Sunday, November 13, 2005

Bait and Switch
with optimism

Bait and Switch is a very popular book by NY Times best selling author Barbara Ehrenreich.

It's a story of middle America out of work and the fact that desparate people are preyed upon.

It really can be an awful job mess out there. Many of us navigate it every day successfully, but you need to know there's an industry full of scurrilous frauds out there masquerading as help. A lot of people are cruelly victimized. When I drive through major cities I hear ads on the radio, "Become a coach. No experience necessary." What?!

The Bait and Switch title is good, but Ms. Ehrenreich's book got subtitled in a grossly offensive way, I think: The (futile) pursuit of the American Dream

There is nothing futile about the search for any dream. Don't damn the pursuit of dreams, damn the predators who steal those dreams.

I would agree that it is futile to take thousands of dollars and give it to job coaches. I would agree that it's futile to go to "network events" with idiots. I would agree it's futile to think someone else is in charge of your life. That's what got these folks into job trouble in the first place.

Planning alternative, sustainable economic strategies for yourself seems like a prudent alternative.

Here's a review I liked from the Miami Herald writer Ariel Gonzalez.

"Almost every page is devoted to the dispiriting process of landing an upwardly mobile job in today's market. As Ehrenreich's title suggests, people are lured into believing a generic business career is the path to early retirement. What they get instead is a callous, high-handed manner from employers who overwork them until they go elsewhere or are downsized. Corpse-like obedience is the key to advancement. You are expected to enthusiastically tow the company line. Individuality is frowned upon; after all, there is no ''I'' in ''team'' (it's missing from ''soulless drone'' too.) And if you display a healthy sense of irony, you will be labeled a critic or malcontent.

These are a few of the unsurprising tips Ehrenreich picks up as she wades through the ''transition industry,'' the core of which consists of uncredentialed ''career coaches'' who, for thousands of dollars, offer dubious advice on customizing your resume. The rank narcissism of these Tony Robbins-type characters would be funny if they weren't preying on human desperation. Borderline scam artists, they rely on personality tests with ''zero predictive value'' and spew platitudes about the importance of networking and maintaining a positive attitude."

Yes, there are people preying on us. Take some steps to strike out on your own, to make a contribution, to counteract this BS. Take the first steps. You can do it. It's the honorable thing to do for you and your family. Self defense stuff.

For her next challenge, I'd urge Ms. Ehrenreich to go after those that prey on small biz owners, and those that would be innovators and inventors. The latter are commercially assassinating many in our society's talent pool.

I've written this post for folks in danger of losing their jobs, or may be stuck in idiotic, mind deadening jobs. Starting your own enterprise in advance can help. Even baby steps help. Anything to give you a bit of control and a rational reason to hope. You can do it. Do not wait to become the prey. Search for opportunity yourself. You do not have to succumb to the awful "transition industry" tactics that may seem unavoidable when trouble is upon you. Do it yourself. You're fully capable. Plan and execute well, but get going for goodness sake.

Is it a tough world out there? If you don't know, I can't help.

Is the world full of, as the great singer songwriter Stan Rogers sang, "smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go?" Sorry to report, but there's an ocean of them. Just say no.

Can you do something helpful for yourself in spite of all that? Yep, and there's more opportunity than ever.

Sustainable work is not find your bliss stuff. It's control your own life, control your own enterprise stuff. You can apply it to for profit work, social entrepreneur work, non profit work, or whatever.

No matter the format, work is the key word. Smart, sustainable work.

Or, you can hire a career coach.

Barbara Ehrenreich’s home page featuring Bait and Switch

Miami Herald review by Ariel Gonzalez

Stan Rogers link to Fogarty's Cove Music. I dearly love Stan Rogers' work.

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