Tag Archives: positive habits

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 But the classes remain outdated or counterproductive.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.

Why You Should Make Wile E. Coyote Your Hero

2-½ minutes to read

Saturday morning cartoons were one of the great rituals of my childhood. Bugs Bunny was the star attraction during the early 1960s. Then in 1966, The Road Runner Show debuted. What prepubescent boy could resist such slapstick mania? Nonetheless, during the initial two-year run of the Road Runner and Coyote cartoons, my dad fumed about the violence. (In truth, I welcomed the break from his complaining about sugar cereal and candy advertisements.) For years I’ve gone along with rooting for the Roadrunner and deriding the Coyote. Now I can finally go public. Wile E. Coyote is my hero!

Why You Should Make Wile E. Coyote Your Hero

A Metaphor for Life

Chuck Jones and Mike Maltese, who created the characters, wanted to parody of various chase cartoons like Tom and Jerry. At the risk of sounding supercilious, they carry a deeper message. I didn’t consciously perceive this as a kid. But in every episode, Wile E. fought an existential battle of success and failure. And though he never caught the Roadrunner, the Coyote consistently won his fight because he kept trying.

Throughout the series, the Roadrunner never changed. Not once did he rely on anything other than his speed or luck to evade capture. Despite his hero status, the Roadrunner behaved despicably. I hated the show’s theme song. The lyrics, “Poor little roadrunner never bothers anyone; just running down the road is his idea of having fun” were not true. The Roadrunner taunted Wile E. in every episode. And often he gloated when one of the Coyote’s schemes went awry. By any measure, he displayed poor sportsmanship.

The Roadrunner gained accolades merely for following his nature. The Coyote was trying to capture his food. Is there anything more natural? Yet he was demeaned despite his creativity and tenacity. As every week went by, my desire for Wile E.’s success deepened.

The Qualities of a Hero

Long before he spoke with an English accent, I respected Wile E.’s erudition. As I write this, I realize his drawings may have given rise to my fascination with machinery. In any event, if you seek personal development, the Coyote exemplifies it:

  • Goal. Wile E. set a goal that would stretch him. Let face it, he could have found sustenance elsewhere. But he chose to pursue a challenging objective. You can’t argue the Roadrunner was unattainable. While not a diet staple, real coyotes catch and eat them.
  • Plan. Wile E. used his mind to overcome the gap between the Roadrunner’s strengths and his own. You might argue his schemes were too complex. But he never approached his prey ad hoc. He had a plan. When it didn’t work, often he would learn from his failure and modify it.
  • Technology. Wile E. was not a Luddite. He experimented with new technology. In this respect, he was perhaps the first futurist. He stretched the boundaries of science and engineering in pursuit of his objective.
  • Action. Wile E. acted. He didn’t over plan. He never allowed himself to get so caught up in his stratagems he failed to execute them.
  • Resilient. Wile E. never gave up. Ever. His resilience formed the foundation of his greatness.

You might argue that Wile E.’s lack of success bars him from the pantheon of heroes. But success is not the mark of a hero. Too often people sacrifice their principles to gain success. I don’t find such people laudable. Rather, heroes retain their ideals in the face hardship.

Toward the end of his career, Wile E.’s animators had him parody himself with the phrase, “Wile E. Coyote, super genius.” Whenever he said that, I heard him say, “Wile E. Coyote, my hero.”

How do you decide who will be your heroes? Please comment below.

How to Invest Time in Relationships Wisely

2-½ minutes to read

You may think you can shortcut it. But there’s no substitute for devoting time when building a relationship. No amount of intensity, emotional or otherwise, will suffice. Nor can you replace time with money. You can leverage your time by using an assistant or technology. Still, one-on-one connections need your direct involvement. Since you’re going to invest time, make sure you think through how.

How to Invest Time in Relationships Wisely

Make Relationship Building the Priority

When I was a kid my room had to pass periodic inspections. Maybe she learned it from my naval officer father. But if she found my bed unmade inevitably I’d be reminded, “Your bed’s not going to make itself.” If since then someone had invented a self-making bed, a big source of conflict between my daughter and I would be gone.

Notwithstanding my mother’s obsession with smooth sheets and hospital corners (in truth the corners thing is mine), nothing important happens without effort. If you want to have quality, productive relationships you’ll have to prioritize time to work on them.

Strong connections lead to Physical ∞ Mental ∞ Spiritual success. So I devote the first three hours of my day to relationship building. I begin with an hour of prayer and study to strengthen my connection to G-d. The next hour or so is spent taking care of my family. I make lunch for my wife and daughter and take the latter to school or camp.

I focus the final hour on friends and business associates.

Invest Time Without Expectation of Dividends

During the third hour, I check in with people to find out how they’re doing and what they’re working on. If someone has an important project under way I look for ways to help her. I thank people who have helped me out. Between email, social media, telephone, and texting, I have a myriad of ways to contact people. I figure out which one the person prefers and use it.

I don’t use quid pro quo to determine how much time to invest in a relationship. Rather, I examine whether:

  1. I have the basis for periodic, useful interaction with the person.
  2. There is something of value I have to offer.
  3. The person shares my values.

We've already looked out who to connect with.  So if the relationship meets these three criteria, I know it will grow. And when I need help, the person will offer it at the appropriate time.

The truth is I like my friends and business associates so much I could spend all day looking for opportunities to help them. Regrettably, I am not independently wealthy. So I invest time in growing my relationships without jeopardizing my business. Of course, when there’s an urgent need, I find the time to help. Isn’t that what friends do?

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Just spending time will not lead to great connection or intimacy. Witness how many long-term spouses who don’t speak to each other. They may have spent the majority of the last 20 or 30 years in the same house, even the same room. But they have no relationship.

Devote yourself to being the best friend to the people with whom you’re building relationships. Like any sound venture, doing so will pay you unlimited dividends over time.

How do you decide how to invest time in building a relationship? Please comment below.

How to Actually Love Your Enemies

2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Devarim – Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22

I hate people who constantly criticize me. That may sound harsh. But I bet you feel the same way. Most don’t know you well or at all. They have no idea what burdens you carry. Still, the Torah says, “love the stranger as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:34) The real problem: too often their criticisms are true. Parshas Devraim explains what to do about such enemies:

“These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 1:1)

How to Actually Love Your Enemies

This Sabbath’s parsha begins the fifth and final book of the Torah. Deuteronomy (Devarim in Hebrew) is known as Mishneh Torah, meaning repetition, review, or explanation of the Torah. The Children of Israel heard the previous four books of the Torah directly from G-d who spoke through Moses’s throat. But Moses received Deuteronomy from G-d in the way other Prophets received their messages. Then at a later date conveyed it to the Israelites.

God Stirs Things Up

The Hebrew devarim means words. It also means things. The double meaning is on purpose. Moses spoke words but he also related certain events. He reminded the Israelites of past mistakes. So right before the triumphant entrance into the land of Israel, the Almighty tells Moses to scold his followers.

Wow! How would you feel if right before you graduated from high school or got a big promotion someone you respected listed all your blunders for the previous 40 years? Sounds like a downer to me.

God knew what He was doing. During the transition ahead the Children of Israel would face many challenges. During hardship their faith tended to slip. The Almighty clarified the challenge ahead by stirring up memories of past events. It must have been difficult for the Israelites to hear their faults recounted. But they were better off being armed with knowledge of who they really were.

Your Lovable Enemies

Transitions require honest accountings of strength and weaknesses. That way you can play to the former and reinforce the latter.  Loved ones often underplay your shortcomings. They want to encourage you. Highlighting negatives seems downright cruel. After all, won’t they undermine your confidence if they suggest you have limitations?

Not so your enemies. They’ll let you have it with both barrels. They couldn’t care less about your self-esteem or prospects for success. Spewing vitriol makes them feel good. So they do.

The more they sting, the more closely you should examine their words. What may have been a random swipe may turn out to be golden insight you can use.

Follow these three steps:

  1. Listen. Actually hear what they are saying. The tendency is to ignore harsh words. The better you can train yourself to listen to what your enemies say the better use you can make of it.
  2. Consider. By focusing on listening first you reduce the chance of an emotional response. Having heard what was said, you can calmly decide if it contains any facts. Did they just vent anger? Or was a kernel of truth spoken?
  3. Absorb. If any of their criticism is valid, take it on board. To do otherwise is to play into their hands. Why do you want to avoid improving yourself merely because the source is repugnant? By the way, there’s no better way to antagonize your enemies than by gaining from their efforts. (If they hurt themselves it’s not revenge!)

Granted this process is a difficult one. You’ll never get it down completely. I know I haven’t. Negativity need not be bad. The trick is to use it to propel your life forward.

How do you deal with your enemies? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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.

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