Posts Tagged ‘unemployed’

No Job in the US—Look Beyond Your Borders

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Patricia Varley, consultant, speaker and contributor to our book, Upside:  How to Zig When Life Zags, recently visited and spoke at a conference in Dubai.  Here are some of her impressions regarding life and work.

What cultural differences stand out?

Dubai is like a melting pot similar to the USA in many ways.

  • 80% of the population of Dubai is ex-pats from US, UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.
  • 20% are local Arab Emirates. You can experience the culture through their dress.  Both women and men dress in local garb and all the women have Berkas covering everything but their faces.

There is no unemployment in UAE. You must have a work visa or work sponsor to stay in the country. Therefore, there is very little crime and minimal poverty compared to USA.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are more conservative than US, especially around sex and advertising, clothes, women, etc.

If you bounce a check they can and do through people in jail!

What experiences were meaningful?

I visited the Abu Dhabi which is the 5th largest and most beautiful mosque in the world. All the women entering had to cover up in the black Berkas. I felt very emotional the entire time I was wearing the Berka.  I had a strong feeling of grief, suppression and repression of women. It was a very meaningful and intense experience for me.

I celebrated New Year’s Eve by going on a safari in the desert.  What an experience to be among lots of camels! I also saw Dubai by water.

What were some impressions of women’s lives?

In some ways the local Emirate women are repressed because they must cover themselves with the black Berkas. The husbands can have up to 4 wives provided they are all equally taken care of. In other ways women seem more respected in UAE as they are not sexualized– unlike the US and other cultures.

Regarding careers and dress, the expat (non local) women are more like Europe and America.  However it is still a more conservative environment.

Men and women unless they are married cannot show any signs of affection in public. Husbands and wives can only hold hands.

What can you expect to experience in Dubai?

It feels like NY meets Miami, meets Las Vegas, and meets Disney World. It is opulent, wealthy and very materialistic with expensive cars, shopping malls, skyscrapers, and 42 five-star hotels. It has a big city environment, yet, it is on the Gulf of Arabia in the desert.

The common languages are English and Arabic. The money exchange (AED,dhiram) is similar to the US dollar. Even though 80% of the people are not local it is a friendly and very diverse culture. (Many Americans) Transportation is easy with a large metro and taxis.

Are there business opportunities?

Yes.  It is a growing business culture with lots of commerce. Making money is why people go there. In 15 years Dubai will be out of oil so they are growing other businesses such as retail, construction (everywhere!!), tourism, financial, sustainable energy, leadership, business, University education and women’s issues. There are many work opportunities.

Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi has 120 years of oil left. It also has more traditional Arabian culture and is very wealthy!

How safe did you feel?

Very safe—there is low crime and it is very clean. It is a police state though you rarely see police.

Did you encounter any anti-American sentiments?

No.  It appears they were not only trying to be like America but working to “out do” America by having a multitude of buildings that are bigger and better.  There are a multitude of American products and advertising.

 Bonnie Michaels




Finding a Job: Moving from Employment to Engagement

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Previously, we talked about the challenges of finding gainful employment and how the rules are changing when identifying and interviewing for an opportunity.  Employers are savvy and know they can benefit from the amazing resources and talent available – so how do you make yourself standout from the crowd?

Consider the old way versus the new:  employ vs. engage.  Not only is this a different process, it’s also a mindset.  Companies are looking for talent that is fresh, updated, are quick learners and who can take the ball and run with it.  More of a “here’s what I can do for you” versus the old “here’s what I can do.”

Engagement is about getting people’s attention, offering something of value and then creating buy-in or participation.  It’s not spouting your accomplishments or data dumping, waiting for the other person to be impressed. 

As a Baby Boomer, your 30 years of stability aren’t necessarily a bonus – they may signal lack or creativity or innovation to a different generation.  Don’t take that as a personal slight – it’s just one more way the employment process has changed.  Instead, identify key successes, challenges resolved and obstacles you overcame to demonstrate your value and skills.

When writing UPSIDE, Bonnie and I were very aware of these shifts, so we dedicated an entire chapter on how to leverage your value by identifying your existing marketable skills.  You can download one of the key exercises, the Power Core, to jumpstart the process for free (  Once you determine which skills are valuable in the current economy, you can then start identifying which industries need your abilities and offer opportunities.


Gratitude–Find the Upside at Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

As Thanksgiving approaches, families are struggling financially and emotionally to make ends meet.  During a time when traditionally we give thanks, many individuals feel lost and hopeless.  To negate these feelings of despair, it is important to focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t, and to count and celebrate our blessings, both large and small. (more…)


Making “the Grade” in Life

Monday, September 13th, 2010

This weekend, my daughter took the MCAT for the 4th time. Her lifelong dream is to become an obstetrician and deliver babies.  An honor student with her Medical Masters, she struggles with standardized tests, and therefore, the multiple attempts at passing the MCAT. 

 I thought of her this weekend of course, as she took the test, but also when reading a book about discovering your life’s purpose.  Robert Schwartz writes, “In life there is no pass or fail. There are only different lessons.” Those simple words knocked me over – how true they are in our lives today! 



Will “Boomers” become “Boomerangs?”

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Just last week, the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) announced that almost half of the 76 million baby boomers will run out of money within 10-20 years of their retirement.  (more…)