Diane Dolinsky-Pickar and the TotalPicture Radio Interview Transcript
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Peter: Think about the time when you felt your absolute best in your career. You were excited. You loved what you were doing and you had no problem answering the question, what do you do? Because you had mojo. And now for whatever reason, the economy, a soul-zapping job, fear of change, you’ve lost that mojo feeling and are feeling stuck. While there are plenty of career advice sites out there, why isn’t there a practical one to help people over 40 get over those roadblocks and get unstuck?
Welcome to a Career Strategy channel podcast on TotalPicture Radio. This is Peter Clayton reporting and joining me today is the co-founder of mojo40.com, Diane Dolinsky-Pickar, who met my partner at SpiralWorks Marketing, Valerie LaSusa a short time ago. Val called me and said ‘you’ve got to have Diane at TotalPicture Radio.’
Diane, thanks for joining me today on TotalPicture Radio.
Diane: Thank you for having me. I’m flattered and honored to be here.
Peter: Thank you. Diane sent me a short bio which says, among other things, what Diane loves best is learning, taking initiative and being an executrix extraordinaire. I like that term – executrix – that’s a new one. Tell us a little bit about Mojo40. What was the inspiration for starting this, what do you do, and how did you get started?
Diane: I got started originally with a partner, Susan Kim. We noticed people were coming to us, asking for suggestions. There was a huge downsizing, people were stuck in their jobs, there was a real morale problem. People over 40 tend to feel like technology has passed them by. They don’t know what was going on in social media. They know what they know, but they weren’t pushing themselves to learn the next new shiny thing. The two of us put our heads together. We said, you know what, we’re going to produce a blog to ever so gently push people to improve their lagging technical skills, improve their communication in this very time-crunched, 24/7 on-switch world and get with what’s growing because that is what will really help them get their career on to the fast track.
Peter: That’s really interesting. It sounds very similar to the story of when I started TotalPicture Radio, because at the time I was making very high-end corporate image and marketing films and I was seeing so many of my friends getting blown out of their jobs, especially people at AT&T Bell Labs, AT&T Labs and JP Morgan Chase. With all the consolidation, all the mergers, all of the churn that’s gone out there, and you’re absolutely right, people over 40… talk about a Bell Labs researcher who’s done nothing since he got out of grad school, except work at Bell Labs and all of the sudden, he/she no longer has a job.
Peter: They are clueless. So I had done a show for Citibank for 12 years, believe it or not. It was called the Citibank E-news Network. It was a sales success show for the US and Europe consumer bank. So I would talk to a branch manager and say, “Diane, how did you sell that million-dollar CD out there in Queens?” So Diane would tell me, and it was sort of like employee recognition, plus a lot of good sales tips and stuff. So I basically took that format and turned it into what is now TotalPicture Radio because I just saw this huge need. People have to really understand what they need to do to help accelerate their careers and predict and understand what they need to do to manage their careers.
Diane: Exactly. In other words, there’s such an intentional choice you make at every point. If you’re good at what you do, do you stay with that, or do you push yourself to get with what’s growing? I say that often to people. The other day, I was speaking to a woman. She is the chief counsel at a not-for-profit, large Washington company. There’s no further she can go at that company, because she is the chief counsel. But she wants a new challenge. She’s bored by it. And I said to her, “Rhonda, there’s a lot of ways you can get to be known, but sending résumés to other firms is not one of them. Why don’t you do a presentation and invite people to come hear you speak? Why don’t you upload a whitepaper to Scribd and start to get yourself associated online with new ideas?” People have to be proactive to push themselves and open up opportunities.
Peter: Diane, what did you do before you started Mojo40? Tell us a little bit about your background.
Diane: I have been a marketer for a long time, because I’m a naturally extroverted person. I actually graduated from Harvard quite a long time ago and went through all these different creative and challenging positions. I landed on my feet actually working for a coaching firm back a few years that was pitching into the wealth advisory business. I was doing all their email marketing, served as their Administrator for salesforce.com, managing their website and stuff. This was a time that technology was really creeping from smaller, corporate environments to just everyone. It was really exciting. People’s email boxes were not overstuffed quite yet. So I did that for a few years and then I started to branch out. I worked with systems integrators, helping them hone their marketing message and identify private firms that would need their services. I worked with database companies, I even worked with consumer technology companies, doing retail promotions. So from all of these different marketing experiences, I tried to sort of gather what I learned and put it into this blog because it’s a way to give back. It’s a way for me to build my mojo. It’s, frankly, a great calling card, to talk to CEOs and other Influencers on what the latest and greatest is. I actually see this blogging adventure as having taken off by itself as a new direction for my own career.
Peter: How many people do you have blogging for you now?
Diane: We have some guest bloggers. I have some who have come back and written three, four posts. Sometimes people write one post, some really excellent writers have understood that having back links all over the web helps them. But I am in fact the main writer now. Somebody listening who has a great idea, you can pitch it to me. But in fact, we have so much we want to cover. Like a journalist who can never sleep, I’m always out there getting more information and then trying to write it concisely and lively on my blog.
Peter: So you have no problems coming up with ideas for your blog?
Diane: No. The problem I have is an inability to fall asleep because I have so many ideas. Do you have any ideas to help with that?
Peter: No, I don’t because I happen to have that same exact problem.
What’s the pivot point of your blog here now? I know you’ve been doing this for a couple of years. How do you plan to grow this and what do you see as some of the things you’d like to accomplish in 2012 when it comes to Mojo40?
Diane: Thank you for asking Peter because that’s a great question. I always try to push people to think where you’re going in the future. So let me first say, we’ve been publishing for 14 months and we were at a crossroads about two months back. My blog partner Susan went on to greener pastures in the private sector. I took a new editor and I took that one-year milestone to look back and say what could be learned, what are we doing right. I have decided to pivot the blog to specifically focus on trends that are growing, that would help a company be in a– what I call a pole position in their industry. We’ll help them gain competitive advantage. We’ll help them decide on product enhancements which will differentiate their product. So going forward, I want to cover what I call hot trends, technology start-ups, help our audience understand the differences between things in a way when they kind of don’t get the concept. They want somebody in straight, simple and fun language to explain: What’s the difference between a mobile app and a mobile website? Or why are you telling me to learn game theory? How am I going to apply it to my company?
In fact, game theory is not only useful and applicable, I think I’ve read Gartner Group had some research. By 2015, 70% of the global 2,000 brands will be using game theory in their work. They’ll be using it either to boost employee morale, improve engagement with customers, improve the wellness of employees, improve their loyalty programs. It has so many applicabilities. The point is, if you’re a lawyer sitting there and you know X, doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be doing better to know Y. Ditto for the person who’s in the accounting function, or controller function or marketing function. Keeping abreast of trends I see is going to help you get your mojo and help you in fact slightly redirect your company so it becomes huge and growing.
Peter: Some of the things that you were talking about are just so applicable to what I’ve been seeing and what I’m thinking about and the direction I’m going to be going with TotalPicture Radio next year.
I just attended the Select Minds client conference in New York. Select Minds is a company that helps large organizations manage their alumni network through SaaS software, if you will. They build these applications to create these alumni networks. Then they consult with their companies on how to best use these and connect them with the LinkedIns and Facebooks and all of the other social networks out there. One of the things they came up in this conference was, all of the consolidation that’s going on out there today, especially in the software providers and companies like Salesforce. SAP just acquired Success Factors for over $3 billion and then two days later, they bought Jobs2Web, which is a very interesting company based in Minneapolis, for $150 million and my friend Doug Berg is going to have a very happy holiday season.
You’re just seeing so much consolidation out there. Where companies have spent their money in the last two years, instead of hiring people, what they’ve done is they have gone out and they have spent serious money on their infrastructure, building up their systems, technology and how all of these different pieces speak to one another so that they can be more efficient and more agile. That’s where they’re spending their money.
Diane: That is so true. And here’s the thing, very often what we see is a very, very small sliver of what’s out there. Maybe you see what your company is doing and you’ve got a little bit of access to competitor data. But in fact you really need a broader view. One of the reasons companies are buying other companies is, if this small start-up is going to crush it. Or even that medium sized enterprise has an advantage. Why build it from scratch? We don’t need to hire talent. What we need to do is lure the talent if that’s successful to bring their goods over to us. I think actually, especially for job hunters, if you were even one degree removed from what is hot, you’re doing yourself a disservice. You’re spinning your wheels, just shooting out paperwork and trading business cards, or even mixing with people who were not in the know. You yourself have to get in the know. You have to go feet first and you have to anticipate the strategic moves of companies. You have to be able to figure what you can bring to the table, to get with that.
Peter: Absolutely. Diane, speaking about Mojo40 and the demographic you reached, is 40 the new 50?
Diane: I’ll tell you my take on it. Your age doesn’t matter. It’s how you feel. I say that honest to God, despite what Penelope Trunk says on her blog and everything like that.
Diane: Hey listen. If this is my soapbox, I can speak authentically too. I don’t care what number you are. I simply don’t care. Give me some ideas. When you are smart, when you are initiating, when you are doing, nobody is going to doubt your capability. In fact, that’s particularly true regardless of the color of your hair and how many wrinkles you’ve got on your face. Those things don’t matter when you show your inner light.
Peter: How does your blog help the over 40 set deal with some of these challenges around technology and understanding what you need to do today to promote your career and your services?
Diane: I’m going to get down to real specifics here, Peter. We try when we put out a blog post to write exact how-tos, to have screenshots, to lay it out for you… 1-2-3-4-5 – these are the step by step guide. I’ll give you an example.
We had a post about QR codes going back a few weeks before everyone was writing about it. We did our research. We didn’t put in the title, All About QR Codes or 10 Things You Need to Know About QR Codes. We found what people were looking for on the internet, especially the over 40s, was something like, what are those black and white squares? So we titled our post, What Are Those Black And White Squares?
Diane: I can tell you we still get tons of traffic months later because people are writing, “What are those black and white squares?” And more than that, Peter, in that post, we didn’t just tell you what QR codes are and why they’re being used. That’s valuable knowledge, but that won’t take you where you need to go. You need to experience it. We told you, here are the steps for finding it in the marketplace on your Android phone or for using your iPhone, or for making a code for yourself literally. So if you actually take those really simple steps to investigate it on your mobile, you get your mojo because now, you not only know what QR codes are, you can make them. You can use them. Heck, you can throw a party about it!
Peter: Do you find that the over 40 set is resistant to technology because they don’t understand it, because they’re scared of it? Or because they really don’t think it matters that much? I have people all the time saying to me, “What is this Twitter thing and who really cares?”
Diane: Twitter is a great example. Let’s talk about Twitter and I’ll answer it. I think there’s a combination. I think there are people who are fearful that they’ll put a lot of work towards it and they’ll have nothing to show for it. I think there are people who don’t understand the power of the medium, so they’re approaching it from another side. They may feel they could learn it, but they don’t know why they should bother. Then there are people who are what I call the compare and despair category. They think they could learn it, but it’s so humiliating to start from the beginning, and to look that someone else has 8,000 followers and they have 16; they just don’t want to go there.
This is what I say to the person who’s fearful: we’ll help you! That’s why my intro to the Twitter has two posts. If you only want to read one, stop there. Once you stop there, you’ll have an account. You may not have a lot of followers, you may not know how to tweet, but once you have an account, you’ll build up your courage. Then you’ll repost.
To the people who are in the compare and despair, listen, I can empathize with you. I feel it myself sometimes. When we did phase 2 on my blog, I was told, “You’ve got to make it more social.” So we put the Facebook plug-in. I think we had 33 likes. You know how humiliating it is to say you know about the online world, and you only got 33 likes? But hey, now we have a lot more than 33 likes because instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, I stopped comparing. I was better than I was a few months prior.
To the third people who don’t understand the power, I try to write some lively stuff to make you see it. So I put a post up there, How to Engage C-Level Executives on Twitter. It won’t take you more than two and a half minutes, three at the max to read it. But I can tell you, I had a conversation with the head of market intelligence at PayPal, Patrick Gauthier. He is one of the most admired execs at one of the most admired companies. You know how I connected to him? Through Twitter. I think if people read that, they will start to appreciate the power of the medium, and through Twitter you can take the conversation to a phone call. But first, you have to connect.
Peter: Diane, how do you help people manage their time on social networks? I mean when you look at all of these social networks that are out there now, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and you get into the applications that are now growing around Facebook, like BeKnown – how do you go about figuring out how much time you can actually spend on all of these things? Because let’s face it, you could spend all of your time doing nothing but posting to LinkedIn and Facebook and updating this thing, and that thing. Then you’re never going to get out of the house.
Diane: You know what, I love your question because I actually noticed at my blog, lots of people hit the time management button under categories. Lots of people are stressed for time. I have two things.
First of all, you need to figure out the goals of what you’re doing. What’s the goal of your business, whether it’s online or offline? And you need to know where your audience is. So you need to go there. For instance, I’m talking to the over 40s. Some are on Facebook, some are on Twitter, but I don’t think that many people in my target market are on Facebook. So I don’t spend too much time there and I have not really put a lot of magic pixie dust on my Facebook page. The bigger point though is, regardless of the social media sites and where your audience is, I don’t think you’re doing anyone a service by spending all of your time in front of your desk or even in front of your iPad, or even on a beach in St. Thomas in front of your iPad. I think you need to get out and meet people. It’s absolutely true, communication is fine online but it’s not going to give you the human connection.
So I would say, take a number that works for you, whether it’s 2 hours a day, 30 minutes a day, 30 minutes a week. In general, I think regularity is valuable, but put a boundary there. And then take that boundary for your online promotion and I would say just duplicate it. Mirror it and put time into getting out and about, getting out of your cave meeting people, developing presentations, teaching something for free. Literally going places, doing things and building your experiences and your knowledge and your connections.
Peter: You’ve got to show up.
Diane: Exactly. In fact, I’ll tell you something. I have a very popular post on the blog called Tech Tip: Ten Free Tools for Platinum PR and Marketing. The reason it’s popular is because free is the right price for a lot of job hunters, entrepreneurs, small business people. But I have to tell you, more than half of those tips were not developed from swimming around in cyberspace. They were developed from meeting people at conferences and events, listening to what they have to say, and learning from them. So if you’re not going to conferences, events and all those kind of places, you are simply not managing your time well enough. Mojo comes from the combination of having the online experience and the offline knowledge.
Peter: Speaking about your specific audience, the over 40 crowd and the job search, I have talked to so many people. I go and I give presentations a lot of times at libraries. There’s so many libraries now that are offering career advice to job seekers. They’re spending all their time surfing around on job boards and applying for jobs through job boards. Especially for the over 40 set, that is a really quick ticket towards depression because you’re not going to hear back. The jobs you are looking for are not on Monster, not on Career Builder. And I get a lot of flack for this, but the truth of the matter is they’re not. A lot of job postings really are for what’s known as pipeline development. A company wants to have 200 people in line for a specific job, so when that becomes available, they’ve got all of these candidates that they can sift through and find somebody that they want to hire.
Diane: Exactly. And someone in HR has to substantiate that they’re doing something. So you might as well put up some postings and follow the path because you’re looking busy.
Peter: Right. How do you encourage your subscribers to your blog that – the kinds of things you’re talking about, developing presentations, going out to conferences and seminars, and meeting people, being really proactive and sharing your knowledge with other people?
Diane: I’m going to answer that question with specifics, but starting with the catchall phrase. There’s not one approach that works for everybody, but I know people who have heard about jobs and been asked to apply because their name was found on an attendee list. It happened to me. I know people who heard about jobs because in fact, they went to a conference and they made a personal relationship.
I also know, for instance, it’s not always the job you want to hear about; it’s the position. If you can even volunteer strategically somewhere and get some stories about how you helped that firm, how you used cutting-edge tools, what they were doing, those stories are how you’re going to lead to find work that pays. Because after all, at the end of the day, if you’ve just been sending out résumés for weeks, you not only haven’t done much, but the prime concern of employers are whether or not you’re bringing ideas to the table. You can come up with creative workarounds and make that company greater, more profitable and so forth. They’ll see you as a person who’s out of it, if you’ve been out of work.
For instance, sometimes I think people, if they can get a great volunteer gig where they can do good work with specific goals and come out of it with three mesmerizing stories, that’s a good thing. I think again, sometimes if you can push your knowledge and develop a presentation, find the right venue to be the speaker, do your own marketing, your own direct mail, poster putting up and so forth, invite everyone you know to come to see, put it in the local newspaper, someone in the audience is likely to be impressed. Again, now you can self-publish on the internet. You can guest blog.
I can tell you, I have guest blogged at places and then people contacted me because they saw my posting at a site which was even more popular than mine. I think at the end of the day, doing something creative, even perhaps participating in a competition, developing a mock product, showing your product, trying to pitch it even if it’s not likely to get off the ground, but that experience will give you ideas.
Peter: Great. That’s some great advice. I want to talk to you a little bit about blogging. You have a really nice looking blog. When you first started, so many people say, how do you start blogging? I don’t even know where to start. What do you use? How do you go about doing it? So give us some tips for those people out there who would like to start a blog. What are some of the things that they need to consider and how do you go about getting started?
Diane: I think that’s a great question because people are at different places. I don’t want anyone to look at mojo40.com and freak out, I can never do that. I mean let’s be honest, my blog is very highly tricked out. It’s tricked out from a logo that we crowd-sourced, to paying a colorist to take a look at the mix of colors. You don’t necessarily have to do that. We were creative types and marketers, so we were using it to brand ourselves. But you can actually go on to blogger.com and in a very short time, have a blog. We actually have a post which says how you can create one in 5 minutes.
Now to be honest, if you create one in 5 minutes, it won’t be totally tricked out. But you don’t have to necessarily create one which is a premium product. You can also go the midway point. For instance, I would say for a person who’s overwhelmed by technology, you might be able to take an online course or even offline course at your local community college and learn a bit about development. Or you can even hire a web developer. Make a budget, something reasonable. They range in price from $40 an hour to $90 an hour. So if your budget is zero, you’re looking at something like Blogger or WordPress that’s not altered in any way. If your budget is $1,000 or $2,000, you can get a really premium product.
If you subscribe to mojo40.com actually next week, you’ll find out who’s my web developer. And I can tell you, he’s awesome. You can get with him.
Peter: This has been a really fun conversation and I look forward to having you back on the show. Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you’d like to share with the audience today, Diane?
Diane: Yes I do. I can tell you honestly, one of the things I find most satisfying about this blogging is that I truly know I’m helping people. I’d like to share the quote that inspires me. It’s from Winston Churchill, who is not your latest rock star, but truly he had it right. He said:
Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.
I think that’s true for all of us, 40 above, 40 below; we need to continue. We will be able to recalibrate and achieve success. Don’t give up. Keep at it.
Peter: Diane, that was fantastic advice. That’s a great quote and a great inspiration to live by, I think.
I really appreciate your time today. We’ve been speaking with Diane Dolinsky-Pickar. You’ll find this interview in the Career Strategy channel of TotalPicture Radio’s new, completely redesigned, and mobile-optimized website at totalpicture.com. Yes, you can now play our interviews on your iPad. Visit our site for a complete transcript of our podcast with Diane and while there, please sign up for our newsletter. Connect with me on Twitter @peterclayton and please join our growing TotalPicture Radio Facebook community to join in the conversation.
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