The End of the Year or a New Beginning?

In our experience, ANYTIME is the perfect time to explore and land your new job.

By the time you read this it may well be 2021 already. But it’s still worth emphasizing our experience over the last 30 years that the holiday period is actually a very rich time for candidates to explore their social capital and even land jobs. In fact, one year, we had five candidates land jobs between Christmas and New Year.


Well, think about it. Often normal operations slow down at this time of year; therefore, there is more time for managers and executives to reflect on performance, on issues in their companies, on gaps in their operations, and on possible improvements.

That is the ideal environment for job seekers properly utilizing the unpublished market.

Let me give you a specific example quoted from one of our consultant’s reports (though the names have been altered):

“David was skeptical about the unpublished market, however, he followed the directions and reached out to a woman (Rita) he had worked with 8-9 years ago. They had not spoken in all that time.

After picking herself up off the floor from surprise at his call she and he had a great conversation. Towards the end she told him she had just received a promotion and her VP role now needed to be filled. She referred David to the President and they met earlier this week. Rita called David yesterday and told him the president loved him and wants to bring him on board. Rita (who he will report to) is meeting with him next week to talk about the offer!!” 

We teach our clients how to utilize their social capital (people they know, plus the people who know the people they know…) to explore opportunities they would never uncover through the published (on-line job boards) or recruiter markets.

Yes, it requires dedication and “moving your feet” but it pays off–75% of our clients land through the unpublished job market. Why? Because there is less competition and higher compensation.

Here is another example of a client in mid-program discovering the charm of the unpublished market quoted from his correspondence with his career consultant:

“I’ve been working my magic LOL — I have two opportunities I need some research on please. 

My old CEO (Chelsea) is now on the board. They have a VP of Marketing open – She’s going to set up a call… maybe coffee if she can swing it… with the CEO for me. 

Second, my friend Melissa, knows and is a family friend of the founder of [a targeted employer], who is also looking for a VP of Marketing. She’s working on a call for me as well.” 

A common mistake we see candidates make when they are looking for a new job is that they post on their LinkedIn profiles that they are “open to work.”

This is understandable but it actually puts them at a disadvantage with respect to leveraging their social capital. Due to human nature, people who know you less well are more willing to invest time in the relationship if they think they can potentially gain from the interaction. In our view, you should approach every such interaction having studied the other party’s background and given some thought to how you may help him or her. You may have heard the expression “givers gain.” It is far better to adopt a giving approach when you are leveraging your social capital if you want to receive support yourself.

So, as 2020 ends and 2021 begins, consider your career situation.

Are you happy, secure, well remunerated, and enjoying your work? If not, now is the time to get busy changing your career. Join thousands of successful executives who have worked with us in the last 30 years: visit us at and get started today.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

Are You Just Fooling Yourself?

Sometimes the biggest challenge our clients face when contemplating a change of career is having an accurate understanding of themselves and how they are viewed. In talking to thousands of prospects and clients each month we truly see all kinds—from people who have an over-inflated view of their self-importance and market value to people who are undiscovered gems incapable of self-promotion.

That is why we recently introduced our Marketability Assessment. This simple instrument will give you a clear picture from an objective source before you begin looking for your next career opportunity so you will better know how to package and present yourself, not to mention what you and your skills may be worth in the market.

In this context, recently I have been reflecting on instruments to measure personality, self-image, and potential. Imagine the available dimensions.

Are You Just Fooling Yourself? Our Clarity career program can help.
Are You Just Fooling Yourself?
If we stick with simple dichotomies, then there are the introvert / extrovert, logical / emotional, spiritual / rational, optimist / pessimist, ying / yang, and countless others.

Moving up the scale of complexity, one of my favorites is the limbic model that suggests there are only three primal instructions in the base brain: dominance, security, and gratification. (See more on this from Daniel Goleman and Emotional Intelligence.) Perhaps we will simply avoid the more mystic options such as astrology in this discussion.

Then there is a broad range of more complex psychographic models. Many will know the Myers-Briggs type indicator that addresses sixteen variables. At the Barrett Group, we generally use the DISC model with its four categories and the spectrum of intensity within each. Personally, I’ve also used the HBDI model and a number of others.

Clearly these models can be helpful.

Let me share one extreme example. Many years ago, it was my duty to bring two salesforces together: a German team and a diverse team from an acquired company comprised of Italians, Spanish, and French salespeople. We had determined that a customer business unit organizational approach would be more useful with this relatively concentrated market than a strictly geographic model, so the sales members had to work together cross-border to achieve common purposes with only bad English as our common language. In the end, it was Myers-Briggs that helped us peel back the differences in culture, age, and experience and find a common understanding that allowed the team to lower their defenses. The success was evident: we beat the market in volume and value for the next two years before I moved on.

Aligning Cultural Difference in the Workplace Means Finding Common Purposes.
So clearly, these instruments can be helpful in understanding oneself (not to mention a team of people).

However, they can also be rather theoretical, so we’ve developed a very practical and specific screening approach in our Marketability Assessment that provides candidates specific insights on their public image (LinkedIn), the efficacy of their resume, the quality of their overall marketing plan, as well as their performance in telephone and video interviews. Feedback so far is quite positive from candidates who have gone through the process, as well as our Clarity Program©—a deeper dive into personality, life stage, and personal strategic planning that serves as the Targeting step in our five-step career management process.

Here’s what one recent Clarity Program© client had to say about the experience:

“I have absolutely no suggestions for improvement. This coaching program and coach far exceeded my expectations. If there was an option for better than excellent, that would have been my evaluation of this program.”

Heather Murphy, March 2020

So whether you feel you need help in refining your career targets (for example if you want to change industry, role, or geography) or if you would like some objective advice on your marketability, either way, we can help make sure you are not fooling yourself or missing your full potential. Visit us at to get started. Thousands of other executives over the last 30 years have done so and are glad they did.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

Who’s Eating Your Lunch Now (if it’s not you)?

Essentially, if you have not ordered your meal even though you are hungry, then someone else will be eating your lunch, right? Let’s consider how this analogy applies to the business of finding your next job.

Here are the most common reasons executives contact the Barrett Group:

  • No growth potential in the current job
  • Decreasingly likelihood of promotion
  • No job security or already unemployed
  • Employer management changing
  • At my age a job change is necessary
  • Position not consistent with career objectives
Who’s Eating Your Lunch Now (if it’s not you)?
Who’s Eating Your Lunch Now (if it’s not you)?
These all sound like fairly compelling reasons to get started quickly on finding that ideal job (something our clients typically do in three to six months if they follow our guidance).

Yet many of the prospects we talk to each day have some reason to not immediately begin their career change program—although they evidently are dying to make a change.

Any day now I can imagine we will start to hear about recent stock market declines due to the COVID-19 outbreak as the latest cause for delay. And if you, for example, come up with this excuse not to pursue a career change when you know you are dissatisfied at work, then, guess what, you will not be alone. Others will have thought of this excuse as well. They will postpone their plans to seek that ideal job. And if you do submit to this urge to delay, you will be metaphorically inviting someone else to eat your lunch—to take that ideal job instead of you.

Think about it in simple terms. Let’s say you want to go for a walk along a nice river, but the walk is often crowded in nice weather and therefore less enjoyable. When is the best time to walk there? Yes—when it is raining.

The job market is the same, especially the access that The Barrett Group can provide.

There are always career opportunities in the unpublished market—where 75% of our clients find their next opportunity. You may need a guide to discover these hidden gems, but first and foremost, you need to actually put your feet on the path and not hover on the sidelines grumbling about one excuse or another for not moving forward.

Who’s Eating Your Lunch Now (if it’s not you)?

To be sure, some of this tendency to delay is inherent in personality. The Barrett Group tends to attract more self-confident executives who know their worth and want to move ahead quickly. They are probably being driven by the dominance component in the very deeply rooted limbic instruction set (the “D” in your DISC profile). Others are motivated by a need for adventure or gratification, while still others are held back by their need for security. Evolution equipped us with these urges to help us survive, however, we also developed a set of frontal lobes to help us think beyond these gut reactions—to be rational.

If you find yourself delaying a job change while being dissatisfied at work (like 46% of Americans), then ask yourself why.

Why are you waiting? Are you simply making excuses and therefore missing opportunities?

Here’s what one recent client had to say about our services:

“Well, I think they [the Barrett Group] pretty much perfected the process. I don’t think they can really get it any better. That is my perspective, for how things worked out for me. I think that they have a tested, valid process that works and gets results. And I think I’m kind of evidence of that.”

Lee Price

And he should know. After two successful careers Lee simply wasn’t ready to retire, so he hired us, followed our advice and had three qualified offers in twelve weeks.

So, what about you? Are you hungry for change? Do you have an appetite for advancement? Are you salivating for a new challenge? Well, don’t let someone else eat your lunch. Reach out today and we’ll help you find your place at the head of the queue.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

Your Career Will Outlive This Crisis

A Letter From Our CEO

Your Career Will Outlive This Crisis
Your Career Will Outlive This Crisis

Dear friends,

We hope this finds you well, as are we.  The Barrett Group has been active in the career management market for 30 years and has weathered all manner of crises, including 2008.

Yes, the US and the world are in the grip of a health crisis. Once governments recognize what needs to be done and commit publicly to doing it, people will adjust.  Fortunately, with the measures rapidly being adopted in the US and Europe this is finally starting to happen, though it will certainly get worse before it gets better. 

Where China has adopted strict lock-downs, the incidence of new cases has already dwindled. 

There is hope that “shelter in place” and similar measures being adopted elsewhere can slow the rate of spread and allow health services to expand their capacity and source the equipment and supplies they will need as the crisis peaks.

Medically, most people even if they become infected are not at risk of anything worse than a severe flu, if that, but please take all necessary precautions.  Extensive testing for example in Iceland shows that many who are infected never become symptomatic… though they may still be infectious for a period of time.

Industries will be impacted differently. 

The cruise ship, airline, amusement park, and concert businesses are already suffering.  Consumer goods companies, particularly makers of hand sanitizer, face masks, toilet paper and the like are thriving.  The health care industries once they adjust will probably do well, too. 

On-line shopping is booming as you can see from Amazon’s stock development.  Microsoft and others have leapt into the remote-learning market as schools have closed. 

Government stimulus and support is also making its way through the regulatory process and green shoots are showing on the world’s stock markets.  Many other industries will not be significantly impacted in the medium term.  

Industries Will Be Impacted Differently
Industries Will Be Impacted Differently
So, as one door closes, others will open.

At the Barrett Group we are modestly ahead of the curve as far as virtual working is concerned, and it seems that the world is moving our way.  This may be the most significant impact of all in the long term as more and more companies recognize that there are in fact significant advantages to telecommuting.

Interviews are conducted by telephone and videoconference
Interviews are conducted by telephone and videoconference

Already, most initial employment interviews are conducted by telephone and videoconference. 

By the way, we can help you set up a complimentary videoconference account of your own, if you wish, to help you capitalize on this trend.

Our discussions with major employers indicate that most expect to weather this crisis and continue recruiting major talent, as their organizational strategies are long term and not particularly affected by the whim of the market.

So, in a nutshell, as long as you are willing to do the work required, this health crisis should not significantly impact your career change campaign in our opinion. 

Most of our clients land through the unpublished market anyway and we know how to help you make the connections required to be successful there.

Fear can be paralyzing.  But you need not be a victim.  Take advantage of this crisis to take stock of your situation.  Perhaps it is time for you to take action.  If so, please consult us.  Thirty years of guiding executives toward a better work / life / compensation balance has made us the experts.  We can help.

In the meantime, please do everything you can to stay healthy and protect the health of those around you.


Peter Irish
CEO, The Barrett Group

The Botched Interview

(and how to avoid it)

Another time when I was between jobs, a recruiter came up with an interview for me that appeared to be a perfect fit.  

The opportunity was in Germany—a private company big in the plastic films industry, owned essentially by two reclusive brothers.  It was a big general manager or small CEO role for a business of a certain volume. This company had multiple plants, European sales organization, and distributors. They also had a fairly strong position in retailers’ shelves, and a significant branded presence.

My prior work experience included many achievements in a similar realm, covering the transferability aspect.  The recruiter thought so, too.

The only obvious fly in the ointment was that although I had worked in multiple industries and shown the ability to adapt successfully, I had zero experience in plastics.

So, being me, I began to educate myself for the interview. 

I researched and studied, and could soon tell you about the thermo-elastic and most other properties of PVC compared to LDPE or HDPE or PET. I absorbed their general uses, and even explored the relatively recent plant-based plastics with their adjustable shelf-lives before decomposing in an environmentally friendly way.

Well, the recruiter submitted me as a candidate and I passed the preliminary review processes without incident, apparently at the head of the list.  Then finally I was invited to meet the owners, presumably for the final interview.

By this time, I prepared myself with not only a thorough (if superficial) knowledge of plastics. I also had thoughts on how to grow the business, improve the organizational efficiency, and enhance the value to shareholders.

The two brothers were quite friendly under the circumstances. We established a reasonable rapport early. 

As the interview continued, I tried to ask more questions than talk.

My preparation certainly showed. However, I felt a certain distance grow over the course of the discussion—a subtle withdrawal of that initial rapport.

Nevertheless, we parted on cordial terms, and I hoped my perceptions reflected the fears of any interviewee under the circumstances.

They were not.

The recruiter and I spoke within a day or two and he gave me the bad news.  We both struggled to interpret the feedback he received because it was mixed, but at last he managed to boil it down to its essence: “You were too well prepared,” he said, disappointment evident in his voice.

It seems the brothers felt I was too much of a detail-oriented person who would meddle in his underlings’ decisions and not let the organization do its job without interference—because I had displayed such detailed knowledge of their industry.

Well, I was pretty astounded.  Imagine the criticism “too well prepared.” 

The Botched Interview
How can anyone be too well prepared for an interview?

In fact, many years later I can see this was not the issue at all.  There were numerous issues in fact.  For example, culture and behavior: the brothers were German and relatively introverted.  I was American and relatively extroverted.  I should have had the presence of mind to more accurately mirror their behavior.  The balance between asking questions and telling my story was another issue.  Despite my restraint, I talked too much, and did not adequately employ the arsenal of Active Listening.  Had I done so, I would have discovered their preference for a hands-off, coaching-oriented management style in their ideal candidate.

While there were other aspects, the fundamental truth is I was inadequately prepared in the actual mechanics of the interview.  I would have benefited from role-playing and practicing in advance to identify the landmines and avoid them. 

An experienced interview coach would have helped me spot many of these potential issues and prepare differently.

This is one aspect of the service we provide at the Barrett Group: Interview Preparation and Compensation Negotiation.  It routinely helps hundreds of candidates each year perform better in interviews and negotiate better compensation.  

I wish I had known about the Barrett Group before my interview opportunity back then. How about you? Are you as successful in your interviews as you expect? Or are you left wondering why you didn’t receive an offer? I invite you to take a closer look at the Barrett Group’s services. Find out how you could benefit from one of our qualified interview coaches.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

The Market in 2019

At the Barrett Group we make it our business to help executives clarify their career objectives (with our Clarity Program©) and then market themselves effectively.  To do this as consistently as we do, we find it useful to take stock of the market situation every once in a while—like a swimmer lifting his or her head up over the waves and verifying position and direction—by examining our own market observations.   So, let’s compare Q1 and Q4 so far to understand what seems to be happening in the executive career change market.

Note, these remarks refer only to our own clients.  

In the first part of the year, the income segments of $100,000-$200,000 (total annual compensation) and above $200,000 were equally balanced at about 49% each.  Some 39% of these clients state they were unemployed on average about 5.6 months before signing on.  These results were quite polarized at the top and bottom end, with 43% of unemployed clients having been unemployed for 3 months or less and 54% of unemployed clients having been unemployed for 7 months or more.

We help executives clarity their career goals

In Q4 now, these results show a budge in clients in the $100,000-$200,000 income category that has risen to almost 60% of clients vs. the first quarter’s 49%.  Now 51% of clients say they have been unemployed, and the average unemployment period has lengthened to almost 11 months.  So, it would seem that the middle of the market has experienced more pressure during the last six months.

Another important aspect that we look at is our clients’ motivations for seeking our services. 

These vary over time, and it seems there is a coherent pattern here, too, if we compare the first quarter versus the fourth quarter so far.

Often clients reach out to us because they are reentering the job market after a pause.  The pause could be because they have been with the same employer for a long time or due to illness, unemployment, or even other reasons.  Recently we have repeatedly heard from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that people who were not actively seeking employment (and therefore not technically unemployed) have been reentering the market in the last year or two, so that not only is unemployment low but the number of employed can grow without unemployment sinking… if that makes sense.

Some 23% of our clients in Q1 cited this reentry as a factor in their need for support.  This share sank in Q4 so far to about 19%.  The threat of possible unemployment on the other hand rose in Q4 versus Q1 from 16% to 22%, a fairly sizable increase.  Does that mean that as the expansion moves into record territory, companies are finding more and more ways to be efficient at the cost of mid-level and senior jobs?

Another classic motivation we hear a lot is “I must get into a new industry.”  Now this can have various meanings from an acknowledgement that the current industry is losing its luster to a sense of personal boredom and the need for new adventure.  It can even mean that the client sees other industries as potentially more lucrative given his or her skill set.  All of these are valid perspectives on the market. 

Switching industries is a specialty at the Barrett Group because we help our clients to highlight the transferability of their skills and experience both during the Packaging (Resume Refresh and LinkedIn Reboot) and the Presentation (Interviewing) career change stages.

This need to change industries has waned some though when we compare Q1 and Q4 so far, dropping more than 12% points to just 11.6%.  This may support the pressure we believe we see in the middle market, and therefore a shift in would-be career changer sentiment toward a search for security.

On the other hand, the other major motivation “My present income is too low” has risen sharply in the latest results, jumping more than 8% points to just under 20%.  This certainly seems consistent with the bulge in mid-market job seeker population who have generally more upward income opportunity.

“No growth potential,” though remains a very consistent and strong motivator for our clients in both quarters at about 28%, indicating that dissatisfaction with growth opportunities continues to drive would-be career changers to a large extent regardless of the economic cycle.  With our active assistance, about 75% of Barrett Group clients find their next opportunity via the “unpublished market.”  This has even greater relevance in today’s market because the unpublished market offers opportunities with potentially less competition and therefore higher compensation.

Perhaps it is time that you, too, lifted your head up and took stock of your career situation.  We help hundreds of people like you every year, so reach out and let’s discuss your true potential.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

Not Ready For Take-Off

Do you have conflicts at work?  It would be highly unusual if you did not.  People involved in even the simplest tasks bring different experience, skills, and expectations so conflict in one form or another typically lurks just around the corner. Are you ready for take-off?

The questions are how you deal with those inevitable differences and what conclusions you draw.  A little perspective can help.  At the Barrett Group we use DISC as a behavioral diagnostic tool (as part of our Clarity Program©) that describes the four dimensions of Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Compliance.  Every DISC profile also includes a few tips on how to deal with people of one behavioral style or the other.  The shorthand, for example, for dealing effectively with High D types (Dominance) is “Be Clear. Be Brief and be Gone.”

I remember one time I had a conflict with my boss (a VP at a Fortune 100 company)—so much so that I was considering leaving.  One day in his office he accused me of being arrogant.  He was probably right, by the way, but I reflected for a moment and then told him with complete candor, “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”  He looked shocked for a moment.  Then he started to laugh, and we became strong allies going forward because we had a basic understanding.  Ultimately, he even named me as his successor.  In retrospect, my response may have been a risky move, but it apparently was the right medicine at the right time.

In other words, sometimes when you want to leave your job because of conflicts and stress, you might be better off to reflect, or if that’s not your strong suit, to get some coaching to help you reflect before you leap.
A little perspective can help.

It does occasionally happen, in fact, that clients hire us to help them find a better job, however, during the career coaching process the client and coach may come to realize that by improving their reaction to the current workplace, or renegotiating certain aspects of the current job, the client can be happier, more satisfied, and in some cases better remunerated.

One specific example of this is an executive that I first met through a coaching assignment in San Jose.  He was responsible for IT cybersecurity at a larger internet retailer.   My coaching colleague and I met his entire team of 35 programmers—tattooed and pierced, ethnically diverse, but mostly under 30 years of age.  Our client wanted to bring this motley crew together and create a shared vision of the mission for this recently inherited organizational unit.

We employed one of my favorite tools, a non-verbal trading exercise whereby the team members had to exchange tokens of different value, i.e. to “trade” without speaking or writing.  Yes, it was chaos for a few minutes until they got the hang of it, and then it was hard to get them to stop.  They drew excellent conclusions from the exercise and went on to craft a strong vision.

Six months later, though, the client was feeling constrained by a lack of a shared vision with his own boss, so, naturally, he turned to us and began to explore career options. 

His career coach at the time observed that the client “…needs to let go of his security and take the leap if he truly wants to change jobs…”

But, in fact, what the client and the coach realized after a few months of work was that there probably was an opportunity to renegotiate the conditions at the client’s then-current workplace.  He wanted to be able to telecommute part time so he could be home with his young child a few days per week.  He also wanted more recognition and more income.  

We use a five-step career change program at the Barrett Group, so in this case, we simply pulled the Preparation stage forward and used it to sharpen the client’s interpersonal skills and expand his compensation negotiation toolkit.

Voilà!  With our support, the client managed to renegotiate his position, his title, and his compensation.  So, he stayed put.  But he still made a handsome return on his investment in us.

So even if you are not sure whether you want to stay or go, you might want to reach out to us and explore whether you are ready for take-off, or whether you just need a larger hangar.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

Alone In The World

Several times in my career I have been without work.  Sometimes by choice.  Sometimes not.  And particularly in the latter case, it can be a very scary feeling… almost as if you are alone in the world.  You send all of those emails, you submit your resume, you try to engage with recruiters, you reach out to your contacts and affect some semblance of happy confidence… but in the quiet of your own mind, you may well be very afraid.

Worrying is normal, by the way, and according to Daniel Goldman (Emotional Intelligence) may have its evolutionary roots in practicing for future possible events—preparing for them so as to not be caught off guard. 

But, like everything else, when taken to extremes, worrying can be destructive.

It is always helpful under such circumstances to look for some external input, perhaps from a friend, a loved one, a parent, a spiritual guide, a coach… Someone who can help you weigh the evidence and know whether your worrying is helpful preparation or just plain, frozen-in-the-headlights fear.  Sometimes just being able to talk about what concerns you can help you feel better and more in control.

On the other hand, even if you are not specifically afraid, looking for a new job can be a huge amount of work and to many people, it is hard to know where to start and how to prioritize one’s time.  Combing through job boards and applying can be very time-consuming, as can networking, interviewing, or talking to recruiters.

Our clients have an enormous benefit in this regard, because they have access to a six-member team, so that they never feel alone in the world, and have tremendous experience always at their beck and call.  

Our clients start with a Clarity Coach who guides them through the Targeting step in our five-step career change process, the Clarity Program©.  The output of this step is a clear understanding of the client’s target and an agreement about how we will approach the market together.

Next comes the Career Consultant.  This team member guides the next four steps in the process (Packaging, Market Access, Preparation, and On-Boarding) and remains the sounding-board and principal client resource as the program advances. 

At the right time in the process, we bring in a Researcher who helps winnow through the market using our state-of-the-art databases to select companies and contacts as relevant per the Targeting step.  A Writer comes in, too, to prepare cover letters and resume versions as necessary and appropriate to optimize campaign results.

A Negotiation Coach joins the team as the offers start to come in and leverages the three decades of experience the Barrett Group has in this field to benchmark comparable salary and benefits packages and to find additional compensation elements.  As a result, we almost invariably find another $10,000 to $20,000 in compensation during this step. Which is hardly surprising considering we have done this thousands of times over the years and know where to look for that hidden treasure.

Now this whole process takes time and the feelings of worry, anxiety, or outright fear do not necessarily evaporate. So, when there is a bump in the road, we also bring in our Client Concierge (one of several senior resources) who has guided thousands through this process and can literally take the client by the hand. They recognize and avoid the potholes, and help him or her focus on the straight and narrow path that leads on to career success. Now you may be the truly confident sort who does not need any moral support. But if you are not, how would it feel to have a professional team at your elbow when you face the job market?  One thing is for sure: you would never feel alone in the world.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

Distraction As A Way Of Life

Distraction as a way of life. We have discussed at some length the fact that people have very different behavioral styles, particularly the executives who come to us for help with their careers.  We use the DISC instrument as a way of detecting behavioral tendencies.  

The high D (Dominance) types are driven and focused but often have no patience for details or the attention span to follow longer term programs.  The high I (Influencing) types are so busy being creative or talking or meeting new people and seeking new adventures that they often achieve nothing at all.  High S (Steadiness) and high C (Compliance) personalities have their own particular issues.

However, all of these types can suffer professionally and personally from confusing activity with progress. 

If I am busy, the logic goes, then I must be productive.  Think about people you know who constantly have to listen to music or TV so that they are not left with a spare moment to reflect.  Others are constantly going somewhere, doing something, again, for the same reason—so that they do not have to be alone with their thoughts and self-reflections.

Increasingly, it seems to me, American society is losing the capacity for reflection.  The ability to value moments of solitude and silence in which to contemplate and listen to your own thoughts and feelings and consider the bigger picture.  

Distraction as a way of life

Many years ago, I worked for a brash, Dutch manager in Europe who was always busy and always outspoken, though to his credit he also cared deeply about his team and their well-being.  He was certainly a victim of this incessant drive to act instead of reflecting.  But he also left me with one particular pearl of wisdom.  At one crucial moment he whispered to me in an aside during a meeting “You know, people have more brain cells in their guts than in their heads…”   Now I don’t know if this is medically correct, however, it is definitely my experience that when I make a good or bad decision, if I listen to my “gut” I will know how I really feel about the decision and sometimes change it.

Some deeply rooted, evolutionary process operates at the subconscious level, I suppose, and confirms via messages from those “brain cells” in your gut whether you have made the right choice.  However, you have to be open to this input, and that requires a certain degree of tranquility, of listening, and of reflection.

Think about that hamster you’ve seen running wildly on his wheel, turning and turning and going nowhere…  That is the state in which we often encounter executives who know at some subconscious level that they need to change their ways, but they do not know how.   Or remember the story about the foreman and the lumberjack.  The foreman notices how one of his men is always working hard but actually not producing very much timber.  Suspicious, the foreman walks over and casually inspects the edge of the lumberjack’s axe.

“You know,” the foreman says, “you could be a lot more productive if you would sharpen this axe.”

“Sure, but I don’t have the time,” replies the lumberjack.

That is a perfect metaphor for businesspeople who are too “busy” to actually look after their own careers.

At the Barrett Group we employ a Targeting step at the outset of each career change program that ensures a thorough reflection on personality, short-term needs, and longer-term objectives.  We call it the Clarity Program©.  Here’s what one recent alumnus, Jim Lareau, has to say about its benefits:

“I hope all the other coaches have the ability to be as insightful and inspiring as Mark [his Clarity Coach] was to me. He helped me to think “deeper” about me and what I need/want/am looking for in my next great adventure. Thank you, Mark!”

So, turn off the TV, close your eyes, listen to your gut, and consider the lumberjack or the hamster.  Get Clarity.  Give us a call.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

The Human Touch

These days, as I understand it, most stock brokerages and similar financial service firms primarily offer exchange traded funds that essentially track a specific market basket of stocks, often something as recognizable as the NYSE or its ilk.  The reason is that machines do this better than humans.  They recognize the patterns faster, make the adjustments faster, and ultimately deliver a more consistent result.

That is certainly also true in many other areas of human life.  When was the last time you struggled with a map while you were driving?  We don’t have to anymore because the navigation has matters (generally) in hand.  

In sports, I have heard that Stephen Curry improved his game using high tech lasers to track and suggest moves, but I can’t verify that.  In San Francisco, there was a robotic barista as a novelty (I hope) up on Market Street.  And I cannot tell you how many robocalls I personally receive and hang up on every day.
The Human Touch

Closer to home in the job market, machines also hold sway, sorting millions of applicants for hundreds of thousands of jobs and proposing that some be invited for an interview and some receive a dear John letter (or just be quietly discarded).

Those who know me recognize that I am a fan of automation.  If we can automate a process, I’m all for it… up to a point.  And that point is when we actually want to listen to a prospect’s or a client’s story and help them address their issues.

It is at that point where we at the Barrett Group draw the line.

Our coaches and consultants work hard on improving their interpersonal skills, their understanding of different personality types, active listening, and simply extending courtesy and compassion to people who have reached out to us because they have one form of stress or another, be it boredom in a repetitive job, fear of being downsized, desperation after long term unemployment, or a need to finally give back and contribute to society.

Our coaches and consultants regularly go beyond the call of duty (something few algorithms would be caught dead doing) and that is why we garner great testimonials like this one from one of our clients who recently completed the Clarity Program©:

“I have no suggestions for improvement.  Scott [his Clarity Coach] was excellent throughout our conversations.  He helps guide you to find out what really makes you do what you do. His explanations as we jumped into the DISC profile were nothing short of awesome! If you are looking to learn about yourself, I would highly recommend using Scott and the Clarity Program.  Thank you.”

Or perhaps this one from Denis Sovik, who also just completed his Clarity Program©:

“The process was extremely detailed, and Hiyam [his Clarity Coach] was flexible to work around my schedule, even making some intra-day time changes. Superb experience.”

The Clarity Program© is only the first step in a five-stage career change process that the Barrett Group has perfected over the past thirty years and with which we have helped thousands of executives clarify their career objectives and then find their targeted next step.

At least as long as I’m in charge, we will seek to balance the efficiency of automation with the caring and compassionate approach we have lived for thirty years and continue to deliver that human touch.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group

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