- Burning Man, everyone’s favorite playa-based arts event, is experiencing some growing pains as it transitions into a nonprofit. [NYT]
- The chances of being satisfied at your job look as if they are partially inherited, according to some studies of twins, which found a “significant” but “small” genetic link. [BNET]
- It’s a real pain to get a mortgage if you’re a freelancer—and the hurdles have gotten even worse. [NYT]
- Is test messaging dying? [The Next Web]
- A soon-to-open library in British Columbia will have a selection of “living books,” “local residents who have volunteered to share their knowledge of any topic.” Patrons can make an appointment to interview the volunteers for 30 to 45 minutes. [Good.is]
- Job interviews are a two-way street. Don’t be so obsessed with making a good impression that you forget to ask questions and assess whether or not this is really is the place for you. [Baltimore Business Journal]
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Here’s what you should do to ensure that you will fail:
Don’t learn how to manage up.
You always thought your old boss was a jerk. Your new boss will be a jerk too. You hate bosses. You never want to be a boss. Just keep doing your old job. If your new boss absolutely insists on meeting with you now and then, fine. But don’t go out of your way to communicate or—ick—try to understand his or her goals and strategies. Certainly don’t be proactive or anything. After all, the whole stupid company sucks; you’re just here for a paycheck. Share your sentiments with your team. Read More →
Welcome to part 2 of the group read for The Accidental Creative. Hope you had a chance to get through chapters 4 through 7 during all the Irene drama, and that you remained safe and dry.
(If you’re new to the book club, first check out our intro post to see what we’re covering.)
For part 2, Todd moves into ways to deal with the “assassins of creativity” he covered in part 1. Step one: defining your job so that you’re working on what’s mission-critical, not what just seems most important or urgent.
Building relationships are also important—despite the stereotype, most creative people need a strong, vibrant network to get their work done. Also discussed: ways to keep up your energy (you may have to prune what you do!), paying attention to what feeds your creative process, and reasons that “efficiency” shouldn’t be the main deciding factor in what you decide to do next.
We’re also interested in finding out what “assassins” you’ve encountered at work, and how you’ve dealt with them.
Next week, in a Labor Day post, Todd will be covering chapters 8-10, which have more ways to keep your creative rhythm going—including using “checkpoints” to keep everything moving smoothly. He will also show you how to put together all that you’ve learned—and give some direction on where to go from here.
Also by Todd:
“Be a Laser, Not a Lighthouse” & Other Creative Leadership Essentials
The Accidental Creative: Are You Taking Ground or Just Maintaining It?
“Every Hero Needs a Bad Guy”: Who Are You Fighting Against?
Jim Hopkinson, the author of Salary Tutor, is writing a series of post designed to help with negotiation during some of the most important—and stressful—points in one’s career.
There are many hurdles to clear on your path to getting your dream job—at a dream salary. You’ll need to make your resume stand out to merit consideration, perform better than the other candidates during interviews, and go toe-to-toe with the hiring manager or HR representative and prove your value for the salary you desire. But there’s one barrier that could stand in your way before you even get out of the starting gate: the online application form.
The forms, put out by “talent technology firms” such as Taleo and BrassRing, all usually start similarly:
• Basic personal information, such as name, address, email, and phone
• Education history, including degrees earned
• Work history
• Special skills and activities
But many forms also include an innocent-looking “current salary” or “desired salary” field. Although it’s easy to answer the question—just type in how much you’re being paid right now—savvy job seekers know that this is an incredibly important question. Read More →
Weather hyperbole be damned, Irene looks like she’s going to strike the east coast but hard. Sure you could hunker down and watch a bunch of Netflix and then Facebook your face off, but why not take the next 48 hours of uninterrupted time to work on your career, your productivity, and your creativity? Here’s a list, arranged roughly from the most beneficial steps to least.
1. Gear up for your year-end review…. Now! HR consulting firm Towers Watson just announced that the best workers inside companies will get a 4.3% bump this year. Make sure you’re in the promotion class. There are just four months left in the year, and if you want a little present in the form of a raise and a promotion under your tree this year, you have to make “the ask” and justify it. Get ready by “listifying” your major achievements for the year (this list also comes in handy when you need to update your resume and go out on interviews if you don’t end up getting what you’re looking for). Then schedule a meeting with your boss for next week. Read More →
- Stop micromanaging! It hurts performance. Science says so. [Evil HR Lady]
- Science takes a dim view of multitasking, too.
- “Value is King”: Company “departments” should go away and instead become “value groups,” writes Josh Allan Dykstra.
- “How do I re-enter HR after a career break?” [Personnel Today]
- The New York Times opens up its software lab, a showcase called beta620. [Wired]
- Jen Klein has some tips to help hiring managers unearth those always-tasty “passive candidates.”
One of the keys to success for a great product person is having control of your backlog; i.e. knowing where you want your product to go in the next one, three, or six months. Agile software development doesn’t mean that you don’t have a solid plan for your product, it means that you’re flexible on how you get there.
For example, I live in New York, but grew up in Boston and often visit to see my family. There are several ways I could get there:
- I could walk (not the quickest solution, but it’s possible)
- I could take a bus (lots of stops, but better than walking)
- I could drive (faster than walking or a bus, but more expensive)
- I could take a train (fast, allows me to do work, but costs more than the previous options)
- or I could fly (the fastest, but getting to and from an airport and through security is a hassle)
At the end of the day I’m going to get to Boston, I just need to figure out what factors are most important to me: time, cost, or convenience. If cost were really the most important factor, then maybe I’d walk. If cost is just very important, then maybe I’d take a bus. If time is the most important factor, I will probably fly, but if it’s a combination of time and convenience, I will most likely take a train.
Deciding on your objectives first will determine how you accomplish the day-to-day steps that take you toward those goals. In other words, your objectives determine what your backlog looks like, which ultimately leads to success. Read More →
Sue Shellenbarger has an amusing article in today’s Wall Street Journal about the problems that eating at your desk can cause: stinky sandwiches and noisy chips bring complaints from co-workers, and computer keyboards don’t react well to crumbs and spilled drinks finding their way inside.
In this “Field Guide to Obnoxious Eating” there’s also a quote from The Energy Project’s Tony Schwartz about how a skimpy lunch break “actually drains energy and reduces output,” which is something he has helped remedy through his Take Back Your Lunch movement.
The article then goes on to mention The Hired Guns’ president, Allison Hemming, who ate lunch at her desk for years until she saw the light. “Now, if she sees her employees working through lunch, ‘I get them out of their desks,’ encouraging them to get outside, she says. ‘We’ve seen a major boost in productivity” and sales as a result.”
Check it out—here’s a complete list of the 25 panels that Hired Guns are proposing for the next SXSW. Last year, seven of the eleven proposals that Guns floated ended up being presented at the actual event. Given the cool ideas below, we’re hoping to manage to even improve on that ratio this time around.
Please have a look, and vote for all those that you’d like to see become a reality at SXSWi next spring—SXSW weights public voting at 30% for the purposes of deciding which panels are accepted. You have to register and sign in to vote (you can do so using your Facebook or Twitter login); the voting deadline is the Friday before Labor Day, September 2.
Howdy—welcome to the party. We’re here for part 1 of The Hired Guns’ group read of The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant At A Moment’s Notice.
(Late joining us? Check out the summary of how our book club will work and what we’ll cover each week.)
If you haven’t bought the book yet, go grab it. This week we’ll be reading chapters 1-3, which are focused on how to stay prolific, healthy, and sustainably brilliant. As Todd points out, you can’t count on inspiration striking in the nick of time—you have to prepare for it. And that’s where his straight-shooting advice comes in!
This week, Todd made a special video just for us where he discusses the reasons that getting creative work done in the modern workplace can be so difficult. The “assassins of creativity” include fear (of so many things!), poorly decided-on objectives, and way-too-complicated business processes. All these things can make it difficult if not impossible to stick to doing what’s truly important.
Watch his video below, and then start reading the book from the intro through the first three chapters. Then stop and wait for the rest of us! Post any questions for Todd, on Twitter, in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. He’ll be chiming in with his responses. Read More →
As the man behind the Skull-A-Day Project and 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, Noah Scalin knows about inspiration, and on Monday, October 3, Noah will teach a class for The Hired Guns Academy on something he knows a lot about: getting your creativity unstuck. Here’s a bit more about him:
Richmond, Virginia (after 10 years in NYC)
New York University
Owner, Another Limited Rebellion, a socially conscious design and consulting firm.
Where do you plan to take your column this year?
I plan on teaching the skills I’ve learned about generating creative energy and providing the inspiration people need to commit to real creative change in their lives.
What do you hope to accomplish with your Hired Gun posts?
Have more people making more things more often. This will make them more successful, and more important, more happy. Read More →
When I started giving talks about my Skull-A-Day project, I quickly realized that people weren’t just interested in seeing the skulls I made, they were inspired by my experiences and the things I learned about creative inspiration. So I decided to create a way to help more people have the daily project experience, and more important, get past their excuses for not starting projects themselves (i.e. I don’t know what to make, I don’t know how to start, I don’t know what a blog is, etc.).
Thus was born my book, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal. At the start of the book I said that I wanted to hear from people who took on the daily creative challenge. The response has been overwhelming and amazing. Almost immediately after the book was published I started getting a constant stream of people sharing what they were doing and sending responses to my two-question interview: 1. Why did you decide to do this project? 2. How has doing a yearlong, daily project affected your life?
The answers to the second question have been the most moving for me, and I thought you’d find them inspiring as well. In no particular order, here are a few cool recent projects with the answers their creators gave:
“I’m surprised to find that over the course of these 12 days it has become easier and easier to come up with ideas. The first day was such a struggle, kicking around ideas all day, but yesterday, the idea just came to me. Just image what day 100 will be like! But the really wonderful effect of this daily project is the feeling of accomplishment I have every day, because I created something, however simple, and put it out in the world.” Read More →
Today we’re going to test a big idea that I hope will become a staple within our community: The Hired Guns Book Club. We’ve been wanting to try this for a long time. And now that we finally have a growing blog to support it, the time is now. It might seem plain crazy to launch a book club at the end of the summer, but I actually think it’s the perfect time. Fall is almost here, which means that the next few weeks give you precious time to get “inside your head” and go into the end of the year with the wind at your back. Now is the time to organize, prioritize, and create processes for success.
We can think of no better author to kick things off than Todd Henry, who will lead a virtual book club to discuss his new book, The Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice. We believe in this book and Todd’s premise that “anyone can improve his ability to generate good ideas consistently if willing to be a little more purposeful in how to approach the creative process.” We’ve been a fan of Todd Henry’s podcasts for years, and it’s high time he wrote a book that’s guaranteed to enhance readers’ careers.
So who’s an accidental creative? It’s anyone who needs to solve problems, develop strategies, and come up with ideas—that covers everyone from “true” creatives to business people who need to do mind-bending work to keep their company and products innovative. That said, this book is especially helpful to any creative classer who is feeling burnout coming over them. We say, get familiar with the ideas now, before you REALLY need them!
Here’s how The Hired Guns Book Club is going to go down: Read More →
It’s almost halfway through August, which means that lots of internships are wrapping up. Before you head out the door, take some time to end your internship on a positive and professional note. Here are five tips to keep in mind.
- Make sure your employers know when you’re leaving. Don’t just disappear! Your bosses need to know when you’ll be gone so that they can cover any of your ongoing duties or find a replacement. And be sure to say goodbye and thank them for your time at the company. (If you do this early enough, you might score a nice going-away party.)
- Collect references. No doubt you worked with many different people during your internship, and you’ve gained many good contacts in the process. Ask some of your coworkers if they can serve as references on LinkedIn. Be sure to ask if they will accept your invitation to connect on LinkedIn as well (and include your fellow interns from other schools). And do all this now, while all the good work you did at the company is fresh in their minds.
- Tie up any loose ends. Finish all the projects you can, and make sure any unfinished or ongoing duties are passed to someone who can take over for you. Make sure that when you are gone your colleagues will know exactly how to dig up that big spreadsheet you’ve been working on.
- Sit down with your boss. You were in this job to add some dazzle to your resume. This is your chance to get an assessment of your performance and talk about what you learned. It’s also important to review exactly what you accomplished so that you can accurately update your resume—and then send it to your boss for review for final polishing. If you want another internship at the same company, ask now.
- Follow up and stay in touch. It’s important to show that you are grateful for the time you spent at your internship. The best way to start? An email to your employers thanking them for the opportunity. And tell them about what kind of opportunity you want for next summer!
—Rich Fuchs, The Hired Guns’ outgoing intern, is a political science major entering his junior year at Penn State. He wants his next internship to be at a law firm or in senator’s office.
[Photo of cubicle:Ahniwa Ferrari/flickr]
This post was previously published in The Hired Guns Gig Alert, our email newsletter with all the most recent job postings as well as no-nonsense career advice from Top Gun Allison Hemming and others. If you’re not already a subscriber, head to our homepage and sign up.
It’s hard to go through these days of tumultuous economic news and not have your heart skip a beat. The news shows offer a parade of pundits that are all about the blame game but have no solutions. And while I can’t get in there and duke it out in Washington, I can offer up a few career management takeaways that will make an impact for you today.
Optics Matter. Are you the source of gridlock in your organization? Are you attached to a project in production paralysis? Break out. We’ve felt in the most visceral way that when players inside organizations are afraid to compromise, their reputation gets downgraded. Don’t let this be you. Be the voice of reason and get results, even if it means you need to dial down your risk-taking for the moment to achieve a common goal. Read More →
We’d like to welcome to the blog Jim Hopkinson, the author of Salary Tutor. In his posts, he’ll help you with a skill that most of us dearly need to improve—expertise in negotiating salary. Today he covers dealing gracefully with an all-too-common problem—knowing what to say when a hiring manager wants to know how much you make at your current job. A slightly different version of this post appeared on Jim’s website.
Conducting a job search often leads people through a series of highs and lows. You have a great lead, but it falls through. You haven’t had any interviews in a month, and then you get three in a week. Even the end of a successful job search can be stressful: the company offers you the job, but you’re not sure how to discuss salary.
Someone wrote to me with the following question: “Good news. I received this email from the hiring manager and am a finalist for the job. But how should I respond to the salary question?”
Hi Amy. We finished all our interviews and we will be making a final decision between you and one other candidate. Could you provide two references and also let me know your current salary so that we are in a position to make an offer.
It’s been one long, hot summer. Join the Hired Guns next Wednesday at noon to get out of the office and Take Back Your Lunch with us. We’re going to get together and walk the newly expanded High Line. Then we’re going to do lunch at the food trucks at the “end of the Line,” near 10th Avenue and 30th Street. Hope to see you there.
Here are the details! Please sign up so we can reach you with specifics.
Get Your Blog On: Joshua Foer and Dylan Thuras of Atlas Obscura Talk About Staying Focused and Inspired
Atlas Obscura is a travel site that avoids the sunny beaches, “edgy” restaurants, and hip nightclubs that make up so much travel writing. Its founders, Dylan Thuras and Joshua Foer (author of the recent book about memory, Moonwalking with Einstein) have other sights in mind . . . . They aim for the surprising, the odd, and the unjustly unknown. In other words, they seek “places that expand our sense of what is possible and tell us something about ourselves, and about the wider world in which we live.”
For this installment of Get Your Blog on, Joshua and Dylan talk with Bill Brazell about how they developed their site and how they balance the wonders of crowd sourcing with the need to create a site that remains on-topic and accurate. They also cover the places they personally loved the most—as well as the ones they can’t wait to see. Check out the globe-trotting interview below:
- German scientist Harold Haas is working on an alternative to Wi-Fi that would use a rapidly blinking light (transmitted via LED bulbs) rather than radio waves to transmit data. See Good for more about “fiber optics without the fiber.”
- Where do Google Doodles come from?
- A stop-motion film made with 350k Post-It notes
- Are you anxious to leave the cubicles and freeways behind for the life of working remotely, perhaps while on the road? First consider Nomad Lawyer’s five hard truths about being a digital nomad. [Via Knick-Knack]
- Are you a freelancer? Mashable talks about how to deal with bad clients. On staff? The Vault has some tips on bad bosses.
- Core 77 taps $7 tool for carrying heavy loads as the year’s best product design. [FastCo Design]
- “Hooray! I’ve been exposed to this message enough to move from awareness to consideration” and other Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising.
- Have you gone on vacation this summer or are you about to? Our pals at The Energy Project are running a campaign to encourage folks to use all their vacation days. By merely committing to take time off, you can win a coaching session with TEP’s founder, Tony Schwartz. Head to the The Energy Project’s Facebook page to enter.
- Utilizing the power of recycling in web design. [Smashing Mag.]
- “Can freelancers be friends?” “No. Warriors don’t befriend enemies on the battlefield, do they?” says Susannah Breslin.
- A headline we didn’t think we’d read today (or any day): “Stoned wallabies blamed for crop circles. More at the BBC. [Alltop]
You paid your dues. You put in the long nights. You suffered under bosses who never “got” design and those who thought they’d invented it. And finally, you got there. You got the director role, the VP title, or the creative director position that you worked for during your entire career.
And this was good. As the department leader, you made a name for yourself. You grew the team and tightened up the company’s design discipline. You mentored junior designers and churned out some fairly impressive work. And then it came time to move on.
It’s right at that moment that it hits you—when you were an up-and-coming designer, there were lots of entry- and mid-level jobs. As a designer near the top of the heap, the opportunities for you now are few and far between. Rarely do these positions open up, and even more rarely are new senior-design roles created. By working yourself up the corporate design ladder, you may have placed yourself in a situation where potential new gigs are scarce. Read More →
As a manager, you may occasionally be asked to “think strategically.” That means to consider issues that have a broad impact on the company, such as long-term revenue opportunities, more efficient competition in a changing marketplace, and securing job offers from other companies before everyone at your company realizes you’re clueless.
Unfortunately, “thinking strategically” requires time, effort, and precious brain power that could be better spent on fantasy baseball. Here are five ways to avoid it:
1. Force yourself to focus on the day-to-day.
What’s due by the end of the week? When are those reports from Cincinnati coming in? Don’t you have some sort of meeting to attend? Don’t worry about the fact that your company has no office in Cincinnati. The point is, you’re a manager. Look busy.
2. Only manage down.
Pay lots of attention to the work your subordinates do. Has it been double-checked? Would it look better with a slightly larger font? How about an emoticon on the cover page? Don’t worry about your peers in other departments. And by all means don’t bother your boss. Respect his privacy and let him do his own job, and he’ll let you do yours. Read More →
- Hired Gun and UX designer Jeff Gothelf writes for Usabilla about a simple (and potentially entertaining) “squint test,” which helps ensure that web designs emphasize what they need to.
- Working for more than one boss requires super-sized amounts of communication and other skills, but you can do it and still preserve your sanity. Forbes has some tips.
- NPR reports on employers and employment agencies who won’t even consider candidates who don’t already have a job. Discrimination or just good business sense?
- Inc. wants to help you hire creative employees. Tim Donnelly talks with creative directors and hiring managers to get their take.
- Joyce Lain Kennedy lays it on the line: “Employers traditionally have paid every dime of a candidate’s travel expense to an interview . . . . If you agree to pay travel costs [for a job interview in a city that's far away], you look so desperate you may as well stand on a street corner and sell apples.” [Chicago Tribune]
- “I WILL get rejected today.” What if you approached your job search like a game? [WorkWise]
- Ready for a real break? Seattle’s Space Needle is running a contest whose very lucky winner will get to be sent into space.