Is everybody really working for the weekend?

Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” pops into my head dozens of times a year–no exaggeration. The older I get, the larger my soft spot for 80s rock grows. Once, when I was a naive young pup, there was a time when I thought nothing musically positive came out of 80s pop. For me that was college. I suppose I was just being contrary for the sake of being contrary, which I can always be counted on to do. But I also think the decade between ages 15 and 25 is perhaps the most formative period for one’s musical tastes. As soon as the 80s ended, I turned 15. So in a way, I was destined to cast off the oppressive synthesized shackles of Talking Heads, Thompson Twins, Ah-Ha, and the like, and immediately embrace whatever came next.

That’s when Grunge (I decided to capitalize it because it deserves the same treatment as the Internet), pre-80s classic rock, blues and jazz entered my life. So I stopped listening to 80s music and completely switched gears. Which isn’t to say that all the music in the 90s was good. It most decidedly was not.

(Coincidentally, Ricky Martin is on Jay Leno tonight debuting the new single from his MUSICA+ALMA+SEXO album. He just barely made it into the 90s, releaseing La Vvida Loca in 1999 to kick off the Latin Explosion that included J. Lo, Enrique, Shakira, and others. Remember our brief, 2-year love affair with Latin music? It came right after our brief love affair with big band swing. Zoot Suit Riot, anyone?)

Now the pendulum has swung back the other way and I’m listening to Loverboy a little more than the average guy should. But I’m cool with that. And tonight it’s got me thinking about working on nights and weekends.

The prevailing notion seems to be that working harder is a sure way to get promoted. But I’m here to tell you: it’s not. There’s a big difference between working harder and working better.

Who knows someone who sends a group email every night at 11:30PM? And let me guess–that email could have been sent during the day. Same thing goes for Saturdays and Sundays. I’m going to think a little about exactly who that person is, what they’re trying to accomplish, and how (if at all) working on the weekends really makes sense. I’m not sure it does.

What should I wear to a campus interview? (Men’s version)

I over-use the Bell Curve when describing averages. Though it’s so applicable in so many and varied situations that I can’t help myself. And believe it or not, what people wear to a campus interview falls into the standard deviations laid out in the Bell Curve.

We all know the curve. The bulk of the curve, the hump, represents 70% of the populace. They’re all within expected norms of this measure. In this case, it means 70% of campus interview candidates dress alike. This is true. It also means that 15% of candidates dress impressively, while 15% dress unfortunately. This is also true. And while some may argue that there are more nuances and degrees of appropriateness, there aren’t. There really aren’t.

So let’s take a look at the three different groupings of male attire for campus interviews. I’m not necessarily going to recommend anything, but at least I’ll highlight what’s happening with the competition.

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There’s no such thing as a Brontosaurus

I'm not the sauropod you think I am

I’m generally pretty open-minded when it comes to learning new things and challenging my world view.


But when it comes to the memories of my youth, I have a hard time letting go. Or rather, it’s difficult for me to discover that what I thought was one thing is, in fact, quite the opposite. For example, I recently learned that Over the Top Howard the Duck was a terrible movie. I vowed never to watch The Goonies again so I don’t ruin the memory of the five total days of my life I spent watching Mikey, Chunk, and Mouth worry about hitting the wrong note or they’ll all B-flat. Continue reading

Should I print personal business cards?

I fielded this question a few months ago at an event for job-seekers in Minneapolis: “Should I get personal business cards to hand out at job interviews?” Unfortunately for those in attendance, I didn’t give the best answer. In fact, I think I gave what amounts to a non-answer. Something like “every situation is different.” Oh, great response. Thanks for the insight, Charlie.

Sample card from

But now that I’ve had some time to think about it, and after consulting my friends at BrazenCareerist, I’ve solidified my position. It’s always a good idea to have a personal business card.

After posing this question to probably 50 different people in the last month, I heard three main objections, valid or otherwise. Actually, they were all invalid as far as I’m concerned. Here they are–the reasons not to print personal business cards:¬† Continue reading

The tale of a man who tried to quit his job

So you want to leave your job. Searching for greener pastures? A boss who listens? More money? That’s cool–but it’s a tough row to hoe right now, given that there are few jobs available and scores of qualified and over-qualified candidates spamming their resumes all over the Internet. Here’s what happened to an acquaintance of mine a few months ago when he tried to quit.

This is posted with permission, because we both think it’s a good lesson and an even better story, though I’ve changed all the names and taken some liberty with the dialog to clarify the story (and because nobody recorded anything).

The Man Who Tried to Quit His Job

For 6 months or more, Eric was unhappy with his job. His responsibilities remained the same as they were when he started, 2 1/2 years prior. As a good employee who received average to high marks on his employee reviews, he felt he deserved a raise, a promotion, or both. He even asked the boss for different responsibilities to break the monotony of his day-to-day.

I met with Eric a couple of times during this period of unrest, and each time he expressed dismay at the unchanging state of his job and career. I let him vent for a while before we moved on to other topics, like fantasy football or the books we were reading. We didn’t dive deep into his work trouble–just typical responses to “How’s work?”

The last time I saw him, though, he had a different answer.

Charlie: “How’s work? Any better?”¬†Eric: “Actually, it’s funny you ask. It is getting better.”
“What changed?”
“I quit.”
“I went in to my boss’s office one Monday morning last month and told him I quit.”

(This is where it gets interesting.)

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Anne Hathaway has T-Rex arms!

Did anyone notice how uncomfortable Anne Hathaway looked while hosting the Academy Awards? Maybe it was nerves, or maybe it’s because her co-host was wooden. But whether she was anxious or not, her body language did little to help. If there was an Oscar for using T-Rex arms, she would have won the hardware. Take a look at her performance:

See how her lower arms, wrists and hands are often caught between her waist and shoulders? This is colorfully called T-Rex arms. Uncomfortable or novice presenters share these traits: A) they don’t know what to do with their hands, and B) they want to hide behind something for security. This results in T-Rex arms, when the arms and hands are used, or sort-of played with, in front of the torso in a manner that does not pertain to the presentation.

Anne clearly doesn’t know what to do with her hands. And when she does have a germane gesture, she goes way overboard–another sign of discomfort. Watch at 00:46, when she proclaims that it’s “Hollywood’s Biggest Night!” It looks like her arms finally release all the potential energy she built fiddling around her waist. Could you imagine Meryl Streep doing that with her arms? No. Not just because she’s more mature and reserved, but because she’s more comfortable and confident. T-Rex arms are a clear differentiator between confident and nervous presenters. Continue reading

Can I get people to like me more?

I like some people right away. Others take a while, though I may end up liking them more in the end. Why is that? And how do others react to me when we first meet? I did a little research on how to get people to like you, and here are ten of the top tips, in no particular order:

1. Give sincere compliments and thanks. Everyone knows a suck-up, but it’s pretty easy to give honest compliments even if you’ve just met someone. Clothing and accessories are a sure bet. “Hey–that’s a great bag.” Personal traits or characteristics work, too. “I admire the team you’ve built. They work together so well.” “Thanks for introducing yourself. I appreciate that you went out of your way.”

2. Ask lots of questions. Most people love to talk about themselves. It’s their favorite topic. And one of the first lessons in sales is that the person asking the questions is the one in control of the conversation. Asking questions to get to know someone you just met is a sign that you’re interested in them, and we’re all more apt to like people who take a shine to us, right? Continue reading