Book Review – Rich Dad, Poor Dad (Week 7 of 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge)

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

This week we take a look at Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. RDPD tells the story of an extremely successful businessman who preaches to be financial literate. Kiyosaki claims that even the most intelligent people in the world who have tons of education can be poor because they don’t learn how to manage money correctly and make money work for them, instead they spend their lives working for money.

To illustrate his points, Kiyosaki tells his own story of growing up with two fathers. One is his well educated father with several post graduate degrees and a wealth of knowledge from studying. He also happens to be his “poor” father (and his biological one). The father to his childhood friend is who he considers his “rich dad”, a man who didn’t even complete high school and wound up an incredibly successful and wealthy businessman by learning how to make his money work for him instead of the other way around. Kiyosaki grew up learning from both individuals, attributing his success to being able to balance the two and learn from both.

Kiyosaki preaches a lot of things in this book, and drives home some interesting concepts that are worth noting. One such thing is that Kiyosaki drives home the difference between an asset and a liability. Anyone who has taken a finance or accounting course should be able to tell you the difference. However, Kiyosaki suggests that most people know the definition, but don’t understand the true nature behind them and how to recognize assets and increase the asset column (which is the key to successful long term financial independence).

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Job Hunting Online is No Picnic

As a graduating senior, I can attest that job hunting in a tough economy is not easy. Especially when you’re going up against people with experience and proven track records. So you’ve got to make sure you’re hitting all your bases, finding every nook and corner where a possible opportunity might lie. So when you’re not networking you need to still be on the look out and searching through listings. Most job listings are now placed online (though you might find an old fashioned recruiter placing ads only in print), so knowing how to effectively search online is essential.

1st off, search EVERYWHERE. Online sites like monster.com and careerbuilder.com have thousands upon thousands of job listings. But they’re also flooded with recruiting firms posting that they have jobs that they can put you in. So prepare to wade through endless lists of job descriptions that look promising, but turn out to be some recruitment firm. I’m not saying recruitment firms aren’t a route to take, but if you’re not fond of that method, you’re likely to be annoyed.

So you’ve got to search elsewhere as well. LinkedIn has a fantastic job search function. You can narrow by industry, pay, and even by experience level (which is great for those of us looking for “entry-level”, which most other sites don’t specify). Look for other lesser known job sites that might contain nuggets that most people aren’t seeing.

After that though becomes the time consuming part. It’s not hard, but it takes time and effort. Basically all you do is start thinking of companies you might want to work for, big or small. Can be any company in your field or industry. Go to their website and look for a careers section. A lot of company websites have listings that never make it to monster.com or any of those other job sites but are just what you’re looking for. If you can’t find a careers section, look for a e-mail address for information or to an HR rep or any kind of e-mail that seems appropriate way to contact them asking if they have openings. And of course, you can always pick up the phone and call.

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The Follow Up to the Interview

So you’ve just had an interview. It went really well, but you know there’s a ton of people they’re interviewing. What if he forgets just how good your interview was? Or someone else comes in and does just as well, but because they’re later the interviewer remembers them better? What’s the proper move here?

The obvious move is a well thought out and personalized thank you letter. If you don’t write a thank you e-mail/letter, you’re just asking to get passed over. Here’s a few pointers.

1. Personalize it. Reference topics and points that you went over with the interviewer and stress how you found it beneficial. If you discovered a personal connection with that person, throw that in there (subtly). By personalizing it you’re showing the interviewer that you pay attention to detail, that you have good memory, and you’re not just sending them the same letter you send to every other potential employer.

2. Don’t overdo it. This is probably the toughest part. You need to personalize it, but don’t go too far. If you take it too far and start diving into unprofessional territory it could bite you. What is overdoing it? Well first of all, don’t leave a thank you call, send a thank you e-mail, and then follow up with annoying e-mails asking for status updates on the selection process. Keep it professional, even if they made you seem like it’s ok to be relaxed with them. And for the love of everything good, use proper english, grammar, and NO SMILEYS/EMOTICONS.

3. One and done. Send one thank you note, whether by e-mail or through a phone call. Be really careful when doing it by phone. It’s much easier to express your thoughts through e-mail so it’s the safer bet until you become a little more comfortable. Then maybe try out a phone call and see how that goes, but honestly I would argue that you stand to gain nothing from making the thank you by phone (compared to e-mail) unless this is someone you’ve known previously. Then a phone call is appropriate.

But seriously. Don’t send an e-mail and then try and call as well. Being too persistent will make you seem either desperate or annoying, neither of which is good for you.

4. Hopefully at the end of your interview they said when you can expect to hear from them. If not, you should’ve asked.  If you haven’t heard back 48 hours after they said you would, go ahead and send an e-mail re-expressing your interest and asking for a timeline on when you can expect their decision. Remember that it’s on their timeline, so don’t be rude and seem like you’re annoyed with how long they’re taking.

Book Review – Who Moved My Cheese? (Week 6 of 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge)

Who Moved My Cheese?

This week we look at an incredibly short (I read it in 50 minutes), but effective book entitled Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal With Change..In Your Work and In Your Life, by Dr. Spencer Johnson. Who Moved My Cheese is heralded worldwide for it’s simplicity and easiness to understand. Even children can be told this story and understand the concepts and learn to appreciate the lessons taught.

I’ve also included the video version at the bottom.

Who Moved My Cheese is the story of four characters living in a maze, in search of cheese. Cheese in the book represents all of our desires. A good job, good family, good health, etc. Whatever it is you desire, it’s represented by cheese. The four characters are Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw. They represent how we may act at times in our lives.

Sniff – sniffs out change early.
Scurry – scurries into action.
Hem – denies and resits change as he fears it will lead to something worse.
Haw – learns to adapt in time when he sees changing can lead to something better.

Everyone can be characterized as one of these four characters, and we can also learn to change if we’re a Hem into a Haw.

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Interviewing Tip: The receptionist is your friend!

I love The Office

One of the easiest ways to shoot yourself in the foot at an interview doesn’t even take place in the interview room itself. It happens in reception. You walk into the office, let the receptionist know you’re here for an interview. She hands you some forms to fill out or just asks you to have a seat and wait. She might even offer you a beverage. You politely decline but don’t realize that she’s studying you. She’s not even meaning to do it, but she could very well hold your employment in the palm of her hands.

So you’re sitting there filling out forms, kind of have this confused look on your face because you don’t quite understand what they’re asking on the form (don’t you hate those ambiguous questions). Meanwhile, Joe Schmo walks in and while he’s filling out the forms he’s asking the receptionist how her day is going. How long has she been working here? Does she enjoy it? Next thing you know they’re laughing about some random coincidence about how they both love to eat at this one restaurant that no one knows about. Tsk tsk tsk.

After both of you have left the interviewer could very well stop to chat with the receptionist, ask her how they were in waiting. She’ll gush over the other guy, who by the way was late while you were 15 minutes early. When it comes to you, “he was fine. Quiet.” Not a bad thing by any means, but the interviewer takes valuable information away from the interactions you had with the staff. Especially if open communication, energy, and the ability to work well with a team is vital to the job.

So next time you go for an interview, make the effort to get to know the staff. Even it’s just small talk, it could go a long way in getting an extra little recommendation from someone you’d have to see every day in the office. That’s a huge advantage if you ask me.

Comedy Mondays: Office Space trailer RECUT – 11/14/2011

If you ever find time to search on youtube, look up trailers for movies that people recut to make them look like a totally different movie. For example The Shining has an awesome recut trailer that makes it look like it’s about a man who adopts a child and learns to love.

But since we mostly deal with professionals on this blog, I’ll share one of my favorites: OFFICE SPACE. A fantastic movie in it’s own right, the trailer below is when someone made it look like a horror film. It’s really incredible!

The original trailer after the jump…

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Book Review – Good to Great (Week 5 of 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge)

Good To Great by Jim Collins

Ok, so it’s been a few weeks since I posted the last book. Technically this should be Week 7! But alas, delays happen and sometimes we must simply catch back up! And I will do just that! But for now, let’s talk about “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t.” by Jim Collins.

Published in 2001, this book is standing the test of time and is truly a magnificent read. I highly encourage anyone, and everyone, to read it. It’s not only great for those in business, but also for those involved in organizations, clubs, non-profits, teams, or anything of the sort.

Good to Great is an essentially a huge study into how 11 of the greatest companies in the United States transformed themselves from being good to great. The book runs about 300 pages, though the actual text itself (minus the apendix and extra stuff) is only about 210. So it’s not too long, but it’s crammed full of eye opening and enlightening information. It tackles these 11 companies head on with in-depth research and analysis and reveals key similarities that they ALL share.

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