Month: October 2009

Epic fail for the win!

Failure never felt so goodIf you’re a job seeker or a cubicle dweller who’s been beaten down by those books, Webcasts and meetings about success, there’s a place for you.

And it’s NOT in hell, either. It’s in Chicago. (Yes, I know – sometimes they can be difficult to tell apart.) Next week (Wednesday, 11/4) is the Fail Spectacularly event.

What’s it all about? Well, it’s going to be a lot of folks like you and I standing in front of an open mic, venting about the non-Hallmark moments of our careers.  As the invite says, it’s for anyone who’s “surrounded by suck and who suspects meets expectations is nothing more than code for management doesn’t want to pay bonuses.”

online_jps2It’s hosted in part by Jason Seiden, who’s from Chicago and who’s an author, coach and consultant. He wrote How to Self-Destruct: Making the Least of What’s Left of Your Career, which takes those by-the-numbers career guides and blows them into smithereens.

His co-host is Laurie Ruettimann, the author of the awesome Punk Rock HR blog. I’m not a recruiter, but I love Laurie’s blog. Reading her blog is like….it’s like leaning against the HR office door and hearing how it all goes down. But better.

laurI want to take this public opportunity to tell everyone how amazing Laurie’s work is, and to personally thank her for being supportive during my very, veeeerrrrryyyyy long layoff. She gave me good advice, great ideas, wonderful connections, and kicked my ass a time or two.

So go read her blog. Laurie’s writing is exciting and engaging and completely bullshit-free. And if you’re bored by recruiting and business, go read her cat’s blog.

To be more specific: one of her cats has a blog. Laurie has five cats, and is an advocate for animals, which is truly awesome. That awesomeness and altruism is also why I never mention to her that six cats officially puts one in Crazy Cat Lady territory.

It’s pretty damn smart to have your cat working as your brand ambassador. I suspect a lot of smart folks will be at this event. (And a few lushes, just to make it fun!)

It’s going to be a fun night – a lot of failure, a little boozeahol, and a whole lot of networking.

(I’ll be there – not so sure about rockin’ the mic just yet!)

Music Monday

For Music Monday this week, I wanted to share an artist whose work I’ve recently revisited and rediscovered. She now goes by the name of Issa, but for many years recorded under her given name – Jane Siberry.

Jane’s work is unique and hard to classify, but she was similar in texture and tone to unconventional artists like Kate Bush and Patti Smith. One of the reasons that Jane/Issa is so fascinating to me because her music varies so drastically from project to project.

The worm in my brain for the last few weeks has been “Ingrid and the Footman,” a song with smart lyrics and a very funny video. Jane looks incredibly laid-back, cool, confident and knowing here.

This is a great live performance of her song “Love is Everything” from about five years ago. I believe this is from Sessions at West 54th.

And perhaps her most recognized song – at least here in the U.S. – is her beautiful duet with k.d. lang, “Calling All Angels.” It’s been featured on a number of TV shows and in movies (like Pay it Forward, the movie featured in the images of this YouTube video).

I’ve lost track of Jane’s – er, Issa’s career over the last decade or so. But Jane/Issa was one of the first artists to move away from the traditional record company/artist relationship. Like Ani Defranco, she created her own record company, Sheeba Records.

And a few years ago, she took her entire catalog to MP3 sales only, and pioneered the pay-what-you-want mode (which Radiohead experimented with on In Rainbows).

She’s not only making interesting music, but has found interesting, Web 2.0 friendly ways to get them in the hands – and ears – of listeners.

Our blogs, ourselves

blog boardI’ve been mesmerized by a debate that’s been going on for a few weeks now.

I’m intrigued because this controversy involves, in part, the recruiting/HR/career world. (As you may know, I was a writer and blogger for a career site last year.)

It’s an interesting debate with a lot more questions than answers.

Like:  When creating content for your blog, what constitutes appropriate content? Where is the line of demarcation between personal and professional content? What do we expect in terms of content from information streams like Twitter and Facebook?

And do readers have a right to protest content – or do they have a misguided sense of entitlement about what they’re reading? Is the blogosphere so PC that we’re restricting what should be a free and open platform for expression?


Turn the page

_barnes___noble__b_I love words.

I was reading the back of cereal boxes at 18 months, and practicing Spanish with my sister at 3. I’ve been reading a newspaper every day for the last 35 years from cover to cover. I love to read all kinds of books, and I’m sure my love of reading goes hand-in-hand with my love of writing.

About 15 years ago, I started a job with Barnes & Noble. After an endless array of soul-sucking minimum wage jobs at restaurants and convenience stores, I finally landed a “real” job. And it was a great job.

At that time, B&N had just started to expand into the area (Pittsburgh) and big bookstores were in ascendance, with B&N and Borders replacing their smaller mall counterparts, B. Dalton and Waldenbooks. (In case you didn’t know, B&N owns B. Dalton, while a few mergers eventually led to Borders Group owning Waldenbooks.)

For a while, it was a great job to have. I’ve talked before about creating the experience, and B&N and Borders were certainly at the forefront of the experience model at that time. It was a new, novel idea (at least for me) for people to come in to a bookstore and really experience it library-style. The idea, of course, was to allow that slow-paced, comfortable guest experience in the  hopes that it would encourage the browser to buy.

I think for a long time that B&N encouraged a reading community in the cities it settled in. We felt like booksellers. I loved it so much that I worked for the company in several stores; three of them in Pittsburgh and one in Chicago. Four stores, four distinctly different demographics, and four memorable experiences.