Wily Mktg

BITN: Gap Years, Resume Gaps, & Killer Perks

Posted on: Monday, November 2nd, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

  • Pandemic lemonade: Take time off

An FA group out of SF is encouraging their Gen-X clients to consider a shift into Gap-Year mode during these helter-skelter times. Yep, the Advisory Group of San Francisco proclaims to their 40-something investors that, “midlife is now even more intense.” And that research shows that age 47 trends to be the low point in the lifetime happiness curve. So…why not? A 16-p guide is available for the asking.

Midlife is now even more intense

AGSF also mentions “gas pedal risk,” that go-go faster-faster feeling that can happen when life brings maxed-out demands like kid-rearing, peak career loads, and … so much more. Nice idea, a mid-life gap year. BreakAway applauds and of course advocates exactly that (your children will thank you!) along with gap years (or months) most anytime throughout this “one wild and precious life.”

  • Um, about those lost years…

Okay, back to work! Last summer, MoneyTalksNews ran an article about a common theme that continues to grow in attention: How to explain gaps in resumes. The challenge thickens given that many firms essentially have robots that screen resumes via “tracking sytems.” Said bots may flag and dislike breaks! (After all, robots never rest.)

So what to do? The author suggests being upfront and giving a reason for the gap in both cover letter and resume, as research suggests that approach alone can up the odds of your info making it past the bot-bouncer by 60%. Mention any training and networking you’ve done. And of course, keep the focus on your key skills and talents.

At BreakAway, we fearlessly ask: Hey, doesn’t everybody need (and deserve) a pause now and then? Or are we really supposed to work from age 22 to 67 with nary a pit stop during the rat race? Besides, people who take time to raise children, help family, and travel curiously are just plain more well-rounded and worldly.

  • Best workplaces serve up juicy bennies

Comparably is a savvy site “Comparing Employers, Brands, and Salaries.” A recent and impressive post lauds 11 companies that offer innovative perks to keep employees content, motivated, and loyal! 2020 and its shifting work realities make such bonuses particularly useful and no doubt appreciated.

Examples include a home-office stipend, mental-health help with easy access, debt-free degrees, and (my favorite) virtual happy hours with at-home drink delivery during the pandemic.

All great, but what about FREE time? Here you go—just some of the ways that innovative employers are keeping their staffers savvy and sane…

·      Unlimited paid time off

·      Extended holiday weekends

·      Company-wide recharge days

·      1 mental-health day per month

·      Summer Fridays off

·      One-month sabbaticals after three years service

One month off after three years? If that doesn’t make recruiting and retention easier, we’re out of ideas! As countless prospective employees are likely saying…Sign me up!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Live Music Lives On!

Posted on: Friday, October 23rd, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

  • What will you be doing at age 92?

When it comes to Wily Marketing, few businesses can compete with Crooners, a large jazz club here in the ‘burbs. (Yes, the ‘burbs!) They’ve found ways to keep open, keep the conviviality flowing, and keep the musicians working—much to the glee of the socially-distanced, sell-out audiences. Their latest innovation: The tent.

Last week, at age 92, the Marvelous Marilyn Maye filled the big-top for 5 nights with world-class music, spontaneous and spot-on humor, and enough Covid-may-care charisma to leave the audiences deliciously, if temporarily, filled with faith. Don’t believe me? Peruse this rave review from the Star Tribune’s seen-it-all critic.

I sit in awe during her shows. And I’ve seen, oh, 55? 95? Because I spent a few summers working a club in Okoboji, where she played—and has for 64 years—2020 being the first miss since the run started. She also plays fine venues all over including in NYC, Palm Springs, and (in the day) Johnny Carson’s show a record 76 times. No wonder I still show up giddy.

A silly pandemic couldn’t stop her from a five-night run at Crooners. She even flew in her favorite but often-unavailable pianist (since he also accompanies starry names like Liza and Bette), Mr. Billy Stritch. Never heard of him? Just trust me when I say he’s the best. And their harmonious chemistry makes your heart pound.

So…YES! Life goes on. Mini-musical-BreakAways can still happen. My obsession with live performance (best served live with good friends and red wine) has not died of C-19. And there are still savvy establishments like Crooners that won’t shut down, and won’t shut up. Instead, they throw up a tent and invite everyone inside.

Marilyn and Band remind us to fight the fear, support your loves and causes, and of course, to…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: I Saw the Comet!

Posted on: Friday, July 24th, 2020
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Yes! I did! In the city, even, where there is (waaaaaay too much) light pollution. I had to kayak out on a lake (not the safest thing to do but, hey) and use binoculars on a clear night. Once spotted, the feeling was magical. Almost emotional, even.

I couldn’t manage a picture, of course. So here, instead, is a tip case from an excellent NOLA street band. The musicians are suffering, along with other performers and service workers. They’re floating in space, rather like the comet. (There.)

So sad. They need us. More important: We need them. Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Life Before Costco

Posted on: Friday, February 21st, 2020
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Here you see a shop-owner dutifully working in the shadows of his perfect produce shop just outside of Paris 20 years ago. So much has changed on USA soil; there are myriad grocery options in most American cities, yet a family-owned fruit and beverage boutique may be impossible to find. Who can market a small market and make a living?

So this is life before Costco. It also portrays the other-worldly passion of worldly Paris, where such artisanal shops in 2020 are probably less omnipresent but still very present. And residents show up.

This writer-chef loves the savvy of Trader Joe’s and the convenience of a Target that sells everything from grapes to undergarments. But as I reminisce this random Parisian morning and a sight any traveler to France will encounter countless times, there’s no question which lifestyle offers better connection, quality, and values.

Long live Costco? No. Viva la France!

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Forbes & Motley Fool Endorse BreakAways

Posted on: Saturday, February 8th, 2020
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

To everything there is a season: A time to work, a time to play. 

The BreakAway Crew has been selling sabbatical lifestyles since 2008. Yet we’re always delighted when bigger influencers like Forbes and the Fool affirm our Big Idea. Both approach the topic from a career-centric POV. And that’s swell, since most folks have a career-credit-card focus and that encourages MYBA room to romp in the equally vital faith-&-freedom space.

  • Iconic takeaways from media masters

You can peruse these articles quickly, but here are the primary reminders in case you need to get back to tic tok. 

Career breaks…

  • WON’T RUIN YOUR CAREER….

Since they give you a chance to try new challenges, embark on an entrepreneurial endeavor, diversity your skill set, volunteer for something impressive, up your passion profile, boost your confidence, and more.

  • HELP YOU STAND OUT…

Because these days, so many jobs are LinkedIn-predictable and (for many) STEM-ish. Travelers have grander perspectives and wider exposure. Savvy employers want nothing less. As we say at BreakAway, it’s about self- Wily Mktg.

  • PLAY INTO THE ‘CAREER WAVE’ TREND RATHER THAN THE CONVENTIONAL ‘LADDER’…

This will make more sense as the Millennials take over. And they will comprise 35% of the work force this year. And get this: 84% of them foresee career breaks in their future.

  • FIGHT BURNOUT….

Since, frankly, that’s a career (and well-being) killer. Forbes says that 23% of full-time employees report burnout often; another 44% say it hits them sometimes. Our side-EFX-free RX: BreakAway ASAP.

  • “CLARIFY WHAT TYPE OF LIFE YOU WANT”…

My favorite. Paths, passion, restlessness, test drives, that whole deal. And our Motley not-so-foolish writer remind us that, depending on your age, many retirement funds are eligible to pay for your adventure. (Why wait until you’re old and rickety!?!)

  • Free your mind and your ass will follow

So says one of my heroes, George Clinton (and Funkadelic). Our fine writers agree but might paraphrase thusly: 1) Free your mind and your career will follow. 2) Free your mind and your career break will follow. 

So do like Forbes and the Fool and start planning BreakAways into your life already! Or just agree that careers are long yet life is longer so…When the time is right, why not go? 

PS Thanks, Forbes and Fool!

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Stuff is Making Us Stuck (Part 2)

Posted on: Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, Spendology, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Last month, in Part 1, we dove into our junk piles and bemoaned the detritus that weighs on us, our culture, and our shifting populations. We continue that slog by taking a peek into where our rejected stuff goes.

It’s not pretty. In fact, the benevolent feeling we may enjoy when dropping off our rejects to charity might be just plain ignorant. Ex-Minnesotan Adam Minter, now a columnist for Bloomberg in Malaysia, provides a rare expert overview, having grown up in a Minneapolis family that has run a scrap heap since 1920s, published a book titled “Junkyard Planet,” and late last year released a follow-up book called “Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale.” Mr. Minter also did an interesting Star Tribune interview when recently in town.

  • “People like shiny new things”

States Minter. It’s human nature, yet he advocates making things last as long as possible. How? Buy quality, for starters! Not only can you enjoy it longer, but the reuse market should be more plausible. He also recommends repair, despite that cheap goods often sway us just to replace. Another idea: Seek second-hand stuff, since a heckuva lot of it is nearly new.

  • What else causes this glut?

You may have noticed this: Often, the merch in Marshall’s has about the same price tag as that in consignment stores. Why? Because the mass production of goods—especially when lower-quality—can be surprisingly price-competitive. So people buy new, and second-hand stores get less traffic.

In fact, Minter notes that thrift stores in the US sell only about a third of their inventory, while the rest gets exported, recycled or tossed in the trash. Ouch.

  • Will millennials save us?

Much has been made about their less materialistic lifestyle. But don’t bet on it, says Minter, who cites research suggesting that the shared economy only appeals when it’s cheaper. And that as the millennials accrue more spending power and maturity, they’ll buy happily acquire more, just like other generations.

  • Good ideas to help clean up this mess

As mentioned, Minter promotes repair before replace, and insisting on quality. But even more radical, common-sense solutions could include “durability labeling,” which tells you things like how long a company will support smart phone or how many washings a shirt might endure.

He also proposes “right to repair” laws, noting that much repair information is protected by companies, trademarks, trade barriers, and more. Brilliant.

  • Sins and solutions

We can all think about our own sins and solutions, of course. And here’s one of mine: Sin—buying lots of new clothing recently at insanely affordable January clearance sales. (When asked who’s my favorite designer, I always say Clearance!) Solution: Spread it all out alongside similar old favorites, and make smart choices about what to keep and what to return.

Heck, sometimes that nice $15 shirt hardly seems worth the bother to take back, right? But there’s principal at work here too. And $15 is $15. Save $15 a day somehow, and you’ve got $5,500 to apply toward that BreakAway you want more than more stuff.

Even better, there will be less clutter-y obstacles in your way!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Reality BreakAway or Sports Porn?

Posted on: Friday, January 10th, 2020
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Last Saturday, I wandered Target Center in Minneapolis at the Chipotle Clash of Champions with 17,000 close friends. This is high school sports on steroids—local phenom hoops team Minnehaha Academy vs. Sierra Canyon (from CA, featuring the sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade).

The organizers pulled a Wily Marketing silky smooth move by changing the event from the high school to the downtown arena. Sure, tickets were only $25 (if you bought in-person and avoided TM’s ridiculous fees). And people want to be entertained! Yet this athletics lover wonders when America’s sports appetite will become full or filled.

By the looks of this crowd and other games I’ve attended lately with far more challenging prices and logistics, we are nowhere near the tipping point.

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FOTOFRIDAY: (Belated) Merry Christmas!

Posted on: Friday, December 27th, 2019
Posted in: FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Christmas means different things to different people, obviously.

As for me, I can’t help but notice that it/sales start earlier every year. And yet…it’s over before it’s over. The parties and gifts: All happen before Christmas Day. The big church services and family events: Mostly on Christmas Eve. The day that most people are ready to “tear down” Christmas décor: The day after.

So it’s only fitting to be late, if only to be contrary. Anyway, for me, the colorful décor and twinkly lights help make Minnesota’s dark and dreary winters a little less…dark and dreary.

And so we might be on time (early) this time: Happy New Year!

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Stuff is Making Us Stuck (Part 1)

Posted on: Saturday, December 7th, 2019
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Black Friday 2019 enjoyed record sales of $7.4B in digital shopping alone. Cyber Monday: $9.4B, up 19% from 2018. And as for the anticipated shopping total this holiday season? A tidy $740B.

Black Friday—sounds ghoulish, no? Cyber Monday—dystopian, yes? The planet is, to be honest, suffering. Too many people, too much pollution, too much STUFF.

  • The ultimate fungus

Stuff is like a fungus. You clean it up, but the muck only emerges again. This should not surprise us, since in the USA, “Consumer spending” comprises 2/3 of the economy, and politicians and pundits alike rejoice in increases and bemoan the downticks. Up means a thriving economy; down can lead to a recession. Those are numbers, but the back-story is the love of stuff. Which, by the way, becomes even more of a burden if you’re interested in a BreakAway.

  • Beware the fleeing family                  

Speaking of BreakAway, that’s what family members often do when elders downsize, die, or become snowbirds…when couples uncouple…and when kids (but not 99% of their “belongings”) fly away to college. Heck, even a pet’s passing can leave behind perplexing piles.

We are a materialistic society, as would most be if they had our “wealth.” Let’s just call it a mixed-up blessing.

  • The industry of stuff

The Star Tribune employs a wonderful writer, John Ewoldt, who wears the title “Consumer Reporter.” Stuff is a big story these days, and his recent article, “Lifetimes of Stuff Fuel a Booming Industry” taught us many things, like: 10,000 baby boomers retire daily; age 85+ is the fastest-growing segment of the US population (and likely destined for small rooms in senior homes); there now exists a National Association of Move Managers to help people cope.

You gotta love the names of some of the local, independent Move Managers that have sprung up from savvy entrepreneurs—Junk Genius, Empty the Nest, Gentle Transitions. They will tell you that the younger generations usually don’t want the family treasures. So, their company sorts the stuff into sell, donate, and toss (most estates = about 1/3 each). They will also admit that business is robust. Heck, even good-neighbor Goodwill states that donations have doubled in the past five years, while many charities can no longer take all the stuff offered to them.

  • The opposite of  the Great Depression

This stuff crisis is multi-generational with predictable permutations. Folks raised in the post-Depression era traditionally have trouble tossing anything—yet their families don’t want their hoard. Meanwhile, to many people today (especially youth), online shopping is a pastime. Whereas a family used to save for months to buy, say, a TV (remember layaway?), nowadays, we simply stare at screens, click, and wait a matter of hours for most any object to arrive at the doorstep.

Oddly enough, both propensities lead to clutter. That can make it hard to navigate your residence—and even harder to find freedom.

  • Don’t let STUFF weigh you down

You can guess the classic excuses people use for why they can’t take a sabbatical or even use all their vacation time. What about my house? My pets? My stuff? Cool possessions define status, taste, and lifestyle. BUT, simply put, they are obstacles to overcome if you want to BreakAway.

  • Guilty, as charged

Clutter confessional: I’m as loaded as the corner bar on Christmas Eve. And yet I’m sick of stuff; it’s grown from fungus to hazard. So I keep purging—or at least trying to throw out more than comes in the door. It’s not easy; the Amazon is alluring.

Hence the crude photo above from yet another stampout-stuff drop-off. I’m just trying to get unstuck. And hoping to BreakAway.

Judging by the mountain of detritus already there, I’m not alone.

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BITN: A Royal BreakAway, Travel Trends, & Back to Work

Posted on: Monday, November 11th, 2019
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

The interns never sleep at the BreakAway HQ. Here are 3 ditties that caught their wired eyes, and why…

Yes, even the Royals, in their own words, get “tired and even burnt out.” So they’re doing the right thing, and taking 6 weeks off—having endured the birth of their second child, a rigorous travel schedule, and (of course) relentless media attention.

Meghan referred to their whole rigmarole as, “existing, not living,” when they recently appeared on an ABC interview. It’s easy for us commoners to scowl at their ills, perhaps coveting their fortune and popularity. Still, they just want to focus on their family, their missions in Africa, and finding sanity in their incomparably complicated reality. We emphatically approve of their majestic yet humbly human aspirations.

Sure, Travelers Today may not be T&L, but we like their observations—like these rising trends: Green; Canada, solo, and nomadic.

The nomadic approach seems to be appealing to families—who like to pack it up, leap into home-schooling, and take advantage of a key benefit of the growing freelancing economy: Freedom. Freelancers and nomads rarely know exactly where they’re going, and that’s exactly the point.

Having been there (all over) and done that (going wandering with family), I personally offer a standing O and advise everyone who can conceive of the notion to keep that faith alive. Life offers few profundities that compare. Your children will be forever transformed and, whatever may happen in the hectic years that follow, you’ll cherish those ever-vivid memories.

Yes, this topic fills the sabbatical nets, and typically focuses on women returning to the office after family leave. I politely like to remind these influencers that men also take family leave and BreakAways of various kinds. (That said, most of the advice, if not the approach, is rather gender neutral.)

Target market or not, Jennifer Gefsky has published a book, “Your Turn: Careers, Kids and Comebacks—A Working Mother’s Guide.” Her Fast Company “5 Minute Read” offers these tips: Revisit past successes; Put yourself in your kids’ shoes (and stay positive for their sake and good modeling); Take a risk (request a big meeting, speak in public); Tell a friend (take on an accountability partner); Don’t over-question yourself—because sometimes the answer really is, “I don’t know.”

  • Who knows?

She’s right. “I don’t know” may be the answer to many of life’s hardest questions. Will we save the planet? Will America ever encourage career breaks, family leave, and nomadic escapes? Will YOU embark on the BreakAway of your dreams? Will I…again, and if so when?

I don’t know. But let’s keep asking, writing, photographing, and chasing dreams. For fun, for art, for life, and for Mr. Chekov…

‘If you want to work on your art, work on your life.’ ­

– Anton Chekov

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