Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

Surviving Change You Didn’t Ask For

In advice, book review on June 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Adaptability. approved.rev sub typeHave you ever encountered that “life stress” list that rates changes such as moving, death of a spouse, getting married, etc.? The folks who created that list in the sixties estimate that life is 44% more stressful now than it was 50 years ago, and they came up with that estimate before the 2008 global meltdown. I’m not sure we even want to know the new number!

Chances are you’re confronting some change you never asked for—perhaps a loss of job. Or some dream. Maybe you have to have to learn to work in new ways or find a new place to live.  I’m sorry if it’s difficult.

None of us knows what the future holds. But there is something we can do right now—develop the ability to adapt. As far as I can tell, it’s the key indicator of success in these turbulent times. AdaptAbility is the capacity to be flexible and resourceful in the face of ever-changing conditions. To respond in a resilient and productive manner when change is required. Some of us already know how to easily do this. The rest of us need to learn–quickly.

Resisting change wears down our bodies, taxes our minds and deflates our spirits. We keep doing the things that have always worked before with depressingly diminishing results. We expend precious energy looking around for someone to blame—ourselves, another person, or the world. We worry obsessively. We get stuck in the past, lost in bitterness or anger. Or we fall into denial–everything’s fine, I don’t have to do anything different. Or magical thinking–something or someone will come along to rescue me from having to change. We don’t want to leave the cozy comfort of the known and familiar for the scary wilderness of that which we’ve never experienced. And so we rail against it and stay stuck.

Fortunately, once you become conscious of how to adapt, you can face future changes with greater confidence and swiftness.

Want further incentive to learn? Experts in mind-body medicine have shown that people who are master adapters live longer and healthier lives than others. How come? Because they counterbalance the stress hormones that wear down our bodies with positive attitudes and behaviors that release feel good hormones which restore balance to our cells, organs, and tissue. That’s why many health experts define health itself as AdaptAbility.

When the environment changes and we must therefore too, it’s appropriate to complain, to take, in the words of Dr. Pamela Peeke, the BMW (Bitch, Moan and Whine) out for a little spin. But soon it’s time to put it back in the driveway and get down to business. We are all being called on to stretch mentally, emotionally, and spiritually into the future. We can do it!

About MJ

A member of Professional Thinking Partners who is recognized as a leading expert in change, M.J. Ryan specializes in coaching high performance executives, entrepreneurs, individuals, and leadership teams around the world to maximize performance and fulfillment. Her clients include Microsoft, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Hewitt Associates, and Frito Lay. Her work is based on a combination of positive psychology, strengths-based coaching, the wisdom traditions, and cutting edge brain research. Her new book, titled “AdaptAbility: How to Survive Change You Didn’t Ask For” was recently released published by Random House’s Broadway Books.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and daughter.


Does Telling Your Kids You Were Fired Make You “The Biggest Loser”?

In advice, article, column on April 13, 2009 at 5:38 pm

fight-at-schooljpg1Let me start by saying that I’m using “Dad” for the sake of simplicity. This is a non-gender question. But my editor asked me to stick with one gender, so as a father, I’m writing this column as “Dad.”

Some people tell me that they find it very difficult to tell their children that they’ve been fired. Does a 10-year-old even know what the word “fired” means? And how much do teenagers even really understand? Can you just blame the “R word”: recession? Let’s face it, adults barely know what the word “recession” means, so for your children of any age, they just know that Dad (or Mom) is now home all day, not working.

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Keyword-Rich Resumes Get You Noticed

In advice, article on April 13, 2009 at 5:34 pm

resume_iconjpgThe demands on job seekers, in respect to writing resumes, seem to increase daily. Of course, it’s not really that often, but it does seem as if the list of resume dos and don’ts has grown exponentially over the past few years. It hasn’t. In fact, much of what was important 20 years ago – yes, I’m old enough to actually remember – is still important today … with a modern twist. Adding email addresses to headings and using keywords to catch the attention of scanning equipment or software are pretty much all there is that differs.

Including keywords was probably important 20 years ago, too, but went by another name, the way “reputation” morphed into “personal brand.” Anyway, what’s important for job seekers to know is that adding words to their resumes that pertain to their career fields or mirror those they read in job postings will get them noticed faster.

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Stephen on “The Career Success Radio Show”

In media, radio on April 13, 2009 at 5:28 pm


Stephen Viscusi is interviewed by cohosts Carrie & Andy Robinson on the Career Success radio show.

Listen Now >>

Jobless Rate Hits 8.5%; 663,000 Jobs Lost

In article, news, newspaper on April 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm

picture-11Today’s released unemployment number ate deceiving: they do not reflect those that have given up work, stopped collecting unemployment, or work
part time–unemployment is more like 20% even higher in some cities like Detroit.

Yet at least half of all American’s do have jobs, and can keep them.

Don’t “assume” you will eventually become a statistic. My book “Bulletproof Your Job” (HaprerCollins) is a great tool, with tricks, yes tricks, and secrets on how to keep your job. Even you are of work, visit my website to find the secrets on how to get your resume noticed.

Read the NY Times Article >>

First, Shootings by Disgruntled Fired Workers. What’s Next?

In article, column on April 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm

istock_000002525555xsmall1Do you work with someone who you think would go on a violent rampage if they got fired?

Have you ever seriously thought about that prospect? How can you not, with the reality of today’s headlines jumping out at us?

The common theme of these tragic killings is that someone has been fired or is recently unemployed, has become deeply unhappy, and feels “wronged” by the boss and co-workers. Now they’re out for revenge. For an already unstable person, getting fired is the final push over the edge that turns him or her into a homicidal, vengeful, cold-blooded killer. These individuals somehow lose their coping mechanism and turn on their bosses, co-workers, and anyone else in the way.

I detest the phrase “going postal.” It demeans our nation’s postal workers, who work so hard in what are often monotonous, routine jobs. I didn’t invent the phrase and try never to use it. However, this single phrase does help us picture this growing pattern of violence at work – which might increase as more and more Americans get fired.

Remember, ever since the “R” word – RECESSION, of course – has become the media buzzword, it’s become a blank check for the boss to fire anyone. Bosses use the recession as an excuse to fire those they have been dying to get rid of.

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Career Fairs or Career Fairy Tales?

In advice, article, column on March 30, 2009 at 7:27 pm

career-fair1Today’s career fairs seem anything but “fair” to me.

Have you noticed lately how every local TV news report has a weekly segment on a career or job fair? The footage may as well be recycled week after week: the camera pans over a long line wrapping around a corner. Then the reporter (always with surprise and a newsworthy sense of self-importance – almost as if he’s breaking a story as hot as Lewinsky and Clinton) marvels over the record attendance.

Um, is this really news? My God, half the country is unemployed, and people are lining up thinking they might land a job. Surprise! Someone give that reporter a raise.

My absolute favorite part is when the reporter corners one of the attendees and gets her to talk about how she plans to stand out from the crowd.

Oh no, wait, this is the best part: then that same person talks on camera about how she’s now begun to make friends in the job fair lines because they all recognize one another from the previous week’s job fair. Hmmm… it might be time to reevaluate that whole “standing out from the crowd” strategy.

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Headhunter Trade Secrets for Finding a New Job During a Recession

In advice, article, column on March 10, 2009 at 6:19 pm

findajobIt is important to remember even if the unemployment rate reaches 10 percent, that means 90 percent of Americans are still working.

So, do not to get caught up in the emotional anxiety of assuming you too will lose your job. The fact is that most Americans will continue to keep their jobs. Yet, workers from all companies will be let go to meet the bottom line. It’s just for show (and yes it is just for show).

Let’s face it, even the meanest boss hates to fire anyone, but when the “recession” word is used in conjunction with lay-offs, it’s really a blank check to fire anybody with no real reason needed.

Work is not a democracy. If you weren’t old enough to be working during the 1991 recession, the idea that you’re not just judged on merit or performance is probably new to you. It seems repugnant; however, get your head out of the sand.

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What to Do When You Lose Your Job

In article, media, newspaper on March 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm

picture-2The economic news gets worse by the day. On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national unemployment rate surged to 8.1 percent in February, its highest in 25 years, with 651,000 jobs lost last month.

Financial industry workers have been hit hardest by the recession. But in recent weeks, there have been waves of layoffs at companies like I.B.M., where workers once seemed safe from the economic storm.

In this sinking economy, what should you be prepared to do if you lose your job?


Read the article >>

The Art of Staying Young: My 10 Tips

In advice, article on March 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

deepbreatheBeing perceived as being younger both emotionally and intellectually is often more important than looking younger. In this recession you need to learn the fine art of being perceived as younger as well as looking younger. So if you’re over 40, here are 10 tips:

1: Buy teeth whitening strips. Shallow for sure, but having coffee-stained teeth won’t do you any favors in interviews.

2: Get on Facebook today. If you don’t know how to join, let your kids show you. Use Google and know what Wikipedia is. Learn how to text and TiVo.

3: Check out your local Apple store and ask to learn the difference between an iPod Classic, iPod Touch, and iPod Nano.

4: If for some reason you still remember your SAT scores, keep them to yourself. No one cares and scoring has changed, so you’ll just wind up aging yourself.

5: Pick up a copy of Entertainment Weekly before an interview. Nothing gets you more up to date on the youthful world of pop culture.

Read the other 5 tips >>