Monday, July 15, 2013

My Next Book, All for a Worthy Audience

I am excitedly approaching the last step in my goal to become a Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest designation awarded by this global speaking organization. I have given all my speeches over many years, and I've held the requisite leadership roles. But my last step is one of the most ambitious -- the High Performance Leadership Project (explained here in this video). There is a wide range of projects I could take on, but the one I have chosen is aimed at solving, or at least ameliorating, an endemic condition in our world that is taking a toll on many of us. That goal is to help lift the spirits of people who are out of work. 

For anyone who has not been unemployed, I will start with the most obvious point: The job search process sucks big time. It is ever present, and it can grind down the spirit.  Time magazine had a cover story titled "Whatever Happened to the Great American Job?" The article is an unsettling and depressing amalgam of material. There are the usual anecdotes of fruitless searches by people who were swiftly and unexpectedly jettisoned by major corporations after decades of service. The article also includes data gleaned from both public and government agencies. For example:

A telephone poll shows that two-thirds of respondents believe that job security is worse for Americans now than in the two previous years. Of those who describe the situation as “worse” when they were questioned, 53 percent say the situation will be bad over the long haul, for many years to come. Fifty-eight percent say they have friends who have lost jobs since the economic recovery began.
A U.S. Labor Department study shows how a full 30 percent of new graduates will be underutilized over the next 12 years.  Also, these graduates are likely to earn less — in inflation-adjusted dollars — than their graduating predecessors did a generation ago. This includes graduates of many top colleges.  

Labor analysts describe the bleak future of the job market. Here are their suggestions for dealing with it:

They say don’t count on big companies for employment. These companies have learned that it’s more efficient and profitable to operate as contracting centers and outsource the talent they need.  Instead, turn to small- and medium-sized companies.

Be prepared to work for a foreign company, as many corporations outside the U.S. are investing in this country’s manufacturing. The flip side to that is that many American companies are outsourcing their services to operations outside of our borders.

Get as much training and education as possible and keep upgrading your skills. Workers can expect to change their careers, not simply their jobs, three or four times during their working lives. 

So those are some of the takeaways of this article. By the way, I am not citing a recent issue of Time. It was published in November, 1993 — nearly 20 years ago. So challenges in employment have been with us for a long time, even in past economies, and yet it stays with us today.

 In my book The Six P’s of Change, my first piece of advice to readers is to develop the PERCEPTION, the recognition, that change is a reality. Nobody is immune from this change. You and I were either born into an America or adopted into an America that is so fortunate and wealthy that perhaps we began to think that our opportunities were limitless, as though trees could grow to the sky. But my periods of job search gave me lessons that informed my life philosophy of being prepared for change. 

I come by these lessons honestly. I had several tours of duties in various outplacement agencies because my jobs were eliminated several times. It was in those times that I learned one key fact: It’s necessary to maintain an optimistic and hopeful attitude. Job searches are more likely to die on the vine from hopelessness than they are from ineffectiveness. And so I adopted this this mission statement for my High-Performance Leadership Project: To create an affordable and accessible tool to help job seekers maintain their spirits and their momentum as they advance toward their job goals.

To fulfill this mission, I am currently writing an e-book on how to lift your spirits in the face of an otherwise demoralizing search and how to arm yourself with the optimism, energy and momentum that will help lead you to success. In this way, I can publish it relatively inexpensively, as the barrier to entry for e-publishing is fairly low. In that way, I can make it available at a nominal price, probably 99 cents — a price that is easily affordable for people who are out of work. 

I hasten to mention that this is not another how-to on finding a job. There are already many books on the market to cover that topic. Frankly, those authors do the job so thoroughly that I doubt I can improve it. Instead, my book is about how to lift your spirits in the face of an otherwise demoralizing search and how to arm yourself with the optimism, energy and momentum that will help lead you to success.

I am currently writing an e-book on how to arm yourself with the optimism, energy and momentum that will lead you to success in an otherwise demoralizing job search.

Like my previous book,  this one began as a speech. I often give pro bono presentations to people who are seeking employment in the hopes of helping them deal better with the change in which they're embroiled. The woman who managed the last outplacement office I attended contacted me and asked me if I could speak to their current crop of candidates. But she did not want me to speak about The Six P’s.  She told me that many people in her office were searching for so long that they were discouraged and lethargic. She asked if I had a speech about maintaining enthusiasm and momentum in a job search. 

I thought about her request, and I said, “No, I don’t.” But after drawing a long breath, I added, "Let’s set a date six weeks from now. I promise you I will arrive with a presentation.” 

And so knowing that I committed a speech to her by a specific date, I created a presentation that has now evolved into the outline of this book. I looked over my own successful searches, and I devised several guiding principles. I can't tell you too much about the book right now. First of all, I am in the process of writing it. Secondly, I don't want to give away the details. I would hate for someone to come to market with my book sooner than I did simply because I spilled the beans. 

Author Louisa May Alcott once wrote that “I’m no longer afraid of the storm for I am learning how to sail my own ship.” That is what I want to teach my readers and audiences: To exercise control over this process during a difficult time. I know we’ll never completely eradicate unemployment. Even so-called “full employment” is achieved at about five percent. But I do hope that the tool I am creating will help inspire the hope and direction many people need for a fruitful job search.

Stay tuned. I look forward to telling you more when there is more to tell.