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BrightSide recruited by NPR/KQEQ

What fun!

KQED called me up to be the San Francisco Bay Area career hero on the California Report with Scott Shafer. Scott let me use his own career as an example for how to find a strength in seemingly irrelevant work experience. We also discussed taking a different approach to networking, and some things that employers look for in job candidates.

Check out the podcast; they even included the original take which has plenty more advice for people looking to beat this tough job market.

Comments welcome. Also, let me know what you’re looking to hear more about. In other words, what should Scott and I have been talking about?

Career Transition, Get To Know Cliff, Job Market, Networking, Resumes | No Comments

Forgetting Lunch

I forgot to bring Evaline’s lunch to preschool today.

We were late: she didn’t want to wear her Vans, we had to choose between which stuffed animal to take… I had to find my shades… lots on our minds.

So I doubled back around 11 with her lunch and caught the kids fanning out onto the playground. Evaline was among 10 or so other “Starfish” (that’s her group name), some wearing paper crowns, some not. She was surprisingly nonchalant about my appearance. I thought that was cool.

I dropped off her turkey and cheddar half-sandwich, Capri Sun, and yogini (our code word for yogurt), then headed back out to cross the playground and hit the parking lot. I was going to play it cool too and avoid bothering the gathering pile of kids around the picnic table.

But parents are anything but cool.

So I walked over and gave her a big kiss. She didn’t resist, which was nice.

Then Rae, a willful 4-year old crony of hers, demanded a high five. With that came 9 more little raised hands looking for similar rewards. I slapped hands for a few seconds — Evaline’s hand last (sweet patient girl!) — and then headed for the gate.

As I swung around the multi-colored half-wall, I heard Evaline say gleefully, “That was my daddy.”

You can’t have a bad day after that.

Get To Know Cliff | No Comments

Choosing a CRM for your small business

Man, what a can of worms!

Ready to move onto the cloud, I decided to leave the old-school off-the-shelf style software of Sage’s benchmark product Act! and go for the hot new thing. The glorious SaaS alternative.

Little did I know I’d find a bizillion CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) options out there–and slowly become an expert in this game, at least from a buyer’s perspective. As someone who’s slogged through CRM blogs, played with countless demos, quizzed living, breathing sales reps, and naively shouted “Eureka! I finally found my CRM” at least 3 times in the wee hours of the morning… I figured it’s time for me to share the journey.

In this post, I’ll go over my experience with Salesforce, AddressTwo, HighRise, Oprius, WORKetc, Batchbook, Pipeline Deals, and Big Contacts–one of which became our CRM here at BrightSide Resumes. Continue reading this entry »

Get To Know Cliff | 3 Comments

Looking Good For No One In Particular

I work alone. I mean, I have a talented staff of writers and administrative geniuses but they work remotely which means it’s just me here, sitting at this desk, in this office.

I can wear jeans, go barefoot, even have a little wine at 4:45pm on Friday while I tackle technical problems. No one’s watching. Carte blanche, baby!

So why I have I started wearing ties to work?

It started with my 3-year old. Whenever she dresses up, she demands I do too. At first I just threw on the tie to please her but then forgot to take it off, after dropping her off at daycare. Perhaps more accurately, I forgot I was wearing it at all. Resumes tend to put me in a trance (in a good way).

Ties can complete an outfit, they’re great to fidget with while listening to voicemails, and they give you respect points at lunch hour.

I’m kind of digging it…this tie thing.

Knot like normal,

-The Artist “Formally” Known as Cliff

Get To Know Cliff | No Comments

When Did It Get So Noisy In Here?

I can’t remember the last time I ate lunch alone and…well, just ate. I always have an ipod or book or cell phone video game to go along with my pastrami and swiss.

I used to just go to a cafe and sit there. Sit and think and let my mind wander, like a flash flood filling up a dry river bed. Ideas pouring over rocks like glittery fish, tails flapping in vain to the forceful current. Silence soothed.

Now silence invites only thoughts about work: the price of loving your work and owning your work. I enjoy these thoughts but I fear becoming boring like a current swirling into an eddy. Nothing to see but spinning ripples around a hollow. That’ll put anyone to sleep.

So I read to find stillness, I play WordWhirl on my Palm Pre to silence the entreprenuer. Who needs yoga when you have gadgets? To be honest, writing resumes does the same thing…brings the stillness. Focus on one thing and one thing only for hours, like a water skiier concentrating only on his next turn, not the fish underneath nor the boat pulling him along.

Get To Know Cliff | No Comments

Big Changes

The other day, when the taqueria guy asked me if I wanted a flour or tomato tortilla, I said “tomato.”

You gotta start with the small stuff.

Get To Know Cliff | No Comments

Journey to Bluegrass

I almost threw in the towel.

It took us 2 and a 1/2 hours to go 15 miles from the East bay to San Francisco. My compatriot, a 3 and a 1/2 year old with a bloodied index finger from a fall earlier that morning, was hardly herself–crying every 15 minutes and demanding ice cream for breakfast.

Parking was like a video game. Picture an aerial view of 100s of cars in a 12-block radius breaking traffic rules as they as they circle perimeter watching for brake lights and nonchalant people with keys coming out of their pockets. Rolling stop signs was the norm–how else would you get in front of the person who had the right of way?

Then the walk, 6 blocks, which isn’t much but you have to add in rest stops from carrying my compatriot on my shoulders, in addition to a backpack and the dried brush she collected along the way. Oh, and the ice cream break, gathering of water at the bodega, and homeless guy who harassed us for not stopping to chat (so we gullibly stopped to chat).

By the time I reached Golden Gate Park and discovered there weren’t any signs up designated which stage was which, I didn’t care that some of the best bluegrass in the world was at my fingertips. I nearly took off.

Glad I didn’t.

We found a patch of goodness right by the port-o-potties, on the outskirts of the crowd closing in on the Arrow Stage. Upon splashing down on the blanket, Evaline immediately took stock of her toys: 1 coloring book, 6 crayons (5 of them broken in half), 1 Cinderella doll, 1 squishy ball, a hair clip, a magic wand / drumstick, and (to join in the bluegrass properly) 1 wooden recorder, which she plays like a bugle.

She played the flute a bit, colored maybe a page or two and spent the rest of the time using her daddy as a jungle gym (when she wasn’t rocking out to the tunes in her gold cowboy boots!).

There were 5 or 6 stages so people around us kept moving in and out like the tide but we just stayed put, camped out by the toilets just in case, loving the sun, the hardcore-from-Texas-and-Mississippi bluegrass bands, and nothingness in front of and all around us for the next 6 hours.

Dancing and Prancing,


Get To Know Cliff | No Comments

Exercising New Muscles

Does the gym count?

Some people are born-again virgins, I qualify as a born-again gym member. Back in college, when me and my roommate used to go, people literally laughed at us as we walked out the door in our cutoffs and trendy skater shoes. But we kept at it. I even took a weight training class senior year (a bit off the mark from my Lit degree but everyone needs balance in their life).

So about 2 weeks ago, we got a family membership. Now Evaline goes swimming with the other guppies, I can finally try karate and get back to soccer, and Molly and me can bond over the dumbells. So far, it’s working quite well. The pecs are coming back, as is that just-out-of-wrapper freshness.

Crazy though, 15 years later from my college days, I’m stilling playing back words of encouragement from my roommates: “sweet pain”…”extendahz baby”… “do it for Johnny!”. The ghosts of inspiration by my side, as I grunt to the beats of Alice in Chains on my iPod.

Keeping it Fresh,


Get To Know Cliff | 1 Comment

Real Men Go On Antique House Tours

I’ve driven through Dunsmuir tons of times on my way to Oregon. Now I know (or at least I think I know) where that name comes from.

Nestled in the urban delights of Oakland, is a plantation-like estate more akin to the humid flats of Savannah: the Dunsmuir house.

Built by none other than Alexander Dunsmuir in honor of his scandalous love for his friend’s wife, this house boasts 37 rooms, 12 fireplaces, and 16,224 square feet of living space. For 2 people. And their guests of course. Continue reading this entry »

Get To Know Cliff | 2 Comments

One Foot In Front Of The Other… But Faster

We all have our never-say-nevers. Mine’s jogging. The only time I run in public is when I’m trying to catch something, get away from something, or win something. Walking slow exemplifies my life philosophy: Relax, chill, enjoy the moment, and get what you need to do done.

Jogging would surely contradict this worldview.

Ah well, it’s time… Continue reading this entry »

Get To Know Cliff | 2 Comments

Something New: Finding “First Times” Once A Week

A client of mine gave me an idea, and, seeing as her job was to literally move mountains (if you equate mega-corporations with mountains and note that she managed building relocations and renovations for these bloated, burgeoning beasts), I was ready to take her advice.

“I do something new every week,” she said. “Doesn’t matter what it is. Big or small. Just something new.”

Something new.

I’m down. I’m a junkie for a new experience. Let’s see how long I can last.

Eagerly & Beaverily,

Get To Know Cliff | No Comments