Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Apple of My Eye.

I yelled at someone last week. I fairly excoriated her.

I hardly knew her, to be honest. She was junior when I was co-head of the flagship office of a giant agency. But that was twenty years ago. More recently, she lost her job. 

She asked to Zoom and I said yes. Not out of any sense of "I have to" but because in the twenty years since I had left that giant agency, I had seen via Linked In how she had grown. It's life-affirming to see people grow--whether or not you know them well. It's what life, and business, used to be about. It was supposed to be more than just Mammon.

It's good to stay in touch with good people and learn from them, so I've stayed in touch with her. And last week she picked my brain about what today we politely call "career transitions." In other words, 'what do I do now that I'm no longer doing what I set out to do and where I set out to do it?'

I'm not sure there's anyone anywhere who doesn't face that 'reinvention' question--twice a decade or more. The best people are by design or happenstance in medias res. They're always reinventing themselves. A new boss. A promotion. A recession. A baby. Whatever. You can't step into the same job twice, as Heraclitus never said.

In any event, back to me yelling.

The woman I was talking to said, "I've taken my time off, now I'm beginning to look and I'm not sure exactly how to do it."

I scoffed. "As long as you're not one of those people who puts. green circle that says 'Open to Work' on your Linked In profit, you'll be fine. I can't believe how stupid that is."


"I have one of those. I'm one of those people."

"NO. You don't tell the world, you don't tell prospective employers that you don't have work." My temperature was rising.

"Goddammut, steal a page from Steve Jobs or the hot restaurants where you live. Jobs always had a line outside his door. He always had a shortage, a waiting list, he always made Apple easy to want and hard to get. 

"Same thing with hot restaurants. The pretty people sit in the window. It's hard to get a reservation. How does it help you to tell the world you need something."

This is not about lying or faking it until you're making it. This is about marketing. 

Marketing yourself.

Nobody wants things there's too much of. Very few people want things they can get any time. As Keats said, 
"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
 Are sweeter;..."

There's so much absolutely asinine information out in the world. So much temptation to do what everyone else does--like putting a green circle on your picture. There is so much me-too-ism-ization. 

There is so much bad marketing.

And so little good marketing.

If when it comes to looking for work, you can't reject the bad marketing and embrace the good marketing, maybe you don't deserve to work. Because you're not using your intelligence in service of your self.

As Rabbi Hillel said: "If I am not for myself, who am I? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?"

I ain't going all Jewish on you. But if you have to get a tattoo or have a mantra, that ain't a bad place to begin. 

Neither is 'treat your own work-hunt with the same reverence Apple treats its hunt for new buyers and new markets." Show  what you do well. Show what you do differently. Show your self with elegance and intelligence. And price yourself accordingly.

It works for a company with a $2.6 trillion market cap. It will probably work for you.

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