Posted: September 8, 2015
By: Clay Cerny

The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

I agree with Wooden 100%. Many clients come to me almost paralyzed with areas of weakness and career obstacles. In almost every case, these people have been successful in their careers or just completed a new degree. My job, one I greatly enjoy, is helping them see what they have to offer. Most people have made great contributions to their employers. Their problem is telling the story. They think too much about what “they cannot do.” Instead, as Wooden recommended, the secret to know is what you do best. Play your strengths.

Posted: August 1, 2015
By: Clay Cerny


In our careers and personal lives, we all face challenges.  The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden captured this problem and how to face it:  "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

A few of my clients cannot move on on their career because they spend too much time and energy looking back on lost opportunities or mistakes.  I try to motivate them to look forward rather than backward.  Living in the past is never a good solution.  As Coach Wooden said, we are all capable of change.

Posted: December 19, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

I’ve lived in Chicago for over 20 years.  In that time, I’ve become a fan of the Loyola University men’s basketball team.  Yesterday, I attended a game between Loyola’s Ramblers and the Northern Illinois University Huskies.  The first half was ugly, but it went well for the Ramblers who were up 28-14.  The Huskies of NIU seemed lost and defeated.

Then the second half happened.  I noticed that NIU head coach Mark Montgomery took off his jacket.  He paced the sidelines and was animated in directing his players on the court.  Their teammates jumped off the bench every time NIU scored or made a great defensive play.  A small group of NIU fans grew louder and louder.  The tables had turned.  Now Loyola was feckless and fumbling.  The game ended as a 55-49 victory for the Huskies.

What does this have to do with career management?  Everything.  Coach Montgomery willed his team to victory.  He inspired them to play and believe that they could win.  Anyone who has to find a new job or make a career change needs to have the same psychological resources.  Almost every job search is filled with moments when we feel like the Huskies did in the first half: lost and defeated.  However, if we dig deep and kindle the power of emotion, miracles can happen.  If we rise above any kind of excuses or self-pity, we will move forward and take the action needed to find a good job or a new career.  Losing the first half means nothing if we find a way to win the game.

Posted: October 2, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

[“Sabbath is this blog’s Sunday feature that looks at intersections of work and life.]

More than Sports

I sometimes tell myself that I’m done with newspapers.  They deal in stale news, often slanted in a way that goes against my values.  I tell myself to stop wasting money, and then it happens:  An investigation of a corrupt politician or members of his family.  A profile of someone doing good in the community.  An editorial that makes me think about things a different way.  The Chicago Sun-Times still offers information and opinion that is relevant, often vital.  Roger Ebert consistently delivers such writing in his movie reviews, editorials, and blog posts.  So does Rick Telander.

Telander is more than a sports columnist.  He thinks about issues and challenges his readers to engage hard subjects.  Last year he wrote a series on football and brain injuries that was fascinating and painful at the same.  Now he is back with a new series, a study of Murray Park in Chicago’s Englewood community, the part of the city where basketball star Derrick Rose grew up.  Telander visited the area frequently last summer.  He found the land that Michael Harrington called the “Other America,” a real place most of us choose not to see. 

Reading about gang shootings, it’s often easy to forget that people live in areas like Englewood.  Telander introduces us to those people: teachers, park superintendents, police officers, and postal workers.  In today’s installment, he confesses that he quickly adapted to a community where people were shot and killed.  Only the most unusual murders get noticed.  Shooting is part of everyday life. 

Kids escape through basketball, dreaming of being the next Derrick Rose, the kid who was able to leave the neighborhood.  Telander profiles some of Rose’s friends who have chosen not to leave the community because they want to make it better.  At the end of today’s installment, one of Rose’s childhood friends is trying to calm a group of young people.  A car rides by and shot are fired.  The peace maker was shot seven times (His story will be continued in tomorrow’s paper). 

To his credit, Telander reports without judgment.  Often, he lets people in the community tell the story in their own words.  In the 1970s Telander wrote a great book called Heaven Is a PlaygroundHis profile of Murray Park describes young people on playgrounds, but no one would call it heaven.  At the same time, it’s too simple to call it hell.  Some, like Derrick Rose, have left the neighborhood and live better, safer lives.  Others choose to stay and fight to change it.  Telander introduces us to the range of humanity in Murray Park, and we are richer for the experience.  Without newspapers, we wouldn’t have such stories.  Our lives would be simpler – in the worst sense of that word.