Category Archives for 21st Century Careers

Seth Godin asks: What would it look like if your contribution was truly significant?

Too often, we settle.

Seth Godin asks us that difficult but important question. 

What if we aspired to live up to our full potential? 

What would it look like for you?

I highly recommend this book: not a lot of words, but definitely a ton of inspiration.

photo of a woman with the txt overlaid, what to do when its your turn.

Signficance can be scary.

Unless you have Seth Godin encouraging you, and assuring you....

You've got this. ​

Buy this book and use it to journal for a year.

You won't need a business coach or a therapist.

That's a tall claim for a book.

But it's a powerful tool in the face of those who mock your dreams.

In the face of that inner resistance.​

One day, I hope Seth will be willing to serve as one of our mentors.

That's what it would look like if my contributions to youth in foster care were truly significant.

The ability to attract and invite someone like Seth Godin to partner with us in transforming the lives of 400,000 youth in foster care in the US.

Big dream, I know.

But significance isn't easy.

And to be honest, I'm not ready for Seth just yet. 

Seth Godin is a -- mensch. 

He's tough but kind.

Firm but caring.

Wise but not some ivory tower academic. 

Drop me a line at @neeshamirchi and let me know what you think of the book, and of Seth. 

Entrepreneur Gives Great Advice: What To Do When a Client Asks You For a Discount

I read this article on and found it very useful:

When Clients Ask for Discounts, Ask Them … Why?

If you’ve been asked for a discount, you may benefit from this article as well.


As a professional public speaker, I have fees, as well, which are listed publicly on my website. I am not cheap, but I’m also not unreasonably expensive. And I always try to be transparent in my pricing. That means that I prefer not to waste my time on price negotiations.


Sometimes, though, potential clients contact me and say, “We’d love to hire you as a speaker. But can we get a discount?” I’ve found a great way to deal with these discount requests: I ask my customers, “Why?”


My usual reply also includes something alone the lines of, “Is there a specific reason you believe you are entitled to a discount?” Without my directly saying yes or no, I’ve thus bounced the question back to the customer(s), forcing them to consider what they’re asking and to give them a chance to point out something that could be of value to me.

Here’s a link to Read more… and don’t forget to see when the author DOES give a discount. I love the idea he presents and I intend to use it in my business!


Why Your Best Millennial Employees Might Quit

Why Your Best Millennial Employees Might Quit |

Why Your Best Millennial Employees Might Quit |


If you’re looking to attract top millennial talent this year, listen up. That one update you’ve been dropping to the bottom of your priority list might be causing top candidates to pass you up for your competitors — and could drive existing young employees out the door.We’re talking about updating your workplace technology.Today’s most sought-after organizations also happen to be among the “smartest” — equipped with technology that provides better communication, offer flexibility and encourage collaboration.


And if you’re still unsure whether this really matters to the millennials in your company, the answer is it’s highly likely. According to the 2016 Future Workforce Study by Dell and Intel, 42 percent of American millennials say they’d likely quit a job if workplace technology didn’t meet their standards. That’s nearly four times as many as baby boomers.


Why Millennials Have Side Hustles: Understanding Generation 1099


Many urban Millennials freelance or have side-hustles. In the article, “Millennials are obsessed with side hustles because they’re all we’ve got” in Quartz, we find out why that is the case:

Photo from

Millennials didn’t invent the second job, they just branded it. Maybe that’s because many people assume the side hustle is just financially oriented, simply another adaptive response to recession-era economics. Google “side hustle” and you will find thousands of stories, but they are all focused on the how. As in, Dear internet, how can I make another $200 a month to cover my Verizon bill?

The sheer range of side hustles suggests there’s more in play than money. There are the well known app-based gigs, like Uber and TaskRabbit.


You’ve got the day job with a freelance extension–the full-time graphic designer who also has her own clients. Then there’s what you might ungenerously call the side hustle as self-promotion, which covers some yoga teachers and life coaches, though by no means all. Next along the line is the side hustle as self-delusion, i.e. spending years on some (doomed) artistic effort that will make the world care and understand, at last!

The author contends that when a generation that has been “raised with a “you can be whatever you want to be” ethos meets the worst job market in years”, you have a desire not to be pigeonholed and it also serves as a “distraction from your disappointment, or “a bridge between crass realities and your compelling inner life.”

Personally, the last line in the essay really got me thinking — isn’t this why I started HotSkillsPayBills? We show you how to thrive in the 1099 Economy.

In the best-case scenario, your side hustle can be like a lottery ticket, offering the possibility–however remote–that you just might hit the jackpot and discover that holy grail of gigs. The one that perfectly blends money and love. The one that’s coming along any day now.

It’s funny when you read an article someone else wrote and feel they articulated your WHY better than you could. Now off to write my About page. I’m inspired!!!

You can read more at – in fact, I hope you will.





Work-Life Balance Cannot Happen When You’re Measured On How Many Hours You Worked: Performance Reviews Must Change

One of my bosses said something to me that liberated me and made me 10x more productive in my new job straight out of school, “Neesha, I don’t care how or when you get it done, I only care that it’s done.” He didn’t care if I came in at 9:30 am even though my colleagues got into work at 8 or 8:30 am. I worked late… but not on my clients projects. I researched how the Internet was changing direct marketing – and it led to me creating an Interactive Solutions practice within my company. If I had been told to be there by 8:30 am every single day, I know it would have sapped my creativity (not to mention, my energy sitting in traffic on I-40). Instead, I came in late, worked late, and mostly avoided the frustration of rush hour traffic. Many of my friends didn’t have this flexibility. And yes, not everyone was happy about this — I’m sure I was seen as “tardy” and “unprofessional” by some. But I didn’t let it bother me. My boss was really really happy with my performance. My accounts had stellar net revenue and clients were happy. This little flexibility in timings made me feel so much better about my work.

This is the crux of an article in the Harvard Business Review by Scott Behson (Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home).

He believes that in order for there to be work-life balance, managers must evaluate performance, not “chair time or face time.” Just because someone is sitting in their office 12 hours a day doesn’t mean they are the hardest working or most productive employee. In fact, it could be the opposite.

Behson contends, “When managers do so, they free employees to arrange their work lives so that they can be the most effective. Surprise, surprise: When you focus on measuring face time, you get…face time. But when you actually focus on performance, you get superior performance.

In his article, he also mentions this example of a company that I plan to research a bit further. Sounds interesting:

“Instead of infrequent, subjective evaluations based largely on “time on task,” Ryan now has managers, employees, and teams develop a set of agreed-upon performance metrics that are consistently tracked. As long as these metrics are met and customers and coworkers are happy with their access to employees, managers at Ryan generally do not track office hours. Once Ryan made the change, some employees who had been receiving high ratings by working 70 hours weeks were revealed to have been less productive than many who worked fewer but more efficient hours. Turnover plummeted; satisfaction, engagement, and financial performance soared.”

So the next time you talk about work/life balance, make sure you focus on what really matters, an objective performance review that’s uncoupled from time spent in the office. If your goal is higher employee productivity and its impact on the bottom line, then why not measure that? How can you create SMART goals for your employees? Try this out and let me know if it works!

I highly recommend reading the original piece (link below).

Work-Life Balance Is Easier When Your Manager Knows How to Assess Performance


Scott Behson is a Professor of Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the author of The Working Dad’s Survival Guide: How to Succeed at Work and at Home. He writes about work and family issues for Time, WSJ, the Huffington Post and his blog, Fathers, Work and Family. A national expert in work-family issues, Scott was a featured speaker at the White House Summit for Working Families. Follow him on Twitter @ScottBehson.


Does Work Make You Miserable? We Need to Learn to Live Again – Says Anne Coote in the Guardian

In a Guardian newspaper opinion, “The fetishisation of work is making us miserable. Let’s learn to live again,” Anna Coote writes: Mounting pressures at work are taking a heavy toll on life at home. Employees say their bosses want them to put job before family, and many are expected to be on call around the clock. More than one in four say they work longer hours than they want to…”

While you may not agree with the entire article or Anna Coote’s economic policy recommendations, there is a lot of truth in her analysis of the economy itself. For example, she describes the state of stress accurately (for most urban workers in big cities at least):

“an economy where high levels of stress and anxiety are normal, where people get ill because they’ve lost control of their time, where marriages are damaged and children suffer. And yet, it’s a picture we’re invited to applaud. Our political leaders idolise “strivers” and “hard-working people”, not “chilled-out, caring dads”, for example. The longer and harder we work, the more admirable we are supposed to be.”

When corporations are measured based on quarterly earnings and growth at all costs, it is obvious that “stress” will trickle down to the people who work there. Unless we change the what we value, we cannot change anything else. We must go back to first principles:

“Growth calls for greater productivity: getting more output per unit of input. The system is greedy for more resources, but workers and machines have to do more for less. More efficient processes (including more robots) reduce the amount of human input required. So those who have jobs must work harder – and longer hours – to hang on to what they’ve got and to keep the economy growing.”

Anna Coote gives us an example of something very simple that demonstrates how our values play out:

“I am old enough to remember lunchtime. When my workmates and I went out to a nearby eaterie for at least an hour, scoffed a proper meal and probably a glass of wine. These days, like most worker bees, I stay at my desk with my fork and Tupperware pot, nose glued to the screen. And I‘ve become so mesmerised by the modern working culture that I’d be quite shocked to find a colleague dining out at lunchtime. No booze, no siestas, no playtime.”

There is so much talk about automation, but Ms. Coote points out:

“…since robots can’t do everything yet, there are new flurries of low-end jobs with zero-hours contracts, insulting pay and no security. This class has been called the “precariat” and much of it thrives on the over-busyness of other workers. It ferries people home at night (Uber), delivers fast food (Deliveroo) and fixes things around the house (TaskRabbit). Many precarious workers have to do two or three jobs just to make ends meet. So they are under heavy pressures too, often torn between poverty and an intolerable work-life balance.”

I really encourage you to read the whole article on Guardian, but I’ll leave you with this one line that really resonated with me:

“…we could build an economy that enables people to flourish, instead of one that is entirely fixated on growth.” is centered on this vision. Yes, we admire ambition and chutzpah and vision. But we also want to make sure people flourish. That’s why we talk about essential human skills (the ones that separate us from the robots), and why we help you find work that lights you up and pays the bills.

We are here to fight the good fight against the status-quo. In an ideal world, all of us will find work that brings us meaning and joy — not just work that pays the bills. Read the article and tell us what you think.

The fetishisation of work is making us miserable. Let’s learn to live again | Anna Coote | Opinion | The Guardian


Imagine if Your Boss Couldn’t Email You, Text You or Call You After Hours: New French law Would Make it Illegal!

New French Law Makes It Illegal To Email Employees After Work Hours | GOOD

The new law stipulates that companies negotiate policies that limit the spillover of work into their employees’ private lives.

“if you’re a company of 50 employees or more, you cannot email an employee after typical work hours. The amendment has come about because studies show that in the digital age it’s become increasingly difficult for people to distance themselves from the workplace during their off hours. This new law allows people to get the full advantage of their time off.”

A French lawmaker said that even after employees leave work, they cannot unplug and remain attached by an “electronic leash – like a dog.”

The French public like this idea! Do you think this could work in the U.S.?

New French Law Makes It Illegal To Email Employees After Work Hours | GOOD


Imagine: a 6 Hour Work-Day in America – What Would You Do With Your Me-Time?

I just read an article about an experiment in Sweden and if you are an overworked American employee, I thought I should share it with you. The cliff notes are below. Read it, close your eyes, and imagine if your boss came to you tomorrow and said, “Work only six hours a day.” How would that feel? The article highlights as promised (with a link to the entire article):

In Sweden, an Experiment Turns Shorter Workdays Into Bigger Gains

In Sweden, an Experiment Turns Shorter Workdays Into Bigger Gains

“We thought doing a shorter workweek would mean we’d have to hire more, but it hasn’t resulted in that because everyone works more efficiently,” said Maria Brath, who founded an Internet search optimization start-up in Stockholm three years ago based on a six-hour day. The company, which has 20 employees, has doubled its revenue and profit each year.

“Since we work fewer hours, we are constantly figuring out ways to do more with our time,” Ms. Brath said.

Sitting inside their airy office, Brath’s employees checked off the ways. “We don’t send unnecessary emails or tie ourselves up in meetings,” said Thommy Ottinger, a pay-per-click specialist. “If you have only six hours to work, you don’t waste your time or other people’s time.”


“It’s kind of a life changer,” he said, adding that the environment inspired fierce staff loyalty.


And employees say that more downtime makes them happier on the job. “Simply put, we work more efficiently,” said Matthias Larsson, 33. Thanks to his shorter hours, Mr. Larsson can care for his three children, cook, clean and shop while his wife is at work.

Is a Solar Job the Best Way to Fight Climate Change and Earn a Good Living? (Link to US Solar Workforce Development Program)

I wonder what solar jobs pay? Also, are these jobs affected by political and policy changes? I would love to find someone to interview on this subject! Here’s an article that may be helpful if you are interested in a solar job. It connects you to a workforce development program:

New US solar workforce development program will help facilitate the training of more skilled workers : TreeHugger

New US solar workforce development program will help facilitate the training of more skilled workers : TreeHugger


Decadence through simplicity


Derek Markham (@derekmarkham) Energy / Renewable Energy July 26, 2016


The Solar Training Network will work to build a diverse, qualified solar workforce to meet the needs of the solar revolution.


With the number of US solar jobs more than doubling over the last six years, and the solar industry adding workers at a rate almost 12 times faster than the economy in general, the need for skilled solar workers is high. However, as a relatively new field, training opportunities and employment infrastructure in the solar industry aren’t nearly as robust as in other established industries, but a new program could help change that.


A new solar workforce development program, funded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative, could help the booming US solar industry to meet the growing demand for qualified workers. The new Solar Training Network, backed by $2.1 million in funding over two years, is intended to enhance and build upon the current training resources available to both potential solar employees and solar employers, and to be an integral part of helping meet President Obama’s commitment of training at least 75,000 people for careers in the solar industry by the year 2020.


According to the website, the new initiative will benefit workers and employers alike by providing a “job seeker-to-employer connection platform,” solar training resources, solar job fairs and training events, a directory of solar training providers, and a comprehensive national directory of solar companies.


Other partners in the Solar Training Network include Solar Energy International, the Solar Energy Industries Association, GRID Alternatives, the National Association of Workforce Boards, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the Florida Solar Energy Center. Interested solar employers and solar training providers can join the program here: Solar Training Network.


Workforce Development Training versus Liberal Arts Degrees: Tom Eblen Challenges the Governer of Kentucky

In this article on, the author makes the case for a liberal arts education in additional to technical workforce development. It’s a very interesting read. There’s a lot of pressure on states to show increased employment and it’s understandable that leaders want to focus on things that move the needle right away. But Tom Eblen makes a good case for taking the long-view as well.

Tom Eblen: Higher education is more than just ‘workforce development’ | Lexington Herald-Leader



Like many businessmen who become governors, Gov. Matt Bevin seems more interested in “workforce development” than higher education. Still, his gratuitous slap at investing state resources in “French literature majors” was troubling.


It was more than an ignorant remark by an intelligent, educated man who should know better. It was another example of an anti-intellectual streak in Kentucky politics that has always limited this state’s potential for success.


But even if Bevin believes the state’s investments should focus on “practical” education to produce specific economic results, his approach is still short-sighted. The global economy is increasingly driven by creativity and innovation. Knowledge of the humanities, language, culture and the arts has never been more important.


As the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, once said: “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”


If Kentuckians want to be leaders and innovators in the 21st century economy — and not just the technicians who implement other people’s ideas — we must invest more public money in higher education that goes well beyond “workforce development.”


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