Easy On, Always On | Foundation 5 – Lesson 1

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

Today’s lesson is short and sweet. It’s designed to provoke certain good behaviors and get you to make networking part of your daily routine—in a fluid, integrated way.

It’s also a quiz.

Ready? Let’s go:

1. It’s Thursday morning. You want to e-mail a prospective employer but you have no idea what to say. You are not aware if the company is in the news, you don’t know the firm’s values, structure, or lines of business, and you’re not sure what value you bring to the table. You’re not even sure to who the people inside the company are. Name 5 websites you could have been on last night (when you were watching “Lost”) that would have better prepared for this moment.

2. A friend forwards you an invitation to join the Facebook cause, “Foundation for the protection of Swedish underwear models.” You chuckle, note that over 513,000 people have already joined and then… (a) Join, because a 1/2 million people can’t be wrong; or (b) hit “Ignore.”

3. Quick: Jot down on a sheet of paper five particularly memorable dinners you have ever had in your life, and each stories’ “hooks” that allow you to integrate it into a conversation.

4. Quick: Jot down on a sheet of paper three observations/questions about the way business works.

5. Quick: Jot down something you’ve done that is funny in hindsight, but that also show how you’ve grown.

You will not be able to answer all of these questions in a single sitting… it took me years to pull together the stories for questions 3-5… but having this information is the first step toward building a network of meaningful relationships. Putting the effort into answering these questions will help you hone your ability to engage socially… and as you gain more confidence, you *willingness* to engage will grow, too. These questions are, in a way, the manifestation of “Attitude” in a social communications context. The rest of this Foundation will provide you guidance to help you along your way.

FYI, I’ve posted my answers below.


You should see this one coming… Take the quiz!

If you’re not happy with the answers (and you probably shouldn’t be), bring the conversation out to your friends. Get them engaged. Talk about it while working out, at the bar, between classes. Focus on getting answers to these questions.

Jason’s Answers

1. Company website; BusinessWeek.com; WSJ.com; Wikipedia; LinkedIn.com

2. “Ignore.” Optional: Reply “LOL” or “Not funny” depending on your views.

3. Dinners (& hooks): (a) Fruit plate in Sorrento, Italy… a perfect lunch of fruit picked from the garden we were sitting in. (Best meals, magic of simplicity, travel.) (b) Buffalo & elk steaks in CO with my wife’s family… the buffalo was a bad cut, the salt shaker top had been unscrewed, the service was pathetic, my sister-in-law was oblivious, and I laughed so hard I cried. (Funny dinners, Colorado, skiing, eating game.) (c) Gene & Georgetti’s with my own family… we almost got kicked out of the restaurant. (funny dinners, family, the power of laughter, and various conversation topics that we touched on that night.) (d) My bachelor party, when I accidentally shamed a friend into overeating… to the point where he was stuck in the bathroom then all night. (influence, the need to be careful with sarcasm, idiot things guys do, friendships.) (e) New Year’s 1998, when my wife and I got our friends to start celebrating on 12/30. (overrated holidays, creative solutions to holiday issues.) [Note: the idea here is to demonstrate your ability to have a casual conversation.]

4. (a) CEOs tend not to be as evil as they are “pragmatic to a fault”… aka, shortsighted. (b) Contracts are only as good as the people who sign them. (c) I don’t believe in (most) conspiracy theories… but I do believe in the idea that a “Confederacy of Dunces” rules business. [Note: observations cannot be trite cliches. These only work if they are somewhat provocative and demonstrate that you’re doing some deep thinking about the world around you. If you don’t feel you have enough experience to come up with these on your own, borrow mine. Add the prefix, “It’s interesting. I know one person who says…” then give the line and end with, “…what do you think?”]

5. I was a complete tool in high school. It’s a truly a wonder I ever had a girlfriend. I distinctly remember a girl hitting on me and me not getting it until she turned and started walking away. That’s the moment I started investing in developing my interpersonal savvy… and as good as I’ve gotten in this area, I would love to have that moment back to do over! [Note: the best stories use self-deprecating humor to poke fun at yourself while also highlighting a strength.]

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One response to “Easy On, Always On | Foundation 5 – Lesson 1”

  1. samanthabrie says:

    Here are my answers:
    1. the company’s website, linkedin, an industry-related blog, NY Times, Twitter
    2. ignore
    3. a) my 16th birthday dinner where my friend ate an entire family-sized portion of tiramisu thinking it was just for her (dinners with family and friends, funny etiquette gaffes), b) the never-ending steak frites restaurant withy my family in Paris with the waitress who quipped, “I used to be young and beautiful, now I’m just beautiful.” (powerful one-liners, family, aging gracefully), c) il gato e il volpe in florence with friends and one of their Italian boyfriends and his friends (friends, travel, advantage of knowing the locals), d) Passover seder at my house with neighbors and friends, none of whom were Jewish but who all drank a lot of Manishewitz with hilarious results (mixing up tradition, advantage of having wine at a dinner party), e) paella in Alcala, cooked with lots of love (good hospitality, most delicious meal EVER)
    4. a) Is it possible to get ahead in business without stepping on other people? b) Many companies are relying on old ways of conducting business. How can they adapt in the web 2.0 world? c) People don’t want to work with people they don’t like, but sometimes they’re forced to. What are some good tactics for putting aside your differences?
    5. In college I worked at a new rental apartment building showing apartments to potential tenants. By winter the inventory had dried up, and business was slower. My coworkers and I thought it would be amusing to wear a hideous Christmas sweater on shows and pretend that everything was normal. OK, it was hilarious to see people react, and some people even complimented the sweater, but it was also entirely unprofessional and could have cost me my job. I wouldn’t do it anymore, but, upon reflection, it really did boost morale in the office. Ever since then, I haven’t touched a Christmas sweater, but I have made sure to bring my sense of humor (within reason) to work.

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