Jim Bright – Chaotically Edutaining!

Who are you?

I’m a man whose older brothers when growing up emigrated to live in Australia, and who found himself many years later doing the same thing. Part of the deal in the move was to teach Vocational Psychology, and that is where I got my career development mojo.
I am a person who loves humour and likes to perform, to make career development entertaining but with a deadly serious message inside – so I am like a reverse Christmas Cracker – pull apart the glitz and bang, and inside is a serious message wrapped up in a corny joke!

What do you do for fun?

Well according to the probation agreement I have undertaken not to do THAT for fun anymore!!!! I was watching a program tonight on politics, wine and cooking combined – and that covers a lot of my interests. My pleasure is cooking a feast for a table full of friends, playing some great music (very often Canada’s Oscar Peterson or other jazz), great Australian wine and a discussion about music, politics, philosophy, cricket or all of them combined. I also enjoy sailing and racing socially on the beautiful Pittwater north of Sydney where I live. Often time on the boat ends up with food, drinks, music and conversation.

I also have a passion for comedy, comics and comic films, and will watch Laurel & Hardy, Marx Brothers, Peter Ustinov, Woody Allen and many many others for hours.

Currently one of my favourite things is sitting on my deck under the stars listening to Cannonball Adderly with the Possums (the native Aussie animal not a backing group!!!), with something good from the Barossa Valley (Shiraz) or a good unwooded Chardonnay.
Going sailing with my kids and friends either social racing, or overnighting with picnics etc
Watching good quality cricket. Cooking for dinner parties with good friends

Technology is also a passion. I had a personal computer in my early teens in the early 1980s and have been brought up with them. I got an early agreement with Virgin games to write a computer game, got an “O” level in electronics and since then have been hooked. My dining table often has 3 MacBook pros on it, and I’ve etherneted most rooms in my home and have set up a wireless music system that allows me to play different music in four different parts of the house simultaneously, something I can set up from anywhere in the world!! I am never far from my iPad, MacBook Pro or iPhone. Indeed recently my friend Jennifer in the USA mailed me on LinkedIn asking me about my iPad that I was using just after they were released at the NCDA conference a few years back!

What is your favourite community? Why?

The local and international community of careers practitioners because they are devoting themselves to bettering the lives of people within their communities in very tangible ways and often for little reward or recognition. More personally, my family are beyond immensely important to me.

What is your superpower?

I am told I can be both entertaining and informative when I talk, I think talking and presenting is my strongest suit. I hope to convey my passion for Career Development and convey complex ideas in simple and/or amusing ways. I have a wicked sense of humor that I occasionally let loose on twitter or on stage, but I have to be careful as it can be quite screwball and runs the risks of being misunderstood.

How do you use it to build community?

I try to spread the message about the importance and the possibilities of Career Development and to develop innovative ideas to take our field forward. I do this by speaking to professional groups and communities and through my journalism, blogging, podcasts and radio work.

My Three Favourite Things About Jim Are…

1. Edutainment. The man is a role model of mine when it comes to the combination of learning, humour and media. Jim’s shift happens moniker and his hilarious tweets are the stuff of learners’ delight. I’m lucky to have seen Jim present a few times and certainly enjoy engaging with him throughout the Twitterverse. I mean, it’s hard to not be edutained by a gentleman who speaks of public houses as one of the best places to explore and discuss career possibilities.

2. Visionary. Check out The Factory Pod and learn more about Jim’s collaboration with Robert Pryor on the visionary concept called The Chaos Theory of Careers. I apply the idea to my work with students and their career curiosity each and every day. Let’s face it, the chaotic and ever-changing world of work affects my approach to life, the universe and everything, too.

3. Connectively Engaging. Whether it’s a LinkedIn discussion group or a listserve, Jim brings his ideas, opinions and creativity to many career-minded conversations. Through the questions he asks and myths he seeks to debunk, Jim makes us all better practitioners.

As told by John Horn

LinkedIn Lessons for President Obama

The following text is from Barack Obama’s LinkedIn profile. It’s hilarious in its understatement. Read on. There are some recommendations below.

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools on the planet. Barack Obama is the most powerful person on the planet (next to Lady Gaga, some might argue, but that’s another story for another time).  Somehow, there is a spectacular incongruency between Mr. Obama’s qualifications, experience and – most importantly – his potential and the President’s LinkedIn profile, which is snapshotted in all its underwhelmingness  above.

As a Career Manager at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, I work with graduate students to help them develop skills such as, but not limited to, the following: self-assessing, career exploring, relationship building, job finding, job getting, job keeping, and job-being-awesome-at. LinkedIn is a huge part of their professional toolkit. So, you can imagine just how upset I am at President Obama for setting a downright mediocre example of how to leverage social media to find, secure and expand amazing career opportunities and connections.

“But John, Barack Obama already has a really cool job,” you say. “Why should he care about LinkedIn?”

Because, Rhetorical Questioner, any good career adviser will tell you that you should begin looking for your next job while still in your current one. Developing a reputation, collecting cool career stories, building relationships, and, yes, promoting yourself is a big part of your ongoing, perpetual career development. Barack Obama is a smart man. He should know such things.

Consequently, here are three areas where Mr. Obama can improve his profile:

  1. Where’s the sell, man? “President of the United States” is cool and everything, but don’t you think you’re so much more than that? Oratory skills aside, the President’s community-building experience in Chicago and his “turnaround leadership” is nothing if not impressive. Barack Obama is authentic and a little self-marketing wouldn’t hurt his reputation at all.
  2. Get some recommendations! This feature is one of the best things about LinkedIn. You can collect testimonials from the people you have led, worked for and with whom you have built and sustained vibrant, successful community-based initiatives. Hillary Clinton is a no-brainer to recommend you, sir. I’m sure Stephen Harper would, too. Hu Jintao would be an impressive ‘get’ and, well, if Mr. Obama is really the bridge-builder that everyone hopes he can be then he will find some Republicans to say nice things about him. After all, you don’t have to like people who do good work that doesn’t jive with your interests, but you should respect them for it.
  3. Expand your “specialties” section. The number one fear in North American is not, in spite of what Arizona says, immigrants or terrorism; it’s public speaking. And you’re really, really, really good at it, Mr. Obama. Let’s face it, your post-Presidential career is going to involve a lot of presentations. My advice is to highlight your exceptional oratory skills and, if you haven’t already, emphasize your ability to use PowerPoint (or at least your ability to supply a really outstanding intern who can take slide-changing-cues from you during the presentation). Oh and, um, “charismatic figure who single-handedly revitalized American prestige in the global community” is, for the record, also a pretty cool specialty.

So there it is. Some simple ways that a gentleman who is doing a darn good job can better leverage one of the best professional networking tools on the interscape. Call it a hunch, but I think this Obama kid might go places. And, like all of us, today’s fast-paced, professional landscape calls for an online presence that lives up to his – and our – myriad potentials.

- JCH

Thriving in an Employer’s Market

I bet he had friends on the Death Star, too...

I bet he had friends on the Death Star, too...

As it turns out, the recession is effecting the global economy, which, consequently, is negatively impacting the Canadian economy. Shocking, I know. And you heard it here first, from The Daily Gumboot.

“What’s that? Oh, everyone already knows this? Um, okay, we’ll have to think of something else, then.”

So, it turns out that the Canadian jobless rate is going to hit 10%, or so says Mark Carney and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). According to the OECD, Stephen Harper and the Conservative government need to act quickly and decisively if the country is to avoid a crisis of joblessness. Depending on when and where you read “news” in BC, we are in the midst of a terrible recession (unfortunately emphasized by massive youth unemployment and under employment), or we are on the “cusp of recovery” because of cool new job numbers. No matter what, the employment situation in Canada is tougher than it’s been in a long, long time. A recent National Post article even revealed that many job seekers out there are dumbing down their resumes in order to remain competitive. And, to close the loop on this terrible situation, Tavia Grant’s article in Tuesday, September 22nd’s Globe and Mail accurately paints a picture of Canada’s workplaces being part of “an employer’s market!” Are you searching for work in your community? If so, we wish you the best of luck.

I mean, you can wait for Stephen Harper, the Canadian government, industry executives, Mark Carney, your mom, and Batman to do something about it, or you can combine some savvy career advice from this publication with your own awesomeness, and get out there and find meaningful work.

Here are some sure-fire, can’t-miss, foolproof, golden, and amazing tips on how you can thrive in an employer’s market.

1. Learn about emerging industries and new trends. The world is changing. Obviously. And now is the time for you to find your new place in it. For example, first year university and college students in Canada will, most likely, finish school and secure a job that doesn’t exist today. And whether you’re a 50-plus year old forestry worker from Prince George or a nickle worker from Sudbury, you are in a position to re-invent yourself as an employee. Things are changing, after all. Even when they stay the same. Alternative energy, corporate social responsibility and information technology are all pretty hot right now. It turns out that we will continue to use technology and people to overcome envirnmental challenges and the sinful human practice of greed. Not bad things to get involved in, if I do say so myself. Oh, and by 2012 immigrants will account for all net labour market growth in the Canadian economy, so, yeah, I guess do some reading up on where some demographic-related holes are going to emerge, too.

2. Hide in school. MBA applications to North American B-Schools are way up, according to Business Week. Why? Well, school is a great place to add value to your professional toolkit during an employer’s market, where opportunities are scarce and hiring and promotions are in a bit of a holding pattern. Now is a great time to invest in your education and get trained in anything from urban planning to social media marketing to library science to any shot-term, additional degree/diploma/certificate that compliments your existing education. Just make sure that your value is being increased while in school (ie. if you think a communications certificate is going to land you a project management position in a public relations firm when you have no work experience in the field, well, then the recession isn’t your biggest problem).

3. Get up early. Then network. This kind of thing is common sense, but it’s not common practice. Listen to leadership gurus like Robin Sharma to learn what it takes to get up early. Every day. It seems simple enough, but it’s not; especially for people who are un-employed or under-employed, as they lack motivation. Figure out what it takes to motivate yourself to get up early and be ready for action. Then go and talk to the people who work where you want to work (in a specific position or in an industry/organization about which you are thoroughly passionate) – we in the career development business call these folks “decision makers” (ie. they make the decision to hire you or not). Twitblog the interscape, read newspapers and magazines, peruse the Yellow Pages, visit libraries, and talk to people in order to find out where the decision makers you want to meet hang out together. Then go there and learn more about what it takes to work in their industry and/or for their organization. There are countless resources and tips about networking, especially for all you introverts out there. After you get up early, make sure you relax, too!

A good impression on paper, sure, but how about in person? You can barely see the guy!

A good impression on paper, sure, but how about in person? You can barely see the guy!

4. Manage your expectations, and love change. So you want to be a Product Developer with Google. Well, a lot of people do. And since a lot of Product Developers just got laid off, um, everywhere, things just got a lot more competitive. Needless to say, now is a great time to consider where (geographically, functionally, by industry, and by company) you can find the type of professional experience you are looking for, even if it might not be your dream job. CareerLeader, a Brookline, Massachusetts career consultancy has the following to say about bringing discipline to the dream during the recession: “We need the discipline of analysis to identify the skills and experience we need to advance toward our dream and to explore all of the various work settings where we can gain those skills and experience. If we have our vision before us, to revisit for renewed inspiration, then we won’t experience these skillful adjustments as failures or the abandonment of ‘the dream.’ Rather, we’ll feel new energy when we see them for what they are: true progress toward something that is real and important, toward what we want to be doing, and to be.” Your dream job will come eventually (even for you, Astronaut Cowboy), you just need to be patient. For you graduates, remember that where you start your career usually has nothing to do with where you finish it.

5. Make a polished and professional first impression: in person, on paper and online. This one is complicatedly simple. It all begins with knowing your audience and doing the research that will make them say, “wow, that was a great question!” Knowing the most about anything will make you stand out from the crowd. Being appropriately dressed (ie. if you want to be a server in The Bump ‘n’ Grind on The Drive, don’t show up in a freakin’ suit!), groomed and offering a solid handshake are all key. Eye contact and active listening are also phenomenally important for making a good impression in person. As for the impression on paper, here’s the deal: if you are a student, go to your university or college career centre right now; if you aren’t a student, check out the multiple career centres around your community and make an appointment to build a great resume. Here’s a tip: no matter how amazing, professional or experienced you are, try to create a one-page resume that you can use as a follow-up after meetings or networking events. As for your online impression, well, it turns out that the internet is on computers these days. Whether it’s something as simple as cleaning up your Facebook account, creating (and using) a LinkedIn profile, or showcasing your knowledge and style by blogging about an indutry in which you are, having a positive and interesting online presence is becoming more and more important.

So there it is. A healthy and sustainable community, after all, is made up of people who do meaningful work – and you deserve nothing less. Once again, as I say to my students, such ideas might be common sense, but they are not common practice. As you begin to create good career habits, be sure to have fun with it, too!

- JCH