Tag Archives: work

Business Card Giveaway!

29 Mar

There’s many ways to stay connected in our digital age- LinkedIn, Facebook, phone applications like Bump. However, when it comes to networking, nothing replaces a good ol’ business card. I feel like this is something every young person starting out in their career should have. Whether you’re interviewing, at an event or dating, having your contact info easily accessible is very useful.

The kind folks at Uprinting are giving away two sets of their awesome Die Cut business cards to two lucky readers. For a chance to win, leave a comment below with how you plan to use them. Two winners will be chosen at random Friday, April 1st. Details Below:

1.  2 readers will be getting a set (250pcs each) of Die Cut business cards (Rounded Corners, Leaf, Rounded Single-Corner, Half-Circle Side, Circle); 14pt Cardstock Gloss / Matte / High Gloss (UV), or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated on a 6 Business Days Turnaround; Front Only or Front and Back printing

2. Restriction: Limited to US residents 18 years old and above only.

Don’t forget to  Like UPrinting on Facebook and share the love with your friends! (http://www.facebook.com/uprinting)

[This giveaway is sponsored by UPrinting, no monetary compensation was given. For more information about business cards, please visit http://www.uprinting.com/business-cards.html.]

Good luck!

An Electric Idea

7 Jul

A friend of mine Stephan always had the entrepreneurial spirit bursting inside him. Despite his degree from UCLA, his MS from Stanford and a very high paying job, he was always calculating some exciting projects on the side.  His current endeavor,  Scroller Bikes is something he cooked up with a close friend of his. Below he gave us an insightful look at how he found a need and took a risk.

Shortly after graduating from Stanford, I returned back to to L.A. from San Francisco. One of my close friends from my UCLA years, told me about electric bikes he had seen during his travels through China. After doing some research and checking on legalities, we realized that electric bikes would be ideal for the congested southern California’s beach communities. We also thought they would be perfect for the overcrowded LA campuses such as UCLA or Santa Monica College.

My friend Robin always had a passion for motorcycles and had been riding since he was a  kid, and I over the years had developed an interest in green technology, so both of us had a natural interest in the bikes.

As both of us were just starting our professional careers and had intentions to getting into the business world, it seemed to be an interesting and fun project and an opportunity to create something that could actually make a difference. Our goal was to create the best looking and most user-friendly electric bike that would satisfy the needs of many user groups. (students, LA tourists, surfers, short distance commuters)

We started our business out of our garage in Hermosa Beach. We started working on our website, pictures, promotional material, did mechanical work and repairs. Things were not easy initially and we had many quality and communication issues with our Asian manufacturers. However, we were able to make it through the difficulties, probably because we were passionate about a product we had created and believed in. This was different from work you would perform at a regular job just to satisfied the management’s need.

Despite all the problems and issues we had, it was encouraging to see the customer’s positive feedback after their purchase. Now, after having sold a couple of shipments of Scrollers we are getting ready for a trip to China to work on an upgrade to make the bike even better than before. We are about to take another risk and make a bigger investment into this project.

Both of us will be starting our MBA studies in Los Angeles this coming fall.  We are not sure exactly how we will be able to continue this start up parallel to the school load, but for now we are just approaching the next challenge and are excited to see what the future will bring.

A little about the Scroller bike itself:

The Scroller is fully electric and does not produce any emission. It can be recharged at a regular power outlet and lasts for about 20-25 miles per charge. The Scroller is really easy to use (not much harder than a regular bicycle). It does not require a license, registration or insurance to operate, since it is classified as a motorized bicycle.

Check out the website of Scroller Electric Bikes to find more information, videos and pictures of the bike.

Thanks Stephan for your inspiration!

Two Cent Tuesdays

29 Jun

Back again for Two Cent Tuesdays and today we have a fairly common question from a recent graduate.

Mad Grad,


I’m just graduated, moved home and I am starting to look for a job. I’ve been hearing a lot about the dismal job market though. Should I be concerned? Help!

Justine

Justine,

Trust us when we say you are not alone in this question. Although the tumultuous economy over the past few years has lead to numerous layoffs and businesses closing their doors, things are finally starting to look up. It is often thought that during a decline in the economy people are more apt to introduce new ideas and entrepreneurship has a chance to thrive. I think we have seen many examples of that recently, especially with the help of technology and social media. With that being said hundreds of new companies have sprung up over the past year because people were willing to take a chance when they had nothing left to lose.

From what I have seen lately there are a lot of jobs out there. On top of that, many of the openings seem to be for fresh out of college motivated and anxious young people. As you mentioned you are starting to look and looking is only half the battle. You could search job postings online for months, instead try to be strategic. Even if you can narrow down the type of work you want to do your search will be much easier.

Target specific companies that are appealing to you and even if they aren’t hiring request an informational interview so you can get a foot in the door and an idea of what it would be like to work there.

The number one thing to do right now is network! I cannot express that enough. Reach out to everyone you know send them your resume for feedback or to pass along. Ask questions to friends, parents anyone who has crossed your path and see if they can help you land a job. Be bold,  courageous and above all don’t be afraid to ask for help! (Seeing as how you emailed us, you are already past that stage!) Good luck and let us know if we can offer any more advice!

Best,

The Mad Grad

Get Back to Work! (But for now enjoy these links)

18 Jun

It’s Friday, and everyone knows Friday is not the best day  for people with ADD or a love of life outside the cubical. So why not pass the time with some cool links?

I have no words. This is simply that amazing. (Doghouse Cartoon)

Lens Crafters should really swoop this up for their next ad campaign.

It ain’t easy growing green at work. But these low- light plants are up for the challenge.

They’re lurking in offices everywhere, waiting for the perfect opportunity to attack your inbox. No, not email viruses.. REPLY-ALL’ers. Here’s a great article on Gawker on when to hit the reply all button. (Hint- never).

reason number 5 million I wish I was italian.

And now for links that keep popping in my Google Reader and around the internet that I never want to see again: Justin Beiber, Keanu Reeves looking sad, and anything about the iphone4.

Happy almost-to- happy hour- Friday!

Got Stress?

20 Apr

We all have them in our office- the people stressed out to the max- their desks looking like the remains of a natural disaster and their hair- well also looking like the remains of a natural disaster. The people who you when you ask how is your day?” you immediately regret it and want to take it back faster than asking an overweight girl how many months along she is. The response usually goes something like this how’s my day? HOW”S MY DAY?! well I haven’t even had a chance to eat yet, go to the bathroom, I have 500 projects to get to by tomorrow, and my inbox just keeps filling up! This is the busiest day of my life!” To which I hold back from replying, ” Really? that’s funny because yesterday was also the busiest day of your life!”

We all know people like that, but to prevent from falling into the “frazzled-out” trap ourselves, here’s three of my favorite tips:
1. Change your mindset: You just got to work, and you are so stressed out you don’t know what to do. Okay, first thing is break down what you actually are doing. Unless you can say “I am treating emergency patients in the hospital right now, many of whom I have 30 seconds to save their lives,” or “I’m figuring out how many troops to send to war” or “I’m in combat right now in enemy territory” take a step back, and realize you really do not have anything to be stressed about. Is that spreadsheet, meeting, coding, sales pitch so dire that it is worth gaining weight over and taking away years of your life? You want to of course respond to things with a sense of urgency- do the best possible job on everything, but realize your boundaries and capacity. Stress is sort of like fog- when it clears, you can see things a lot better and get to your destination quicker. Sometimes you just need to change your mindset to clear this stress.  As my favorite saying goes, “Life is a lot less serious than my mind makes it out to be.”
2. Listen to something funny: my new obsession or born again obsession is Chelsea Handler. I have had a combined sleep of 2 hours in the past two nights since I bought all three of her books from Borders and can’t stop reading them. Her books are like pringles once you pop them open you can’t stop until you are at the very last sentence. So yesterday, when I was starting to get really stressed out, I listened to one of her standups on Youtube and felt better in 10 seconds. Another thing that helps is listening to a mediation channel on Pandora or whatever your music weapon of choice is. There is no day I feel less stressed than “Funk Fridays” where I turn on the Funk channel on pandora and jam through my work until it’s time for happy hour.
3. Stay Organized: If you clear your inbox (get it down to at least 10), file all of your papers and get caught up on all of your work, there is no greater feeling in the world. So if you try to stay like that all the time, you will always feel happy and calm, and light (seriously, inbox clearing is the new Jenny Craig). I know we all have things come up that can cause us to get behind, but if you let yourself fall too far along, it’s really hard to turn back. I mean honestly, have you ever seen a frazzled coworker with a clean desk? Or a coworker with a clean desk frazzled? Possible- but it’s about as rare as a hairless bear.
So next time you are stressed out to the max, take a step back, turn on some jams or talk to a funny coworker who makes you laugh, and be the Martha Stewart of Organization. It will lead to a much happier you and even happier workplace.

Just Say No

1 Apr

Image Credit: Cornell University news: www.cornell.edu/news

I always hated the word no. Maybe because I’m an only child, or maybe because it immediately takes me back to the checkout line when I was 6 and asked for 5 packs of zebra-striped gum (you can guess the answer), but the word itself still makes me cringe.

It’s no surprise then, that when I first graduated and entered the working world, I said yes to just about everything. Need extra copies? Sure I’ll help! Need someone to cover the front desk for you while you go on a cigarette break for an hour? Sure, why not! But it wasn’t until my last job that I realized saying yes all the time was only hurting my career. Spending so much time helping others out, (even though I was busy) was forcing me to have to work longer hours and make mistakes.  Sure, it’s very important to be a good coworker and help others out in a bind, but only if you are available.

When you first start a job, (especially right after college) and are in the honeymoon stage, it’s hard to realize when people are taking advantage of you. It’s like being in college all over again- you are the “fresh meat,” the newbie, the person dressed head to toe in your school colors standing in line for a keg cup. If you are firm and comfortable saying no from the beginning though, people will quickly move on to the next target. If you are tempted to give in,  imagine being in a meeting with your boss and confessing you didn’t finish the project, because Sarah needed help on hers. Sure, your boss will think you are a nice person, but they probably won’t be too happy with you for failing to meet the deadline.

I’ve found the easiest way to approach a situation where you are asked to help, (is it just me, or always the same people?), but swamped is this:

1. Say you are busy right now, but give your next time of availability. For example,  “Sorry Joe, I’m in the middle of several projects right now. I’ll be available to help at 4pm though when I am finished.”

2. Reach out to them first to offer help, when you have some down time.  If you have some extra time on your hands (hey every moment counts), instead of going on PerezHilton, let your coworkers know you have some time if they need help with anything.

Most importantly, stay strong my fellow people pleasers. As much as you think it is helping you, taking on more work than you can handle (especially if it is not yours) will only hurt you down the line. The good “users” will sense your weakness and beg you until you burst, but hold your ground and give them a firm answer. BUT, while you don’t want to be the Yes-man, you also don’t want to be the excuse maker. If assisting is part of your job description,  your hardworking coworkers are sick, overwhelmed or in a pinch, give them the help they deserve. Chances are, you will need their help one day as well.

Some Lessons I’ve Learned Along The Way..

29 Dec

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, about what I’ve learned since Graduating in 2007. As I’m turning 25 next week (eek!) and in a new job, I’ve realized how much I’ve learned about myself and my career in just a few years. I’ve been a Case Assistant at a law Firm, a project manager at an online design company, an executive Assistant for a Virtual world company, and am now doing Recruiting for a large search engine company. I know what you’re thinking- this girl has Major job ADD. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade any of these jobs for the world (as miserable as some of them were). I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the mistakes, successes and lessons I’ve learned along the way.

If a new graduate asked me what I know now that I didn’t then, here’s what I’d tell them:

You will never be good at a job you hate. Maybe it pays well, you get overtime, a new car and a bonus but if you don’t like it, you aren’t going to do well. Of course, you should always give your all to any job you have, but you aren’t going to perform as well as someone who really loves it. If the passion and drive isn’t there, it will show in your work no matter how much you try to hide it.

It’s okay to leave if you aren’t happy. My first job after college, I worked in a supply closet with files literally barricading my desk, and attorneys screaming in my face if something wasn’t done in 15 seconds. After 6 months of being there, I knew I wanted to leave, but was torn because everyone told me to stay at a job at least a year. If you give yourself adequate time to make sure it isn’t for you, can explain to future employers the reason behind you leaving, and make sure to leave on good terms with your boss no matter what, there’s no reason to stay at a job you are miserable with. It’s better to get back on track to a field you are interested in, and leave while you are on good terms before your unhappiness interferes with your work performance.

Don’t be taken advantage of. Even if you have the same position as another coworker, if you don’t set your boundaries immediately, your best friend will be the copy machine and your work will falter as you struggle to manage your work and that of others. You want to be there for coworkers when they need help, because that’s what makes great companies, and there’s a 150 percent chance you’ll need their help in the future. But be sure to be on the lookout for people taking advantage of your lack of experience, and don’t be afraid to say no. This also applies to situations where your boss is taking advantage of you. Are you working incredibly long hours, and running errands not in your job description, when you are getting paid way under market? If so, be honest with them and stick up for yourself or this pattern will repeat itself for your entire time there.

Don’t make money your only incentive. At the job I have now, I took a huge pay cut.  The reason? I knew that while I’m making a lot less at this job, it will lead to more money in the long-run as it’s the field I want to be in, an incredible company and I’m learning a lot. The high pay was the biggest incentive for me to take the assistant job, but this was not worth it as I wasn’t happy or had passion for what I was doing.  Don’t get me wrong, you should not settle for lower pay than you deserve, but money should not be the primary factor in taking a job. In fact, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have taken a job strictly for pay and regretted it, but haven’t talked to anyone who took lower pay for a job they really loved and regretted it.

First impressions matter: At my last job, one of the recent grads who started would always respond to the exec’s requests within 2 seconds to beat everyone, and stay 5 hours longer to ensure she scheduled more meetings than her coworkers. She ended up making mistakes because she took on more than she could handle, and although these mistakes were small it was hard to gain the respect back from the execs and coworkers. You want to show up to work on time, push yourself and give the job your all, without being the annoying eager beaver and biting off more than you can chew. It’s better to do less work with no mistakes while you learn the ropes, then to take on too much and mess up.

Don’t act your age. I know I know, you are 21, your favorite night to go out is Thursdays, and you can’t sleep before 4am. But chances are your older coworkers will not be sympathetic to the one too many beers you had. Also remember that it’s always important to ask questions if you do not know what you are doing, but make sure to phrase it in the best way possible. Instead of saying ” hey how the heck do I use the fax machine? The person at the school library did it for me.” Say “I haven’t used this particular fax machine before, would you mind showing me how when you have the chance today so I will know in the future?” Even if you work in a relaxed environment, it never hurts to dress up in a way that makes you look mature and put together.

Always leave on good terms: No matter how much you dislike your boss, your coworkers or company, make sure to leave on good terms. Always check in every now and then with them- send an email, a text a Christmas card just make sure to keep in touch. Even if you live in China and they live in the US, employers do rigorous background checks these days and it’s very important to be on good terms with everyone you encounter. Think you are off the hook despite treating your lab partner poorly Freshman year? Lots of companies check with other coworkers that attended the same school as you for their opinion before hiring, so be careful not to burn your bridges.

Keeping your Eye On The Ball…

25 Aug

Lindsay-7

When I was younger nothing drove me crazier than my softball coach telling me to “keep your eye on the ball!” Okay coach, I think after 11 times I get it. But the truth was, I needed that reminder because a lot of times I’d get distracted. I’d look at the pitcher, or stands, or my mind would wonder to the capri suns after the game- and sure enough I’d miss it. When I did keep my eye on the ball the entire time, I’d get a great hit. Who would have thought that this lesson would apply many years down the road at work?

When we first start off in our jobs, (if we are truthful in the hiring process) we are amped with enthusiasm for our product/services. We network, try to learn as much as possible and can’t wait to use or sell the product ourselves. However, sometimes we get so wrapped up in our daily tasks, that we lose site of the company goal/product.

I know this happened to me recently, at my job. When I took a step back and thought about why I had lost that passion,  I realized it was because I was doing my daily tasks- scheduling, organizing, project managing, but I wasn’t really using the product. I wasn’t reading up on the latest news in the industry, networking, trying to further my education on the subject, and knowing the ins and outs of the product. Instead of this improving my performance, it hindered it because I lost my passion. I took my eye off the ball, and sure enough was missing it. Spending more time trying to increase my knowledge of the product,  sparked back up that energy I needed to run around the bases and get those grand slams.

Of course sometimes, when you come to that point that you realize you are empty of passion, you realize it’s time to move on. The company/product just isn’t motivating you to want to devote your time to it. Other times though (as in my case) it takes finding the balance between doing your daily tasks, and spending extra time gaining insight into your product. “Keep your eye on the ball, and your head in the game”

Taking Initiative

8 Jul

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It’s strange that at 24 years old, I finally found the genius behind Nike’s slogan, ” Just do it.” It never seemed much more to me than a slogan that got a few snickers on the elementary school playground and was just plain obvious.  Recently, however, this slogan has taken on a whole other meaning to me- one of taking initiative and making decisions yourself.

At my job, I assist the Founder of my company who is understandably very busy. When I first started my job a couple months ago I would ask permission for everything. “Would you like me to send this email?” Where should I make reservations?” I didn’t want to go ahead and do something and get in trouble if I made a mistake. That’s when I realized- it’s better to go ahead and do it instead of asking permission and waiting around for his answer. After all, if he had time to answer all of my questions- would he really need an assistant in the first place?

Being young in a big company is hard. We are hired with the expectation that we have a lot to learn and will be asking lots of questions- which don’t get my wrong is good to an extent! But to prove our maturity and ambition, we need to learn when to ask questions and when to go ahead and take initiative for ourselves.

I heard a quote recently by Grace Hopper that said, “Its easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.” If I heard this quote 3 months ago, I’d probably disagree- but now, I could not agree more. There’s going to be times when you go ahead and do something, and end up making a mistake and getting in trouble.  However, a mistake here or there, from someone who takes initiative and makes decisions for themselves, is going to be forgiven a lot faster, than someone sitting around and waiting for someone to make decisions for them.

So next time you’re in a situation where you aren’t sure if you should take a risk and go with your gut, go ahead and “Just do it!”

Guest Post by Author and Entrepreneur Robert Tuchman: Embracing Entrepreneurship

7 Jul

Young Guns Cover

Graduation from college carries such ironic emotion: you have spent four years yearning to graduation, but as soon as you do, you spend your remaining days nostalgic about your school days.  College is a great time, but with graduation comes reality.  You are now armed with all that you need: you are the fuse and your diploma is the match.  Let the fireworks begin!

Many leave college and send out applications to tens of corporations looking for a job. But there are others who take a bit more of a risk: they seek entrepreneurial pursuits.  Know that what lay behind you and what lay in front of you is trivial compared to what lay within you.  Have courage.

If it is entrepreneurship you desire post graduation, there are several thing you must consider.

An entrepreneur needs to be someone who can both visualize and actualize.  He needs to be able to visualize something—and once he has that “something”, he needs to see exactly how to make it happen.  In order to make it happen, there are several steps that you as an entrepreneur must take on your way to entrepreneurial success.  Do not just enhance what is, but advance towards what will be: keep the long term in sight.

It is essential that you are able to marry your work and what you love. When in sales, there is no right or wrong way to sell: all you need is passion and enthusiasm for your product. This passion will ignite the minds of your potential client, facilitating connections, and connections between will be made.  Your passion and enthusiasm for your product will be what encourages the sale—not the rote duplication of someone else’s selling system. It takes courage to grow up, form your own philosophy, and become who you really are. What you do to sell and promote your business has to be a reflection of what you are already willing to stay up late for and get up early for.  It has to connect to your “why” and be a part of your own experience.

Second, you must start working your plan, whether you are ready nor not.  Know the four good things that you are about to do: first, that your business is going to be built on a great idea; second, that great idea is going to connect you to a market; third, that you will create a plan based on what you learn, on an ongoing basis, about that market; fourth, that you will adjust that plan over time.

After you have visualized your plan, find the right partner… and avoid the wrong one!  You will have a significant advantage over one-man businesses if you come together with another person regularly to make important decisions.  Find someone with whom you have good chemistry, someone who fills your blind spots.  Successful partnerships are based on the idea of taking different perspectives in a discussion and having different talents.

Once the groundwork has been established, set priorities for the absolutely crucial first year. Concentrate on why you are doing something—not how.  Your “why” will keep you closely connected to your company and your product.  As soon as you lose sight of “why,” you will also lose sight of your driving force and your motivation.

Through your first year and beyond, court clients—and keep them coming back! In order that you become a successful entrepreneur, it is essential that you are the person who is willing to pick up the phone and call people to talk about making deals and doing business. When you make this phone call, make sure you are absolutely certain about the product that you are selling.  With this certainty, you can use confidence to build up a network of contacts.  The network cannot be established overnight—it is going to take a lot of phone calls.  You cannot just wave your magic wand over a corporation and change them into a profitable client.

In order to keep your client base, you need a great team to work with.  Make sure that your company has shared values, that there are rewards for quality improvements, and that there are strong internal and external relationships.  Empower the best, lose the rest!

Inevitably, there will be failure.  You must learn from failure: use it as a stepping-stone.  Do not forget what mistakes you have made, but do not allow yourself to dwell on them.  Take from your failure: take the lesson learned—do not let it take anything from you: not your energy, not your time and not your space.

Finally, in order to keep your company going and keep your clients happy, maintain good relations with your vendors.  It is essential that you support the people who support you.  If you are making a big commitment to a client, make sure you have a solid relationship with your vendor.

In the end, take energy from taking risks.  Live in the spirit of the entrepreneur!

Robert Tuchman is living as an entrepreneur and has recently published his first book Young Guns where he gives young people guidance on taking your dreams and making them into a reality in this step by step book that will arm you with the tools you need to take your idea and make it a career.Check out Robert’s website: http://youngbusinessexecutives.com/