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September 17, 2016 - No Comments!

Get Over it – New Workforce “Rules”

Are we over it yet?  Half of the workers in  your organizations will be under 30 and by 2025, everyone under 25 will be a digital native.  They grew up with all things tech. Innovation inside our companies will come from the digital natives.  So, why are we hanging on to old structures and ways of thinking about work?  Do we have leaders who just don't see this coming or chose to stick to models they grew up in?

It was great to see an LA Business Journal article last week about nontraditional work in LA.  There is an astounding number of workers who are self employed and data shows it is one in five or upward of one million people in this county.  They work in non-traditional jobs and are part of the underground cash economy.  They rule and love the entrepreneurial life.

There is a concentration in entertainment and creative however, this trend is spilling over into other sectors.  We are about 50% higher with number of self employed compared to other states in the country.   We are on a "fast - forward" when it comes to contingent workers, says, Manuel Pastor, professor of sociology and American studies at USC.

Remember our story about the creative economy that Otis College of Art and Design created?  Their 2015 report spoke about 166,000 non-employee arrangements and now we see that number increasing rapidly.   The government agencies will eventually have to deal with this new reality. It is not going away anytime soon.

Great talent is all over this -they don't need the structures of legacy systems.  They want to work in collaborative networks where skills matter.  Our clients are willing to pay for the skills they need, however, they are still hanging on to old models.  Now, we just need our Hiring Managers to get over it and think more about work, the plan to get things done, how to use technology and ensure that everyone understands the respected cultures in their network.  I know that is not easy.

What are the skills that will allow us to let go of controls that used to work but don't now?

  • Empathy - what do you want for the future and ask your workers what they value.
  • Anticipate Future - get the big picture and translate that into quarterly deliverables and ideal resources with options.
  • Match Maker - willing to look at the match up of resource and need in a variety of scenarios and factor in the cost of speedy or slow solution.
  • Piloting ideas - be okay with trying out an idea or new work arrangement. Tell others you are testing out feasibility and criteria for success.

Let's open up the conversations so that we can get over it and move forward.

July 19, 2014 - No Comments!

Job Hunting in the Interconnected World

I had the pleasure of speaking this week to a group of 40 senior managers who are in job search mode.  I do this a few times a year and noticed this time, the group was smaller and much more positive about prospects.  They were an impressive experienced group of leaders from Operations to Sales and Marketing as well as HR.  They see the up-swing in the market but they still experience uneven growth in unpredictable places. They all chimed in that the opportunities might be there but the navigation to real conversations with corporate leaders was still illusive and frustrating.  The hiring process remains slow and elongated.   The old style of job search for a specific job is fading away.

Why is this the case? We are in a talent scarce market for those hard to fill, leadership or technically savvy middle or senior managers.  So, we clearly need to fill jobs and they are still posted out there.  However, there is a lot of noise and managers are overwhelmed with work.  We need to look at the network and the art of connecting.  I know we are all on LinkedIn checking out each other.  Who needs a resume today?   Talent is connecting and communicating across platforms and their own network and managers are doing the same thing.   It goes both ways.  It is a transparent and interconnected world.  If one company treats a candidate poorly, then it is shared across multiple or hundreds of connections potentially within minutes.  If Zappos leads the way by creating an Insider program - we all learn about it and comment.  What a novel idea, to create a place where a company can build new fans and leverage the relationship they already have with a huge fan base.

The Wall Street Journal this morning, has a weekend interview column with Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and COO of PayPal.  He says that "your identity is now constituted by your network. You are your friends, you are your tribe, you are your interactions with colleagues and customers and even your competitors."   He says and I agree that we are no longer in control of our resume.

So, where are the jobs?  The Inc 500 and 5000 CEO's are fueling our economy and soaking up what they must do to attract and engage talent.  Every resource matters to them.  I have had more fascinating conversation in the past six months about how to build a great internal talent attraction system and culture than I can recall.  Yes, there is a steep learning and implementing curve for the small company but they care about getting the right talent and view them as an investment.  The concept of helping employees be "employable" by training and expanding their role is natural and essential  in a smaller company.  You have to wear many hats.

So, what does this mean for the job seeker? Forget the conversation about a "job" or a "title" and start communicating your perspective about business and growing talent.  Share your point of view online and in person - start conversations with business leaders and your job prospects in an entirely new way.  Ask them about their challenges, be curious, share your views and engage them.  Be bold, and give up a narrow view on what your title was  in a former job.  This interconnected world offers so much more information about who we are as leaders and the work we can get involved in.  Start there and you may be surprised to learn of an opportunity where there is a match in interest and in need.  We are in the network age - it is far more interesting and allows us to share our stories and find synergy in more fun ways.  Enjoy!

November 24, 2013 - No Comments!

November 2013 S. Benjamins & Co Newsletter: Reinventing A Career

I had the great opportunity to catch up with a good friend and colleague who has successfully changed careers and is now helping others do the same. Mary Stern and I worked together when we were both with American Hospital Supply and later the Baxter Healthcare organization.

Mary SteinMary Stern, former VP of HR, is living in Santa Barbara after many years in the Midwest. She is enjoying the adventure of shifting from corporate leader to consultant and now author. It may seem like this is a huge change, however, Mary is used to change. She always has helped her colleagues and clients transition their businesses. While at Baxter, she helped leaders move from U.S.-centric mindsets to global ones. When Baxter faced yet another important transformation, Mary decided to transform herself as well, retiring from corporate life and then diving into something entirely new.

From millennials to boomers, we are all rethinking how to bring more meaning to our work and manage career transitions, if not now, then in the future. Mary took a full year to evaluate the “what next.” But often we don’t have that much time to evaluate. I was so intrigued with Mary’s journey, that I asked if she could share her insights.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell me, how did you determine that you wanted to write a series of children’s books after leaving Baxter?

Mary Stern: I was always a nature lover and enjoyed spending time out of doors with my amazing grandchildren. When my first grandson was five years old, I wanted to help him love reading as much I do, so I created something special for him. He would be the star of my children’s book, and in 2008 we published the first in The Cowboy Dog Series. Book two came in 2009, with my second grandchild as the hero; my last grandchild is the star of book three, which was completed in 2011.

Sherry: How fun that must have been! Were there surprises for you in this process?

Mary: I did not realize how much work it would take to find the right team—illustrator, editor, book designer, printer, web page designer, PR and marketing person and a distributor—to pull it all together. Any team needs to function well, and I was surprised how similar this was to teamwork in corporate America. What I learned was that skills of inclusion, clarity, and communication all pay off. The publishing world was also more difficult than I imagined. It is competitive, and I understand that, but there is very little collaboration and it seems cutthroat at times.

Sherry: Following the children’s series, what made you decide to write a book about job search with so much already published in this area?

Mary: The short answer is that this book is quite different. I have looked and researched extensively what is out there. With a whole career in HR and in helping others in career change, I wanted to create a resource that was a step-by-step guide. That’s why I called it 6 Steps to Land the Job.

So many of those I coach say, “I can’t find the jobs.” There are jobs, I would tell them, but people are just not sure how to find them.

Sherry: We know this is a very challenging job market at all levels. What are you seeing that can immediately help someone who says, “There are no jobs?”

Mary: I wonder how many people take the time to evaluate what their interests are and share that with their network. I see people focusing on the activity of job search without identifying the result they are aiming for. We want immediate gratification, and given the time pressure, I can understand why we go there first. However, doing the research and focusing on a quality, thoughtful goal is important. I know the market is tough, no question. However, if you determine what your field of interest is and how you might enter that arena, you might be surprised where that takes you. Networking is key. You must successful network to find the right resources and connections. Of course, part-time work somewhere might be essential while you are figuring this out and building your connections.

Extroverts understand the value of connecting and social media. Introverts might struggle, so I suggest preparing for the “Three Questions Strategy.” Prior to a networking event where you are meeting someone for the first time, be ready with three questions, such as: “What speaker did you like at this event?” Or “Tell me about what brought you here.” Or “Have you joined other groups like this?” That will help you start making a connection and learn more about them.

What Next?

I encourage you to share Mary’s book with someone you care about who is in job search. She starts with “tell your story” and emphasizes evaluating what you want and where you must make some choices. We know from research that money, although important is not always the most powerful motivator. You also have the opportunity to learn and grow, have impact and set goals, as Mary suggests.

From Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, to Clayton Christiansen’s book, How Will You Measure Your Life, there is more focus now on getting to “happiness” than ever before. Take the time to think about that for yourself, and then share this book with a friend or dive into the 6 Steps to Land the Job.   It’s never too late! Also, check out Mary’s sites for her books: and

There is no rush in figuring out your passion:

  • Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn at age 49
  • The Hurt Locker came out when Kathryn Bigelow was 57 years of age
  • Millard Kaufman, co-creator of “Mr. Magoo”, wrote his first novel at age 90
  • Ang Lee screened his first big movie at age 38
  • Van Gogh’s most famous work was created around age 35
  • Georgia O’Keeffe was famous for clay objects in her 80’s and continued ‘till 98 years young.

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