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The Reference Letter; How To Get One, How To Write A Letter of Recommendation

March 30, 2009 | By | No Comments

Your Business Blogger(R), also known as Your Business Professor has written dozens of recommendations for hundreds of students, clients, friends and vendors.

Question: If I wrote dozens of letters, then how did hundreds of people get a written recommendation from this very generous, very perceptive and very busy business consultant?

Answer: I didn’t write them.


I used to write recommendations all the time.

Before I got smart. (This took a long time…)

Referance_letter_of_recommendation012.jpg Linked here is a glowing recommendation from a United States Congressman for Your Business Professor for a presidential appointment. Note the glowing language. The detailed biography. The compelling argument.

Wow! That Congressman must really know Jack! Were they roommates in college? Are they cousins? Did they serve jail time together?


The Good Congressman hardly knows me to send me anything other than a Christmas card.

No, the Good Congressman didn’t actually write my recommendation.

I did.


Why did a Very Busy Big Boss sign-off on a letter to Your (unknown) Business Professor?

Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill, Jr., the late Speaker of the House during Reagan’s presidency, directed his staff to, don’t take nobody that nobody brought. That the Speaker would only use his resources for someone who was sponsored by a trusted adviser.

A trusted third party…

To get a recommendation from a Very Busy Big Boss, find a friend who the Boss trusts. A trusted staffer.

With input from the trusted staffer, I composed a draft of my recommendation, which was, of course, fact checked, spell checked and signature ready for the Big Endorser’s OK.

This is important: Very Important Busy People don’t have time to write anything. They have speech writers.

If you want an endorsement or a recommendation, you will need to become a speech writer.

For your own content.

This is the first lesson in Completed Staff Work for subordinates. The Big Boss should only make decisions and sign his name.

The Boss does not do any work.

“Work” in the form that the individual contributor or staffer would recognized.

I tell Interested Parties if they want a written recommendation from me on why someone should hire them — the Interested Party must first draft the letter so that I would know why I would make such suggestion.

Some one is going to have to do the thinking and the work for me.

This is how senior management works.

Some Interested Parties might suggest that Your Business Blogger(R) is not very bright and certainly very lazy.

Perhaps so. But.

This is how senior management works.


Now that the Alert Reader understands who really does the thinking and the working, let’s review what should go into the writing of the recommendation.

Symmetry and Chemistry

The letter is written for a Big Boss to be read by another Big Boss. Well, OK, maybe not. Maybe your letter will be signed by an auto-pen (or secretary) and read by a trust adviser (or secretary).

The Letter of Recommendation has two purposes,

1) To assure the gate-keeper that your criminal record is irrelevant or that those tattoos are not visible with modest clothing (noticeable only in that YouTube video that you can’t get deleted). And,

2) To get you a face-to-face appointment for the interview.

The Big Boss probably will not see your letter and/or resume until you walk in his office. (Remember, he’s got staff to work and to think for him.)

The Hiring Manager is looking to answer two questions with Symmetry and Chemistry:

  • Do we have the same values?
  • Will we all get along?

Your Letter of Recommendation gets you two together. So what should it look like?

Personnel is Policy

The wife of Your Business Professor, Charmaine, worked in the Office of Presidential Personnel for Ronald Reagan who often said, “Personnel is Policy.” No President or senior leader can make every decision at every level but he can have have trusted deputies who can act in the president’s best interest — making decisions that the president would make if he had enough time.

Your Letter of Recommendation should indicate that you will make recommendations and think and act just as The Boss would think and act.

Academics, journalists, consultants and even real managers will tell you that they are looking for independent, free-thinking individuals who advance independent thought and action.

This, of course, is a lie.

Managers want subordinates who will offer well thought-out recommendations and work to persuade The Boss — But once The Boss makes a decision, the subordinate will implement the decision as if the decision were the subordinate’s.

You will be hired for your wisdom and judgment.

Problem, Solution, Result

Give a short example of a problem you faced, a solution you devised and the result of your initiative.

“[Problem] When faced with a sudden snow storm, Mr. Jones rented a snow plow [solution] and cleared the parking lot assuring that customers could get to the store front where he worked as a cashier. His initiative not only provided a customer service and safety but increased the store’s daily sales [results].”

Atta-Boys and Girls

What actions won you what awards? What superlative? All-American? Honor Roll?

“Mr. Jones never missed a session in my Business 100 class.”

“Miss Jones volunteered as a researcher to find a solution to a BlackBoard software problem I was having.”

“Mr. Jones would bring guests to my open lectures.”

“Miss Jones got an “A” in my class and regularly contributed to the discussion.”

“Mr. Jones was consistently on time.”

“Miss Jones worked part-time while attending and completing her undergraduate course work.”

Look and Feel

The letter should be a single page, single spaced, 12 point type, on 8-1/2 X 11 inch, with a conventional front like Times New Roman.

Your draft should allow space for the Big Boss letter head and signature block.

If there is an address to a third party, provide it in the body.

Be sure to (gently) alert the Big Boss of any deadlines or suspense dates.

If the letter is to be mailed directly from the Big Boss to a third party, request a blind copy to be mailed to you. We want to know how the Big Boss Staff may have modified your draft.

Ask someone to preview your social networking pages. Not sure about that bikini picture on Facebook? Take it down. Never have a picture taken with any, ANY kind of beverage in your hand — alcohol or not. Water looks like vodka.

So, put the drink down and take your name tag off when the cameras are close. Including cell phone cameras — especially cell phone cameras.

Do not use your too-familiar nick-name, Corky. Change your too-familiar email address, hotstuff@hotmail.

…So What?

Your reference letter or letter of recommendation is a one-page sales sheet; a marketing campaign to get you hired.

If you have had a real problem in your past, like that really interesting YouTube, email me for a consult. (Hint: I was young and needed the money is not a defense.)

Your Business Blogger(R) was still able to get a job after that unfortunate bar fight, street racing and other assorted events in his wasted youth. (No, no, not THAT wasted…)

And no, I do not need to see that video. Really.


Four steps to getting a job.

Helping sentences for employee evaluations.

Tattoos on your job search.

FREE Management Training: The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey

February 2, 2009 | By | One Comment

Conservatives have the correct content and communication, but what is needed now is control — the control seen as a component of management*.

Quin Hillyer at the AmSpecBlog, the American Spectator Blog, writes, We Need Managers,

I can think of all sorts of conservative organizations that need better management skills. Maybe they should try to learn something here.


yoest_stern_business_school_NYU_nov_2006_cropped.jpgAlert Readers know that Your Business Blogger(R) reminds students and clients that management is defined as more than merely getting things done through others.

Management is getting things done through the ACTIVE SUPPORT of others. Lean how.

Your Business Blogger(R)

at the Stern Business School

at the New York University

Following is your invitation.

You Are Invited.

The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey: An Introduction

How to Manage Your Staff and How to Manage Your Manager

Well-run organizations have managers and staff who work to control events, instead of events controlling them. They anticipate the future . . . adapt to the present . . . and learn from the past.

Who: Managers who need to get in control of events or to better influence results

What: An introduction to The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey

1. The Management Equation:

Vocational Time vs. Management Time

2. How Management Really Works:

The Molecule of Management

3. The Who and How of Promotions:

The Freedom Scale

When: Wednesday, Feb 18, 2009, 11:00am to 12:15pm

Where: Northern Virginia Community College,

Alexandria Campus, campus map

The new Bisdorf Auditorium, room 196

3001 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311 street map

Why: Improve managerial effectiveness and staff efficiency.

Cost: No Charge. Register here.

The class will center on the work of Ken Blanchard and Bill Oncken in their book The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey. Also used will be the Harvard Business Review article, Managing Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?, published in 1974, by Bill Oncken, Jr.. The article, an edited excerpt of the Managing Management Time™ seminar, has gone on to become one of the two most requested reprints in the history of the Review. The training summarized in the article is sometimes called the “Monkey Management” seminar.

Jack Yoest, Adjunct Professor of Management and President of Management Training of DC, is a former Armored Cavalry Officer in Combat Arms. His military leadership training and experience guides his management philosophy at the core of Managing Management Time™. He has managed software, health care and international human resource management companies.

Jack also served in the Governor’s Office of the Commonwealth Virginia as Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Resources where he acted as the Chief Technology Officer for the secretariat. He was responsible for the successful Year 2000 (Y2K) conversion for the 16,000-employee unit. He was also a manager with a medical device start-up and helped move sales from zero to over $12 million, resulting in a buy-out by Johnson & Johnson. Jack has consulted in China and India.

Questions? email or call Jack at 202.215.2434 to save your spot.

Suggested class reading:

Do You Have An Incompetent Manager? From The Washington Post

Who’s Got The Monkey? from the Harvard Business Review

One Minute YouTube Introduction:

Jack Yoest


Adjunct Professor


*Management is traditionally defined as planning, organizing, leading, motivating and controlling.

There is no free lunch. The class is not FREE. It will be presented at no charge to the guests.

Parking and Directions at the Campus here.

What is the Best Job Interview Question? Human Resource Management

November 25, 2008 | By | One Comment

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest said Ben Franklin. And sometimes learning a skill will pay off in ways unintended and unanticipated.

My favorite interview question is to ask candidates,

What did they want to do, what did they want to be. The best candidates — by that I mean the most contented candidates, have a thread in their lives of what they wanted to do back then and what they are doing today.

An expert interviewer, like Your (humble) Business Blogger(R), can discern the contentment and the fire in the belly of the job candidate, by analyzing any gap between high school plans and the current stage in life — I find that the larger this gap, the more unhappy the candidate.

Unhappy candidates make for unhappy employees.

Critics of this crazy question accurately say that technology, markets, the world have changed since we were in high school, back in the day.

And they are right: the material world changes. Less so people. And what people love to do, and how each individual candidate would like to make a difference — remains constant thru life.

Here is my favorite example.

She was a competitive swimmer in her youth. And wanted to be a Life Guard. Her dream job that would make a difference. She trained, studied and was certified.

She found her calling; her vocation but she never found that job.

A disappointed teenager, she took a position as an Assistant Cashier in the athletic center at Camp of the Woods in Adirondack Park of upstate New York in June of 1982. She didn’t get what she wanted, but at least she was near the water.

One afternoon while ringing up a sale, the young girl heard a commotion from the pool behind her across the hall.

A woman was just pulled from the pool. Limp, on her back turning blue. Not breathing.

Stunned on-looking bystanders frozen.


The teenage girl darted to the woman. Started mouth-to-mouth. The woman moved, struggled, gagged, puked and breathed.

And Lived.

Our teenager never got exactly the job she wanted; that job she trained for.

But her education did pay off. Especially for one swimmer visiting Adirondack Park.

Training is never wasted.


Today that teenage girl, now a mature woman, lives out her high school dream making a difference in her dream vocation.

She wanted to make a difference in a unique way.

For Life.

And does so today.


Thank you (foot)notes:

The management at the resort was concerned that the near death by drowning would cause adverse publicity, I suppose. The life-saving event was never reported. Bad for business, you see. Our young heroine was never thanked.

And she doesn’t want to be thanked now. And really doesn’t want this blogged.

(But that’s what husbands do.)

Managers & Interns: Free Workshop at the Leadership Institute

June 3, 2008 | By | No Comments


Your Business Blogger(R)

at the Stern School of Business

New York University From the Leadership Institute,

Do you want your interns to be more organized, resourceful and effective?

The best internships enable interns to complete projects that create value for the organization, and to learn useful skills under the supervision of a mentor.

But interns often come to Washington with unrealistic expectations, which frustrate interns and mentors alike.

Send your interns to the Intern Workshop at the

Leadership Institute’s Stephen P.J. Wood building in

Arlington, Virginia on June 12, 2008,

from 9:15 am to 7:00 pm.

LI’s Intern Workshop teaches interns to set and achieve realistic goals during their internships.

Workshop speakers present tips about:

How to become an unforgettable asset

How to prioritize and get more done

Effective networking

Surviving on zero dollars a day

Personal development

This day-long workshop is free of charge.

It includes a free lunch and free dinner.

The Leadership Institute provides this service to philosophically like-minded organizations and offices to help you and your interns get the most out of your investment in them.

[To learn more about this seminar, click here.]

To register visit

For questions or additional information please

email Mary Koehn

or call (800) 827-LEAD

Your Business Blogger(R) will be teaching a short segment on Completed Staff Work and Managing Management Time(tm).

When LI says Free Workshop at the Leadership Institute, they really mean FREE. And there is a FREE LUNCH.


Thank you (foot)notes:

Jack Yoest is an Adjunct Professor of Management and President of Management Training of DC, LLC. He blogs with his wife Charmaine at Reasoned Audacity.

Support Soren Dayton!

March 21, 2008 | By | No Comments

Is Obama Wright? – Pastor Jeremiah Wright & Senator Barack

forwarded by Soren DaytonFellow Blogger Soren Dayton forwarded an outstanding video that weaved Barack X. Obama’s words and actions and pictures.

We live in the sight and sound generation. Where our preferred medium of communications is the moving picture.

A recent human resource management survey revealed that some 80% of influencers and decision makers in hiring will view a video of a job applicant. If you are applying for a job — send a YouTube.

This is what Soren Dayton did. The video Soren Dayton forwarded is a type of job application for Obama and the presidency.

It is compelling! It is creative! It is brilliant!

Soren Dayton is fired. The McCain campaign threw Soren under the bus.

So Soren Dayton is out of the campaign gig. Which makes him available. Hire Dayton for your next project.

Dayton will get you noticed…


Thank you (foot)notes:

Join the Support Soren Dayton! group on Facebook. Your Business Blogger(R) did. I’m member number 61, I believe.

Soren Dayton volunteered his time and good name to support John McCain’s candidacy for the Presidency. When he linked, via his Twitter account, to a hard-hitting video mashup against Barack Obama, the McCain campaign dumped Soren, and a national media conflagration ensued.

The purpose of this Facebook group is twofold:

1) To express support for Soren Dayton.

2) To let the McCain campaign know that we expect them to FIGHT, not roll over at the merest hint of controversy.

Soren Dayton Roundup.

Help Wanted — Job Opening at the Family Research Council

February 22, 2008 | By | No Comments

The Family Research Council based in Your Nation’s Capital, has a number of job openings.

In particular, Charmaine is looking for a Broadcasting Director.

The Broadcasting Director will manage the production, distribution and promotion of FRC’s radio programs, and audio and video projects and products. The Broadcasting Director oversees production of and edits FRC’s weekly radio program and the daily radio commentary. The Director is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of current broadcast projects and planning for new ones. This position maintains the production schedule for FRC’s radio studio. The incumbent manages production, distribution, and marketing of FRC audio projects; to include radio programs, public service announcements, commercials, and audio tape productions. The incumbent also has responsibility for all video needs in the organization.

Salary is in line with experience and is based in Washington, DC. And,

Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Radio Production, or related field and 5 years of related experience or equivalent combination of training and experience is required. Experience within and/or familiarity with the pro-family movement necessary. Preference will be given to applicants with related media experience and knowledge of pro-family policy issues. Strong organizational and administrative skills; and excellent written and oral communication skills are also required. Knowledge of Microsoft Word and experience with Excel is preferred. Experience in producing, recording, and editing radio program is essential. Knowledge of ProTools audio software, FTP Server, and studio equipment is essential. Knowledge of Final Cut Pro video editing software is helpful.

Contact FRC or email us.

Family Research Council is hiring an Executive Assistant

August 10, 2007 | By | 2 Comments

The Family Research Council is looking for a key player. From the FRC site,

The Executive Assistant will provide administrative support to the Vice President for Communications and facilitate the daily activities of the Communications Department.

The Executive Assistant will make travel arrangements; assist in preparing and sending out news releases; maintain department’s contact lists; make arrangements for meetings to include making catering arrangements.

Oversee, facilitate, and monitor the procedures pertaining to daily work flow and department communications. Represent the VP and the department in FRC staff meetings and interdepartmental meetings, as directed.

This position requires strong organizational, administrative, and budget management skills and the ability to adapt quickly to changes while using solid professional judgment.

This position also requires a high proficiency in the Windows environment. The incumbent in this position must be productive, competent, dependable, organized, focused, detail and task oriented, be able to carry out multiple tasks in a fast paced environment.

Must have a professional telephone manner. Requires BA degree and a minimum of 5 years experience in providing administrative support for senior staff or an equivalent combination of training and experience.

Please leave a comment or contact FRC if you would have a referral for this position. Thank you.

Job Interview: How To Tell If the Candidate Will Lie, Cheat, Steal?

March 8, 2007 | By | 9 Comments

He doesn’t go to church.

Knight and Bozell_culture_and_media_institute.JPG

Bob Knight and Brent Bozell

Photo Credit: Michelle S. Humphrey

from the Media Research Center It seemed that many of the clients of Your Business Blogger were having challenges finding integrity in job candidates. Even business schools are forced to teach ethics. Goodness.

So I ask Bob Knight, who runs the Culture and Media Institute a part of Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center about this. Bob’s team just released a report, The National Cultural Values Survey.

Smart Human Resource gurus have always used an unspoken, intuitive cultural profiling to test job candidates.

Bob Knight’s Survey quantifies with hard numbers what managers have all been feeling over the last few years.

And it turns out the HR professionals may have been right. People these days have a …flexible compass on truth.

The Culture and Media Institute released this report at The National Press Club on Wednesday in Washington, DC. I ask Bob, “What should hiring managers use to determine a good job candidate from one that would break the law, lie, or use drugs?”

“This is a problem for business and for us all,” Bob said later. The variable on honesty can be measured by the professed attendance at a house of worship. “The determining line would be going to church at least twice a month.” However, Bob was quick to remind me, “You can’t ask that in a job interview.”

Questions based on Faith Based Hiring practices would be, well, discriminating.

In favor of the crooks and liars and liberals.

In The National Cultural Values Survey: America: A Nation in Moral and Spiritual Confusion, Bob finds that,

The survey reveals that 74 percent of Americans believe the nation is in moral decline, and that a culture war is indeed occurring in America.

Indeed. First-line supervisors see this daily and battle with the challenge of finding ways of selecting good employees.

Managers would often gauge an aspect of culture and class of a job candidate by observing the prospective employee’s behavior at a restaurant. Table manners were important, but the astute manager watched how the candidate would treat the wait staff.

Bob Knight’s Survey takes this test to a higher level and gives a vignette on measuring honesty in a table called, Cheating on a Restaurant Bill,

You are out to dinner with a group of friends. When the check arrives you notice that several

items are missing from the bill. Your friends say you should just pay the bill, and that it’s the

restaurant’s own fault for making the mistake. What would you do?

85% of church-going conservatives would Tell the waiter and pay the right amount. Only 52% of the Godless liberals would be forthright.

The 18th-century atheist and culturally-correct philosphe, Voltaire, recognized this problem. Even though he believed Christianity was an “infamy,” he wrote that “I want my attorney, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God.”

Voltaire wanted this accountability to God not for his employee’s eternal salvation, but as a Total Quality Management System. “…Then I shall be robbed and cuckolded less often,” he concluded.

The Frenchman and the Jesus-loving Christians. Voltaire hated them. But he hired them.

And so should you.


Thank you (foot)notes:

If you are a manager, please comment on your favorite (legal) tactics to find honest employees.

What’s the One Best Question to Ask a Job Candidate?

Also see MRC’s Business and Media site.


And mark your calendars for Media Research Center’s 20th Anniversary Gala on 29 March. Your Business Blogger and Charmaine will be there with some of the smartest people in DC. You be there too.

Business Pundit has more data that supports one of Bob’s findings — children make us more honest and better people. See Do Parents Make Better Managers?

See Mike Paul’s Reputation Doctor.

All links are unpaid.

Read Major Findings of the Survey at the jump.

Read More

Looking For A Job…With Tattoos?

October 19, 2006 | By | 12 Comments

Our US Army is getting more recruits with tattoos. And so are you.

A third of the population 18 to 29 has a tattoo. Your Business Blogger(R) is a bit outside this age range and our five-kid penta-posse has not yet demanded needles with ink. But this is an exploding fad that will affect business hiring.


Body Piercing

Tools of the Trade

courtesy: Gotham Here I will review only the deliberate body modifications. Not the accidental. (Scars are tattoos with better stories.)

We just hired a number of employees. Not one of the attractive young women had any body art. That I noticed. Not that I was looking.

My concern is less with my outdated preferences than that potential candidates knew my preferences. If I control cutting the check, I’ll control the body cutting. I’d like some input in what peeps I be hangin’ wit’.

I prefer non-smokers with no (visible) body art. Conjugated verbs are a plus.

Please, no “Adult Language.”

Job seekers must remember that symmetry and chemistry between interview-er and interview-ee is what gets hired. It is not fair. But remember, I’m writing the check.

So tattoos and other self-mutilations are not for me. And it’s not likely that I would hire such decorations. But one of my managers with hiring authority might. One of my clients might. But not me.

(And please don’t ask me about trans-gender: If you take a meat cleaver to your manhood, there would probably not be a fit between us. Because you would be crazy.)

And I’m not the only fuddy-duddie. The Vault reports,

Companies with dress and grooming codes are on the strongest legal grounds when they defend their policies based on legitimate business reasons.

At Starbucks, “baristas” who serve the $5 lattes can’t display any tattoos or wear any piercing jewelry besides small, matched pair earrings. Each ear can’t have more than two piercings. Serving upscale coffee demands upscale workers, according to Starbucks, and tattoos don’t fit that scheme.

So what’s right? What is wrong with tattoos?

Sometime ago I questioned my Rabbi, Daniel Lapin, on the issue of tattoos. Yes, I’m Presbyterian who sits at the feet of the JollyBogger. But everyone also needs a Rabbi; a teacher. Your coach doesn’t have to be faith-based. But the “donations” can be tax deductible…

My Rabbi said that ancient Jewish tradition held that a person’s body does not belong to him; it belongs to the Creator and we borrow this earthly vessel for a while. Which is why the tattooing of identification numbers during the Holocaust was so humiliating to the Jews.

So if I interview you, or some other old codger interviews you, don’t tell us about your tattoos. It is not part of the job description.

You will be hired for your wisdom and your judgment.



Thank you (foot)notes,

Be sure to follow Your Business Blogger(R) and Charmaine on Twitter: @JackYoest and @CharmaineYoest

Jack and Charmaine also blog at Reasoned Audacity and at Management Training of DC, LLC.

Was this helpful? Do comment.

The Lie: A Guide to Fibbing in the Job Interview

September 16, 2006 | By | One Comment



Sculpture by

Gianlorenzo Bernini

1652 An ancient Jewish Proverb goes He that covers his sins shall not prosper. There seems to be a disturbing trend that hiring managers are facing: job candidates who lie.

Director Mitch, The Window Manager, one of the best business blogs in the business, had a reader in a job interview with a dilemma:

How should a job candidate handle embarrassing, possibly unethical questions from a hiring authority?

He gives three interesting options. “I see the hiring process as a battle with HR and will use any means, fair or unfair, to trip them up,” says Mitch. That’s because he views questions about why any employee who left a previous job as “unethical” to begin with. So Mitch asserts that an unethical question does not deserve an ethical answer.

Your Business Blogger is not so sure.

I once asked my favorite management guru, Bill Oncken, about the challenge of dealing with supervisors who cross ethical lines from right to wrong. His wise advice was to separate, or fire, or not hire, or run away from any hint of a lack of character.

Only deal with people with integrity, says Oncken; who is filthy rich and never married with no hungry kids who need shoes and private schools. (His hobby is skydiving — out of boredom, I believe.)

But as the Window Manager outlines, sometimes you really, really need the job.

We’ve all been there. Sometimes we rationalize that “. . .the HR kumquat is a jerk who didn’t ask a fair question, or a legal question, . . . and no one will ever find out if there’s fudging on the job application. Evil deserves contempt. (Anti) Personnel departments don’t actually add value to a company, anyway.” Or so the thought goes.

When faced with an unethical boss or an unethical hiring manager, Bill Oncken, author of Managing Management Time, suggests leaving immediately. Even when the hit hurts your wallet.

“Sometimes,” Oncken says, “You have to finance your integrity.”

And this requires monetary as well as emotional maturity that not all of us possess.

I would not recommend lying as a response to any question, no matter how awful or illegal the interrogation. But Mitch does suggest humor or a superlative as a possible way out of troubling questions. As in “I took time off to train for my ascent of Everest.” Or something like that.

Humor is a dodge that Your Business Blogger used to use. My heartfelt response to questions about my misspent youth is, I’m not responsible for anything that happened during the Nixon Administration.

If humor or deflection does not work — that last sentence never worked for me — brutal truth might be necessary.

Years ago, I was once fired by a company – twice – in the same month, both times by fax, the insulting medium of the day. I would always reveal this firing whenever asked. I would explain that it was the dangerous downside of working for thinly capitalized companies in trouble. And my explanation had the added benefit of being true.

I would always get the hard stuff out of the way soonest. I would put it all on the table. Just as sales pro’s know: Whoever raises the objection, owns the objection. And get the “no’s” out early.

On my hiring travels as interviewer and –ee, I’ve learned that there are two kinds of problems: big and small.

Many small problems perhaps can be side-stepped – without being untruthful, like my little incident deep in North Carolina. (Hint: Never throw drink bottles from a ’57 Chevy at high speed.)

Early in my career, whenever that “Were you ever arrested?” silly question would come up, I would always write in NA. Drag racing on the interstate highway system was truly “Not Applicable” to the entry level sales job I was hunting. And if any explanation was required, I wanted to do it in person, rather than be eliminated by rote in HR. A face-to-face sales presentation has the highest close rate.

Fortunately, I don’t have big problems, like a felony conviction, but the terminations come close. I have been fired more times than any single reader of this reputable blog. Goodness, I’ll bet I’ve been fired more than ALL you readers combined, including Rush Limbaugh.

But there is hope for big problems on this side of eternity: Find a Friend. Any real position or client these days will be 1) A created position, 2) In high technology and 3) With someone you know.

Clients and projects and employment come these days through a network of friends and contacts. Who love you.

Like I do.

And that’s no lie.

To thine own self be true,

and it must follow,

as the night the day,

thou canst not then be false to any man. Shakespeare.

So. When to lie? Let slip a little fib?


Don’t bear false witness — even about yourself.


Was this helpful? Do comment.

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Thank you (foot)notes:

It is not known if Rush Limbaugh actually reads this blog.