Passion: Ya Got it?

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th2Y1T40FNThe only way to do great work is to love what you do. – Steve Jobs

What the late entrepreneurial genius, Steve Jobs, was talking about, is PASSION.

According to finance.yahoo.com,

Seventy percent of students would prefer a stable job without a high level of emotional investment or passion over a job with lots of passion but no job security, according to the most recent Way to Work™ survey from Adecco Staffing USA, the nation’s leading provider of recruitment and workforce solutions. The survey also found that while the majority (79 percent) of students are optimistic they will find a job in five months or less, finding a job is still their top concern.

 

Adecco conducted the survey of 1,001 Millennial and Generation Z students as part of its Way to Work™ program, which helps prepare students and recent graduates for internships and job opportunities. Members of ‘Gen Z’ surveyed, who are between the ages of 18-20, appear to already have differences in their priorities and concerns compared to their Millennial counterparts.

“We’re on the cusp of a new era,” said Joyce Russell, president, Adecco Staffing, USA. “With the first group of ‘Gen Z’ now in college, it will be fascinating to learn how this new generation of the labor force differs from Millennials in terms of their aspirations, outlook, expectations and priorities.”

It appears that these young Americans are more concerned about surviving than they are about thriving.

The American Worker who simply punches in and punches out at his stale, old job, day after day, is not just a well-known stereotype…it’s an all-too-common reality.

A lot of Americans seem to feel the way that those Millennials do, seeing a job as just something they do, not something they love to do.

And, that’s sad.

Speaking as a “business veteran”, folks who feel that way do not seem to  understand that fact that, as working adults, we spend 80% of our time on the job, and only 20% pursuing leisure activities and family time.

Plus, they never excel at their positions.

That’s a whole lot of time to perform the duties of a job which is boring you out of your mind, when you would rather be doing something else.

No matter how diligently you are performing your duties, quite frankly, you are still cheating your employer, because he is not getting the best that you can give him.

Curt Rosengren, in an article posted on money.usnews.com, said the following about the difference that having passion about your job makes:

It’s an energy source. When you’re on fire about what you do, it energizes you, and you can put that energy back into your work. Instead of the energy drain that work represents for so many people, your work actually becomes an energy gain. So not only are you getting energy from what you’re doing, you also aren’t having to dig into your energy reserves just to get through the day. The energy differential is huge.

It helps you feel more confident. For far too many people, work is about getting up in the morning and trying to be someone they’re not. Not only does that drain their energy, it also keeps them off balance. Think of someone standing on one leg with the other leg up in the air and their arms waving, trying to keep their balance. They’re deathly afraid that someone is going to come up and bump into them, because they’re already in danger of falling over. Trying to be who you’re not in your career is a little like that. You have to put extra effort into doing what doesn’t come naturally. Maintaining the façade keeps you off balance.

When you’re aligned with what energizes you, on the other hand, it’s like having both feet solidly planted on the floor and your center of gravity low. You don’t have to worry about somebody knocking you off balance because it doesn’t take an special energy to simply be who you are. You inherently feel more confident about what you’re doing.

It feeds your persistence. The odds are good that, whatever your career path, you’re going to run into roadblocks and experience some bumps along the way. When you’re doing something in pursuit of what energizes and inspires you, those roadblocks and bumps are a lot easier to take. Don’t get me wrong. They never become enjoyable, but their size relative to your objective is smaller.

I was at an Intercontinental Hotel Group “Solution Selling Seminar” last week, where a top executive at IHG asked us if we had passion about our job.

Passion is important in the Hospitality Industry. If you don’t have it, when you go to meet a potential client, they will spot your lack of it from a mile away. So will the guests staying at your hotel.

Whether you are a executive, a mid-level manager, a recent college graduate working in an entry-level position, or a ditch digger, if you don’t have passion about what you are doing during the time that you spend at work, then you are cheating your employer and yourself.

Life is too short…and you’re too smart to remain a hamster on a treadmill, going nowhere fast.

It takes passion to accomplish your goals.

Ya got it?

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.

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Being an Unemployed Baby Boomer in a Busted Economy

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unemployment2As I have written in the past, I am what the experts call, “A Baby Boomer”, 55 years young, born to parents of “The Greatest Generation”.

Finding myself unemployed at this age, has been a challenge. to say the least.

The big question that looms before me everyday, as I scour the Internet looking for a job, is: “Okay, Champ. Now What?”

The number of Americans in my “age category” now totals around 77 million. The oldest have already passed 65 and are eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

If these Boomers leave the workforce at the normal retirement age, currently set at 67 for younger Boomers, the labor force participation rate will continue to drop simply because of the sheer size of the cohort.

However, many of us, due to the vicissitudes of life, have no retirement fund to draw on. Additionally, most of us do not have pensions. Even those who were able to put back some money were hammered by a decade of meager stock market returns and, in some cases, bad luck or poor investment choices.

Of course, the state of the economy is not helping Baby Boomers, like myself, at all.

According to foxnews.com

The economy grew 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter—hardly the 4 to 5 percent needed to provide enough jobs and restore housing prices to pre-recession levels.

Throughout 2013, higher taxes on all income classes—President Obama’s levies on the wealthy, higher local taxes on the middle class, and reinstatement of social security taxes on lower income workers—depressed consumer spending.

The unemployment rate has become a meaningless statistic for evaluating the economic recovery, because so many discouraged Americans have quit seeking jobs.

Consumers coped by saving less but that dampened winter spending, and first quarter is expected to register at about 2 percent. Activity should pick up this spring to about 3 percent the second half of the year.

…The unemployment rate has become a meaningless statistic for evaluating the economic recovery, because so many discouraged Americans have quit seeking jobs and are not counted in jobless statistics. If the same percentage of adults were active today as when the recovery began, the unemployment rate would be 9.6 percent.

Going forward, the economy will create about 200,000 jobs each month, hardly the 350,000 needed to raise employment to prerecession levels.

But, what about all of those Americans who have dropped out of the Labor Force? Do they matter…and why?

Last year, The Washington Post’s Jim Tankersley and the Wall Street Journal’s Ben Casselman feuded over this very topic.

Tankersley sums up the discussion and answers the question which I just raised…

Why do we care that workforce participation is falling? In the column that sparked this feud, Ben Casselman gave us two answers. Both have to do with fear: We fear that the labor market is weaker than we think, and we fear that discouraged workers who left the labor force might, with enough time away, never make their way back into jobs.
J-Tank and B-Cass may not be getting along like Jay-Z and Beyonce, but after this feud can both agree that labor force participation is really important.

J-Tank and B-Cass may not be getting along like Jay-Z and Beyonce, but can they can both agree that labor force participation is really important?

Casselman tells us that the latter fear “may be exaggerated.” He also says, in his latest feud post, that I have outlined no real disagreement with his main points. So here’s a disagreement that’s crystal clear: That fear is not exaggerated. It is under-exaggerated.

Instead of thinking about falling participation as “structural” or “cyclical,” , as Casselman does. Instead let’s think of it as “inevitable” or “not inevitable.”

The “inevitable” decline in labor force participation is the one America has seen coming for decades – as the great mass of baby boomers begin to retire and mass of new would-be workers coming of age to replace them is smaller. (It also includes the shift in the economy toward more young people pursuing higher education.) If that group were largely responsible for the falling participation, Casselman would be correct. There wouldn’t be much to fear about more weakness in the labor market or the prospect of permanently unemployable people.

But the reality is that right now the “inevitable” group isn’t nearly as big as the “not inevitable” group of people who really would rather be working, if possible.

And, I am one of them.

To summarize, as the late great Rodney Dangerfield, said, in his role as self-made millionaire Thornton Mellon, in the movie”Back to School”,

It’s a jungle out there. You gotta look out for Number 1, and don’t step in Number 2!

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

– Allen

Job Search 2014: It’s a Brave New World

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40s businessAs I continue my quest for gainful employment, it has become very evident to me that America’s Job Market has drastically changed.

The impatience of a technology-driven society is very evident…even in a job search.

Employers nowadays want to know what you can do for them today, not a couple of years down the road. And, with the economy headed down the ol’ porcelain receptacle, they want you to be able to do it with a limited or non-existent budget. Additionally , if you are being interviewed by a smaller company, Health Insurance for you and your family may not be included, due to the launch of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

This ain’t our parents (or grandparents for you young whipper-snappers out there) Job Market.

My folks were members of America’s Greatest Generation. I was born when they were 40. That being said, I can remember my Mother and Father, going to work everyday, to their jobs with Sears and Roebuck.

That’s right. They both worked for the same company…for 20 years!

You see, boys and girls, back then, unlike our impatient present society, employers hired you for the long haul. These employers were adept, through face-to-face interviews, at recognizing future employes’ potential, and were willing to invest the time necessary to cultivate that employee in order to realize a Return on that Investment (ROI).

Beginning in the 1980’s, the employer/employee dynamic began to change, as older employees, seemingly overnight,  became viewed as liabilities, not assets.

Take Sears and Roebuck, for example. As I mentioned earlier, both my parents put in 20 years with Sears.  In the early 1980s, after the Corporate Offices moved into the Sears Tower in Chicago, the young, hungry executives up there decided that the old model of employment with Sears was no longer viable.

Sears Employees, at that time, had a very nice Benefit Package, which included profit sharing, paid vacations, health insurance…the whole deal.

In return, at the store level, the employees were very happy, hard-working, and loyal assets to the company.

For example, my Father managed the Suburban Shop in a Sears Store, here in Dixie. His department consisted of a combined Farm Store and the Garden Store. He sold fencing, storage rooms, chain saws, tractors, go-karts, Sakrete (concrete mix), fertilizer, flowers..you get the idea. I still remember him, in his 50s, loading bags of Sakrete onto a dolly.

The employees would also hold monthly management/recognition meetings before the store would open for the day. There would be skits, motivational speeches from management, and awards given. My Father, in fact, was Sales Manager of the Year, at least a couple of times.

The results of the way that Sears treated their employees, back in the day, showed up in their sales…and their reputation. When you walked in the door of a Sears Store, you were immediately greeted by the employees, and made to feel welcome. Their reputation ranked right up there with Macy’s Department Store in the Northern States and Goldsmith’s Department Store down here in the South. In other words, they were considered THE TOP OF THE LINE.

And then, it happened.

The bean counters and the young, hungry executives decided that taking care of their employees was interfering with their Revenue Stream. They began to “tighten the screws”, if you will, and started offering “Early Retirement” to their veteran, knowledgeable employees, so that they could replace them with part-time young employees, with reduced benefits, thereby increasing their corporate Revenue Stream.

So, how did that work out?

Not so well.

Sears had to close a lot of stores, before finally selling out to K-mart, which still finds itself in a precarious position, being trounced in the marketplace on a regular basis by Walmart.

So, you’re asking, what does that have to do with today’s Job market?

I’m glad you asked.

Nowadays, in our impatient society, powered by an universal quest for immediate results and gratification, employers and job-seekers alike have forgotten the old adage,

Good things come to those who wait.

Employers need to realize that there are skills you can teach employees and that the job seeker who is presently interviewing with you, can be cultivated into becoming a worthwhile ROI.

And, on the job seeker’s part, young seekers, just out of college, need to realize that, while universities can teach you knowledge, they can’t teach you experience. You may have to take a lower job than you had set your hopes on, in order to achieve greater success in the future.

To summarize, in today’s “microwave-version” of the job seeking/hiring process, perhaps both employers and potential employees need to slow down, move in a more deliberate fashion, and think a little more about what they want, in both an employer and in a job situation.

Prepare for the long haul.

Be Flexible. Be Adaptable. 

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

 Allen