The "Law of 100" Certified, Copyrighted, and Official Blog

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Are You Working on Your Career “Trustmark?”

IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook 2.0 provides some great insights into the future of the enterprise and the changing relationship between employers and employees. In an Emerging Workforce study conducted by Spherion in 2003, it was noted that “45% of workers want to change jobs at least every three to five years.” IBM elaborates on this point:

“In part, the change is being driven by a new generation of workers who are much more comfortable with the idea of job fluidity. For many of these employees, their primary identification is less with the company they join and more with the company they keep—the larger network of colleagues and peers who share their interests, expertise or worldview. They are coders or computational biologists or designers or educators first, and employees second.”

This is an especially interesting observation when you consider that enterprises are pursuing a more fluid organizational structure – “expanding, contracting and reconfiguring themselves in a way that best adapts to or even anticipates market dynamics.”

If you accept that there’s no such thing as lifetime employment at a single company and the ever more fluid nature of employee/employer relations, then your reputation and network are the keys to the future of your work. It is this mutually reinforcing structure of reputation and social network that will provide job security for the future.

Here’s an interesting observation from the IBM study participants on the concept of reputation capital:

“Several participants put forth the idea of “reputation capital” as a kind of currency for building trust in a prospective worker’s personal and professional qualifications. They cite examples such as Wikipedia and eBay, both of which have built successful brands based on the contributions of hundreds of thousands of non-affiliated individuals. In each case, there are standards in place that allow people to see and rate the integrity and credibility of contributors. And the more a contributor consistently demonstrates a high level of accountability and quality, the more value he or she garners—from commanding a higher selling price on eBay to having more “authority” on Wikipedia. Reputation capital is even beginning to function as a currency outside the parameters of a specific endeavor—some college-age and postgraduate job hunters now put their eBay rating on their resumes, pointing to this “trustmark” as a de facto measure of reliability and desirability.”

Are you working on your career trustmark? Your reputation may not be certified by eBay, but it’s what will build your network and increase the likelihood of lifetime employment throughout a fulfilling career.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Duncan Watts Says it Better Than I Ever Could…

The May 15th, 2006 issue of the New Yorker has a lead article entitled “Me Media: John Cassidy on how a generation’s obsession with profiling itself online became big business.” Here’s an excerpt:

The eagerness to parade in public on the Internet still surprises many people. Duncan Watts, a sociologist at Columbia who has been studying social networks for a decade, says that the growth of sites like Facebook and MySpace reflects a dramatic shift in how young people view the Internet. “Now everyone is used to the idea that we are connected, and that’s not so interesting,” he told me. “If I had to guess why sites like Facebook are so popular, I would say it doesn’t have anything to do with networking at all. It’s voyeurism and exhibitionism. People like to express themselves, and they are curious about other people.”

Watts later e-mailed me to say that he had concluded that the best analogy for sites like MySpace and Facebook was hanging out at the mall or lounging on the quad. “Like cruising around on Facebook/MySpace, there’s a certain lack of purpose to just hanging out in public, and it’s hard to justify if you don’t have a lot of free time,” Watts wrote. “But it serves the essential purpose (for young people without jobs, families, and other social responsibilities) of seeing and being seen. You’re with your friends, but you’re also creating the possibility that you’ll bump into someone else, in which case you might meet them, or at least be noticed by them. So it’s not about networking (which is more instrumental), or even about dating (which is far more specific), so much as it is about just mingling. That’s not to say it isn’t a powerful idea. Given the apparently timeless appeal to young people of just ‘hanging out’…that might be all the business model you need.”

A lot of people ask me about social networking software and I usually paraphrase Mr. Watts – “it’s not really about networking,” at best it might be about trying to stay in touch.

How Executives Get Hired, Get Promoted, and Get a (Long) Life

In the last few weeks, it seems every day there’s a high profile case of plagiarism in the news. Maybe it’s just because I’m living in Boston and they all seem to be occurring here, but these cautionary tales are a good reminder that the Internet is making it almost impossible to misrepresent your background.

Truth or Consequences

In literature, James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” was exposed as a work of imagination and not the harrowing personal tale as first purported (which didn’t make Oprah very happy when she read about it on The Smoking Gun). Then along came Kaavya Viswanathan’s “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life” a book that earned the writer a half million dollar advance and front page reviews hailing the ascendancy of this Harvard sophomore. That is, until stories started listing themes and passages lifted verbatim from other writers (read all about it in the Harvard Independent).

In business, what may seem innocent can have a dramatic effect. It cost Dave Edmondson his CEO post at Radio Shack (after a report by the Fort Worth Star Telegram). And it cost Raytheon’s CEO William Swanson, who seems like a really good guy, about a million dollars. And just the other day, the dean of Boston University’s College of Communication had to explain misstated information on his academic resume.

Stop Worrying About Your Resume

When writing a resume, some advisors suggest you might want to stretch your background to place you in the most positive light. But the lessons recounted above should be obvious: it’s more important to tell the truth. Maybe the better advice is to stop worrying about your resume and let it just concisely present the facts.

With all the time and ink you save with a short resume, you can direct your energies to a more important document – your biography. Your biography should highlight the skills and expertise you possess that can help a CEO solve his problems or grow his business. This is important because if you’re interviewing for an executive position, those are the two things you can do. You can solve problems (which can sometimes be translated as cutting costs or creating more efficiencies in the company) or you can help grow revenue. It hardly seems worth calling out, but revenue growth is of interest to every executive you’ll meet.

Much like a news story, you want to quantify both your previous accomplishments as well as how you will bring benefit to your future employer. And much like the news, you’ll want to stick to the truth.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Radio Radio

One of the fun parts of publishing my book has been promoting it. You can hear me on KARN radio - straight from Little Rock, Arkansas - by clicking on the following link.

I didn't quite understand the interviewers first question (I thought he wanted to know where to get the book, not a job), but the rest went smoothly.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Is the Web Ponce de Leon or Dracula?

As you can see, it's been a year since I started this blog and I've only put up one post. A lot of the reason for that is my understanding (or trepidation) of the Internet's memory. I got an anonymous email pointing me to youtube to watch an old video of a Bill Gates deposition (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vQKAtHdfuc). Whether you like Microsoft or not is immaterial, they have to live with that post "forever."

Unlike my uncle, the web doesn't get Alzheimers - it remembers everything. Now this is great if you want to see some cool Marvin Gaye or Parliament/Funkadelic videos from the 70s (just search around youtube some more). And it's a lot of fun if you want to see the evolution of a web site. For example, log onto http://www.archive.org/web/web.php to play around with the Wayback Machine. Enter in an old employer and you can see how raw their early web sites looked. These sites seem to have drunk from the fountain of youth and now stay alive forever.

But think some more about this and you can quickly change from feeling like Ponce de Leon to Count Dracula. Even if you think you've deleted something from the web, it will probably remain indexed and available forever. And so, it's taken me a year to figure out what types of topics I want to always be reminded about and what ones might be dumb ideas of "youth."

Now that I think I've figured out the types of things I can live with online, I'll start posting regularly. And I'll keep my fingers crossed that my high school yearbook picture doesn't show up on somebody's web site.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

This Day in History: "The Law of 100"

September 1985
John Davies starts as co-founder of Optum, Inc.

October 2003
Leaves Optum on Halloween, spends 3 months enjoying the company of wife Tram and two boys Evan and Wesley

January 2004
Begin quest to become CEO of small software company in Orange County, CA. As I have had business cards with every other title, this is the natural extension of the linear progression of business (in literature, that’s called foreshadowing).

May 2004
Divine a-ha, there are no software companies in Southern California. Begin developing the foundation for “The Law of 100.”

July 2004
“The Law of 100” generates eight opportunities by this date resulting in two consulting assignments and offer to run small software company in OC.

October 2004
What was I thinking? Wake up in middle of night looking like live version of Munch’s “The Scream,” not enjoying life in an under-capitalized re-start in an over-crowded market. Create transition plan leaving company better than when I joined. Maybe book works too well.

November 2004
Ask 20 people what I should do now – they all give the same answer (half say they knew I wouldn’t enjoy CEO role). Most say I should do strategic consulting for companies that need an out-of-the-box approach to growing their business.

Today
Working as Vice President of Strategy at AMR Research in Boston - one of the greatest places one could hope to work.

Tomorrow
“The $100,000+ Career: the New Approach to Networking for Executive Job Change” will be published March 15, 2006. Feeling great, continuing my semi-permanent state of transition. Developing strategies to keep in touch with as many people as possible and grow/maintain the network.