All We Need is a Little Patience … And A Good Idea of the What

With a wonderful business, you can figure out what will happen; you can’t figure out when it will happen. You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when ~ Warren Buffet

by Pete Ferguson

As I look at where I am today with work, with my personal finances, and with family, I can’t help but appreciate the importance of patience.

Five years ago I wanted to sell our current house to move into a larger one. I wanted to find a new career. I wanted a lot of stuff.

And I had plenty of people willing to take my money to give me what I thought I wanted at the time. But nothing felt right except to stay where I was and dig in deeper.

Years later, that is paying off well. Our house will be paid off early next year which means the only interest in my life will be what I receive from the bank and investments. The only bills we will receive are the usual water, electricity, gas, phone, and Internet.

Most of the stuff I owned five years ago has been replaced. And the stuff I thought I wanted would now be mostly obsolete.

As we await our sixth child, I can’t help but think how much better it is to live in the now, invest in quality in all areas of my life, and enjoy the ride instead of staring at the rear-view mirror or trying to imagine what is over the next horizon. Sure I’m putting long-term plans into place in anticipation of the future, but I’m not spending the majority of my time dreaming of mansions above when I have such a great existence in the here and now.

With a wonderful life, you can figure out what will happen; you can’t figure out when it will happen. You don’t want to focus on when, you want to focus on what. If you’re right about what, you don’t have to worry about when ~ adapted from Warren Buffet

Mistakes We Make in Job Interviews Infographic

by Pete Ferguson

I love Infographics! I subscribe to receive emails with several a day and I’m constantly surfing the Internet for new examples of how to breakdown complex information into a graphic representation.

This topic of job interviews is a great one. One of my largest pet peeves when I’m the interviewer is when I ask the applicant what they know of the company I work for – which is the World’s Largest Online Commerce with two of the most visited websites in the world – and they don’t know about and they’ve never used our services. You don’t get hired for your great personality alone … you need to do your research!

You should spend 10-20 hours researching the company, seeing who you may know who already works there through LinkedIn, etc. and use their products before showing up for the first time and trying to convince them you are a good fit.

For those who regularly screen and interview, consider a tip I read in HR Management magazine and have applicants post a 2-minute video online explaining why they are the best candidate and 2-3 questions specific to the position. What used to take hours to sift through resumes and hold initial interviews or phone screenings will be a very entertaining 20-30 minutes max.

My favorite was when we were hiring for a training expert with experience in video production and web design. Many applicants contacted our recruiter saying they hadn’t uploaded a video to the Internet before and did he know of a site where they could do that? This shortened the list very quickly as I consider publishing a video to YouTube easy enough for even me to accomplish with one thumb press on my iPhone.

Of the videos we did receive, one guy was using a headset and the webcam for his current employer’s computer, sitting in his current cubicle with coworkers walking behind him. That one was a great laugh and that was all it was.

Unfortunately, not a single applicant did anything creative, mostly just talking heads reading a monotone script or “winging it” with bad lighting and sound. I was amazed no one was willing to go out on a limb a bit and put together something entertaining to show their creative side.

It is pretty much a given that your LinkedIn, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and other accounts will be reviewed. So don’t post anything your father or mother would be shocked to see or read. [My dad reviews my posts regularly and provides wise feedback and input.]

Last week I was conducting a phone screening interview with a candidate and so I pulled up her profile while I was talking on the phone to compare against her resume and I saw that she had stated that she was voted #1 Mom by her three daughters. I have three daughters, and that made an immediate connection that softened me up through the applicant’s nervousness. So I asked her about it, she laughed and asked if that was appropriate to put on her page. I thought it was! She then slowed down and became a lot more humanistic instead of robotic.

Painting your humanistic side is good. However, I don’t recommend using your favorite bar or beach photo for your LinkedIn profile (seen it many times), and the old saying of “what happens in ______ (Vegas or company party, or wherever) stays in _______” didn’t account for smartphones, Google searches, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

And now to the promised infographic:

Link

Play to Your Strengths

I have a mentor, someone I really look up to and who has been very successful in business. When we talked recently, however, she discussed many areas she sees with great growth potential – and I’m very grateful for her advice. 

What I struggle with, however, is that those things currently identified with six-figure part time work aren’t things I’m really crazy about. When I saw this article on Inc.com I was again reminded – play to your strengths and you’ll never work a day in your life.

I’m currently finding I am gravitating back to what I thought was a hobby – graphic design – in taking complex statistics and making them a lot more relatable in info graphics. When I’m doing it during work time, I feel guilty, like I’m playing and not working. For those of you under the age of 25 – you may not relate. I really value this in the younger generations – their ability to do what is rewarding today instead of putting their nose to the grindstone in hopes of doing what they want at age 65.

So for those of us over 35 – if you feel guilty doing something worthwhile (not sure how many rewarding jobs there are playing video games or stalking people on FB) while at work – that is probably because it comes easily to you as a talent. And that is exactly what we should be pursuing because we can bring a lot more value with less effort and all parties involved win!

Happy Thursday. 

The Perpetual Gift of Music

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ~ Plato
melanieguycello
by Pete Ferguson
It is 6:20 in the morning. I sit here typing on my computer listening to a very passionate rendition of “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saëns from the Carnival of the Animals collection played by my 15-year old son Mark on the cello. In the background I can hear my daughter’s flute, but cannot pick up the tune.
Mark has much ground to travel before he is at Yo Yo Ma’s level, but I can feel his desire to play this most soulful piece with passion and a desire to be true to the piece.
At 5:00 I was awakened by the piano. Too lost in the world between dream and reality, I do not recall what he was playing, but it is the best way to start the morning slowly and at my own pace.
In another 30 minutes I will hear my two younger daughters duo practice – both sitting on the piano bench with Ashley facing forward playing the piano and and Abbie facing the opposite direction playing violin.
AbbieAshleyPractice2014
Abbie and Ashley do not play the same piece, in fact they will not even be playing at the same tempo. Quite remarkable as I am too easily distracted to attempt a similar feat.
This gift of a gradual wakeup only happens during the week.
As I lay in bed last Saturday morning at 7:40 am to a silent house I realized how much I will miss all of this in 20 years when my yet-unborn daughter will likely move out to pursue her life’s passions with her older brothers and sisters having long since moved out.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
My love for music began early. My father was a translator for university music departments traveling to Asia and so we would be invited to preparatory performances. I cannot recall the exact moment the spark ignited, but it has burned ever since. I started violin in third grade and piano I believe in fifth. Unfortunately I lacked the discipline to advance forward and when we moved at age 13, I put down the violin and have not yet taken it back up again although I play the piano from time to time.
As I watched the Super Bowl last week, with men in their 30s heading towards retirement (and many of them with physical injuries), it struck me that my children – if they continue the pursuit of music – will just be warming up in their 30s.
And I realize that like the Olympic flame, music is a gift that continues to be shared with others wanting to listen, wanting to also learn to play, or wanting to compose anew. And what a wonderful gift to enjoy.
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Time to Be Unreasonable

“The Reasonable Man Adapts to the World; The Unreasonable One Persists in Trying to Adapt the World to Himself; Therefore, All Progress Depends on the Unreasonable Man.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

by Pete Ferguson

I was reading about Spotify (the best, highest-quality audio streaming service by far) founders’ vision of changing the world’s #1 hotbed of pirated music – Sweden.

“Naive” – Daniel Ek invited all of the top music labels to meet with him – at the same time. They weren’t sure if they were “allowed” to all discuss the “Biz” at the same time, in the same room. But he persisted and they remained, took a bet, and now Spotify is rewriting the way I ingest music – and happily pay for the higher quality, instant access to exact songs – not stations based on a song I kinda like.

Ek is a pirate in another sense – he refused to go with the status queue and is convincing Swedes that paying for music is a good thing.

All the greats who are shaping our future world aren’t ones to go with the flow of traffic. They are the outliers. The rebels with a cause. The passionate. The visionary.

I’m coming to realize my voice, and it is not pacifist. I used to think something was wrong with me because I didn’t fit in. I didn’t like to go with the flow, but felt guilty about it. Now I just realize it is a God-given gift, and one that has been engendered by my father (a library administer who convinced Columbia University and Hong Kong University to invest a lot more in “non-paper books” and instead sink considerable investments into e-literature.)

About 13 years ago I walked into a Security Mangers’ meeting and wasn’t impressed. I only got into the business for one reason: to change the perception of the Industry. Move from “guards and cards” to something much greater. If you complain long enough, eventually someone gives you the keys and tells you it is your turn to drive. And so now I’m going to be the Chair of that meeting group in 2014 and I’ve got big plans for taking us to the next level. Yet I fear I may be the only one running with the mast flowing in the wind. Time will tell.

Col. Sanders didn’t get his recipe to go global until he was in his 90’s. And I’ve now seen Kentucky Fried Chicken on every continent where I’ve stepped foot.

What recipe is in inside of you?

It’s time to be unreasonable.

Allowing Room for Time

You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.

Paulo Coelho

LesleyCarter_OldManFrance

by Pete Ferguson

Many years back I hired a neighbor to do some work on our home. I could tell on the second or third day that there was a substance abuse problem. He finished the job – and actually did a pretty good job of it. Six months later I was served with a lien on our home as he had not paid one of the contractors.

We were angry and upset. The lien couldn’t have come at a worse time and I felt my integrity was in question. Many attempts to contact him to have it paid were unsuccessful. We thought of all kinds of revenge. We also saw his home go into great disrepair and finally one night, many police cars arrived and he disappeared for a long time.

Tired of the poison of hatred – and of seeing his once meticulous yard now very degraded, my wife and kids went and cut out the weeds on his grass and trimmed back his trees. Another neighbor jumped in and helped. During the winter I made sure the snow was cleared on their sidewalks. In service we found peace and forgiveness.

About four years later my neighbor approached me in humility and begged for my forgiveness. He had paid back what he could, but I suspected he probably had expenses much larger than ours and told him we had long since forgiven him and wished he and his family well.

It was I who needed the forgiveness from him. I can’t imagine what he had been going through and the last thing he needed was for us to be an enemy in a time when he needed more friends.

Other neighbors tried unsuccessfully to have children for many years. Tens of thousands of dollars in doctors and specialists were fruitlessly spent. Many Mother’s Days and Father’s Days were spent in depression and tears. When all hope seemed lost in their forties, a family member offered to give a gift for one more try with a new specialist. Surprisingly the fix was relatively simple, but involved a great investment in time and money and many months of bed rest and hospitalization.

Last night – and every night – I smiled as I watched them playing with their twins on their front porch. I laugh when I see the mischief these two concoct as they explore their world. The definition of a miracle twice illustrated.

About two years ago another friend lost his job. He had invested just about everything to help a company survive and they repaid him by never paying him and the company finally went under. They left their dream house – and dreams – behind. He is one of the hardest workers I know and someone I admire and look up to greatly. He pounded the pavement, he did all the right things. Yet he remained unemployed.

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that
it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.
Jan Glidewell

Over a year later he still was unsuccessful. A grant was acquired and he was able to go back to school and then found a temp-to-hire agency and now has an offer for employment in a good position and I’m sure it won’t be too long until he is further ahead of where he was financially years ago.

I was contemplating all of these and other accounts – coupled with my own accounts of frustration and my path to discover who I am – when I was reacquainted with neighbors from over a decade ago.

They had also suffered through infertility but were able to adopt two great kids when we last knew them. I was surprised to see they now had a little girl who looked strikingly like the wife. On further inquiry I found she had awoken four years ago not feeling well and on a whim took a pregnancy test. Then took another, and a blood test to confirm. After a decade and a half of all the doctors, drugs, and specialized methods, she was pregnant without any of the aids.

And all of these lessons remind me that Time can – and does – take care of things. I’m becoming a big believer that wisdom is simply a study and understanding of Time.

Having spent the better part of my life trying either to relive
the past or experience the future before it arrives, I have
come to believe that in between these two extremes is peace.
Author Unknown

As a child, scraping a knee seemed to have eternal consequences of pain. Later in life a much bigger blow may affect our lives for a decade. But as I look at three grandparents in their 90’s, from their perspective – World War II, The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, recessions, 9/11, the deaths of many friends and loved ones and other great trials have all been endured. And yet they still stand, strengthened in their beliefs and by the love of scores of family members who are a direct result of the lives they have lived.

Any great trial will eventually be conquered – by Time. Our trial is to simply have the patience and humility to wait out the pain to be able to bask in the warmth and personal growth which eventually comes after the pain.

 

Should You Go to University?

I have a bachelors degree in Communications, Public Relations & Marketing. I’m also a “Certified Protection Professional” with the American Society for Industrial Security.

In and of themselves, these two certificates I have in my office do not open doors for me. What each did, however, is unlock critical thinking.

by Pete Ferguson

I also have a bookshelf full of great books – which also got me thinking outside of the box. And despite being in the security industry, I regularly read Fast Company, Inc, HR Manager, CIO, and ComputerWorld magazines and attend webinars and other learning opportunities not directly related to my field.

Barry Schwartz on LinkedIn writes:

In my view, higher education should be equipping students to answer these four questions:

  1. What is worth knowing?
  2. What is worth doing?
  3. What makes for a good human life?
  4. What are my responsibilities to other people?

College is not the only place in which answers to these questions can develop, but it is an important place. And siloed, specialized training in a discipline—any discipline—will answer none of them.

I’m grateful for all of my learning experiences. I would like to get a Master’s degree when Miles (my youngest, now 3) is settled in school. I do better in a structured environment and I liked attending classes and having debates with people not in my line of profession when I started a few years back. But with family, civic, work, travel and other things occupying my time, it wasn’t a good fit.

My father has a PhD and it has served him well. My mentor and career coach Dan Miller did everything required for a PhD except his dissertation when he decided he could spend a year writing a paper that four old men would critique and then it would sit in an archive at the library, or sell a few million dollars in books and seminars on “48 Days to the Work You Love.”

We had a mid-level position open last month – three PhDs applied. The salary I can offer would maybe pay for one semester of school. That blows my mind that someone would invest over $200k on a degree to make $50-60k a year. You may break even the day you die.

Whatever you do, always be learning – advice I received multiple times from good professors and my father – and have tried to apply.

Other great advice I received often is to always be writing. And having written over 240 blog entries here – and commented on countless others – I can attest that it has been very educational and helped me see new perspectives.

Finally, network! Not talking FaceBook here – LinkedIn is better – but make sure you are setting up lunch and coffee appointments to pick people’s brains.

I recently sat down with a very successful CEO and asked him what advice he has for someone my age to get more mentors. His answer – ask, and show value. He says many of his C-level executive friends and peers often talk about wanting to have a mentee, but seldom get asked. He recommends I select ten people and invite them to lunch on my expense. Be very specific on time requirements (and stick to what you commit to) and actively follow up on everything discussed.

What are you doing to continue your education?