a Job
  10. How to Know Whom to Create Relationships With

If you missed one of these, take three minutes to check it out now.

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The Year Ahead

For 2017, I plan to continue helping you meet the challenges you face transitioning from military service to the private sector and dealing with civilian life. Will you answer my three-question survey? It will take you 30 seconds or less.

Beginning the end of January you’ll see changes resulting from your response to the survey.

Working together, you can get your share of the American Dream you defended!

What is your top goal for 2017?

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10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

2-1/2 minutes to read

You may know I read at least 50 books a year. With so many goods ones even at one per week it seems to make hardly a dent. My reading focuses on personal development, history & biography, business, and literature. My guilty pleasures are detective and historical fiction. It all unites to help my family and me live the life we’ve charted.

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

I keep abreast of current works But I also look back to see what older books and classics I have missed. Here are the best. Why not treat yourself to one for a Christmas or Chanukah gift?

Personal Development:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

We live amidst great abundance yet don’t seem to be happier. Is it nostalgic yearning? Barry Schwartz makes the case that too many choices bring about unhappiness as surely as no choice. He also gives you actionable steps to relieve yourself of this burden.

The Miracles in You: Recognizing G-d's Amazing Works in You and Through You by Mark Victor Hansen

If you sit around hoping for a miracle it’ll be a long wait. Mark Victor Hansen (the Chicken Soup Book Series) challenges you to become a miracle maker. He explains how to see them in your life and make them happen.

Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love by David Sturt

In many ways, David Sturt’s book is a companion to Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated. No matter your IQ, talent, educational level, gender, or the circumstances of your birth, you can create a difference the world loves. The ability to innovate comes through the five skills that Sturt reveals. His illustrative stories prove you can execute them.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster by Steve Dalton

Steve Dalton fills in a crucial piece of the job-hunting puzzle. His book will teach you how to connect with people who can help you get the position you want. I used his system. It works.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

This 34-year-old classic details more than a sound strategy for managing people. Kenneth Blanchard gives you the formula to boost the quality of all your relationships. His simple steps yield clear communication leading to mutually agreeable outcomes.

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History and Biography:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Orville and Wilbur Wright were not extraordinary mechanics, businessmen, or thinkers. David McCullough shows their success came through sheer tenacity. This story will inspire you to redouble your commitment to your life’s mission.

Bull Halsey by E.B. Potter

Arguably the navy’s most beloved admiral, William Halsey’s life testifies to the power of personal connections. E.B. Potter reveals how relationships with his sailors, peers, and family propelled Halsey’s legendary success.

Business and Entrepreneurship:

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

I’m not a Guy Kawasaki groupie. I checked out his work from the audio books section of the library so I wouldn’t run out of things to listen to on a car trip. His step-by-step breakdown of entrepreneurship converts a daunting process into manageable pieces. For veteran entrepreneurs and rookies, this book will accelerate your success.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz & Joanne Gordon

I am a Howard Schultz fan. I loved his first book, Pour Your Heart Into It. In Onward, he emphasizes the bond between business success and foundational values. You don’t need to like Starbucks coffee to get inspired by this story of its rescue.

Guilty Pleasure:

The Road to Samarcand: An Adventure by Patrick O’Brien

If you saw the movie Master & Commander you got a taste of Patrick O’Brien’s rollicking adventure tales. A group of hardy sailors treks across 1930’s China to exotic Samarcand. This is old-fashioned excitement, breakneck horseback rides and hand to hand combat.

If you want to succeed you must read. If you have a specific challenge that none of these books address let me know. Happy to recommend material to help you.

What books did you read this year that you recommend?

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