Friday, April 4, 2014

Where Jobs REALLY Come From. It's Not Where You Think.

John Hope Bryant -Founder and CEO, Operation HOPE

I dig really deep into this in my new book, HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM (June, 2014 release), but let me say it here quick, clean and crisp. On job creation, we're looking for love in mostly all the wrong places.
We talk about big business creating jobs, but this is not the 1970's, when 70% of all employment came from big business. 

We talk about innovation, but to quote my friend Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, "an innovation without a customer standing next to it is not a business."

We tell our kids to go to school K-12 and graduate (check), and then go to college and graduate (check). And then we tell all of our kids to go off and get a good job working for either big business or the government. 

Now, putting aside the six-figure-plus student loan balances that are slowly strangling a generation of achievers, 1,000 or so companies that employ 10,000 people or more in America cannot save America alone.
As admirable and inspiring as IBM, HP, UPS, the Coca-Cola Company, Wells Fargo, Google, Microsoft, Rubbermaid, Apple, SunTrust Banks and 970 other household name companies might be, this is simply not where we are going to find enough good jobs to employ a nation. 

Government is great, but the government in the U.S. economy accounts for only between 8%-13% of all jobs. The rest come from the private sector. And in the Middle East and Africa, the ratios are all backwards, meaning worse. In some countries 90% of all jobs are government, which is not sustainable I might add. And most of the rest of the jobs come from big businesses that are tied to the government. But none of these folks can solve the jobs crisis in those countries either. Everyone seems to be looking for love in all the wrong places. 

We seem to be talking about everything but the facts that matter most. So where do jobs (in a growing economy) really comes from? Let me take a run at it. 

There are more than 7 billion people in the world.
There are 300 million people in America.
America is the largest economy in the world, with approximately $17 trillion in GDP.
There are approximately 26 million business entities in America, but most of these companies and corporations are shell entities or tax structures.
Of the 26 million plus business entities, approximately 6 million employ one person or more.
Of the 6 million that employ one or more, less than 1,000 businesses employ 10,000 people or more. And most of these companies don't define economic growth as 'hiring more people.' This is not a knock on big business, it's increasingly a reality.
Approximately 18,000 businesses employ between 1,000 and 10,000 people.
70% of all jobs come from companies with 500 employees or less.
50% of all jobs in America come from companies with 100 employees or less. That's right -- HALF of all jobs in America. 

There you have it. 

Small businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups and what is called "shoot ups" account for the majority of jobs in America, and most job growth comes from small businesses in years 3-7. 

I remember getting into a public debate with a big time Fortune 500 CEO. He was arguing how only big business was the driver of all relevant economic growth. I simply reminded him that every big business -- including his -- was once a small one. He stopped arguing. 

America started with the agrarian farmer during the Agricultural Age, and then came the Industrial Age, the Technology Age, and where we are today -- the Information Age. And my bet on the future -- is you and me. I believe the 21st century is going to see the dawning of the Human Age. Back to where we all began -- human capital as wealth creation. 

And that is why after 22 incredible years, I rebranded and relaunched Operation HOPE as a start-up: America's first nonprofit software company, specializing in the software of human potential. Reverse engineering poverty (into human potential). 

So when your kids ask you what they should be doing with their lives, don't just limit them to going and getting a job that already exists -- or alternatively doesn't exist. 

Challenge them to create a new job no one has ever seen or thought of before. Or maybe just a practical product or service that everybody needs, right in your neighborhood. Right around the block from your home or office. 

No one knew we needed the Internet until we got it -- and now most of us cannot live without it. You're reading this article because of the Internet. But in 1992, most of this eWorld we take for granted was a mere dream. And 90% of it was created by dreamers, entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

Average people like you and me created modern America. We can do it again. One new job at a time. 

Let's go.

Revealed: The World's Most & Least Advanced Countries

Source: Matthew Bishop- US Business Editor at The Economist

UNTIL recently, the popular way to compare the progress of one country relative to another was to use the size of their economies. America had the biggest GDP (and almost the biggest per capita GDP), so it stood to reason it was the most advanced country in the world.
Nowadays, we all know that GDP is a flawed measure of how well a country is doing. Because it only adds up the activity that involves money changing hands, it ignores all sorts of things that matter to a country's well-being.
After the financial crash of 2008 revealed that the world had been fooled by strong GDP growth into thinking all was well, there was general agreement among policymakers that we needed better measures to judge how individual countries, and the world as a whole, are doing. I chaired a Global Agenda Council at the World Economic Forum that decided to create* what has become the "Social Progress Index", which has just been published, comparing some 132 countries. You can see the full results here.
The SPI uses 54 different measures of social and environmental progress, grouped into three categories, to answer the following questions:
  • Does a country provide for its people's most essential needs?
  • Are the building blocks in place for individuals and communities to enhance and sustain well-being?
  • Is there opportunity for all individuals to reach their full potential?
So, which country comes out as the best in the world by this measure. As Nick Kristof pointed out in his column in the New York Times this morning, it is not America, as "we underperform because our economic and military strengths don’t translate into well-being for the average citizen." True, as Kristof notes, the US "excels in access to advanced education but ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety. Even in access to cellphones and the Internet, the United States ranks a disappointing 23rd, partly because one American in five lacks internet access."
The most advanced country in fact is New Zealand, living proof that small is beautiful (and that isn't a reference to all the hobbits living there). According to the SPI, New Zealand is truly the land of opportunity, showing strongest on indicators of the chances it gives its citizens to reach their full potential. Two other smallish countries rank second and third, Switzerland and Iceland, whilst the highest ranking member of the big economy G8 is Canada, in seventh place. (Canada ranks second on "opportunity", ahead of the fifth-ranked US.)
Poorer countries are often compared using to the UN's Human Development Index, though this tends to be highly-correlated with GDP, with all the limitations that implies. One of the strengths of the SPI is that, by only using social and environmental indicators and excluding all economic measures, it is easier to compare how countries with similar GDP are doing relative to each other. According to SPI, eight of the ten least advanced countries are in Africa, including relatively wealthy Nigeria in 123rd place. Bottom of the ranking is Chad. Yet some African countries rank fairly highly, such as Botswana in 57th place, above South Africa (69th), Turkey (64th), Saudi Arabia (65th), Russia (80th) and China (90th), among others.
One lesson from the SPI is that the economy is not destiny when it comes to building a better country. Some countries do considerably better by their citizens than others with similar levels of GDP. One goal of publishing the SPI is to encourage proper study of why some countries do better than others, so that the laggards can learn to do better. One striking finding is that three countries in sub-Saharan Africa far outperformed on social progress compared to other countries with a similar GDP, Ghana, Malawi and Liberia. Could it be that there is an emerging sub-Saharan model that other countries in the region can copy?
For businesses, the SPI may also be a useful leading indicator of social and political risk. For instance, the Middle East countries in which there was political upheaval during the Arab Spring all under-performed versus countries with a similar GDP on the measure of "opportunity".
Explore the SPI and you may learn something valuable!
* The original idea was transformed into the SPI under the brilliant academic leadership of Michael Porter, an influential Harvard professor, working with the staff at the Social Progress Imperative, lead by my frequent co-author, Michael Green. I am a member of the Social Progress Imperative's advisory board.

One Thing Productive People Do Before Reaching for their Phones

Source: Greg McKeown -Author, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

In a recent study reported in TIME magazine, people check their phone on average 110 times a day. Some people checked it as much as 900 times a day; that’s once every minute of every waking hour of the day. Given those extremes, I don’t believe it makes me a Luddite to suggest it may be more productive – and certainly more Essentialist - to reach for a pocket notebook or journal before your phone. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Checking your phone forces you to be reactive than pro-active; it creates pressure to respond to texts and emails when other people want you to, rather than when it’s convenient for you.
Writing in your notebook puts you back in control of your communication; it gives you the chance to craft your reply instead of shooting it off reactively, and respond on your schedule, not someone else’s
2. Checking your phone fills you with that frenetic, compulsive feeling that you might be missing out.
Writing in your notebook has a calming influence.
3. Checking your phone tricks you with the trivial; it fools you into thinking that news and updates from the virtual world are more important than what’s right in from of you in the actual world right now.
Writing in your notebook reminds you of what’s important right now.
4. Checking your phone fills every spare moment with noise.
Writing in your notebook provides you time to think and reflect.
Of course, the benefits of writing in a notebook or journal go beyond the realm of productivity. One of my grandfathers died a few years ago. Upon going through his things, I was struck by what I found, or rather what I didn’t find: not a single journal or notebook or any kind of written record about the life he had lived. Contrast this with my other Grandfather in England who wrote a single line in his journal every couple of days for some fifty years.
What I am saying is that if we want to leave a legacy to those who come after us one powerful way to do it is to write a journal. David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian has said if you want to become the voice of your generation, write a journal entry every day and then gift it to your local university library at the end of your life. Voice of your generation or not, I believe that a journal is one of the most precious gifts you can give to those you leave behind.
If journaling sounds too daunting a task for you, I suggest the following simple way to get started:
Write One Sentence Every Day. If you want to create this new Essentialist habit, use this counter- intuitive yet effective method: write less than you feel like writing. Typically, when people start to keep a journal they write pages the first day. Then by the second day the prospect of writing so much is daunting, and they procrastinate or abandon the exercise. So instead, even if you feel like writing more, force yourself to write no more than one sentence a day. Apply the disciplined pursuit of “less but better” to your journal.
In an article called, “If You Don't Design Your Career, Someone Else Will” I suggest a step by step process for making sure you are using your life for what really matters. When you have a year's worth of journal entries to look back on, it will broaden your perspective and greatly enhance your ability to more clearly see the difference between the many things in your life that are mere distractions and the few things that are truly vital.
Photo: Monkey Business Images/

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Job Interview Questions You Should NOT Answer (Or Ask)

There are a number of questions that are clearly off-limits in a job interview. It always astonishes me when I learn that people have been asked inappropriate or even illegal questions and I though it might be useful to re-iterate some of the questions you shouldn’t answer in your job interview.
The purpose of the job interview is to establish whether you are right for the job and company, and whether the company is right for you. Any questions you might get shouldn’t go beyond the professional assessment of your skills, enthusiasm and fit.
However, it can be very easy for interviewers to cross the line and ask questions that are inappropriate, and in many cases even illegal. I believe that asking those questions is mostly not done on purpose, but because of a lack of training and awareness.
Here are some commonly asked interview questions that are inappropriate and in fact illegal in many parts of the world:
  • What is your age?
  • What is your citizen status?
  • Have you got children?
  • What is your weight?
  • What is your financial status or credit rating?
  • Have you got any depths?
  • What is your family status?
  • Do you believe in God?
  • Where do you go to church?
  • Do you drink alcohol?
  • What do you do at the weekends?
  • What religious holidays do you observe?
  • What is your race?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
The tricky thing is how to handle these questions. Always remember that you don’t have to answer any questions in a job interview that are not related to your job and you don’t have to answer question about race, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, family status, type of military discharge or your financial position. You can even terminate the interview and leave.
However, refusing to answer questions can create a very awkward atmosphere. If you are happy to reveal the answers, you can simply answer the questions, but remember, it is your right not to.
Sometimes, when you feel the interviewer is starting to overstep the mark, you might want to answer with with a caveat like:
Yes, I have three children. But personal circumstances have little or nothing to do with my ability to perform this job and I believe it is actually illegal to discuss such non-work-related issues in an interview. Shall we get back to discussing the things that actually matter to this job…
This usually does the trick and will stop any further questions of that kind.
If the questions make you uncomfortable and you prefer not to answer the them, then you might just say:
Why would that be relevant to assess my suitability for this job? I believe this type of questions is not really relevant and actually illegal.
It is always wise to remember that in most circumstances there is no sinister reason behind those questions and the interviewer just wants to innocently assess whether you are right for the job. Therefore, the overall best way to deal with inappropriate or illegal interview questions is to look beyond the question and ask yourself: what is the motive for asking the question?
This often allows you to provide an answer that will satisfy the interviewer but avoid the details you might not want to share. For example, if your interviewer asks whether you are a U.S. citizen, you can simply answer: If you are asking whether I am legally allowed to work in this country, then the answer is yes.
Hope this is useful? As always, I’d love to hear your views on this issue. Have you ever been in a situation where an interviewer overstepped the mark or asked inappropriate or illegal questions? Any other tips of how to handle those questions? Please share your views…

Source: Bernard Marr

Job Interview: Why Only 3 Questions Really Matter

Source: Bernard Marr

ven for the most fearless amongst us, job interviews can be nerve wracking. In order to give us the best chance of success we tend to prepare for many of the difficult questions we anticipate, questions like:
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
Of course, you can never predict how an interview will go and what questions you will get. You might get an interviewer who fires one tough question at you after the other, or one that turns the interview into a more comfortable, natural two-way conversation. Preparing, therefore is difficult. In most cases we practice the answers to a long list of possible questions. The problem is that this can leave you over-prepared and as a consequence your pre-conceived answers can come across a bit robotic.
From my experience, there are really only 3 questions you have to prepare for and you can link most of the interview questions back to these three. Preparing for these three questions also means you can answer most questions more naturally, simply by referring mentally back to your preparations for these three questions.
Basically, any interviewer wants to establish 3 key things:
  1. Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?
  2. Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?
  3. Will you fit into the team, culture and company?
However, during the job interview, the interviewer might use many different questions and angles to get to the answers. If the interviewer doesn’t get what he or she wants from one question, they might ask them in different ways. Or they might probe from different angles to test for consistency in your answers.
Here is what’s behind these 3 questions:
1. Have you got the skills, expertise and experience to perform the job?
Think about the key skills you might need for the job you have applied for and assess your own level of expertise and experience in that context. It makes sense to identify the more specific or technical skills that your potential employer might expect as well as some more generic skills such as being a good communicator, having good IT skills, being a team player, etc. Once you have prepared for this question it will help you answer many different interview questions without getting sidetracked into talking about things that are not relevant. Remember that you want to demonstrate that you are aware of the key skills, expertise and experience required to do the job and that you have what it takes to perform it. Always go back to the key skills, expertise and experience when answering scary (and sometimes silly) questions like:
  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What are your greatest strengths / weaknesses?
  • What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
  • Why do you think you are right for this job?
  • What do you think the main challenges will be?
  • Etc.
2. Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?
Any potential employer wants to know that you are interested in the company and excited about the prospect of working there. You therefore want to demonstrate that you have researched the company, understand its strategy, current performance, structure, market position and products and that you can’t wait to join them. For most, you will have done your homework before you even applied for the job, but if you haven’t then check out the ‘about us’ section on their website and search for the latest strategy documents, annual reports, key statistics as well as the company history. Show that you know them and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and company. Here you might also want to think about your ambitions and how they fit into the company you have applied for. You can then use the insights for answering questions such as:
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you think our company is aiming to achieve?
  • What do you know about our products and services?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Why do you think this job is right for you?
  • What motivates you?
  • Etc.
3. Will you fit into the team, culture and company?
This final key question is about your personality and your style and how you as a person fit into the team and culture of the company. Companies have different cultures, which translate into different ways of behaving and working. It is important to make sure you fit in and don’t feel like a fish out of water. In fact, it is important for the company as well as for you. Again, hopefully you will have done some research prior to applying for the job. Sometimes, it can be tricky to find detailed knowledge about the company culture, in which case you simply talk about your assumptions and why you feel you fit in. One relatively new website that offers a glance inside companies is Glassdoor. The site is still in its infancy but provides a growing amount of data and information about what it is like to work for different companies. You want to map the culture of the company or the team you are planning to join and compare this to your personality traits, style and behaviors. Again, once you have done this you can use it to answer questions such as:
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What makes you fit into our company?
  • What makes you a good team member?
  • If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
  • Etc.
Of course, any interview is a two-way process. In the same way the interviewer wants to find out that you are right for the company, you need to assess whether the company is right for you. Each of the questions can be turned around so that you can assess:
  1. By joining this company, will I make best use of my skills and expertise and will they help me to grow them further?
  2. Is the company excited about having me work for them and will they give me the necessary support?
  3. Is the company culture the right fit for me so that I can flourish and be myself?
If you ask relevant questions from your point of view then this will make the interview more balanced and create a more natural conversation.
I hope this is useful? Please let me know your thoughts and share any comments you might have on the topic.