Childhood Dream of Driving Trains Comes True – Case Study

Childhood Dream of Driving Trains

Childhood Dream

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We all remember growing up with our childhood dreams. Maybe it was to be a policeman or fireman or cowboy. For most of us, we let each childhood dream fade away. We went about our lives growing up, getting an education, getting married, having kids, and pursuing a career that put food on the table and paid the mortgage.

Sound familiar?

Let me tell you the story of Mike Martin.

Mike was born in the mid 1950s and grew up in New York State. He will tell you he liked anything with wings, wheels, or keels. He was fascinated by anything that moved.

After graduating from high school, he attended SUNY Farmington where he received an Associates Degree in Aerospace Technology. He then moved to Texas and started rebuilding airplane engines. When that company went bankrupt, he ended up working in machine shops. That was okay, but that was not going to get him ahead in his career.

At the time, people told him that he was a really good with people and should go into sales. Mike said okay!

Sound familiar? He did not follow his passion. He did what many of us do in that position—he did what he was told to do.

He spent the next 20 years as an outside sales guy…driving a truck and selling various maintenance supplies like cables and wiring. He liked being out and about. As years passed, margins on his commissions got leaner and leaner. It became very hard to make money.

Sound familiar? Many of us have seen our chosen profession whither in the new economy.

Now in his early fifties, he returned to college to get a Bachelors Degree in Pilot Science. Over the years, he had achieved his pilot’s certification and loved to fly planes. Remember that, as a kid, he loved anything that had wings, wheels or keels.

After graduating, he worked at an executive airport for awhile but found the work environment less than inviting. So what did he do? He returned to sales!

Sound familiar? When things do not initially work out, many of us revert back to what we know.

He looked at becoming a school teacher. That was a tough transition.

That is when Mike found Career Pivot.

Birkman Assessment

He took the Birkman Assessment and it told him the following:

  • His core interest is music. As most of you know, it is tough to make a buck in the music industry.
  • He was well-suited to piloting, driving, operating, or navigating transport vehicles or material moving machinery (e.g., aircraft, automobiles, water vessels, construction cranes, locomotives, tractors)

Sound familiar? It was his childhood dream!

We talked about what motivated him. We talked about what made him happy.

He had to be playing music and he got to do that through his church. He now realized how important it was to him. Now he just needed to get to driving something, being outdoors, and helping people.

Following His Dream

Mike looked at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) but they had no positions.

He then looked at Houston Metro Rail and saw that they were expanding. He applied to be a Light Rail Vehicle Operator.

They replied back and asked him to take an assessment. He passed. He did not think they would want him.

They asked him to come in for an interview. He studied up for the interview by reading an article on how a gentleman had become a driver for the London Underground. He prepared cards with all of the questions he thought they would ask him and studied those cards right before the interview.

It was a panel interview where they asked him to open and close a special drivers seat. The secret was there was a special pin that had to be removed to get the seat to close. He did it flawlessly. In fact it was fun. They were watching to see if he would get frustrated.

After the interview, they took him out into the rail yard to see if he could physically do the job; throwing some switches, climbing in and out of the train, and walking the yard.

This is when Mike started to get excited. This was his childhood dream. He was going to get to drive a train.

Several weeks later, he was told to report for a 10-week training program. Mike moved his RV to Houston and started the class. He was being careful. He did not want to rent a place if he did not make it through the training.

He made it with flying colors!

Mike drove trains for a few months, but was moved to the team testing the new red line. He gets to spot problems and propose solutions.

The money is decent. With overtime, he does okay. More importantly, he loves what he is doing! His family is still in Austin and he goes home on the weekends.

He wants to move up to be a supervisor and a trainer. He sees himself working there for as long as he wants.

This was all triggered by a simple assessment pointing him back to his childhood dream.

His childhood dream came true in his 50s.

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for September 20

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

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Grab and Grow – A Plan for Career Success

Grab and Grow!

grab and growI have a client who just started a new business analyst position for a Fortune 500 company. I am using the system defined in the book The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter to assist him in getting up to speed.

He was explaining some of the challenges he was having, and one was about the lack of prioritization of projects. He is working with two other newly hired business analysts, and I suggested they create a prioritization system for projects.

If something needs to be done, then just go do it. Grab and Grow!

I have always believed that if something needed to get done, and I liked the opportunity to get it done, then I just did it. The rare occasions when I got my hand slapped, I begged for forgiveness and learned from the experience. If I kept my schedule full with things I liked to do, then when items came up that I did not like to do, they would often be assigned to someone else.

I have called this the Grab and Grow model to career success.

Timing Is Important

Often when you spot something that is not being done, you can just start doing it. When it involves a lot of people or a micro-managing boss, you have to pick your spots to grab and grow.

Years ago, I had a micro-managing boss. He did not delegate anywhere near enough of the high level decision making to his team. This team was very senior with years of experience. We could not figure out how to get him to let go.

One night I was home working on getting reimbursed for medical expenses. I soon realized I needed a medical insurance form that I did not have. This was the 1990s, and everything was still submitted on paper through the mail. Our offices were only a ten minute drive from my house. At 8 PM, I drove to the office. When I walked to the cabinet to get the form, I walked by my bosses office. He was slouched in his chair and was obviously exhausted. The time was right to grab and grow.

I asked him what was wrong. He respond with a litany of items he was working on. I reminded him that Ed could handle item #1, Evelyn could handle item #2, Tom could handle Item #3….. obviously picking the items I wanted for me.

He listened!

It was only in his exhausted state would he have listened. From that day onward, he started delegating.

Planting Seeds

Sometimes, you need to plant seeds of ideas. This can be done by asking open ended questions about the problems that you see and want to solve. You should be prepared to discuss you solution…when the timing is right.

It is all about awareness. If you can make everyone aware of the problem by asking questions, when the timing is right you can present your solution OR you may just want to solve the problem anyway.

It is almost always better to fix a problem and then ask for permission later!

Give it a try and grab and grow!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Moment of Clarity – Fending Off a Layoff

Moment of Clarity

Moment of ClarityA client of mine recently had a very distinct moment of clarity.

A moment of clarity is when some major shift happens in life, maybe someone dies or becomes ill, you lose a job or you get a divorce. Alternatively, the event could be something positive like the first day of your dream job. Either way, it completely alters your perspective on life in a moment.

The future you saw for yourself changes and, suddenly, you can’t believe that the niggling issues that have been plaguing you (the ding on your car, your annoying co-worker, etc.) bothered you so much.

I have written multiple posts and articles about moments of clarity:

For my client, who I will call Susan, her moment of clarity was about fending off a layoff at the very last possible moment.

Layoff Announced

In the spring of 2014, the employer of one of my clients announced they would be further restructuring the business. Everyone knew this would mean layoffs. In an effort to be transparent, it put everyone on edge. Everyone was stressed.

In early June, my client was told that her position was eliminated. UGH! I wrote about this at the time in a post called Surviving a Resource Action – A Different Perspective.

This came as a shock…and a relief. It was announced—the verdict was in. It was time to move on. Well….

After the Announcement

She analyzed who got laid off, and what she discovered was that she made a poor political decision during a previous restructuring. Almost everyone in Susan’s organization who lived in the US were let go. The organization was essentially eliminated. It was not her, but her entire organization.

Susan was given approximately three months to find another job internally. The key point was that she was within a few months of her pension vesting. Extending her employment just a few months mattered.

Recovery

Susan was given a gift. She had nearly three months to recover. The stress of the job and the impending layoffs were killing her. Her health had deteriorated due to the stress. The gift was she was out of there!

She now had time to rest and recover. She took advantage of this time to exercise, take some classes, volunteer and get her emotional state centered.

Next Steps

Susan applied for several jobs within her current function. She had a couple of interviews, but her heart was not in it. We have all been there where you applied and interviewed for a job you really did not want. She was not hired.

Susan did a lot of soul searching. She talked to many people from her past. She soon discovered the path she wanted to take. She wanted to return to Learning and Development.

She had multiple discussions with people who left her current company. Several were happy with working contracts and consulting. They asked her to join them. They thought highly of Susan and really valued her skills!

It is nice to be wanted!

Susan worked with me on what it would take to incorporate her business and change her mindset into one of working for herself. That shift in her mindset was critical. Going from being an employee to self employed is not a simple mental process!

Three weeks before she had to either find a new position or be expelled with a severance, an opportunity appeared in the Learning and Development Organization. She applied, interviewed, and got the position! She fended off the layoff at the very last second.

Moment of Clarity

Susan learned the following:

  • She never wanted that kind of stress again. She gave too much of herself to the job—to her own detriment.
  • She found a path that she wanted to take. It was her choice!
  • People respected her and wanted to work with her!
  • Her new position could be short lived, but that did not matter. She had a clear path.

Susan made the key shift in her mindset that she would no longer be a victim of a corporate decisions. This was a huge change and would never have happened if she were not given this gift, the gift of time to reflect.

It was a true moment of clarity.

Have you had a moment of clarity?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for September 13

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

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Discovering Your Personal Brand Vocabulary

Discovering Your Personal Brand Vocabulary

vocabularyDo you have a personal brand vocabulary?

What words do you use to describe yourself? These should be words that describe yourself personally and professionally.

I am currently working with two clients who are struggling with finding their personal brand vocabulary.  Here are a couple of methods to discover your personal brand vocabulary.

How do people describe you?

The reality is, you probably do not know how people describe you. You may think you know, but do you really?

Pick 6-12 people who you trust and ask them for the following:

  • Please give me 3-5 words or phrases that describe me.
  • If I were an animal, what animal would I be? Okay only give this one to people you really trust!

Evenly divide the list between people who know you from work and friends from outside of work.

I will almost guarantee you that you will be surprised at the answers. I have heard clients say, “I never thought people saw me in that way,” or “I know I am a certain way, but I did not think people saw it in me.”

What words do you want to use to describe yourself professionally?

This is where keywords come into play. This vocabulary list should contain words and phrases you use commonly. It should also include words and phrases that are commonly used within your industry.

What if you are pivoting your career or changing industries? Harvest the vocabulary from LinkedIn!

This is where LinkedIn Advanced Search comes into play.

What job title(s) do you want? Fill out the title field with each job title you might want. If you want to narrow by industry, click the check boxes of the industries that you want to search. Finally, fill in your current zip code or the zip code where you might want to relocate to in the Postal Code field and set the appropriate range (it defaults to 50 miles or 80 kilometers). Click on Search.

You now have a list of 100+ people in your network who have a title similar to the one you want. Look at each profile in the following fields:

  • Headline
  • Summary
  • Current job description

Do you see a set of common phrases? You may want to automate this process a bit using a word cloud tool like Wordle or Tagcrowd. Read this article Finding Keywords to Manage Your Career [Video] to learn more.

What you are looking for is the vocabulary that is commonly used by everyone else!

What next?

Combine the two lists and then weave these phrases into you resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and your day to day language. The key is to be consistent when you write material that you will post in Social Media.

Once you have discovered your personal brand vocabulary, use it everywhere to create a consistent brand.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Volunteering to Get a Job – Guest Post

Volunteering to Get a Job

VolunteeringThe advice to “volunteer to get a job” when you’re looking for employment shows up everywhere. It’s one of those pieces of advice that sounds easy when it’s on paper, but job seekers who have actually tried to follow the advice discover that it’s anything but. Often, the non-profits you’d like to volunteer for, don’t have volunteer positions. Even if they do, they’re often for low level jobs like envelope stuffing that wouldn’t help you even if you did put it on your resume.

In this post, I’d like to show you what those other books and articles simply don’t talk about: The nitty-gritty of how to actually get resume relevant work through volunteering, using a process I call the skill-bridge technique.

Step 1: Decide What Skills You’d like to Develop

The first step to getting resume relevant work is to figure out what skills you’d like on your resume. Make a list of all the skills needed for your desired job title, and find the weak points on your resume. What skills are critical for the job but for which you don’t have much (if any) experience?

Step 2: Figure out what the organization needs

The next step is to do a bit of networking. This can be through volunteering at the organization in the low level jobs mentioned earlier, or through going to events that people from the non-profit will be at in high attendance. The goal is to have conversations with people who work there, and figure out two or three issues that are on everybody’s mind. What are the top problems, challenges, and opportunities that the organization is facing?

Step 3: Show the organization how your skills can solve their problems.

The final step takes a little bit of creativity. The goal is to figure out how you can use your desired skills to tangibly effect the problems, challenges, and opportunities that you identified. Then, ask one of your contacts at the company for the email address of a decision maker. Send them a short email saying that your contact gave you their information, and create a crisp, clear proposal showing how you can help solve their problem using your skill (for free).

Conclusion

If all goes well, you’ll take on a relevant project that will not only fill in the gaps on your resume, but also give you passionate advocates and connections who know you can solve problems, and will assist you in your job search.

Interested in seeing how a real life job-seeker used this strategy to go from administrative assistant to business analyst? Listen to the original interview here!

About The Author:

Matt Goldenberg is the creator of the Skill Bridge Technique and the founder of Self-Made Renegade, a website for liberal arts grads and career changers who’d like to get their dream jobs.

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperStrategic Networking – A Career Pivot White Paper

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BoomerJobTips – Curated Content for September 6

BoomerJobTips Update

BoomerJobTipsWelcome to this weeks BoomerJobTips Update the central point to get current career information for the Baby Boomer Generation!

Check BoomerJobTips Daily for the latest curated career content. Content is curated from hundreds of the leading career websites with a focus on baby boomer career issues.

Most Popular

Career

Social Media

Job Search

Baby Boomers

Career Pivot

 

Another way to look at the same links AND MORE from BoomerJobTips.

Join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

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Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

You can also download my whitepaperDon’t Retire Even If you Can and What to do Instead – A Baby Boomer Manifesto

Do You Have a Plan B for Your Career

Do You Have a Plan B for Your Career?

plan bYou have probably been told that you should have a Plan B. What if something does not work out?

How about having a Plan B for your career?

I entered the job market in the 1970s when I expected to work for one employer for most of my career. Well, that lasted 22 years and I have had six in the last 16 years. Most of those transitions were planned, which means I planned very well, or that I was lucky!

What should you be prepared for?

Cyclical Professions

In my most recent past, I have been involved in the two very cyclical professions:

  • Recruiting
  • Learning and Development (Training)

Recruiters are the first hired when the economy picks up AND the first to be let go when the economy slows down.

Learning and development professionals know that their mission can easily be eliminated.

Ask any recruiter or trainer whether they have a Plan B for their career.

Mergers and Acquisitions

I have worked for two successful tech startups that were acquired. Both eventually started to lay staff off. This can be due to eliminating redundant positions, or because expectations of growth after an acquisition are not attained.

Rarely has there been a merger or acquisition where layoffs do not eventually follow! It may take a couple of years but…

If you work for a company where an acquisition or merger is possible, you better have a Plan B for your career!

Patents

I currently have multiple clients in the pharmaceutical industry. Many companies have patents on pharmaceuticals that are going to expire in the next few years. Several of these companies and announced multi-year staff reduction plans.

Patent protection is key to profitability in many industries, but when the patents expire it is like going over a cliff. Profits dry up over night!

If you work in the pharmaceutical industry or any other industry dependent on patent protection, you should always have a Plan B.

Economic Bubbles

We all know what happened in the last two recessions. Having worked in the semi-conductor and telecommunications industry during the dot com bubble, I knew the end was coming and acted accordingly. Similarly, I was working in the non-profit industry raising money from the financial industry at the beginning of the great recession. In hindsight, I saw the collapse coming but did nothing about it. I got lucky and moved to a safe place in late 2007.

If things seem just too good to be true, you need a Plan B!

Unforeseen Situations

Sometimes stuff just happens. I recently wrote about being put in a highly unethical position by my employer. I had a Plan B already in place, but I was not prepared to act quickly enough.

What will you do if your employer places you in an untenable position? Do you have a Plan B?

If you follow the steps of the Targeted Job Search, you will always be prepared to move to your next position.

You never know when you will need a Plan B for your career.

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

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Check out my book which is available on Amazon.com!

Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Are You Defined by Your Job?

Defined by Your Job?

definedFor many of us, our own self image is defined by our jobs. When someone loses their job, they may feel they no longer have value or purpose.

This topic was brought about by Dustin McKissen, who wrote a post called If You Lose Your Job, Remember This. Dustin wrote about his father after losing his job:

My dad is also good at more than just building things—he is a good guy, with a good heart, and people love him. I love him. He is a great Grandpa.

But when he lost his job, he lost part of himself.

When you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, the search to find that missing piece can take you to some very dark places. It did for my dad, and much of the last 15 years have been hard on him, and the people that care about him.

My Own Father

My father was an economist for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In 1978, my father was handed a retirement package and was asked to leave. He was in his late 50s and was not ready to retire. Financially, my father and mother were fine. The retirement package kept my mother living well into her 80s.

However, the retirement package killed my father. It took another 15 years, but it killed him.  His entire self image was defined by his job. Dad had twice pursued a PhD in economics, but each time a child came along, he put it aside. When he pursued University teaching positions, he was always turned down. He did not have the paper credentials.

He eventually landed a teaching position at York College, but by that time, he was pretty beat up. His mental health declined and that is what eventually killed him. He was defined by his job.

IBM Meltdown

During the holiday season of 1992, I ruptured the L4/L5 disc in my back. I decided to take three months of disability and let my back heal rather than be operated on. I do not like doctors with sharp implements.

While I was gone, IBM nearly went bankrupt. IBM discontinued the famous full employment pledge. Thousands of employees were given generous retirement packages to leave. Just like my father, who would pass away a few months later, this was a death sentence for many. They viewed themselves as IBMers. It was who they were.

When I returned to work in early April of 1993, I was clear. I had had a moment of clarity while I was out on disability. I saw what was important to me and it was not my job. I was not defined by my job.

My definition of myself was further reenforced by what I saw when I returned to IBM.

How We Forget!

Fast forward a few years later. I left IBM on my terms in January of 2000. I went to work for a successful high-tech startup, Agere, which was acquired by Lucent. Then, in July of 2002 I had another moment of clarity: I had a near fatal bicycle accident.  I had a head on collision with a Toyota Corolla, where our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. By the way, I lived!

The following year, I pursued getting my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I taught high school math at an inner city school for almost two years. I was very successful. It tore me up emotionally and physically.

When I left teaching, I was lost. I wrote a post on this called Dealing with that Directionless Feeling, which is found daily on Google search.

Ten years earlier, I became determined not to be defined by my job, but I was struggling…just like my father! The difference now was I wanted to be defined by my life purpose and not my job.

Job Club

I have served on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club since 2006. I have seen many who have been laid off who struggle with the lose of self image. Whether the job loss was involuntary like my father and fellow IBMers or voluntary like my departure from teaching. It still stinks!

I have to go back to the time when I returned to IBM and remind myself it is my choice on how I define myself.

I am not defined by my job! I desire to be defined by my life’s purpose!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group