Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Okay, So Where Have You Been?

The title is directed to me, by me. Where have I been?

Not far.

Right here in and around Las Vegas, mostly at the office engrossed (consumed) by my labor of love, writing. The good news is that Get Beyond Your Troubled Past is nearly finished. It turned out to be a little longer than I anticipated but that's fine.

Blog readers will find many familiar topics featured in the book.

Look for the Kindle publication next month and the printed edition (plus companion workbook) coming in early 2015.

So stay tuned.

Travel well.

John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Compassionate Ploy

A recent conversation hangs with me. 

A concerned man's friend will be completing his sentence this summer, getting out after ten years, more than a third of his young life.
 
Can I help?

Here's what I know.

The real objective is to live in harmony and balance, to be at peace. But this objective is not easily understood, it is in effect not enough. How are these concepts to compete for validity and perceived realness a world so given to instant gratification, materialism, and superficiality? This is after all, Las Vegas, where I live and work - and where the young friend will attempt his re-engagement with society.

There will be need for an objective that's familiar and tangible. Something to "strive for" because the act of striving itself will hold little value. I must therefore include, interject, or add on - a target - a demarcation line representing success and failure, having and having not.

But the real purpose will be to provide an opportunity where the young traveler, en-route to the necessary objective, experiences the true reward contained within the trip itself.

The likely best route remains to be determined, more needs to be known. But experience has taught that a tangible objective will be required in order for there to be a shot at the real prize. 

And yes, of course, I would like to help this young man re-enter. 

And I'm prepared to again, devise a compassionate ploy. 

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Friday, April 18, 2014

Who Needs Strategy?

When it comes to strategy and job search (or career advancement), many of those needing it the most are deaf to the subject. I'm referring to folks challenged by background problems. I'm tempted to say they're the worst but that's not only unfair it's probably flat out untrue. In any case, strategy implies taking steps that usually don't happen for this group unless there's an epiphany or some form of intervention.

Here's how I see it when it comes to job search, not only for people burdened by background baggage, but for anyone really. One group in particular that comes to mind are young people because they have limited work experience and just like the challenged group, need to get a foot in the door in order to begin moving ahead.

It starts with a mid-range goal. I like to work with 5 years. Simply put, the goal is - what do you want to be doing, where do you want to be doing it, and what kind of person you'd like to be as you do it - in 5 years. Simple right? Of course not, just ask someone you know between 20-30 and ask them to sum it up giving you a one or two sentence succinct response.

Next comes the plan - define this in terms of route or path. The key question - which specific highways will you take on the road trip to achieving your goal?

Note - Defining the goal and coming up with a route requires that you work backwards from the goal (a location and a date) to the present (location = where you are RIGHT now, and date = today, this week).

Now we get to strategy(s), your plans of action. The strategies selected need to align with the goal (the prize) and the plan (the route). If they don't, you'll waste time, energy, and resources. This is pretty much a black and white issue - strategies must conform to goal and plan or else they become liabilities. Period.

And that leaves action - doing. Getting up on the horse and riding out of town en-route to achieving your goal.

What's harder, determining the goal, plan, and strategy -or- doing the do? It depends on the person.

But here's the thing. Action is good, however pro-action linked to goal, plan, and strategy is far better.

For those challenged by background issues, the easiest thing to do (going with the flow, being reactive) is the worst possible choice. If I was into it, I'd have this tattooed on my forehead, so that every person and group I spoke with got a walking, talking, message board on the subject.

Being pro-active is so important it literally cannot be overstated.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lessons From Felons

Anything on you in any of these?
The US Department of Labor estimates that one in three adults in the US have a criminal history record. That includes everything - arrests that did not lead to conviction, a conviction that didn't result in incarceration, conviction of a non-violent offense, and of course conviction that led to imprisonment. That's roughly 1/4 of the entire population.

The actual number of people with felony records in the US is not known. Most estimates range from 6.3 to 6.5% although I have seen estimates as high as 8.7%. These calculations are based on the population as a whole and are much higher for select groups, particularly males of African decent. The President's My Brother's Keeper initiative is in part designed to address this critical issue. I applaud him for this. My hope is that he will use his position and persona to keep this vexing and shameful national problem front and center throughout the remainder of his presidency and beyond.

A point of notation. The term ex-felon is used frequently, yet incorrectly. I know I have done it. To clarify, once a felon, always a felon from a criminal history perspective. A felon is a person who has been convicted of a felony. The only real ex-felons are those that have had their felony convictions over-turned or expunged. Typically when people use the term ex-felon they are in reference to ex-cons, those that have been in prison but are out.

So why get into all of this? Well Tyler Cowen comes to mind. I reference the George Mason economist frequently because he gets it. Mr. Cowen's vision of how things will be socially in the future parallels what has been taking place over the last 15 years with criminal background checks. In a nutshell, we are at the front end of a paradigm shift on par with the Industrial Revolution (when production changed from work by hand to work by machines). Some 200 years later it's the Digital Revolution (the move from analogue to digital technology).

Two of the products of the Digital Revolution are measurement and data storage. It's easier by the day to rate, grade, measure, and categorize everything - including every bit of data about each and every one of us. At some point, everything will be digitized. Technology not only makes for new data creation, but it also allows old data (forgotten or even unknown) to be vacuumed up and stored. From there it's a few key strokes away from landing anywhere in the world. And what's to impede this? We are in love with technology and the business of technology. Technology produces digits, digits become data, data turns into information. At this very moment there are hundreds, if not thousands, of very clever and talented boys and girls writing viable business plans designed to monetize data and information. Really, what's to stop it?

Paraphrasing, Tyler Cowen suggests the following:

  • The future will belong to those who have learned to discipline themselves when they are very young - because there will be few if any second chances.
  • The future will favor those with natural talent and an entrepreneurial spirit - class and connections will always matter however there will be far fewer places to hide.

Well, isn't that special!
If you are one of the 20,000,000 plus Americans with a felony, you know how hard it has become to find, retain, and upgrade your employment. You have something to share with the other 60,000,000 plus Americans with less severe criminal records. You get it although you may be so frustrated, angry with yourself, and bitter to care one bit about the societal implications of your experience. But you get it and so does Tyler Cowen.

Take a look around you. Take a good hard look in mirror. Yes I know, we are all unique and special - and we are. This includes most of the 20m felons. But they'll tell you they walk a careful line and that there is a very real glass ceiling (cell) impacting their lives. There's a message here for everyone.

The future (the digital future) will hold the most promise for those VERY disciplined, talented, and entrepreneurial. I have no doubt about this. Technology is leveling the playing field and the fastest, smartest, and funniest among us will find more ways to shine and fewer barriers on the road to success.

But technology and digits will make it very hard to be in second place, not to mention further down the leader board. Think about it - how many seats will there be on the disciplined, talented, and entrepreneurial bus?

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 Barriers To Achieving Success

Don't make it this
The following list comes from direct experience helping individuals successfully re-enter the workforce following extremely challenging life situations - incarceration, substance abuse treatment, mental health derailments, and homelessness. To be clear, success doesn't come about just by re-entering, rather it's a process that takes into account many factors. The list originated from this process.

I have also successfully used an approach based on this list when assisting clients that (fortunately) don't have these heavy challenges. It works - whether in an individual or group setting.

I call this The Success Approach. I realize it isn't rocket science but to a degree that's the point. It's easy to understand and usable in a variety of situations. The goal is to identify and overcome the 5 Barriers To Achieving Success in the following order.
  1. Inability to articulate The Objective
  2. Not being able to decide on the route
  3. Lack of a realistic and firm timeline
  4. Unwillingness to confront obstacles
  5. Lack of principles to guide the journey  
It occurs to me that the list could be presented in a positive manner, such as 5 Things You Can Do To Achieve Your Goals. Perhaps, but no. The point is not to accentuate the positive, just the opposite. It's critical that these barriers be seen for what they really are, blockages and barricades.

Expect these
I have found that starting with the big goal (The Objective) is effective. It may take time to uncover, so be patient and keep things light and "brain stormy" at first. Identifying and labeling what specifically is to be accomplished is quite literally the key to unearthing and overcoming the other 4 barriers.

One more thing, once these 5 barriers are removed what's left are speed bumps - and that's just fine. Speed bumps are meant slow and caution, not stop.

I'll have more to say on all 5 of the barriers in upcoming posts.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey