Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why Product Managers Need To Learn How To Do Visioning

Being a product manager is a hard job. It seems like there is always too much to do every single day. Keeping yourself focused on what needs to be done today or maybe even tomorrow is enough to keep you fully booked. Oh wait, there is one other thing that you need to be doing – visioning.

What Is This Visioning Thing?

I'm pretty sure that we're all familiar with the concept of a business case – creating one is a basic part of every product manager job description. It's the written document that product managers put together once a year in order to request that the company fund their product. Part of this effort involves telling the rest of the company how great the future is going to be if they give you the money that you are asking for.

Visioning is a little bit like that part of a business case. However, it also has its differences. The first of these is that a visioning exercise is solely focused on creating a clearly defined picture of what the future is going to look like for your product. You don't have to worry about how much money you're going to need or in what order you are going to roll out new features. The vision document should be something that you can hand off to an account manager or business development manager in order to show them where the product is going.

The output of a visioning exercise is a vision for your product. This vision will clearly describe the world as you see it 3, 5, 10 or however many years you want to go into the future. The vision that you create has to answer a bunch of questions: what will your product look like? How will it stack up against the competition? How does your company feel about your product?

Note that a product vision is not the same thing as a strategic plan for your product. The difference is that a product vision very clearly describes where you are going with the product. A strategic plan lays out how you are going to get there.

How Do You Do Visioning Correctly?

The expert in how to do visioning correctly is Ari Weinzweig. He points out that visioning isn't necessarily something that you just sit down and do in order to crank out a vision for your product. Rather, you need to view visioning as being a process that keeps getting executed. Learn to do this well and it's something that you'll be able to add to your product manager resume.

In order to make this happen, you are going to have to secure some quiet time for yourself to sit down and do some writing. Here are the steps that Ari suggests that product managers take in order to create a vision for their product:

  1. Pick Your Product: a vision can be created for just about anything. Be very clear what you are going to create a vision for: is it your product, is it your product team, or is it for a brand?
  2. What Time Is It?: How far out into the future do you want to position your vision at? Ari suggests that you go far enough out that you can get beyond all of the issues and challenges that you are facing today, but not too far where everything may have changed.
  3. Create Positive Energy: spend 10 minutes coming up with a list of past accomplishments for your product. What are you the most proud of – key sales, great new features, etc. This is designed to get you in the mood for what comes next.
  4. Write It: Now just sit down and do it. Just crank it out – don't waste too much time on it, just get your words on a piece of paper. Make sure that you paint a great future for your product. Make it something that everyone would be proud to be part of.
  5. Review: Spend some time reading what you wrote the first time and then start to rewrite it. Don't be surprised if you end up changing most or all of what you wrote originally.
  6. Review Again: You'd be amazed at how many changes you make the next time that you come back and take another look at what you wrote.
  7. Get Input From Peers: Now is the time to shop your vision around. Collect everyone's inputs and consider them. Add the ideas that you like.
  8. Advertise the vision: now that you have a compelling vision for your product, make sure that you get it into everyone's hands. Promote it far and wide both inside and outside of the company.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

As a product manager you are the chief evangelist for your product. What that means is that it's part of the strategic management portion of your job to keep everyone excited about making your product a success. In order to do that, you've got some visioning to be doing.

Visioning is the process by which a product manager takes the time to picture what the future is for your product is going to look like. There is no wrong way to do this. However, you need to make some decisions about how far out into the future you want to look and how much detail you want to add.

Once you've created a compelling vision of the future you need to share it with everyone. Only by doing this will you be able to get their support and generate excitement about what lies ahead. As experienced product managers know, working with an excited and motivated bunch of people makes everything a lot easier to do!

Thanks to Dr. Jim Anderson / The Accidental PM


Sales Training: Know The Past – Win The Future

In the last several years the world of sales has under gone significant changes.  Competition is keener – buying processes are more complex – market changes are more rapid. As a result, a sales person has to know more and know it at a higher level of competency than ever before.  And, if one is "keeping one's ear to the ground" the rumblings of more uncertainty and change can clearly be heard.

One of the consequences of these changes is a new set of demands on those that are responsible for sales training.  The sales training of yesterday will unlikely be adequate to meet the emerging needs of tomorrow. But if one is going to "win the future," then it is always a good idea to pause and take a thoughtful look at the past.  Fortunately, sales training has a rather substantial past.  So, let's suspend disbelief and travel back and take a look.  For as the astronomer Carl Sagan once noted – "If we could travel into the past, it would be mind-boggling what would be possible in the future." A Look Back. Modern-day sales training has, in one form or another, been around since the 1920s and has under gone a number of distinct periods of evolution from that point to the present.  Accepting the notion that history provides a window to the future, let's take a rather brief – and light-hearted – look back.

  • Antiquity. A period where selling was almost entirely product–centric.  The Product Pitch ruled the land – you got the first script when you joined a company and you practiced and rehearsed it over the years.  The Pitch-Book was your major selling tool.  Closing tricks such as the Trial Close and the Puppy Dog Close were the sophisticated skills of the period.  Customer value meant simply having a product you could sell that was cheap. Among the avant-garde, a breakout new book about winning friends and influencing people was whispered about in secluded coffee houses.
  • Renaissance. During the Renaissance the importance of the customer and the understanding of their concerns and problems emerged as the foundation for all of selling.  The skill of asking questions became much sought after.  The mantra: ask, listen, and then talk became the coaching lesson of the day.  Closing techniques started to become less based on tricks – but were still promoted as the ABCs (Always Be Closing) of selling. The notion of customer value was the talk of the elite of the period.  As the period matured the narrow election victory of a young President foreshadowed a new set of expectations for the nation at large.
  • Neo-Classic. The business landscape underwent major changes in climate.  The day of the box was overtaken by the system.  Not only customer value, but added-value, became the topic of conversation among thought leaders. Radicals went as far as to proclaim, "products have no inherent value – value comes about only when you address something that matters to the customer." Because the customer's problems had become more complex, you could no longer sell a product you had to sell a solution. From the sales training developers came a proliferation of selling paradigms – questioning models reached their zenith in popularity.
  • Modern. The old demons are vanquished – Pitch-Books simply gather dust and trial closes are just examples of what not to do.  Stories of generic sales training programs are heard only as folk stories around the campfire. The expectation is that the sales person must bring value by how they sell, as well as, by what they sell – they must create value not just communicate it.  The focus of the state-of- the-art research has shifted from exploring alternative probing models to isolating best practices in a wide variety of advanced key skill areas such as partnering, selling at the executive level, and global account management.  Companies look to their sales teams as a source for competitive differentiation and recognize that the front-line Sales Manager is the pivotal job for sales performance change.

Thomas Jefferson  said – "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."  So, let's speculate a bit about the future.  Anytime one journeys into the future, it's a good idea to specify a timeframe.  For, this trip, let's focus on what might be the major trends unfolding in the next five years – so discussions of "holodeck training" will be omitted. As was the case in the past and is the case in the present, the future profile for sales training in the B2B market will largely be shaped by what is happening in the customer base – large corporations.  Here, we have a piece of solid information with which to work.

Recently IBM conducted a worldwide study on change in major companies.  The authors concluded: " No longer will companies have the luxury of expecting day-to-day operations to fall into a static or predictable pattern that is interrupted only occasionally by short burst of change.  To prosper, leaders will need to abandon such outdated notions of change.  In reality, the new normal is continuous change not the absence of change." Let's speculate on an overarching consequence of this new reality and then put forward some specific predictions for the future of sales training.

Overarching trend – learning will need to evolve beyond sales training. Because of the rate of change, sales teams will no longer be able to be competitive by simply doing a better job doing what they are doing. They will constantly need to adjust, modify, and upgrade their skill sets – learning new skills and learning to apply their existing skills in new buying environments. This means that learning will evolve beyond sales training – there will be a component of learning that will take place at the moment of need. Overall, whether in the classroom or by accessing some electronic personalized network, the speed-to-acquisition will increase.  As the future unfolds reps will increasingly have the need for and the ability to immediately get an answer to a single question.

Predictions and speculations. In addition to the overarching trend that learning will evolve beyond training, let's speculate on some specifics that will impact the nature and management of sales training as the future starts to unfold.

  • Selling will increasingly become more of a profession as the importance of the sales function increases and as sales reps need to know more and know it at a higher level of competency.  This will be reflected in the priority giving sales in universities and colleges and in sales and sales training budgets in corporations.
  • In addition to the time, money, and effort for training new hires, more attention will be given to training experienced reps as the need to constantly update skill sets increases and the requirements for mastery grow.
  • Real-time knowledge about products and services will be provided to customers by on-demand customized electronic networks; hence the nature of product training for sales reps will be significantly changed.
  • Sales training companies will develop new pricing models that make sales training more affordable as the gap continues to widen between amount of sales training needed and the money available.
  • Blending learning will take on a broader scope as the popularity of knowledge repositories grow.
  • Training for developing lead identification and lead qualification skills will become more important as prospecting for new business becomes more difficult.
  • Customer expectations about trust, frequency of contact, and honest communication will increase hence business ethics and related topics will receive added attention in sales training programs.

If one is passionate about sales and sales training, the past has been a delightful personal journey with many twists and turns for some and an intriguing history to be studied by others – the future will be nothing less.

Thanks to Richard Ruff / SalesTrainingConnection / Sales Horizons, LLC.


Understand Bait-And-Switch Advertising

Learn What Bait-And-Switch Advertising Means to You and Your Customers

You may have heard the phrase "bait-and-switch" many times in your career. It's something consumers throw out there often, and most of the time they really don't understand the true ramifications of bait-and-switch advertising. When advertisers use deceptive1 bait-and-switch advertising in its true form, they can be prosecuted. The practice is illegal and carries stiff penalties. But quite often, the consumer confuses this practice with something more akin to a printing error or misunderstanding of the term. (Read more about Consumer Behavior Consumer Behavior2).

Here then, to avoid any further confusion from either the consumer or the advertiser, is a guide to bait-and-switch advertising.

What is a Bait-And-Switch offer?

Technically, bait-and-switch schemes draw the customer in with an incredible offer (the bait3 ) and then swap it out for either an inferior product, a more expensive product, or a product that doesn't come with all of the items one would usually expect (the switch).

The practice is most commonly used on electronic items like TVs, Blu-Ray players, audio equipment and computers, plus high-end digital cameras, lenses and accessories.

How Does the Bait-And-Switch Scam Work?

It's quite simple, but very effective.

The advertiser will produce an ad that offers something for a price well below the current market value; for instance, a new 10" Android4 tablet for $50, when the usual price is $350. It's almost too good to be true, but this bait catches many people.

The customer will then go to the store to buy the $50 tablet5 and be confronted with several options:

1: The tablet in question is no longer available, but there is another one they can buy for $100. This is a smaller tablet, inferior in every way from the one advertised and is twice the price. Having made the trip to the store, many people will fall victim to the bait-and-switch scam6 and simply buy the inferior product rather than leave empty handed.

2: The tablet is available, but it's actually much more expense than the ad stated. The consumer will then be told that it's a slightly different model than the one advertised, or that the one advertised was available only to the first 2 customers. Either way, it's now in the hands of the consumer to buy the same tablet for two or three times the price advertised. Some slick salesmanship can easily close the deal.

3: The tablet is available, but it is not actually the advertised tablet. Rather, it's an inferior product, perhaps a cheap copy or fake, or one that is refurbished or stripped down to the very bare essentials. This happens a lot with digital cameras, when advertisers will offer a new camera for half the retail price, but will then sell something from the "grey" market.7 This is a camera that is not meant to be sold in the US, and will not come with anything other than the body. It will also not have a warranty. While it is not illegal to sell grey market cameras, it is against the law to advertise them as the real deal and sell them without informing the consumer.

What is NOT a Bait-And-Switch offer?

Now, we come to clearing the muddy waters of the term. The following are situations that consumers claim to be bait-and-switch, but are actually just cases of bad luck, errors, or slick (but legal) advertising practices.

1: A Pricing Error

This is by far the most common complaint, especially with the surge in online deal forums. The advertiser will list a product for a price unheard of - say $50 for a brand new 60-inch LCD TV. This is simply a pricing error,8 it's clearly too good to be true and the retail store would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars honoring the offer. However, the online store will accept the price and let you check out with the insane price. Later, you will get an email stating that the order has been cancelled, and your money refunded. People cry "bait-and-switch!" but it's not the case. It's just an error.

2: Limited Quantities Available

Another one that catches consumers unawares is the limited quantity deals. The retail store will advertise something for 90% off, but make it applicable to the first 10 customers only. After that, everyone else pays the usual price. This is not bait-and-switch, unless the advertiser fails to disclose the offer details. This scenario is most often brought into question on Black Friday,9 but it's not bait-and-switch. It's more like a loss leader,10 which brings people to the store for incredible savings in the hope that they will buy more.

3: Slick Wording

This is borderline shady, but if done correctly it's just a case of not truly understanding the way the ad was written. For instance, if an advertiser says 'All Blu-Ray Players UP TO 90% OFF!!!" then you jump to the conclusion that all Blu-Ray players are going to be massively discounted. Not so. If one Blu-Ray player11 in the store is actually sold at 90% off, the advertiser has met the requirements of the ad. Every other player can be 5% off. And the one that was so drastically reduced could have been broken, a display model, old, repackaged or missing components. Another way to use tricky language is to say "offer not valid in all stores" or "online pricing only, individual store prices will vary." Again, not nice, but not bait-and-switch.

Bait-And-Switch advertising is nasty, underhanded and the refuge of the trashy retail store. Please, don't ever use it. And if you're a consumer, don't shout it out every time you miss a deal, the advertiser is not always trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

Thanks to Paul Suggett / About Guide / Adversiting About Inc. / The New York Times Company


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Sand Strom (February 24, 2012)


Friday, March 2, 2012

The Performance And Potential Matrix (9 Box Grid)

The performance and potential matrix (9 box grid) is one of the most widely used tools in succession planning and development. It can be a valuable tool for anyone who works in talent management, or for any manager.

For some reason, however, it seems to be covered in a veil of secrecy, leaving those that want to learn how to use it with little guidance. You've probably found this post from an internet search – I hope it helps answer your questions and you'll find Great Leadership to be a valuable resource for all things leadership development.

What is it and where did it come from?

The performance and potential matrix, commonly referred to as "the nine box", is a simple yet effective tool used to assess talent in organizations. It assesses individuals on two dimensions – their past performance and their future potential.

The X axis (horizontal line) of 3 boxes assesses leadership performance and the Y axis of 3 boxes (vertical line) assesses leadership potential. A combination of Y and X axis makes up the box within the grid that the leader is placed. 1A - High Performance/High Potential, 3C - Low Performance/Low Potential, etc...

See example:

No one seems to know for sure who invented it, although I've heard Al Gore once took credit for it. Others say it may have been first used at GE, under Jack Welch's leadership. I first started using it in 1997, and have since used it to facilitate hundreds of talent review meetings (and lived to tell about it). I've also used it as a manager as a way to assess and develop my own team.

Thanks to the power of Google, I've been invited to give presentations at HR conferences on the 9 box, was interviewed in SHRM's HR Magazine (8/2011 issue, "On the Grid"), and walked a lot of anxious beginners through the process, including a very grateful HR team from India and a few non-profits that couldn't afford to hire a consultant.

I'm thinking it might be time for a bestselling book? Something catchy like "Let's Get Rid of the Nine-box", or "2B or not 2B, that is The Question".

What are the benefits? Why's it so popular?

1. It's simple and it works (95% of the time).
The beauty of the tool is in its simplicity and ease of use. With a little explanation and initial facilitation, managers usually can catch on pretty quickly. It helps overcome many of the common pitfalls when it comes to talent assessment, including:
- Overemphasis on current performance
- Overreliance on a single opinion
- A lack of assessment criteria, or inconsistent criteria
I've had teams (often engineers) try to overcomplicate it, by adding more boxes, definitions for each box, and all kinds of bells and whistles. It hardly ever improves the process and often distracts from the overall purpose.
When I say it works 95% of the time, it's from my own experience. I've only had one senior team where it just blew up, and that's because there was such a lack of trust and dysfunction.

2. It's cost-effective.
Actually, other than people's time, or a paid facilitator, it's free. There are other ways to assess potential – instruments and assessment centers are great – yet they are also expensive. If you can afford to send every manager through a $10,000 assessment center, then good for you. For the rest, this is the next best thing.

3. A catalyst for robust dialog.
It's not about filling out the grid – it's all about the discussion. It's critical to keep that in front of you. Managers, in general, are not very skilled when it comes to assessing talent, and are very hesitant to discuss other manager's employees, or hear feedback about their own. This tool helps provide a structured way to have those conversations in a professional, productive way.

4. Helps calibrate criteria and expectations.
Even if you don't have clear, consistent, definitions of performance and potential going into a talent review, by using this tool, you will by the time you are done. If fact, for a lot of managers in the room, it's the first time they've heard their own bosses' expectations, so you'll see them discreetly jotting down notes and assessing themselves.

5. It's more accurate than one person's opinion.
The accuracy of assessing performance and potential improves with multiple data points. Manager's often have blind spots with their own employees, and are unaware of how they are perceived by others. These discussions can help shine a light on superstars and poor performers.

6. Facilitates shared ownership, teamwork.
This is a ground rule for any talent management meeting and discussion: "We all, as a team, are collectively are responsible for building a stronger organization. We need to be candid, listen to each other, and help develop each other's employees."
In a functional or segmented organization, talent development is often one of the few things a management team can actually work on together.

7. A diagnostic tool for development.
A talent review meeting uncovers both individual and organizational strengths and weaknesses. The grid serves as a needs assessment for development actions that need to be taken.

How to use it:

1. Don't do it alone for the first time.
The tool is best if used by a team and facilitated by someone who has experience with the process. This could be an HR person, OD consultant, or someone responsible for leadership development or succession planning. Once a team has used a couple times, they can usually do it themselves, but it still helps to have someone facilitate the dialog, take notes, etc…. If you are a talent management practitioner, try to shadow someone with expertise, hire someone to guide you through your first one, or at least work with someone to prepare you.

2. Have a pre-meeting.
You should present the tool and process to the team to make sure they all understand and buy in to the purpose and process. Don't underestimate the amount of anxiety if a team has never done anything like this before (a ranking exercise). It's best to decide ahead of time how performance will be assessed (use a leadership competency model if you have one) and how potential will be assessed (again, best to decide ahead of time – I use specific potential criteria). This is the time to establish ground rules as well, especially around meeting behaviors and confidentiality.

3. Preparation.
Have each manager fill in a grid for their own employees and have the facilitator collect and consolidate them. You could also ask for any other relevant information, such as years in current position, diversity status, retention risk, or relocatability. I usually have each manager plot their direct report managers (one level at a time, so we're comparing apples to apples). I then consolidate all of the names, by level, on an organizational grid.
You can start with a 2-4 hour meeting, but it will usually take 1-2 follow-up meetings to finish. Bring copies of the consolidated grid for each participant.

5. Getting started.
It's easier picking someone in the 1A box (highest performance and potential) where you think there may be little disagreement. Ask the sponsor manager to explain the rationale for the assessment. Ask lots of why's, then invite all others to comment. Don't rush it, the benefit of this process is in the discussion.

6. Establish your "benchmarks".
After all have been heard from, if there is agreement, then you have a 1A benchmark, or poster child, for all others to compare against. If disagreement in perception, ask the sponsor manager if they want to change their mind based on the feedback – usually they do – but if not, leave it. Pick another name until you establish the benchmark.

7. Discuss as many names as time allows.
You can then discuss rest of the names in the 1A box, then move to the bordering boxes (1B and 2A). Then move to the 3C box, and again, facilitate a dialog to establish another benchmark. Continue the discussion for each person, or as many as time permits.

8. Move to development.
If time, or most likely at a follow-up meeting, the team can then discuss development plans for each leader. For succession planning, the focus should be on the upper right hand corner boxes (1A, 1B, and 2A) – this is your high potential pool.

9. Follow-up on a quarterly basis to monitor development plans. Repeat the assessment process at least once a year.

How To Get Beyond The Gatekeepers While Job Hunting

Getting beyond the gatekeepers can be one of the most challenging for jobseekers. Gatekeepers can be those most obvious, such as administrative or personal assistants to the company's hiring managers, department heads, and executives. But, gatekeepers can be those in less obvious roles as well, such as assistant managers, supervisors, engineers, and so on.

Your first thought might be that only those within some sort of support role serve as gatekeepers, yet directors and executives can be gatekeepers as well. Gatekeepers are merely those who put obstacles in front of you — demonstrated by dodging questions, failing to answer emails, and eventually pawning you off to someone else.

Gatekeepers are generally tasked to…

* Provide limited or no information to jobseekers

* Point every applicant down the same path for applying

* Comply with company procedure pertaining to hiring practices

Sometimes, jobseekers get short-fused when having to deal with gatekeepers — unfortunately forgetting that gatekeepers are people, simply doing their jobs.

Need to get beyond a gatekeeper? Try a technique that works for those in sales, such as initiating and subsequently striking a quick relationship with those on the other end of the line, so you're not such a stranger whose only motive is to get more information. There are several resources to help you talk with people and subsequently build a relationship on the fly, including Christopher Gottschalk's book, How to Start and Make a Conversation: How to Talk to Anyone in 30 Seconds or Less.

Another technique is to ensure to sound "human" when on the phone. Sometimes, we get nervous when making important calls, making our voices crack, our brains misfire, and our overall personality to come off as mechanical. We have our notes in hand, but we read from them practically word for word, rather than using that material for nothing more than quick reference.

Don't have a problem being a little tricky? Another not-so-great idea is to ask for the hiring manager by name, and then mention "he's expecting my call." Beware however. This recommendation can backfire, as seasoned gatekeepers are wise to these sneaky strategies. Gatekeepers are typically very good at what they do, and have become attuned to the tricks that jobseekers sometimes use.

Still can't get by the gatekeeper? If no, you're not alone. Getting beyond gatekeepers is rarely an easy task … if easy, everyone would be doing it, making gatekeepers unnecessary.

Thanks to Teena Rose / Resume To Referral

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Junk Cover Letters Kill Good Resumes

Too many unprofessional, unfocused, and canned cover letters are floating around the job-seeking population. So are you surprised when I tell you that a fair number of hiring managers don't bother reading them?

Although I've seen no official survey on cover-letter readership, it's rumored that approximately 40% of cover letters aren't read. A number of reasons could be to blame; and frankly, who wants to spend valuable time reading a cover letter that sounds like it was written for the company next door too? Stock cover letters can kill your job-search efforts, making the task of finding a new position nothing but a treacherous expedition.

Adding to the anxiety for jobseekers comes the question: who's reading them and who is not? You could take the chance of not sending one, but then you'll "diss" those who are expecting a cover letter. The only option is to send one every time to ensure that your resume is always properly represented.

Writing a great letter takes time. Time that jobseekers oftentimes don't want to allocate after spending hours tooling their resumes to perfection. Much like the resume, however, your cover letter must "sing" to the receiver. If it doesn't, you're soliciting employment on deaf ears. The best way to avoid sending a junk cover letter is to ask yourself a series of thought provoking questions:

Since you were an infant, hearing your name encouraged some reaction from you. Everyone loves to hear their name from time to time, so don't be afraid of intertwining the contact's name into the content in one or two key areas of each of your cover letters.

How often do you incorporate company-specific details, such as a problem the company's facing that you intend to resolve, or maybe to congratulate them on a newly received contract or recent merger? Keep an eye on target companies by reading daily, weekly, and monthly newspaper publications available in your area. In order to maintain the pulse of your industry, read everything about the industry that you can get your hands on. Think of it as private investigating. Make notations of specific details you want to mention in your next piece of job-search correspondence.

Write your cover letter using conversational tone: a writing technique that utilizes sentences similar to those spoken. Have you ever noticed that we sometimes write with a very structured tone and utilize words that we would rarely use in everyday conversation? With a conversational tone, the content should attract readers because it's immediately different from the dozens, hundreds, or thousands that the company has previously received.

Much as you designed the resume, weave select keywords and key phrases pertinent to the position into your letter as well. The sole purpose of the cover letter is to reflect that you are a ringer for the position. The hiring company is looking for a good marriage between the open position and potential candidate, so pulling out key points from the resume and placing them prominently in the letter can help introduce the broader skill set contained in the resume.

If fifty cover letters are what you'll need to get the job done, then the magic number is fifty. Focus your energies on the company's wants and needs, not on your own.  With a less than favorable job market, we're definitely in a company market versus a jobseeker's market from the 90's. Hunted down and offered high salaries, IT professionals reaped great positions with limited or no working experience. Sometimes it didn't seem to matter if their resume was written in crayon. The days of jobseekers being in high demand (I'm not referring to all industries, of course) are no longer the case because employers can now sit back and "cherry pick" candidates of their choosing, while placing the need for great cover letters in higher demand.

Don't be intimidated by the depth of work involved in designing a great cover letter. Think about your job search in terms of quality not quantity. Sending countless cover letters and resumes is a very time-consuming process that has proven repeatedly to be a waste of valuable time and money. Jobseekers could find employment quicker if they took a consolidated and thorough approach to their search rather than blanketing their efforts with diluted methods (i.e. mass emailing).

Jobseekers sometimes become desperate when jobs are scarce, and they resort to quick and ineffective techniques to securing a job. Writing cover letters that you yourself would want to receive is a good rule of thumb to follow.

The resume cover letter would outline all the core elements that are pertinent to each specific company, using language and specifics that speak directly to the reader and relaying you as a perfect match for the opening. With these select techniques, you're destined to secure more interviews and more job opportunities.

Thanks to Teena Rose, Executive Resume Writer / Resume to Referral


Invading Canada

The United States and Canada, by and large, have been peaceful neighbors — especially since Canada became a de facto independent nation under the British North America Act in 1867. But while the two nations are friendly and, typically, allies, things can change. And in 1927, the United States planned for just a scenario.

At the time, Canada was still mostly under British control, and even though the United States and the United Kingdom were friendly — they fought on the same side in the Great World War — things could change quickly. The U.S. was concerned that the UK's imperial desires, albeit unlikely, could extend back to the U.S., and the U.S. was not going to be caught unprepared. The American Army, therefore, developed "War Plan Red," a comprehensive strategy to foil any British expansion into its long-former colony.

War Plan Red assumed that, in the case of War, Britain had two significant advantages. First, the British navy was a formidable force, able to control the seaways and therefore the U.S. export economy. Second, the UK controlled Canada, and could have used it as a staging ground for an invasion of the United States. The American plan was to strike Canada first.

Specifically, U.S. forces would invade Nova Scotia, hoping to take Halifax, which (American strategists assumed) would be the focal point for the British Navy in North America. If this failed, the U.S. would try and take New Brunswick, isolating Nova Scotia from the mainland. After securing that region, American forces would target Quebec City, further separating east from west; Ontario, taking control of much of Canada's manufacturing (at the time); Winnipeg, a railway transit hub; and Vancouver, as part of a belt-and-suspenders approach toward controlling the ports. War Plan Red only laid plans for military action in the Western Hemisphere — America never intended to attack the British Isles. Rather, the plan was to hold Canada hostage, so to speak, in hopes that Britain would agree to a peace treaty to free its largest New World territory. While the plan never came into play, it probably would have worked. The UK never had a plan to attack the United States, and was willing to let the U.S. overtake Canada if push came to shove — so long as the U.S. did not blockade the British Isles.

In 1974, the United States declassified War Plan Red. which created a temporary ripple in U.S./Canadian relations — but it quickly passed.

Bonus fact: The U.S. was not the only North American country with intracontinental war plans. In 1921 — six years before War Plan Red was drafted — Canada developed its own plan, named Defence Scheme No. 1. The scheme outlined plans for a counter-attack on the U.S. in case of an invasion from its neighbors to the south. Like War Plan Red, the plan was never put into action. Unlike War Plan Red,  Scheme No. 1 was short lived — it was terminated in 1928 in an effort to foster a stronger relationship between the U.S. and Britain.

Thanks to Dan Lewis / Now I Know / Dan Lewis


Thursday, March 1, 2012

11 Reasons To Get Your Kids Out Of The Government Schools

#1 You Could Be Arrested For Something That Your Child Does

Yes, you read that correctly.  If your child writes a story or draws a picture which a teacher or an administrator takes the wrong way, you could end up in jail.

The following example is from….

A Kitchener father is angry at police after he was arrested at his child's school and later strip-searched at the police station, all because his 4-year-old daughter drew a picture of a gun in class.

"I'm picking up my kids and then, next thing you know, I'm locked up," Jessie Sansone, 26, said of his ordeal on Wednesday. "I was in shock. This is completely insane."

The school principal, police and child welfare officials, however, all stand by their actions. They say they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone's house that children had access to.

#2 Your Child Could Be Arrested While At School For Just About Anything These Days

As I have written about previously, children all over the United States are being arrested by police in government school classrooms for some absolutely crazy things.  Just check out the following examples….

*A 12-year-old girl named Sarah Bustamantes was recently arrested for spraying herself with perfume at a public school in Texas.

*A 13-year-old kid attending a public school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was recently arrested by police for burping in class.

*A 12-year-old girl at a school in Forest Hills, New York was marched out of her public school in handcuffs by police just because she doodled on her desk. "I love my friends Abby and Faith" was what she reportedly scribbled on her desk.

*When a little girl recently kissed a little boy at one Florida elementary school,  it was considered to be a "possible sex crime" and the police were called out.

#3 Your Child Might Be Bodily Harmed By Security Thugs

All over the nation, public schools students are being bodily injured (sometimes permanently) by school security thugs.  The following are a couple of examples….

*A security thug at one school in California actually fractured the arm of one 16-year-old girl because she left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning up some cake that she had spilled.

*In Allentown, Pennsylvania a 14-year-old girl was tasered in the groin area by a school security thug even though she had put up her hands in the air to surrender to him.

#4 Virtually Everything That Your Child Does At School Is Being Put Into A Database Somewhere

As I described in a previous article, public schools (in conjunction with the federal government) have become obsessed with watching, monitoring and recording the activities of our kids.

According to the New York Post, the Obama administration is planning a vast new database which will collect all sorts of information about our children.  Is this the kind of information that you want the federal government to keep track of?….

The administration wants this data to include much more than name, address and test scores. According to the National Data Collection Model, the government should collect information on health-care history, family income and family voting status. In its view, public schools offer a golden opportunity to mine reams of data from a captive audience.

#5 Our Kids Are Not Learning Anything In These Public Schools

As I have documented before, American public school students are being dumbed-down and millions of them end up dumb as a rock and yet still are able to graduate from high school somehow….

The following are some of the absolutely amazing results of a study conducted a few years ago by Common Core….

*Only 43 percent of all U.S. high school students knew that the Civil War was fought some time between 1850 and 1900.

*More than a quarter of all U.S. high school students thought that Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean after the year 1750.

*Approximately a third of all U.S. high school students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  (This is a topic that I touched on yesterday).

*Only 60 percent of all U.S. students knew that World War I was fought some time between 1900 and 1950.

Sadly, we are rapidly falling behind the rest of the globe.  At this point, 15-year-olds that attend U.S. public schools do not even rank in the top half of all advanced nations when it comes to math or science literacy.

#6 Our Public School Kids Are Being Forced To Take Large Numbers Of Vaccines

All over the nation, children that have not received all of the "required vaccines" are being banned from school.

Many parents do not want dozens of toxic vaccines injected directly into the bloodstreams of their kids, but in many states today you will not be able to send your kids to the public schools if they don't submit to the shots.

This is just another reason why all American families should pull their kids out of these government schools immediately.

#7 Exposed To Rampant Sexual Promiscuity

When you send your kid to a government school, you are sending them into an environment where they will be exposed to rampant sexual promiscuity on an endless basis.

When the kids around you are constantly talking about sex and joking about sex, it makes it nearly impossible to escape it.

What makes things even worse is that the "sex education" courses are becoming more detailed and more graphic than ever.  One example of this phenomenon was detailed in the New York Times….

IMAGINE you have a 10- or 11-year-old child, just entering a public middle school. How would you feel if, as part of a class ostensibly about the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, he and his classmates were given "risk cards" that graphically named a variety of solitary and mutual sex acts? Or if, in another lesson, he was encouraged to disregard what you told him about sex, and to rely instead on teachers and health clinic staff members?

In some U.S. public schools, kids are even having sex in the school bathrooms.

Do you want that to happen to your kid?

#8 Teachers Are Having Sex With The Students

It seems like almost every single day there is another news story about teachers having sex with public school students.

The following are just a few of the headlines that I found from this week….

-"More California Teachers Accused Of Sex Crimes"

-"Teacher Accused Of Sex With Student Appears In Court"

-"Queen's Teacher's Aide Charged With Child Sex Abuse"

-"Teacher Caught In Bed With Teen Student"

#9 U.S. Public Schools Are Dominated By Radical Control Freaks That Are Teaching Our Kids How To Live Like Slaves

The level of control that is exerted over the lives of children in many of our public schools is absolutely frightening.

I know that I have mentioned the following example several times, but it is worth repeating because it shows just how far things have gone.  One 4-year-old girl recently had her lunch confiscated by a control freak at one U.S. preschool because it did not meet USDA guidelines….

A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.

The girl's turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs – including in-home day care centers – to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.

Do you want sick control freaks inspecting the lunches that your kids bring from home every single day?

If not, perhaps it is time to pull them out of the government schools.

#10 Specific Social And Political Agendas Are Being Shoved Down The Throats Of Our Kids In U.S. Public Schools

If you think that the government schools are "neutral places" where all social, political and religious beliefs are tolerated, then you are either ignorant or you are delusional.

The truth is that very specific social and political agendas are built into the curriculums of most public schools.  Often, these social and political agendas are the same ones that are being force-fed to public school children in other western nations.

If your children are attending a government school, a system of "right and wrong" is being pounded into their heads that may be very different from what you would teach them.

In one recent New York Times article, a district superintendent admitted that particular agendas are integrated into classroom instruction anywhere that they will fit….

"We're trying to integrate it into anything where it naturally fits," said Jackie Taylor, the district's superintendent. "It might be in a math lesson. How much water are you really using? How can you tell? Teachers look for avenues in almost everything they teach."

If you want to see where all of this is going, just check out what is going on in Europe.  In the UK, teachers that don't promote the "correct agenda" face harsh  disciplinary action.

Those that control the public schools don't just want to "educate" your children.

They want to indoctrinate them.

#11 If Your Children Attend Public Schools They Could End Up Dead

Sadly, the school shooting that just happened in Ohio reminds us all once again that this is a matter of life and death.  Our schools are not safe and they are becoming less safe all the time.

While the odds are not great that your children will actually be murdered in our public schools, the truth is that there is a very good chance that they could be scarred for life by the destructive environment in these schools.

Most Americans that have gone through the public school system emerge from it with deep emotional scars.  If you have some of these emotional scars you know exactly what I am talking about.

The vast majority of our public schools are horrible places.  Just ask kids that are going to public high schools right now.  Most of them hate it.

Sometimes people argue that we should keep our children in the public schools so that they can be a "light" and so that they can be a good influence.

Unfortunately, that is just not the reality of the situation.  Our kids go there to be taught, and it is the teachers that have the authority.  Our children are far more likely to be changed by their teachers and their friends than they are to significantly change the system around them.

When you are young and insecure, it can be incredibly difficult to take a stand for what is right when all of your teachers and all of your friends are going the other way.

We need to protect our children and we need to put them into environments where they will be safe, protected and will receive a quality education.

Growing up is hard enough without having to spend 30 to 40 hours a week in a nightmarish hellhole where you will be physically, mentally and emotionally tortured.

So what do all of you think about the state of U.S. public schools?

Do you believe that we should get our kids out of the government schools?

Feel free to post a comment with your opinion below….

Thanks to The American Dream / Yolo Hub / Yolo