Monday, October 31, 2011

Wise Counsel from Seth Godin for Job Seekers - How to get a job with a small company

Seth Godin can always be counted upon to offer succinct and practical wisdom - in his books, Blogs, websites, and personal appearances. Today's Blog posting offers some of the wisest advice I have yet seen on how to find a job with a small company. I am pleased to pass along his thoughts:

How to get a job with a small company

Most advice about job seeking is oriented around big companies. The notion of a standard resume, of mass mailings, of dealing with the HR department--even the idea of interviews--is all built around the Fortune 500.

Alas, the Fortune 500 has been responsible for a net loss in jobs over the last twenty years. All the growth (and your best chance to get hired) is from companies you’ve probably never heard of. And when the hirer is also the owner, the rules are very different.

1. Learn to sell. Everyone has sold something, some time, even if it’s just selling your mom on the need for a nap when you were three years old. A lot of people have decided that they don’t want to sell, can’t sell, won’t sell, but those same people need to understand that they’re probably not going to get a job doing anything but selling.

Small businesses always need people who can sell, because selling pays for itself. It’s not an expense, it’s a profit center.

2. Learn to write. Writing is a form of selling, one step removed. There’s more writing in business today than ever before, and if you can become a persuasive copywriter, you’re practically a salesperson, and even better, your work scales.

3. Learn to produce extraordinary video and multimedia. This is just like writing, but for people who don’t like to read. Even better, be sure to mix this skill with significant tech skills. Yes, you can learn to code. The fact that you don't feel like it is one reason it's a scarce skill.

Now that you’ve mastered these skills (all of which take time and guts but no money), understand the next thing about small businesses--they aren’t hiring to fill a slot. Unlike a big company with an org chart and pay levels, the very small business is an organism, not a grid. The owner is far more likely to bring in a freelancer or someone working on spec than she is to go run a classified help wanted ad.

And many small businesses are extremely bad at taking initiative that feels like risk. They’d rather fill orders than take a chance and go out prospecting for a person who represents a risk. And that’s your opportunity.

When you show up and offer to go prospecting on spec, offer to contribute a website or a sales letter or some sales calls--with no money on the table--many small business people will take you up on it, particularly if they are cash-strapped, profit-oriented and know you by reputation. (Please don't overlook that last one).

Hint: don't merely show up and expect a yes. It's something you earn over time...

The rest is easy. Once you demonstrate that you contribute far more than you cost, now it's merely a matter of figuring out a payment schedule.

This is probably far more uncertainty and personal branding than most job seekers are comfortable with. Which is precisely why it works.

Seth's Blog

AOCI - A New Facebook Community for Military Veterans

My friend, Joe Rhyne, has taken the initiative to create a Facebook application that allows military veterans to network in a professional way. I see it as a "virtual Officers' Club." Here is how Joe describes the vision for AOCI:

America’s O’Club of Industry (AOCI) is an exciting new Facebook application for former and current U.S. military officers interested in professional networking. With a quickly growing membership base, the application offers a great way for officers to connect and interact. Members can:

  • Search user profiles by location, industry, company, education and more
  • Message other members even if you’re not Facebook friends
  • Read reviews of employers and graduate programs submitted by AOCI members
  • Join a variety of veteran message and job boards, and more…

This app is novel adaptation of the Facebook environment for the military community, and fills an important niche in the social media world. The apps founders have created a guest account for me and I've already invited a number of my Facebook friends who are current/former U.S. military officers. Membership is invite-only, so if you are a qualified friend and I have not invited you, please let me know and I'll send you an invitation.

I look forward to meeting you on-line at AOCI.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Up Close to the Pope - Review of "The Pope & The CEO" by Andreas Widmer

Andreas Widmer stands in a unique position to comment on the leadership lessons that can be gleaned from examining the life and vocation of Pope John Paul II. A young Widmer served in the Swiss Guard as one of the Pope's personal body guards. In that role, he saw the Pope in many "unguarded" and intimate moments, and came away deeply moved by this rare man of prayer and action. Later in his life, Widmer has had opportunities to experience success in the business world, including stints serving as a CEO. He thoughtfully and prayerfully distills his recollections of the wisdom of John Paul II and applies those lessons to his business life - and by extension offers advice to readers who seek to combine business with faith.

It makes sense that the book's priorities reflect those things that Pope John Paul II emphasized in his teaching and in his practice. Widmer gives his reader an extensive discussion of the concept of vocation. Those already familiar with the Roman Catholic theology of vocation will instantly relate to the ways in which the author discusses his own deepening understanding of his business career as an expression of his vocation from God. Those who come to the book from other faith traditions will have to work a bit harder to fully apprehend the threefold concept of vocation, but it is work well worth doing.

This book is a welcome addition to the small library of thoughtful works that seek to seamlessly weave together deep faith and a passion for business.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mini-Review of "The Garden of Last Days" by Andre Dubus III

Ever since I was introduced to "The House of Sand and Fog," Andre Dubus III has been one of my favorite contemporary authors. As he made clear in his recent memoir, "Townie," (recently review in this Blog) he has spent the better part of his lifetime coming to grips with his own internal rage.

As a result, he is able to tap into the rage of the colorful characters he creates in his novels and short stories. "The Garden of Last Days" is tour de force page-turner. I sped through the book's 535 pages in just a few days because I could not wait to find out how all of the threads and characters would be woven together at the denouement

Dubus has pulled off a very difficult feat; he has created a cast of characters who are all perennial losers and are, for the most part, unlikeable. Yet I found myself caring about each one, and wondering if the end of the book would find them alive, dead, happy, bereft, lost or reconciled. Picture the cast of characters you might expect to encounter at 2:00 AM in a 7-Eleven at a desolate Florida strip mall and you have the crew that the author has created for this story. A stripper with a three year-old daughter is forced to bring the child to the club one night because the usual babysitter has been rushed to the hospital with a possible heart attack. The events that ensue, including the little girl's abduction and the stripper's encounter with a future 9/11 terrorist, show the underbelly of American life. One of the remarkable achievements is the author's ability to let each character speak with a unique and authentic voice that allows the reader to empathize - if not agree with - the character's view of the world.

I continue to work my way through all of Dubus' writing. I have yet to be disappointed with anything I have read that he has authored.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Strong Follow-uo to "The White Tiger": REview of "Last Man in Tower" by Aravind Adigo

Aravind Adiga made a splash with his Booker Prize-winning "The White Tiger." With his most recent novel, he solidifies that strong reputation. This complex story of a group of Mumbai inhabitants who stand in the way of an overly ambitious developer brings the reader deep into the sounds, smells and ethos of this bustling Indian metropolis. This is a story of greed, murder, community ties and community dissolution in the face of strong pressures. The story is beautifully told and resonates with the thoughtful reader both at a personal and a macro level.

Here is a vivid example of Adiga's distinctive writing style. It shows his ability to capture both personal and societal features with his keen eye:

"The other customer at the table - Masterji noticed him now - a gaunt, middle-aged man in a dirty blue shirt, looked Muslim because of his beard. Masterji guessed he was one of those who had been pulling carts on the road - he thought he could even identify the man's wooden cart resting against the door of the cafe. The labourer picked a biscuit from the stainless-steel plate and chewed. Gone with it, he breathed, picked a second biscuit, and chewed. Each movement of his bony jaws spoke of fatigue; the permanent fatigue of men who have no one to care about them when they work and no one to care about them after they work. The thin body broadcast a raw animal silence. Middle-aged? No. His hair was greying at the edges, but youth had only recently been exorcised from his face. Twenty-seven or twenty-eight at the most. Masterji watched this young man with sunken, shocked eyes and barely enough strength to lift one milk biscuit at a time. This is his daily life. Pulling that cart and coming here for these biscuits, he thought.

The tired Muslim man returned Masterji's gaze. Their eyes met like foreign languages, and the labourer, without moving his lips, spoke at last." (Page 301)

I plan now to read all of Adiga's novels. His is a voice worth listening to.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Story About Always Giving Thanks - Eddie Rickenbacker and the Seagulls

Years ago when I was a kid and just beginning to devour books, I came across a biography of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and the story of how he and his crew survived a plane crash in the Pacific. I have never forgotten the details of that story, and was thrilled when my friend Matt shared an update.

Read the vignette below, and give thanks!

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A good story to keep life in perspective.


SERE story - Old Eddie

Old Eddie - a neat, inspiring story

This is a true story. I had never heard it before. Hope you appreciate it
and want to pass it along. See verification at the end.

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled
a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.. Clutched in his
bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where
it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden
bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the
end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white
dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky
frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering
and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As
he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, 'Thank
you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn't leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and

When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few
of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and
then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end
of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed
might seem like 'a funny old duck,' as my dad used to say. Or, 'a guy who's
a sandwich shy of a picnic,' as my kids might say. To onlookers, he's just
another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a
bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can
seem altogether unimportant .... maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida . That's
too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War
II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his
seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled
out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the
Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks.. Most of all, they fought
hunger. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They
were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were.

They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service
and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled
his military cap over his nose. Time dragged. All he could hear was the slap
of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.

It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next
move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to
grab it and wring its neck.. He tore the feathers off, and he and his
starving crew made a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of it. Then
they used the intestines for bait.. With it, they caught fish, which gave
them food and more bait......and the cycle continued. With that simple
survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until
they were found and rescued (after 24 days at sea...).

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot
the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull.. And he never stopped
saying, 'Thank you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would walk to
the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of

Reference: (Max Lucado, "In The Eye of the Storm", pp..221, 225-226)

PS: Eddie started Eastern Airlines.

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FYI - for those of you not familiar with the writings of Max Lucado, he consistently tells these kinds of inspiring stories in his books on faith.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Boston-based Sales Opportunity - Finite Element Simulation Software

Check out this interesting opportunity to pioneer the U.S. market for a Danish medical simulation software company.

Please forward to qualified persons in your network.

Boston-based Sales Executive for Danish Medical Device Software Company

Our client company has made a strategic decision to strengthen its presence in the US market and have set-up a US subsidiary in Boston. Until now we have primarily been servicing the US by traveling out of our office in Denmark. For this we are seeking the first full time employee for our US operation.

You will be the first full time employee in our US team. This requires that you have a high degree of self motivation and drive. We expect the office to grow with a couple more people in the coming year, but that will to a high degree depend on the results you can achieve. You will not be alone. We are a highly skilled and dedicated group of people, who has already achieved significant results in our field and we will of course support you in the effort. You will be expected to travel to Denmark for initial training and get to know our team.

The primary focus for you will be to win US based orthopedic implant and device company accounts, selling them the company’s simulation software. Therefore, a track record of successfully selling to these types of companies will be seen as a strong advantage. There will also be other relevant customers to sell to on ad-hoc basis. Prior success in selling simulation software will also be an advantage in this job. You will be presenting our technology to the customers and you find it challenging to translate technical features into customer benefits. An understanding of how musculoskeletal simulation adds value to the CAE market and a clear vision for the future role of it will absolutely be an advantage.

Most of all you get a kick out of getting the deal done.

Main responsibilities

  • Establish the company as the #1 vendor of choice for musculoskeletal simulation in the industry in US
  • Drive short-term and long-term market penetration
  • Identify and make contacts with potential customers
  • Run the sales process (software and projects) from start until final closing of the deal
  • You will have a personal revenue target
  • Participate in various sales related conferences
  • Identify and influence key opinion leaders in the industry

Personal qualifications

  • Ambitious and with a desire to make a difference for us and our customers
  • Comfortable with driving the sales process from the very first phase
  • Personal integrity
  • Strong presentation skills both in one-on-one and group environments.
  • Feels comfortable with selling on all levels in the customer’s organization.
  • Strong team spirit
  • A pragmatic approach in how to engage with the client and create value for him or her

Significant traveling in the US as well as occasional visits to the Company HQ in Denmark must be expected and seen as a plus to the job.

General qualifications

  • BS Degree required, advanced degree desirable
  • Five to 10 years sales experience required
  • Ability to travel internationally
  • Knowledge of finite element modeling software is a must have
  • Knowledge of medical devices and medical R&D is a plus


We will offer the successful candidate a competitive starting base salary, with variable compensation tied to achievement of mutually agreed upon goals and other benefits to be agreed upon.

About The Company

Our customers are spread out over the whole world and are typically prestigious universities in our field of business and top tier commercial companies within the Automotive and the Orthopedic world. We are recognized as the market leader in simulation software for Musculoskeletal Analysis.

Qualified candidates only, send MS-Word resume and cover letter to:

Dr. Al Chase -

In the cover letter, highlight the aspects of your career that directly match specific items in the job description, salary history and expectations, and openness to relocation to the Boston area.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Good Ship Red Sox Is Taking On Water and Going Down Fast

There are many reasons for choosing the motif of the Titanic sinking to capture the current state of my erstwhile favorite baseball franchise.

  • Fenway Park opened in April of 1912 - the same week that the doomed ocean liner met its fate at the bottom of the cold Atlantic.
  • Like the 2011 edition of the Red Sox, who were labelled entering the season by the Boston Herald as "The Best Team Ever," the Titanic was touted as "unsinkable."
  • The Titanic came to grief after encountering a physical object - an iceberg - that should have been anticipated; the Red Sox fell victim to a chilling series of physical injuries that better conditioning may have prevented.
  • Both "ships" foundered in large part because of the hubris of owners and designers who spent recklessly and failed to include enough lifeboats to deal with potential disaster. Theo should have done a better job shoring up the leaky bullpen and decimated starting rotation.
This morning's Boston Globe included a disturbing column by Bob Hohler:

The current state of affairs is disastrous on more levels than I have time to enumerate. Here are a few bullet points that highlight some of the self-inflicted wounds:

  • The second highest payroll in MLB missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
  • The players stopped listening to Tito Francona, so he was the first sacrificial lamb to go after the historic September collapse.
  • The highly touted starting rotation let themselves get out of shape and had a collective ERA in September in the neighborhood of 6.00.
  • They abandoned the dugout during crucial games as the team was desperate to hang onto a playoff berth, retreating the the club house to play video games, drink beers and scarf down fried chicken. Animal House seems exemplary by comparison.
  • The General Manager, Theo Epstein, is decamping to Chicago to take over the helm of the long-suffering Cubs.
  • The owners and senior officials (read John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino) have apparently decided to continue their scorched earth policy of leaking damaging details about anyone leaving the organization. Tito Francona is merely the latest victim of their despicable smear tactics.
  • The team has spent 10 years refurbishing Fenway Park and the Red Sox brand. In two weeks time, they have undone all of that hard work and turned the Sox once again into the laughing stock of major league baseball.
This lifelong Red Sox fan is officially disgusted and disgruntled. This band of rogues - those playing fast and loose with professional responsibility and integrity - on the field and in the offices on Yawkey Way have betrayed their fandom. They will now have to win back my trust, loyalty, mind share and love. I am not sure they even would know how to go about doing that, or would even acknowledge how much damage they have done and continue to do to the most rabid and loyal fans in baseball.

Shame upon them.

Go Sox - go away!



Gladwell Does It Again- Mini-Review of "What the Dog Saw"

Each time I read a book written by Malcolm Gladwell I find myself quoting him in conversations for the next several months. He finds topics to write about that intersect perfectly with concerns that my business associates and friends and I talk about. He has done it again with "What The Dog Saw," a compilation of his best columns from The New Yorker.

Here is a case in point. This week I received a frantic call from a friend of mine who is training to be a professional musician. He was stressing out over an upcoming recital in which he had to revert to a style of singing that he had not used for a while. In practice he did fine, but in preliminary performances for a small audience, he felt as if he was "choking." I was able to quote from one of the chapters of Gladwell's book in which he analyzes examples of spectacular failure, looking at the difference between "choking" and "panicking." Now that I have finished reading the book, I will be mailing it today to my friend. Once he reads Gladwell's word, I am sure he will be "singing a different tune"!