First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Who knows where the jobs will be in 2012?

Randy Mayeux is among those who have responded to that question.

I am unqualified to do so. However, I have checked out a few sources, listed below.

First, three brief comments:

1. Many jobs required by union contracts (i.e. “featherbedding”) should have been eliminated decades ago.

2. Many other jobs (e.g. roofing, food services in restaurant and hospital kitchens, lawn care, housekeeping in hotels and motels) are now taken by people who cannot obtain employment elsewhere.

3. These are the same jobs that many unemployed high school and college graduates consider “beneath them.”

Here are some links to sources worth checking out:

Thursday, March 8, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | Leave a comment

8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jeff Haden, featured in his “Owner’s Manual” series, and published by Inc. magazine. To read the complete article, please click here.

Photo credit: shutterstock images

*     *     *

Forget good to great. Here’s what makes a great employee remarkable.

A few hit the next level. Some employees are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.

Here are [four of the] eight qualities of remarkable employees:

1. They ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.

When a key customer’s project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there’s a problem and jump in without being asked—even if it’s not their job.

2. They’re eccentric. The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavor.

People who aren’t afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.

3. But they know when to dial it back. An unusual personality is a lot of fun… until it isn’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, the best employees stop expressing their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team.

Remarkable employees know when to play and when to be serious; when to be irreverent and when to conform; and when to challenge and when to back off. It’s a tough balance to strike, but a rare few can walk that fine line with ease.

4. They publicly praise. Praise from a boss feels good. Praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person.

Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others, especially in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater.

*     *     *

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden.

Thursday, March 8, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Start-Up of YOU: A book review by Bob Morris

The Start-Up of YOU: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha
Crown Business (2012)

How and why start-up mind-sets and skill-sets are essential to achieving and then sustaining success…however defined

The basic premise in Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha’s book is that the same mind-sets and skill-sets that can help to ensure the success of a start-up company’s performance can also (with appropriate modification) help to ensure the success of an individual’s career. In fact, all companies should always be viewed – and managed – as a start-up. This what Jack Welch had in mind years ago when, during a GE annual meeting, he explained why he admired entrepreneurial companies:

“For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. They spend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”

Hoffman and Casnocha assert, “To succeed professionally in today’s world, you need to adopt entrepreneurial strategies…In the same way, you need to stay young and agile; you need to forever be a italics] start-up.” Speaking for both of them (as he does throughout the book), Hoffman adds, “The business strategies employed by highly successful [begin italics] start-ups [end italics] and the career strategies employed by highly successful individuals are strikingly similar.” Readers are introduced to several “strategic frameworks” within which valuable (usually counterintuitive) insights are revealed by exemplary entrepreneurs such as Hoffman and Casnocha  (of course) as well as Marc Andreesen, Jeff Bezos, Benjamin Franklin, Reed Hastings, Steve Jobs, Mary Sue Milliken, Marc Pinkus, Joseph Priestley, and Sheryl Sandberg, with insights anchored in their real-world experience.

Although Hoffman and Casnocha carefully identify the “what” of what organizational and individual success requires, they focus most of their attention on how (and how not to) achieve it. For example:

o How to develop a YOUR COMPANY/YOU Mind-Set
o How to develop a YOUR COMPANY/YOU Skill-Set
o How to develop and then sustain a competitive advantage
o How to anticipate and prepare for contingencies with agility and resiliency
o How to bounce back from adversity
o How to establish and then strengthen a network of genuine and appropriate relationships
o How to identify and then pursue breakout opportunities
o How to identify and evaluate “intelligent” risks
o How to navigate professional challenges with network intelligence
o How to synthesize information into actionable intelligence

Each of the Fortune 500 companies was originally a start-up and each of their CEOs was once a career-entry employee.  My guess (only a guess) is that the most successful companies and their leaders understand, appreciate, and affirm the power and value of the start-up mind-sets and skill-sets that Hoffman and Casnocha examine in this book. For them, for all of us, “life is a permanent beta [and] the trick is never stop starting.”


Thursday, March 8, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Will The Jobs Be? – Even Waiters Are In Jeopardy; High School Graduates Really Do Have Fewer Places To Work

News item:
The company is selling its cost-savings and margin-boosters, not just its benefits for customers sick of waiting for the bill, to businesses. First and foremost: lower labor costs…
Annie Lowery, This Waiter Doesn’t Need a Tip:  How restaurants will use tablet computers to replace servers. –


In an ongoing series of posts over the last couple of years, I have asked “where will the jobs be?”  I have presented synopses of a number of books (practically all of the best sellers) on the financial crisis of recent history.  But the problem that bothers me the most is this:  more than the mortgage crisis, the Wall Street crisis, the European/Greek crisis, the real crisis is the disappearance of jobs for the hard-working high school graduates.

In Pinched:  How the Great Recession Has Narrowed our Futures and What We Can Do About It, Don Peck (author of the widely read Atlantic article, Can the Middle Class Be Saved?), writes this:

“Forty years ago, thirty years ago, if you were one of the fairly constant fraction of boys who wasn’t ready to learn in high school, there were ways for you to enter the mainstream economy,” says Henry Farber, an economist at Princeton. “When you woke up, there were jobs. There were good industrial jobs, so you could have a good industrial, blue-collar career. Now those jobs are gone.” And men have yet to adjust.
In 1967, 97 percent of thirty-to fifty-year-old American men with only a high-school diploma were working; in 2010, just 76 percent were.
In her 2010 Atlantic essay “The End of Men,” the journalist Hanna Rosin posed the question “What if the modern, postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women than to men?”

From 97% to 76% is quite a drop!  Where did these jobs go?  Robert Reich attributes the problem primarily to “automation.”  He wrote this in Aftershock – The Next Economy and America’s Future

The problem was not simply the loss of good jobs to workers in foreign nations but also automation…  Remember bank tellers?  Telephone operators?  The fleets of airline workers behind counters who issued tickets?  Service station attendants?  These and millions of other jobs weren’t lost to globalization; they were lost to automation.  American has lost at least as many jobs to automated technology as it has to trade.

I have little worry about the future of the better-educated (though, even the jobs for this group are not quite as plentiful and well-paying as they were just a few years ago).  The much bigger worry is for the “lesser-educated.”  And the problem is that, literally, there are not enough jobs left for this group.  (See the quote at the top; now even wait staff will be reduced by technology).

So, as I keep asking, “where will the jobs be?”

Thursday, March 8, 2012 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , | 2 Comments



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