Speak Up To Get What You Want

Do you ever notice that some people seem to have no trouble getting what they want?  What is it about them?  Maybe they’re more confident.  Or smarter.  Or lucky.  Who knows?  While some of those things may be true, it might be simpler than that.  It could be that they spoke up.  Could it be that simple?  Would it work to speak up to get what you want?  It definitely can make a difference.

The Job I Didn’t Get

I got this lesson pretty early in my career.  In my first job out of college, I was on a technical help desk.  There were quite a few younger people.  It was a great place to get your foot in the door.

I did well.  Very well.  Not to toot my own horn, but I quickly became one of the model help desk agents. Other people sought me out for questions.  They’d ask technical questions or how to deal with customers.  It was a great feeling, especially for my first real job.

A few months in, an announcement came out that one of my colleagues had been made a team lead.  He was also in the group of people that were doing really well.  He definitely deserved it.  Still, I was a bit bummed.  After all, how did he get this advancement?

Well, it turns out, he spoke up!

After a few days of being a bit down, I went to the group manager.  I explained that while I was happy for my colleague, I was disappointed that I hadn’t been considered.

The manager looked at me and said that he didn’t know I was interested, because I’d never told him as much.

Right then and there, I told him that I was interested.  And you know what?  When the next team lead opportunity came up, guess who was given the opportunity?

That’s right, yours truly.

I learned the lesson that you have to ask for what you want.  You can’t just take for granted that someone knows what you want.

How else can this apply?  Let’s look at a few recent examples.

Missing Coupons

We do a lot of our grocery shopping at Meijer.  They have a rewards program where you clip coupons electronically,

image from Morguefile courtesy of WalterWhite

and then redeem them by entering your phone number at the register.  Every so often they give you personalized coupons, based on your shopping history.  These ‘just for you’ coupons are usually pretty good, since they’re based on items you frequently buy.

My wife got an e-mail with a few coupons, some of which of course were great for us.  But, when she logged in to her account, they weren’t there.  We waited a couple of days, but they never arrived.

Now, in cases like this, you can often forget about them, or just let it go.  That’s the easy thing to do.  But I wasn’t going to do that.  Nope, I decided to speak up.

I sent them an e-mail and explained the situation.  They wrote back and said that they were aware of a glitch in their most recent batch of e-mails, and said that in order to make it up, they’d added a flat $8 coupon to come off our next shopping trip.

This was awesome.  Looking at the coupons we got, we probably wouldn’t have used enough to get $8 in savings.  Plus, we can now save the money without having to buy the associated item.  We have more freedom and more money.  And, the only ones that got anything are the ones that decided to speak up.

That Time I Asked For A Raise

A few years ago, I’d had enough.  Our company made it through the recession without a lot of layoffs, but the tradeoff is that we went for quite a stretch without getting a raise.  I accepted this for awhile, but after a certain point, enough was enough.

I waited until I was in the middle of a key project, and then asked for a raise.  Without hesitation, they granted me the raise and gave me what I asked for.   Now, I know that a few others spoke up and also got a raise, but those who didn’t never got one.  At least not until the next wave of raises came out, but I got that too.

All because I wasn’t afraid to speak up.

Be Careful

You have to know when to draw the line.  You don’t want to speak up when the occasion isn’t appropriate.  For example, I knew that I could speak up about wanting the job because I was a solid performer.  I knew I could ask for the raise because I had gotten good reviews.  I also knew that the company was doing better and could afford the raise.  Faced with a situation when a job wasn’t going well, it’s best to stay quiet.

You have to take such things into consideration, or you’ll end up not getting what you want.  Plus, you could get the reputation of being outspoken, which might not be a good thing.  Still, if you learn to read the signs and the timing is right, speak up.  You’d be surprised at how often you’ll get what you want.

Readers, when have you spoken up and had something go your way?  Have you ever misread such a situation?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Unlimited Vacation Policy? Thanks But No Thanks

I’ve seen more press than ever on unlimited vacation policy.  At first, this sounds wonderful.  Take all the time off that you want and answer to nobody, right?  Well, I don’t think it’s that easy.  Personally, I would hate an unlimited vacation policy.  However, I know that’s because of my personal situation.  I’m curious what you think.

What Is An Unlimited Vacation Policy?

Simply put, companies with an unlimited vacation policy don’t provide the standard time off allotments that we’ve all grown used to.  You’re allowed to take what you need.  However, there are things to keep in mind.

  • You have to fulfill your work obligations.  If you don’t get your work done because you’re taking too much time off, you’ll probably get pulled off the policy.  Or fired.
  • You have to have more awareness.  When you get an allotment of time off, the decision is made for you as to how much you can take.  When you don’t have that set, you have to become aware of how people in your company, or even your own work group, handle time off.  Say nobody takes more than three weeks off?  Well, that becomes the de facto standard.  It’s really only technically unlimited at that point.
  • You’ll get nervous.  At least I would.  If I take a lot of time off at one time, I get pretty nervous.  After all, if I’m able to be away for long periods of time, am I needed?  Maybe my boss would start to question that.
  • Calculating total compensation is more difficult.  Your paycheck is not truly how much ‘you make’.  You have to look at other benefits.  How much is your employer kicking in for insurance? 401(k) matching?  Everything plays a part, including your time off.  If you don’t have a set amount of time off, it becomes harder to quantify this.
Image from morguefile courtesy of jppi

Unlimited Vacation Would Suck For Me (At My Current Job)

Personally, I have no interest in unlimited vacation.  Thankfully I work for an organization that’s not exactly cutting edge, so I’m pretty sure this won’t work.  Now these are personal reasons but it shows that every situation is unique.

  • I get a lot of time off.  I’ve been with my company for over 10 years.  I also hired in when they had an extremely generous time off policy.  New hires don’t get as much, but they haven’t cut ours.  Yet.  So, I get a lot of time off.
  • We’re encouraged to use it.  You’ve all seen the stories where people don’t use their time off.  That doesn’t happen here. Our organization wants us to use the time off.  That works for me!
  • Our time off translates to money.  We accrue time off where I work.  So every two weeks I get 1/26th of my annual time off added to my bank.  If I ever quit or am let go, I get paid out at my hourly rate. If I had no time off remaining, I’d get nothing.  But, what if I had banked a couple of weeks?  That’d be like an extra paycheck.  In other words, my time off holds real, actual value.  I don’t see any reason to give that up.

So, while unlimited vacation raises the eyebrows, I don’t think it’s all that spectacular.  However, I know that every situation is different.  And, since big companies like Netflix are doing it, there has to be something to it.  Right?

Readers, what do you think of an unlimited vacation policy?  Have you ever worked somewhere with such a policy?  Would you be in favor if your current employer put it in place?  I’d be curious as to your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

8 Things My First High School Job Taught Me

These days it seems that the high school job isn’t as popular as it was. Between an increase in after school activities and more adults working in part time positions, high school jobs don’t seem to be as much of a norm as they were.  But they still exist.  I believe that they provide a tremendous experience.  I know it did for me.

My High School Job

I was lucky enough to work for family.  I got to work at a collectibles store owned and run by my uncle and aunt.  They opened their store right when the market on figurines and such were ramping up, and developed a reputation as one of the top collectible stores in the area.

I worked a lot of evenings (after school) and weekends.  They were closed on Sunday so I always had a day off.  In a store like that you do everything from unpacking boxes to working the registers to helping people find that just right item.

Now that I look back I realize that the experience really helped me in many ways.

8 Lessons Learned At My First High School Job

  1. Responsibility.  Having a job teaches you responsibility.  They depended on us to make sure things went well  I worked hard to earn and keep their confidence.
  2. Planning.  Getting a job was a big change.  But,learning to incorporate this into my life at that age made it easier down the line.
  3. Time Management. I learned to manage my schedule.  To this day, I

    rely on my calendar to tell me what is happening when.  Making sure I was able to honor all of my commitments when I got my job helped me.

  4. People Skills. The store was the type of business where you didn’t just ring up customers.  You had to work with them, ask questions, and really listen.  I learned valuable people and communications kills.
  5. Money.  I learned a lot from my parents, by good example, on excellent personal money habits.  But, when you work at a business you see things from a different perspective.  This is where I learned a lot about cash flow, basic accounting, credit, and such.
  6. Product Info.  The store sold a lot of items that customers got really excited about.  We had to stay on top of knowing what is new, what is hot, etc.  Many times people came in with no idea what they really wanted.  Knowing the product made sure that I could point them in the right direction.
  7. Relationships.  My uncle developed a lot of relationships.  He would often spend an hour chatting with someone, and they’d walk out empty handed.  Over time I learned that more often than not, they would come back and become regular customers.
  8. Working With Others.  There were a few of us that worked at the store.  Being able to work as part of a team is important, and for me, this started here.

What Is Your High School Job Experience?

Readers, I’m curious how your first high school job went.  Did you have one?  Was it something you enjoyed?  What lessons did you take that you still use today?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Turn Your Industry Knowledge Into A Consultancy Business

When you’ve gained a lot of experience in a particular field, you may find yourself looking at companies and thinking, They aren’t doing things the best way. Then you probably have a good laugh at your own arrogance, thinking how unlikely it is that they’ll ever ask your opinion about it.  Maybe you should stop laughing and consider turning your industry knowledge into a consultancy business.

It may not be as unlikely as you think. Many of the decisions made by businesses and government are driven by the input of consultants. These mysterious people swoop in, dig through the entity’s operations, and then provide a report on what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and how to go the right direction in the future.

Could that be you? Could you be one of those corporate mercenaries who come in and right the ship? It’s a possibility.

There’s a very distinct set of skills and experience that these consultants have, and only if you’ve achieved that level of proficiency will you have any chance of succeeding at telling others how to succeed.

Let’s look at some of the things you’ll need to do to establish a successful consulting firm.

Distance Management

As a one-man or one-woman show, you’ll need to be able to operate things from wherever you may be. When your clients want to pay, you need to be ready to accept their money. Make sure you have a method to accept online payment transactions while you go on about your normal business.

Most people report to work every day, usually in the same location where they reported yesterday and the day before, and countless hundreds of previous days. When you work as a consultant, you will be based at home, but your workplace will change as often as your clients change. You’ll be on the move for sure.

You will also need to be able to market. If you have a resume with a lengthy listing of former employers, you should start right away by re-connecting with co-workers and supervisors who know what you can do. Those people are likely to be scattered among dozens of new employers themselves, and they can give you inroads to a market without such an arduous process of soliciting business.

Loving Travel!

You may think that operating a home-based consulting firm will leave you snugly ensconced in your spare bedroom, gently sipping coffee while scrolling through email on your laptop.

That’s not the case. Consulting is a job that requires you to go to your clients and see what they do on a daily basis. If they’re in manufacturing, you need to see their fabrication and assembly processes to detect the shortfalls. If it’s a restaurant, you’ll want to view their kitchen layout and dining room configuration.

In short, you have to go to them, and that will require a lot of time in airplanes and hotels. You’ll bounce from one time zone to another, and you’ll miss school plays and birthdays back home. For many people, travel is exhilarating, but if that’s not you, you should consider other career options.

Great Communication Skills

Diplomacy has been defined as the ability to tell someone where to go in such a way that they look forward to the trip. Some of what you uncover about your clients may not make them happy. There may be inefficiencies, fundamental mistakes, or even theft going on.

Can you frame that to them in a way that doesn’t insult them? Remember that you need to give them what they are paying you to give them, but your networking will erode quickly if you are viewed as a hack who just wants to come in and create havoc.

You must be a communicator. You must be able to explain why certain problems must be addressed, both in person and in writing. Finally, you need to be able to document the reasons for your recommendations. In most cases, you had better prepare for a lot of “But we’ve always done it this way!”

Starting a consulting business can provide you with good income, great variability in your routine, and lots of independence. If your experience level is high enough to constitute expert status, this could be a great option for you.

Content contributed by a regular reader and fan of Money Beagle.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.