April 27th, 2010
(This is the second in a series of posts where we re-visit articles I penned for our Imagine a World series. In each of these repostings, I share some background for the original article and we also provide audio responses from guest contributors. In this post, we explore my article on Real-Life Portfolios, posted originally on February 19th, 2010.)
Rob’s inspiration and original thoughts — As a language instructor, I’ve always been much more interested in what my students could actually do with a language as opposed to what they knew about it. Over the years, that has led me to experiment with a number of portfolio concepts, from student Web sites to paper journals. I always felt it was important that learners be able to capture and demonstrate real progress and evolution. As a businessman who hires a wide variety of skilled and managerial positions, I am equally interested in a learner’s demonstrable ability as opposed to what they “know.” This applies to developers, designers, business analysts, project managers, and product managers. I glance lightly at their academic work and focus mostly on what they can actually do. These personal preferences have made me a strong supporter of portfolios in general, but what I’ve always really wanted was an accurate, realistic version of what a person is — from social chemistry to ability. I imagine we’ll end up with some version of this in the not-too-distant future, and that’s what I intended to address in my original article.
Guest Responses — Here is what our guests have to say about our original post:
Real-Life Portfolios — The Only Resume that Matters
OpEd | Consolidated News Service | February 12, 2015
People always ask me how I got this job. I mean, it’s such a great gig — sharing my opinions and talking to people all day long — and it’s not like I had any formal training for this. I’m sure there are many people who have better formal credentials and who are certainly better looking than I am.
So how did I get this job? It was simply a matter of timing. You know, being in the right place at the right time.
For me, the right timing was in a bar and grill close to my home in Kentucky. I was having a conversation with the bartender when another guy came in, sat down beside me, and ordered a drink.
Now, I’m well-versed in bar etiquette, and it sure looked to me like the newcomer had plenty on his mind and was in no mood for conversation. So, I kept up my dialogue with the bartender and left the man to his thoughts.
Well, a few minutes passed and this fellow blurts out, “I mean really, how bad can it be?”
I gave him a sympathetic nod of the head, as if to say I knew exactly how he felt. He turned directly toward me and kept talking.
“Tell me,” he said. “Do you think it’s all that hard to come up with a good story three times a week?”
I laughed. “Mister,” I said, “I’ve been married three times. The fact that I’m still standing tells you I must’ve come up with good stories more than three times a week.”
Both the man and the bartender smiled.
“I wish my talent thought that way.”
“What business you in?” I said politely.
“Online news. Consolidated News Service. I manage opinion pieces and one of my main writers is killing me. His stuff is pretty lame.”
“So, get another one,” I said as if I knew what the heck I was talking about.
“Right. Get another writer, just like that.”
“It can’t be that hard,” I said. “Someone who’s read Strunk and White, written a little ad copy, published a few pieces here and there.”
The man nodded and turned back to his business. He took a long drink, pulled out his phone, and tapped a few keys.
After a minute, he leaned my way again and said, “Strunk and White, you say? You’ve read it?”
I admitted I had. I didn’t admit to having thumbed through it more than once.
“Say, you wouldn’t be interested in a job, would you?”
“You don’t even know me,” I said. “Besides, just because I’ve read Strunk and White doesn’t mean I can write.”
“Being old school was just the clincher. I’m more impressed with your experience as a teacher, writer, and restaurant manager. Not to mention the three wives and that stint you did on the pipeline in Alaska. I think you might be the perfect man for my column.”
I started to ask him how he knew so much about me, and then all of a sudden it hit me.
I had worked on some ad copy for a real-life portfolio company the month before, and as part of the project, had installed their phone app on my mobile. Once set up, it allows other people to scan your work or life experience from their mobile (provided they have the same service, of course). Once you set the app up, it keeps updating your stats automatically based on social network activity, blog posts, e-mails, and photos.
The truth is I’d been meaning to uninstall the darn thing because it was always asking me “Do you want to include this real-life experience as part of your public portfolio?”
“Tell me you’re interested,” he said.
My answer is obvious since I am now his lead OpEd writer. Of course, I never did uninstall the real-life portfolio app. You never can tell who you might meet.
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