28 June 2009

PMP Certified

I finally took my test. I am now officially PMP Certified. The studying was hell and let's just say I should have done a lot more. For those of you preparing to take the PMP exam, get as much advice as you can and study, study, study. I suggest going through tons of practice questions and continuing to do so until your average scores are above 80%. That way you can go in with a bit of confidence. I don't subscribe to any particular study model when approaching the exam but I will say that I read the entire PMBOK and studied nearly all of Rita's book. I took my exam one of the last few days for the 3rd edition.

A big sigh of relief from me...as I will be happy to get back to regular life.

Good Luck.

17 June 2009

A book about buses...

If I were to write a book or leave a set of instructions for work, managing others, or anything professional in nature, I would probably start with getting hit by a bus. I don't know why but the concept of a bus fills in my analogies from time to time.

When managing others I firmly believe that you have to anticipate the worst and ensure your employees are prepared to fill in or take your place. I call this the hit by the bus theory. Of course the name is not original and for some it means something else. Some even call the same theory or style of management something different. I believe you should always be training 2 to take your place. I also think that most managers are scared of a concept like this. I think they are scared that their company will fire them and have one of their subordinates take their place. If this actually happened I think it would be the result of one of two occurrences: 1 - your company has bad morals and ideals or 2 - you did something wrong not related to someone being able to replace you. If you play the situation out properly, how would one ever get promoted if there is no one to take their place. That's one of the main reasons why I believe in the hit by the bus theory. The other main reason is that you should always be advancing others. No questions asked. It will come back to you. I promise; one way or another. And why should you be training up 2 people to take your spot? Because they need some competition to keep motivated. And what if one of them get's hit by a bus too?

My other bus fascination I tag with is get on the bus or watch it go by. This concept is about you and your career going places. I believe there are opportunities all over. Most of the time you have to find them, create them, or make the best what you have been presented. But my point here is that you can either get going places by your own choice or pass up potential opportunities up and then complain about it later.

I guess my message is to get on the bus because you don't want to get hit by the bus or watch it go by. Laugh or not, I think they are pretty solid. No original but professional styles to stick by.

Hotel workers

I think one of the most gratifying things to do while staying at a hotel is to smile and say hello to the staff. Any of the staff, especially the ones on the lower end of the totem pole. To watch them smile back is just great. There are so many who look down on others for doing particular work or just don't take the time with a stranger that when someone actually acknowledges these individuals it makes it all better...for at least that moment I guess.

I am writing to this topic as a former hotel employee because I can totally relate. And now I stay in hotels for 3-4 nights a week around 23 weeks a year. It really makes the whole experience better when everyone is nice to each other and they truely mean it. Tipping means a whole lot too. It's like Christmas when some hotel employees receive tips. Even if you think you can't afford it, leave a buck or two behind once in a while...you won't miss it. Everyone loves a bonus.

Have you ever heard about smiling while you are on the phone because the person on the other end can see it? Well, do it in person too.

15 June 2009

How to get a job in 2009...

I was talking to one of my really good friends the other day about his current job search. We were talking about his resume and I asked him if he minded hearing all of my thoughts. Since he seemed to like them, I typed them up and thought I’d share.

This is my advice when searching for a job…

1 - Establish and/or tweak your web presence. By this I mean a few things.

First, tidy up all of the areas where potential employers will search and/or find your social networking profiles AND establish the ones you are missing. If this is too much effort, just work on the staple ones that you’d prefer to keep (or create). If I were you I’d focus on LinkedIn and Facebook. But these might vary by industry.

Next, monitor and post comments on forums, blogs and similar online public spaces. Use your time online to grow within your specific field or niche. Or take the time to create the new space you want to be in. Read, share, and comment on articles and blog posts. If are not already familiar with the social networking community, you will be surprised with the their nature to reciprocate.

2 - Get out there…I mean this literally.

Put yourself in a position to meet others and future employers. Sit down and think about where your future employer or employees from your ideal company hang out after work or on the weekends. Simply increase your chances. Think of this in a dating context…we all know the guy or gal who complains that they never meet anyone, but yet they never leave their apartment. Put yourself out there and remember to put on a smile and keep a positive attitude.

Do some searches on local conference and training venues. Find out who’s coming to town and what is being offered. You could put yourself in surrounding areas for next to nothing or you could go the extra mile and actually attend – this could depend on costs but is likely tax deductible.

3 - Make sure your resume is up to date.

Let’s be real, is there anyone out there that actually reads every last word on a resume? I guess there might be, but it's probably very rare. So I think you should focus on 3 things. Here's were your marketing skills come in. How well does it represent me? What is the immediate take away for a potential reader/employer? And is it searchable?

Start by doing some resume research online. No, do a lot of research online. Find the articles that focus on the different types of resumes and who each type applies to. Find the one that fits and work on it. And almost more important – get as many resume examples that you can get your hands on.

After you get a really good draft going, have your friends review it. In the past, this is the part that taught me the most lessons. Not about searching for a job, but who your real friends really are. If you call a friend and ask them to take a few minutes out of their day and review the resume you are using and they look it over and respond back with, “It looks pretty good.” You should rethink your friendship with them. And I mean that in all seriousness. If they are your friend and don’t have enough time to help you out with your job search…you can figure out the rest.

Your goal with your resume needs to be similar to a product on a store shelf. The intended reader should be interested from the start. I'm not saying that it needs to be completely crazy good, but I am saying that it needs to get someone's attention. Additionally, when someone reviews your resume, what is their immediate reaction? Is it unprofessional, I want to meet this person, or they must be really old to have accomplished this much. Give it to someone and find out.

In addition to your resume, have some samples of your work ready. This would of course depend on industry but applies almost across the board.

Make sure the contents of your resume are searchable. Try it out. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and pretend you were a recruiter or potential employer seeking to hire “a C++ coder, a HRIS implementation consultant, or a database developer”. Write down all of the phrases, job titles, job responsibilities, and anything else that would describe a well qualified candidate with experience should have. Now how does this list compare with your resume? When you search for each of these in your resume, what do you find? Guess what, in many cases this will be the only chance you have.

4 - Create a baseline.

My last point on resumes is to post a copy. Make sure you have at least one copy out there somewhere. An online classified site or one or more of the big job sites for starters. I’d say this approach is like fishing…it’s a lot harder to catch a fish without having a bait in the water.

Good Luck. And what I didn't say is that it is all about networking. Talk to your friends, acquaintances, past colleagues, and anyone else that may be of help.

09 June 2009

My city is finally going to recycle!

Is it weird that I am excited about my city launching a recycling program? Most people already live where their community picks up recyclables. Mine will start later this year as noted on the city website HERE. My fiancee and I have been driving our plastic, metal, and glass waste to the local satellite station.

I live in Hallandale Beach, Florida and up until now recycables have only been picked up from single family residents and not condominium buildings. The city sent out a memo a few weeks back about a meeting to discuss the new and upcoming recycling program. You can look up the demographics about my city on zipskinny.com or another similar site, but let's just say I was one of the younger people there.

I guess I am so interested in this whole change for a few reasons...the obvious one being the environment doesn't place in my top 2. It's the cost savings for our trash pickup that is most important to my building's residents. For the last year we have had to pay for 6 out of 7 days for trash pickup. After I implemented an improved newspaper recycling program we were able to eliminate 1 of the 6 days. You can find my previous blog post HERE. I am looking forward to eliminating another 2 day once we get our recycling dumpster...which translates into a few thousand dollars annually. Another good reason is that I can dispose of my recyclebable waste at the end of the hall instead of a mile away.

Another benefit is that we can get rid of the 3 newspaper recycle bins that do not match. We have been putting a fair amount of money and energy into making our building look better lately and we have these 3 crappy looking bins out front. The city wouldn't give me matching ones unless the existing ones were damaged. So we had to keep the green one, the blue one, and our latest one which is dark blue.

The hardest part will be to get the residents to actually start recycling. It shouldn't be too bad as many of them think we recycle now and dispose of these containers with their newspapers. They don' take the time to read my signs. Too many words. I learned my lesson though. Signage needs to be short and sweet and in multiple languages. For us that's English, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, French, and Polish. I'm sure I missed some.

The funniest thing about the recycling meeting was all the push back from some of the other attendees. They wanted to know why the city was making them recycle and if they had to participate. And where they would store the extra dumpster. They didn't realize that they would have about 30% less waste if they actually recycled. Or that they could use this to save money. I thanked the city and I'm just excited the time to recycle is finally here.

The power of search

The power of internet search engines motivate me to keep blogging...along with other factors. I like the idea of meeting others and sharing ideas through public blogging. But, I'm really fascinated that someone else can find my perspective. I understand the technology and it's not that I think it is surreal or something crazy. We as a society have just evolved really quick.

Now I just have to focus on the topics that interest me and start putting them down. And more importantly, the thoughts that I have.

03 June 2009

Ollie's Trolley

I finally got around to eating lunch at Ollie's Trolley in Louisville, Kentucky. Or I guess I should say that I bought a burger there and ate it down the street at a table outside a local university. You can tell as you drive by that there is some history with Ollie's. Go to the website if you want all that. I'm going to speak to the food.

Well, when we got there a bit before noon there was a line out the door and down the stairs. But that is because only 3 to 5 people can fit inside at a time. You order at one window and pick up your brown bag a few feet over. I ordered an Ollie Dressed with cheese which included special sauce, pickle slices, lettuce, tomato, and onion. The regular Ollie burger only comes with sauce. The person I went with recommended the fries...and to order them extra spicy, so we did.
I'd have to say the fries were the best part. They had a cajun type salt mixture that I'd slate in between a Montreal steak seasoning, Zataran's Creole Seasoning, and my own rub, which is currently called Field Green's Blackening Spice. I only have 1 supporter of the name out of many fans of the rub. I'll get to that someday. Oh, the best part about the spice on the fries was the fennel. Small pieces of fennel.

The burger was okay and I'll most likely go back. Not much taste and they are all cooked medium well. Not to placed in my current top 10, but the experience floats it up a bit. The flat top griddle they were working with was filled with meat. There was only enough room for grease to bubble up in between. Anyways, good times as usual in Louisville.

And here are my current top ten burgers...(that I have devoured)

Le Tub - Hollywood, FL
Stage Left - New Brunswick, NJ
Radius - Boston, MA
Father's Office - Santa Monica, CA
Miller's Bar - Dearborn, MI
Kingdom - Miami,FL
Shake Shack - New York, NY
Red Coat Tavern - Royal Oak, MI
301 Bistro - Louisville, KY
Upper Deck Ale & Sports Grill - Hallandale Beach, FL

Ollie's slides in at 30 of the 35 that I have kept track of since I started ranking them a few years back.

What am I doing?

After admiring Sacha Chua's blog today, I realized I have to get off my butt and write a bit more. Worst case scenario I post public thoughts about not all that much and someone stumbles upon them in the years to come wondering why I even had a blog. But then I realized I need to pursue why I launched my blog in the first place...now why was that? Just Kidding, JK for the youngsters and texters.

I started this whole thing to connect with those who have similar interests and to grow my microscopic footprint on the internet. I want to meet other consultants who live in hotels. I want to exchange pics and addresses with other burger aficionados. I want to hear about you rad bicycle that takes you places. And did I say I want to connect with others? I want to learn and get better at what I do. I have switched from a technology consultant to a implementation consultant, to a senior consultant, to a managing consultant, to a wannabee web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 consultant while laying the groundwork for a performance consultant...so yeah, I'm headed in the right direction. Or at least a path that makes me happy. But there is nothing wrong with getting better.

I'm going to step it up. Thanks for the pep talk Sacha. You can find her article on Magic Beans here if you want.

Oh, and I have been working on the mini garden my fiance and I have in ceramic pots too.

Googled or Binged

What if Bing became the new buzz? Would you still say Google it or would you switch your jargon to bing it? Or would we revert to search for it on the internet.

With website administrators and technologists creatively enhancing search engine optimization for their websites...which base off of popular search engines techniques...we will continue to be in a progressive mine is better than yours search engine battle. It's great that the internet gets better by the day. Isn't that the point?

I'm still going to stick to Google. If I wanted all of the extras I'd use one of the more consumer based sites like yahoo or now bing. I just wish advanced search techniques like quotes, tildas, and negatives were in the spotlight to speed up the process for others. Click HERE to see what I am talking about if you don't already know.

I was inspired to check Bing out for myself after reading Katherine Boehret's article today in the WSJ. It shed light into this new 'Bing ' while comparing and contrasting it to Google's search. Where will the search engine kings take us next?