You are Your Own Company
Value vs. Cost
10. Get a Mentor
11. What is Success
12. Plan “B”
13. Let's Take a Break
14. Interest Rates and Investments
15. Solid Performers
16. I lost my job, now what?
17. You Can't Turn Back the Clock
18. Don't Waste Time
19. There Are Jobs
20. Getting Your Foot in the Door
21. I Got the Interview
22. Answering Objections
Mastering the Recession
By Robert J Sprague
The first thing I want to discuss is the title. I could have called this
book How to Survive the Recession. However, if all you want to do is
survive then don`t bother reading further. Robinson Crusoe survived
on a desert island. When he was finally rescued he was dressed in
rags and half crazy.
A recession, like any other time period will produce its’ own share of
success stories. The question is will yours be one of them? I have
tried to give the reader practical and usable information based on real
life experience. I have lived through tough times and have used the
techniques outlined in this book with positive results. I have also
included some exercises and encourage you to complete them.
We do not control the economy, but we can control our own destiny
regardless of what is going on around us. Success is not defined by
our society or by some dictionary. We define our own success. For
some, success is living in a log cabin, off the grid and away from
society. For others it is the acquisition of material goods. Whether it
is wealth, power, love or sex, each of us must decide for ourselves
what things are going to bring us true happiness.
Enjoy the read
Every few years the economy takes a downturn. This occurs so that
the market can correct itself. It's as though the economy is reshuffling
the deck so to speak. During these times you can find yourself in one
of three situations. The first is neutral. Your sector of the economy
remains unaffected by the market shift. The second is market
downturn. In this situation the market has changed and not in your
favour. Demand for the product or service you provide is reduced,
and so too is your value in the market place. Thirdly you may find
yourself in high demand because of a market shift, economic or
So Market change is not always bad. In addition, a recession or worse
a depression can also prove extremely profitable if you are in the
right place at the right time with the right skills.
A free market economy is based on supply and demand. Therefore it
is important that you have the skills, experience and training that
meet the demands of the market place.
Before starting any business venture, prospective investors always do
a market study. In other words, they want to discover if there is a
demand for what they are going to make and sell. If there is no
demand, can demand be created? Notice I didn't say: “If there is no
demand they will not start a business.” Sometimes you have to create
a demand in order to meet it. Let us take a quick look at a few
products that were not in demand when they were introduced.
Can you imagine life without the automobile? Of course not.
However, when the automobile was introduced no one had one, and
no one really wanted or could afford one. Henry Ford did not invent
the automobile. What he did do was put a car within the reach of the
average person. He did this by inventing the production line and
designing a car that would be cheap to own and simple to build. Lee
Iacocca used the same type of thinking when he introduced the K-car
and subsequently saved Chrysler from bankruptcy. The interesting
thing is that we can learn from others who were successful but for
some reason we don't.
I can make a cup of coffee at home. I can buy one just about
anywhere. The thing is I really need my Timmy's. How can you
possibly get rich selling coffee and donuts? You create demand.
Years ago I was in a meeting. The guest speaker was Thomas Bata
the CEO of Bata Shoes. He told a story of two salesmen that were
sent to an African country to open new territory. One was sent north
and the other to the southern part of the country. After two weeks the
sales manager received two telegrams. From the salesman in the
north the message read: “Coming home as there is no potential for
sales. No one wears shoes here. From the salesman assigned to the
south came this message: “Staying another two weeks. Unlimited
sales potential. No one wears shoes here...yet.”
I could go on and on but I think the point has been made. Take a few
minutes and research how many things we view as needs were once
nonexistent or luxuries that were available only to the rich.
Ford Model T
List three things that were not in demand or popular when they
Why do you think they caught on?
Why are we in the predicament we are in? The answer is simple. We
listen to the wrong people. Some time ago I took over management of
a Nissan dealership. I was operating a consulting business that
specialized in saving companies that were on the verge of closing.
This was one of them. The general manager had left, money was
missing and sales were almost nonexistent. The accountant was
running the company and to avoid going under he had laid-off all but
one salesman, two mechanics, the owner’s son and the service
manager who also was the parts manager. The company was in a
downward spiral further exacerbated by laying-off the very people
that were responsible for generating income.
Unfortunately most accountants focus on the bottom line and don't
realize by reducing overhead they may in effect be reducing their
ability to produce product or generate sales. I am not an advocate of
poor accountability. However to be successful you have to generate
income while at the same time manage your expenses. One without
the other is disastrous. The answer would have been to hire and train
more salesmen and spend money on advertising. Well, with no
money this was not an option. The solution was to make everyone in
the organization a salesman. Everyone had their own job plus one
other: sell cars! And you know it worked. Within six months this near
bankrupt company became the number one Nissan dealer in Canada.
When I see companies laying off people and closing factories I have
to wonder who they are listening to. I want to scream: “Get out there
and sell! Don't follow market trends, create them!”
Name three things you or your company could do to increase
sales or increase revenue or three things you could do to make
yourself more employable.
You Are Your Own Company
It seems the days of working for the same employer for your entire
life are long gone. The truth is we may change careers many times
during the course of our working life. The old safe bets like large
institutions and government are not as secure as they once were. This
has necessitated a loyalty shift away from the employer and toward
ourselves. Most people are reluctant to slavishly devote themselves to
a company that could at any moment declare them redundant.
I think this is both sad and reasonable. Sad, because it takes away
from job satisfaction and the joy of a job well done. Reasonable,
because corporations are just too big and too concerned with their
share holders to care.
Throughout your working life you must always be aware of your
marketability. Do you have the skills that are in demand? Is your
training up to date? Are you at the right place at the right time? The
principles that apply to business also apply to you.
There is an old adage that says if you do something the same way for
a long time chances are by now you are doing it wrong. Technology
changes at an ever increasing rate as does our society. That which
was acceptable yesterday is passé today. That's just the way things
are. The good news is: now you know it. Your greatest asset is your
ability to quickly and effectively respond to change.
I was one of those know-it-all teenagers that dropped out of school
early. Fortunately I met some people along the way that steered me in
the right direction. To this day I still take courses. I am what is known
as a Life Long Learner. Learning for me is a joy and this is what it
should be for everyone. Had I not been with people that thought this
way, I would never have discovered how much fun it was to acquire
knowledge. One of the greatest gifts we can bestow on someone is
the joy of discovery. Unfortunately there are just too many teachers
out there that don't inspire their students. Students that aren't inspired
become people that aren't inspired. They become uninspired workers,
managers and executives. They even become uninspired parents. The
result is a perpetual cycle of mediocrity.
The majority of people I talk to have a negative view of education.
Yet in this ever-changing work environment the ability to learn and
adapt is one of the most sought after qualities. If you enjoy learning
then change is an event you will look forward to.
Knowledge is portable wealth. Regardless of what happens in the
economy or politically and even if you lose everything, you are still
wealthy because you have knowledge.
List four qualities that make you a great employee.
Take a few minutes and ask yourself if you are inspired. Are you a
person that inspires others? How can a company succeed when its
employees and managers are uninspired? It can't and it won't. When
was the last time you heard an inspiring speaker? (Other than
church.) Do any of our politicians turn you on? Do you think our
economy would be in such a mess if we had leaders that inspired us?
One of my greatest battles in life is to stay positive, to stay focused
and to stay inspired. It takes work. If the people you associate with
are always complaining, making excuses or dissing someone, it's time
to either set some parameters or get new friends. The following is a
poem I discovered that I read at least once a year:
IF YOU THINK
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't!
If you like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
You think you'll lose, you're lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will;
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can
Attitude will either hold you back or propel you forward. If you see
every obstacle as a challenge and an opportunity, then it is likely you
will be a success.
All of the motivational gurus can trace their origins back to one man.
His name is Norman Vincent Peale. In the early fifties he wrote a
book called: The Power of Positive Thinking. Every self-help
program out there owes its existence to this one book. If you get a
chance read it. The only other self-help book I would recommend is
These days we receive a steady diet of negativity from the media.
This in itself fuels the fire of despair. The truth is you can do very
little about the economy. The forces that affect the economy are
beyond your control. However, you don't have to brought down by a
failing economy. You can succeed even in the worst of times and it all
starts with attitude.
During the depression of the thirties, President Roosevelt was able to
inspire a nation. This more than anything else helped his people to
climb out of economic despair and become a world power.
List five people who inspire or have inspired you.
Some things never change. People need certain products and services
regardless of the economy. They have to eat, they have to live
somewhere, they need an education and training, they need gas for
their cars, and fuel for their homes and they need healthcare. Some
things are always in demand regardless of the economy.
Here's the crunch. Sometimes the local economy just isn't there for
you. It won't matter how good your attitude is or how well you are
trained. There just may not be a job for you. That is the simple truth.
You may have to go where the jobs are. No matter where I went in
Canada, I always came across people that were from someplace else.
Usually these were folks from economically depressed areas of the
country and they saw an opportunity elsewhere. In time some stayed
others returned home if and when the economy improved.
It's no fun uprooting your family. It's a hardship to say the least. But
sometimes it is a necessity. You have to balance your needs against
your desires. You can't live in a fantasy world. On the other hand you
can't be a hero unless you are willing to make the hard decisions.
Tough times make tough people just as obstacles make over comers.
In 1914, Thomas Edison, at age 67, lost his factory, which was worth
a few million dollars, to fire. It had very little insurance. No longer a
young man, Edison watched his lifetime effort go up in smoke and
said, quot;There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up.
Thank God we can start anew. Sometimes we just need a fresh start.
Value vs. Cost
Part of what we are saying in this book is that you are the product.
Your job is to sell that product to a perspective employer or at the
very least convince your present employer that you are a necessity for
the success of their business. Here is the most important lesson you
can learn about sales: “When the value exceeds the cost, the customer
will buy.” If you know this you can sell anything to anyone including
yourself. Most people think that cost is the determining factor in a
purchase. It is not! It's value. A bottle of water sells for about $2.00.
How much could you get for that same bottle of water if you were in
the desert and your customer was dying of thirst? $100, $200 maybe
$500? It’s the same bottle of water but its value has changed. The art
of salesmanship is to increase the value of a product or service so that
it exceeds the cost. You may say: “That's great, but I am not a
salesman.” Sure you are! When you go to a job interview, you are
selling yourself to a perspective employer. You are both the salesman
and the product. Therefore it is important to understand the
fundamentals of salesmanship even if this is not your chosen field.
You may be competing with several people for a position. The one
who will ultimately end up with the job may not be the best qualified
or the most educated. More often than not, the person hired will be
the one that is perceived to be the most valuable to the organization.
Notice I said “perceived”. It's all about perception. Whether you are
the best qualified or not is not as important as whether the employer
thinks you are the best. After all they are the ones doing the hiring.
They are just as biased and prejudice as anyone else even if they don't
Value vs. Cost…
The first person you have to convince is yourself. Before you can
convince an employer that you are worth keeping or hiring you have
to believe in your own self worth. You have to be able to look at
yourself in the mirror and like what you see. How can you convince
others if you haven't convinced yourself? You can be your own best
friend or greatest liability. Like everything else in life, it all comes
back to you.
Value vs. Cost
List six things you like about yourself.
Change is the one constant in the universe and nothing spells change
more than a recession. It is said that the three most stressful situations
are: a change in employment, a change in a relationship and a change
in residence. Notice the key word in all three of these major stress
givers is “change”. So now on top of everything else you are going
through you have to cope with stress. This looks like it's going to be
I am not going to try and tell you it's going to be easy or attempt to
sugar coat everything. What I will say is that change creates
tremendous opportunities and if you are willing and if you are
prepared, you can do extremely well. How well you adapt to change
will determine just how successful you're going to be. Anyone that
tells you not to worry is an idiot. You should worry. However, if all
you do is worry, then you are not going to get anywhere. So worry
and then get going.
It is a natural thing to feel stress when change occurs. This is how
you stay alive in the jungle. When something is out of place or not as
it should be then your stress level goes up. Your adrenaline starts
pumping and your senses become more acute. This is a good thing as
long as you use this stress to your advantage otherwise it can be
debilitating. The early pioneers had an extremely stressful life but
because of the tremendous physical effort it took to survive, the stress
was dispelled. We don't get the same kind of physical release our
ancestors did. To get rid of our excess stress we have to jog, work
out, play sports or build things in the basement. These activities take
the place of chopping wood, tending crops and foraging for food.
When you allow stress to build up then all sorts of negative things
happen. Dealing with stress is not the same as using stress. The key to
successfully dealing with change and its related stresses is to create a
balance so that you can channel the energy generated by stress in a
You also need quiet time. You need a place where you can retreat
from the world and recharge your batteries. It is amazing how many
good ideas will come your way when you're sitting in a park or just
walking around the block. Find that quiet place. The place you can go
and just think. As much as there are changes going on around you,
there are also changes happening inside you as well. You need to deal
with these as well.
List three major changes that have occurred in your life.
List three ways you deal or have dealt with stress.
Get a Mentor
One of the best things you can do in life is getting yourself a mentor.
This is a person you respect for their opinion, intelligence and
experience. This is not your buddy or your pal. This is generally the
person you would like to grow up to be. It could be your Dad or Mom
or even one of your grandparents. Maybe it's our boss or our pastor. It
is someone that will tell you the truth no matter what. In every culture
save our own, people have venerated those with experience. Elders
were given respect and in turn gave council to those younger than
themselves. In this way the exuberance of youth was tempered with
the wisdom of age. This does not mean that you relinquish your life
to someone else or let another make decisions for you. It means
getting good council from someone that has nothing to gain from
giving it to you. Advice is cheap and plentiful. Good advice is rare
and must be sought.
On one occasion I received a phone call from an investment firm. The
person on the line indicated that |I could make a lot of money by
investing with him. I asked him one simple question: “Are you a
millionaire?” His reply was: “No.” At this point I politely said
goodbye and hung up the phone. If the person calling was a wealthy
investor then he or she would have been worth listening to. Always
consider the source of the information you receive. Don't always
believe what you hear. Check it out.
Free information and advice is worth every penny you pay for it. You
don't have to reinvent the wheel and there are no magic formulas for
success. Just look at successful people and do what they do.
List three people who you respect or admire.
What is Success?
I have used the word success frequently in this article. We tend to
equate success with wealth and this is not necessarily the case.
Success is not the same everyone. You don't need to subscribe to the
“American Model” of success to be happy or fulfilled in life. My
stepfather was a very successful man although he was a factory
worker for most of his life. He did not rise through the corporate
ranks or become wealthy. He measured success by a different
standard. He was one of the happiest well-adjusted people I know. He
enjoyed every day. He liked the people he worked with and he was a
consummate family man. He didn't need things to make him happy.
Family was his success.
Remember I talked about quiet time? Take some time to figure out
what really makes you happy. There is no point setting goals and
working hard if you are not going to achieve the things you really
want. Once you know what you really want and what really makes
you happy then plan your career accordingly. Don't waste your time
pursuing someone else’s goals. Additionally make sure you and your
life partner are on the same wavelength. A team effort is better than
going it alone. Remember too, that the journey is as important as the
destination. Sometimes it's even more important. If you love to
travel, you could work your whole life doing something you don't
really like and hope to have enough money when you retire to travel
the world. Or...you could become a travel agent. Get the point?
Especially in times of economic uncertainty, it pays to have a backup
plan. No one plans to fail, but the truth is in business there are far
more failures than successes. Just because you are a good and loyal
worker doesn't mean the company is not going to fail. You may find
yourself out of a job or out of business because of circumstances that
are beyond your control. This is where a plan “B” really pays off.
My mother once said: “Get a skill, a trade and a degree and you will
never be out of work.” Over the course of my life I did just that and I
was always able to overcome any obstacle that stood in my way.
Skills are like apples on a tree. All you have to do is pick them. If you
are observant you can pick up all sorts of skills. I am amazed how
people can go through life without learning a thing. Just look around.
Watch people doing their jobs or performing tasks. They are teaching
you skills and they don't even know it. Sometimes you just put the
information in your back pocket and keep it there until you need it.
The more skills you have the more likely you will be able to navigate
the treacherous waters of an economic turndown.
A trade is something you came always fall back on. It is portable
wealth you can never lose. I am a mechanic by trade. This trade in
addition to providing me with a good living also made a teaching
career and a career with the Ministry of Transportation possible. As a
bonus, I don't pay much for car repair. All of which is a benefit in a
Say what you will, nothing beats a good education. Like skills and a
trade, an education is portable wealth. You can't lose it and no one
can take it away from you. It is more than a piece of paper on the
wall. It is a key that unlocks doors to success. What you do with it is
up to you.
Nothing beats a good healthy bank account. The trouble with our
consumer society is that we tend to spend everything we make and
little is left over for savings. If you haven't got any savings you are
living beyond your means and you have to make some changes. Even
if you only put away a few dollars a week into a savings account it is
better than nothing. The person hardest to say no to is you. If you
have trouble putting money asside, than set up a payroll savings
account or RRSP. Anything, to put some distance between you and
The key to a successful plan “B” is to give yourself as many choices
as possible. If there are no opportunities in your chosen field there
may be something else you can do for the time being. Take some time
to list all of the skills you have. Match them up with the demands of
the market place. You will quickly discover areas that need shoring
up. You will also find that you have more skills and abilities than you
thought. Remember, you are the product. The more that product can
do the easier it is to sell.
One last point: If you are renting, now is the time to buy. Interest
rates are the lowest in the last 50years. You can buy a house with
little or no down payment. Why would you rent when you can build
equity? If you have trouble saving, then this is the only way you will
have something come retirement time. If you really want to get
ahead, buy a duplex. Let someone else pay your mortgage for you. In
either case I would rather struggle to pay a mortgage than rent. Your
home is your last refuge. Make sure it is affordable. If you have more
house than you need, maybe it is time to downsize. If you have a
small business incorporate now! That way even if your business fails
you will still have your house. Never borrow against your house for
business purposes or any other purpose for that matter. The bank
would like nothing better than to have your residence as security.
Don't give it to them. In business you plan for success but you
prepare for failure. If you really want to go into business take at least
a two year business course at a local college. Unless you are prepared
to do this, don't even think about starting an enterprise. Some of the
biggest corporations with the best accountants fail. Just take a look at
the auto industry! Give yourself the opportunity to succeed by being
prepared. Remember, it wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.
Let's Take a Break
Ok, we've covered a lot of ground so far. As I stated at the beginning,
we want to do more than just survive this recession we want to
immerge from it better than when we went in. During this economic
downturn your business can increase its market share. You can end up
in a stronger economic position than before it all started. With
businesses failing, orphan customers are becoming available. Top
employees are entering the job market. New opportunities are
opening up for diversification and expansion. When things improve
and they surely will, you and your company will be stronger and
more successful than before. Up until now you have been looking at
ways to build good economic defences. Now we will look at ways to
really move ahead and prosper.
Interest Rates and Investments
Most of the investment strategies of the past two or three decades
were based on putting your money into interest bearing accounts and
simply letting time and high interest do their work. Low interest rates
are a two edged sword. On one hand low rates make borrowing very
attractive. On the other hand saving accounts pay little and the banks
will nickel and dime you to death with service charges. Other than
boom economies like oil rich Alberta where housing prices tend to be
inflated, real estate is still a good safe investment. Coupled with low
interest rates, borrowing for this type of investment makes some
sense. Borrowing like anything else in life should be done in
moderation. There is a trend today towards flipping real estate for
profit. A word of caution: Nothing reduces the value of a property
more than a bad renovation job and I have seen hundreds. The market
is full of incompetent contractors and it's going to get a lot worse.
When buying investment property or any property for that matter, I
use a simple formula:
I determine the fair market value for property I am interested in.
I subtract the cost of renovating the property...properly. This
may require redoing the renovations already done.
I deduct legal and administration fees.
The balance is the absolute most I will pay. Remember the rule of
selling? (When the value exceeds the cost the customer will buy.) The
opposite is true when buying. You reduce the cost of the property
until it equals the value. When I negotiate for a property, I lay out all
of my numbers up front. I point out all of the flaws especially those
in the renovations. I ask to see building permits where applicable.
Interest Rates and Investments….
Most of the time there aren't any. Once the seller knows that I know
the true value of their property, we can start the negotiating process.
If the price isn't to my liking, I simply walk away. Falling in love is
something you do with your future spouse not your house.
The millionaires of tomorrow are being made today. This is a cycle
that has repeated itself ever since the stock market was invented. It is
the basic principal of buying low and selling high. Right now the
market is at an all time low. This then is the best time to buy. A word
of caution: An investment company has a lot of clients; the big ones
get the best deals. Do your homework. Look around. Be careful.
There are sectors of the economy that do better than others in a
recession. There are things people just have to do and have to have.
People need to eat, they need to be housed, they need medical
attention, they need to get from point “A” to point “B” and finally
they pass away. These basic needs identify the areas in the economy
that are least likely to suffer in an economic downturn. A large
portion of our population is aging. These are known as the “Baby
Boomers”. This has created opportunities in the health care and post
My mother is eighty-five years old. She stills lives in her own home.
Unfortunately she is not all that mobile. One day while visiting her,
the doorbell rang. It was the owner of the local M&M Meat shop and
she was delivering my mother’s order. This lady was adapting her
business to serve those who could not come into her store. This isn't
something new. When I was still in high school I delivered groceries.
It worked then and it still works today. Nothing beats good service. If
they won't come to you, you have to go to them. Whoever gets there
first gets the business.
Hustling is a lost art. Years ago I was offered a job selling cars. I am a
hard worker and the prospect of working on commission appealed to
me. I started work at Petric Ford in Vernon, Ontario. George Petric,
the owner told me that all I would have to do is sell one car a day.
Having no previous experience, I thought this was reasonable. That
was my goal every day and sure enough I sold at least one car a day.
Of course Saturday, I had to sell as least two because I was off on
Sunday. When I tell people in the car business this today, they don't
believe it. Why don't people sell thirty cars a month now? Simple,
they don't have “hustle”. Let me describe my typical day as a car
salesman. At eight in the morning I showed up at the golf course and
put in nine holes. I then went to the dealership and picked up an
F150. I went from farm to farm until I sold it. I then went back to the
dealership and made twenty to thirty cold calls and set up at least
three appointments. I kept the appointments I had previously made
and got the deliveries ready for the cars I had already sold. I followed
up on previous sales to get leads for future customers. When the last
customer is served I went home.
In all the years I was involved in the car business I never learned how
to play “Bull*** Poker” and rarely did I ever take an “UP” (a walk-
in). I went in every day and did what I was trained to do. As you can
see there was no magic formula, no special method and no
questionable practices. I just did the basics and did them well. At that
time we were in a serious recession and the interest rates on car loans
was around the twenty per cent mark. By the way, I also made a lot of
It doesn't matter what business you are in. Do the basics well and the
rest will come on its’ own. I don't know how many times as a
consultant I had to retrain people to do the basics. If you can't master
the fundamentals you will fail. It's as simple as that. (Period)
If the company you work for is not doing the basics well or if your
managers are not competent, then your job is in jeopardy. John
Maxwell a noted consultant and author said: “An organization will
never surpass the capabilities of its leaders. “ A hockey team
consistently loses games will fire the coach. The last thing they do is
lay off players. Can you imagine watching a hockey game and the
losing team decides to put five people on the ice instead of six. It just
doesn't make sense! What they do is change the management team
and then work on the basics. I am sure many of you have been to a
hockey practice. What do they do there? Mostly they work on basics
even at the professional level. Business needs are no different, yet
they think that by laying off staff and reducing inventory they will
somehow be able to serve their customers better. Does it make any
sense at all?
Nothing is more frustrating for an employee than to watch their
managers fritter away their jobs. As an employee there is little you
can do about it. However doing nothing isn't the answer either. Talk
to your boss offer to work with them to improve profitability and
increase market share. If they reject your offer then start looking for a
good plan “B” and a soft landing. (New Job)
List three companies or organizations that in your opinion are
I've Lost My Job, Now What?
It's finally happened. All the rumours were true and you find yourself
out of a job. Let's assume the worst. You have no savings, no plan
“B” and no trade to fall back on. What do you do?
The first thing you want to do is go into the garage and take out your
frustrations on something other than the people around you. Yes, you
have a right to be angry but remember the people around you are
looking to you for leadership. So get mad, go into the garage or
basement and build the ugliest bird house you can and get over it.
Now is not the time to spend money on getting drunk or wrecking the
car. Now is not the time to take out your frustrations on the people
around you. You are the leader. You have to rise above the
circumstances. You are the rock everyone clings to. Finally, you are
the one your family looks up to for a solution.
Remember I mentioned: “You are your own company.” Once you are
over the emotional impact of what has just happened. It's time to
meet with your team. Take some time and sit down with your family
so that they know what is happening and that they are your team.
This will reduce the tension in your home and keep everyone on the
same page. You will be amazed how easily they will adapt to change
when you prepare them and allow them to be part of it. Watching you
get drunk or stomp around the house or worse, will do nothing more
than cause them to lose respect for you and make any decisions you
make all the harder.
Get down to the EI office and fill out the forms. Chances are there
will be a lot of people in the same predicament as you. In the short
term you still have to pay the bills and make the mortgage and car
payments. Get together with your team and start putting together a
I've Lost My Job, Now What?...
budget. If everyone participates in cutting expenses then you don't
have to be the villain.
The next thing you want to do is sit down and figure out what you
would really like to do for the rest of your working life. I bet you
thought I was going to say look for a job. No. Unless there is
something in your field or a job you would really like to have, I
would suggest you use this time to figure out what you would really
like to do for a living.
Circumstances have presented you with an opportunity to make a
fundamental change in your life. Don't waste it. If you have always
wanted to work with wood, for example, now is the time to pick up a
hammer and saw. You now have the opportunity to go back to school,
learn a new trade or pursue a new employment opportunity. This
could be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
You Can't Turn Back the Clock
You can't turn back the clock but you sure can wind it back up again!
Don't get hung up on age. If you didn't know how old you were
would you have a problem starting something new? Of course not!
Age is just a number. The best time in your life is right now.
There was a time in America when people of colour were not
permitted to play Major League Baseball. In those days baseball
players of African descent played in the Negro League. One such
player was a pitcher by the name of Leroy “Satchel” Paige. He began
his professional career in 1926 and for 22 years played in the Negro
League. Finally after all those years his big break finally came. At the
age of 42 Paige become the oldest rookie in major league history
when he joined the Cleveland Indians during the 1948 pennant race.
Joining the team late in the year Satchel posted a 6-1 record to help
the Indians clinch the American League title and proceed to the
World Series. As the quot;Nifty 50squot; came around, Satchel was again in
the major leagues with the St. Louis Browns. In 1952-53 he
represented the Browns in the major league All-Star game.
At an age when most athletes would have been long retired, he
started a new career. When asked if he would have liked to play in the
Major Leagues when he was in his prime, he responded: “My prime
You don't always know when your time will come. When opportunity
knocks you have be to ready regardless of age or circumstances. Your
prime is now!
Leroy “Satchel” Paige
quot;Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been
hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.quot;
quot;You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to
dress for all of them.quot;
...Leroy “Satchel” Paige
Don't Waste Time
Once you have figured out what you would really like to do then
draw a line from here to there. You now have done something you
should have done years ago. You've decided on a career. The worst
thing that can happen between now and the time you get your career
on track is that you lose momentum. The longer it takes for you to get
employed or into school or on a training program the more likely it
will never happen. If you haven't got anything going right away you
are heading for trouble. Regardless of the size of the urban area you
are in, you are going to run out of want ads and job opportunities
very quickly. This is especially true of small one industry towns.
After a couple of weeks without work, you are going to find a lot of
things to do other than pursuing a career or looking for work.
If you find yourself saying things like: “I am thinking about applying
for a job at...” or “I'm waiting for a call from...”, then go into the
garage, find the biggest two by four you can and hit yourself with it
until you come to your senses. You are losing or have lost your
momentum. Hitting yourself with a two by four may not get your
momentum back but it will wake you up.
Years ago I applied for a job with a company I very much wanted to
work for. After the interview the owner of the company told me that
they would call me if I got the job. That was a Thursday. On Friday I
called him back and told him I could start the following Monday. An
hour later he called me back and offered me the job. Later on I found
out that I was the only one that called back. I wasn't their first choice
but I was the one that showed the most interest. That was all I
needed. I have never waited for a call since.
Don't Waste Time…
An associate of mine found himself unemployed. He had worked in
construction. The same day he was laid off he approached an
aluminum siding contractor and asked him for work. Since he had no
experience in the field he was turned down. Then he did something
remarkable. He didn't take no for an answer. He said to the
contractor: “I will work for you for free for one week. If after that
week you still don't hire me you have lost nothing.” How could this
employer refuse such an offer? After the week was over my friend
not only had a job, he even got paid for the week he worked. If he
hadn't got hired he still would have had a weeks’ worth of training for
There are Jobs
There is an old expression: “It's not what you know, it's who you
know.” It won't take long for you to exhaust the want ads,
Monster.ca and the EI (Employment Office) listings especially in a
recession. This is why you want to get into school or do some
training to expand your inventory of marketable skills.
Some of the most overlooked sources of employment are the people
around you. Weeks may pass before a company can run an ad to fill a
position. If you know someone, they can keep you informed of any
opportunities that may come up. Having the inside track is as
advantageous in looking for a job as it is in business. Make sure the
people in your social circles know you are looking for a job. If your
friends are also unemployed, make some new friends. If this sounds
a bit harsh, it is. Not as harsh as being evicted from your home or
losing your business but harsh still.
You have to be careful that you don't get sucked into the negativity of
others. If the people around you have lost hope or have given up,
their despair will soon become yours. I am not suggesting that you
abandon your friends in their time of need but you are no help to
anyone of you lose your motivation or your momentum. Remember
what goes in comes out. If the influences around you are positive,
chances are you will be positive as well. Make sure you live in an
environment of success. My Dad used to say:” Accentuate the
positive, eliminate the negative and don't mess with Mr In-between.”
Good song and good advice. I will warn you, there are a lot of people
out there with lousy attitudes and misery seeks company.
The military has always been a great place to work. I know it's not
everyone's cup of tea but when you consider the benefits of free
There are jobs…
education, training and accommodation coupled with a great pension
plan it is well worth considering. I know of people that joined the
Army in their late teens, got their degree, and ended up retiring
before their fortieth birthday. Not a bad deal when you consider you
can see the world as well.
The local EI office has a lot of resources for you to use. A counsellor
can help you set up a resume and assist you in achieving your new
career goals. They are also aware of any funding and financial
assistance that is available. This is a good resource and you are
paying for it anyway. Why not use it?
List six resources and their phone numbers, email or URL from
which you can source jobs.
Getting Your Foot in the Door
We talked previously about your inventory of skills and experience.
Every bit of experience is useful and an asset when seeking a job if
you present it correctly. This is where preparing a real good resume
comes into play. A resume is not just a list of qualifications and
experience. It is a document that introduces you to a prospective
employer. Like a brochure for a new car it highlights the advantages
of hiring you over the next guy. If you don't have a good resume, I
would suggest getting one. Your local EI office can help you prepare
one and there are a lot of resources on the internet that you can access
as well. You may wish to have several resumes set up, each
highlighting a different area of expertise. Depending on where you
are applying you may wish to accentuate your qualifications in the
specific area that matches the potential job. The whole object of the
resume is to get you into the interview. The resume will not get you
the job. That's not its purpose. The resume gets you in the front door
and provides you with an opportunity to sell yourself to the employer.
If you find that you are sending out resumes but not getting any
response, you may wish to contact the organizations you have applied
to and get some feedback. Remember, it is about perception. You may
think you are getting your message out but that may not be the case.
Get some feedback. Find out why you are not getting called. Then
make the necessary changes.
An HR person may have to sift through hundreds of resumes during a
hiring initiative. Yours has to stand out in the crowd. Think about the
person reading your resume. Do they want to read through ten pages
of information? No. Keep your document short and to the point. A
good resume should never be more than one or two pages. A
successful cover letter should invite the reader to learn more about
Getting Your Foot in the Door…
you. A lot of resumes come in the same format. After a while they all
look the same. Yours should look fresh and interesting. We are a
visual generation. The resumes that I remember the most were those
that had the applicant's picture on them. One in particular I remember
had a picture of the applicant actually working. That was thirty years
ago and I still remember it. That should tell you something. Anything
that would help your resume stand out without being silly is a help. A
resume should answer one question: “Why should I spend my
valuable time interviewing this person?”
Put together your resume even if you are not looking for a
job right now or own your own business.
Write a cover letter.
Note: There are plenty of resources on the internet. Most are free.
I Got the Interview!
Congratulations, you got the interview. Now what do you do?
Compared to those who apply only a handful of people are called
back for an interview. This is an accomplishment in itself. Now
comes the moment of truth. Some time ago we talked about
salesmanship. Now is the time to sell your product...you.
There is a saying that goes: “First impressions are lasting
impressions.” Another goes: “You only get one change to make a
good impression.” Both are painfully true. Within the first ten
seconds of you walking through the door the prospective employer
will decide whether or not to hire you. What you do in those first few
seconds will determine the entire tone of the interview. After that the
employer will either be looking for a reason to hire you or get
through the interview as quickly as possible.
There is a lot of advice out there about how to dress for success. I
think the key thing to remember is that you should look like you
already work. When in doubt, dress up. It shows interest and respect.
I am always amazed at how many people show up for an interview
dressed like slobs. If someone comes in to apply for a position
dressed in this manner they really don't want to work. I recall a young
person who came in for an interview some years back. He had a fair
resume and some good recommendations. When he arrived for the
interview he was wearing enough facial piercings to sink a ship.
What a waste of time. What kind of an impression was he trying to
make? Believe me I have interviewed some really strange people but
I never hired any of them. I classify them under the heading: “You
know you're not going to get hired when...”
I Got the Interview…
Your general appearance should reflect the position you are applying
for. It doesn't matter if you are a Sales Rep for Rolls Royce
Aerospace or a parcel delivery person, you are the face of that
company and to the public, and you are that company. Let the
prospective employer see you in the role as you walk through the
Smile, extend your hand and introduce yourself. If there are several
people in the room shake hands with all of them. Practice this in the
mirror until you can do it smoothly. A quick note on shaking hands.
There are four types of handshake.
1. The Squeeze Till They Cry
2. The Dead Fish
3. The Never Ending Pump
4. The Firm and Professional
Practice this until you get it right. This is your ten second opportunity
don't waste it.
Once you've gotten past the first ten seconds the interview will begin
in earnest. If you have been to a few interviews you will soon realize
that the questions will start sounding familiar. In reality there are just
not that many questions an HR person can legally ask. Sometimes it's
not so much what you answer but how you answer. Be conscious of
your body language. Pause before answering. Generally you will be
a bit nervous. This is normal especially if it is a job you really want.
Think about interviews you have already had. Determine where you
may have gone wrong. If you didn't get the job, find out why so that
it becomes a learning experience. The following are some common
objections that can come up in an interview:
You have no experience I have no bad habits
You are too young I have an open mind and I am
willing to learn
You are too old I have experience and a
proven track record
You don't have enough education I am willing to take courses
Every objection has an answer. Every obstacle is an opportunity. Just
as there is no such thing as the perfect job, there is no such thing as
the perfect employee. As you go through this process you will
discover what works and what doesn't.
Babe Ruth is remembered for holding the record for the most home
runs. What most people don't know is that he also held the record for
the most strikeouts. It doesn't matter how many times you strike out
as long as you get back up to bat. So what if you didn't get the job.
Someone did and your turn will come. You just have to keep on
swinging. There is no shame in defeat. The only shame is when you
List three mistakes you may have made in an interview and what
you did to correct them.
List three objections you have experienced personally and how
you answered them or might have answered them.
Tough times don`t last, tough people do. Each day brings with it
new challenges, joys and sorrows. A job, vocation or business has
nothing but the dignity and honour you bring to it. There is no task
that is not worth doing, no lowly vocation to be ashamed of or
employment without honour. Whatever you choose to do in life, give
it your best. At the end of the day only you are answerable for what
you have done or neglected to do.
I want to hear from you
If you have questions, suggestions, success stories, or just want to
talk, I can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robert onboard the Snow Goose
I grew up in a home of first generation Canadians. My parents
instilled in me the values of hard work and perseverance. Leaving
home at sixteen I pursued my education while working full time in a
variety of jobs. Following my mother's advice I acquired skills, a
trade and continue to this day in educational pursuits. I have a deep
and abiding faith in God and have worked for many years to promote
faith in those around me. I have written poetry, music, short stories
and have published many articles on a wide range of topics. I am
blessed with a natural curiosity that makes learning a real joy. I have
a wonderful wife, Gina and five awesome children. At the time I
wrote this book I had eleven grandchildren and two on the way. Next
to my love of God and family I love to sail. I look forward to the
adventures that lay ahead as I sail forward to the uncharted islands
that are just beyond the horizon.