Is Conan O’Brien the New Permanent Temporary Worker?

NBC’s decision to juggle its late-night schedule has caused quite a stir. Regardless of which star’s side you might take, one thing is clear. Employment, even for major network superstars, is temporary at best. Conan’s gig only lasted 7 months.

He now represents a growing number of workers in America who are facing the very real probability, not just possibility, that their next employment opportunity may be short lived. Companies of all sizes are considering the very real idea of bringing on workers for short term engagements to accomplish projects, make changes, expand product lines, and other execute on strategic decisions. Yet they have no intent to retain the employees for long term assignment. Some management teams consider it long term employment “bloat”. The thought is to reduce headcount at all levels to maintain a lean workforce profile.

The primary concern with successful implementation of this course of action is that the average American worker has expectations rooted in 50 years of workforce history. After WWII companies began offering various incentives to draw workers back to their specific firms. Competition for benefits and perks grew. As a result, workers began expecting these additions as part of the total compensation package.

For companies to successful wind back time and reduce benefit package offerings, the workforce will have to embrace these changes. As NBC has learned in their ouster of Conan, watch out for public outcry. The story is far from finished.

Job Search Rollercoasters

People between jobs face a daily rollercoaster of emotion, energy, and challenge. So how do you find balance in the ups and downs? Here are a few tips: 

First, have a plan. As in all good planning, you will uncover and define expectations. Know that there will be days of “no” between the days of hearing “yes”. If your plan has contingencies for the process of landing a new job, then you will have accounted for the low points in the journey. This should serve to take some of the sting out of the less than positive news you hear from day to day.

Next, get connected. Do not make this journey alone. Find a job search buddy (or several) to share the walk. Stay in touch. Help each other set daily and weekly goals so you can make real progress. Then hold each other accountable for those goals.

Allow yourself occasional breaks from the grind of finding a new job. Of course you might not afford a trip somewhere, but take the weekend off to do something with family or friends. Stay with a hobby you love. Read books or magazines. Allow your brain to shift into other modes so that the cycle of job searching can rejuvenate.

Last, maintain your health both physically and spiritually. The stress of job loss can weigh heavily on your body and your mind. Create a system for maintaining your physical health via exercise and other stress relieving solutions. Connect with God, following whatever faith based teaching you choose. Re-join your local faith family and reach out to help others. You will be amazed at the stress release that comes from stepping out of your “stuff” and focusing some energy on helping others.

Life’s Little Things

Most of the time I write something new and original, but on occasion, friends forward great pieces I’d like to share. Today is such a day. From my friend John St. John. He writes:

Chances are you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, an ant, a gnat, a bee or a wasp, but have you ever been bitten by a lion or an elephant? Not too likely.

The point is that it’s usually the little things in life that get under our skin and upset our apple cart more often than the biggies.

It’s also the little things that make a big difference to the quality of our life. A simple thank you, a kindly word, a word of encouragement, a telephone call, a note, an email, a greeting card, a smile, a word of appreciation, a flower, and so on.

Why not determine to do something kind every day for someone, and especially for your loved ones as well as to friends and work mates. As someone else said, “When we deserve love the least is when we need it the most!”

Do it today!

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, help me to always remember the important little things in life and give such gifts every day, not only to my loved ones and friends, but also to those who cross my path who need it—including those whom I don’t especially like. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’ name, amen.”

1. Paul, the Apostle (Ephesians 4:32).


“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn His face toward you
and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26


Are There Enough Buses?

Happy New Year my friend. I hope all is looking strong for this 2010.

I have a new thought thread I’d like to share with you. John Collins in his highly acclaimed “Good to Great” writes about “getting the right people on the bus”. My question is “will there be enough buses”? Clearly, from my perspective as a minister to people in job transition I may be accused of being biased, but here is the thought.

Assuming most companies do try to be not just good, but great; then this idea of identifying the people who fit the target profile to load the bus properly becomes the key. We know this is an age-old problem facing every CEO, hiring manager and HR professional. However, as the economy evolves to respond to the various market forces, what are those who do not fit the “get on the bus” profile left to do?

Some who profess to be capitalistic free market advocates would say this is the normal and natural downside. Socialists would say they can fix it by simply building new buses. What is the right answer? I see two forces at work.

  1. The individual must take on personal responsibility to offer the best possible profile to “fit on an existing bus” somewhere. They do this by retraining and updating technical skills, reshaping and refining interpersonal skills/values, and working diligently to stay aware of “bus loading” opportunities. Those already on a bus somewhere must take on greater responsibility for demonstrating their own value proposition to sustain and build their worth for retaining their seat on the bus.
  2. Corporate America must do more to define and assess the qualifications for boarding the bus and the process by which candidates are vetted for boarding. This does not have to be purely empirical data. I know this is a long standing challenge, but is also something sorely lacking across most industries.

Your thoughts?

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

We’ve all heard various ideas about managing our lives. When you break it all down, things can get lumped into these three categories.

Yesterday is long gone. There are only three things we can do about yesterday.

  • First, learn the lessons whether good or bad. Take an HONEST assessment of what happened and try to understand why. But do not let this become a new vocation.
  • Next, let it go. There is nothing you can do about yesterday’s outcome.
  • Build a marker for the ways you saw God active in the events of yesterday. These markers can be physical or mental, but keep track of what God seems to have done.

Tomorrow will come. Let it come on its own. There is nothing you can do to change the actual events of the day tomorrow. Oh you might plan and strive, but ultimately, things will turn out all on their own tomorrow.

Today is the only real time you can do something about. Live today as if it were your last. I don’t mean live frivolously. I mean make a difference today. Do the things that enrich your family, friends, and neighbors. Today is not about YOU. Today is a gift from God. Accept this precious gift and live to the full!

Happy 2010

The first decade of the 21st  century is behind us. Whew. I don’t know about you, but this has been a wild ride for lots of reasons. When I was growing up, a wise man once told me “you need to learn from all your experiences; good or bad”. What shall I say about this decade? For all things that I, my family, and my colleagues have experienced, I see two prevailing truths.

First, God is in control. For the massive and wide spectrum of human emotion we have endured and experienced, there are no easy explanations for the question “why”? You can debate, argue, agree, or ignore, but the bottom line only one true and real conclusion. God is in control. Do some of the experiences suggest He is a mean or uncaring God? Absolutely not! Has He forgotten or forsaken some of us? Again, absolutely not. It is a strong and lasting faith in the God of Heaven that can sustain us in the circumstances of the day. I pray that everyone finds the comfort and hope for things to come in a faith in God.

Next, all of the changes and needs that are emerging in our society have been answered by individuals, neighbors, and entire communities coming together to help one another. Big government cannot do it. Large corporate cannot do it. It takes people working together. The only way these things can happen is through the fundamental renewal of one-on-one relationship building. Everyone must be willing to take a small step out of their own boxes to openly and objectively hear the next person. This is a bridge building exercise that cannot fail.

My hope for you is a blessed and happy new year. See you next year!


Doug T.


LinkedIn Has Changed – Are You Up To Speed?

The LinkedIn system has changed. There are new ways to use the database and the networking tools. Join other professionals for an informative and practical half-day, hands-on workshop to learn more about LinkedIn.

‘Click here for more info’

Rip This Page from Mike Leach’s Book

Deep in the middle of college football’s bowl season, a veteran coach is fired for cause. Mike Leach, known for his “unique” personality and unconventional football strategies, seems to have taken his “uniqueness” a bit too far. There is much yet to be resolved in this turmoil, both inside and outside of some courtrooms. However, buried here is a lesson for professionals at all levels.

“Uniqueness” has been touted as the way to get ahead in today’s job markets. Pundits tell us we must create a personal brand that is compelling and memorable so that our resumes can rise above the job hunting masses. While I agree, in principle, with this idea, clearly there are bounds by which we are all judged.

“Uniqueness” may get us noticed, but substance closes the deal and delivery of substance makes a new job stick. The media may turn Mike Leach into the latest poster child for alleged on-the-job behavioral defects, but do not be fooled to think he is alone. Attitudes and mindsets about ways we think we can contribute to a workplace have a tremendous bearing on the final outcomes.

There is an old adage among HR professionals that says “You are hired on skills, but fired on behavior.” Maybe we all need to revisit this idea.

Flying With the Lord

One of my favorite hobbies is flying. About twenty years ago I went to the schools and obtained my private pilot’s license. Besides the thrill of “leaving the bonds of Earth”, I have become especially fond of night flying.

There is something about all the lights and the stars which I find especially thrilling. Of course, I only decide to go up on clear nights, no weather threats. I must rely upon the basic navigational instruments used for so called VFR (Visual Flying Rules) license because I have not yet acquired my IFR license (Instrument Flight Rules).

The key distinction here is that I am not yet prepared nor equipped to rely totally on the instrument panel to navigate. That means there must be a high degree of visibility and correlation to landmark style navigation.

Well, having said that, I took off one night for a first time run to Lake Jackson. An old college friend had been encouraging me to join them for dinner. I departed my home base in Northwest Houston a little after 6:00 PM which meant it was already nightfall. The route of flight I had chosen was to take me south over Sugarland, then southeast towards Lake Jackson. Maps were clearly marked, conditions OK’d for VFR routing and off I went.

The leg to Sugarland was uneventful. I climbed to 2000 feet, still having all of West Houston in very clear sight. The roadways, landmarks etc. were easily discernable. I approached Sugarland and made my calls to the tower to announce my transition through their airspace. A strong headwind was causing plenty of heading correction to maintain my direction of flight.

As I made the turn southeasterly toward what was to be Lake Jackson, a leg estimated at 31 miles, about 19 minutes, I discovered, there were few if any lights on the horizon. A mist had started to develop in the air. Looking immediately in front and below, I estimated visibility had shrunk to about 4 miles; still technically suitable for VFR flight, but certainly less than I am excited about flying into.

As the lights of Houston started to fade, I truly felt I was flying into total darkness. Just a few scant images of light were on the horizon before me. The heading was hard to maintain because what had been a direct southerly headwind was now attacking from more of an angle.

Just minutes into this scene I began to feel a sense of panic about pressing onward. I had to admit that I was headed to an unfamiliar airport, in definitely unfamiliar surroundings with what now was deteriorating weather conditions. There would be no alternate airports in the vicinity, short of turning around for Sugarland. In a word “this was not good”.

Then something overtook my spirit. The hours of training and preparation began to resurface. Almost as a reflex as opposed to a forced response, I began to more closely check off the features of the landscape I could discern in the dark, often needing to rely on features almost immediately below me.

A cross-check on a VOR setting gave me a beacon, a radio beam to follow as a target for my destination. I reset the GPS (global positioning satellite) receiver for the destination and all began to fall into place. Clearly I was on course but just couldn’t rely on my immediate natural senses to assure me of it. I had to rely on what I knew to be true.

Minutes seemed like hours. The darkness only got more intense. Even more lights were now fading. Soon I began to see the outline of the town itself emerge from the dark chasm I was entering.

Once I was sure I was approaching Lake Jackson, the next challenge was to find the airport. The town was of no use if I could not safely land at the airport. As miles “to the destination” clicked off the GPS panel, I was in range to see the airport, but for some reason could not see it.

I rechecked the gauges. Everything checked out, but no airport was in sight. I was approaching fewer than 4 miles to the destination which should have given me ample view of the field from 2000 feet. But there was nothing but more darkness.

I was certain of my bearings and even though I could not see the destination, I began my descent from 2000 feet. I needed to drop to 1000 to be on line for a smooth landing. Just as I reached the approach altitude of 1000 feet, I saw the lights of runway 17 emerge. I was on dead center line for straight-in final approach. Radio calls were made and I began my landing. A few minutes later I taxied safely and securely to the hangar where my friend was waiting.

I was reminded of how much this resembles our walk with Jesus Christ. For those of us professing to be Christian, for some time now, we have read the book(s), we have heard the sermons, we have attended the workshops… we are well prepared.

Yet as moments of darkness envelope the journey we have chosen, how often do we find ourselves panicked? Thoughts of fear and doubt shroud our existence. We often think about turning around to some safety we believe is behind us.

Yet if we will only rely on the indicators, the knowledge and beliefs that have been instilled, we can arrive at a safe, new destination. In spite of doubt and information that can suggest we are lost, we can press on toward the goal. Darkness can be overcome.

Fear can be replaced with confidence. We can take measures to begin the final approach to the goal even though the goal is not even in sight. We can rest assured in the faith and knowledge we have of the One Whom is to be Lord.

2009 Year End CloseOut

As 2009 comes to an end, people in job transition are still facing big challenges. Now is the time to do a year end closeout just like a company or an accountant might do. Here’s how:

  1. Take out all correspondence journals, logs, email records etc. Review the content and the contacts. See with whom you might try to reconnect. That recruiter you spoke with last February may just now be handling a new order that fits your profile. Revisit those connections.
  2. Make a good review of the practices you used during the past year. Refuse to continue old habits that did not create results. Make new changes. Map new strategies.
  3. Identify the things you did that worked well and decide on ways to do more of those.
  4. Clear the decks and get ready for a solid, fresh start to the new year. Zero out all old logs and lists. Make new entries as you begin new connections and contacts in the new year.
  5. Get rid of office clutter that can limit your efficiency.

Oh, and last, but by no means least, have a Merry and Blessed Christmas and Happy Holidays.

If you are a job seeker, visit AskJMS.org.