About antiochantidote

With nearly 6000 distinguished alumni, AULA has been honored to serve the diverse communities of the greater Los Angeles area for nearly 40 years. As once described by the LA Times, we offer “an unconventional education” where our “tradition of innovation and activism endures.” AULA is a dynamic, small, HLC accredited, non-profit institution that is passionate about our core values (social justice, service to community, life long learning) and how we learn (wedding theory to practice, with a strong emphasis on adult learners, small classes, and encouraging the full potential of each student). www.antiochla.edu

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Unreasonable (And Why I Started U.R. Media.TV)

by Marc Blackbird, Antioch University Los Angeles Student + Founder of U.R. Media.TV

Whenever you encounter one you feel like you were hit by a force of nature. They’re mostly unusual outside-the-lines types, people who just have to do what they do because they couldn’t do things any other way…

They are an amalgam, part artist, part philosopher, part master of the universe, and always believing that there is a new way to solve anything. They live to see the possibilities beyond the constraints of ideology or discipline. They are the entrepreneurs, the people who take big risks to build businesses.

When we think about entrepreneurs we usually think about guys like Henry Ford or Bill Gates — people who saw a deficiency in the marketplace and the next step in technology, so they built companies to take their vision to market and made themselves extremely wealthy. The same attributes that led Ford and Gates to build cars and operating systems are also leading to ventures that combine financial and social returns. These social entrepreneurs are more than just business people or do-gooders; they seek a triple bottom line of profits and people and planet. Making money while helping people and the planet is not a new idea, but the time has come to highlight those who have broken the molds of business person and charity organization and recombined them as social business ventures.

Enter the book The Power of Unreasonable People, How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan. Not only does this book highlight social entrepreneurs and the businesses they have started, it is also serves as a guide, giving the reader an understanding of emerging markets and their potential for profitable business while lifting the standard of living for some of the world’s poorest people.

A great example of what the social entrepreneur can do is the story of KickStart in East Africa, where Nick Moon and Martin Fisher were looking to make small-scale profitable industries that could help the local population. What became a big seller and was identified as one of “ten inventions that will change the world” by Newsweek magazine was KickStart’s foot-operated micro-irrigation pump. Now the authors could have told us just the numbers: it cost x to make and made x plus in profit and helped x farmers in the region. All important facts, but by telling the story of Samuel Ndungu Mburu, they take us right into the “on the ground” truth of what a social entrepreneur can accomplish. Samuel was a farmer who made about one hundred dollars a year from his crops. But after getting the micro-irrigation pump he started growing more valuable crops and now has sent his oldest son to college as well as having the rest of his children in school.

The Unreasonable Becomes Personal

This story inspired me more so then just the impressive facts. That is what a good book is supposed to do: give you the story but also deliver a feeling, and stories like this one throughout the book definitely gave me the real picture of what the social entrepreneur can paint in the world.

Starting a business is not for the fainthearted, and a business that has a mission beyond just profit with all those obstacles to entry is even more daunting. In fact it might be easier to juggle knives blindfolded, on one leg, while dodging killer bees. But by showing how it was done, the cases in the book transform some of the mystery into solid facts of good businesses, no bee dodging manual needed.

My big epiphany was to be true to your vision. Be flexible and willing but with the vision as a guide, and mostly be unreasonable. That doesn’t mean be a horrible person or act out like a spoiled toddler. It means do whatever you have to make your business succeed, even if you have to change course do it, but make sure you arrive at your destination with integrity and intentions intact.

So I now feel like I have to do something even bigger then what I’m doing now. While I’m not helping third-world farmers yield more crops, I am trying to help stories get told. I started U.R. Media.TV to promote what I call “citizen media”: media for us by us, where anyone can learn how to make effective media or share their expertise with the community. It’s a new social network for ideas, journalism and art. It’s YouTube meets Facebook meets blogs, where you can create original media or share your findings from around the web and store it all on your U.R. Media.TV channel. I hope you come and make U TV.

I’m a totally unreasonable person in the best sense of the word, and now armed with real world insights on how to make real quantitative good happen, I’m hopefully much better equipped to be the change I want to see in the world.

Guest Blogger Marc Blackbird is a longtime entrepreneur whose company, The Blackbird Group, provides consulting in new media and experiential marketing. He recently launched U.R. Media.TV while studying at Antioch.

Words That Can Bring You To Your Knees — And 8 Ways To Retake Control Of Your Career

by Pat Palleschi, Ph.D

“Fired,” “right-sized,” “terminated,” “severed,” “we’ve gone in a different direction,” “we’ve changed strategies,” “you get two weeks severance,” “good luck in your next opportunity…”

These are all words that can bring any adult to their knees. And in Los Angeles there are millions of people who have heard them.

Here are the 8 things you need to do to retake control of your career:

  1. Take control of your finances. Put in a safe place (ha!) the equivalent of what you will need to live on for ONE YEAR. Can’t do that? Learn to be cheap. VERY cheap. Take on roommates; take your lunch to work; read a book you’ve borrowed from a friend.
  2. Use every means possible to learn and make yourself more valuable to your current company or the next one. Learn on the job by talking with friends who happen to be experts in a field, go to conferences (volunteer to help, so you don’t have to pay), take online programs, etc.
  3. Grab anything your company has to offer that can teach you new skills. Take on new projects, work on enterprise-wide systems, in-house Facebook pages, kick-ass presentations, etc. Have the people you work with document what you’ve done and write a recommendation for you on Linkedin.
  4. Learn how to use social media to position yourself as an “expert” (see above note on Linkedin).
  5. On your own time (weekends, nights, etc.), learn NEW skills. Then use them to get results in a volunteer activity.
  6. Become invaluable to your current job. Become the expert in sustainability, social media, artificial intelligence, analytics – any skill that your company needs to become a leader in the field.
  7. Lose your ego. If you get fired, take ANY job while you WORK to get another job. Drive a taxi (and write a blog about the weird stories you learn while driving!). Volunteer. Even if you were worth $1 million a year, you must find a way to re-value yourself.
  8. Remember that any job change affects your whole family. Get your whole family involved in this “new adventure” of finding work.

It may sound self-serving for me to say “get a good coach” – but I will say it anyway. Get a CAREER coach who has done job placements. DO NOT spend money on “life coaches” (unless you have extra money and need a life).

No one at your company has the ability or time to watch out for you, your desires and your long-term goals. A company cannot afford to become your family (with some very, very few notable exceptions).

TAKE Control of your career. NO ONE else can do it, except you.

Guest Blogger Pat Palleschi is the President of The Executive Agency. She has devoted the past 25 years to creating HR strategies that help organizations and individuals succeed. As VP of Human Resources Development at Disneyland, she helmed the Disney University, where she and her team made it their mission to attract, develop and retain Disney Cast members who were “pumped to perform.” Before Disney, Pat served as Senior VP of Training for Bank of America. She earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts and chaired the Speech Communication Department at Loyola Marymount University.

Finding Your Key Players and Other “Billionaire Pleasures”

by Reinel Campa, MAOM Student + Video Producer

In the video below, an amazing East Coast indie she-musician goddess, Joan Wasser, talks about her creative process. Joan as Police Woman (as she calls herself) is an inspiration, a muse, a mentor. Her cool style and relaxed demeanor are interesting and familiar. In the video she describes how she directs her musical project to a certain point and then lets the ‘experts’ she trusts be themselves with it. She doesn’t even let her musicians hear her work beforehand. She’s not controlling them, she is trusting them.

I see the way I work represented in her style. As a video producer, I always accepted that I wasn’t strong in all areas and tried to work with others to my advantage. I still want that — to be able to do just one thing strongly and work collaboratively with others. I like when no one feels controlled; we all trust one another.

This reminds me of one actual experience: the making of “Billionaire Pleasures.” We thought this 24-hour film contest at work was intended to help certain individuals get along, but it turned into a revelation. We actually worked well together when we wanted to! (AND MADE AWESOME VIDEOS!)

Our team won that day. Credit is due to the hilarious and daring script by Scott Chema, but ultimately, I think our team won because we trusted each other and collaborated.

  • With that team, I took risks: I did a ‘sexy’ scene with Scott, even though I was hesitant. Actually, everyone took a risk by sharing roles. For each scene, one person would act, one person would shoot, and one person direct, and then we would switch. It could’ve gone terribly wrong, but… it didn’t. Not at all.
  • I trusted my gut: After our first meeting, we had a lot to do, so I assigned tasks to everyone. An hour later, we had props, locations, cast assignments, and a typed-out script, scene by scene. From then on, anything anyone suggested was a good enough option for me!
  • And I was myself: I was suddenly empowered by my team to think about the stuff I was good at and cared about because they were there to pick up the slack. I was being creative.

I think finding these ‘key players’ in your life is an essential goal. We look for these people in our personal lives, our work lives… the better you are at it, I think the more success, happiness, and well being you will have.

In the last couple of years I have been working on creating that dynamic with my family because, well, family stays family. Now that it’s time to find a career, identifying my key players for work is a must. Because if I can recreate the feeling that “Billionaire Pleasures” gave me, I will feel that I have made it “there.”

Guest Blogger Reinel Campa is a student in the M.A. in Organizational Management program at Antioch University Los Angeles. For the last five years she has produced video content for live music performances, behind the scenes coverage, red carpet premieres, and original show concepts. You can read more of Reinel’s work on her blog, Night and Rei.

“You’re Welcome” (and Other Snarky Expressions)

by Freddy J. Nager, Associate Professor, MAOM

No, I’m not the old man on the porch yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Yet.

But my old-man sensitivities have been repeatedly rankled by the disappearance of two words from the English language: “thank you.” Apparently, they’ve been misplaced. I’d be happy with the one-word substitute, “thanks,” but apparently that’s gone AWOL, too.

So that’s brought out the curmudgeon in me…

“Face me, old man, I’m the Ghost of Manners Past!”

The precipitating event occurred, ironically, on “social” media — a subject I teach with increasing shakes of the head and rolls of the eyes. To be specific, it happened on the popular networking site LinkedIn, which I endorse as the only social medium that’s mandatory for today’s professionals. While Facebook could be renamed “Look at me!” and Twitter “Fritter,” LinkedIn actually has value. It serves as a professional’s career hub: a place to centralize one’s resume, connections, organizations, creative portfolio and more.

A key section of one’s LinkedIn profile comprises recommendations from one’s bosses, colleagues, teachers and other connections. As an instructor, I often receive recommendation requests from former students, and I’m usually happy to comply. I write each recommendation so that it’s distinctive and personal. Given the struggling memory cells in this old man’s brain, that isn’t always easy. But I do it.

And then I wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

And while I’m at it, I do some waiting.

What I’m waiting for is some acknowledgement that the recommendation was received, with a simple “thank you” as all the compensation I need. I don’t require a recommendation in return, as others might expect. Nope, just a little common courtesy will do.

But apparently, I’m a greedhead who’s just asking too dang much.

Easily half the people I’ve recommended on LinkedIn have never thanked me. Either I must write heinous recommendations, or I’ve grossly overestimated their value. The fact that LinkedIn enables its users to request recommendations at the click of a mouse has probably devalued them. But still, would it hurt to show this old fogey some merci?

The problem is, etiquette-absenteeism isn’t just limited to LinkedIn.

I recently wrote a lengthy letter of recommendation for a former MBA classmate’s grad-school application. This entailed actually going to the physical post office and mailing sheets of dead wood. (No, really, people still do such things in 2011.) Then some months passed. I finally contacted that former classmate to see if the school had ever received my recommendation, and he acknowledged that they had, and that he had been admitted to the program and was having a great time.

Nice to know. (And, hey, oh certain grad school who requires such recommendations: you’re not off the hook, either.)

In the past few years, I’ve also experienced “thank you” voids from people who have called me up for advice, emailed me for information about the schools where I teach, even met with me in person to talk about their business or career problems.

Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that said “thank you” had been omitted from the common vernacular.

Now, call me a decrepit, senescent creature of habit, but when such omissions happen, I still feel compelled to respond with the equally antiquated and apparently forgotten term “you’re welcome.” I know, how retro of me. Oh, I give it a week or so after I send the recommendation/write the letter/take the call/have the meeting, but the urge to say “you’re welcome” is so great that it bursts loose on its own, even without a “thanks” to provoke it.

Today, in fact, I sent a “you’re welcome” to someone on LinkedIn who never acknowledged the recommendation I wrote for him. He responded by asking if I was being “snarky.” I hadn’t thought of it that way: who, me, the rude one?

What a concept. Four letter words are so passé that our jaded ears no longer hear them, but “you’re welcome” actually raises hackles and elicits offended responses. I feel so… so… gangster.

So I’m now on a mission to issue a pre-emptive “you’re welcome” whenever possible, even if it means having the FCC bleep me out or courts issue restraining orders against me.

Then, the other day, something jarringly odd happened: I received a “thank you” card from a student I had recommended for business school. No, really. The young woman had actually perpetrated the post office deed and mailed a piece of folded cardboard that she had spent good money on. When I opened the envelope, I dropped the thing out of shock and stared at it for a good 30 seconds or so, wondering if I needed to report it to the Department of Homeland Security. A thank you card? The gall!

My aged knees quaked and symptoms of myocardial infarction sent me crashing into a comfy chair. I stared at the card again. Yes, indeed, there they were: the words “thank you” handwritten and even exclamation pointed. I felt like I had just chanced upon the Loch Ness Monster and the Tooth Fairy hanging out with Amelia Earhart in the lost city of Atlantis. What’s this world coming to?

So perhaps some traces of chivalry remain. I just thought I’d warn you so you can take the necessary precautions, like having a fluffy pillow nearby to cushion your fall. And by the way, should this piece of advice ever prove helpful to you, please allow me to say “you’re welcome” in advance — or would that be too snarky?

Guest Blogger Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

Q-the-A: And That Means What? Fun With Figures…

by Freddy J. Nager, Associate Professor + Managing Editor of The Antidote

So I’m reading an article in Inc., my favorite magazine for advice on entrepreneurial matters, when I found this statement about one company’s social media campaign:

“So far, about 7 percent of Step2’s customers have registered on the company’s website with their Facebook IDs, and of those who have, more than half of them have shared product reviews with their Facebook friends. In the past year, traffic from Facebook has increased 135 percent and revenue from Facebook visitors has nearly tripled.”

Impressive, right? Based on these figures, Inc. readers should just rush out to integrate Facebook into their websites.

So what’s the problem here? (As my students know, one of my favorite business questions is “so what?”)

The statement provides some tasty figures — but not all the figures that a manager needs to make a judgment about the campaign. All those percentages can be misleading if we don’t know the actual numbers they’re based on. For example, a traffic increase of 135% sounds amazing… but it could mean that traffic went from 20 people to 47 over the entire year. For a lot of retailers, that increase in traffic wouldn’t mean much. (My local Starbucks probably serves that many customers in about 20 minutes.)

Given that traffic, what else would we want to know? Here’s a short list for starters:

  • How many of those visitors from Facebook are NEW customers? If they’re just existing customers coming through a different entry way, the company doesn’t gain much.
  • What are the customers doing on the site once they visit? Are they reading articles, rating products, or best of all, buying something? Or, worse, are they filing complaints, posting spam, trying to sell something, or spying for the company’s competitors?
  • If they are buying stuff, how much are they spending? The article states that revenue has nearly tripled, but that could mean it went from, say, $2 to $5.
  • What was the cost of the Facebook program? Did the company pay someone to do it? If the company’s owners did the work themselves, how much time was spent on this instead of on product development, customer service, or other activities that could also make money?

The article doesn’t say. That’s unusual for Inc., which usually provides the critical underlying details, but that only proves that even trusted sources occasionally need to be questioned. Well, at least 135% of the time.

Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

Don’t Bore Hiring Managers: Make Your Resume Look Like YOU – Interesting!

by Pat Palleschi, PhD
In a recent NY Times article, Bing Gordon, the former Chief Creative Officer at Electronic Arts, said:

“In hiring, I like in-person meetings for chemistry and references for truth… I will always ask about your learning practices, who are your heroes, what do you read. I want to know your hobbies, career, where are you trying to get to… I also read resumes upside down, so I start with personal interests. If somebody doesn’t have believable, interesting interests, they are not going to work in a creative environment… Then, I’ll scan for personal achievements… STRIP OUT ALL THE HISTORY STUFF; JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE PROUD OF AND HOW YOU THINK ABOUT IT…”

I added the emphasis to reinforce the good advice. DO NOT follow any “regular resume format” when you are interviewing with a hiring manager. (Save the dull chronological resume stuff for HR folks and Enterprise-Wide Computing Systems!)

Your resume should look like you. And sometimes, you need a makeover... (photo by kafka4prez via Creative Commons)

Having trouble thinking out of the box? Take a look at the “guerrilla resume” format in Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters 3.0 (best $15 you can spend), and use a format that will enable a hiring manager to become interested in how you think and impressed with what you have done.

Use a one-page format (no matter how old or experienced you are). Why so short? The resume should be a teaser for the hiring manager — just enough to let her/him know where to ask you questions. It should feel like “YOU” — a resume should not be anything BUT a reflection of who you are.

Remember the other thing that Bing cited: in an in-person interview, CHEMISTRY is all-important. Any supporting documentation should add to the chemistry, enable the interviewer to see interesting (otherwise hidden) sides to you. And remember to highlight only the best hidden sides… some parts of you should stay hidden (as some politicians are learning the hard way).

Guest Blogger Pat Palleschi is the President of The Executive Agency. She has devoted the past 25 years to creating HR strategies that help organizations and individuals succeed. As VP of Human Resources Development at Disneyland, she helmed the Disney University, where she and her team made it their mission to attract, develop and retain Disney Cast members who were “pumped to perform.” Before Disney, Pat served as Senior VP of Training for Bank of America. She earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts and chaired the Speech Communication Department at Loyola Marymount University.

LinkedIn: Not Just For Job Hunters Anymore

by Freddy J. Nager
Many managers have ineffectual LinkedIn profiles — if they have one at all. That’s because they think they don’t need one at this stage of their career. “I’m not job hunting — why should I bother?” That’s because LinkedIn isn’t just for job hunting anymore.

The Search is On…
A LinkedIn profile can serve as the power base for your professional life. it’s one of the first links people see when they Google your name. (Of course, many background searches are conducted on LinkedIn itself.) Those researchers may include journalists, recruiters, potential clients and investors. With all the concern about personal reputations and misinformation online, we should absolutely create and control our LinkedIn profiles to deliver an authoritative first impression.

The Way to Grow…
We’re all tired of hearing it: yes, we live in a global economy. Yes, borders have evaporated. And, yes, international trade offers a wealth of opportunities — if we have the right connections in the right places. So who can we turn to for help setting up an office, hiring competent and trustworthy native managers, overcoming bureaucratic red tape, or simply making reservations at an appropriate restaurant? Your organization may not be thinking expansion now, but when the time comes, it helps to have relationships with far-flung connections found and developed on LinkedIn.

Marketing for Extracurricular Ambitions…
Even if a manager is at the top of her game, she might harbor other ambitions, such as writing a book, appearing on TV as an expert, running for political office or teaching at a university. While some managers are well known outside their companies, most need a marketing boost to support these other pursuits. That’s why you should network before you need a publisher, an entertainment attorney, or a campaign manager. You should also use LinkedIn to promote your expertise and what makes you different (and more interesting) than the millions of other managers around the world.

Because You Never Know…
There’s no such thing as a secure job. Even at companies “too big to fail,” upper management and their teams are often replaced. A manager may claim she has nothing to worry about, but at some point she may be tempted to sell her company — or the company’s success attracts a takeover. On a brighter, more poetic side, the manager may want a complete change of pace or career, or move to another city for the lifestyle or a relationship. To facilitate these changes, it’s again valuable to network before it’s needed. It’s too late to say, “Now who do I know here?” after the big move.

Those are just a few of the reasons a manager — or an aspiring one — needs to have a well-crafted LinkedIn profile. (And, no, I don’t work for LinkedIn, nor do I own its stock.)

How does one craft an effective profile? That’s the topic for another blog, but in the meantime, LinkedIn offers its own guide, and you can also view the profiles of various “experts” and the top networkers on LinkedIn.

The key takeaway: your LinkedIn profile should represent you online. It’s your agent, it’s your brochure, it’s your public introduction. So take the time to think about what you want it to say. (By the way, I also hear it’s a great tool for finding a job…)

Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

Q&A: What is Strategic Planning?

by David Norgard, Adjunct Faculty, AULA BA Program
Strategic planning answers a basic question: Where do you want to go as an organization?

photo by Kazi Shefaet Rahman, Illuminatus Rex, via Wikimedia Commons

Another way to put it is: What do you want to see happen? Or, again: What do you want to accomplish? That question begs another: How are you going to get there? How are you going to realize your aspirations? A sound strategic planning process helps leaders arrive at informed, clear answers to these most basic questions.

Why should we bother? (Who knows what the future will bring anyway?)
A popular adage used in strategic planning is a retort to this question: If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Nevertheless, some of us are familiar with situations where much time, effort and money was spent on producing a very elaborate plan, only to have it put into a three-ring binder, placed on a shelf, and collect dust until a new occupant in the office threw it out. A good strategic plan is valuable in that it provides a continuing reminder of what you really want and need to accomplish, even in the midst of a hundred other possibilities and detours. It provides clarity about mission, vision, values, and priorities… And that clarity helps leaders make more informed decisions about everything from program initiatives to infrastructure requirements.

What does the process involve?
The strategic planning process can be relatively quick and simple or lengthy and complex. How extensive the process should be depends largely on the size and complexity of the organization. For example, an agency with a single program and a budget of less than $1M requires a far less elaborate approach than an agency with multiple programs and an operating budget over $5M. Nevertheless, every strategic planning process, however abbreviated or extensive, should include these elements:

  1. Review existing Mission, Vision, and Values Statements and revise and refine as appropriate. If no such statements exist, draft them so that the organization has succinct descriptions of what it does (mission), what it wants to accomplish (external vision), and how and/or why it does its work (values). These statements are the foundation of a strategic plan.
  2. Assess the organization’s current situation and context by gathering and analyzing information from both internal and external sources. Most commonly this is done through a “SWOT Analysis” – a survey and review of internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats.
  3. Build agreement about strategic priorities. The assessment will likely point to where the organization needs to focus its time and energy. Arriving at consensus about strategic priorities sets up the plan’s overall framework.
  4. Identify functional goals and specific objectives. The goals explain how the established priorities will be achieved in general, and the objectives detail how each project will be tackled. They provide the “finish work.”
  5. Adopt the plan and commit to reviewing it regularly. A strategic plan should be formally adopted by a vote of the board. An annual review and revision is best done by a committee composed of both board and staff members.

Who should be involved in the process?
At a minimum, the board of directors and the senior staff need to be involved actively in all major steps of the process. Sometimes, a planning committee guides the process and coordinates the participation of others. The assessment stage particularly may involve getting input from a range of internal stakeholders and external experts. These may include affiliate (national/local) representatives, allied organization leaders, clients, donors, members, neighbors, partners, referral sources, sponsors, and authorities on the subjects most relevant to the organization’s purposes.

When should the process be undertaken?
Every organization without a strategic plan should have one. So, in general, there is no virtue in waiting. However, there are certain circumstances when some delay is prudent. Do not attempt to launch a planning process if the organization is about to change executive leadership or is in the midst of dealing with a crisis.

What happens when the planning process is completed?
It is critically important for the plan to be monitored regularly and revised as appropriate. Even more importantly, the plan is worth nothing without an implementation schedule. As soon as the plan is adopted by the board, prepare a timetable that assigns goals and objectives to lead individuals and provides dates for progress and/or completion. A date should also be set for an annual review.

In addition to being an Adjunct Faculty member in the B.A. Program of Antioch University Los Angeles, Guest Blogger David Norgard is the founder of OD180, a consulting firm that develops strategies for nonprofit organizations. He has also held leadership roles on various nonprofit boards and committees. At present, he serves as the President of Integrity USA, the Episcopal Church’s LGBT advocacy group. A graduate of AULA’s M.A. in Organizational Management program, David currently serves as Chair of AULA’s Alumni & Community Advisory Board. He also holds a B.A. magna cum laude from Augsburg College and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, where he received a Dean’s Citation for Community Service and an Award of Distinction among Alumni.

A Few Words to College Grads: It Really is NOT about YOU

by Pat Palleschi, Ph.D.
Okay… let me get some of my own biases out first:

Their caps aren't the only thing up in the air...

1. I believe that unemployment is far higher than the reported figures in the Los Angeles Region. Not true? Then, at the very least, we deserve some transparency about the assumptions that were used to get to the published rate, so we can all be knowledgeable about the real situation.

2. I don’t care what your politics are. I have not heard of a single politician who has paid sufficient attention to JOB CREATION. And, because of the inattention, FEW new jobs have been created. Especially in Los Angeles.

3. The people who are lucky enough to be working are generally unhappy. In the past this would mean that they would be looking for new jobs. BUT, NO! The lucky employed are going to cling to their jobs by their fingernails despite their unhappiness because they know that it is ugly out there in the job market. Employed people are clinging to jobs that have forced them to work more and more hours without a single cent added to their salaries for years.

If my beliefs approach reality, then grads need to consider this advice:

  • Job search is extraordinarily hard now and it is NOT about YOU, your minor flaws, your age, your level of experience — it is all about the time, geography and economy. (This echoes the sentiments of David Brooks in New York Times).
  • Blame is usually not useful — so consider this not “blame” but a cry for help: JOB CREATION needed, Washington!
  • What is important for you to do is to DISREGARD all the old advice (“follow your passion,” “do what you love,” “find work that will provide meaning,” etc.) because that will get in the way of getting you to work. And getting you a place to live. And eating.
  • In this economy, I want to remind all of us that work is in itself a useful and meaningful pursuit, if done well. Doing work well can be a passion and can provide meaning, even if it is working at a cash register at Whole Foods or being a janitor at Costco or a career coach at The Executive Agency.
  • Okay, you may be “better than that” — and I agree you probably have more skills than such a position requires and are “worth” much more than the pay. But, eating is a big part of life, and if you can eat, then you can spend a bit more time figuring out how to make your “passion” into something that some venture/venture fund will pay for.
  • “Existence precedes and rules essence.” — Sartre
  • Work is meaningful. Doing any work well is admirable.

Why am I so strident about this? I have listened to commencement speakers, and I want to shout at them: “STOP!”

Commencement speakers are usually wealthy donors to the university who are happy to think back to how they followed their passion to find (take your pick) wealth, innovation, power, and/or the meaning of life.

Well, at least in the Los Angeles region, this is not the usual experience right now.

If a grad waits to find the job that will fuel passion, the wait time may be a long stay on a parent’s/friend’s couch, without a cent, playing video games and clutching on to fragile sanity.

Work at something (dare I say “anything”?). Volunteer at something (anything). Enjoy the fact that you can do something well. Then reflect on your real work, the work that you have accomplished. In any work, you can uncover the gold veins of passion and meaning.

PS: And make sure to find someone to vote for who understands how to CREATE jobs… so, with luck, the next generation can take the time to be playful innovators post graduation. Let’s get back to the opportunities afforded the old generation not so long ago (Mark Zuckerberg’s generation?).

Guest Blogger Pat Palleschi is the President of The Executive Agency. She has devoted the past 25 years to creating HR strategies that help organizations and individuals succeed. As VP of Human Resources Development at Disneyland, she helmed the Disney University, where she and her team made it their mission to attract, develop and retain Disney Cast members who were “pumped to perform.” Before Disney, Pat served as Senior VP of Training for Bank of America. She earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts and chaired the Speech Communication Department at Loyola Marymount

No Exit: Why Exit Strategies Can Be Bad For Business

by Freddy J. Nager, MAOM Associate Faculty & Entrepreneurial Advisor
In a business plan the “exit strategy” describes how the entrepreneur intends to unload her business in, say, five to ten years. Common options include going public on the stock market or selling the business to someone else.

Even if you want to run your business for life, you’ll have difficulty attracting financing if you don’t cite an exit strategy, since the investors aren’t giving you their money out of benevolence — they want returns (and many happy ones at that).

So you do what you have to do to appease the finance gods. (Though considering what’s happened on Wall Street over the past few years, should we still be doing their bidding?) After all, there’s no harm in saying you’ll pull an IPO or sell your company to Google in the distant future — right?

Except that your investors will likely hold you to it.

Now, even investors know that long-term projections in a business plan are nearly as fictitious as the term “affordable housing.” Plans often change. The problem arises when a single-minded obsession with an exit strategy overrides all commitment to building a profitable business.

As depicted in my satirical article, Lemons 2.0: If Everything were Run like a Dotcom, many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs forgot the other integral part of their business plan called “the revenue model.” I knew one company that was so eager to get bought out, they launched a publicity campaign even before their product was even finished.

From Feast to Famine
These entrepreneurs all salivated like pitbulls in a sausage factory when Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion before the video site even turned a profit. Consequently, hundreds of start-ups launched with no realistic revenue model but, rather, an eye on having some mega-corporation snap them up.

Then the recession struck all this corporate matrimony like a bucket of cold water, and some of those mega-corps started looking for saviors of their own. Yahoops. Consequently, many of those exit-oriented start-ups beceme bottom-ups, landing in the TechCrunch Deadpool, with most people not knowing they ever existed.

Consider these links that Wikipedia provides for “Exit Strategy”:

Iraq Study Group Report
Pyrrhic victory
No-win situation
Total U.S. Withdrawal in the Vietnam War

Not exactly inspiring, huh?

An Alternative To Investors And Exit Plans

SRC Holdings, an American manufacturing conglomerate, emphasizes profitability, thinks through all contingencies, and has never laid a single employee off. The Inc. magazine interview with SRC CEO Jack Stack is a must-read for entrepreneurs who are serious about running a business. You won’t find any obsession with exit strategies here — indeed, the company remains privately held after 26 years, with ownership firmly in the hands of its employees.

The Verdict
So should you have an exit strategy? Yes, if you invade another country or enter a PhD program.

If you absolutely need to entice and appease investors, then put an exit strategy in your business plan; but before buying your first Aeron chair, engrave these words into the front door of your spanking new office:

“To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.”

Keep repeating these words to yourself and to all your partners and employees. Sure, marriage vows may not hold a lot of weight in these here parts, but they’ll at least have you thinking in the right direction — and not towards the nearest escape.

Guest Blogger Freddy J. Nager teaches courses in social media, entrepreneurship and marketing at AULA. The founder of agency Atomic Tango LLC, Freddy has over two decades of professional experience in marketing and media, including 17 online. He previously worked for music label MCA Records and major ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and served such clients as Nissan & Infiniti, the NFL on Fox, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, National Lampoon and numerous startups. He holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Southern California