Sunday, December 28, 2008

Corporate Social Responsibility - The Next Tidal Wave in Business

Thirty years ago, environmentalists were called “tree huggers” in mainstream circles. Today, most people recycle and intentionally make lifestyle choices that are fundamentally environmentally-friendly. Thirty years ago, there was a clear distinction between capitalism and socialism. Either you were pro-business or anti-business and that was that. The new mantra: it pays to be socially responsible. Today, multinational corporations -- while still in business for profit -- are adopting new corporate social responsibility [CSR] initiatives that are changing the way organizations of all size do business. CSR is not a widely-used term yet. Give it time.

The premise of CSR is that when an organization makes money in a community, they reinvest a portion of profits in that community and/or other global regions in need. That investment can come as a combination of money, employee volunteer time or products, such a pharmaceutical giant Merck which donates a drug to cure river-blindness, a dreadful disease which affects tens of millions of the world's poorest people.

Many Fortune 500 companies have climbed on board, in many cases employing entire departments dedicated to setting and implementing their CSR strategy. It’s a job industry that will grow tremendously in the next decade as Internet retail gives all consumers worldwide a greater choice of where to buy the products they need and want.

London-based Acre is a staffing organization dedicated exclusively to CSR/SRI [social responsibility investment] positions. At visitors can search global listings of CSR and SRI professional services organizations, as well as learn more about events and training associated with this emerging trend.

Just because the media isn’t talking about this every day doesn’t mean it’s not already on the minds of world business leaders. A handful of public companies already entrenched in CSR/SRI initiatives include: Wal-Mart, Target, Levi Strauss, Gap, Timberland, General Electric, Whole Foods, Manpower, Inc., Dupont, Alcoa, IBM, and Hewlett Packard. Few CEOs are as globally generous as Microsoft founder, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda or his good friend Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett. Ted Turner and New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, also make that list. Generosity is “in” and the biggest names in the world -- to varying degrees -- are stepping up to make a difference and in many cases, to let their customers know about the difference they're making through corresponding media campaigns.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Eggs. Bread. Milk. Check!

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed this time of year. There’s often so much to do that it’s pretty common to look around and not know where to begin. Looking for ways to increase your income (finding a job, finding a new job, finding a second job) is not that different from getting ready for a special holiday or event. For some people, the details can seem really overwhelming.

I’m a list person. You hear people joke that they know they’re old when they can’t go anywhere without a list. (This reasoning would mean that I’ve been old since I was about 10!) The truth of the matter is that we lead busier lives and maintain schedules that are packed far beyond those of our grandparents’ 40 years ago. It used to be that a monthly calendar in the kitchen was all that was needed to keep track of an entire family’s scheduled events. Today, most people need at least a weekly calendar to track one person’s whereabouts. And have you ever arrived at the grocery store only to realize your shopping list was home on the kitchen table? “Eggs, bread, peanut butter… oh there was something else.”

Trying to find a job is so much more overwhelming than trying to remember a shopping list. Many people don’t know where to start. And then there are the detours out there… the advice columns that say nothing! I Googled “job advice” and came up with this to-do list that I THINK is aimed at someone looking for a job. The advisor says: “Be aware of industry trends. Educate yourself by reading trade publications and conducting research on the Internet. Attend conferences. Participate in local trade associations and other professional groups that will enhance your knowledge and networks.” What does any of this have to do with finding a job this week or creating a position that supports long-term job security?

Be aware of industry trends. Which industry?
Educate yourself by reading trade publications. Huh?
And conducting research on the Internet. Again, huh?
Attend conferences. “Yes, operator, I’d like to order a conference, this week, free since I have no money, and preferably within 50 miles of where I live.”
Oh, and love this one - participate in local trade associations and professional groups to enhance your knowledge and networks.

The thing is, if you are “looking for a job” this is bogus advice.

If you need to find additional income ASAP, you need 1) hot job resources. You need to know who is hiring. You also need 2) to be prepared for what a potential employer will ask from you as part of the hiring process. Does that mean you’ll need to complete a questionnaire? Does that mean you’ll need to go through three levels of interviews? And 3) you’ll need to be prepared to standout in a good way and convince an employer that you really need, and want this job -- and that you will stay in this position for at least a year.

Once you’re hired, then you can attend conferences, read trade publications, network with industry colleagues, and do all the other things to increase your knowledge of the products, trends, competitors, and customers. (These are all good things, just not for job seekers.)

A list can help you develop a step-by-step plan to get from point A to point B. And if you need a little extra help with that, Creating Job Security, The 2009 All-in-One Workbook can walk you through the process, step-by-step -- without sending you on any wild goose chases. For more information visit

Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas, happy holidays and prosperous 2009 ahead.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Adapting to Life in Between

Most people spend a good portion of time living somewhere between setting a goal and achieving that goal. For millions of people right now, that goal is finding a well-paying job that meets their other needs for a satisfying career, including: opportunity, creativity, flexibility, stability, feasibility, and longevity. We start out at point A and we head toward point B, but somehow, while we’re on the road in between, we sometimes find ourselves on detours that happen when life gets in the way of our plans.

Life in between can be inconvenient, messy, expensive and unexpected. It can also be surprising, interesting, life-altering and… unexpected, only in a really good way. Sometimes it takes walking down a path we wouldn’t have chosen, to discover that more than one path can lead to happiness and a whole new career we may have never known existed or existed for us when we drew up the original map.

There may be several things that led you to where you are today -- or maybe it was just one thing that was completely outside of your control. Perhaps you were laid off due to department cutbacks, or maybe you are one of hundreds or thousands affected by a plant closing. Or it may be that your job is safe - for now - but you’re proactively researching your options so you’re prepared if a RIF or pink slip should affect you. Some people thrive on change. You may be one of them. Or you may be among the majority of people who struggle to accept change.

You may be changing careers or fields due to an accident or an injury, or because you need increased flexibility to manage other obligations. You have your reasons and you know what they are.

There are many people who are very successful as small business owners. They appreciate the flexibility it offers and the opportunity hard work can bring. And they don’t mind the extra accounting hassles of saving receipts and taking responsibility for their own taxes. There are others who would rather make less money but have the security of a paycheck every two weeks along with the benefits that often come with working for a larger organization.

Adapting to life in between means sometimes you’ll need to do things that are outside your comfort zone to pay the bills. That may include freelancing, providing service work like landscaping or housekeeping, selling unused items online or via consignment, or starting a home business just to keep money coming in until the economy turns around.

You may be surprised to find that something you didn’t expect to enjoy turns out to be a career you later pursue with enthusiasm. Or you may simply feel good about your ability to adapt to difficult circumstances with perseverance and grace. Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons and try something outside your comfort zone in your quest to create job security.

You never know the possibilities that await you right around life’s next corner, in between where you started out and where you thought you were heading. Creating Job Security, The 2009 All-in-One Workbook is now available for $30, tax and shipping within the U.S. included, at

Monday, December 1, 2008

Desperate Times Call for Kindness – To Yourself and Others

For many years Maui has been a second home for our family. When we lived in different states, we met up in Hawaii. It was our fun, relaxing, happy place. Today, due to the economy, the kama’ainas (locals) who call Maui home are struggling like so many places around the world. And just like families struggling with mortgages that have reset at significantly higher interest rates – store owners have leases that are nearly impossible to meet. One jewelry store owner looked at storefront space on Front Street in Lahaina which was listed for $32,000 a month in rent, but opted instead for a sophisticated space costing a mere $12,000 a month in the Wharf across from the famous banyan tree.

This conversation came up after I tried and failed to negotiate a mere $5.00 off of a photograph in the weekend art fair under the banyan tree. Normally, it’s customary for a vendor to set a price, a buyer to counter and the vendor to set a new price a few dollars less. The vendor I approached was packing up for the day. He even offered to walk across the street and accept my cash (the banyan tree’s in a public park so money cannot be exchanged there) – but not for a dollar less than his original price.

So naturally, I asked the jewelry store owner about this – especially since he seemed creative and inventive in his approach to selling handmade Maui soaps at the wholesale price to get people in the door to browse the more expensive jewelry inside. He thoughtfully explained that the vendors have already discounted their goods 40% and they can’t afford to discount them further.

While I haven’t written this before, sometimes the first step in creating job security includes keeping hope alive that all things do change – and that you have the power to make positive changes in your life.

Bad economies do get better. Recovery follows rest. Just as marathon runners need rest and recovery before they get back out and train again, people need mental and spiritual recovery to tackle life’s challenges. So be kind to yourself and those you meet along life’s path. And if you live in Hawaii, and you need a great job, or you have one to advertise, check out Mahalo.

Creating Job Security, The 2009 All-In-One Workbook is available starting today from the Graduate Group for $30 at or e-mailing Coming soon, the complementary Creating Job Security Resource Guide, offering 75+ hot job online resources will be available via