So…Why Small Business Saturday?

Cristina DDAWritten by guest author Cristina Sheppard-Decius, CMSM
Ferndale DDA Executive Director

I do not “do” Black Friday. Never have. So when American Express came out with Small Business Saturday a few years back, I thought, “Well finally, someone gets it.” I always thought I was alone in feeling this way, which come to find out, I am not. This is not to disparage those who have made Black Friday a family tradition nor to change that habit either. There is obviously room for both, I just secretly hope to play an active role in swinging more folks around to my kind of thinking.

Jerry's at Rust Belt
Jerry’s Shirts original space in Ferndale,  at The Rust Belt Market

I know some of you may think that Small Business Saturday is just an American Express marketing gimmick or made-up holiday. To me, Small Business Saturday is so much more than that, and there are many other small busines advocates who agree. While American Express my have coined the term and are spending thousands on marketing it to earn a greater return, what they have really done is help strengthen the voice of small businesses everywhere and bring greater awareness as to the why you should shop on Small Business Saturday.

DDA Modern Natural Baby
Modern Natural Baby

So why Small Business Saturday?

Location, Location, Location. Small businesses keep it local. Did you know that small businesses reinvest 70% of every dollar earned back into their local community? It is two times more than any national chain or online business. Downtown Ferndale is also pretty easy to get to, we love biking (even in the winter), and we are completely walkable to over 350 businesses.

It’s About the People. Small local businesses are about the people who run them; your neighbors, your friends, your children’s friends or their parents, your family—the person willing to put everything on the line to go against the corporate grain and take a chance on themselves. It’s a big risk running a small business, but usually comes with a great reward—and it’s not money, it’s gratification. Gratification that you are doing what you love. (Although being able to cover your expenses, support your employees and family is really important, too!).

DDA Christmas
“Downtown Ferndale is overflowing in originality, and that is what makes our city the place people want to be.”

Many of our Downtown Ferndale business owners are Ferndale residents, and the same holds true for a significant majority of their employees. They not only invest in their downtown, but also in the people who live here.

Genuine Service. No where else will get you a more genuine experience, the best customer service and full appreciation from shop owners than when you shop at a small business. Small businesses work harder to make sure you’re happy.

Originality. Small businesses are born from the idea of one or sometimes a small group of individuals, whose individuality shines through in what they do, how they do it and what they provide. Downtown Ferndale is overflowing with originality, and that is what makes our city the place people want to be. Downtown Ferndale has a whole host of creative gift buying options – you are sure to be the hit of the party or make your loved ones’ holiday special. There is also comfort in knowing that the dollars you spend on Small Business Saturday will directly impact your community.

More Fun Than Not. I’m just going to say it. Shopping in a downtown is just a heck of Leave Your Printa lot more fun than being stuck in a line or being packed in like sardines in a mall or big box. I love being able to have a real conversation with the real owner of the store, and take my time making my shopping decisions. Small business owners know how to help you, even when you don’t know what you’re looking for. We also have over 60 restaurants and entertainment venues to add to that shopping experience, which to me is a winner! Nothing beats a day of shopping than to be able to sit down, kick back and enjoy a meal someone makes for me (and a beverage I might add). Stress be gone!

Found Sound DDA
Found Sound

So what are you doing this Saturday, November 29th? After reading this I hope you are taking it to the streets of Downtown Ferndale for Small Business Saturday. Start your day with brunch, then make sure to pick up the Downtown Ferndale Passport to specials and savings at more than 30 businesses. Every time you make a purchase, get your passport stamped. With each stamp, you will be entered into a raffle of amazing prizes from our merchants. With each stamp you know you are supporting your community! For a list of businesses and all the details, go to www.downtownferndale.com.

#ShopSmall #ShopLocal #DowntownFerndale

What Are You Afraid Of?

Written by Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

After years of working with job seekers, I see that for many people what holds us back isn’t our external circumstances – the job market, the economy, etc. – but our internal ones. Yes, there are factors we need to consider; child care, transportation, education, geographic location, and yes, the job market and economy are just a few.  But the internal landscape presents much more daunting obstacles:scared

Fear of change

Fear of getting stuck in a rut

Fear of leaving

Fear of staying

Fear of success

Fear of failure

Fear of what others think

Fear of starting over

Fear of rejection

Fear that you’ve “lost your touch”

Fear of looking stupid

Fear of making a bad decision

Fear of something new

Fear of things always being in upheaval

We start internal conversations and psych ourselves out of taking risks before we even have a chance to get started. “I wasn’t very good at school when I was a kid. What makes me think I’d be good at it now?” “That’s a big commitment. I probably shouldn’t even start.” “I’ll just go back to my old job.” “I have to do this because it’s what I went to school for.” “I don’t know what my options are.”

Why do we let our fears make our decisions for us? Writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau (who certainly knows a thing or two about walking away from a situation) wrote in Walden:

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Why are you in your current situation, whatever that might be? Is it where you want to be? I love quotes – so here are some famous people giving insights on how to get unstuck and stop letting your fears rule.

“Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” – Walter Anderson

Is your fear of change holding you back?

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” – Maimonides

Do you think you have to be perfect?

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.” – Cardinal Newman

Do other people think you have to be perfect?

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

You really can do this.

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The effort will be worth it, even if you don’t reach your goals in the way you expect.

“You must accept that you might fail; then, if you do your best and still don’t win, at least you can be satisfied that you’ve tried. If you don’t accept failure as a possibility, you don’t set high goals, you don’t branch out, you don’t try, you don’t take the risk.” – Rosalynn Carter

There are so many quotes about risk and reward and adventure; I’d like to close with one of my favorites:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd

Set sail!

 

 

Career Monsters

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

With Halloween right around the corner, we’re constantly seeing displays and decorations with bats and witches and spiders and other assorted creepies. You might even see some scary creatures around your workplace:

 

The Vampire
vampire
“I vill suck all the happiness from your job….”

This person sucks the life out of every conversation. Have a great idea? The Energy Vampire will let you know all the reasons it won’t work. Happy about a recent success? The E.V. will point out the parts that didn’t go perfectly.

The Zombie

The Zombie is just putting in the hours. Instantly recognizable by his/her coffee cup death-grip and delayed reaction times, as well as an unmistakable lack of interest in providing input, meeting deadlines, or mustering enthusiasm for anything except Friday afternoons. Sometimes mistaken for Career Monster #3:

The Ghost

Does this person still work here? They’re not at meetings, don’t return phone calls, can’t be found at their desk, and might as well not have an e-mail address. Nobody is really sure what the Ghost does all day.

The Werewolf

You’re never sure which personality will appear: the mild-mannered, seemingly normal human being, or the vicious rampaging animal. The Werewolf may not even blink at a major problem one day, then totally flips out over a minor detail the next. Co-workers live in fear of being on the wrong side of this person.

 The Ogre

You might find yourself wondering how this person ever got hired, because you’ve never seen a smile on their face or heard them utter a pleasant word. An accepted part of the office culture, The Ogre’s grumbles, glowers, and roars are their own known methods of communication.

 The Skeleton

The Skeleton is a bare-bones kind of person, doing the absolute minimum required to get by but putting on a good face whenever the boss is around. Their role is important enough that you can’t justify getting rid of them entirely, but it’s obvious to anyone who works with a Skeleton that there’s not a lot of skin in the game.

 The Mummy

The Mummy is completely wrapped up in his/her own work, personal situation, or drama of the day, there’s no room for anything else. Need help or information from the Mummy? Be prepared to hear about every iteration of the project from the dawn of time, and all the unappreciated work the Mummy has put into it already. Need something done right away? You’re sure to find out just how inconvenient this is, given all the other things the Mummy has going on right now – which you’re about to hear in exhaustive detail….

 The Ax Murderer

“He was very quiet. He kept to himself…..” Doesn’t every neighbor of every scary real-life human say the same thing? Look out for the Ax Murderer, who appears perfectly nice to everyone but has a scary double life, picking out victims from among co-workers and chopping their reputation, work, or relationships to pieces and hiding the evidence.

 

Career Monsters aren’t limited to Halloween season. Keep an eye out for these real-life scaries (and make sure you can’t be mistaken for any of them)!

 

 

The September Blues Might Be Just a Habit

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

The school year has started. The dust has settled. Everyone is getting used to the newroutine. And the September blues start to settle in…..

September blues

For years I felt sort of depressed and anxious when fall rolled around and I wasn’t starting school. It seemed like that was what I was supposed to be doing, and even though I’d moved on to a completely different part of my life, some part of me was holding on to the idea that I needed to buy some school supplies and start out on a new adventure.

Does fall make you feel like you should have a new beginning as well? Take a minute to think about this in terms of your job search and the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Are you headed in the direction you want? Or the direction you think you’re supposed to want? Or the direction that you’re used to wanting?

We get into habits of body and mind: our morning routines, the route for a daily commute, the same haircut, a rotating menu of your favorite dishes. Some of these habits help us function without the drag of constantly having to make decisions. Some of these habits create a sense of continuity and form the basis of cherished traditions (turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, anyone?). And some habits go from being well-trodden paths to deep ruts that are nearly impossible to steer out of.stuck-in-a-rut

When you think about your job search, are you excited about the possibilities ahead? Or does your job search feel like a drag? This might be a good time to stop and consider:  What do you want? And why do you want it? Periodically reconfirming the reasons why you’re headed in your current direction can be a powerful force to keep you motivated during your search.

Starting the School Year on the Right Foot

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

Ah, the start of the school year…. The lazy, hazy days of summer are over, the kids are headed to the bus stop with their backpacks loaded with fresh new school supplies, and the crisp morning air might be a reminder to some of us that we’ve let the job search slidschool-supply-liste a bit during the past few months.

Taking a break from the job search can be a good thing. Focusing on something else helps to recharge our batteries and often allows us to bring a fresh perspective to bear. On the other hand, it can also lead to procrastination, stalling, and excuse-making. Remember that there is NEVER going to be a “good time to start” – at no point in your life are you going to wake up without a single responsibility or obligation, endless free time, unlimited funds, a clean house, and boundless energy. The start of the school year is as good a time as any to start fresh.

GET ORGANIZED

Have a study spot. Every student needs a place to do homework – you need a place to do your job search. While the real work of the job search doesn’t take place behind a computer screen, you’ll probably be doing some work online. Keep your job search materials in one place (either physically or electronically) so you can find them when you need them.

Write it down. You don’t have a class syllabus anymore, but a written job search plan can be a great way to keep yourself on task. A weekly planner is a good tool for writing down your weekly goals, scheduling job search tasks, and tracking your contacts. If you’re not fan of planners, find another system that works for you and stick with it – something small and portable is especially useful, and can help you use those random bits of time throughout the day to keep moving ahead.

Havplannere a routine. For instance, if you know you hate making phone calls, make a point of getting them done first thing Monday morning; that way, your least-favorite task is out of the way, and you have the rest of the week to do follow-up activities. Post your LinkedIn updates on a schedule and you’re less likely to forget. Use the first of the month or other easy-to-remember day to set your goals for the month, schedule meetings, and so on.

Anticipate what you’ll need and plan accordingly. It’s great to use a calendar to remember your mom’s birthday – but if you’re sending her a card, you’re going to need to remember a few days in advance so you have time to mail it. If a job search task has some advance work involved, make sure you write those items down instead of scrambling at the last minute.

SET CLEAR AND REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

If you’re the parent of a school-age child, odds are good that your student knows your expectations in terms of grades, conduct, attendance, and so on. Participating in activities/sports, allowances, TV and computer privileges might be dependent on meeting these standards. How do you apply that to your job search?

Set realistic goals. Is your job goal realistic, given the current market, your geographic location, your qualifications, and so on? If you’re not sure, do some research and find out – don’t spend your time aiming at an impossible target. Your short-term plan might need to include volunteer work, self-study, or formal training in order to get you ready for the job you want.

Grade yourself. We don’t get grades when we do well at life, so how can you rate your progress? Consider enlisting a friend or relative as an “accountability partner” if you find you have difficulty getting motivated or staying on task. Remember to reward yourself for outstanding effort or completing big tasks.

Make other people do their share. When you’re not working, it can be very easy to let other people dictate how you spend your time, or take on additional responsibilities because you “don’t have anything else going on.” You can’t focus on your job search in the little bits of time in between driving everyone to doctor’s appointments, volunteering for every committee in the school, or doing all the housework. Delegate appropriately.

DEVELOP A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH TIME

timeDon’t live in the past. Spending time obsessing over interviews that didn’t go well, jobs you didn’t get, and “the way things used to be” isn’t going to do you any good. Learn from your mistakes and keep your focus in the present.

Don’t live in the future. Did you notice the Christmas displays in the stores while you were shopping for school supplies? Did anyone think, “Oh, good, the holidays are coming! I should start planning RIGHT NOW for the end of December!” The same goes with your job search: don’t make yourself anxious by worrying about events in the distant future.  A little focused daydreaming might help you get through some rough spots, but even if you have a long-term job plan the majority of your time and effort needs to be spent in the here-and-now.

Stay on schedule. Keep yourself to a regular schedule, which includes waking up at a set time in the morning and using those morning hours –when you’re most likely to be energetic and focused – and get some work done. Start your day off by checking some tasks off your list and the sense of accomplishment can help keep you upbeat about your progress in the job search.

Stop procrastinating. If you waiting until the first week of school to buy supplies, you’ve probably noticed the aisles are looking a little picked-over and the Halloween decorations are starting to replace the Back To School displays. Research shows that applicants are more likely to get a response when they apply for a job within 48 hours of it being posted.  Act now or all the good stuff will be gone.

 

Even if you’re not headed back to school this September, the start of the school year can be a great time to re-energize your job search. With a little planning and organization, you can be well on your way to being an A+ job seeker.

Back to the Classroom: A Success Story

By Rose Morrone-Reeves, Employment Services Coordinator

We are not officially two months into the summer season and the “Back to School” commercials have already captured the attention of millions of children, young adults and adults alike. Is it that time already? As a parent of grown adult children I no longer need to worry about the long list of school supplies or the expense of new clothes or the latest new running shoes for gym class. But, as a Career Advisor this time of year does bring many questions regarding the return to the classroom from my customers which are sometimes filled with confusion and uncertainty. For some adults, by personal choice or through circumstances beyond their control, are forced into a career change and contemplate seriously about returning to school.

Many of these folks are returning to school for the first time after having been employed in the workforce for 25+ years. Some of them know exactly what they want to do and may come to me already having been ewe-can-do-itnrolled in part-time classes for the last several years in a program of their choosing.  And then, there are those who by choice or design went to work just coming out of high school. They worked steadily for an employer for 25+ years, secure in thinking they would retire with this employer, only to discover the employer is downsizing or moving operations to another country. I had the privilege of working with one such lady.

When we sat down to discuss her options she went blank. She had never thought of doing anything else; she had worked as an assembly line worker for 27 years, raised her family and enjoyed doing crossword puzzles and reading mystery novels. It had never crossed her mind to return to school, but here she was at a crossroads. The process took her through testing and a multitude of questionnaires. After a few weeks we sat down to discuss her results. It was clear from the test results she had very high mechanical and math aptitude skills. This information shocked her; she confessed she never had a problem with math in high school and recalled having enjoyed it. We discussed non-traditional jobs which she could be very well suited for and the schools which would offer the best programs. She took a chance and decided to investigate and research a few schools of her choice.

She applied and was accepted to a very prominent Aviation Technology Institute. She confided in me at how quickly the two years went by. The course work was undoubtedly difficult and many times during our meetings she would tell me how much time she spent studying and having to pass up on many family and social gatherings so she could study. She was fortunate to have a supportive family who also encouraged and cheered her on during the two years. She had quickly discovered what worked for her when it came to her study habits and being successful. She completed her two year program with honors and received her Certificate in Airframe and Power Plant Technician Program. She told me if “If I can do it, anyone can do it”. I have always been a believer that where there is a will, there is way.

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated” Oscar Wild

 

Back to School?

Back-to-School

By Jennifer Bowden, Training & Workshop Coordinator

Job seekers often consider going back to school, either to update their skills or train in a new field,  especially if they’ve been working in an industry that had a significant downturn or has changed a lot in recent years. It can be tempting to look at one of those lists of jobs that are expected to be in demand and decide to make a radical shift for the sake of job security.

I’ve completely changed careers myself, and I’m the last person who will tell anyone they need to stay in a field that doesn’t work for them. But having met a lot of people who trained for new careers – only to continue to struggle in the (new) job search, discover they didn’t like the new job, be unable to live on an entry-level wage in the field – I think it’s well worth taking a step back and considering what you’re about to get yourself into. Even if your education or training is being paid for by someone else, it represents a huge commitment of time and energy on your part and you should go into the process with your eyes wide open. Here are some things to consider:

Are you making a change for the sake of making a change?

If you’re frustrated by your current job search, it can be tempting to think that starting over will be a solution. Take some time to consider the skills and abilities that you most enjoy using, either at your last job or in another setting. Will you be able to use them at your new job? Are you genuinely interested in learning something new, and how hard will be it to be the person at the bottom of the totem pole? No matter how well-paying or fast-growing a field may be, you don’t want to make a change only to find that you don’t really care for your new line of work.

What do you really know about the job?

It may be tempting to use that list of “Hot Jobs” or a review of job postings to make the decision about a field, especially if there are a lot of jobs available and the pay looks really good. Keep in mind that no matter how well-paid you are, you still have to actually do that work – and if you dislike it, that paycheck may not feel like compensation enough after all. If the idea that you should enjoy your work sounds frivolous, there’s plenty of research – and plenty of employers – who will confirm that fit is a huge component in getting and keeping a job.

If you’re considering a change, talk to people who currently work in the field, preferably in a variety of settings. Read newsletters or websites of professional organizations and attend a meeting or two if possible. Use your network to meet with new contacts in the field – LinkedIn is great for this. Learn as much as you can about the skills, experience, and qualifications that hiring managers really look for, instead of relying solely on job postings. See if internships are available, or if you can do some volunteer work to learn more first-hand.

Is education or training needed to get into the field?

Depending on how big a change this is for you, you might not need an entire certificate or degree program to make a change. Some schools offer short-term programs specifically intended to help job seekers transition from one field to another; don’t assume you have to take the long way around, especially if you have related experience or education.

Will education and UNrelated experience be enough to get you hired?

It’s frustrating to put in the time, effort, and expense of getting an education only to realize that you still don’t have the qualifications to get hired in your field. This is why doing your homework before you choose a program is so important. Admissions staff are professionals with a great deal of knowledge about the programs and offerings at a particular school – and part of their job is to help convince you that their program is the best one. It’s not the school’s responsibility to find or guarantee you a job upon graduation, and saying “when I signed up they told me there were plenty of jobs” is no excuse.

Have you chosen the right program?

Choosing a training or education program that fits your needs is important. Check that the program or institution has appropriate and current accreditation. Does the school have a good reputation in your new field or industry? Does the program teach what you want or need to learn in order to get the job you want? While the core classes may be the same in every program, schools may specialize in one or more areas; look at the places recent graduates have been hired and talk with employers in your field to get some insight on this.

Are you ready to go back to school?ready for back to school

Last – but NOT least – are you ready to go back to school? Education is a significant investment of time, money, and energy. Are you prepared to put in the effort to make it succeed? If you have a family, they will also be affected by your decision to go back to school; in addition to the time you spend in the classroom, you’ll need to spend time on homework and other projects. Are you willing to give up other activities and commitments to dedicate time to school? And finally, realistically consider whether you are academically ready for success. If you haven’t been in school for a while, it may be wise to take a refresher course or two so that you’re feeling more confident in your ability to tackle the coursework.

Education is often a key element to successfully changing careers, but it’s not a magic bullet. Take the time to consider your goals and choose a program that will help you along your path to career success.