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.

Why It Pays To Be Persistent

Here’s a quick lesson on why it pays to be persistent when asking for something.

Annual Conference

Last week, I attended a project management conference here in the Detroit area.  It’s held every year, and thousands of people attend as it gives required credits that are needed to maintain professional certification. My day is  filled with various speakers and presentations that discuss knowledge and trends in the profession.  It’s not the most exciting thing in the world.  Sometimes if you pick a poor speaker, can be an outright drag, but for once per year, it’s not a bad day.

I go just about every year as it satisfies about 40% of our yearly requirements in one day.

I got my project management certification while at my current job, so I’ve only attended the conference while working for my current employer.  One thing that has always been a constant is that, while we were given the OK to attend the conference on company time, they would not pay for the conference.

It’s not that much money, about $150-200 over the years, but it was still enough of a sum that it hurt a bit when writing the check.

The Same Answer

Every year, I would ask if the company would consider paying, and every year I would be told the same answer.

mb-201311mistakeN0.

Every year, until this year. I asked a few months ago and this time, the answer was ‘Yes’.

Awesome!

Now, I know that I was not the only one to ask, so while I’d like to take credit for it, I know that it is not my credit alone to take.  Still, I know that it was through the persistence of me and my colleagues that it ended up happening.

How To Be Persistent And Get What You Want

  1. Ask Politely. I would always make sure to ask my manager if they’d consider paying, and would always approach it in a way that was polite.
  2. State Your Case . I noticed that other IT groups, which were technology based, often had people attending training.  I pointed out that although we were more process oriented, our training was still beneficial to the organization
  3. State The Benefits. I’ve already pointed out the benefits to attending the conference: I get knowledge, continued certification, and a day off of work!  That’s great, but when presenting the benefits to my manager, I would talk about how this would help the organization.
  4. Understand Politics. Year after year, we’d be told ‘no’ and I never blamed my manager.   I understood that the decision came from higher above.
  5. Know When To Escalate (And When Not To). Since the decision as being made by people higher up than my boss, it’s tempting to go right to them.  In some cases, this might actually make sense, namely if you feel it’s your boss that’s torpedoing the process.  I knew that our boss was in 100% support.    In other words, she had it.  I didn’t want to go over her head.  She might think I didn’t trust her.  I also didn’t want to seem pushy.
  6. Allow Time. The conference was last week, but I had the initial conversation with my boss back in January.     If I’d waited until two weeks ago to ask, it likely would have been an automatic ‘no’.  But it wasn’t!
  7. Don’t Give Up – I’ve been asking for years.   I could have easily assumed that I knew the answer since it’d been the same every year before.  Things change, so keep asking.

Making It Work

The bottom line is to be persistent but to make sure not to be annoying or pushy.  It might take time and you might not ever get what you want, but it never hurts to ask.  After all, the worst that they can say is ‘no’, right?

Readers, have you ever had a ‘no’ become a ‘yes’?  Tell me about it and if you have any other tips to get what you want, 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.

How To Get Fired From A Management Position In 4 Easy Steps

As I’ve gotten more and more years of work under my belt, you learn a lot of things.  These relate to how to do your own job, but also in watching other people do their jobs.  Everybody has their own style or way of doing things, and the repercussions of this can be far and wide.  This holds even more true for those hired into management positions.

Here’s a story of one management hire that started off well but only went downhill, finishing up as an absolute calamity.

A Tough Situation To Begin With

The manager, we’ll call him Manny for the purposes of this story, was hired a little over a year ago to manage a group that was facing quite a few challenges.  The group was growing quite a bit as the focus within IT was getting more and more substantial.  The group did not have a great working relationship with many of the other groups, which was often a source of frustration.  See, with IT, when you’re working on big things, which often happen here, groups have to work together  in order to have a successful outcome. This group was very hard to engage.  Their members often didn’t show up to meetings or would make changes out of sequence or make promises that they would do something and simply not do it at the scheduled time.

They really needed a good manager.  They needed a leader.  And Manny was brought in to be that guy.

He came in and went to team meetings with all of the other groups, including our group of project managers.  I was never really sold on him from the very beginning, as his background just didn’t seem to have the heavy lifting required in both the technical space and also the management area.  He seemed to come more in the area where things were designed, but here he was trying to lead a group more focused on the actual implementation.  Success in one area, at least within IT, does not often translate.

Still, he promised big changes and improvements, and people gave him the benefit of the doubt, as they figured it couldn’t get any worse, right?

Wrong.

4 Mistakes This Manager Made That Got Him Fired

So, where did it all go wrong.  Well, as you can tell by the title of the post, Manny ended up losing his job, but let’s back up and see what he did to get him there.

He added steps and then refused to explain them.

Dring the first meeting with the other groups, he said he would make changes.  And he did.  Pretty soon after we started getting memos about steps that needed to be added to the process for planning and implementing changes involving his group.  All it did was add steps, and people were increasingly frustrated.  Yet, when asked about why the changes were being added or what the benefits were, he would include nothing of the sort in the documentation and would sidestep any direct questions.  Basically, he’d just note, “Well, that’s how we’re doing things now.”

He did not remove frustration, he just shifted it.

Remember how I said that before Manny came on mb-2014-12jobappboard, the team members would often skip meetings?  He promised to put a stop to that.  And fair to his word, he did.  However, some of the steps that he added were that he needed to review all changes.  So, what started happening is that the team members would show up to meetings, engage in the planning process, work together on a plan, and have it signed and ready to go.

This was all great except that Manny would then (and only then) look at it and stall the process.  He wouldn’t go to meetings himself, but would essentially undo the work that his team members did.  In the end, the frustration was still the same, it just changed focus.

He went against overall process flows.

Even though there are many groups within the organization that all follow different processes, there are many standard processes that are expected or even dictated.  For example, if a change is being done and something comes up that was for some reason unexpected, there is a process to evaluate the impact, and decide whether or not to move forward.  Despite the planning, this happens. Most times, the teams huddle and work through it and are able to continue with the change.

Occasionally, things can’t progress and it gets called off, but that’s usually pretty rare.  However, when Manny came in, any time that anything occurred during a change that deviated from the planning elements, he would automatically call the whole thing off.  Right then and there.  It didn’t matter how major or minor the activity was.  It didn’t matter how many other teams had resources that had people participating (often after-hours).  The change would simply be called off and planning had to start over.

He abused his team.

The final straw was when it became known that he was becoming abusive to his team.  He would call them into his office and review work to be done.  He would then threaten the team member with getting fired, often swearing at them in the process.  The team members started comparing notes and documenting this.  They were demoralized and started questioning their abilities.

In the end, especially after the group presented their documentation to senior leadership, it became clear that he was an awful fit.  He took a bad situation and made it worse, instead of making it better.  Manny inherited a team that had weaknesses, and made it worse.  He attacked not only weaknesses, but also what they were good at!  In the end, Manny’s leadership style actually set the team back, something that few would have thought was even possible.

Bad Manager: The Wrong Person For The Job.

Clearly, Manny was overmatched.  Aa time went on, some of the things he started doing happened when he saw that things were getting worse.  There are no excuses for his actions.  That said, I know there are certain times when things start going wrong, and you’re so close to the situation that you can’t see a way out, and you just start lashing out at anything and anybody.  I think it was a slow burn for Manny.  It goes to show that hiring managers and leaders is something that has to be done very carefully.  There are other people’s jobs on the line, and he put them at risk with his poor management style.

Hopefully, the damage can be unwound and someone new can be brought in that can be a true leader with true vision and understanding.  The team definitely deserves that.

Readers, have you ever seen a manager somehow manage to do everything wrong?  Do you think that it’s hiring a bad person, or maybe just a bad fit for the job?

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.