Monday, June 30, 2008

Recession Survival: Seven Essential Career Tips

Execunet has asked me to give a teleconference seminar on recession survival. I recently wrote an article for a newsletter on their web site. You have to be a member to see the newsletter or listen to the seminar. If I can figure out how to post a pdf file on a blog, I will post the newsletter article.

For those non-members, here is a summary of my presentation. Of course, this is what I plan to talk about. Sometimes, the plan gets side-tracked a little.

By the way, here are three other possible titles to my presentation. Which one do you like best?

Recession Proof Your Career: Seven Essential Tips
Recession Career Survival: Seven Essential Tips
Recession Preparation: Seven Essential Career Tips

My Seven Key Points:

1. Be Open and Flexible to Change
2. Take Responsibility for Your Happiness, Passion and Energy
3. Stay in the Game
4. Work and Live in the Moment
5. Figure out What Makes You Happy
6. Create Passion
7. What would you do for free?

A Quick Summary:

We may or may not be in a recession. We are definitely working in a time of great change and stress. How do you manage change and stay passionate and energized at your job? Can you be happy during a recession? How do you take responsibility for your happiness when so many changes are out of your control? Join Joel Zeff ( a national workplace expert, speaker and humorist for his session on seven essential career tips to survive a recession.

With wit, a sharp observational eye, and playful irreverence, he discusses the choices we all encounter in our careers. We each have the ability to take initiative and make the right choice to live a more creative, passionate, effective, and productive life – even during a recession. How do you make the right choice? You must take ownership of your work environment and create a foundation of opportunity and positive support. You can choose to be patient, supportive, and more flexible to change. You can choose to have fun in the workplace and still be productive. Joel teaches us just how easy it is to make these choices.

This session is not about "strategic deliverables," PowerPoint presentations with upside-down triangles, or "paradigm shifts in a cross-functional organization." This session will be conversational, funny, and very informative. Yes, Joel will make you laugh, but he'll also make you think. This session delivers a combination of inspiration, essential business knowledge, and significant ideas to help you reconnect with their own passion, creativity, and success.

The Seven Points in More Detail:

1. Be Open and Flexible to Change

Always be open and flexible to change. No matter what happens to the economy, there is going to be change. You may have to deal with a merger, layoff or restructuring. Most of these changes are out of your control. We may not control the change, but we always control our reaction and attitude. Take ownership of the change by being open and flexible. Take ownership of your attitude and reaction to keep your energy and passion. How you deal with change determines your success, productivity, creativity, passion and stress. Ask yourself two important questions: Does this change affect my happiness and success? Does this change affect the people around me? Focus your energies on what really matters. Be open. Be flexible. Live healthier.

2. Take Responsibility for Your Passion, Energy and Happiness

Learn to take responsibility for your passion, energy and happiness. Too many times, we let other people’s actions or words determine our happiness. Happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, when we give control to other people, we are never very happy.
It is easy during a recession to give up control. You may have to do more work, stay late. You might have to do more with fewer resources. Your best manager might leave for a better opportunity.

Would you, as a normal, sane person, really make the choice to wake up in the morning, comb your hair, brush your teeth and say, “Man, I am bitter, frustrated and angry. I can’t wait to get to work.” No, you would not. Yet, people do that every day. We have no control over many issues at home or at work. We always have control of our attitude and how we react to those issues. We do have a choice to wake up every morning happier and more energized. And happy people get to work early when there are still blueberry muffins.
When we are happy and having fun, we are more creative, productive and effective. We are better leaders. The choice to take ownership of your attitude is an important key to everyone’s success.

3. Stay in the Game

Anyone can quit. You don’t even have to go to school to learn how to quit. And I am not talking about quitting your job. I am talking about quitting goals, challenges, and initiatives. Think about your role models. Think about the great men and women of history. They all dealt with mistakes, failures, and challenges. The difference is how they dealt with those issues. They did not quit; they stayed in the game. There are many issues during a recession, and the only way you are going to fail is if you quit. If you stay in the game, you might have to communicate, work harder, find a common ground, learn something new or get out of your comfort zone. If you stay in the game, the only thing you have to look forward to is success.

4. Work and Live in the Moment

Be in the moment at work. Be in the moment at home. Working in the moment means being focused and connected to what is happening right now. Listen to each other. Make eye contact. Engage in the communication process. We are at our best when we are in the moment. It is too easy to lose focus if things are not going the way you planned. Keep your passion for success and focus in the moment. It is too easy to worry about tomorrow and start playing the game “what if.” Working in the moment is about being present right now.

5. Figure out What Makes You Happy

Tell someone what you need to be happy. We all need opportunity. When was the last time you told someone specifically what you need to be happy? The next time you have a great day at work, take a moment to write down what made that day special. Now, you have a list of what you need to achieve success and happiness. Ask for it. Demand it. Work hard for it. Happiness at work will create the balance you are seeking. Even during a recession, you still need to enjoy what you do. Recession means change. It also means opportunity. Take the time to speak to your staff, management or ownership and figure out what you need to be happy. Do you want more responsibility or less? Do you want the opportunity to be creative?

6. Create Passion

The truth is you don’t want a job, you want a passion. How do you get a passion? Create an environment of opportunity and positive support and you will be amazed by what you can accomplish. After you build the foundation, you will start to care. We only care about something if we have responsibility or ownership. Guess what happens when you care? You start to have passion. If you can’t create that at work, you are going to have a hard time finding balance.

7. What would you do for free?

You have to face reality during a recession. There are going to be significant changes. Those changes will also create a great opportunity for you. Is it time to make a change? Do you need to change jobs? Do you need to change industries? Do you need to go back to school? Times of change are also the best time to reassess. Are you happy? Ask yourself a very important question: What would I do for free? Now work toward creating a career around that answer. Yes, you might have to put in some extra work. You might have to go back to school; take a risk; or make a significant change. That is what life is about. You have to take a risk to find reward. The end result is you don’t have a job anymore. You have a passion. And, it is a lot more fun and rewarding to have a passion.

Hope everyone is having a great summer. Have a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Joel Zeff Summer Newsletter

Ten days since my last post. Well, I did send out the official Joel Zeff newsletter during that time. You can sign up for my newsletter list here. The newsletter, which includes a new article, links, meeting and speaker tips, and maybe even a laugh or two, comes out 8-10 times a year. So, if you can handle 8-10 extra e-mails a year, then please sign up.

The Arizona Republic published an article about employers who create a fun work environment have happier, more loyal and productive employees. The writer interviewed me, but my quotes didn't make the online edition. I was briefly quoted in the print edition, including having my photo in the paper. Two of my clients, KPMG and Laramar, were both quoted.

Have a great weekend.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Tips on Successful Meetings

Every meeting planner is looking for the secret to a successful meeting. Most of the secrets, I have found, will hardly event affect your budget. Most don't even cost a dime. Just a few simple ideas that will energize your meeting.

I wrote two articles for Convene magazine a couple of years ago. I thought it might be a good time to dust off the articles for the blog. By the way, both of these articles led to chapters in my book, Make the Right Choice.

Enjoy the articles.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Nothing But Nets Article in the New York Times

Nothing But Nets is an incredible organization that purchases anti-malaria nets for families in Africa. I first read about Nothing But Nets in a Sports Illustrated column by Rick Reilly. The idea of this organization is so simple, yet so brilliant. They have one goal: purchase nets to protect families from malaria. Simple. It is easy to understand where your money is going.

I encourage you to learn about Nothing But Nets. The New York Times recently wrote about the organization, which is affiliated with the United Nations.

Here is the New York Times article:

Here is Rick Reilly's Sports Illustrated column from 2006:

I will even make a donation for you. Yep, I will purchase two nets ($20) for every review that is posted on Amazon for my book, Make the Right Choice.

I have been told that posted book reviews on Amazon are very important to ranking, search engines, time-space continuum, a free market society, capitalism, democracy, and nation building. Yes, that is quite a bit of responsibility. It is easy to post a review. Just look up a book (for instance, you might look up Make the Right Choice) and then follow the very easy directions to post a review.

I know many of my newsletter readers enjoyed "Make the Right Choice". And I know everyone is very busy, and writing a short book review is not on the top of your priority list this Summer.

If you enjoyed the book, then let the donation be a little incentive to take a couple of minutes and post your thoughts on Amazon. Here is the link to post the review on Amazon. It doesn't have to be long -- short and sweet is perfect. For every new review posted by the end of business on August 1st, I will donate $20 to

Here is to a happy reviewing summer. I will post the grand total donation in August.