Cliff Notes – Julie Youngblood – 10/31/2009

Julie Youngblood is the co-founder of Dear Jane.  She spoke at JC today. Dear Jane, is a ‘career advisement’ company. They’re like Lee Hecht Harrison, but, they work with individuals. Julie talked about interviewing. Here’s the ‘cliff’ notes.

Interviewing Skills
Julie Youngblood – Dear Jane
Insiders perspective
Top 35 interview question handout, email for handount / powerpoint

Interview prep
Dos and dont’s
How to close the deal

Types – phone, face 2 face, panel

Phone = intend 2 screen out

Face 2 face = multiple rounds

Panel = intentional pressure

Give a range on salary, try to defer

Interview – two way street

Always have work related questions
Don’t ask about how many days off

Anticipate questions –
What do you know about the comp?

Look at About us, executive bios, linkedin, pressroom as a way to generate questions

Conduct mock interviews b4 hand to make youreself more at ease

First impressions count, be ontime

Take pride that you got an interview

Arrive 10 minutes early
Be kind / professional to everyone you meet

Personal grooming Important

Turn off cell / don’t send text mags

Dress professionally

Under dress – blownout

Bring extra copies of resume; have pen, paper to take notes

Know your resume in detail

Taboo interview topics, age, gender, kids – answer how? Why do you need to know? Don’t answer.
Dean’s take – go with the flow

Find common ground. Soccer dad.

Interviews don’t slouch, tap,
Don’t chew gum, don’t smoke, beware of scents, don’t fidget, be professional, be wary, don’t be yourself down

Interview do; have a positive upbeat attitude
Be confident / there’s a reason your there at the interview

Be sincre, be brief, let them lead
Take notes, get business cards

What”s your weakness, pick something your working on to improve

How do you close the deal?
Wrapping up?
Am I the sort of person your looking for?
What’s the next step, tell me about the hiring process, shows interest.
Send thank yous, take notes after the interview about what happened.


Citibank Q4 2009 Writedown?

DFN: Last of the major financial institutions (JPM, WFC, BAC, GS, Pru, Met, AIG) to make a major move. Government still has a significant stake and there’s plenty of doubt about its future.

Citigroup shares close down 5% after report on Q4 writedown
Reuters Published: Friday, October 30, 2009

NEW YORK — Citigroup Inc shares tumbled on Friday after accounting expert Robert Willens said the bank was likely to have a US$10-billion fourth-quarter charge on its deferred tax assets.

A US$10-billion charge would amount to about 10% of Citigroup’s tangible equity and about 25% of its US$38-billion in deferred tax assets, CLSA analyst Mike Mayo said on the conference call, which he hosted.

"We have no idea how any analyst could have arrived at this estimate," Citigroup spokesman Stephen Cohen said.

Citigroup shares closed down 5.1% at US$4.09.

On a separate conference call hosted by Morgan Stanley, accounting expert Tony Catanach said the bank appears to have real strategies to prevent it from taking a hit on its deferred tax assets.

On CLSA’s conference call, Mr. Willens said: "I would be surprised if in year end, we didn’t find that a valuation allowance would be taken here," noting that he had expected such a step to happen at the end of last year.

Mr. Willens, formerly an accounting analyst at Lehman Brothers, now publishes "The Willens Report."

Deferred tax assets arise because companies keep two sets of books: one for taxes and one for reporting to investors. Income in these two books may be different at different times.

If a company has a loss on the income it reports to investors, but cannot record the loss for tax purposes until the future, it records a deferred tax asset, which reflects the future cash flow from paying lower taxes.

But if a company is unlikely to generate enough taxable income in the future, it must essentially write down the deferred tax asset, which it does by creating a "valuation allowance" on its balance sheet. That valuation allowance cuts into income reported to investors and can hit a portion of a bank’s regulatory capital, as well. Citigroup has a plan for harvesting its deferred tax assets and the plan is detailed and flexible enough that it seems like the bank can execute it, Mr. Catanach said. "It sounds doable, it really sounds doable," he added.

After generating more than a year of losses, many banks have substantial deferred tax assets.

Know the Value of Your Work

DFN: Its unlikely the average person will go up to a "C-Level" and grill the "C-Level", even if a person has an idea about how to improve the profitability of a company. Still, if you do have that idea, express it in forums normally open to you, and eventually, it will go up the ‘chain’, and if you’re working for a company that has good leadership, you’ll actually get credit for the idea.

Common Cents: Know The Value Of Your Work
Posted: 30 Oct 2009 09:14 AM PDT
From: Blog

The work we have or seek has a value, and though it appears logical for companies to know the specific value each job adds to the company, not all jobs are easy to align with business revenue. Traditionally we consider sales because the position is directly tied to revenue and is easy to measure – we know the value of the salesperson who brings in 150% of quota. But how do companies measure the value of a software tester, a customer service rep, or an HR Generalist?

In our current climate companies are striving to understand costs in order to insure profitability and sadly are making decisions to cut costs before truly understanding the value of a job. Therefore it may be of personal benefit to understand your job’s value for your current company. Or if you are in an interviewing process, understanding the value may be of help in securing the position. For example, consider: Does the position add to the success and profitability of the company? How and how much? It’s a good idea to know, and here are a few suggestions that can help determine the real value.

Learn the financial goals for the company. If you are with a public company the information is available. If you are working for a private company and your management has not shared, go to your management and ask. Letting it be known that you are interested in understanding how your position can help achieve the overall goals of the company is a good thing.

Study the business model assumptions: Every company makes assumptions about their business model and then work hard to prove them by exceeding or doing better. How many clients can one customer service rep handle? How many lines of code can the tester successfully review? Are their assumptions for your position or is the position seen as a cost with no return. Let’s think about that, the HR Generalist may be responsible for 401k administration, benefits and compliance – how in the world do we value? Your company should survey employees and measure retention. High marks and a high retention rate means productivity is consistent and recruiting costs are kept in check, therefore value is added to the bottom line by protecting investment and avoiding costs. Still, many times it is hard to put a number to the value.

So ask: Many times and for many reasons we are not willing to ask for help when in reality people are usually willing to help out. In this case corner the Controller, Accounting Manager or the CFO and let them know you have a question and that you need their help. When they ask why, tell them you want to understand the value your position brings to the company BECAUSE (important) you have some ideas and want to improve the value of your work to the bottom line…help the company out. You will be surprised at what you learn, how you are perceived and how your future ideas may be listened to a little more closely.

So interesting, we started out to prove the value of our position, but in the end by going through the process we may have proven our value to the organization. And that is the point, companies want people who want to improve their lot and in turn the company’s.

And if you’re interviewing pursue the same process. It may be harder to find the right person to answer your questions but if you do before the second interview you will bring information and knowledge to the table that will make you shine!

Mayan Ruins Submerged in Guatemala Lake

DFN: This is one ruin that its unlikely I’ll get to!

Divers Probe Mayan Ruins Submerged in Guatemala Lake

By Sarah Grainger
October 30, 2009

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Scuba divers are exploring the depths of a volcanic lake in Guatemala to find clues about an ancient sacred island where Mayan pilgrims flocked to worship before it was submerged by rising waters.

Samabaj, the first underwater archaeological ruins excavated in Guatemala, were discovered accidentally 12 years ago by a diver exploring picturesque Lake Atitlan, ringed by Mayan villages and popular with foreign tourists.

"No one believed me, even when I told them all about it. They just said ‘he’s mad’," said Roberto Samayoa, a businessman and recreational diver who grew up near the lake where his grandmother told him legends of a sunken church.

Samayoa dived for years at the lake, often stumbling across pieces of pottery from the Mayan pre-classic period. In 1996, he found the site, with parts of buildings and huge ceremonial stones, known as stelae, clearly visible.

He named it Samabaj, after himself, but only in the past year have professional archeologists taken an interest, mapping the 4,300-square-foot (400-square-meter) area with sonar technology and excavating structures on a raised part of the lake bed.

Researchers believe this area, 50 feet below the lake’s surface, was once an island until a catastrophic event, like a volcanic eruption or landslide, raised water levels.

The rising lake drowned the buildings around 250 A.D., before the height of the Mayan empire, and ceramics found intact there suggest the inhabitants left in a hurry.

"We have found six ceremonial monuments and four altars and without doubt there are more, which means this was an extremely important place from a spiritual point of view," lead archaeologist Sonia Medrano told Reuters in an interview.

The Maya built soaring pyramids and elaborate palaces in Central America and southern Mexico before mysteriously abandoning their cities around 900 A.D.

Medrano, whose work is funded by the U.S.-based Reinhart Foundation, says the island has ruins of small houses for about 150 people and is crammed with religious paraphernalia, leading researchers to believe Samabaj was a pilgrimage destination.

The Inca Empire – Part I Administration

DFN: Charlotte gives a great overview of the “Incans” and tells where / what the term Inca means (never knew).

The Inca Empire – Part I Administration
Posted by: Charlotte Gardner 10/30/2009

The Inca empire reached its peak in the 1500s, after emerging in under a century. From 1470 they ruled from their capital Cuzco, a vast area that reached the practicable limits of its expansion with the Amazonian rainforest to the east and the Andes to the south.

The empire was highly organized, divided into geographical, social and hierarchical groups. The empire, Taluantinsuys (Land of the Four Quarters), was divided into four provinces, or suyu, called Chinchaysuyu, Antisuyu, Cuntisuyu and Collasuyu. These quarters were then further divided into smaller provinces whose boundaries often reflected the pre-Inca divisions. This was especially so with the Empire’s rapid expansion and integration of other cultures.

At the head of the organization was the royal family ruled by the Emperor, or Child of the Sun. The Incas believed that their royal family were direct descents from the Sun god through their ancestor Manco Capac, and therefore they ruled with divine right. Each member of the royal family was known by their title, used solely by the Inca royal family. These included Auqui for an unmarried son of the Emperor and Inca for a married son. It was necessary to make this strict legal hierarchical system to define the next heir to the throne; the Emperor’s wives could number into the hundreds and illegitimate sons by his concubines were not eligible for the succession.

Anyone who wanted an audience with the Emperor had to take off his sandals and carry a “token burden” on his back, both signs of respect. The organization of the empire was so strict that everyone knew their position in the society. Under the royal family were the nobles of royal blood or nobles by Inca privilege; both groups belonged to the elite and helped govern the provinces. To help with decisions the Emperor would discuss matters with his advisers, a group of men made up of royal relatives or men who held important social positions in their native lands.

Administration of the empire revolved around the taxpayers, or ‘commoners’. This social group made up the majority of the Inca population and were mainly agriculturalists. These subjects were expected to pay their taxes as energy or labour. The tight social categories were rigorously enforced because they dictated who was liable to pay tribute.

Each province was expected to provide agreed upon amounts of tribute to the Inca government warehouses made up of the supplied energy of every agriculturalist in that area. In return the government was supposed to adjust its demands depending on the seasonal capacity of the provinces. In addition, male individuals who possessed a particular skill were exempt from contributing to the province tribute and instead was required to complete local works. These could include repairing bridges, building roads, or serving time in the army, the public work force or the mines. In this way, it was more common for towns to be build around specialist’s skills which relied on supplies from other specialists skills, for example, a bridge builder living in a town with a carpenter.

On the other hand, the agriculturists retained enough land to feed themselves but were close to government and religious owned land to work it also. When it was sowing or harvesting time all other tasks, but urgent government business such as warfare, were postponed so the taxpayers would focus on the land.

First the lands of the Religion were worked, the community land, or Emperor’s; and, and then the taxpayers personal land. The Emperor would start the work using a golden hand plough. He would, of course, stop working after the initial ceremonial beginning, leaving the land to be work by the taxpayers. Each man supervised the work of his family on his appointed section and the first who finished his part was considered a rich man. After the harvest, the produce from the Emperor’s land was then transported and stored in warehouses for future redistribution.

For further reading see ‘Everyday life of the Incas’ by A. Kendall

About the Author
Charlotte Gardner, a guest blog writer, is currently studying archaeology at the Australian National University. In her spare time she likes to read and write about eccentric historical moments. Her love of old buildings and older stories was sparked when she visited Italy. One of Charlotte’s greatest wishes is that in a few thousand years her skeleton will be dug up by an archaeological investigation team and put on display in a national museum.

What type of worker are you?

DFN: Word of advice regarding how to survive / thrive in the workplace

Workplace Organization: Are You The Lackey, The Arguer or The Promotable?
Posted: 29 Oct 2009 09:13 AM PDT

Broken lines, brok.en strings, broken threads, broken springs,
Broken idols, broken heads, People sleeping in broken beds.
Ain’t no use jiving. Ain’t no use joking. Everything is broken.
Broken bottles, broken plates, broken switches, broken gates,
Broken dishes, broken parts, Streets are filled with broken hearts.
Broken words never meant to be spoken, Everything is broken.
Seem like every time you stop and turn around, Something else just hit the ground
– Bob Dylan

Last week’s debate about the state of corporate recruiting got me thinking. It seems like an awful lot of things are broken. And, it seems like there are a ton of people who want to fix them.

Sometimes it seems like we’re moving from a culture of innovation to a culture of maintenance. Fixing broken stuff is just not the same as imagining new things. There’s a place for both but it’s a real mistake to confuse one with the other.

There are three types of people in any organization: 70% are Lackeys (brown nosers); 20% are Argumentatives (live to disagree with the boss); and 10% are Promotable (know how to give good advice and then go with the decision). This thinking applies to the various broken things in our organizations.

In recent years, the flow of technology and the aging of our society have conspired to create a kind of shell shock. We’ve seen so many new things that we can barely stomach another. At the same time, we’re aging as a culture and therefore less able, or at least less inclined, to adjust to new things.

The result is that people who are introducing new ideas have learned to talk about them as if they were obvious repairs for obviously broken stuff. We’re so tired of the new that when someone approaches us with the requisite evangelism, we flee. That’s how so many things that are way better than they used to be fall into the “broken” category.

When you’re investigating a job possibility, you have to be clear whether you want to be a fixer, a creator or a great worker. Then you have to figure out which one the boss wants. Remember that she’ll most likely see you as a lackey, an argumentative or a Promotable.
If you want to be a creator, consider becoming an entrepreneur. Organizations naturally favor the status quo (there are some counter examples but not many). Being an entrepreneur means that you don’t have to spend as much time persuading people to get started. Think back about the types of people in an organization. If you want to create, you’re likely to be viewed as argumentative and routinely dismissed. Generally, people viewed as argumentative are the first to go during the layoffs.

If you want to improve things, you have to learn how to make a suggestion and then take “No” for an answer. This is what bosses think of as a “Promotable” contributor. In 21st century companies, sticking to your guns after the decision is made makes you an Argumentative. The Promotable worker is like a good hitter in baseball. Each at bat is an opportunity to improve the average. Success once every five at bats is good performance for a major leaguer.

Great workers run the risk of being viewed as Lackies. A positive attitude, the willingness to accept things as they are, the desire to deliver value and the aspiration to do one’s job well may just be seen as ‘brown nosing’. In a large number of companies, long-term survival depends on being a good worker in spite of what the more favored clique thinks of you.

Things are different as your career progresses. It’s traditional for a new manager to immediately reverse the decisions of her predecessor. In the ranks of management, “Everything is Broken” is often the point of departure.

Blog Your Way to a New Job

DFN: What to do / not to do when you’re blogging and you’re using it (blogging) as a tool in your job search (like I am).

Blog Your Way to a New Job
By The Mergis Group

As a platform to get you out in front of and noticed by more people, blogging is a powerful tool. Present yourself effectively, and you could catch the attention of key decision-makers at your next job.

Describing his 25th high school reunion, a friend commented: “It was like all the photos in our yearbook came to life!” The two-dimensional teenagers on the page popped to life in three dimensions.

In fact, for job seekers, top-notch blog posts can help you come to life for recruiters and executives in the accounting and finance industry. Whether you create your own blog or comment on blogs written by industry leaders, blogging can help you land that great new job.

Either way, the goal is the same: to bring you and your unique qualifications and skills to decision-makers. Blogs can also augment your resume (include a link when you apply for a job.)

Here are five tips on blogging your way to that great accounting or finance job:

1. Wow them with words.

Start a blog that highlights your professional expertise and cutting-edge insights. Whether it’s the latest trends or examples of best practices, make your blog the go-to site for professionals in your field.

In terms of content, make it timely (update regularly), factual and absolutely free of plagiarism or other unauthorized “borrowing.”

Also, keep in mind a blog is a written communication geared to a professional audience. A blog is not a hastily written text message to your buddy. That means the quality of the writing matters, as well as spelling, punctuation and grammar.

2. Beware of the intersection of life and work.

While blogs give you a great opportunity to share your experience, beware sharing too much. No one in your professional circles needs to know you what you did last night or how your boss makes your feel.

If you need to share aspects of your personal life with the world, do it in a separate forum.

3. Comment with care

Reading and commenting on other people’s blogs puts you in direct, timely contact with a broad swath of people in your industry. Express your thoughts but be aware that cyberspace entries live forever and professional circles are small.

That means no attacks, no snide comments, no “jokes” that can be misinterpreted.

4. Include your contact information and a brief bio on your blog.

Let people know how to reach you. In fact, you could be contacted by people doing exactly what you’re doing; looking for work and seeking to expand their professional networks. You could find a great candidate for your own work team.

Also, feel free to provide a bit of context; who you are, how long you’ve been in the industry, what your work entails. This helps distinguish the newbie’s from more experienced practitioners and lays out your skills and experience.

5. Focus on key accounting and finance words and search engines.

Maximize traffic to your blog by using key, industry-specific words and giving each entry a compelling, strategic title. References to other companies and executives will also show up on search engines, which could also work in your favor.