Empowering Today's Professionals

Rod Colon explains how to Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs

September 26, 2010 5:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
by Susan Velasquez
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Rod Colon started his organization Empowering Today’s Professionals in 2004 with the core values of wanting to advance professionals worldwide and is committed to delivering integrity, respect, responsibility and compassion to its members. Today the organization consists of 13 million LinkedIn professionals and thousands of members, and they continue to develop teams globally to assist members with their networking and career management programs.

Rod has used his 26 years experience as a corporate human resources management insider, outside agency recruiter and professional networker to help build his career management and coaching organization. As mentioned on his website etpnetwork.com , “I have in-depth knowledge of international staffing, recruiting and networking which gives me the ability to both coach and consult with today’s professionals and with executives around the world. I’ve discovered some of the more obscure pitfalls which trap people when they seek new jobs. I didn’t just want to help people get close to their next job, I also wanted to help them nail it down and develop a long-term strategy for career management.”

In conjunction with their organization Rod Colon and collaborator Chip Hartman released their first book “Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs” with their second book currently in the works. Win the Race helps professionals with how to build, track and maintain their network, the interview and negotiations process, the 7 step job search methodology, being a part of social networking, attitude and behavior and even breaking away from the pack once they have landed their job. Five goals his organization has for its members include: securing a job you love and pays well, building a network of 200 plus professionals, having multiple sources of income, having a career backup plan and becoming a networking leader.

Starting Sunday night, and every Sunday at 8pm, on 107.7FM The Bronc, Rod Colon will host a one hour radio show offering career coaching, taking your calls, discussing networking etiquette, the interview process and other ways to land your dream job.

Rod spoke to us about how he got started, how he stays inspired while constantly inspiring others, and how schools can help change the mentality and direction of future professionals for today’s global workplace.

With all the inspiration you impart, how do you personally keep inspired?

This is what I love and I am not shy about it. In 8th grade when I was growing up I had an autograph book. I had people sign it such as parents, friends, and whoever was my mentor or mentors. My mentors included Martin Luther King, Jesus and Gandhi. At 13 years old my parents were both factory workers and I hung around with mom a lot. She would take me to rosary group and I would hear about all the issues with the women in the group. This made me hope and pray that when I got older I would be happy in life. I learned, and also through prayer I knew early on that I needed to make a difference. I didn't know how or where but I knew it. My mom was a very big influence and it became about making a difference. She came from Puerto Rico and neither of my parents had high school diplomas. I took on a lot of her dreams and I went from there. She loved politics and watched the CBS news. We still talk every day and she lives through me, and this explains how it all started. Mom and dad were both unemployed for 9 months, at the same time in 1978, and I saw the fights, dad crying, and they were very tough times for our family. Friends from our church and also neighbors helped dad find a job at night and got mom an opportunity working in a factory. At that time that was their network, so I learned the importance of networking. What I also realized was the hurt and pain that no one sees when someone is unemployed, such as the effect it has on the kids and the whole support system in the family.

So when I help professionals and talk about what motivates them, we also talk about the lack of money, the fights, the stress and I understand all that from my own experiences. It is stressful for the parents but also for the kids with what they face and hear, and what they all have to endure. I tell them I am not here to share lolly pops and flowery stories because I am not that type of coach. I help them execute a plan to become their own CEO. They are going to lean on me but I am tough. They are going to manage their career in a different way, which is like business ownership. You join the group with $75 and with this you make an investment. You get several services and a network of contacts. The investment is from your board of directors, which is your family, and you answer to them. I tell them to work as CEO of themselves, and their loved ones have engaged their services to help the leader be great. I am very direct and diplomatic and I use my human resource background, but I am also to the point from a business perspective. I don’t want to hear excuses or complaints and I am doing everything I can to make a shift in their mentality. It is not a matter of who is going to do it for me, but the individual alone is a business and they provide great services. They learn to believe that they have people that depend on them and they are accountable to those people, and also that they are their own boss. Finding the job is only the beginning of the process. They also learn to develop skills, determine where the market is going to be in 5 years down the road and generate other sources of income. For many once they land the job they think they've arrived, but really they are just beginning.

How did you start your quest to help people; what was the catalyst that made you realize you had a gift?

I have been talking about the Me Inc. business-owner’s concept for years. It’s about people looking out for each other and you have this powerful network. They are helping each other out because they all have common goals and each has their own business. I worked at JP Morgan for 13 years and it all started as a one day assignment. It was about giving the company great service and a male temp wearing a 3 piece suit and comporting himself the way most people don’t on short assignments. So that short assignment turned into 2 weeks and then a long term assignment. They then trained me in technology and human resources and I went from there to 13 years with the company. I saw an organization that took an individual and allowed them to grow with all their benefits. They took a risk in an individual and this was the best of corporate America. Now we are seeing the worst of corporate America and global competition. So for an individual now the rules have changed and we must change as well. I have a human resource background and I worked at Deutsche Bank and Banker's Trust, but found I was not able to impact individuals the way I thought I could within an organization, even in a HR role. I had to make a decision to leave because I wanted to help people, so I had to do it on my own and with my own business.

I started a recruiting practice from home and with my ability to be a good recruiter I also had to be a better teacher. I taught people how to interview better and taught them as a group, which I realized was more effective. Through my love of helping and teaching I began to see this shift. So I began to tinker with different methods and thought if I help an individual think this way, will it be more effective? I found that when an individual sees themselves as a product with different departments, they believe in it more. As a vendor you have to understand the quality of your work, your management team, what is expected and how to exceed that. The ones that “get it” are great employees. They are also looking for what is down the road, they stay educated with whatever is not in conflict with their current positions and they are always thinking business like. Companies may like this, but you should never put all your eggs in one basket with one employer and then never look at it. Your client is going to cut costs and it is their right and their duty, but it is also your right and your duty to continue to do, learn and grow for your own best interests. We are a business as well, and we have to keep nurturing that and protecting that business, which is Me Inc.

We partner with many organizations and we are moving towards becoming non-for profit with volunteers. When people think of their careers as a business and begin to play the game they realize success is in the mirror and you have to believe that. There is a lot of blame out there but then I ask an individual “Tell me, what does it feel like to be the CEO of your own business?” and I tell them, “You are now in charge, you are the boss, and you have a great service to provide.” The more wisdom you have and the more you feel empowered, the more you will give of your knowledge and experience. Your career is your business and the buck stops with you. Understanding what you do well and what you have to improve on, are things I have been focusing on and teaching for 6 years. You have to deliver great service and I have been helping our students understand that, and also network before they get into the job market. They have to understand the new rules in this global marketplace as it’s a paradigm shift. So my students have to change for themselves with this global economy and they will be competing at different levels. Many are not excited about selling themselves but you have to become confident.

Much of what you talk about in your recent book “Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs” is corporate related, but clearly stems from the individual mentality.

The business world is like thinking about Santa Claus. My students say “This is what I believed it should be,” and then one day they are laid off and they realize there is no loyalty anymore. They had been told something by their parents and they have been taught a certain way. They start a path in their 20's and 30's, and at some point they get the message that there is no Santa Claus. They are not getting the “rewards” they expected from corporations, and no one has taught them another way. We are now teaching another system. For my students, it is a realization that they thought they would be able to avoid the corporate “virus” and they couldn’t.

It is becoming more competitive out there and we all know that. However, do you see our schools working or at least looking at the right direction?

They are all well-intentioned by and large, but it is difficult to teach what they don't know. It is difficult to teach a new model or way of doing things. Would you have non-attorney's teaching law school? Would you have non-medical doctors or non-health care professionals teach medical school, or non-nurses teach nursing? Why do they leave running a business, which is you, to people that don't really know the issues in today's market? They are all well intentioned but with insufficient information and they can’t teach a student how to run their own business. This is a new frontier, and where in your life are you able to see a new industry blossom, and that industry is running your career as a business. You need services and a network to run everything effectively. The business world will be vastly different in 20 years. I teach all over the world and have students in China and Japan. I have helped people land jobs in China using my system, as my system is geared for a global market. We are working with universities and corporations using our 7 step system. We like the win/win system and having a very positive relationship with employees. We teach corporations how to continue to promote and excite their employees and work collaboratively with them. We need to be mature as to how our business relationship with our employer is and not to take things personally. You provide a service and the employer provides an income. You do the best you can, but any loyalty or promises to you are non-existent. A system that is lose/lose doesn't work. You’re the vendor providing a service, but treat the client with respect. There needs to be a mutual business partnership but there is no ideal business model.

What advice would you give a high school student today?

I would tell them “You are running a business”. What does that really mean? You have to market yourself and be a certain way to get ahead. So they would take that and understand that everything you do makes people perceive you a certain way. There is risk involved in presenting yourself badly. I speak in many countries and I bring everyone back to a business model that everyone understands. It is my stamp to bring the best quality out of everyone. We get them in the role of the owner so they see it all in perspective. They want to be able to make their own decisions so we share with them the options. We show them the risks and perceptions in the market place.

What other projects are you working on or what future plans do you have?

We want to train as many people as possible and help them globally to manage their careers as a business. That is extremely important. I am writing the second book and doing motivational talks. We are reiterating, in this second book, to highlight what is the business of Me Inc. and what does it mean to be the CEO. We'll explain what it means to find work in a more efficient way. Chip Harman is my collaborator and we help professionals that are looking to find work.

It is really all about faith in one's self, faith in business, faith in people, and faith in the global business program. This theme is for people in mid-career that don't believe in Santa anymore but this means that it is not finished for them. What I am saying is, we are this group that is like the Statue of Liberty with the torch. We are an organization that is understanding and it doesn’t matter where you are in your career, you are welcome, as long as you are willing to stake your claim. We are that organization that says “we don't care where you have been and we understand what you have been through” but come, engage, and open your mind to learn. It’s not just about landing a career but helping them to manage their career with like-minded individuals globally. If they are in a game, this is just the first half and especially for someone in their 50's who needs to reclaim that piece of themselves. Your years of experience have no relevance in this market. We teach people to change how they should pitch themselves and have it match the client’s needs. An example is, if someone has 30 years experience in a particular business and has been doing X for 30 years, but the client only wants to know what they want them to do, and can they do that particular job for them. We help our clients with interview skills, selling themselves, and showing the client what they want. Most people were not taught that from a business rationale and submitting a resume should be like a business opportunity. I am an open architect and once people work with me, they will get the message.

Slideshow: Rod teaches how to Win the Race for 21st Century Jobs

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