Thursday, February 28, 2013

The least surprising breaking news of the year

Groupon is entering a new era.

CNNMoney is reporting that CEO Andrew Mason is out at the company that he founded.

I wrote in November that it was likely that Mason was going to get fired. He survived that quarterly earnings period, but couldn't survive the most recent results.

It's not much of a surprise because of two things. First, they should have taken Google's offer to buyout for some $6 billion. Upon passing on that, they needed to diversify and earn revenue from that diversification fast.

Groupon started to diversify, including such things as a new credit card processing service (a highly watered down market as it is), but it was basically too little, too late.

So where does the company go from here? They will name an interim CEO, but from there the company has a few options.

They are now a major target for a takeover at a huge discount to what Google offered. They may also keep trying to further diversify their offerings and basically 'restart' the company. Third, they may end up going private.

It's a bit too early to say which way the company will go, but we will likely know by the end of the year.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Martha Stewart is a horrible person to work for

Who would wan't to work for Martha Stewart? I know I certainly would not.

Business Insider has compiled a list of stories from sources close to her, detailing how difficult she is to work for.

Such stories include her canceling a deal with Macy's hours before it was announced, and she instead went with J.C. Penney, needing to be personally involved with every item that bears her name and invoicing her former best friend for her expenses on a trip to Europe.

She has also created what can only be described as a hostile work environment with those who work closest to her.

I could understand if a handful of the antidotes were true, as I'm sure there have been challenging times dealing with any CEO. But just the wide nature of the stories and the sources they come from, tell me there is a terrible culture associated with Stewart.

Most people that work close to her must be doing it for other reasons. Perhaps the pay is good, or they are using it as a stepping stone to another position within another company. Maybe they have become accustomed to her outbursts and have just learned how to roll with the punches.

But I would be pissed if I worked for someone, who after a significant amount of work, came in and blew the whole project up at the last second because it was slightly the wrong shade of green. However, knowing what I know about her, I would never apply to work for her. Plain and simple, she is a bully. There are many companies out there who's CEOs know how to treat their employees well. Those are the companies I want to work for.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Advice from a jobseeker on keeping spirits up

If you have spent any time unemployed over the last several years, you know how difficult the job market has become. The tables have been tilted in favor of the employer and the longer your unemployment drags on, the more frustrated you are.

I'm not going to give you tips on how to improve your job search (ok, maybe one), or give you tips and secrets on how to get that job. There are a million people on the Internet, and in your personal life who are more than happy to do  that.

Instead, I'm going to give you tips to keep your spirits up, coming from someone who has been unemployed now for a significant stretch of time.

1. Get out of your house/apartment every single day. Go for a walk around the neighborhood at a bare minimum. Or to the park. Become a mall walker. Especially if it is winter, cabin fever will get to you. Counter that by just getting outside and out of your home environment.

2. Don't hide. Similar to the first item, you want to be out front with your job search. Let others know of your predicament and you never know what they may be able to offer in support.

3. Set small goals. Obviously the main goal is to get a new job. But you also want to set small daily, and weekly goals. Perhaps it's to apply to five jobs each calendar week. Or to make two new LinkedIn connections per day. It is much easier to reach and obtain these goals if you keep them small and reasonable. Plus, it will help keep your motivation up.

4. Speaking of LinkedIn, the one improvement to your job search that I highly recommend make involves you and your LinkedIn profile. Complete it and then do what you can to get to over 500 connections. Concentrate on people in your field, or desired field and connect with those at your desired companies. Also, connect with those in your current or desired geographic location. Finally, make sure that you include as many people who have 500+ connections as possible. LinkedIn only works based on three degrees of separation, so you want to get as many people as possible to be within those three degrees.

None of this is guaranteed to help you get a job within the next week, but it can help you cope. Yes, you will have down days, and perhaps down weeks. But maintaining a positive attitude can, and will help you find your next job!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Marissa Mayer is out of her league

Marissa Mayer has a problem. A big problem.

She is out of her league.

I get that Yahoo! has had a lot of problems for quite a long time. But she is going about fixing things in all the wrong ways.

First, she took a two-week maternity leave. While that may be all she needs, she is sending a message to her employees that they better not ask for a lengthy maternity leave. Hopefully no employees have pregnancy complications that require significant time off.

In addition, she doesn't respect anyone's time but her own. It doesn't matter if you are the guy working in the mail room or the CEO. If you can't show up to things on time, it's time to reassess what you are doing. Nobody is going to respect her. It's going to be impossible to get anything done otherwise.

Then she showed off the new homepage on Today, while Yahoo! is a major partner of Good Morning America. Plain and simple, there was a lack of thought to that decision and shows out out of touch Meyer is with what is going on with who the company deals with.

Now, she is not allowing anyone to work remotely. I get that people slack off when they work from home. Guess what? People slack off when they work in the office too. In addition, if people aren't getting work done at home, they aren't being managed properly. Get rid of the problem managers. Don't punish all of those that work remotely because managers don't manage.

While Mayer is making missteps, it is possible she will be able to right the sinking ship that is Yahoo! However, she is showing a trend that shows she is out of touch, disrespectful and not able to make decisions that address the actual problem. She is certainly not someone that I would want to work for, and I am sure there are many people at Yahoo! who are thinking the same.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Herbalife is a pyramid scheme

The business world is full of buzz today with Bill Ackman's accusations that Herbalife is nothing but a pyramid scheme.

I agree with him.

The similarities to what Herbalife promotes to what Quixtar/Amway promote is just way too similar to be a coincidence. Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies are just nothing but a scam except for those at the top

I've never dealt with Herbalife, but I did have a brief encounter with Quixtar right when Amway was trying to convert their business model to the Internet.

Anytime a business has it's focus on developing a 'downline' or has their focus on developing a network below you, red flags need to be flying and 'bells and whistles' need to be going off in your mind. Or if the only way to obtain their products require you contacting an 'independent distributor' should provide some pause.

That last part is the only way to obtain Herbalife products. Doing so requires you to fill out a lengthly form to get any information. You can't see any current products. You can't talk to anyone. You just fill out a form and go from there.

The same thing was how my experience with Quixtar was. I was a young and dumb kid in the very early 2000s and was sucked in by their promise of developing a network with people below me who's commissions would flow up to me. I was 18 at the time and of course the $200 or so I blew over a six month period only went to people above and I saw nothing of it. It was virtually impossible to get people below me and I quickly lost interest, saw the whole situation for what it was and chalked it up to a semi-expensive lesson at the time.

So Herbalife is just another one of those MLMs that promise riches for everyone involved, but any money that is generated by those at the bottom just flow upwards to the top. Do yourself a favor and don't get sucked into Herbalife, Amway or any others that are bound to pop up in the future!

An end of world prediction you can take to the bank

Look, the world is not going to end tomorrow (December 21, 2012).

The Mayans never predicted the world would end. At the heart of the matter is that all that happens is the end of the 13th b'ak'tun and the start of the 14th based on the Long Count calendar.

However, people get fired up over stuff like this and since the news media has to fill airtime with stuff - nonsense such as this gets a ton of exposure. It causes people to develop some form of hysteria and begin doing nonsense such as prepping. Their time and effort could be better utilized doing just about anything else.

So tomorrow is going to come and go without incident. I promise The sun will come up on Saturday and life will go on and we can all start watching more college football bowl games.

But here is a second promise that I can guarantee will happen. Someone somewhere will come up with another 'end of days' prediction. People will freak out. Nothing will happen.

It could be some crazy guy like Harold Camping. Or some unknown person who will make an 'interpretation' of some obscure ancient text. It will get picked up by the Internet or some news reporter looking for a story and become a big deal.

The best thing you can do is ignore it. Don't propagate the madness and nonsense. You will save yourself and your fellow humans the embarrassment of the inevitable failure.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You are not changing the world

This really gets me fired up.

People who claim they are changing the world without doing anything that changes the world.

I see this all the time. Frequently it's people who introduce something on their website as the latest-and-greatest business technique. Or networking plan. Or social media campaign/tool/platform. Or whatever. It's usually something that's already been done before that's been repackaged or made cumbersome and nobody really wants anything to do with.

It might be the latest start-up that is introducing some new program or product that makes the claim they are changing the world. Of course, it's the last time I hear about that company and what they have to offer - and they end up going away once they blow through their start-up money.

You change the world by doing something for someone that needs help. Dig water wells in Africa. Work to end hunger in your home town. Tutor underprivileged kids in the afternoons.

Stop acting all high, mighty and arrogant. Having confidence is a good thing. Pretending you are changing the world when you aren't is a waste of everyone's time.