Archives for the month of: September, 2013


As I’m just beginning my freelance business after a summer off, and as a huge fan of “Breaking Bad”, I enjoyed reading this blog about how “Breaking Bad” has some solid career advice for entrepreneurs.

I’m not going to get into the moral and ethical questions of the show, which are the most interesting and what keeps fans obsessed with this program and its final outcome on Sunday night. Watching meek Mr. White (almost Mr. Chips) turn into Heisenberg (almost Scarface) has been such an interesting, thought-provoking moral dilemma. When do (or did) you stop rooting for Mr. White to win?

But on to this solid career advice, which is actually, pretty sound. It doesn’t say so, but first rule is never show up in your tighty-whities for a business meeting:!


Brazen Career Lessons from Breaking Bad


Say what you will of Breaking Bad’s protagonist Walter White — and there’s plenty to say. He’s a ruthless, sociopathic meth lord whose quest for power has wrought death and destruction we’ve yet to see the end of.


But he’s also one hell of a businessman.


Note: If you aren’t currently caught up with your Breaking Bad episodes, you may want to come back to this post after you are to avoid any potential spoilers. If you are caught up, and you’re eagerly awaiting the series’ final two episodes like 5.9 million other fans, let’s indulge our mutual obsession by exploring yet another way to dissect this endlessly intriguing show.


While I’m not suggesting a life of crime is the way to go, there are some things we can learn from the man known as Heisenberg when it comes to blazing our own trails and pursuing our goals with unstoppable determination. (Click here to tweet this idea.)


Here are four of the big (legally and ethically acceptable) lessons we can learn from Mr. White — and one warning we’d be wise to heed.


1. It all starts with quality


There wouldn’t have been a show if Jesse and Walt’s early days in the RV had resulted in only mediocre product.


Would they have made some money? Sure. Would international drug cartels and super meth lords like Gus Fring be desperate to get their hands on that product (and its creator)? Nope.


Walt would have just been some middle-aged chemistry teacher cooking drugs in his skivvies in the middle of the desert. His rise to mythological levels of power and notoriety started off with the one thing all wannabe entrepreneurs have to have: a solid, high-quality product. Walt’s meth was the purest in the marketplace, and his customers (and competition) recognized that — and that’s what gave him the leverage to build an empire from nothing.


Would-be business mavens, take note: unless your product or service is top-notch, all the advertising strategies and killer branding in the world won’t take you very far. It all begins with offering something consumers or clients can’t get enough of.


2. Brand matters


“The blue stuff” is Heisenberg’s trademark. It’s how you know instantly that you’re getting the best. When Walt leaves the biz behind, new meth lord Lydia insists that substitute cook Todd figure out how to replicate the trademark color, because that’s what people on the street are asking for. She isn’t nearly as concerned with the purity level of the new batch as she is with making sure their product retains brand consistency. It’s so critical it’s saved Jesse’s life (for now).


After you’ve got that top-notch service or product, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself in the marketplace — whether it’s a look, a feel or a certain brand personality. When you see an Apple product, you know it’s an Apple product. From the sleek design to the packaging, you can tell it apart from every other gadget vying for similar market share.


So, what’s your “calling card” going to be? What will let consumers know you’re different, and how will they be able to spot your “stuff” from the competition’s?


3. You are who you say you are


Walt first dubs himself “Heisenberg” in the episode where he shaves his head, confronts local drug lord Tuco and makes it clear (via surprise explosive device) that he isn’t to be messed with. It’s one of the first times we see Walt fully embrace his darker ambitions — he’s not just doing this for his family; part of him loves the power and fame, and he’s officially declaring his pursuit of that. As the debris settles, we as an audience know that he’s rounded a corner, and the streets of Albuquerque know there’s a new kingpin in town.


Whether you’re a meek chemistry teacher, an entry-level clerk or a college dropout turned startup owner, you create your own destiny by acknowledging your goals and going after them full-throttle. It doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t take you seriously at first; they will once you show them what you’re made of. Believe in the potential within yourself, act like you’ve already made it, and the world will start to respect.


4. There’s always a way out


Cops impound your car containing a laptop full of incriminating evidence? Get a gigantic magnet, b****, and erase that evidence in a way no one will believe actually happened. Kidnapped in the desert for days and not sure how to explain your absence to your family? Strip naked in a convenience store and pretend you’ve been in a cancer-induced fugue state the whole time.


The lengths to which Walt will go — and his utter refusal to believe he’s ever painted into a corner — are pretty damn impressive, and one of the reasons fans admire his ingenuity, even as they denounce his actions. He will not be stopped. He will not be beaten. While each cliffhanger episode leaves you full of dread and anticipation, you always secretly know that somehow, Walt will find a way out of it.


No matter what challenges, setbacks, or failures you face in your professional career, you have two possible solutions: lose hope and give up, or put on your thinking cap and figure out a way to tunnel yourself free, in whatever way possible. Nothing is ever truly hopeless if you’re determined enough. Never underestimate the power of creativity and resolve.


5. Know what you’re doing it all for


And now, for the warning.


Walt got involved in the whole meth scene out of a desire to provide for his family after his cancer diagnosis. As the series progressed, we’ve watched him devolve into a creature driven by greed, ego and a thirst for power. But he still seemed to have soft spots — for his kids (definitely), for Jesse (sometimes), for his wife Skylar (maybe?). It was one of the things that kept people rooting for him long after he’d clearly gone from hero to anti-hero.


Now that the show is winding down, the big question in everyone’s mind has been: Which Walt will be left when the smoke clears? Does he have any humanity left, or has Heisenberg taken over completely?


The most recent episode seems to lean towards the latter, but you never can tell with Walt. His motives have become so muddied he’d give up his entire fortune to save the brother-in-law who could turn him in — yet he has no qualms about kidnapping his infant daughter to “teach his wife a lesson.”


Walt’s two competing drives (and selves) are ultimately what’s done him in. Trying to walk the impossible line between taking care of his family and looking out for number one, he now stands to lose everything he fought for. One self is suffering for the other self’s choices. Wherever he’s going in that beat-up minivan, it’s not to celebrate his grand victory.


Don’t let an internal tug of war derail your own happiness. When it comes to your career, you need to be able to sit down with yourself and honestly identify why you’re pursuing what you’re pursuing.


Regardless of what everyone else expects of you, regardless of what you think you “should” be doing, what’s your real driving force? If you’re not clear on that, or you’re chasing something else but pretending you’re clear on it, even the most “successful” of careers won’t ultimately make you happy.


It’s your choice. Which way are you going to break?





I think most of us have been there, especially when you’ve been in a job for a long time. Job burnout.

I found this article by Michael Broder to be filled with some common-sense tips. Only three, but they are important to remember. And there comes a time when you have to choose the third option. Remember, it’s your life (a short life, too) and if you find yourself dreading going to work each day, it really is time for a change. Of course, you have to be practical, but change can be a good thing.

Let me know if you’ve experienced job burnout and how you dealt with it. I’m curious to know what others have done.

Enjoy your Friday!

Article reprinted from The Huffington Post below:

3 Tips for Conquering Job Burnout

Posted: 09/13/2013 8:22 am




Can you relate to the following scenario? You once approached your work in a dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic way. You were eager and excited about your responsibilities. While you were aware that there are built-in frustrations in your work with coworkers, clientele, or the system itself, you felt that you were making an important contribution to your organization and/or field. But gradually, you’ve begun to feel a sense of stagnation. This has slowly led to feelings of apathy, to the point that it’s become difficult even to feel motivated anymore. But since it’s not in your nature to give up or stop trying, your apathy causes an internal conflict that brings upon feelings of cynicism, depression, hopelessness and low self esteem related to your job, career or profession. If this description resonates with you, it’s likely you are experiencing job burnout.


It’s important to realize that not just anyone experiences burnout. To get burned out, you must first have been “on fire.” People who go to work just to get a paycheck are rarely the ones who get burned out. It’s those who once connected with their work from a place of passion but are now no longer intrinsically motivated at work that generally experience the pain of burnout. Burnout can be a great signal that something needs to change.


Here are three tips to get your job burnout under control, to reconnect with your passion and restore your positive attitude about work:


Stop devaluing yourself — Burnout can occur when you’re not feeling valued by others but even more often occurs when as a result you devalue yourself. Take a few minutes to jot down the reasons you entered your field in the first place. Who are you really committed to serving? Also write down how your current role makes an impact, whether on other coworkers, clients, students, your family, or other people in your life. Sometimes to feel like you’re pressing the reset button, you just need to take a step back, remind yourself of your contributions — big or small — and recommit to the mission you chose for yourself. Often trying to please the “powers that be” and getting hung up on their approval makes you to lose that perspective.


Take back control — Almost every job has a variety of characteristics that are not your choice. These factors may include hours, bosses, coworkers, certain aspects of those you serve or the salary. But there are also factors you do have control over that you may not be taking ownership of when feeling burnt out. For example, if there are certain tasks that are more enjoyable for you than others, maybe you can focus on job tasks that emphasize your strengths and delegate those tasks that do not fit as well with your preferences. If there is a specific aspect of your job that you can identify as being something that once fulfilled you but no longer does, perhaps there are changes that can be made to reactivate this element of your job. But even if these things are not possible, you can refuse to let negativity control this important part of your life. And then switch to problem solving mode. The problem: How do I restore that crucial passion I once felt for my work?


Consider a change — If you’re truly powerless to change circumstances at work, a career or job change may be in order to bring you back to your zone of passion. My book, Stage Climbing: The Shortest Path to Your Highest Potential, is resource to help you find a career that will quickly reignite your passion. As a bonus, I have seen with many people who have consulted me, that when your work coincides with your passion, financial success follows — often effortlessly.


The longer you wait to address your job burnout, the more likely it is that your apathy will spread to other areas of your life, including your relationships and even hobbies. So if you’re experiencing burnout, nip it in the bud, quickly!

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