Freking & Betz Weekly

Topic of the Week  Workplace Contradictions: Surviving In Difficult Times

  •  Balance humility and independence.
  • Seize opportunities and plan for the future.
  • Cope with adversity but be prepared to change direction if wrong.
  • Work at your job but keep your eyes on the horizon.

We live in contradictory times. Listen to many economists and you'll hear hiring is picking up. Talk to your friends and you'll hear that jobs are few and far between. This challenging economic environment got me thinking about how the workplace is constantly changing and how challenging it can be to keep up. Which reminds me of Connecticut chef Bun Lai, known for his Mexican grasshopper dish and his friend rice with meal worms and crickets. But the chef's star may just be starting to rise as he prepares to fill his freezer full of cicadas. They only come around once every seventeen years and he's going to grab every bug he can by the short hairs.

The chef makes a great point that insects are full of protein, very cheap and very tasty. Okay, two out of three isn't bad, but despite the chef's arguments, I think that bugs won't grace my plate anytime soon or probably yours either. You may draw the line at bugs, but being more flexible and open minded at work is a requirement today, given how much change is taking place every day. Here are four areas to focus on.

Balance humility and independence. I've met team players and loners at work, but relatively few who can bounce back and forth seamlessly between the two. Today's workplace requires most of us to be collaborating online with colleagues in another time zone one minute and running our own projects the next. Few have the luxury to focus on just one or the other anymore. It's challenging to juggle projects simultaneously at either end of the spectrum, but if you can, your insight will make everything easier moving forward.

Seize opportunities and plan for the future. Another challenge today is to be opportunistic one minute and carefully planning for the future the next. Plan and act, act and plan.

Cope with adversity but be prepared to change direction if wrong. American culture always fawns over the hero who stares adversity in the face and proves it wrong. Spoiler alert: but there is also that famous scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid etched in my brain, where the two gunslingers go up against what appears to be the entire Bolivian army. Learning how to gracefully concede defeat, collect your learning and moving on to the next battle is something almost everyone could do a better job of.

Work at your job but keep your eyes on the horizon. This is often the toughest of the workplace contradictions today, how do you balance your focus on your current job while keeping your eyes on what's next. If the last recession taught us anything it's that we all need to be loyal, to a point.

Who knows a few years in the future one of your favorite meals could be Chef Lai's Cicada Risotto or BBQ Cicada. Not holding your beliefs too tightly could not only increase your culinary options, it could make you much more effective at work too.

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him viabob@workplace911.com.

–Lee Iacocca

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from Brookings Institute

No BS, No Job: Top Cities Requiring a College Degree To Get Hired

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, 56%
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, 49%
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, 49%
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, 49%
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, 48%
  • Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, 48% 

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