Sunday, March 29, 2009

In Pursuit of Plan B

Today is Sunday as you’ve probably already figured out. Can I tell you how busy I’ve been and how I wasn’t able to get through my “to do” list. For me that’s a real first, especially for a Sunday when my “to do” list is usually somewhat abbreviated. I believe it has a lot to do with my pursuit of my Plan B. Later I will go into a little more detail as to what Plan B for me actually entails. For now, I would like to define it as something that is different from what you actually thought you’d be doing. Or, how about, something that gets you thinking and moving, that is constantly evolving towards putting you in the job you love and deserve? How’s that?

Well that’s what it represents to me. People have asked me what it is that I want to accomplish. Typically we all think of leading to job making X amount of dollars. In this economy/environment I believe it is a challenge just to talk to people to see how you might fit in or grow something. If I might digress for a moment, I applied for a job with a major bank today. It took me two hours to complete the application. This is me, ya’ll, the woman who can fill out applications in 10 seconds flat. Part of the application was to take an aptitude test which included many of those dreaded word problems. You know what I’m talking about; if Suzy was running x miles per hour and Johnny was running Y, when would they crash into each other? But this was more in the lending business. Anyway, on top of that, I received a questionnaire from another company I applied to asking me to document a marketing plan I had put in place. This, mind you, was only one of seven questions in the questionnaire. I’m telling you this to point out how darn hard it is getting. Have you tried to volunteer lately? There are waiting lists with most organizations, at least in my part of the country. Therefore, I’ve included in my Plan B as a reason for me to talk to people. Plus, my plan B is something I believe in.

OK so what’s my plan B? All I’ll tell you is that in alignment with creating this blog and posting to it each week, I want to continue to help other unemployed people out there. I am especially concerned with those individuals that are not getting help from outplacement firms and/or who are living alone and are at risk. There are a lot of people out there who are at risk, because if you don’t get out and talk to people or reach out in some way, you may get caught up in your own internal soundtrack, which not be a comedy or action flick. What I’m trying to do is to set up a support group/networking group in my home town, so that people can get together and go over job search strategies, trends, stress busting methods, and just laugh a little. It’s not as easy as you might think. Now this is good for me, because it has gotten my creative juices flowing and I’m talking to more and more people. Before I forget, this wonderful woman at my local library suggested two websites to look for local meetings; and I haven’t been to craigslist but I did go to meetup. Just type in unemployed in topic or interest and your zip code and voila, it will bring up the meetings close to you. What’s funny is there is a lot of truth to it being harder to give something away than to sell it.

So far, I’ve received lots of good advice and I’ve met some interesting people. I continue to move forward. Everyday, through this Plan, brings up other things I haven’t thought of which I continue to pursue. Then that leads to something else, which leads to something else. Who know’s where I’ll end up? All I know is that the search or journey is leading me to a lot more places than sitting in front of my computer for hours ever has. I finally “get” what networking is all about. It is a journey that keeps your mind active and your options open. By the way, I do continue to search for jobs every day, and so should you. Just think about adding a little something else to the day OK?

Once again, continue to feed the positive wolf and let’s give a big hoorah for the extra dollars in our unemployment checks. I know the people in my state have a smile on their faces today. Yes, the deposits went in on Friday! Check your account!

Good bye for now and lot’s of luck in your search.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We All Need Something to Believe In..

Having just come from the gym I was thinking about this a lot. It’s a line on Dixie Chicks, “Taking the Long Road” CD, called “Easy Silence”. The words that stick in my mind are “…anger plays on every station, answers only bring more questions, I need something to believe in …breathing sanctuary”. You really should listen to the whole song. It is more of a quiet prayer than anything else. I know, believe me I’m not listening to this as I run, but more on the machine for the waist line. However, these are times when we all do need something to believe in. I know some of you out there have very strong beliefs that will do you in good stead during these hard times, but for others that the words hope and faith do go together. You hope that things will get better, but you have to have faith that they will to actually engender a change. This is part of the reason why I will end my piece with Feed the Positive Wolf. This is also the reason I feed the birds. By the way this is a particular good time of year to feed the birds. They are so appreciative. But when I feed the birds, I say to what ever entity I believe in, “as I feed your creatures, please take care of mine”. Then I name a few friends or family members that could use some help. Hey, you gotta believe that putting positive energy out there is a really good thing.

I actually had a networking meeting last Monday. I know, I finally did it..Hoo Rah! It wasn’t all that positive since the environment that I’m looking to work in, big surprise, isn’t doing that well. However the one thought that remains with me has to do with what she said about how her company was managing talent acquisition. Not that they are actually acquiring at this time mind you. But, what she said that resonated, was that from the CEO on down, they were concerned about when the uptick comes, how are they going to be able to fill those positions. What if the economy picks up as quickly as it went down? These people evidently believe that is a real strong possibility. How are they going to be able to hire and train all the people they are going to need? See, here is where faith comes in. I believe, just as we were all filled with shock and awe at the way the economy crashed, it will come back in just as ungainly manner. We need to be focusing on what will position us to be in the forefront of that hiring binge. Mind you everyone, please do stop your job hunt. You need to spend at least two hours a day, in follow up, sending applications, calling contacts etc. but with of the rest of the day think about other things that you are really interested in to follow up on.

Another thing my friend told me, which I’ve heard from other people, was to look for something I really cared about and volunteer. So, I’m having this conversation with a friend of mine and a few ideas came up. If you like animals and don’t have one of your own, or even if you do, how about volunteering at an animal shelter or looking to get a part time job at the zoo? What the heck huh! Myself, I’ve been thinking about the Botanical Gardens. This is besides Plan B, by the way. It’s a great time of year and for those of us who are apartment dwellers, volunteering or working at a botanical garden gives us a chance to dig in the dirt maybe. Please if any of you have other ideas, please add them in the comment sections. I would love to hear them.

Along with gardening, Spring is a great time for cleaning right? This is a fabulous time to clean some of the clutter out of your life. A friend of mine called me on Friday and told me she felt that my books were starting to sprout up again. You have to understand, I have a lot of books. Last count I believe it was somewhere in the range of 1,500 books, and that was after I donated a couple thousand to various libraries. She was right, I looked around my office, aka my spare bedroom, and saw they were starting to clutter up the bookcases, all every which way. The reason I’m writing about this is because, for me, books are a way to fending off change or possible decisions or new things. Like the Simon and Garfunkle song “..I have books and poetry to protect me..”. The same holds true for other things in ones home or office. This is especially true for those of us that have been sitting in front of the computer dealing with all kinds of fears and anger and frustration. We need to banish that stuff out of our lives so that we can have open space to receive new things or ideas. Here’s a great like that gives some practical advice on how to start this process: What I was also thinking was that I have pictures of when I was at work, when it wasn’t a good time. I’m going to look for those and get rid of them. Another good source for clutter clearing is Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. It’s really easy reading.

Finally, I’ll end with a couple other reading selections that you may be interested in. First of all Wayne Dyer is a great author for inspiration. His earlier books were more down to earth and funny, but "Manifest Your Destiny" is great too. The other book that I have found very helpful, especially when I meditate is "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain. I think I’ll leave it at that. I’ll call around to the various shelters and stuff this week and let you know what I find out. I’m hoping that I’ll have some leads for you by next week.

Have a happy successful week and please, Feed the Positive Wolf.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Folks I Think It May Be Time For Plan B

I’ve been thinking all week that maybe the time has come to fall back to Plan B. Now, over the past year of so I’ve had a lot of plan B’s. For those of you who may not have heard of this, Plan A is usually pursuing a job pretty much like the one you got laid off from. It may be a little different or perhaps in a different industry, but pretty much same job, different floor, building, company… Plan B however, is a whole different kettle of fish. At least in my mind it is. Let me tell you something about my Plan B’s. When I was first laid off, I had absolutely no desire ever to do that kind of work again. I had this list of three things to pursue. Yup, posted it right up there on the fridge, along with the magnets and new year’s resolutions. The three on my list were; work on a presidential campaign, open an aromatherapy, lotions and potions shop, and go to cooking school and become a chef. Wow, I was ready! Unfortunately, the economy wasn’t. Well, I did work on the Hilary for President Campaign. I quickly found out that for someone who wasn’t too keen on office politics, woo boy, stay away from the big time players! The second had been my dream for oh maybe the last ten years. I did all my reading and contacted the small business association and then I thought about it. Fortunately, I put that one to bed as well. Good thinking no? Who in this economy is going to spend money on specialized lotions, when we’re all out there cutting coupons and going with the bargain brand? Finally I contacted cooking schools and got their brochures. Do you know how much it costs to go to cooking school? More than it cost me to get my MBA! I know that was a while ago, but anyway. Then I started thinking about the horrible hours that chefs keep, all on their feet with crazy people (if what I read is correct, don’t mean to offend anyone if they’re a chef), so decided to put that one away too. Then, after three months, I went back to Plan A. Heavy sigh….

I have been pursuing Plan A pretty heavily for over a year now. It was working for me for the most part. But lately, I don’t know about the rest of you, but it sure is getting tough out there. Mind you, I am still sending out my applications and setting up networking meetings, but I think it’s time, as they used to say in the 90’s, to think outside the box. Oh, by the way, I had another Plan B, which I kind of liked. It was to set up a used book shop in one of the vacant stores across the street from me. I have a ton of books in my apartment and though I could solve the inventory problem that way. Well the shops have been taken and I didn’t really want to let go of my books, so another Plan B shelved. The reason I’m sharing all this is to get the rest of you thinking. I do actually have a new Plan B. I think however, I’ll keep it to myself until I see how it plays out.

I don’t have any links to pass on this week. It appears that we were all probably pondering our Plan B’s. Please feel free to comment on your Plan B’s. Share it with the rest of us. I really do believe that bouncing ideas and talking gets’ the juices flowing and that we can come up with some terrific stuff to do for the rest of our careers.

Open the windows. Breathe the fresh air. Look at the Spring flowers. Feed the positive wolf and have a great week!

Friday, March 6, 2009

OMG Unemployment..Don’t Do What I Did!

Last week was a pretty tough week for me. It’s probably the reason that I didn’t post anything until Sunday. But amongst all the normal trials and tribulations I made a huge mistake that could have caused me to lose 13 weeks of unemployment insurance payments.

Before I get to that, I do have to say something regarding the comment by anonymous to my posting on Sunday. You know I have it set up so that I have to approve comments before they get posted, so I did decide to post your comment. I figure it’s always good to have another side to the story. However, one thing, I am probably who I am and learned so much from the days when I managed telemarketing. If I could go back to that job, I would do it in a flash. It was my favorite job of all time. My favorite, mainly because the people who worked in the department were so darned positive and upbeat and indestructible. Telemarketers, collectors and sales people in general have a really hard job. This is a job where you get rejected on a hourly, daily, minute by minute basis. So, if you don’t have a way to keeping up your confidence or being positive, you will not succeed. I remember walking through the department. There were about 140 telemarketers on the floor in an open environment, with an aisle down the middle where the teamleaders sat. I was rushing through, as usual worrying about something to do with budget or management; frown on my face. One of my top sellers stopped me right there and said “how do you expect us to keep going to the “yes”, if you are walking through with a frown on your face?” I told her she was absolutely right and from then on not only was I completely conscious of the attitude I was projecting, but I started to really enjoy myself. These are the people who taught me that every time you get a no, you are one no closer to a yes! This really really applies to our job search. When you get rejected, it’s one rejection closer to landing a job. It’s all probabilities. So anonymous, I thank you for your comment and I can appreciate your perspective on Tory’s speech, but please be sensitive to other fields of work. And, Sales guys, telemarketers and collectors (by the way I hear they’re calling you guys debt mitigation specialists now a days..yeesh) I’ve got your back!

Now back to unemployment insurance. By the way, this only pertains to NY. I’m sorry, but that’s where I live, so I’m not sure if the same pertains to other states. Anyway, the week before last I got word that our unemployment had been extended another 13 weeks. Woo Hoo! Kudos to NY DOL, they sent me a letter telling me this and they actually called me and left a message with that information on my machine. So I go ahead and log on, (by the way, my benefits had run out after 46 weeks in January) and hit complete the claim for the week. It appears everything is going smoothly. I print the confirmation page and go about my business. Now I’m checking my bank account on Thursday, no payment. So I check it again on Friday, still no payment. Then I look on the confirmation notice. Under the Claim Complete there is a second bullet, “Important Information”. What it said was “Your benefit year has ended. Please contact the Telephone claims Center at 1-888-209-8124 to verify your continuing eligibility for extended benefits”. Now I read this as darn I wasn’t eligible. (Amazing what a negative defeated attitude will do for you huh?) Thanks to one of my good friends sending me the notice and pushing me, I called them. They told me it was a GLITCH! I fell through the cracks for crying out loud! I really felt it important to impart this story to all of you, just in case some of you are falling through that same crack. Sorry it’s not more entertaining today, but I felt this was too darn important. Now if you want to just shake your head and say “what was she thinking?”, I‘ll take that risk, happily. I’ve pasted in the notice from NYDOL below. Hey we’re supposed to get a raise. I haven’t seen it yet but maybe it’s coming soon. And, maybe I’ll just pick up the phone and check on it next week. Let me know if any of you have seen the raise or if you know anything about it. Here’s the memo:

Filing for Extended Unemployment Insurance Benefits Allowed Until December 31st; $25 Added to Weekly UI Benefits
New York City, NY (February 27, 2009) - State Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith, together with Congressman Charles Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, today announced that more than one million unemployed New Yorkers statewide will benefit from the provisions for unemployment insurance compensation that are included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). In New York City alone, nearly 400,000 unemployed individuals will benefit from them. The economic impact of the ARRA’s unemployment insurance provisions is estimated to total more than $2.1 billion statewide. The impact in New York City alone is estimated to total $934 million.
Speaking at the Upper Manhattan Workforce 1 Career Center in Harlem, Commissioner Smith outlined how the ARRA unemployment insurance provisions will benefit New Yorkers, by:
• Allowing new claims for extended unemployment benefits to be made through December 31, 2009, with benefits payable through May 31, 2010. (Previously, the deadline for applying for extended benefits was March 31, 2009, and no payments could be made beyond August 2009.) It is estimated that this extension will impact 352,000 people statewide, including 158,000 in New York City. New Yorkers are currently eligible to receive 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits and 33 weeks of extended benefits.
• Increasing weekly unemployment insurance benefits by $25 through December 31, 2009. The increase applies to individuals who are collecting both regular and extended unemployment insurance benefits. Approximately 900,000 people statewide and 331,000 people in New York City are expected to receive the increase to their regular benefit payments; and approximately 500,000 people statewide and 225,000 in New York City are expected to receive the increase to their extended benefit payments. The additional payments will be made retroactive to the week ending March 1, 2009.
• Suspending the federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment insurance benefits per recipient. This provision is expected to result in an estimated federal tax savings of $215 per beneficiary in 2009.
• Providing $412 million to New York State to replenish the UI Trust Fund, and $29.5 million in administrative funds to help improve claims processing, add staff to field calls and resolve claims, and improve the Shared Work program.
“The federal stimulus bill will provide critical assistance to unemployed New Yorkers at a time when they need it most,” said Commissioner Smith. “To everyone who is struggling to find re-employment at this difficult time, the message is ‘help is on the way.’ Our leaders in Washington have responded to the needs of working families to help them get through this unprecedented economic crisis.”
“I urge all New Yorkers who are out of work through no fault of their own to make sure they file for unemployment compensation,” Commissioner Smith continued. “I also urge them to visit their local One-Stop Career Center to register for re-employment assistance. The federal stimulus bill also includes funds for worker training, which will become available to states very soon. It is important for workers to remain in contact with their local One-Stop so that they may take advantage of appropriate training opportunities that become available.”
“This is not just about giving hope and a helping hand to those who have been knocked down by this economic crisis, but also laying the groundwork for future success,” said Congressman Rangel. “By extending benefits, increasing access to healthcare and providing funding for job training and preparation programs, we are providing residents with the kind of support and resources they need to not just find temporary work but a job that will last.”
Individuals are encouraged to check the Department of Labor’s web site at for current information regarding unemployment insurance, including extended benefits, eligibility rules and instructions on how to apply.

Here's a link from the NY Times that a friend sent me: Enjoy!

Keep the faith guys. We will go back to work. Of that I have no doubt. In the mean time, summer is coming.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Suddenly it Appears We Are Totally “Au Fait”?

My apologies in advance, for my incorrect spelling in French, if that is indeed the case. I’ve only heard it spoken. To be “au fait” is to be in the know or doing something that is cool. The reason I brought this up is that while reading the NY Times this morning. (This being my very favorite thing to do on Sunday mornings, especially happily ensconced in my favorite place.) I noticed that there were several articles in the Style section, for crying out loud, talking about the recession. One article was about how it is affecting New Yorkers in their decisions for school choices; private or public. There was also a piece on the Women for Hire job fair, which I went to last week. Reading the article “About His Deposit…”, by Jan Hoffman was rather interesting. It points out how many people are affected by the recession. Being someone who not only doesn’t have children, but who probably wouldn’t send them to private schools even if I did, I did find it really interesting as to how these people, never mind their kids are being affected. The other article “Generation B: Boomers in a Past Boom Economy” really hit home. Not only am I a Boomer, yes, but actually was at this particular job fair. Here’s the link incase you want to read it: Now mind you, I went to the breakfast before, which didn’t have any food, to hear Tory Johnson speak. Found out later that it wasn’t breakfast after all, but “Coffee with Tory”. For those of you who might have attended the coffee and enjoyed it, I will try to contain myself. But, it won’t be easy.

What I am talking, or some might say ranting, about is the Women for Hire fair, preceded by “Coffee with Tory” for which I, and my best friend, paid $20 to attend. If I had gotten anything, I repeat anything, from this coffee; any words of wisdom or uplifting ideas, I might not be in such a snit. Basically I do not agree with anything Tory was saying. In fact, some of it I found downright insulting to women. I will stop myself before I go too far down that path. There are two things that I really disagree with that I would like to clear up. First, Tory told us that we should be working at finding a job, slogging away, eight hours a day, five days a week. She said that if you want to take time off, that’s what weekends are for. I don’t agree. It is so important for our wellbeing that we remain positive and focused. In order to do so, we need to get out of the house. Maybe it means going to a museum, or taking the kids or grandkids to the park. What ever it means to you personally it is important to do this. Not only will it provide you with an opportunity to meet people and network, but it will keep your mind fresh and active. You’ve gotta get out of the house. You’ll never meet anybody there. Plus, we all will go back to work and we need to use this time as a very special time. The second thing Tory said which really bothered me, was that we women needed to learn to negotiate as it pertains to terms of employment. It really pissed me off that there she was speaking to an audience of professional women (and a few men that she decided to invite at the last minute) and telling us that as women we don’t negotiate. Never mind that this may not be the best time to start asking for more money. Granted we can all ask for something else when offered the job, but if what they offer sounds good, jump on it! Myself, concerned as I am about Cobra running out, will probably ask to make sure that health benefits are effective first day on the job. The worse thing about what she said was that she was telling us that we as women were all poor negotiators. I thought those days were over. Maybe there are many women, and men too that aren’t that good at negotiating for themselves, but you don’t have to reinforce it. We can do it and we are doing it. All of us, men and women both are taking care of ourselves and our own. OK, that’s in on Ms Tory,. Wait, one more thing. Her entire delivery was in this high pitched voice. For those of you who may have like what she said, let me give you a piece of advice. Lower your voice pitch to make the sale. Look at Hiliary and most successful women. Years ago I managed a Telemarketing Department and a Collections Department. For those women who weren’t meeting their quota, many times I asked them to lower their pitch and it worked like a dream. I used it myself. I remember going to a requirements meeting and when it came time for me to question the requirement, I always really lowered my voice. My friend Bob told me I got the attention of every guy in the room. Hey what ever works. My basic concern or queasyness with this "Coffee with Tory" was that at $20 a head, with 650 people in attendence, that works out to $13,000! This is all from people who for the most part are out of work. In addition, I believe they may have paid $1,000 for the room. There's just something a little bit to mercernary about this whole thing. OK folks, I'm moving on.

I have to say, last week was a tough one for me. To my delight, I had so many people stand up and provide me support. We are in this together aren’t we? Not only those of us who are currently unemployed, but also those who are still employed and may not only be fearful of losing their jobs, but also may be suffering through survivors guilt. It’s a really hard time. Here is something a friend sent me last week:

Step Up To Success: The Language of SuccessLuminary Circle Founding Member and former chair of the Los Angeles Board of Directors Liz Dennery Sanders offers Step Up members insight each month into key steps to success.

I had lunch with an old friend the other day and couldn't get a word in edgewise. For almost two hours, I heard about the problems she has with her husband, her friends and her ailing health. I also realized that we had the same conversation a year ago and the year before that. In fact, I can't remember a time when we had an uplifting conversation (I'm not sure I can call it a conversation since she was the one doing all of the talking). It dawned on me that not only had my friend bought into her own sob stories, she was creating real-life versions.
Most of us understand that the actions we take (or don't take) lead to our success or lack thereof. But I wonder how many people actually stop to analyze the words that regularly come out of their mouths. We seem to be a society of such fast talkers that it's hard to believe we are truly that thoughtful about our daily diatribe.

The words that come out of our mouths actually set in motion self-fulfilling prophesies. Our words are the impetus that directs our lives. I think most of us know a Debbie Downer - she's the friend who's always complaining and telling you her sad story or depressing drama. How do you feel around her? Probably not so good, right? What fabulous things are happening in her life? Not too many if any at all. Most likely, Debbie sucks the life right out of you.
People like Debbie are stuck in a scarcity mentality that creates their negative reality. You will often hear things like, "I can't," "I should" or "I'm so upset because..." Not taking personal responsibility and placing blame on external things keeps us stuck and small. Taking full responsibility for everything that happens in our lives keeps us moving forward. Take a look at these small but powerful language shifts that move us from naysayer to confident go-getter: "I can't" to "I choose""I don't want" to "I intend" or "I want""My problem is" to "My opportunity is""I should" to "I would like to" Shifting both our self-talk and the words we utter to others from scarcity to confident, prosperity thinking will have a huge effect on the decisions we make and the actions we take. It will not only affect our own energy, but the energy of those around us.

I am reminded of a wonderful quote from Gandhi:

"Your beliefs become your thoughts.
Your thoughts become your words.
Your words become your actions.
Your actions become your habits.
Your habits become your values.
Your values become your destiny."

Be thoughtful of the words that come out of your mouth. They could become your destiny.

©Liz Dennery Sanders 2009
Liz Dennery Sanders wants you to build your buzz and be successful beyond your wildest dreams. As the CEO of Dennery Marks Inc., a brand development and celebrity outreach firm, she founded SheBrand, to help female entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners market themselves, attract more clients and position themselves as experts in their industries. You can reach Liz directly at

Isn’t this great? This is just one example of the great things people send me to post on my blog to help us all out. Never mind, that she gave me the best hug Tuesday when I really needed one. Oh, along those lines there was another article in the NY Times this morning, Preoccupations, “In a Job Hunt, A Good Attitude Beats Bad Times”. I’ll include the link Hopefully you’ll be able to access the article on line. The title says it all. Finally, I will end this with a link to a networking calendar that the same good friend who sent me the article above, also put together. She does this every month! She really is incredible. Here’s the link. I hope you all can access it. I apologize to those of you who don’t live in the NY metro area. I believe if you go to the linked websites you may find the events for areas close to you.

Good luck all of you! Remember always feed the positive wolf!