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'Be it resolved ...'

graphic
icon"I will remember that modern business etiquette is gender-neutral. Whoever gets to a door first should open it." That's business-etiquette specialist Marjorie Brody in one of the 10 careerists' resolutions she proposes for 2001. Click here to see more of her list.

Career resolutions:
'A smile and a shoeshine'

January 1, 2001
Web posted at: 2:20 p.m. EST (1920 GMT)


In this story:

Annual accounting

Ten more

Happy New Year

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



(CNN) -- Somewhere under an Everest-size mountain of newspapers, magazines, documents and reports squats Jon Daum's desk. At least it was there the last time he looked.

"I need to clear off my desk," Daum understates it. He's a partner in Daum Weigle, a San Diego, California, public relations firm.

As Arthur Miller wrote in his 1949 "Death of a Salesman," a lot of careerists sometimes have to get by "riding a smile and a shoeshine." It's unsettling to find that more than half-a-century later, Miller's line seems no less true of our working lives: We're all salesmen of one kind or another.

"I have Wall Street Journals and Newsweeks piled so high that I can't find the work I'm supposed to do for clients. It definitely sets me back, in that I'll spend 15 minutes looking for something. I can be more efficient. If I'm more efficient, I get more done. If I get more done, I can go out and look for additional clients."

So there's one of Daum's job-related resolutions for 2001. Here's another:

"I want to make sure we look into all the new technologies coming out -- wireless and the like. This can increase productivity and turnaround time. I want to be sure we keep on top of technology in the new year, so we don't fall behind."

graphic

Annual accounting

Careerists across the country, like Daum, are vowing to do this and to try that -- to become more effective, more efficient in their working lives. We won't know for 12 months whether they succeed or fall off the resolution wagon.

  QUICK VOTE
graphic Some people swear by new year's resolutions. Others just laugh. Do you think they can work in your career life?

Are you kidding? By Friday, they'll be toast, pack 'em in your lunchbox.
Maybe. Every year I say maybe. Maybe this year they'll work.
Hey, positive attitude. Of course resolutions can work. Just decide they will and don't take no for an answer.
View Results

 

We went back to some of the folks we'd talked to in stories in 2000 to see what they plan to do better work-wise in the year ahead.

•  Bill Anthony, co-owner of The Napping Company and director of the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University, has a threefold approach.

"My resolution for The Napping Company is to increase the number of nap-friendly corporations in the United States.

"Personally, it's to increase the number of minutes I'm napping each week.

"At the university, it's to develop new grants and write new books and improve the services we offer to help more people who have psychiatric disabilities get back to work and school."

•  Angela Georgallis, spokeswoman for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Virginia, says, "What I need to do is get more out of the workday. Prioritize and organize every day a little better. That's something we can all do."

•  Brian Bruckner, a farmer in Osmond, Nebraska, tells us he wants to "Try to be optimistic and upbeat, and watch my expenses."

•  Arden Moore, A free-lance writer in Seal Beach, California, says, "My New Year's resolution is to learn the business side of free-lancing so that I can better negotiate book contracts. I'll also get a better grip on tax laws and improve my record keeping."

•  Michael McIntyre, professor of industrial psychology at the University of Tennessee's College of Business Administration in Knoxville, says he wants "To climb out of my ivory tower and do something that really affects some people. See if I can make a difference."

"Keep anticipating 'the next new, new thing' while vividly recalling the proactive career management wisdom gleaned from the old, old New Economy lessons of 2000."
— Phil Van Horn, Success is Fun

•  Lisa Hardaway, media and outreach director at the Center for Rural Affairs in Walthill, Nebraska, tells us, "My New Year's resolution is to sort my mail by the trash can. We get all sorts of junk mail."

•  Like the napping Anthony, Phil Van Horn, a Los Angeles career specialist and co-founder of Success Is Fun! has a series of recommendations in mind.

"Network, network, network," he names as No. 1 on his list. "The increasing importance of personal contacts creates more opportunities than ever before.

"Elevate flexibility to a virtue," he names second. "Layoffs are a reality of the economy, reflecting the economy's short attention span, memory and ability to consistently rearrange itself.

"Keep anticipating 'the next new, new thing' while vividly recalling the proactive career management wisdom gleaned from the old, old New Economy lessons of 2000."

•  Tom Ferrara, president and CEO of CareerEngine Inc. in New York City: "My career New Year resolution is that I would like to create a seamless integration in working tighter to create efficiencies and cost savings."

graphic

Ten more

If you're still hard-pressed to come up with any career-related resolutions of your own, Marjorie Brody -- president of Brody Communications Ltd. in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and a sometimes contributor to our Corporate Class column -- has supplied us with 10 more you might consider.

•  I will always smile and greet my co-workers -- practicing workplace civility can go a long way toward creating good interpersonal relationships, a pleasant environment and building effective work teams.

"I will not wear torn jeans, sweat pants or sneakers for 'business casual' days. Unless your company's dress policy specifically OKs these 'dress down' options, don't wear them. 'Business casual' doesn't mean 'dress down.'"
— Marjorie Brody, Brody Communications Ltd.

•  I will always leave office equipment in good working order after I am finished -- eliminate the need for the next person to add paper, fix jams, change toner cartridges, etc.

•  I will never take office supplies for home use or "borrow" them from co-workers without asking permission -- you didn't pay for these supplies, so why take them? It's stealing, no way around it. As for using co-workers' supplies, it's common courtesy to ask if it's OK vs. just taking what you want. Would you want them to do the same to your space?

•  I will remember to leave concise, voice-mail messages for clients, vendors and prospects when I can't reach them, and record detailed greetings on my phone when I'm not in the office.

•  I will always respond to all written correspondence (e-mails, letters, faxes, memos) within 48 hours. This is non-negotiable.

•  I will not wear torn jeans, sweat pants or sneakers for "business casual" days. Unless your company's dress policy specifically OKs these "dress down" options, don't wear them. "Business casual" doesn't mean "dress down." Know the firm's specific guidelines -- that goes for clients' offices and policies.

•  I will remember that modern business etiquette is gender-neutral. Whoever gets to a door first should open it. It's not that chivalry is dead, it's just not appropriate in a work setting. Social etiquette dictated men hold doors open for women, not business protocols. If you're guiding a group, enter the revolving door first, then wait to lead those who follow you.

•  I will not hold private conversations in public areas. Keep business talk out of restrooms, elevators, restaurants, theaters or on various modes of transportation (buses, taxis, trains, planes). The walls do have ears, and it's not polite to invade public space with issues others don't care about.

•  I will learn proper place settings and other business and/or dining manners. Remember the word "left" has four letters, as do "fork" and "food." So these eating utensils and all plates with food on the left side are yours. The word "right" has five letters, as do "spoon," "knife" and "drink." Therefore, these utensils on the right side of your main plate are yours as are any drink glasses placed to the right of the entrée plate.

We've arrived in the third millennium after a year that was less than thrilling for a lot of careerists. Our stories told us that there was more work, but much of it wasn't very happy, management appeared to be getting only blinder and a lot of loads were just too heavy for the number of hands on deck.

•  I will learn the proper method of introduction and what are good and bad topics for small talk -- you can't effectively network unless you're comfortable in meet-and-greet situations. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Some "safe" topics are: weather, traffic, current events, travel, hobbies, movies, children, pets, sports and books.

Bad topics include health, cost of items, personal misfortunes, gossip, dirty jokes, politics and religion. Also avoid slang, foul language and jargon or buzzwords.

graphic

Happy New Year

Of course, within a month or so, your new year's resolutions may sound pretty much like bad topics, too -- for some of us, they have a habit of going south in a hurry.

  MESSAGE BOARD
graphicHave a new year's resolution you're excited about? Got one you think you can pull off but could use some cheering from the stands? Looking for one you could borrow from somebody else? Join us on our "Careers to Come" board and compare notes.
 

As Arthur Miller wrote in his 1949 "Death of a Salesman," a lot of careerists sometimes have to get by "riding a smile and a shoeshine." It's unsettling to find that more than half-a-century later, Miller's line seems no less true of our working lives: We're all salesmen of one kind or another.

We've arrived in the third millennium after a year that was less than thrilling for a lot of careerists. Our stories told us that there was more work, but much of it wasn't very happy, management appeared to be getting only blinder and a lot of loads were just too heavy for the number of hands on deck.

U.S. productivity is costing its workers more every year. Don't say "markets" to your investing friends or "dot-com" to your laid-off buddies. Risk talking about "quality of life" in conjunction with work, and you might get "What life?" as the wry answer.

Let's just get together in hoping that in a year, we'll each be in a better career situation than the labor of the moment. Here's hoping you'll handily accomplish all you set your sights on in 2001.

Smile. And be sure your shoes are shined.

graphic

 

RELATED STORIES:
2000, the career year in review
2000, the business year in review

RELATED SITES:
Better Business Bureau
Resolutions! Reminders
University of Washington


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