A brazen 2006: How to get ahead of the pack

New ideas for career planning that didn't get much play in 2005, but they're good, and we should all keep them in mind for 2006:

* Extreme financing. I first saw this phrase in an article about two guys who played poker to pay bills while they started a new company. For artists, this is called a day job. For a recent grad, it's called a job-until-I-can-get-a-job job. But now, when entrepreneurship is the rage among young people, there's this new label, with no sense of self-doubt attached to it. I like that.

I like it because everyone who has a job that doesn't pay enough, or a job they hate, is really using it as a stepping-stone to get to something else, even if they don't know it. So every bad job is fundraising for a better life.

Everyone who's in a bad job, hold your head up high: You are merely in extreme finance mode.


* Teamwork. For many years, people have been using the word to mean nothing. Sure, everyone knows that research has shown that teams get a lot done. But not fake teams. The human resource department can change its name to the human resources team, but that's not a team.

A team is a intradepartmental group that comes together for a set amount of time on a set project. These teams are usually non-hierarchical, so you can get responsibilities on a team that you'd never get in your regular position. A team is a way for people to get ahead in a company without paying dues. (No wonder all the research shows that younger people are better team players than baby boomers.) Get on a team as a way to get noticed.


* Renting. Maybe you want to change careers but you can't afford a pay cut. Or maybe you know the perfect job for you but cannot afford enough time to hunt for that job. These problems are less likely to happen when you rent. Renting gives you financial flexibility. And many financial advisors are telling people in expensive markets that renting is more prudent than buying right now.

People now want time and experience instead of possessions. But in order to get a piece of that dream, you need to decrease your financial needs, and the best way to do it might be to not buy a home. Time to do what you want is more valuable than a big home. After all, it's not a living room if you have no time to live in it.


* Transparent publicity: Here's my favorite publicity moment of the last year: Rap star Cam'ron gets carjacked. No one really knows if it was set up or not, but the news covered the event like it was news. While he was being interviewed about being shot in both arms, he made a point of saying that his CD is coming out.

Learn from this guy. He's smart about PR in a way that you should be, too. We're in an era of product placement, advertorials, and Apprentice episodes that revolve around Pepsi.

No one needs you to pretend that you're not publicizing yourself. So, instead, take big opportunities to promote shamelessly. I'm not saying to get shot in both arms. But even in your staid office there are opportunities for you to toot your own horn. Do it. People will respect you.