Career Coaching and Layoffs

Last week I volunteered as a career coach for an event called “Passport to Success” that was produced by a local TV station. As I told my friends, I’m not really a career coach, I just play one on TV! Actually I was very comfortable slipping into the role of coach to help this group of 130 recently unemployed professionals.

As a technology coach I met with people for 6 minutes each in a “speed dating” type of format. Throughout the morning I met with 32 people. Afterwords my voice was hoarse and I was exhausted, but it felt great to help people with their career search. The biggest thing I did was to encourage people to establish a personal brand and bring it online through social networking sites like, (amazingly 90% of the people I met with didn’t have LinkenIn profiles).

As someone who was laid off from a real estate marketing position just two years ago, I felt a real empathy for their situation. This is a terrible time to be in their position, and their road is bound to be hard in many ways, but it’s also a potential opportunity for them to grow personally and professionally.

In the two years since my layoff I have grown professionally in ways I couldn’t have imagined previously. Being a pragmatist I would have never taken “the leap” to venture out on my own without the firm shove given me by my previously employer. Here is a link to a video clip from Durham, NC where I talk about turning my layoff into an opportunity.

The other side of this is that I’ve suffered huge personal and financial hardships during this same time. I won’t go into these, but suffice to say that it “ain’t been easy!”
I’m not sure what the future will hold for me, but I know for sure that I have been changed by the events of the past few years, and I will never be the same!

As I think about the people who have been recently laid off I know that some will find another opportunity right away, some will stay in their industry, and some will not find anything for a long time. But I know that some will, as I have, use this opportunity to transform themselves an reinvigorate their career. But for almost none will it be easy!

The following link has a video from the  “Passport to success” event with a short clip of me talking about the power of blogging.

Where Are You Now? Thoughts on Foursquare and Marketing

Foursquare now has roughly one million users.  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a location-based social network, software for mobile devices, and a game rolled into one. Users “check-in” at specific venues (i.e. restaurants, coffee shops, or other retail locations) using text messages or apps on smart phones. People are awarded points and badges. Whomever has checked in the most at a specific location becomes the “mayor”.

I’ve been using foursquare for several months now. I’m impressed more with its potential than with the actual functionality. I’ve got to admit that it fun to “check in” places, get points, badges, and become mayor. The game aspect of Foursquare stirs my competitive nature. It’s fun, but I see this as a bit of a novelty. I’ve already seen a steep drop-off of check-ins from the early adopters of foursquare whose check-ins would show up incessantly in my twitter feed just a few months ago. The network was adopted readily at first. Earlier this year I would receive 5 or more invitations to foursquare daily, now I receive one or two a week. In order to retain its users, foursquare will have to add functionality and new ways to interact.

Built into foursquare is the ability for businesses to offer discounts and specials for people based on the number of check-ins (the discount and the number of check-ins can be adjusted), but this is just the tip of the iceberg of marketing potential for this network. I still think there is a huge un-tapped potential here for marketers and I’m looking forward to the creativity that can be unleashed on foursquare and other location-based social networks. Like most things in the U.S., New York City is leading the way in marketing innovation with foursquare. The following post gives some good examples for successes: How NYC businesses are using FourSquare to drive more customers

I’d love to hear any ideas or examples of success with foursquare, (or other location-based networks) that you could share….

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