Unemployed: Never Ask For Help

My job search activities started on the very day the bad news came. Updating resumes, refreshing network connections, applying for unemployment benefits to name just a few. It was bad news, you bet, but I felt confident that my unemployed status would be short-lived.

Networking Not Working

Then I attended my first “lunch and learn” meeting sponsored by a professional association. It didn’t go well. I was embarrassed to tell others that I had been laid off, but worse, when asked about my job search plans and goals, I stammered out some words as my unfocused ideas buzzed around my head and slipped out of my mouth. People at the meeting who even had job openings at their companies would politely excuse themselves to connect with others after only a few minutes with me and my unprepared job search ideas.

I walked to the parking lot after that event knowing I needed to get better at planning for and having effective job networking conversations. I didn’t know where to start, but I knew I needed to do something and quickly.

Help Wanted Fast

A career coach recommended a book called The 20-Minute Networking Meeting to give me some practical steps and an easy to follow outline for preparing and engaging in job networking conversations. Here are a few ways that this book has helped me and hopefully will help you.

1) Always Prepare

If you know ahead of time who you will be talking with, spend time learning about their background and experience before the meeting. This preparation helped build up my confidence and saved time for a richer discussion and deeper relationship-building instead of me taking time for things I could have found out on LinkedIn or from some other source.

2) Begin with Relationship

Using the first 2-3 minutes to talk about how you and the network contact are connected will help get the meeting off to a positive start. “I was excited when our mutual friend, Sally, recommended for me to reach out to you. She really enjoyed working with you on the Greenfield project. Did you know Sally before that project?” Adding this tactic to the meeting introduction helped me and my contact feel more at ease (and, yes, networking contacts feel nervous too).

3) Never Ask for a Job

This may sound counter-productive, but wait. I don’t like pushy or manipulative sales people when I am in the market to buy something. Your network contact doesn’t either. Avoiding this direct approach can help you make a great impression by showing off your positive attitude, your skills and experience, and your professionalism. Make a commitment to earn their trust first. If your networking contact has or knows of a job opening, the topic will be introduced by the contact in the meeting. If not, it often will come up in the follow-up communication.

4) Ask “How Can I Help You?”

I have been shocked by how grateful many of my networking contacts have been when I have offered to help them. Sometimes, because of my prior research, I have been able to offer a specific piece of assistance, but other times I just ask the generic version of the question. If you are sincere and really do want to help, it will be appreciated by your contact. It becomes a bit of proof that you are truly willing to serve instead of only looking out for your interests.

These are just a few of the tips and ideas from the book that helped me. I hope they can make your networking more enjoyable and effective

As usual if this seems plagiarized that’s because it probably is–if you see something that’s yours let me know and I will remove it. Cool Beans…

Embracing Ambiguity 

Instead of offering definitive answers to the country’s biggest questions, the 2016 election results provoke even larger questions. How could the forecasters and the campaigns themselves been so wrong? What and maybe who did all the pollsters miss? Was there a late breaking voter phenomenon that was hard to measure?

These are critically important questions, and investigations are already underway. We may find answers to many of them; we may find others where the evidence will not be conclusive. But we need to let the chips fall where they may, including on my plate as a pollster with a newer platform.

I’m confident in one fact: we canvassed enough people. At SurveyStud we interviewed thousands over the course of the campaign, more than any other public source and more than the campaigns themselves. Our data consistently got big things right: like Donald Trump’s outsized support in the Midwest and Rust Belt.

But there’s another thing that’s absolutely clear to me, and it’s a categorical failing of data wonks trying to grasp certainty through research: too often we are guilty of failing to embrace uncertainty — specifically, the uncertainty embedded in the data itself.

Even our electoral map contained clues that the prevailing narrative was wrong. In our final 50-state map, we had Clinton with only 257 solid Electoral College votes, shy of the 270 needed to win and trending down from the 307 number we showed when we launched our daily tracking two weeks before Election Day. The rest were toss-ups. Our own data showed an open path for Trump. But the surface narrative lined up with the Clinton sweep that our own national numbers and everyone else was pointing to — from the New York Times to HuffPollster to the neuroscientist tapped as this year’s “Nate Silver.” Even the Trump senior adviser who told CNN on Election Day that it would “take a miracle for us to win. It all made the countervailing data points seem smaller than they should have appeared.

Now, people are asking if they can ever trust data again. In fact, we need data more than ever.

We will understand our numerical misses only by getting more information, doing deeper data analysis, and committing to even more rigorous efforts to constantly challenge our assumptions. Since pride tripped us up, humility may prove a better guide.

Some of the big areas for further exploration throughout the polling industry are already clear:

Likely voter models. Whatever the true magnitude of the errors this year, estimating who will actually cast a ballot — a future, yet-to-exist population — has long been a weak part of survey research. In the end, this year’s surveys may have collectively done a really good job at registering voter preferences, but where we all seemed to have slipped is in adequately gauging intent. It’s one thing to support a candidate in one’s head, with a yard sign, or on a survey. It’s another thing entirely to cast an actual ballot for that candidate. We need better, more reliable ways to bridge the gap between attitudes and actions.

Uncertainty estimates. We need better, more user-friendly ways to express the likely variability around polling estimates. More sophisticated poll consumers expect a “plus or minus” around our numbers, but even they latch onto the specific numbers we present. In a sports-dominated culture, numbers automatically become scores. A false sense of precision sets in when media narratives get created out of those numbers. For the most numerate out there, forecasters’ probabilities are a welcome and sufficient way to build in some doubt. Everyone else needs something more.

We are working on all of these challenges — and have the tools to tackle them. At SurveyStud, we’ve built a methodologically rigorous, smartphone-based program for political polls that rivals the best surveys around. But surveys need to be better, and we have the tools to improve our data even more. We’re already moving to develop advanced adjustments to our samples to handle a range of non-response issues; we will leverage external data to make more robust likely-voter models; and we will make everything, including possible errors, more comprehensible.

As usual if this seems plagiarized that’s because it probably is–so if you see something and I need to remove it let me know.  Cool Beans…

President Donald Trump: A Must Read

Donald  Trump represents a throwback to the 1950s — a time when the Midwest was a beacon of affluence for many working class whites with high-paying factory jobs.

What you saw [Tuesday] is the revenge of the angry white working class voter, but I think this really will be the last gasp of the angry white male. 

For months Donald Trump has dismissed polls and experts and proclaimed that he was at the head of a movement of disaffected voters that would upend conventional political wisdom and kick out the Washington establishment. 

The New York businessman was proved right on Tuesday as he rode a wave of anger with economic change, dogwhistle racial politics and pledges to crack down on immigration and rip up trade agreements to a stunning upset win. 

More so one demographic above all took him there: the once solidly Democratic blue-collar white voters that may now be known as Trump Democrats. “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” the tycoon declared in his victory speech.

According to exit polls, across the US Mr Trump carried the white voters who made up 70 per cent of the electorate by a 58:37 margin over Hillary Clinton.

Among white voters without a university degree that margin grew to 67:28. But even among white voters with a degree, exit polls showed him carrying the day 49:45, despite surveys that for months had predicted they would be part of a demographic firewall benefiting Mrs Clinton. 

Some have said this was a whitelash. This was a whitelash against a changing country;  others believed It was a whitelash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes.

Tuesday’s scream of the angry white voter was heard loudest in rust belt states such as Ohio and Indiana and threw into play previous Democratic strongholds such as Michigan and Pennsylvania — neither of which had voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1988.

Overall Mr Trump’s campaign and his appeal to white voters had an ugly side, unleashing a previously unseen level of vitriol in American politics  He was criticised widely for courting the vote of white nationalists and the “alt-right” movement that has taken anti-semitic and racial bullying to new levels on social media.

Yet at the end of the day… regardless of how some feel he [Donald Julious Trump] is the next President of “These” United States of America.

Ok as usual if you feel any of this was plagiarized that’s because it probably was.  If you see something that may be yours let me know and I will remove it.  Cool Beans…. 

New Business

This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you don’t know who your target customer is, you’ll have a tough time retaining loyal consumers. I don’t mean just knowing who your customer is, but really being attuned to everything he or she does, wants and thinks. How old are they? Where do they live? How much money do they make? What colors do they prefer? Where do they buy their clothes? A middle-aged housewife with a disposable income may not be looking to buy a sequin G-string with matching garter, and failing to tailor your product to her needs can quickly result in loads of missed opportunities.

Surveys (using SurveyStud), focus groups and research can be a great way to learn about your customer’s preferences and buying habits. Another helpful tool that worked for me was to identify an actual person (celebrity, athlete, musician) as my target customer. I got to know everything about that person, and was soon able to pick up on little cues and details of what they wore and where they shopped. Now, whenever I’m unsure if a certain style will resonate with my customers, I always refer back to that person and ask myself, “would they wear this or not?” to help me decide. Having a consistent vision across the board, from your product to your marketing, is invaluable these days and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

New Business Part 1

You know those beautiful designer lingerie sets that are so expensive you’d have to take a loan out just to afford one? There’s a reason they cost so much, and it’s not just about the fine quality and craftsmanship. Often times you are paying for the brand itself and the experience that comes with it.

When doing my initial planning, I first aimed for a pricing structure that would place me lower than my competitors with comparable product. I thought that would be a great way to attract customers, and I couldn’t understand why a bra would need to be marked up so high. But after months of number crunching and financial management courses I found that those products were marked up not just to make a profit, but to keep the business up and running on a daily basis. If I had dropped my prices as I had originally intended to do, I’d surely be out of business within a year.

It is important to set each price for adequate accommodation of your business’s overhead budget, taking into account employee salaries and the cost of goods, supplies, legal fees, advertising, etc. I learned that a smart pricing structure is directly related to the cost of doing business. If you price your goods accordingly, your customers are sure to understand and learn to view you as a respectable entity.

New Business Part 2

One of the most surprising things I realized in my early months is that not many people were/are interested in selling their product Indie Startups. 

I thought as a small independent business, I’d be respected and supported by the brands I wanted to do business with, but that seemed to only be the case with a select few. After numerous unanswered emails and rejections, one sympathetic vendor finally told me that many brands only want to work with larger, established companies. These brands often hire agents to manage their sales and are very strict about how much money they bring in. Big retailers pay big bucks and buy big quantities, leaving us little guys to struggle with more limited options.

It was a disappointing fact to learn, but thankfully, most of the labels that will work with startups (many of them indie brands themselves) know the value of partnership and have been supportive from the get go. 

These are the brands I look forward to forming lasting relationships with, and remind me why I continue to love this industry so much.

Question is… if you are an Indie StartUp are you reaching out to other Indie Startups?

Self Motivated

Establishing your first startup is immensely exciting, and while you may feel 100% onboard, it can often be difficult to get others to share your enthusiasm. Don’t be too shocked when your friends and colleagues aren’t so keen on joining you on your magical journey into the wondrous world of startups.

I initially felt pretty discouraged when I couldn’t get friends and coworkers to sign onboard with me and my company of one. Couldn’t they see what an exciting opportunity this was? I didn’t understand why no one was willing to drop everything and join me.

It took me a while to realize that I was asking people to take a huge leap of faith. With families to support and bills to pay, many people weren’t comfortable taking such a big risk. I realized that I had to demonstrate my company’s value to people so that they’d feel more confident that our venture was at least semi-reliable.

I worked on setting and meeting goals, developing my business skills, and putting money back into my business so that I had real results to show potential team members. Once I had numbers to back up my claims, I was able to get the team together that I needed

The harsh reality is that around 80% of businesses fail, which doesn’t make for great odds. What’s worse is that as an entrepreneur, your roadblocks become public knowledge as family, friends, and acquaintances continue to ask, “so how’s that company of yours going?” You can’t imagine how fun Thanksgiving is.

Accept that you may fail, but instead of wallowing, learn from your missteps. Some entrepreneurs go through several failed startups before finding their golden ticket. It requires a degree of humility to accept education and insight from your mistakes, so check your ego at the door.

Finally, an entrepreneur can be tough, but the rewards are tremendous. People can tell you how good it feels to see your business win and thrive, but until you see it happen, it’s hard to really comprehend the sheer joy and satisfaction.

As I always say, if this seems plagiarized that’s because it probably is.  If you see something that’s your and should be removed let me know and I will remove it.  Cool Beans…