Make It Happen
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Back to School Lessons

by Randall Craig on August 19, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Learning, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Motivational, Planning

Tagged as: ,

Why is it that retailers have back-to-school sales starting in August? They know that clothing purchases are made in the 3-4 weeks immediately before the first day of school. (They also know that few customers will purchase clothing a mere day or two beforehand.) Stores make their buying decisions months in advance. Manufacturers make their products even earlier.

After the school selling season is done – maybe a week or two after school starts – the retailer will stock the next season’s apparel and the “old” stock is often sold at a loss.

Surprisingly, there is a lot that we can learn from retailers. For example:

  • There is a shelf-life for opportunity. If the window of opportunity is missed, then it cannot be resurrected.
  • Just as a retailer’s purchases may not sell well, there is a certain risk that our training might not meet the market requirements – but this isn’t an excuse not to prepare ourselves for the next stage of our careers.
  • Learn from our mistakes. Just because we weren’t the right “merchandise” for a particular opportunity, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ones where we are just what the customer wants.
  • Like the retailer’s different buying seasons, there are career and work-life balance activities that should happen at different times of the year – and can be calendarized.

This week’s action item: Not everyone thinks like a retailer – or feels comfortable drawing lessons from them. But it is a great example of how we can learn from just about every business – or person – we come in contact with. This week, choose an organization – or a person – and write down their lessons for you. Back-to-school doesn’t just mean great sales, but also great lessons.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Built for it

by Randall Craig on June 25, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Career Planning, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , , ,

Recently I was watching a roofer hauling heavy materials up and down a ladder. A neighbor, also watching, commented that the roofer was built for his job – he was built for it.

What is “it”, and how do you build yourself for it? Stripped to the essence, these are the two critical questions in career planning.

While roofing might not be your chosen profession, what would others say about you: are you “built” for your job? How does one become “built” for anything? Sometimes, we prepare for our careers and we find that we do indeed have a passion for our chosen profession. Sometimes we prepare for a certain career, and opportunity brings us somewhere else. And sometimes there is a disconnect between what we do, and how we appear to others.

Before making any changes to your job or your career, consider the issue of appearance – and expectations.

Why is it that we expect professors to have bookshelves lined with textbooks and scholarly magazines? Or firefighters to be large and muscular? Or doctors to have many diplomas framed in their offices? Those who do their best – even roofers – all seem to have a few things in common with each other: they are built for it, and it shows.

  • The bookshelves in a professors office brand them as learned – but also serve as a living reference to the work that they did to achieve their success.
  • The firefighter’s muscularity brands them as capable of doing their job – yet their strength only comes from long hours of physical training.
  • The doctor’s diplomas brand them as being knowledgeable and trustworthy – yet the diplomas were earned after years of medical school.

In all of these cases, the “appearance” of being built for it only exists because of the hard work becoming built for it.

A professor without books – or a weak-looking firefighter – is almost impossible to imagine. Yet how many people expect to achieve success without giving thought to what they are built for now (eg what they have done in the past that got them where they are now), and what they are building for in the future? Look around at the most successful people you know, and consider how they “built” themselves for their role, and what they are building for in the future.

This week’s action item: What are you building right now? Even if you aren’t sure what “it” is, find a way to extend yourself by committing to doing something new: take on a new responsibility at work, sign up for some training, or volunteer in the community. As any roofer knows, if you’re not doing any building this week, then nothing will be built this week. (And if you don’t build this year, then nothing will be built this year…)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)