Polarizing Brands

August 30, 2006

There’s been a lot of talk about polarizing your brand, and creating brand evangelists. Guy Kawasaki has some really great posts about brand evangelism.

A really cool post about polarizing cupcakes caught my eye this morning. 

bushcupcake.jpgI think this illustrates the point about brand evangelism perfectly: it’s different, and people talk about it. Even if they say they hate it, word spreads and reaches the ears of those who wouldn’t hate it.

Most people would never have the guts to do something like this. That’s why most brands are unobtrusive and politically correct. But the ones who take a stand on an issue are the ones which generate interest. And ultimately, revenue.


5 tips to reduce the hurt of a lay-off and 10 tips for dealing with unexpected job loss

August 29, 2006

Mighty Bargain Hunter has a group writing project about preparing for, or dealing with, job loss.

So, I decided to take part with my 2 cents, or rather, my 15 tips 🙂

The first section is sort of buffer plan: how to lower your chances of getting laid off, and to lower your chances of getting hurt too badly if you are laid off. The second part deals with strategies for dealing with actually losing your job unexpectedly.

So without further ado…

5 tips to reduce the hurt of a lay-off:

  1. Try not to get laid off in the first place. This is not always possible to do (think Enron), but try your best. Work hard, contribute, and impress your bosses. Don’t be the Invisible Guy: he’s the first to feel the axe. Be the superstar whom everyone else is eyeing for their own company.
  2. Increase your knowledge. Remember, the best investment is an investment in you. Any way in which you improve your own value will help you down the road. Read a lot; stay updated on your industry, the economy, and the global scenario. Remember that learning never ends. Take advantage of as much company sponsored learning and growth opportunities as you can.
  3. Increase your network. Stay in touch with people, and meet new people. This point requires a whole post of its own, but the basics are: take as many opportunities as you can to meet people. Stay in touch, and be nice to them. Try to help anyone you can. Later, if you need a job, you can always ask these people if they know of anything.
  4. Have a side business. Diversify your income sources, so that a lay-off will not hurt you too badly. With home businesses and internet businesses a reality, you have few excuses for not having one of your own. Train yourself and invest time and effort in your business.
  5. Prepare a budget and stick to it. Prepare a contingency budget, and know how much you have in terms of emergency funds.

10 tips for dealing with unexpected job loss:

  1. Deal with your emotional issues first. It’s natural to feel anger at the company, and the top management who still receive all their perks; it’s normal to be scared of the future. You might find yourself dealing with a myriad of emotions. Do whatever you can to deal with them, instead of taking them out on others. If the company offers free counseling, take it; if necessary, pay for a counseling session yourself.
  2.  Go through your contingency budget plan. If you don’t have one already, make one and try to stick to it. Allow for occasional indulgences, and reward yourself for any achievements.
  3. Think of ways to live frugally. There are so many tips and websites out there, that this should not be too difficult to learn about.
  4. Go through all the legal steps you have to. You may need to sign papers, give an exit interview, sign up for unemployment benefits, etc. Do them all calmly. Do not waive any rights without getting something in return.
  5. If you already have a side business, devote more time to it. If you don’t have one, start a side business which will earn some income for you.
  6. Develop yourself: learn more, take courses, read, pursue a hobby or interest which you haven’t had time for.
  7. Look for a new job: this is a d’oh action, but one which some people are reluctant to begin. That’s ok, break it into small steps. Start by looking for a job, then apply by sending your resume and contacting the relevant person. Give the interviews, and hope that you’ll get one that’s better than your previous job. On the other hand, if your side business does very well, you may want to devote all your attention to developing it into a more profitable income source.
  8. Remember all those people you networked with? If you’re looking for a job, now’s the time to give those guys a call. Mention clearly that you’re looking for a job, and ask if they know of any openings. Most people are happy to help.
  9. Ask for help if you need it. Don’t stretch yourself too thin, people who love you would help you out if you only asked. Be it a place to live for a few days, a small loan, editing your resume or helping you buy “interview clothes”, most people would like to help you out. Make sure you give them that chance, if you’d like them to.
  10. Finally, take a break. Now that you don’t have a job to stress about, take a mini-vacation. If you can’t afford to go anywhere, do some meditation and soul-searching. Make the most of the free time that you have.

I hope that you don’t get laid off. If you do, I hope that the guidelines are of some help. in the long run, change usually turns out to be a good thing, so don’t get too depressed if you’re fired.  Everything works out, ultimately.

Interview Tips

August 29, 2006

Bhuvana Sundaramoorthy has quite a list of common interview questions up on her site. I’ve given quite a few interviews, gotten a few job offers (including one which I accepted), and now have to conduct interviews and recruitment procedures at times. With this background, I differ on a few of the suggested answers she mentioned. Some suggestions of moi:

1. Always, always try to be honest. I once interviewed a fresh graduate for a position in our company; the moment she admitted to doing something slightly stupid, all of us on the board knew we had to hire her. Why? Because, for the position we wanted to fill, honesty was very, very important, and she had proved to be sincere and able to admit her mistakes.

Remember, if a company doesn’t appreciate an honest candidate that’s their loss.

Again, if you’re honest, you might realize that you are not such a great match with the company. Don’t get disheartened: if this is the case, you would probably not have enjoyed working there.

However, never “honestly” admit to being lazy, dishonest or a bad person. Just make sure you really are a good person.

2. Tell us about yourself:

This is your best opportunity to sell yourself. And if you don’t use it, it may be your last.

Talk about something that won’t be in your resume. Mention positive personality traits (this is what I did) such as an outgoing personality, problem solving abilities, being energetic/hardworking/sincere. Or mention some special talent, or interest in the industry/company. But make sure you’re telling the truth. You may be asked to back up some quality or interest which you mention, and even the best of qualities can be liabilities at times. For instance, you might mention that you are an extrovert, but the position might be one which is better suited to an introvert.

Often, interviewers haven’t had a chance to go through your resume properly. So make sure you mention your strongest points.

Just in case, carry a copy of your resume to leave with the interviewers.

3. What is your biggest weakness?

Don’t say “I don’t have any weaknesses”. When a candidate says this, it reflects badly overall. I assume that he’s trying to gloss over everything. This question really has no right answer, but try to mention something personal, or something that you’re trying to improve. You could mention that you find it difficult to wake up early; that you procrastinate, that you drink too much coffee (flippancy) or that you sometimes get nervous in front of large crowds, but you’re trying to improve your speaking abilities.

4.  Mention a problem which you overcame.

Be prepared for this one, and have a good story ready. Make sure it’s true, of course. This question often shows that interviewers would really like to hire you, but you have to prove that you can contribute.

5. Are you applying for other jobs?

Say yes. If they press, mention at which companies, and that the interviews seemed to go well. But if you see that you are a good match for this company (see questions below to verify that), you’ll join this company.

During one interview, I was asked if I had received any job offers. I honestly said yes, mentioned the companies, and then stated that I was waiting for the job offer from the interviewing company, which I hoped to accept.

6. What kind of salary do you need?

Say “one which I deserve”. If you know the salary that they’re offering (most companies have pay scales) mention that, and say that you hope to be paid at the highest end of the scale. If you think that you deserve it, of course. I used to flippantly mention that “higher is better”, but that I knew their scale and was willing to accept it.

7. What irritates you about co-workers?

Mention negative traits: disloyalty to the company, discrimination, racism, etc.

8. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor

Be honest. Mention a small problem that you were able to solve. Everyone has problems when working with others, so don’t pretend you’re not human.

Of course, there are not “one-size-fits-all” answers.

Research the company, think about what you want, and try to present yourself and the benefits of the match as positively as possible.

Intention Manifestation

August 28, 2006

I don’t believe in reality, I believe in the Intention Manifestation model of life.

Intention Manifestation basically states that, reality is merely a reflection of your perceptions. That may seem too simplistic, but my experience is that it really is just that: your own projections. And because reality is what you think it is, you can create your own reality by intending for things to happen.

Intention Manifestation seems to good to be true, until you try it on for size. Steve Pavlina has quite a few exceptional posts on using this model.

By concentrating on what we want to manifest into the world (material success, romance, etc) and by avoiding any negative thoughts, we can turn our dreams into reality.A

lthough I won’t be devoting much of this blog to my philosophies, I just wanted to mention this story in Money Magazine, about the secrets of rich peoples:

“In a classic study of nearly 3,000 entrepreneurs who had recently become business owners, 81 percent predicted that their odds of success were seven out of 10 or better, despite being fully aware that statistics put their chances far below that. (A hopeful 33 percent said their odds were 10 out of 10.)

Most of the people I met told me that if you’re going to take big risks, you must believe to your core that you’re going to succeed. That’s no guarantee that you will, of course, but without that faith, your chances are nil. “

Intention Manifestation is an explanation of why that old saying is true: whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Hopes for this blog…

August 24, 2006

This is truly a “hit the ground running” blog.

I’ve been meaning to start a blog for ages now (or so it seems). But i didn’t know what to write, how to trackback, how to sign up in technorati, and so on and so forth. And i was too shy to comment in other people’s blogs, even when I wanted to.

So i decided to just do it. I’ve written a few posts, and read other blogs with greater interest than I used to before, especially those which are in my niche and from which I can learn something.

Of course, I have grand plans for this blog. The best possible outcome would be for it to become a central hub, a referral point for people seeking advice about life. If not that, I hope that at least some people will appreciate what I write.

A while back I was feeling really happy to have finally started work on this blog, and I remembered an interview I gave once. It was a one-to-one interview with a CEO whose dynamic personality I admire. It was a fun interview, and the one serious question he asked was, “What do you want to do before you die?” My answer was, “I want to touch a few lives”.

I hope I can do that through this blog.

Get Your S.O. to Do Some Work

August 24, 2006

There’s a great post at the Happiness Project for getting your s.o. to do work without you nagging.

Although it’s meant for your s.o. I think these tips could work for other people as well. The basic principle is to not hurt someone else’s feelings. That’s why nagging is so bad, because it makes someone else feel like they’re being treated as though they are incompetent and don’t have a sense of responsibility.

Some of the points mentioned are:

  • Use one word reminders: The use of one word or phrase is clearly just a reminder. In no way are you criticizing or ordering 🙂
  • Make a list: This is actually very good for me, since I’m generally a very lazy person. But once in a while I feel hyperactive, and it’s good to have a list of things to spend that sudden energy on.
  • Mention if something is a priority: I think the key here is to make sure you mention the task’s importance in clear, unambiguous terms. And remember, only a few things can be priorities.

Another tip would be to work together. That way, even the most menial and boring of tasks are made fun and enjoyable.

Tips for Landing That Job….

August 23, 2006

This is kind of a continuation of the previous post, for senior-year college students who are looking for jobs.Brief pointers for your resume:

  1. Your resume should be short. Most recruiters will only look at the first page, anyway.
  2. Mention any relevant coursework or projects that you’ve done.
  3. Mention any work that you’ve done
  4. Mention important ECA activities
  5. List your references

During the interview:

  1. Wear appropriate (i.e. slightly on the conservative side) clothing.
  2. Don’t fiddle with your hair, nails, clothes, anything…
  3. Try to be confident and friendly
  4. Don’t let an interviewer intimidate you. Often, they’ll want to see how you react, so be pleasant but stand up for yourself
  5. Don’t be late

Specific to the interview:

  1. Prepare answers to some common questions. Be ready with an elevator pitch for yourself; decide beforehand what strengths and weaknesses you’ll mention
  2. Be ready to describe any coursework that you may have done
  3. Be honest. If you have any problem working late hours, or traveling, mention that up front.
  4. Know any theoretical information which you may need to: e.g. if you’re applying to a bank, brush up on your knowledge of the banking world
  5. Stay abreast of recent world events

And finally, remember to research the company, know how you’d be a good fit there.I’ll probably go into the interview process in even greater detail in a later post.