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7 November, 2011 Posted by John G. Self
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10 July, 2019 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Career Transition/Outplacement, Job Search
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Doing What It Takes to Succeed In Your Job Search

Posted July 10th, 2019 | Author: John G. Self

EDITOR’s NOTE: Technical problems with WordPress, our blog host site, prevented us from posting the actual video. WordPress would not accept the YouTube link to embed the video in this post this morning, a frequent problem. They have no technical support to help us resolve the issue. To watch today’s video blog, click the video link. We apologize for any inconvenience

Today’s video blog is all about doing what it takes to succeed in a job search even when the necessary steps to success include actions that, all things considered, you would just as soon not think about, much less do it.

YouTube Video Link:


Let me share Doug’s story to make my point.

  • Executive Vice President of a regional health system
  • He was the CEO’s COO, his go-to executive and confidant
  • Everything was great until the CEO decided to merge with a competing regional system, a long-held goal
  • That system had stumbled with EHR.  News stories reflected discord between leadership and the board 
  • The CEO was nearing retirement.  A chance to go out on top
  • A two-year golden parachute and a blended board to save face
  • At the end of the negotiation, at the last minute, the other system’s CEO threw a curveball. He wanted his COO to be the number 2 and take over as CEO when Doug’s boss retired in three more years.  His board supported the request 
  • Doug’s boss caved at the urging of his Chairman and Doug’s successful 12-year tenure came to an unceremonious close 
  • He was stunned, extremely angry at what he felt was a blatant betrayal after years of loyal and successful service   
  • His boss provided a generous guilt package – two years severance with salary and full benefits, a liberal outplacement allowance, and an additional one-time change of ownership bonus of $400,000.  Doug was surprised by the generosity but that did little to assuage his anger

After taking off a couple of months to deal with his grief and to relocate to a metropolitan city three hours away to begin his job search, Doug received another rude shock:  the job market had changed, dramatically so. 

Another Unwelcome Shock

And that is when he received yet another unwelcome shock to his system.  Everything he thought he knew about searching for a job was out of date.  His ego took a real hit when his career coach told him he was woefully unprepared to succeed in today’s job search market.

He was resistant when he was told that he would have to spend 30 to 40 hours each week in his office making new connections and posting on LinkedIn.  “People like me do not post on that silly social media thing.  I have a great track record.  I shouldn’t have to do those kinds of things.”

Doug’s frustration grew when he was told he needed to make 30 to 50 calls to expand his network and schedule four or five coffees, lunches or networking meetings each week.

Frustration Turned to Anger

His frustration bubbled into full-throated anger when his coach provided him weekly report forms that he would be expected to complete detailing the number of calls he made and to whom.  That was beneath him and he informed his coach in no uncertain terms that he was not a dog on a leash.

So the coach diplomatically gave Doug some space and Doug resorted to form – he sat back and waited for the recruiters to call.  A few did and he had a couple of interviews, but no offers.

Sixteen months into his search, with no real leads in sight, Doug’s transition coach arranged a reality luncheon. “Doug, you need to pay attention to the clock. It is running and if you do not land a job by the 20th month, finding a job will only become that much harder.   You are going to be seen as damaged goods and no one will want to touch you. “

“You are asking me to do things that are just not me,” Doug argued.  “I am just not comfortable doing these things,” he claimed.

Whether you want to work is up to you

“No, Doug,” came the career coach’s replay, “I am only asking you to do what it takes to succeed.  Whether you want to work is up to you.”

Of course, there is more to finding a job than executing on a digital and strategic networking plan but in this highly competitive market, those candidates who sit back and wait to be discovered probably will not. 

© 2019 John Gregory Self

9 July, 2019 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career counseling, Career Management, Job Search
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The Romantic Lure, Pitfalls of Starting Your Own Business

Posted July 9th, 2019 | Author: John G. Self

As the healthcare industry continues to experience contraction, consolidation and right sizing, an increasing number of executives will be forced to confront these career options:  look for another job, start their own business as a consultant or invest in a franchise opportunity, leave the industry in pursuit of another career, or take early retirement.

For most, early retirement is simply not an option and changing careers can be as daunting as finding the same job in another city given today’s hyper-competitive job market.  That leaves the romantic idea of creating one’s own business.

I Took the Plunge In 1994

In 1994 I found myself out of a job in a medium sized city in East Texas.  Finding another healthcare job in that market was out of the question. I was in the process of building a new life and the thought of relocating was not appealing so I succumbed to the allure of running my own executive search firm.  There were a lot of good days and some very bad ones but 25 years later I am still in business.  I worked hard, I got lucky, and I refused to give up, all integral to avoiding failure. 

In recent days I have talked with several executives whose positions were eliminated following a merger or they were right sized out of the organization.  Most are in the position I found myself in in 1994, they need to work but are unable or unwilling to relocate. They asked me if I thought they should go into consulting by starting their own business.  They are attracted to the idea but they not sure they understand the risks or what it takes to succeed. 

As a career advisor I have found that asking questions is a far better way to help an executive grasp an understanding of the issues they will have to deal with to be successful.

10 Key Questions to Ask Before You Start

Here are 10 questions I routinely ask executives who are flirting with the idea: 

  1. Are you familiar with the odds of success and failure of starting a business?  Every year 627,000 new businesses are opened, according to the Small Business Administration and about 595,000 businesses close during the same period.  Thirty percent of new businesses close in the first two years, 55 percent fail in five years and 66 percent shut their doors in the first 10 years, the SBA reports.  Some of the businesses that did fail may have been a success if they had not panicked and thrown in the towel.
  2. Do you have the depth of knowledge, are you a subject matter expert? Do you possess the skills and reputation as a go-to resource to address the challenges a client might be facing?  This is critical.
  3. What is the anticipated demand for this expertise?  What does the competitive landscape look like?  For example, every business needs a strategic plan, but the playing field is loaded with consultants who offer strategic planning services.  This service has become a commodity where relationships and price determine who gets the work. Does your expertise allow you to specialize in business lines that have not been commoditized?
  4. What is your value proposition?  Why would anyone want to hire you, a boutique consultant?  What can you offer that one else can or will? 
  5. How well known are you – what is the reach of your brand?  If you do not have an established reputation you can still succeed but it will be a lot harder to break through.
  6. Do you have the brand management, strategic networking and digital marketing skills it will take to compete in the marketplace against hundreds of like competitors?  Unless you are well-funded, sending glitzy marketing brochures to targeted clients or making extensive sales calls is out of the question.  The more cost-effective approach is to use social media platforms like LinkedIn as a primary communications channel to share your value proposition content.  Making your own promotional content videos, hosting a podcast and blogging are some of the cost-effective tools at your disposal.  
  7. Are you prepared to spend the 40, 50 or 60 hours each week that it will take to land a sufficient amount of business?  Are you prepared to make the 40 or 50 telephone calls each week to people you do not know that it will take to develop actionable business intelligence that will lead to signing new business?
  8. Do you understand what the phrase eat what you kill means? This question is part of another financial question:  How do you feel about not having a paycheck every two weeks?   I have a friend who is financially well off.  He could go 10 years without working and not have to alter his lifestyle but the thought of not having a paycheck turns him inside out and keeps him from taking the plunge into business ownership.  How much financial stress can you manage?
  9. How much financial staying power do you have?  This is critical and it is an issue appropriately discussed with a spouse or partner.  As the financial pressure mounts, do you have a “time to bail amount,” an investment beyond which you are unwilling or unable to make. 
  10. Do you have the courage to stay the course? “Timing, perseverance and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success,” said Biz Stone, a Twitter founder.  This quote is loaded with truth.  Many business owners will say they survived when others failed because they kept going even others around them gave up. 

Owning and succeeding with your own business is a special kind of thrill.  It places you in a rare group of business owners. That said, starting your own business is an option but it is one that requires seriously planning, honesty regarding your strengths and weaknesses, the capital to grow the enterprise, the financial reserves to cover the lean times and the courage to stay the course.   

© 2019 John Gregory Self

5 July, 2019 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Executive Leadership, Leadership
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The Greater Gift

Posted July 5th, 2019 | Author: John G. Self

Editor’s Note: Thursday’s blog post was rescheduled for today. John is taking some time off for the holiday weekend. This post originally appeared in 2012.

Laughing, Storytelling Important Leadership Skills | Shutterstock

One of the great joys of life is to hear people laugh – not a polite snicker but full-on, uproariously satisfying laughter.  The greater gift is to be able to elicit laughter from a crowd.

When we think of laughter, we typically make a straight line connection with the art of stand-up comedy, a tough, unforgiving profession to which many aspire and precious few find real success.  When you ask stand-up comics why they endure the tough times, most will say that there is no greater professional reward than to have that great night where your material is in sync with the audience’s mood and there is wave after wave of appreciative laughter.  They will also tell you that the path to those great performance moments is a narrow high wire where a misstep can lead to crushing rejection.  In the comedy business, rejection is very personal.

There are certainly some parallels to the art of leadership.

Laughter, An Important Leadership Tool

Laughter is an important tool in the art of leadership, especially in healthcare where the waves of dynamic change will elicit laughter, or cries of anguish, depending on the relative health of an organization’s balance sheet.  Leaders who can laugh, and the CEOs with the great talent for creating laughter while expressing confidence of success through turmoil, will earn the never-ending loyalty of their closest colleagues and employees.

Another important leadership element that often goes unrewarded is the art of storytelling.  Organizational consultants will say that the ability to weave captivating stories regarding important cultural values will enhance the message and contribute to its sustainability. 

Great Leadership, Storytelling Go Hand-In-Hand

Stories that reinforce mission-critical values and make us laugh are golden as are the talented leadership who possess those skills.

When you ask a successful leader his or her definition of that “sweet spot” for achievement, they will say when everyone in the organization is truly in sync about the mission, vision and values.  For a leader, that is the greater gift.

To invite John Self to be a speaker at your meeting or function, contact JohnGSelf + Partners at  John is an entertaining and informative speaker who talks about leadership, career management, and life’s wonderful ironies in speeches that are laced with humor and satisfying stories regarding the challenges we all face. He consistently receives high ratings for his presentations.

© 2019 John Gregory Self

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