Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reskilling Prong 5 – Experimental Mindset

Treating my marketing and sales activities as experiments helps me get stuff out there and reduces the resistance (a little).

  • Do (sales and/or marketing) thing.
  • Put out into world.
  • Receive results.
  • Analyze results.
  • Make adjustments.
  • Rinse, repeat.

There is less pressure to get something out there that is “perfect.”

That doesn’t always stop me from procrastinating.  That’s a fear/resistance thing.

This is why the mentor in Prong 2 and the friendly safe space in Prong 4 are so important.

They encourage me to get over the fear and resistance.

Maybe one day I won’t need to lean on those prongs so much.

I’m not quite there yet.  It will take more cycles.

It’s part of the mastery process.

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Reskilling Prong 4 – Safe Space

New learning needs safe spaces to allow for experimentation and development of stability.

New learning is scary – why make transversing the dip more challenging than it needs to be?

This is where I recruit supporters and allies for friendly pilots.

These are trusted friends who I know have my best interest at heart.

I’m blessed that these friends are also really smart – I get good feedback from them.

That safe space allows me to practice and solidify the new learning before going out into the scary world.

For my marketing efforts, I decided to approach safe space creation in three ways.

First – through my entrepreneurial friends. They can relate to the need to market (and the resistance that pops up).  We are also not competing with each other for clients.  They have provided sound, actionable feedback and encouragement.

Second – through my “target market” friends.  They are able to look at my materials and tell me whether they work for them.  They provide a good place for me to experiment, tell me whether I am hitting my mark with my service, and whether I am actually helping. They get free help, I get practice. Everybody wins.

Third – through a small mastermind group.  This is a higher risk approach, but one that I needed to add to my safe space.  I needed a group of people who don’t know me to give me feedback. We are all trying to do the same thing, so they can relate to the struggle.  They also haven’t heard my attempts to explain things umpteen-million times, so they are approaching my work with a fresh eye.

I consider this “coopera-tition.” We may be competitors, but we can help each other too.  This has the added benefit of growing my network.  I have no problem with forwarding potential clients to any of them if that client would be better served through their services.

Example:  If you are a senior executive or CEO – I feel you would be better off contacting one of the following:

None of those are affiliate links.

My sweet spot is helping middle managers and senior team leads cope with their current environment, find time to do the things that are important to them, and be less stressed about it all.

Let me know if you want to work together.

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Friday, May 25, 2018

#52books Authorpreneur

authorpreneur cover
#52Books Authorpreneur: Build the Brand, Business, and Lifestyle You Deserve. It’s Time to Write Your Book.

Format: Kindle

Have you noticed the explosion of books on Amazon?

I sense that a large percentage of those books are written by individuals trying to establish expertise in a given niche.

Jesse Tevelow comprehensively explains the entrepreneurial book writing process; from idea to the act of writing to packaging and marketing.

Tevelow argues that the act of writing a book helps the development of mastery. The research required and the attempt to explain what you are learning to others help you gain expertise in the topic.  By the time you are done writing the book, he argues, you can speak authoritatively on the topic you researched.

I feel that there is more credibility if you have applied what you are writing about and can speak to the hazards and pitfalls of your ideas out in the field.  I know I am in a more privileged position than many of Tevelow’s readers. I have been doing what I have been doing for 20+ years, and I am not trying to reposition myself as an expert in things I haven’t done before.

The research I am doing now is helping me get some new ideas for maneuvering in our current environment and get a better understanding of some of the new conversations around business. Step 2 – for me – is to put what I learn into practice. Only after I get some feedback from application in the field, that’s when I write. I’ve operated this way for my entire career. Take idea, test in environment, write about the results. 

The big issue I have with Tevelow’s advice is that it skips the application step. I’m finding that many of the books I am encountering in the “build-a-business” space are missing proof of application.  It takes some digging to tell you whether the book is written by someone who has done the work or is just a decent researcher and writer.  This is not a complaint – it only speaks to the increasing need for assessing sources before diving in headlong.  At least Tevelow practices what he preaches.

Everything else he describes strikes me as dead-on.  Knowing WHY you are writing the book and how you are positioning it (freebie for email collection, expertise development, or as a profit center), the process of writing and how to make it less crazy-making, even some marketing recommendations.  There is a lot here for those of us who like to write and want to make writing a core part of their business.

Disclosure: The book link goes to Amazon and supports my blogging.  Thanks.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Reskilling Prong 3 – Scheduled Deliverables

I do best when I know what steps I need to take and, for the scary bits, those steps are small enough that I can do that step today and celebrate the fact that I’ve taken the step.

Is this quick? Nope. I’m making progress.

Days when I am feeling more confident about what I am doing, I get more steps done.  Days where I am not right in the head – at least I did something.  I count that as a win.

Learning sticks when we apply it. Not just when we hoard information.

To that end, I create small, low-risk projects for myself to start.

What that looks like will vary for everyone.

As I get more comfortable, I increase the risk and scale.

For instance, creating a marketing architecture and plan requires a number of small steps and deliverables attached to those steps.

Small, low-risk – create a MailChimp list.  MailChimp has a free level and allows you to create a list.  Is your list created and working? Yes/no.   (BTW – that is not an affiliate link. MailChimp is a popular tool in the marketing space for a reason, it’s really simple.)

Small, higher risk – ask people to join the list.  Again, a deliverable with a measurable outcome.  How many people are on your list (that is not you and your testing accounts)?

The risk is in the ask. Getting over the fear of asking and what people will think of you. Some of us have an easier time with this than others.

Slightly larger, slightly higher risk – ask people you don’t know very well to join the list.  Yet again, a deliverable with a measurable outcome.

This time, you can work with lag and lead measures. Lag measure – how many people are on your list?  Lead measure – how many people did you ask today?

This is the deliverable I am currently working on.   Eventually – I will have enough information to be able to see a percentage of the number of people I asked vs the number of people who signed up.

When done well – you can work up to large, multi-deliverable projects at a significant risk level.

Unfortunately, many of us try to go big right out of the gate.

In my experience, 9 times out of 10 that is a huge mistake.

Failing big makes it much harder to try again.  Not only have you burned yourself out, you have also damaged your goodwill with others.

Don’t under-estimate the power of small, low-risk projects.

This is a good time to offer my personal marketing and mailing list disclaimers:

  • If you sign up for my newsletters (check the sidebar of the blog) – I will send you monthly newsletters, any freemiums I develop, and potential offers as I come up with them.  My intent is to provide value and not spam your inbox. You get enough email.
  • If you decide to watch my Masterclass – the newsletter subscription will not be automatic. I do have email follow-ups (like everyone else) – but I’m not going to hound you every 2-3 hours.  I’ll send a separate invite to a newsletter subscription, but you can choose whether you want to subscribe or not. Again, my intent is to provide value and not spam your inbox.
  • The blog is always there.  I do not intend to cease writing for free just because I am trying to make a living.  The blog is one way I reflect and process information. I’ll talk about this more in a future post.

Does the above go against common marketing practice?

Yes – I don’t want to clutter your inbox.  My goal is to build positive relationships.

Providing me with your email tells me that you trust me to provide value.  For that, I thank you.

Oh – and feel free to let me know what you would like to see me cover.  What is your most pressing problem?

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Reskilling Prong 2 – Finding a Mentor

This one is a bit trickier for me. I’m not good at asking for help.

As I learn sales and marketing, finding a mentor provided a greater challenge than usual.

Most of my closest friends have the same problem I do – sales and marketing are not natural acts.

Furthermore, the best salesman I know is my brother, and though I can ask him advice, he’s a natural.  He probably thinks my struggle is ridiculous.

I’m also not good at receiving advice from people close to me.  This is why I don’t ask my partner for golf tips (even though he is a fantastic golfer).  I know myself well enough to know that I’m going to resist.  I prefer to keep my relationships with both my brother and my partner strong. No point in testing those bonds because I’m suffering from the “familiarity breeds contempt” fallacy.

The sales and marketing mentor I found is completely outside my network.  This works for me because he doesn’t need to be my friend. Plus, he’s been there. He’s made the mistakes. He’s far enough along that he can guide, but isn’t so far along that he can’t relate. And he holds me accountable.  This has been critical for the “hard” activities. I’m great at procrastinating when I have to reach out to people or release projects I’ve been working on forever.

Mentorship provides the accountability that is absolutely critical for learning a new skill and feedback from someone who has already done the work multiple times.  In my case, my mentor has also talked me down from a few fear-based freakouts. I haven’t been the best student 🙂


Kenny Goodman – Find the Edge.  He’s been invaluable in helping me with my first pass at developing a marketable consulting service.

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

#52books Ask

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#52Books Ask

Format: Kindle

This book appeared repeatedly among the big online marketers as a “great book.”

Fundamentally, the book describes how to use surveys as a marketing tool.

As Ryan Levesque describes, you are both getting important information about your prospective customers’ needs and encouraging engagement and trust.

Part 1 is his personal story and how he came up with the approach.  It’s well written but skippable.

The meat of the book is Part 2 – his step-by-step approach for leveraging 4 different types of surveys to get information from your market and engage prospective customers.

I like the level of detail he provides.

As with all of these “marketing technique” books, the secret sauce is in how you apply the technique to your own business or product.

Application of the technique is much easier when your product and market is like the author’s.  I also suspect that applying these techniques as a beginner marketer from this book is much like following a cookbook as a beginner cook.  There is some implicit knowledge, developed through personal experience, that will be missing when you try to follow the instructions verbatim.

Of course, he has expensive consulting services to help you apply the model to your own business.  The book is a “low-cost product” step in a consulting sales funnel.

I’ve already used surveys (and will continue to use them) to learn how I can best help you.  The process Levesque provides is straightforward enough to be worth an experiment.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Reskilling Prong 1 – Collect Information

This is the easy prong for me.  I can read books and consume media happily all day.

It’s easy for me to mistake “research” for learning.

Thankfully, I’ve spent a lifetime learning and unlearning.  I’ve approached even the most uncomfortable topics with the idea that I can at least become passably OK at whatever it is I’m trying to learn.

Some topics, I find it’s easy to figure out where the “beginning” is and put together the learning plan from there.

Foreign languages, for instance, have a pretty consistent start point and a clear learning path.

Other topics, like sales and marketing, generate significant noise.

Each person has his or her “best” way.  The result is a lot of conflicting information.

Add to that the internal noise I generate when I am trying to learn things in areas I’m not entirely confident I will master.  Or, as is the case with sales and marketing, have reservations about the endeavor.

When I’m starting from “dead beginner” status – I’ll typically look for “Introduction to…”   or “…for Dummies” type books.  The general overview.

I’ll then look at the “classics” and most cited.

Is there something in that information I can hook into from my past experience?

What can I immediately leverage?  What actions can I take, and how quickly can I take them?

Where am I finding agreement or resistance to the information?

What trends am I seeing?

As I dig into the information and gain more clarity on my personal goals for learning this skill, I can start work on the other prongs.


eLearning Industry – 9 Techniques to Achieve Learning Agility and Future-Proof Yourself in an Age of Disruption

Harvard Business Review – Learning is Learned Behavior. Here’s How to Get Better At It

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#52books The End of Power

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#52 Books – The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be

Format: Softcover

It’s not really the END of power. More the end of the effectiveness of a type of power that prioritizes scale and concentration.

Moises Naim has had a front-row seat to this transition, between his tenure as Venezuela’s trade minister, serving as editor-in-chief for Foreign Policy magazine, time as an executive director at the World Bank, and his scholastic work with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He sees three big trends that change the way power is held:

  • More – “When people are more numerous and living fuller lives, they become more difficult to regiment and control.”
  • Mobility – These people move around a lot more and have access to faster, less costly ways of moving information, money, and values.
  • Mentality – As a result, people’s expectations have changed as they see the possibility for more prosperity, freedom, and personal fulfillment and start demanding changes.

As a result, Naim argues:

  • Automatic deference to authority can no longer be assumed since jurisdictions are now porous and the populace is more numerous, healthier, and better informed.
  • Moral claims and dogma are challenged and universal values begin to take precedence.
  • There is a growing awareness of alternatives and ability and propensity to switch
  • Niches become profitable
  • The incentives to accept the status quo become weaker and the cost of loyalty increases.

The bulk of the book further details how this works in various areas: business, religion, politics, and the military get particular focus.

Naim also speaks to the ever-increasing amount of information and the growing challenge to filter and sort that information.

Essentially, power (as we traditionally understood it) is decaying, spreading, and becoming more ephemeral.  Naim is of two minds about this trend. On the one hand, “The undeniably positive consequences of the decay of power include freer societies, more elections and options for voters, new platforms for organizing communities, more ideas and possibilities, more investment and trade, and…more options for consumers.” On the other, Naim fears that these trends have “simultaneously made our problems bigger and more complex and weakened our mechanisms for addressing them.”

Ultimately, he seems to want the old forms of power back.  He fears disorder, alienation, impatience, de-skilling and loss of knowledge (because, Naim argues, no small firm can match large internal R&D), and the banalization of social movements (because we can “participate” with just a click of a mouse).

Naim’s solutions to mitigate the risks involved in this new de-centralization of power include:

  • Stop ranking each other. Focus on interdependence.
  • Be on the lookout for the “terrible simplifiers.” We need to be skeptical of those who loudly offer “easy” solutions.
  • “Bring Trust Back” Naim sees this as changing the way political parties organize and operate and in how they screen, monitor, hold accountable and promote/demote their leaders.


Personally – I see this as a pattern throughout. Are you trustworthy? Is your organization (no matter what type) promoting the trustworthy?

I was a little disappointed to see that he concludes his book by focusing on strengthening the political parties and political system.  Naim, maybe inadvertently, spoke to a much larger move towards networked, agile societies that rely on collaboration and interdependence to thrive.  I’m not so sure he meant to do that.  I would have liked to see a more robust discussion of ways to work with the More, Movement and Mentality revolutions he identified.

My sense is that he sees this re-defintion of power and how it works as a bad thing. Naim at least made a go at providing “solutions” to what may not necessarily be problems.  If nothing else, it starts the conversation around how best to maneuver in this new world.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

How I Approach Skill-Building in Things I Suck At

I mentioned in my last post that I am skill-building in Marketing and Sales.

Because I am doing this skill-building in activities I’m not naturally talented at, I have to do more than just watch a couple online tutorials, listen to Zig Ziglar tapes and presto! Sales and Marketing Genius!

Furthermore, there is a LOT of noise in this particular space.

Check your Facebook feed – how many ads do you see promising that you can make tons of money for less than 1 hour a week? Most of these folks are selling marketing solutions.

Nope, I have to use everything I’ve learned about learning and make a plan.

Treat mastery in uncomfortable topics as the project that it is.

I take a 6 prong approach.

Prong 1 – Collect information – get the lay of the land.

Prong 2 – Find a mentor – for feedback and accountability

Prong 3 – Develop a schedule of deliverables – making sure I actually DO something with what I am learning

Prong 4 – Create a safe space for experiments – to minimize risk

Prong 5 – Cultivate an experimental mindset – to minimize procrastination

Prong 6 – Share what I’ve done into the big scary world.

Through these 6 prongs, I am gaining knowledge, applying what I learn, and practicing for mastery.

I’ll talk about details in the next few posts.

I am offering a free 45-minute Masterclass.

The 3-Stage Process to Move from Overwhelm to Results.

Register Here.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

How to Choose What to Reskill Next

How to thrive in an unknowable future? Choose the plan with the most options. The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans. – Derek Sivers

That quote above guides which skill I build next.

What is going to provide me with the most options long term?

It’s how I approached choosing my majors (even if the reality of a History degree turned out to be wildly different than expected)

It’s how I approached continuing my schooling (learning the mechanics of learning has proven to be more important than ever – even if the reality of the actual Education education turned out to be wildly different)

It’s how I approached the certifications I pursued

It’s how I’m approaching skill-building as a consultant.


What skill do I need to build that will provide me with the most options long-term?

These days, for me, it’s Marketing and Sales.

Two things that if I could outsource them, I would.  Neither of these skills fit into my natural mindset (academic) or personality (deeply introverted).

But, in my business, I am marketing and selling myself.

I have to take responsibility for those activities.  At least long enough until I a) understand what, exactly, I am marketing and selling and b) am able to do this well enough to communicate my needs and expectations to someone else.

If you, or someone you love, suffer from anxiety or depression – please give to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  


Monday, May 07, 2018

#52books Wemberly Worried

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#52Books – Wemberly Worried

Format: Hardcover, Children’s

Sometimes a children’s author nails it.

Kevin Henkes nailed not just the child’s experience of anxiety and worry, but also the adult’s.  The mental loop that many of us drag around for decades.

His illustration through a brief story of how telling someone to “stop worrying” doesn’t work. Even if you mean well. Even if you don’t see WHY they are so concerned.  It just makes the worrier feel more isolated and wrong.

His accurate depiction of a worrier’s internal dialog and his treatment of that dialog as somewhat normal versus something to be treated or medicalized.

His emphasis that there are others in the tribe.  That you are not alone.  That worrying is a common human condition and it is OK to be a bit more sensitive to changed surroundings.

I want to give this to every kid who has ever been accused of being too much of a worry-wart.

I want to give this to every risk manager and project manager to remind ourselves that we are not alone and that we can mentor these children to help them make their worry-ing a strength.

I want to give this to every adult who EVER told me to “stop worrying” – both as a child and as an adult.

I am where I am today because I was the kid who “worried too much.” I never quite grew out of it.  And I’m grateful for that.

If you, or someone you love, suffer from anxiety or depression – please give to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  


Friday, May 04, 2018

School of the Possible – Meaningful Flow Lab

I have put together a proposed lab for The School of the Possible.

This is a project spearheaded by Dave Gray.

He’s doing something deeply personal that resonated with me.  I want to help.

This initiative also provided an opportunity for me to get clear on what I am doing with my new service – Meaningful Flow.

I need your feedback and help.

Please read this post in Medium and send me an email at with any comments.

You are also welcome to add a comment to this post.


And May the Fourth be with you!

FYI – I won’t automatically add your email to my mailing list if you contact me via email or comment (here or at Medium) as a result of this post.  I’m pretty sure you get enough emails.  You are doing me a huge favor through your input.

If you want to join my mailing list, let me know in your comments.  The mailing list is for a monthly newsletter and any freebies I develop. Let me know if you want me to send you a sample newsletter.  Thank you for your help.


Thursday, May 03, 2018

How to Reskill as an Individual

For individuals, particularly those under risk of displacement, simply to remain employed will require engaging in lifelong learning and regular reskilling. Additionally, for all workers, continuous learning will not only be key to securing employment but also to building stable, fulfilling careers and seizing rewarding job transition opportunities. – World Economic Forum, Towards a Reskilling Revolution, pg.17

As much as I sometimes wish it was otherwise, education isn’t (and can’t be) a one and done thing.

Not so long ago, our environment “seemed” stable enough for individuals to develop mastery and expertise in a particular field without worrying about irrelevancy.

Having recently watched a number of telecommunications experts become the equivalent of typewriter repairmen, I’m convinced that we need to embed learning into our lives.  They had built expertise over decades, then were forced to retire because their skills and knowledge no longer seemed relevant.

I don’t want to be forced into retirement early because I’m irrelevant.


Harold Jarche has been talking about lifelong learning for close to 15 years. 

He’s argued for Personal Knowledge Management.

Learning how to learn and continue building knowledge and skills for a lifetime.

Maintaining relevance.

Harold breaks down the process to Seek > Sense > Share.

My take on how Harold’s process can help individuals reskill:

  • Seek.  What do you want to learn about?  Go find resources. Internet, books, people, experiences.  What’s out there on that topic?
  • Sense. Harold really means sense-making. Read the resources. Put together what you are learning into forms that make sense to you.  Play with the ideas. Practice and make mistakes and build things that you wouldn’t share with your closest friends.
  • Share. I learn more when I have to explain what I am learning to others – either through teaching, writing, or building courses.  Through sharing, I also get valuable feedback.  For the knowledge and skills I am learning that I don’t particularly want to share publically, I use this step to reflect on how what I am learning here can apply to my other, more public, endeavors.

Using that Share step to reflect on how what I am learning can serve others and what the transferable skills are within that learning has been invaluable to me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018


The World Economic Forum recently started publishing a series of resources around the changes in the workplace and how to reskill the workforce.

Organizations are complaining that they “cannot find the right skills.”

Individuals, many of whom have been working to master certain knowledge and skills for years, find themselves with outdated knowledge and skills they are not entirely sure they can transfer elsewhere.

At this year’s Davos conference, they started to tackle this disconnect between the individuals, the organizations and the economic environment.

In the session on Putting Jobs Out of Work, Yuval Harari noted that “people are now fearing something far worse than exploitation – they fear irrelevance”.

“There will be new jobs. The question is whether people feel they can re-invent themselves to fill these new jobs…If you have to reinvent yourself every 10 years…that’s extremely difficult…To reinvent yourself when you are 20; it’s difficult, but you do it. To do it again at 30, at 40, at 50…That’s a really high level of anxiety.”

The World Economic Forum, with the help of Boston Consulting, made a first pass at some pathways to make it potentially easier for people to reskill.

The Current and Target job lists are interesting.  My favorite – Printing Press Operators to Farm and Ranch Managers.

This struck me as a stretch – but dig deeper and it kinda makes sense.

Printing Press Operators have a mindset that thinks in terms of systems and processes.  They have skills in inventory and throughput.

Farm and Ranch Managers need a mindset that thinks in terms of systems and processes. They need skills in inventory and throughput.

The materials you are controlling (paper and ink vs plants and animals) and the environment you are in (factory vs barns and fields) are different, but the baseline mindset and skills are the same.

I’m glad to see this conversation.  It’s not about being an expert in a particular field.  It’s about developing transferable skills that can move across fields.


The World Economic Forum realizes this is a multi-pronged problem that requires all stakeholders to participate.

I’m quoting their recommendations below. My comments are in italics.

— For individuals, particularly those under risk of displacement, simply to remain employed will require engaging in lifelong learning and regular reskilling. Additionally, for all workers, continuous learning will not only be key to securing employment but also to building stable, fulfilling careers and seizing rewarding job transition opportunities. Think in terms of transferable skills. And give yourself the time and space to learn new things.

— For employers, relying solely on new workers entering the labour market with the right ready-made skills will no longer be sufficient (emphasis mine). And while predicting the exact nature of the demand for skills is impossible, recent research from the World Economic Forum reveals that across a wide range of scenarios, investment in workforce reskilling and human capital development is a ‘no-regret action’—that is, it will be a beneficial investment even in the absence of skills shortages (emphasis again mine). Stop writing job descriptions asking for 15 years of experience in technologies that have only been around for 5. And give your current employees the time, resources, projects, and environment that will allow them to learn the skills YOU BOTH need.

— For policy-makers, fostering continuous reskilling and lifelong learning across the economy will be critical in order to maintain a labour force with the tools needed to fuel inclusive economic growth and to ensure that companies can find workers with the skills needed to help them succeed and contribute their full potential to the economy and society.  This is going to require a major re-think of our educational systems.  Barring that, I think those of us who claim to be adults could help those younger than we enjoy learning and encourage problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity in their day-to-day life outside of school. We can’t abdicate responsibility for developing the generations behind us to the schools anymore.


World Economic Forum – Towards a Reskilling Revolution

World Economic Forum – 8 Futures of Work Scenarios and Their Implications

World Economic Forum – 6 Reasons to be Optimistic about the Future of Work

World Economic Forum – Which of Tomorrow’s Jobs are you Most Qualified For?

Video: Putting Jobs Out of Work (60 minutes)