Friday, November 30, 2012

A New Way To Plan Your Career

Here's an interesting take on career planning from the Harvard Business Review. The underlying theme is, of course, you cannot plan your career like your father planned his career.

It's not news, but the fact is, few people find that job or company and stick with it long enough to be rewarded with a gold watch. Companies and positions will come and go for most people in today's job market. Simple enough, but how?

The details are nuanced, of course, but come down to two main points. First, gain transferrable knowledge.

It's one thing to know how to plug numbers into a company's proprietary software, but it's more valuable to understand how the results are attained and, even more importantly, to be able to interpret results.

Second, grow your network. Now, this sounds obvious and even in the "old days" networking was a part of the deal. The landscape has changed, though, and changed drastically. I won't try to paraphrase blogger Robert C. Pozen's take on this, just suffice to say you have to work at it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Election Didn't Demystify Obamacare

Perhaps because I am, at heart, an optimist, I expected that President Obama's re-election would eliminate a lot of the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act. So we turned writer Michael Jacobs loose on the subject for this week's cover story, asking him to give us all the details.

He came back with a great package of stories, unfortunately, they didn't include any real answers. It wasn't his fault, of course. It turns out that even though it's practically certain that Obamacare will be implemented, we still don't know exactly what that means. So amidst all the panic over the fiscal cliff, at some point someone has to sort out the details.

The wheels of change grind slowly, especially when Washington is involved.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful For Being Out A Day Early

Well folks, our latest edition has been posted online, a day early so we can all do our Thanksgiving preparations like everyone else.

This issue includes a very timely look at the retail outlook for this year. We also have to columns on the state's liquor monopoly and guidance on using freemiums to build your business. Lots of other good stuff, so enjoy.

We'll be back next week with a full slate of good stuff (and a stomach full of turkey)!

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Last Friday Before Black Friday

We're still a week out from the official start of the holiday shopping season, but retailers are already in high gear. The commercials are relentless and many seem to be going the extra mile to convince shoppers to spend money with them on Black Friday.

This will be the longest holiday shopping season ever, as Thanksgiving is on the earliest date it can fall on the calendar. That should be good news for retailers, especially since we should also see some increased economic activity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

On the downside, just heard a long-range winter forecast that says it's going to be cold - really, really cold - the first two weeks of December. That could put a chill on the holiday spending spree.

We'll see how the numbers shake out.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finally, A Break From Politics

Well, mostly.

This week's edition is out and our cover story takes a look at the changing supermarket business in our region. The biggest chains dominate of course, but it's amazing that two high-end chains with a very small physical footprint easily crack the top 10 in terms of sales. Definitely a dynamic market.

Pleased to say that Brian Farnham, the founding editor-in-chief of Patch [AOL's hyperlocal news experiment with more than three dozen sites in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs], shares some wisdom on how being a leader means tackling tasks you don't like and how gummy bears can get you through it. Good stuff.

Lots of other good reading, of course, and we're looking at some really intriguing content to close out the year and some exciting ideas for early 2013. Stick with us, folks. It's only going to get more interesting.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

As Sandy, Election, Nor'easter Fade Away

Hurricane Sandy, the election and the nor'easter all slammed our lives in various ways over the past few weeks and each left a mess in its wake.

Our latest edition (which can be found online right here) takes a quick look at some fallout in three key elections (president, Pa.'s U.S. Senate seat and the 8th congressional district) and sets the table for a lot of discussion to come. A few things kind of jump out.

1) Despite Mitt Romney's late showing here and despite all the GOP rhetoric to the contrary, it seems our state was never really in play. It went blue and it went blue fast. Philadelphia and most of the surrounding counties went to the president and it now appears that the Romney campaign was throwing a Hail Mary rather than capitalizing on any real momentum.

2) History will not show that Sen. Bob Casey was threatened because the final results are a thrashing for his opponent. But Tom Smith's well-funded campaign clearly had Sen. Casey's attention; the Casey campaign went from dismissive to annoyed to concerned to engaged in pretty short order. That said, Sen. Casey won handily, which makes you wonder - if a guy like Mr. Smith (no relation, by the way) can make it a close race with a huge mountain of cash, who can? Or, more simply, can anyone?

3) The race for the 8th district was listed on numerous websites as one of the nation's most hotly contested. But both parties eventually pulled out the big money and Mike Fitzpatrick rolled to re-election. Given the trends and cycles, he's likely safe for four years as his mid-term election should be a walk in the park.

So lots of politics to chew on. But if you're looking for something different, take a moment to check out this week's Q&A with Jill Weber, a charming and fascinating archaeologist who happes to own two cool spots on South Street - Jet Wine Bar and Rex 1516 restaurant. Really cool lady.

It's been an interesting week and the year will not end with a whimper, that's for sure.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Only Two Things Left To Do

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have spent a fortune - literally - on the race for the White House. Races down the ticket have likewise consumed huge amounts of time and money. After all that, it comes down to two things.

1. Voting

2. Waiting

So make sure you take care of the first part. As for the second, hang in there. And make sure you pick up this week's Region's Business for some perspective starting Thursday.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Out Of The Darkness, Into Confusion

Power is being restored across the region, but not all signals are clear. There's still an election scheduled for tomorrow, but it doesn't seem like everyone is one the same page.

Listen, it's perfectly understandable for there to be quibbling over poll results and expectations, but in the last few days, people from both Barack Obama's camp and Mitt Romney's camp have all but said that their candidate is not only going to win, but win big. Meanwhile, most neutral observers (as neutral as can be, at least) see the whole thing as a dead heat.

How can there be such crazy discrepancies? Worse yet, the growing concern is that there will not be a clear winner tomorrow night. Keep the coffee brewing, it's going to be a long one.