Friday, February 10, 2012
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Are We In an Upturn?

According to the nice people at Chart of the Day, compared to the 28 stock market rallies over the last 111 years (about one every four years), the current rally is well below average in duration and magnitude.  Given other good news lately, with unemployment down, new jobs up, economic resolution in Europe, continued low interest rates and minimal inflation, we may be in for a good year!  Here’s the full explanation (about the market rally) from Chart of the Day:

The Dow made another post-financial crisis rally high Thursday as it approached the 13,000 level. To provide some perspective to the current Dow rally that began back in early October 2011, all major market rallies of the last 111 years are plotted on today’s chart. Each dot represents a major stock market rally as measured by the Dow. As today’s chart illustrates, the Dow has begun a major rally 28 times over the past 111 years which equates to an average of one rally every four years. Also, most major rallies (78%) resulted in a gain of between 30% and 150% (29.8% to 150.5% to be exact) and lasted between 200 and 800 trading days (9.5 months to 3.2 years) — highlighted in today’s chart with a light blue shaded box. As it stands right now, the current Dow rally (hollow blue dot labeled you are here) would be classified as well below average in both duration and magnitude.

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Posted by admin at 10:09 AM

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Thursday, February 2, 2012
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Warren Buffett’s Ten Secrets of Success

I’m not 100% sure if these tips are “officially” from Warren Buffett, but this set of advice is widely attributed to him, and there are plaques in various public places that list these as his ten basic principles of success.  They seem to dovetail with how he has run his business life, so here goes:

1. Reinvest Your Profits: When you first make money in the stock market, you may be tempted to spend it. Don’t. Instead, reinvest the profits. Warren Buffett learned this early on. In high school, he and a pal bought a pinball machine to pun in a barbershop. With the money they earned, they bought more machines until they had eight in different shops. When the friends sold the venture, Warren Buffett used the proceeds to buy stocks and to start another small business. By age 26, he’d amassed $174,000 — or $1.4 million in today’s money. Even a small sum can turn into great wealth.

2. Be Willing To Be Different: Don’t base your decisions upon what everyone is saying or doing. When Warren Buffett began managing money in 1956 with $100,000 cobbled together from a handful of investors, he was dubbed an oddball. He worked in Omaha, not Wall Street, and he refused to tell his parents where he was putting their money. People predicted that he’d fail, but when he closed his partnership 14 years later, it was worth more than $100 million. Instead of following the crowd, he looked for undervalued investments and ended up vastly beating the market average every single year. To Warren Buffett, the average is just that — what everybody else is doing. to be above average, you need to measure yourself by what he calls the Inner Scorecard, judging yourself by your own standards and not the world’s.

3. Never Suck Your Thumb: Gather in advance any information you need to make a decision, and ask a friend or relative to make sure that you stick to a deadline. Warren Buffett prides himself on swiftly making up his mind and acting on it. He calls any unnecessary sitting and thinking “thumb sucking.” When people offer him a business or an investment, he says, “I won’t talk unless they bring me a price.” He gives them an answer on the spot.

4. Spell Out The Deal Before You Start: Your bargaining leverage is always greatest before you begin a job — that’s when you have something to offer that the other party wants. Warren Buffett learned this lesson the hard way as a kid, when his grandfather Ernest hired him and a friend to dig out the family grocery store after a blizzard. The boys spent five hours shoveling until they could barely straighten their frozen hands. Afterward, his grandfather gave the pair less than 90 cents to split. Warren Buffett was horrified that he performed such backbreaking work only to earn pennies an hour. Always nail down the specifics of a deal in advance — even with your friends and relatives.

5. Watch Small Expenses: Warren Buffett invests in businesses run by managers who obsess over the tiniest costs. He one acquired a company whose owner counted the sheets in rolls of 500-sheet toilet paper to see if he was being cheated (he was). He also admired a friend who painted only on the side of his office building that faced the road. Exercising vigilance over every expense can make your profits — and your paycheck — go much further.

6. Limit What You Borrow: Living on credit cards and loans won’t make you rich. Warren Buffett has never borrowed a significant amount — not to invest, not for a mortgage. He has gotten many heart-rendering letters from people who thought their borrowing was manageable but became overwhelmed by debt. His advice: Negotiate with creditors to pay what you can. Then, when you’re debt-free, work on saving some money that you can use to invest.

7. Be Persistent: With tenacity and ingenuity, you can win against a more established competitor. Warren Buffett acquired the Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1983 because he liked the way its founder, Rose Blumkin, did business. A Russian immigrant, she built the mart from a pawnshop into the largest furniture store in North America. Her strategy was to undersell the big shots, and she was a merciless negotiator. To Warren Buffett, Rose embodied the unwavering courage that makes a winner out of an underdog.

8. Know When To Quit: Once, when Warren Buffett was a teen, he went to the racetrack. He bet on a race and lost. To recoup his funds, he bet on another race. He lost again, leaving him with close to nothing. He felt sick — he had squandered nearly a week’s earnings. Warren Buffett never repeated that mistake. Know when to walk away from a loss, and don’t let anxiety fool you into trying again.

9. Assess The Risk: In 1995, the employer of Warren Buffett’s son, Howie, was accused by the FBI of price-fixing. Warren Buffett advised Howie to imagine the worst-and-bast-case scenarios if he stayed with the company. His son quickly realized that the risks of staying far outweighed any potential gains, and he quit the next day. Asking yourself “and then what?” can help you see all of the possible consequences when you’re struggling to make a decision — and can guide you to the smartest choice.

10. Know What Success Really Means: Despite his wealth, Warren Buffett does not measure success by dollars. In 2006, he pledged to give away almost his entire fortune to charities, primarily the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He’s adamant about not funding monuments to himself — no Warren Buffett buildings or halls. “I know people who have a lot of money,” he says, “and they get testimonial dinners and hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. When you get to my age, you’ll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. That’s the ultimate test of how you’ve lived your life.”

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Posted by admin at 8:50 AM

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012
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Staffing as a Courtship

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and we have often compared the staffing “dance” to courtship.  Here’s why:

When people date they hope to meet a person who has the qualities they feel are most important, then fall in love, and form a meaningful and lasting attachment that is mutually rewarding. Hiring a key employee is almost the same – even to the emotional side – as most top executives will tell you there is a strong bond among their senior team.  Employers can learn a lot by delving deeper into the correlations between staffing and courtship.

Just as dating is a series of growing expressions of feeling and interest, hiring involves a sequence of actions that escalate the connection between employer and employee.  Let’s look at each stage:

Screening: In dating, sometimes people meet by chance, but when they meet by introduction, or on-line, there is an opportunity to screen for the criteria that are most important.  Do people rule in or rule out?  Depends on how interested they really are in dating!  When hiring (especially for key leaders), the same phenomenon occurs.  You can read a resume to find things that fit, or to find things that are lacking.  We encourage employers to be open, to find reasons to rule people in, because they might find the depth and capability they seek when they meet people and look deeper.

Meeting: You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  In interviews, as in dating, appearance counts a lot.  But look at who people date and who they ultimately marry.  Marriage decisions are usually more than skin deep.  In the workplace, we know that substance and capability count more than looks.  While the chemistry ultimately has to be there, we advocate that employers suspend judgment of the usual first impression checklist for 30 minutes, and discover whether the candidate can really do the job.

Evaluating: In a courtship, people get to learn about their potential partner over many dates, over a longer period of time (than in hiring). But if you think about it, the knowledge gained really comes in fleeting glimpses sprinkled over that long period.  In employment, we have to condense and concentrate those glimpses into a few hours of interviews.  But, as in dating, past and current behavior is a good predictor of future actions. Employers can drill down and ask detailed questions about how prospects got things done, what challenges they faced, how they solved problems, how they reacted in a crisis, what they believe about core issues. Good interviewers will find the best way to ensure that they know the candidate’s capability well before moving forward.

Comfort: In dating, people can often be awkward and nervous until they know the level of interest of the other person.  They often make mistakes and stumble, until they know they are really accepted.  In interviewing, people are often at their worst, and similar awkwardness occurs.  Good executives aren’t usually experts at interviewing, on either side of the table – they don’t do it too often!  For both employers and candidates, the way to cut through the nervousness is to have a good process.  If both parties are committed to discovering if there truly is a fit, there can be greater comfort.  Focus on specific objectives – what does the employer need done; what is the candidate’s capability of doing those things?

Connection: The suitor who says “But enough about me; what do you think of me?” doesn’t often get to a second date.  Courtship and hiring both involve mutuality – the art of getting your needs met while also meeting those of someone else.  Candidates have to demonstrate how they can add value, solve problems and enable growth.  Interviewers owe it to candidates to show them what is valuable about the company, and how they will benefit by being employed there.  This mutuality creates real connection.  When a suitor proposes marriage, emotions run high.  Easy “yes” answers come when there is already congruency – Both people already know it is a fit.  Employment offers create similar stirring of emotions, and the best way to get to a “yes” is to ensure the candidate sees clearly why it is a fit, on all levels.

The ideal result of a good courtship for most people is marriage, and the ideal result of a staffing process is a good hire.  Both require sensitivity to the needs of each party.  Handled correctly, a good hire leads to a lasting and rewarding relationship, just like a marriage.

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Posted by admin at 7:14 PM

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Friday, January 6, 2012
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2012 vs. 2002 – Surveys on Goals are Revealing!

Franklin Covey has done Surveys in 2002 and 2012 on New Year’s Resolutions, satisfaction, goals, and several other factors.  Both surveys had about 1000 responses.  The changes over 10 years are interesting.  People are citing career changes and personal development LESS now than they did 10 years ago.

Take a look at the interesting changes in personal goals over a decade:

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Posted by admin at 5:42 PM

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
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Who’s On Top? The Candidate / Recruiter “Hierarchy”

There is a lot written in recruiter training and on recruiting blogs about “candidate control” – the notion of the recruiter being “in control” of the candidate.  Here’s a peak behind the curtain….

Because of the mystique of the recruiting business, candidates often assume that there is a lot the recruiter cannot tell them – the name of the employer, the compensation, the location, etc.  Secrecy is actually rarely required in a retained search situation – the recruiter is partnered with the employer, and unless is it a confidential replacement search, the recruiter can candidly discuss most aspects of the search parameters, and in fact should be able to discuss a lot about the company –to enable the candidate to be comfortable enough to move forward.

When a recruiter persists in keeping much about the job a secret, it is a sign they may be on a non-exclusive contingency assignment – competing against other recruiters, where only the recruiter who places the candidate earns any fee.  This situation requires the contingency recruiter to be secretive, because there is a risk of the candidate “going around” the recruiter.  So, secrecy is, in a sense, a sign that the relationship between the recruiter and the employer is not very strong.  Passive candidates (not active job seekers) are justifiably wary of such situations.

In retained search, the employer trusts the recruiter, the candidate trusts the recruiter, and the recruiter acts with full transparency, to be deserving of trust.  The issue of candidate control falls by the wayside, and information flows freely, to everyone’s mutual benefit.

Some recruiters make the transition from contingency to retained, but forget that they can and should change their behavior, and continue to play games with candidates.  Information is power, so they use the game of information exchange to retain control. But that works both ways.  Candidates who are confidentially looking don’t always tell one recruiter about opportunities they are pursuing through another recruiter, or perhaps on their own.  They mislead the recruiter about their compensation and sometimes other critical job history factors, to avoid being ruled out prematurely.  It takes an effort to win their confidence and candor.

In an atmosphere of trust, there is less likelihood of a hierarchy being perceived or needed.  The recruiter who sets this up properly creates a win/win/win for him/herself, the candidate and the employer-client.

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Posted by admin at 5:11 AM

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