Are Business Cards Dead?

Posted by Richard Moran.


Remember the Rolodex?  It was a handy contraption shaped like a Ferris Wheel full of business cards.  You could spend an entire day at the office spinning the Rolodex around.  The Rolodex is sort of a collector’s item these days.  The spinning wheel has been replaced by the virtual Rolodex.  Now we just enter a name, city, phone number, company or other information all hiding under the “contacts” button or in LinkedIn or in an app.  A mobile app on a phone can hold what a thousand Rolodex wheels could hold.

But the Rolodex had lots of virtues not to be found through technology.  It was easy to use, required no power source, and could conjure up memories based on the spaghetti sauce stains on the card.  (Oh yeah, I remember him, we went to lunch at that Italian place around the corner.)  Most importantly, the Rolodex provided a handy place to put all the business cards one could collect.  It was like a business card display case for all of our varied relationships.

Along with the Rolodex, business cards themselves can seem old fashioned.  But everyone still carries them and uses them.  Or most people do.  Some think carrying a card is like carrying a big old calendar.  So how do they exchange information?  They promise to send an email with their contact information.  The email doesn’t usually show.  So instead, they write their coordinates on a yellow stickie or on a napkin which is quickly lost or sent through the washing machine.  So either the email is not sent or the info is lost and so is the potential relationship.

Business cards still work.  They are efficient, easy to carry and easily exchanged.  You can take a photo of the card later and enter the data into the contact list.  The card shows a little about you and your brand and your website all in a piece of cardboard that is tiny.  The card does not need to be fancy or a piece of origami.  It does show that you want to build relationships and you want people to know how to reach you.  You might get to a place in your career where you don’t need a card.  I doubt that Pope Francis or Paul McCartney carry cards.  Until you reach that status, carry a card.  Being out there in the workplace without a business card is like being in the Wild West without a horse.

What you choose to do with collected cards after the information is entered into a database is up to you.   At that point it doesn’t matter.  You can even put them in the Rolodex you privately keep under your desk and spin it around now and again.  Your card is just another little part of your brand.  Why make it hard for any one to reach you?

Always be ready when the question is posed, “Do you have a card?”

Not Everyone Works at Google

Posted by Richard Moran.


The “cool” jobs always dominate the discussion among the media, career changers and proud parents.  These are the jobs that sound incredibly interesting.  Whether they are or not is a separate discussion.  These are the jobs that require perfect grades and a resume full of saving orphans and previous “cool” jobs.   These are the jobs that provide big salaries, free food and hot tub access.  And, it’s nearly impossible to land one of these jobs.

The location of the cool job changes over time.  Earlier renditions of a cool job included being a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, an investment banker at a big New York firm, a consultant at McKinsey or Accenture, a sales rep at IBM, a game designer at Atari or any job at Microsoft to name a few.  Working at any of these companies is still cool but bordering on normal.  Today, the cool jobs means that you work at Google, Facebook, Instagram, or Apple. (Apple seems to always stay on the cool list.)  The cool list is not limited to these tech companies but the same criteria for cool applies: high pay, stock options, benefits galore and impossible to get.

Try for those jobs if you want, and good on those who work at the cool places.  But that is not where the world of work begins and ends.  Great jobs and careers are everywhere and we need to move away from the sense that everything is second tier compared to the “cool” jobs.

I met recently with a recruiter from a public utility.  The positions that are open there have the same titles as those in the cool places and provide competitive salary and benefits.  In looking at any website for jobs, the thousands of jobs listed can be challenging, interesting and provide a sense of worth.  Typically, the positions at the cool places are not on these websites.  All the public good positions are no less important than those at Google.  Consider positions in teaching, health care and service to others to name a few.  The research always shows that the people most satisfied with their jobs are in service.  The two careers that are always at the top of the most satisfied list are firefighters and special education teachers.

My message is that there is an enormous world of interesting jobs and the world doesn’t end with a rejection letter from Facebook.  Make sure you explore the entire world of interesting things to do.  Finding a rewarding position can be like choosing a college.  Choosing a college is about the best fit, not the best place to which you were admitted.  Fit is just as important in choosing a place to work.

Someone told me recently that they had applied for a position at Apple.  I knew that this person’s background did not augur well for such a position there.  When he said, “maybe they need someone who is not perfect”, I agreed, but I was channeling Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber when, told that his chances were one in a million, he declared, “so you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

So, job seeker, go where the odds are better.  Go where you will be fulfilled.  Go where you fit.  Go where you are wanted.  Don’t go where you feel like a fraud.

If everyone worked at Google, the world would be a pretty dull place.

2016: A Big Step Toward Balance and Flexibility

Posted by Richard Moran.


The Kids Are Alright (So is the Spouse)

First it was Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House.  In accepting the role he said it was conditional.  He would only do it if he didn’t have to travel and be away from his family.  Then it was Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook who said he was taking an extended leave of absence to be with his newly growing family.  Then Netflix announced a year-long paid parental leave policy.  A few other tech companies followed the Netflix lead and announced similar policies.  People with both big and small jobs are getting married, having babies and making decisions based on what is best for the family – it’s a trend.

There was no decree or executive order.  There was no dramatic event that shocked the world into new perspectives.  Space aliens or the new Star Wars movie were not involved.  The trend of more balance has been developing for years but it only recently hit the tipping point where it’s now more critical to individual and organizational success.

Several factors converged to make the surge in workplace flexibility happen.  The new trend didn’t come out of new corporate policies as much as it came from people who want flexibility.  In fact, they demanded it.  Workplace flexibility is not new, it just reached a tipping point and will become more important in 2016.  Here are just some of the reasons.

  • The War for Talent: Organizations are having trouble finding the right people for the job.  Research shows we work 47 hours per week.   The 40 hour week is long gone while many yearn for the four hour work week.  Most managers today expect employees to check email and be available outside of the office even when they are “off”.  But the saw cuts both ways.  If the organization is that demanding, than employees expect flexibility; otherwise, they will switch jobs based on flexibility programs.
  • Technology: New devices and mobility allows us to work from any where at any time.  So why not take advantage of all the latest breakthroughs?  Employees are challenging the organization to let the technology be the effectiveness tool it was designed to be.
  • Leadership Is Finally Setting the Tone: Leaders are making declarations that they want to spend time with their families and mean it.  In the past the declaration was only made when the leader was fired.  Now the leader is saying it as they accept the new job.
  • Millennials Rule: The new generation of workers have a different (and healthier) perspective when it comes to work. They want flexibility more than those that came before them and see no reason why they shouldn’t have it.

Workplace flexibility has an impact on every other aspect of trends in the workplace including planning, structure and culture to name a few.  That is why it is the BIG TREND for 2016.  Those organizations that embrace it will be more successful than those who ignore it and it will affect every organization.

As a college president, I often say, “I don’t take attendance, I just want the work to be done.”  Maybe we are teaching the next generation of managers exactly that.