Aug 252008

Monday morning at GraceWorks, Edith Yeung of SF Entrepreneur, a networking group, was the speaker. She started for those starting their own businesses. She said it was “one of the largest networking groups for entrepreneurs in San Francisco.”

A native of Hong Kong she came here when she was 16 and pursued her education and remarkable career. She was a forceful speaker, to wit:

“You don’t need a job. You have something great to offer that will help solve someone else’s problem.”

She solicited from the meeting participants examples of all the places where one could network. The list went on for many pages:


The Chamber of Commerce


alumni associations

sporting events



informational interviews



the EDD

professional membership organizations

community membership organizations

The Pacific Energy Center, an educational program of PG&E


the gigs section on craigslist

San Francisco Business Times

Business Network International

Ladies Who Launch

Women 2.0

political campaigns



It was noted that many of these congregations meet in the evening and it might be more comfortable to go with a friend.

Edith urged that we all have our “elevator pitch” down pat, that is — my name, what I do, how I can benefit people and something interesting might serve as a memory hook.

She acknowledged that after we give our elevator pitch sometimes there is a silence which terrifies us. The other person may not respond immediately. She advised, “Just shut up and let that person talk. If they are not interested, then just move on.”

Very sensible.

She also advised that before you go to an event that you study the organization, the speaker and, if you can, suss out who the guests might be. “So you can plan your activities before you show up,” she explained.

When you get a person’s card, write on the back immediately how you met them and what you can do to follow up in 24 hours. That is her rule. (However I noted later that she didn’t remember to do this exactly with me.)

When you follow-up you send an e-mail and the subject line should be attractive, promise of some benefit, ideas to promote her company for instance. Or a great article for her, or something special that you remember from your interaction.

If you want a phone conversation with someone you met networking, you can ask to speak with him for seven minutes or some other short, weird amount of time just to píque his interest. It could well turn into an hour’s conversation.

Since the green business is so hot these days, somebody mentioned that the San Francisco business Times has recently published a list of new firms in green technology which are backed by venture capital. He suggested you could search all those companies, their CEOs, and check them on LinkedIn.  Perhaps you can ascertain where they will be speaking next so you can approach them personally..

Jim Dowling said that he recently went to an event with Carlos Hernandez and approached the panel afterwards. One of the CEO’s he spoke with was able to introduce him to the right person in her company that he needed to speak with for his purposes.

He also mentioned that he had recently spoken at Experience Unlimited. This intrigued me because I had a low opinion of this organization as I mentioned in an earlier posting.So after the meeting I sent him a e-mail and asked him to expand on his impressions of EU.

And he responded this way:

For me EU is "take what you like and leave the rest".
Some of it is helpful but some not. It does not have the high level  of professionalism
and enthusiasm that GW has. (for me)
It is a place that I can give back to others though and this is an important piece of the
puzzle for me.

Of course Jim is a training/coaching professional so EU would be a natural market for him.

I’ve got to start checking out some of those networking events.

Aug 212008

Today I went to the One-Stop Career Center to attend my first session of Experience Unlimited, much touted by OSCC’s lecturers. I went with high hopes but came back deflated.

In order for this program to work for you, you have to commit to supporting it with four hours of work a week because the program is not funded. It relies on the labor of jobseekers.

The two speakers were jobseekers. The first gentleman was not comfortable speaking to the group. The second one who claimed to be a professional in public relations and marketing did not sell me on the program.

Although he said they use professionals in human resources, not government employees, to lecture at the sections on interviewing and negotiating, I feel I’ve already been through that material in other workshops I attended. These two men maintained that the thoroughness and specificity that the Experience Unlimited program far outshine those worshops I took, the ones offered to the hoi polloi.

So why was I not told that when I first signed up and indicated I had been a journalist and not a waitress? I should have been triaged out a month ago instead of being led to believe that EU was just another good option among others.

The speaker who was the PR marketing person said while the EU rules stipulate four hours contributed a week “it really only amounts to an hour and you can do it from your home.”

I considered committing myself to their club as they referred to it but I really feel that I have spent enough time in workshops. I might have if I had started out in this program but not now.

Furthermore, these dudes just did not sell me. They did not try convince me of the efficacy of the product.

At one point, I asked, “Do you have any statistics or success stories by which we can tell how effective this program is?”

I was handing him, the so-called marketing guy who says he’d just won such a job this past Monday, the opportunity to convince me. Instead he said: “No, we don’t. The numbers of unemployed have grown so big that now we have 200 in the club. A few years ago we had only 50.”

This seems to me exactly the wrong thing to say to convince me to join. And so it did not.

Aug 202008

Talking with friends about  the state of unemployment, we are dumbfounded that we don’t get more done. So many personal and financial issues come to the fore and need to be addressed. Where were these issues before?

Looking back on this web log I realize I haven’t had any job interviews at all that came from pitches or sending out my CV. Just some possibilities that came from networking. But that was the path I chose and so now I’m on it. 

I got on the phone and called One Stop Career Center and registered for its Thursday’s support group Experience Unlimited. 

Then I finally got a call back from an email I had sent last week to Jewish Vocational Services. I talked to Natalie who told me of the different kinds of counseling services they offer. I enrolled myself for a one-on-one session with a career counselor next month. While I’m there I’ll look into their courses on Excel and Power Point. All of this is free! How wonderful that there are benefactors in the world.

Well two appointments made, now I feel as though I’ve got something done.

Aug 182008

August 18, 2008

Last night my former colleague and new friend Rebecca came over for a natter and we commiserated on the difficulty of finding a job under these conditions:

. In this job market

. As a journalist

. When you’re over 12

Rebecca said she eschewed going to the One Stop Career Stop meetings on how to write a resume or how to conduct an interview because she thought they would cover pretty elementary material that “any idiot would know”. But those sessions were where I heard of all these other networking events –from the crosstalk in the room and supplementary information from the lecturers.

Since Rebecca used to cover religion, she’s been seeking out informational interviews with religious institutions. But no whisper of the job has wafted out of those meetings, she says.

I told her I was contacting former sources because they know my work and they know me. She thought that was a brilliant idea and so do I. Trouble is I have contacted only two or three of these former sources so far. Still I seem to be networking my butt off somehow. Exactly with whom am I talking? A lot of unemployed people like me, I reckon.

Aug 142008

Today was a seminal day with two very useful and perhaps propitious events. I had lined up informational interviews with Claudia, the CEO of a nonprofit and a former source of mine, and Mike Paunovich of  Local Biz Blogs whom I met the week before at the Sustainable Business Alliance in Oakland..

Claudia had been my source when she was associated with another nonprofit several years ago. I consulted her again last year when I was doing a story about the State of California’s inability to support the disabled in their aspirations for self-employment. It was merely an informational interview so I was surprised to learn that she was actually looking for someone to do some writing for her and some consulting. She requested a proposal from me and I agreed with alacrity.

I went back home and picked up the pooch because I thought Lola would like a ride on the BART. We made our way to City Center in Oakland to meet Mike. Mike explained his company which he runs with two partners. Still in beta, Local Biz Blogs,, is a technology to allow small businesses to do their own blogging. He claims that it’s far easier than WordPress or its competitors. Since it’s in beta, customers have not been paying for it yet. But soon they will be charged 40 bucks a month. We talked about the possibility that I could serve him and his company in the future.

So I ended the day on a pretty effervescent note. Bouncy. Now I brace myself for the roller coaster ride downward. Whooooaaaa.

Aug 112008


Jill Lublin was supposed to show me how to make myself a star and market myself to the likes of CBS and CNN. Well, maybe. At least she’d nudged me out of my chair a bit.

One Monday night a month Pat McHenry Sullivan and her husband John Sullivan of Visionary Resources hold an evening event at the Unity Church in Berkeley at which they always invite a speaker focused on marketing, selling, spirit and work, finding your true work and other subjects of that nature.

On this evening they invited “master publicist” Jill Lublin, the author of three best sellers: Get Noticed, Get Referrals; Guerrilla Publicity; and Networking Magic.

A bouncy and ebullient woman, Lublin was easy to like and listen to. Which is of course her business. Her message that night was that you can make yourself a news story for interesting enough for a hook for a news reporter.

She gave us an example the fact that she has made herself available to comment on the wives of the two presidential candidates, Michelle Obama, and Cindy McCain.

“I have had to learn to talk about politics,” she said.

It turns out what she has been asked to comment about on radio is the image of these two women and their husbands. Apparently she is quite successful in capturing three to seven minutes of radio time practically nationally if I understood her correctly.

But indeed she is not really talking about politics. She is talking about image and whether these people are marketing themselves effectively. That is her trade and she does it well apparently.

The audience of about 20, mostly women, were all self-employed except for two. So they very much wanted to improve their marketing ability. As do I.

I’m not so sure I need to be on the front page. At least not as the subject of the story. I’ve used to being on the front page as the reporter. And if all I want is a job, notoriety is not necessary. Perhaps pleasant for time but not necessary. Actually, I’ve had my 15 minutes and more.

Still something inside me said, “Me! Me! Me! I want to be a star! I want to be big all over the place!”

I mean it really embarrassed me. But not so much that I could not approach Lublin later to tell her about this very blog I am preparing.


“And I think I can disseminate it so that it’s helpful to a lot of other people,” I said, ever goody two shoes.


“Yes,” she said. “And you can get a story out of it too.”


“You think somebody would write a story out of it?”


“Why yes, if you get the right hook.”


I was doubtful but seduced by the idea that someone might use this blog is a hook for writing about the tide of unemployed journalists. But who would care about that except other unemployed journalists, I thought.


Several days later my intuition proved right. I called a very kind journalist I know at the San Francisco Chronicle and ran it past him as a story idea. He said uh-uh. But in the nicest possible way.




Aug 102008
Lola Brevetti

Lola Brevetti

Sometimes it’s just too much. Yes I’m doing my darndest to meet my challenges — pecuniary and familial.

But sometimes dealing with uncertainty takes a greater toll than I allow myself to admit. Or at least that’s the way I want to excuse myself for the vulgar manner in which I erupted last Sunday on the corner of North Point and Mason Streets.

I had just come from seeing my mother, always a tug at the heart since she is suffering from dementia. It’s paintful. She does recognize me enough so that when I leave she begins to cry. As usual I took my dog Lola whom she adores as do the other residents at The Heritage, my mother’s residence in the Marina.

Then I swung over to Trader Joe’s and the Safeway on North Point with Lola in a shopping cart all the while. When I was checking out at Safeway, I asked the grocery clerk to call me a taxi. It was about 10 to 4 p.m. He did so. I went, with the shopping cart laden with the dog and three bags of groceries, out to the entrance to wait for the cab. Twenty minutes and nothing.

I returned to the checkout counter and asked for the same clerk to call another taxi. The grocery clerk is testy.

“It’s Sunday, Madam. It takes a long time,” he enlightened me.

“It doesn’t hurt to call again,” I said with my lips drawn very tight against my teeth.

Of course I have been all the while trying to flag down taxis as they pass but they are all occupied. Another 20 minutes go by. Now I am not only irritable but exhausted.

So I decided to abandon my post and walk three blocks to the Fior d’Italia on Mason and Water Streets where I know some dear soul will help me call a taxi. As I’m crossing North Point and Mason, still pushing shopping cart with mountains of grocery and canine, an empty Yellow Cab approaches and I hail it.

But what do you know! A twenty-something yuppie couple pile in ahead of me. And I shout at them that I had hailed it first. They pay me no mind. The taxi starts to take off. Enraged, I stand in front of it. I explain that I’ve been waiting for 45 minutes and will be happy to share the taxi with them.

Of course by this time the flesh on my throat looks like macrame and my eyes bulging as if I have a thyroid condition. Not an image to inspire confidence. They look at me blankly and the taxi driver wheels around me and takes off.

That’s when I ululate the only English expletive appropriate to the situation: “Fuck you.”

But no it wasn’t just “Fuck you.”

It was : “Fuuuuuuucccckkkk yooooouuuu.”

I wheeled up to the restaurant, explained my plight to the adorable waiter Lalo who called a taxi and then immediately was able to hail me a cab that just happened to the discharging passengers in front at the moment.

I went home and had a glass of sweet vermouth. Basta.

Aug 062008



On Wednesday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce holds a panel discussion featuring three HR and/or industry professionals in a hiring capacity.

I didn’t realize I had to be on time, thinking it was another networking event.  But in fact the panelists try to address everyone who’s attending.  If you have your résumé, they’ll critique it.  Otherwise you tell them what your experience and goals are and they make some suggestions on how to achieve them. 

I seem to have impressed them with my background and one of them went so far as to say that I should have no trouble at all interesting some employer. But they gave me suggestions for getting back into journalism when I told them I was looking farther afield.

Actually I wouldn’t mind getting back into journalism it’s just that I don’t think there are many opportunities left in the field and I want to broaden my chances of  finding employment.

At this Job Forum session I ran into some people I had met at GraceWorks and struck up a conversation with Wendy W. sitting next to me who speaks Mandarin and we seem to get along.  I’ll be calling her soon I know.

Aug 062008


I must admit that during the first three weeks of my unemployment — and that is, “between assignments”, the euphemism for out of work and desperate — I was quite upbeat.  Confident, bouncy and even elated.  I felt free to explore the many opportunities I believed lay ahead of me.  Chuffed and feeling good from my latest assignments at the Oakland Tribune, a series on the reentry of ex offenders back into Oakland’s economy, I was at my highest point of self-confidence in my professional prowess.  I felt valued and confident I could contribute to many sources/employers/nonprofits and possible clients in a number of ways.


This state of semi euphoria was fed by the experiences I was having at the several networking and workshop events that I have been attending.  Although I crew up an introvert, being a journalist for so many years fostered in me extrovert pretensions.  Also just being a journalist working for a known publication always gives one a sense of being in demand and respected because of the power of being in print.


However I’ve always cautioned myself that this respect is due only to the name of my publication and not to me.  I remember clearly when I worked in New York, the New York Times had a reporter, an older woman as I recalled her, named Claire, whose specialty on the business page was to write up earnings reports of the publicly traded companies whose stock prices appeared there every day.


After Claire retired, I heard from the grapevine of the New York Financial Writers Association of which Claire and I were both members, that Claire was unhappy that her former sources and the PR people who regaled her when she was on the staff of the Times had forgotten her.  She was getting no more invitations for lunches or drinks from the regular publicity seekers.


And my fellow members of the Financial Writers Association shook their heads in pity that Claire had confused the New York Time’s power with her own celebrity.  She was not dispensable, it turned out.  This bit of wisdom always stayed with me, fortunately.


So it is not surprising to me that I too have no longer the same identity or currency in this world as I did before July 11, 2008.  It’s just a bloody nuisance to be in this state.


So after three weeks of networking, going to workshops and talking to people I know and use to know, and getting kind of semi tipsy with all the possible opportunities that appeared to be arrayed before me and which I need only pluck to exploit, I am now coming down to earth.


I must say I have had now one full day of confusion and fear.  I task is now this: to handle the ride whether it’s up or down.


Aug 052008


Today I have had a free hour of coaching thanks to the generosity and marketing smarts of the coach, Brad Warren,, He was very useful in helping me to focus on the homework that must be done to get a job.  First on the list was to assess my monthly expenses.

As soon as he suggested this I was crestfallen and felt defeated.  Oh no, something inside me cried.  I don’t have to look at myself, do I?

The succeeding “promises” I had to make to myself, he said, were to call everybody in my Rolodex and relate to them a little narrative he’d help me construct about what I’m looking for.

Immediately the “imposter Francine Brevetti” loomed in full force.  No one will believe I can do what I say I can do.  No one will value it even if they believe it.  Why should they?  I don’t value it.

Certainly these intruding downer thoughts did not emerge fully articulated at the time I was having this discussion.  But they were back there in the work room of my cerebral cortex fueling dark thoughts and feelings of impotence.

It’s no surprise that I went to bed last night with a sore throat and a headache, sure that I would spend the next day — that is today, Wednesday — in bed.  This would be bad because I had a client meeting scheduled for one o’clock in Walnut Creek.

But such was not the case.  I awoke feeling physically somewhat better and forced myself to walk the dog early so that I could get to my 7 a.m. chi gong walking group.  In this way I could aerate my brain.  Perhaps this will help revive my spirits, I thought.