Nothing is a Secret

There are no secrets in the Internet age. Everything you’ve ever done can come to the glaring light of day.

That can either be a blessing or a curse.

Marketing guru Seth Godin describes a friend who googled the applicants for a housekeeping job, and those Google results made nixing applicants easy. Pictures of binge-drinking, your police shoplifting record or a blog post about how you’ll quit this menial job as soon as you can aren’t encouraging to potential employers.

Of course not showing up in Google at all (unless you’re cursed with a common name) can be just as worrisome.

And if you’re an employer, imagine the potential harm in not Googling. That quick search could reveal that your perspective rock star employee was fired from their last job for indescretions, a detail they carefully evaded in the interview. Oops.

Godin sums up the solution:

“Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.”

Networking Works: Sitting Around in PJs & Applying Online Doesn’t

CNN has a great story of a guy who found a job through his church. Michel Butler was an unemployed husband and father of 3. His industry tanked and he had to find a new job. He joined a career workshop at a local church, brushed up on his skills and then plugged back into his network of college friends and former employers. He eventually ended up with two job offers and took a six-figure marketing position.

It rarely works that well for everybody, but networking is how you find a job. The money quote is in bold below:

[Butler] was also smart to dig into his networks, said Ford Myers author of the upcoming book, Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.

“The wrong thing to do is sit at home in your pajamas and apply to jobs online,” he said, “it’s isolating and depressing.”

Reconnecting with college friends, former coworkers and even other unemployed workers in the community can pay off big time. “That’s called networking and that’s the single most important activity anyone can do when they are in transition,” Myers said.

For Butler, those connections led to not one, but two job offers.

I love hearing these kinds of stories. The job market sucks right now, and it’s hard, but this is how you find a job. And this is exactly the kind of thing the church needs to be doing right now.

Jim Collins: Get Used to Economic Turmoil

Jim Collins, the renowned business author of Good to Great and Built to Last talked with Fortune magazine last month about the current economic crisis. He claimed that 1952-2000 was an aberation of stability that brought unprecedented economic prosperity. He said that’s rare in human history and doesn’t think it’s likely that we’ll see it again in our lifetime.

He concludes: “What we’re experiencing now, get used to it! It’s life, and it’s the normal life.”

That kind of economic pessimism seems commonplace. It reminds me of something I posted on Twitter last week, a quote that “Americans’ standard of living is undergoing a ‘permanent change’.”

I don’t know if any of that is true. Nobody can predict the economic future with absolute certainty. Though I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing if we have to realign our standard of living and get used to getting by on less (another tweet about the average American consuming as much as 520 Ethiopians comes to mind).

Of course Collins goes on to talk about how great companies can survive these times, so it’s not all gloom and doom. And he points to making this a defining moment, not just a state of panic: “You have to ask the question, What can we do not just to survive but to turn this into a defining point in history?” Sometimes a bad situation can be a blessing because it forces you to do what you really needed to do.

Say Hello to Milo

Milo Looking at this New FamilyOur adoption case cleared court today and Milo is officially our son.

Woot, woot!

We’re obviously ecstatic. You can check out all the pictures of Milo over at Flickr. Many thanks to everyone who prayed that we’d make it through court OK.

From here they’re telling us it will be roughly 6-8 weeks until we can travel to Ethiopia and bring Milo home. Before today it was 5-6 weeks after we cleared court. I don’t know what changed that time frame, but I’m trying not to be bitter about it (It’s hard to be bitter on a day like today when we get the news, but I’m also tired of time frames always getting longer. I want to bring my boy home.)

I don’t know what else to say. We’ve been in this process since August 2007 (nearly 19 months now) and sometimes it feels like a labor that won’t end. But we’re getting close. So painfully close.

I wish adoption were easier. But I keep telling myself it has to be this hard and slow and expensive to make absolutely sure everything is in Milo’s best interest. And that’s worth it.

Update: OK, I’m still trying to tell myself that. But waiting sucks. This story of a kid crying for her adopted siblings made me bawl. It’s part joy, part longing, part aching—and part anger for the circumstances that make adoption necessary and the red tape so profuse. My head understands all that, but my heart doesn’t care.

Another Update: OK, the shifting travel times were apparently just a mistake. Forget 6-8 weeks, we should be able to travel in 4-6, which means late March or early April.

Initial Reaction to U2’s No Line on the Horizon

U2’s new album, No Line on the Horizon, debuted today on MySpace (you have to choose NLOTH from the playlist dropdown in the player—easy to miss). They streamed the entire thing. So below I offer my very first reactions to hearing the album. I did this with How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and it’s kind of fun to record the initial response and see how horribly wrong I am.

No Line on the Horizon
Very first thought: Wow, Bono’s voice sounds ragged. He’s certainly not protecting his voice as he gets older. The Oh-oh-ohs are catchy.

The intro felt very not U2, but then the guitars came in. Now it actually feels like very early U2. Interesting lines: “Only love can leave such a mark. / Only love can leave such a spark.” and “I was born to sing for you.” Reminds me of the Magnificat (I image that’s intentional).

Continue reading Initial Reaction to U2’s No Line on the Horizon

Adoption Case Goes to Court

Tomorrow our adoption case heads to court in Ethiopia. A judge will review the case, make sure everything is above board and, hopefully, grant us official guardianship of our baby boy. Once that happens things start moving quickly and we’ll likely head to Ethiopia 5-6 weeks later.

Assuming we make it through court. Just about anything can hold things up, from a serious problem to a technicality. Even something as mundane as a power outage can end our day in court. And if we don’t make it, our court case will be rescheduled, possibly as much as 7 weeks later. Yeah, ouch (last month that happened to a whole group of families).

So we’re hoping and praying that we make it through court. This has been a long process and we want to bring our baby home. I hope you’ll pray for us as well (I posted some specifics to pray for in our Facebook group).

To tide us over a bit, we did receive a social report on our baby yesterday, full of details of his development and pictures. Our kid is amazing. And cuter than yours.

Oh, that’s the other fun detail. If we make it through court and receive official guardianship, then we can share pictures online. Score.

Economic Hardship Is Real, Not Perceived

It always cracks me up where I hear people talking about the current economic woes as if it’s all a matter of perception. They assume people aren’t spending money because they perceive a crisis that really isn’t there. They blame the media or whoever for giving us this negative perception.

It always makes me laugh.

Do they have any sense of reality? Do they know anyone who has lost a job? It seems like every week I add another person to my growing list of unemployed friends and family (thankfully I do see people coming off that list, but it’s still growing).

People aren’t spending money because they don’t have any to spend. Maybe that didn’t used to stop us Americans before, but it is now.

I’ll admit that perception may be a part of it, but for a lot of people I know, the reality is they don’t have the same income right now as they did a year ago. And they’re adjusting accordingly.

I came across an article today about some financial expert who said the worst is yet to come and that our standard of living is undergoing a “permanent change.” I don’t know if that’s true or not (the financial experts seem to have less expertise these days), but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing. It’s not going to be pretty and it’s going to hurt, but a lower standard of living might be what we need. Now more than ever the financial advice to live beneath your means (not just within them) makes a lot of sense. This economic downturn wouldn’t be so difficult if we did that.

And that difficulty isn’t perceived, it’s real. Just ask a contractor.

Status Report on my Novel

I got some feedback on my novel this weekend, my 2006 NaNoWriMo effort that I’ve been trying to polish over the last 8 months or so. It came from an industry insider who kindly agreed to read the first few chapters. There were definitely some things I need to work on, but perhaps most important it confirmed a suspicion that the young adult genre might be a good fit.

I like to chafe at genre limitations as much as the next person, but in reality genres just make things easier to categorize, sell and ultimately read. So you might as well get used to it. If you want readers, you’re going to have to deal with genre.

So I spent some time at Barnes & Noble yesterday, trying to embrace the YA genre. I think it might be a good fit. I’m actually a big fan of kids books and young adults novels, though they’re not always branded with the YA tag. Harry Potter, Madeleine L’Engle, the Chronicles of Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, Louis Sachar (Holes), Jerry Spinelli (I love Stargirl and the sequel), James Howe, Nick Hornby’s Slam. There’s quite a bit in this genre I resonate with, perhaps because YA novels frequently deal with the teen perspective of coming to terms with life and finding your place in the world. Those are big themes. But it’s all drenched in the drama, angst and immediacy of the now. Teens see broken things in the world and don’t accept them as they are. They want to fix them, and fix them now. That’s inspiring.

It also helps that American culture celebrates a perpetual adolescence.

Continue reading Status Report on my Novel

You Can Change the World: “I Have a Family”

Back in November I blogged about the Palmer family. They just moved to Uganda—all six of them—to finalize the adoption of their son, 4-year-old Francis. When they arrived at the airport Francis was there to meet them as a surprise:

“As we came out of customs, we all rushed him, gave him a big hug, and all he did was laugh, and laugh, and laugh”

But the best part has to be what Francis said on the phone with his aunt: “Auntie! I have a family and they saved me!”

That’s awesome. I have to fight back tears every time I read that. In the face of the world’s brokeness and pain, adoption offers such a glimmer of hope and grace. Kids who are alone and abandoned need families of their own. There may not be a blood connection, but we’re all humans. That should be connection enough.

We have a court date one week from today in our own adoption process.