Thoughts on Barbara Walters’ Retirement

When I was going to have dinner with Barbara Walters, my plan was to rip her a new one, to excoriate her, and show her to be a light-weight pretender. This was back more than a few years ago. I was a columnist with millions of readers in 82 newspapers around the U.S. I was going to expose this heartless fluff bag. The $3 million woman, my rear end! I was out to get that shark, the person who belittled, embarrassed and trod all over a real journalist, the widely respected Harry Reasoner.

OMG, as they say today. Was I ever wrong. I mean seriously wrong. Barbara Walters was a fascinating dinner companion. She was intelligent. She had a tremendous grasp of all sorts of issues. She was kind. Most surprisingly to me, she was gracious and genteel; very far from shark-like. She was entertaining and engaging.

I was fortunate, because of my position, to have been able to dine with some very well known entertainers, business leaders and politicians. Barbara Walters would have to be right at the head of my list of truly memorable people. She won’t remember me at all (I was, after all, a print journalist, not a broadcast one!) but I think I became a better professional through what I learned that night.

Back in those days, there was still such a thing as journalism. People who reported the news as accurately, and objectively as they could. People who actually strove to separate fact from opinion. People who tried to find and report the truth. Barbara Walters was one of those. And one of the best of them.

We wish her well on her retirement. She will be missed.

6-month, interest-free financing now available! No need to use your credit card or checkbook!

Now you can take advantage of Career Strategies’ expertise and resources without having to hit your bank account or credit card. We are extremely pleased to announce we have been accepted as a Pay Pal / Bill Me Later merchant. Bill Me Later is not a credit card but is like one — it provides six-months of interest free financing to qualified persons, and offers even longer payment terms at a very reasonable interest rate. Very few people have “career counseling and job search assistance” in their budgets. This has made it difficult, sometimes impossible, for clients to retain us to help them in their career development. Career Strategies is not a bank — we are career counselors — and typically over the last 21 years of our practice, all we could manage was to allow clients to put down a meaningful deposit and pay off their balances in two or three months. That put us out of the reach of many people who wanted to use us. Since people can now purchase our services with a small down payment and long-term installment plan, that problem largely goes away. Our goal has always been to help people find jobs — the best jobs they can command, at the best salaries, in the best organizations. This new Pay Pal / Bill Me Later program will make it possible for us to help many more people — perhaps you!

Career Strategies Receives A+ Rating From the Better Business Bureau

White Plains, NY — Career Strategies is proud to announce that it has become a BBB Accredited Business and has received the highly coveted A+ Rating in Career Counseling and Outplacement.

In bestowing the new honor to Career Strategies, the BBB noted, “Your BBB Accreditation status makes a powerful statement about your commitment and consistent efforts to maintain a strong sense of accountability and responsibility. As a BBB Accredited Business,” they continued, “you work to uphold the trust and respect of your customers.”

According to the Better Business Bureau, the Accreditation and A+ rating is based on 16 different factors, including advertising, sales practices and service delivery, among others. Being granted Accredited status, said the BBB, “demonstrates your commitment to truth in advertising and gives consumers an assurance of your business’ commitment to stand behind your products and work.”

“We are deeply honored to be recognized by the Better Business Bureau,” said Bruce Blackwell, who founded Career Strategies in 1992. “We are especially proud to be given an A+, the BBB’s highest rating.” The rating system, like many schools, goes from A+ down to F.

In the all of New York State, only two Career Counseling and Outplacement businesses have been given Accredited status by the BBB. “This is a very rare honor indeed,” said Blackwell.

Accredited businesses are required to meet all applicable standards for the BBB’s Code of Business Practices, advertise its services honestly, ensure that all written materials clearly and accurately describe its services and “approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.”

Career Strategies provides career testing and assessment to help clients identify their viable career options. It also assists job seekers by preparing resumes and marketing materials, creating personal marketing plans, distributing client resumes to companies and recruiters, and providing interview preparation and job search coaching. The company has served several thousand executives and professionals in career transition.

Career Strategies is located at 188 East Post Road, Suite 304, White Plains, NY 10601. Main line: 914-437-9230. Fax: 913-437-9229. Website: www.careerstrategiesgroup.com.

Branding — Are you a better candidate than another lawyer?

A key to success in marketing is to have a clear brand strategy — to create an understanding in the marketplace about how your product is different from, and a better value than, another similar product.   Without a clear brand strategy, you will not be successful in the marketplace. This holds just as true for job seekers as it does for consumer product marketers.

Back the day, when General Motors was the leading car company not only in America, but in the world, each product line had a unique brand strategy. Chevrolet was the budget model. Pontiac was the fun, sporty model. Oldsmobile was the conservative model for our parents. Cadillac was for the rich. Over time, GM amalgamated all of its models, and you couldn’t tell a Chevy from a Pontiac or an Olds, and even Cadillac dabbled with less expensive models (remember the Cadillac Cimmaron? It was just a re-badged Chevrolet!). They were all parity products build on the same platforms, with the same look and same engines.

The result? Market confusion and a loss of brand identity. So what happened? GM lost its supremacy in the world market. It is not even America’s #1car maker anymore. Pontiac and Oldsmobile have disappeared. GM simply couldn’t compete against the other car makers whose products were easier to define and whose value was more apparent.   The same concept holds true for attorney job seekers. How is an employer supposed to tell the difference between legal job applicants who have the same experience in the same practice areas?  They can’t. This makes it much tougher for an attorney to prevail against the competition in the job market.

I have spoken with literally 20,000 attorneys over the last 20 years. That’s about 20 per week, week-in and week-out. They all claim to have the same core skills.   What are you good at? Write down 5 or 6 things on a sheet of paper, then come back to this blog article. (roll theme music from “Jeopardy) … OK, ready? Here’s what many of you will have said are your core talents:

1. research

2. writing

3. analyzing

4. problem-solving

5. advising

6. learning new things quickly

7. negotiating

If this is the best you can come up with, you need to do better. There is hardly a lawyer out there who cannot say that they lack any of the talents listed above. You can’t triumph against your competitors if you are making the same claims as they are.

I am not saying that these are not valuable skills. But you need to offer more. A Chevy and a BMW both have four tires and a steering wheel, and both will get you to work in the morning — but which would you rather drive?  If you think you are a BMW-level attorney, are you positioning yourself in the market as a Chevy?  If so, start doing some serious thinking about your brand strategy so you can gain a competitive edge in the hunt for a new job.