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What’s Your Tribe?

Posted by jamesseetoo on November 19, 2009

Do you lead one?  Do you have one?  It’s a pretty good question these days since there’s a lot of talk about Tribes going around.  And it seems to be an evolving situation but an interesting one since it’s apparent that it’s becoming a very powerful cultural phenomenon.  I would say that it’s probably because of the increased connectivity we all have allows us access to people who have the same views and values.  For more on Tribes, I would recommend Seth Godin’s book, oddly enough titled: Tribes.

I had the priviledge of attending the recent PGC200 (www.pgc200.org) launch event in San Diego CA.  It’s a group that I’m advising that is creating a tribe.  It’s primarily made up of technical professionals (scientists and engineers) who are banding together to support one another professionally during trying economic times.  The featured speaker at this event was Gary Ridge, President and CEO of WD40 who has recently published a book with Ken Blanchard called Helping People Win at Work.

What’s exciting to watch about the development of PGC200 is that it’s a welcoming place for people who are not usually used to doing things like marketing themselves to interact with others who are good at that type of thing.  And it was only fitting that Gary Ridge was the featured speaker because he has actively worked to develop the Tribe culture at WD40.

In the book, Gary and Ken Blanchard describe a tribe as being a place where someone belongs as opposed to a team which is something someone plays on sometimes.

That’s an interesting definition and I think it’s highly effective when looking at a company’s culture during your job search.  Is it a place where you “belong” or someplace you go to play eight hours a day?

Gary and Ken also define leadership as a partnership which I think is a great definition.  In this partnership, are you helping someone to be successful and is someone helping you?  In this way, you can be a leader without a title and those you help become members of your tribe just as you become members of the tribe of those who help you.

LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are good places to find examples of Tribes.  People become followers and friends on these sites based on common interests which can be as simple as a joke of the day.

Like her or not, I think one of the most interesting examples of the Tribe phenomenon is Sarah Palin.  My take on her resigning the governorship of Alaska is that she is leading a tribe of followers, drawing people who are disaffected with their political parties and are looking for a place to belong.  We’ll see if that translates into political office but it’s certainly translated into book sales.

Tribes seem to be popping up all over the place, so maybe it’s time to start yours.  If you’re in a company, help others to be successful and they will become part of your tribe.  If your looking for a job, let your tribe help you. If you don’t have a tribe, start one by going beyond networking to really create a place where people feel they belong in your circle.  As Jay Abraham defines it, it’s the difference between a client and a customer.  A client is someone whose interests you watch out for rather than being in a transactional relationship.

So let me know what you think of this Tribes phenomenon.  I’m interested and hopefully you’re following this blog regularly.  It’s kind of like having a Tribe of my own.

P.S. – PGC200 will be having another event in San Diego in December featuring Ken Blanchard, stay tuned for more information or go to the http://www.PGC200.org.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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Posted in Business, Career, Career, Communication, Executive Search, Finance, Headhunter, Influence, Interview, Job, Job Search, Lie, Lifestyle, Networking, NLP, Persuasion, Rapport, Recruiter, Sales, storytelling, Tribes, Unemployment, Work | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

So You Got An Offer, Then What?

Posted by jamesseetoo on November 13, 2009

I had a call from a friend the other day and he was in an interesting dilemma.  He’d just been offered a position but the compensation was around $5oK less than what he had been making.  So what to do?  After all, with the economy in this shape it’s scary to be out there with no pay check.  At the same time, when you’ve worked hard and been successful it can be tough to “take a step back” on the pay scale and there’s always the fear in the back of your mind that you’re going to be missing out on something more appropriate and well you might.

But when you think about any position there are going to be pros and cons and opportunities.  And I think the intangibles become much more important in this climate.  Now it must be said, my friend is a highly talented individual who has been incredibly successful in investment banking and so of course, he’s traditionally been highly compensated and this position is working internally in a company where the pay scales are just different.

And that’s where the intangibles come in.  As a consultant my friend could potentially make two are three times more than he would working in-house.  At the same time, there would always be a hole in his experience as people who work in-house have to deal with competing agendas both internally and externally while a consultant can concentrate on his client.

So it’s very important to think of your career in holistic terms.  It may not be a steady progression forward but might meander like the Mississippi River on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  But the question you should always ask yourself is, “Are you going to benefit from this position?” and it may not be monetarily, at least immediately.

When I was recruiting at Life Technologies (Nasdaq: LIFE) people would often ask when I was going back into consulting.  One of the things I always said was, “My contact list isn’t full yet.”  Sure, I could have been making more money in consulting but I was getting an in-depth education in the biotechnology industry while helping to bring talent to a company that grew from $1.6 billion to $3.4 billion in revenue.  And during that time I gained a great deal of insight into how a large corporation works which was a better experience than I could have gotten in an MBA program.

And to top it all off, I made some lifelong friends there.  So sometimes going for the money is not the only thing.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough and Dog-Gone It People Like Me!

Posted by jamesseetoo on October 29, 2009

Ever use affirmations?  A lot of people do and after all, the above one must have worked since it turned a clown into a senator.  But the question is, can they work for you?  And the answer to that is yes they can if you do them correctly and they could be a big help when you’re going into an interview.

Okay, so you’ve finally got an interview and the job sounds like something you would really like.  And suddenly it seems like it’s a really important thing, a lot more important than just talking about the World Series with one of your friends.  Do you find yourself acting any differently?  Chances are the natural nervousness you would feel when speaking with new people is amplified to the point where it drowns out your own thoughts and you feel your confidence draining away.

I’ve had candidates sparkle during phone interviews and when they came on site for their final interviews fall apart and become different people.  Since it’s the Halloween season I guess Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde or maybe it had something to do with the full moon.  But in any event, they lost confidence in themselves and for lack of a better description, choked.

So how do you stay confident during an interview?  Try the Meta Yes technique.

The Meta Yes is a way to leverage affirmations.  While some people are able to tape affirmations to their bathroom mirrors or chant them to themselves for good result the majority of people who complain that they don’t work simply do not link that affirmation to something that they know to be true.  And because of that an affirmation becomes wishful thinking like most New Year’s resolutions.

The Meta Yes:

1) Think of something you know to be true, like your name, where you live etc.  Say that to yourself and notice the feeling that you have of saying something you know to be true to yourself.

2) Imagine a circle in front of you and step into it and say whatever it was you chose in step 1 and very affirmatively say “Yes!”

3) Step out and repeat a couple of times, really noticing what it feels like when you’re saying something you know to be true.

4) After a few times, say your affirmation and step into the circle again and say “Yes!” while bringing up that feeling of knowing something is true.

5) Repeat this a few times a day and pretty soon the affirmation will gain strength.  Essentially you are anchoring what you know to be true to the affirmation and your unconscious will work on making it true for you.

So, if for example you were to use the affirmation, “I am the best person for this job and am able to express that articulately in interviews” you will likely find yourself to be more confident in expressing yourself with interviewers.  Give it a try in an area where you’re feeling a sticking point.  Let me know how it goes.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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What Do You Want?

Posted by jamesseetoo on October 20, 2009

I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s workshop this past weekend and one of the key questions he posed to the group was, “What Do You Want?”  Do you know what you want?

It’s a good question and more importantly, if you do know what you want are you willing to come out and tell people what it is.  And I think it’s very telling because you know what, I wasn’t prepared to tell people what it is I want and so I really thought about it.

How are you supposed to get what you want if you A) Don’t know what that is and B) Can’t tell people?  It’s like standing at the front of the Starbucks line looking at the menu and doing a Ralph Kramden, “homina, homina, homina, homina”. For those who don’t get it, please see The Honeymooners, specifically the Chef of the Future episode.

So you say, “I want a job”.  Okay fine – you can have a job.  But it likely won’t be the job you want because when you don’t decide what you want someone else will decide for you.  What are the core values you hold that you won’t cross?  These are all things that are important in defining who you are, what you stand for and what you bring to the table.

Here’s an exercise for you and I hate lists but it’s sometimes a really good way to define what you’re looking for and how you’ll know it when you see it:

Make a list either on your computer or on a sheet of paper and title it: “What I Want”.  In this case it can be for a job but can also be used in any area of your life.  Write down all the things that you want in a job.  Not stupid little things like I want blue walls in my workspace unless that is supremely important to you, but real core value things like I want a job that where I will have the opportunity to grow my leadership skills even if it is first as a team member then as a leader.

Then make a list of things that violate your core values.  I call it the “Things I Won’t Have” list.  Here’s an extreme example.  If you’re in the medical field and are truly opposed to abortion then you would have working at an abortion clinic on the list.  I mean it has to be something you truly would not do even for any amount of money.

Once you know yourself you will have the confidence of knowing yourself in a truly intimate way and that confidence goes a long way in how people react to you.  Does this mean that you should try to change the way everyone thinks on a subject?  NO!  That would be called Fanaticism.

But you as a human are entitled to know who you are, what you will and won’t do and what you want.  And when you know that you can be comfortable telling others and going for what you want with no apologies or hesitations and this is a truly powerful way to interact with people, especially employers.  And the good thing is that those who don’t respond positively to you won’t be wasting your valuable job search time and will usually be happy to direct you in to those who would be a good match.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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No Job Search Traction? Three Ways To Keep Up Your Momentum

Posted by jamesseetoo on October 8, 2009

Now that I look back on it, it’s been four months since I left my corporate recruiting job. Hard to believe it since this is the first time that I haven’t been “working” (had a steady job) since I was thirteen. And there’s one thing that’s been lurking there like a shadow just outside of peripheral vision – you know it’s there but when you turn around to look at it you can’t find it. So I decided to really think this one through and I’ve decided that the one thing that really discourages a person on a job search is a lack of traction. There doesn’t seem to be movement – especially when you hear more and more dismal news about the economy.

And discouragement leads to depression and – well let’s not go there since I do have a solution to the problem. It’s easy when you’re first starting a job search to network and look at ads and apply for jobs. But what happens when there’s no movement? Like anyone who’s been on a bicycle riding down a hill, when you have to go up the next one you find out really quickly that momentum will only take you so far.

So let me ask you this, what’s the single thing that most people don’t do when they’re on vacation or otherwise not working? Well, the first thing that comes to mind for me is you don’t have to get up to go to work! Or in more general terms, you don’t have the type of schedule that forced you to do things at a certain time (like get up, shower, shave, put on fresh underwear – for most people that is) and get your butt to work. Or you can be a shut-in watching Jerry Springer all day.

Here are threes suggestion:

1) Set up a schedule for yourself – yes, that’s right you have all the time in the world to do your job search but hey, you never got to watch The View when you were at work so indulge. No! Don’t do it. Don’t turn on the TV! You’ve got a job working for the best boss you could have, yourself. Now does that mean that you have to search the web all day? Of course not but you should make sure that you set goals for yourself and grade yourself every week.

2) Make sure as part of your schedule that you’re keeping an eye on industry news for industries you want to be part of. If like me, you have an interest in biotech then make sure you know what’s going on in biotech. After all, when you get an interview, having that kind of knowledge will help you stand out.

3) Make it part of your mission to improve one skill set. Can it be more than one? Sure but make sure you’re really getting better in at least one area.

I know it’s hard to keep your momentum and your spirits up but really, setting up this kind of schedule for yourself will have a real impact on your search both in skills and attitude.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,
James Seetoo

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Throwing Darts At A Board

Posted by jamesseetoo on October 1, 2009

Some say that picking stocks is about as scientific as a monkey throwing darts at a board. Maybe I should try that, I might do better that way. At least it’s a system. Maybe I could have been a broker after all, get my Wall Street on. Greed is good and all that.

Recruiters do a lot of the same things that brokers do, cold calling people, trying to sell a job instead of a stock – and when you’ve got a good broker who really knows what she’s doing it can be a great partnership. The same is true with a recruiter.

Just like your broker, your recruiter should know not only the job market but at least something about the company he’s trying to get you to join. How many of you have had a recruiter call just trying to get you to send a resume but not really knowing anything about the job and worse, not even willing to take a half hour to get to know you and what you’re interested in doing?

It’s the old QAI (Qualified, Available, Interested) trick and while I can understand it from a time management standpoint, wouldn’t you rather work with someone who wants to take the time to get to know you and who is willing to direct you away from a job if it’s not the one that would be in your best interest? Like a broker trying to sell you a lousy stock for a commission, yes it’s true, there are some recruiters out there just to fill a job.

And it’s even worse if it’s an in-house recruiter who can’t tell you anything about an opportunity. Now I’m not saying that the recruiter should be a subject matter expert on a particular job (other than recruiting that is) but that recruiter should at least know the salary, relocation benefits if any, company culture – well you get the drift. I mean, if I was an expert engineer I probably would be doing engineering stuff rather than recruiting but if I call you please make sure you get at least the basic information about what kind of company I’m representing before moving forward. After all, you’re investing a lot more than money in this type of deal.

It’s important for the recruiter to develop a relationship with you as a candidate – I mean, I’ve recruited people for years before landing them the right position but it really was the right position for them and in that time you can develop a more than passing acquaintance. A recruiter who watches out for you can be a great resource when it comes time to looking for a new job or for advice on how to interview. At the same time, please be open to networking with your recruiter friends – like I always say, good people know good people.

So how do you know if the recruiter you’ve just started speaking with is someone you should work with? Make sure that you have a list of criteria that you want to cover before moving forward in the process. While everyone will have their own needs I would suggest that over and above all the other questions would be the following:

1) What’s the company culture? Is it matrixed, formal, informal? You know what you’re looking for.

2) What will my boss/team be like? Is he a micromanager? Will I be a one man band?

3) What are the near and long term expectations for this position? (30, 60, 90 day goals)

Even if the recruiter doesn’t know this off hand she should be willing to get back to you quickly with answers and you can set up a time where you can go over everything. Then you can get on to things like salary, relocation etc.

So hold your recruiter to a high standard, after all we’d like to have a better reputation than stock brokers but it’s great that we (recruiters and stock brokers) are still ahead of politicians on the popularity charts. After all, everyone needs someone to look down on. How do you think Jerry Springer got so popular?

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,
James Seetoo

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Back to the Basics

Posted by jamesseetoo on September 24, 2009

Okay, I admit it, I like a good cliche. After all, a cliche is a cliche for a reason – besides being catchy like good advertising it’s usually true.

One of the main lessons I’ve learned over the years as a student and teacher of martial arts is that everything usually comes back to the basics. You can learn all types of fancy moves but at the end of the day nothing works unless you’ve got a firm grasp of the basics and the firmer that grasp the better. On the other hand, when it comes to teaching, students usually want to move to more advanced things quickly and honestly, it’s usually more fun to teach the fancy stuff than the basics because – well, I’ve done the basics over and over again. Which is probably why I can do the fancier stuff so it’s  kind of a circular argument.

But I love the basics even though it’s easy to get caught up in the fancy stuff. Which is also one of the reasons I teach – it makes me think about the basics and keep going over them so they’re always fresh.

And I love the basics of recruiting, even cold calling. You can see it as a chore, an opportunity to be rejected by someone who doesn’t even know you or you can see it as a chance to meet someone really interesting, an adventure in getting to know someone you might otherwise never have met.

And the same holds true as you progress in your career. Think about what you do, whatever you do – it all comes back to the basics doesn’t it? You might like doing projects and managing people but you have to have a core skill in order to base things on. There has to be a base line made up of all the experiences you’ve gained over the years. But through it all, you need to have something to hang them on and that’s where the basics come in.

After all, if you can do all the 360 degree assessments you want but if you don’t have a firm grasp on what your organizational goals are they don’t mean anything. It’s like developing a cool new product that your customers don’t need – you’ve strayed from where you need to go.

So where does this all fit into your job search or your job performance? Well, sometimes an opportunity will present itself as something you’ve done before. Most recruiters will automatically think been there, done that – she’s beyond that job. We need someone who’s more “hands on.” But if you’ve kept your hands in, that is – kept up with the basics rather than just been managing you’re probably as enthusiastic about the basics as someone who’s just starting at the same time bringing extra value to the job as someone who has been there done that.

There might be times when you’re presented with a job that you’ve done before and you might not be that interested because it may seem – well basic to you. But if you see it as an opportunity rather than an insult, a chance to re-ground yourself in the basics you just might discover what you loved about that particular skill set to begin with. And when you’re back in the game, you’ll have the opportunity to stand out and be outstanding.

So here’s an exercise for you. Remember when you were starting out in your career, when everything was new and you found ways to apply your skills. Remember the feeling you had when you figured something out using the basic skills you already knew with a slight twist of your own. And move forward to another time when you built on these basic skills to solve other problems. Now make that picture bigger and brighter and step into it so you’re not watching it as a movie but you’re acting in it. And feel the love of what you were doing.

Do the basics excite you again, make you want to get back to doing things hands on? If they do, you’ve gotten back to the basics and your love of what you do will come through in any interview or at your job.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,
James Seetoo

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The Single Most Important Interview Question

Posted by jamesseetoo on September 16, 2009

I’m going to assume that anyone who is reading this has probably had more than a few interviews.  And when you think back on them, who controlled the conversation?  I say conversation because ideally, that’s what an interview should be.  There should be a give and take so the interviewer gets to know you as a person and not just a resume and at the same time you can get the flavor of the organization that’s interested enough to interview you.

I had a telephone interview recently where the conversation degenerated into “we want you but you have to make a decision right now.”  Wow.  I mean I didn’t even have any decent background information on the organization.  Now it’s easy to get stampeded into a decision when you’ve been looking for a while and this is a common technique with some recruiters, pitchmen (limited time offer) and pickup artists (I can only talk for a minute). Needless to say I passed.

But this recruiter couldn’t really answer the most important question that can be asked during an interview and it’s the question that allows you to take control of and set your frame around an interview: “What’s important for you in this position?”

Now just to clarify, the frame sets the parameters and direction of the conversation.  If you’re in a position of just answering questions at best you won’t be able to control the impression you make and at worse the interview turns into an interrogation.  And both you and the interviewer walk away from the interview unsure of what went on and probably thinking that it was all a waste of time.

But if you ask, “What’s important for you in this position?” or some variation on that, you’ll really get an understanding of how the other person sees the job, its position in the company and where you would fit in.  And it will promote a great conversation not only about the skills you listed on the resume but also about your experiences and the direction you want to go.  It allows you to control a behavioral interview and turn a traditional interview into a conversation.  But most of all, it gives you insight into what the interviewer really wants to know and guess what, you’ll find that when you interview with several people in a company they will say the same things on the surface but underneath they all view the job differently.

When you ask this question, you instantly create rapport with the interviewer and can then speak directly to his/her concerns which greatly enhance your value as a candidate.  Even more, if they’re giving you wildly differing visions of the job and the company, you may find that you’ve dodged a bullet.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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Hey Buddy, Can I Interest You In A Free Prize?

Posted by jamesseetoo on September 9, 2009

By now you’re probably back from the long weekend and you’ve had a chance to realize that hey, just why was it I was in such a rush to get back to work?  Quarter ends are coming up and everyone is in a rush to make sure that they’re profitable by the end of the year but that last bit of Summer is still with us and the sun is beckoning.

And you’re at work.

I think it’s something that gets ingrained in our senses from coming back from our long summer school breaks where we were just able to have fun.  And so when we go back to work, it’s – well work.

But for those of you who have a job, you probably want to keep it – at least for now, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re advancing your career but just slogging away at your job.

And there are some of you who really enjoy your work and that’s great, keep it up.  You give the rest of us hope.

But as Simon & Garfunkel sing: “When you’re weary, feeling small – when tears are in your eyes” at work, you can grind it out or get out.

And when that happens, you’ve probably let your job define you.

But let’s re-frame that argument because it’s all a matter of perspective isn’t it?  If you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again, you’ve probably got the mental equivalent of carpal tunnel syndrome.  And just like having physical carpal tunnel it hurts.

So like that old joke:

You: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”

Doctor: “Then don’t do that.” (Rimshot)

Take the Doctor’s advice, don’t do that.  Try doing things a bit differently.  After all, if you don’t like doing things the same way, what have you done to try to make it better for yourself?  Chances are, what you’re experiencing is the same thing everyone else is so you have a chance to make it better for everyone.

And then you’ve added value to your job and to your career.

Now I’m not saying you have to make some major new breakthrough in data entry that will change the way data is entered all over the world.  But you can make an incremental change, a small bit of common sense evolution to what you’re doing that will make a difference for you and probably for your career.

Note and disclaimer: Obviously any incremental change should be made in compliance with all local, state and federal laws.  Bernie Madoff’s new take on the Ponzi scheme didn’t exactly end up well.

Seth Godin talks about the Free Prize Inside from his book entitled “The Free Prize Inside” – the incremental change that makes a product stand out in a crowd.  Eben Pagan talks about “moving the free line” when putting out a product, that is, giving away high value to get permission to market to an audience.  And many employers do things like supply coffee or subsidized lunches to their employees as a benefit (really it’s to give you more time at your desk, sneaky huh?).

But what are you giving yourself as a free prize career-wise?  Is there something you could do at your job that would make things easier or more stimulating for you?  Maybe you can try putting together a project or a new process?  Can you make things more efficient so you can spend more time drinking that free coffee?  Or even just researching a new way to do something will give you perspective and it might lead you to gain a new skill set that can take you into something more interesting.

And it doesn’t cost anything.  Just a little intellectual stimulation.  After all, who doesn’t like a free prize, especially if you’re a guaranteed winner.

Remember, you skills are your job security.

Best,

James Seetoo

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How To Win Friends And Influence People

Posted by jamesseetoo on September 1, 2009

This has got to be one of the best book titles in history, right up there with “A Canticle For Leibowitz” a book I’ve never read but whose title I can’t forget.  Dale Carnegie’s masterpiece is still in print after all these years and so you’d think that at the very least people would have some familiarity with it – especially when you’re in a job search.

So how is it that anyone can send an email like this?

“I am an immunologist and biopharma manager looking for a position.
Please contact me via email or phone;

Thanks,

XXXX XXXXXXXX, PhD”

No “Hi, how are you?” No “I’d appreciate it if you could help me.” Nothing.

So maybe it’s me as a jaded old recruiter but my first reaction to this is “So what?”  I mean, I don’t even handle immunology positions.

But it struck me that this person has never, ever read “How To Win Friends And Influence People” which while no longer the standard for this kind of things is better than sending an email saying “I’m looking for a position, call me.”  Well, at least he said please.

While this may be particularly egregious example it’s really part of larger problem.  People are too used to texting and instant messaging that they don’t know how to write a simple letter.

It’s an extension of a problem I first noticed about six years ago when I was trying to hire an intern.  We couldn’t find anyone who had decent phone skills.

But I like to think that we actually have these skills, we’re just out of practice.  In some cases they probably have atrophied to the point of needing re-education but they’re really not hard to learn.

Even though our more casual society encourages people to a familiarity that would never have been accepted in prior years, when making an initial contact it always pays to be more formal than less.  So I think it’s time to move back to more formality when trying to make a first impression both electronically and in person.  Try taking a look at “Mad Men” set in the early ’60’s.  There’s a certain style in the manners that will make you stand out.  Of course, you can’t smoke and drink at work (if you can, I might be applying) but I think you’ll get what I mean.

And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?  Separating yourself from the pack and standing out.  When all the rest of the people are out there speaking in text messaging code, your ability to express yourself coherently will make a huge difference in how people respond to you.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

Best,
James Seetoo

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