Tech Leaders Confide: “To relieve stress, I…”

Does managing your business and your life push you into the stress zone? If so, you’re not alone. Many tech leaders say they are more stressed this year than last. Here are some strategies shared by several tech leaders:

“To relieve stress, I do the following:
-maintain a work/life balance. Spend quality time with the family
-work out regularly (weights and cardio a few times a week) for stress reduction/prevention
-diffuse stressful situations by going on a walk and/or talking to friends, family and coworkers
-take a step back from the situation in order to reflect, get additional perspective and create a plan of attack to address the cause” – Kent Lewis, President, Anvil Marketing

"I decrease everyday. I avoid any increase and purge what is unessential. Stress and anxiety prefer a cluttered mind." Hideshi adds “It works with information management as well. People strive to have more & more information, and then must manage it. First, we should think how to "reduce the information." -Hideshi Hamaguchi, CEO Lunarr

“To relieve stress...
1) I run early in the morning to collect my thoughts for the day ahead.
2) I schedule a morning on a business trip to relax and read a good book.
3) I wake an extra hour early in the morning to sit in the back yard and read the newspaper, listen to the water and hear the activity of the birds”. Gary Feather Vice President, Consumer Systems and Technology, Sharp Laboratories of America

“To relieve stress, I get online. I hop on Twitter and chat with my Portland friends. Or I might write a blog post about some cool Portland technology. If all else fails, I spend some time reading blogs, checking out sites, and sharing my finds with others.”
Rick Turoczy, Blogger, Silicon Florist

“I make sure to do one thing each day that brings me happiness. Something that is unique to me and for me. Listening to a certain song, eating a favorite treat, watching an inspirational movie, talking to an old friend, anything that makes the day have a part to it, brief though it may be, a "fix" that is not work and by its nature relieves stress and keeps you grounded”.
RHETT KASPARIAN, President Notus career Managment

”Nothing beats exercise. The beauty of exercise is that it not only relieves stress, but you get the added benefits of dropping pounds, putting on some muscle, and feeling better and better the more you do it. My personal choice is the 70 lb. heavy bag, push-ups, chin-ups, sit-ups, running, and an iPod filled with pounding aggressive music. You don't need a gym membership, just a place to hang the bag, Says Craig Brennan, CEO of Island Data, Early Stage/On-Demand Customer Feedback/Intelligence Enterprise Software
To relieve stress mentally... that is, quieting the mind, coming down from an extended period in go-go-go mode, letting the stress melt away rather than pounding it out... is a much more personal decision and I've found that there are as many solutions for this as there are people. One of the best inventions ever for relieving stress was given to me for Fathers Day: the hammock. Chilling out in that for a half-hour just listening to the silence of my backyard or reading a book that's not work-related works miracles.”

“ I Take a long walk or shoot hoops. Nothing melts stress like swishing a long jumper!” Tom Field, Editorial Director at

“Well, first of all I try to find out where the problem is try to fix the problem. Main thing is to make yourself stop worrying and just concentrate on tasks one by one. I prefer starting with the most difficult, solving it strengthens me and makes me motivated and i believe, that there is no problem that can not be solved in considerable time period with appropriate resources” Maka, Sr. IT Program Director

“Relieving stress is only as good as your understanding of the stress and its cause, and also as good as your tolerance for stress. Gary stated correctly that work and life equals stress, a certain amount of stress is absolutely normal. However, it is very important to examine your stress source(s) and determine if it/they are/are short term or long term; determine the cause and decide if it is one that will blow itself out or must be dealt with; deal with the cause itself if necessary and if possible. Ours is a shifting-sand profession, and we deal with mission-critical operations often. add to that kids and their activities, spouse and spouse's stress, and it's often no wonder that we relieve stress with unhelpful relievers, such as food or drink.”

I relieve short term stress through diversion and distraction. I play games with my kids, I do some sort of strenuous work like weeding the garden or sweeping the barn, some little mindless thing that lets me daydream, and I have found that a flight of fancy through Harry Potter's eyes will take my mind off my worries and stresses” Nancy Jones Network Coordinator at Integrity Media

“I focus on bottom-line issues, prioritize constantly, and pray every morning.”
Tom Campanaro , CEO Engineering Fitness International Inc.

“Make an intentional attempt, throughout the day to SINGLE-task (vs. multi-task which I used to think made me more productive). It didn't really, and I was seldom really "in the moment" or fully present for anyone: my clients, my family, myself.” Elaine W. Krause Communications Outsourcing: Value-Centered Technical and Business Content
“For me, nothing beats stress like a good workout! I usually mix cardio and strength training, but any activity will do. When I meet my workout goals (at least 3x per week), I find that I feel better, sleep better, and work better too!” Chris Cooney Account Executive with Client Profiles

”I will use my punching bag; power walk; play with the dogs (animals are great stress relievers!); and usually follow this up with some time spent with a good book.” Jan "JD" Toomer Consultant
“No matter how stressful things get, I remind myself that a hundred years from now, no one will know the difference. It puts things in perspective until I an get stressful situations behind me.” Terri L Maurer Planning and Strategies Consultant; speaker, trainer, author.
“The cause of almost all stress for me is conflicting requirements. I feel I have to be available for something at work, but I also have to be home for an activity at home. solution? discuss, decide, and inform. discuss the problem with the people involved (spouse, boss, whoever), decide what you will do, and tell everyone what they can expect of you in advance. Much better to say at the beginning of a meeting, "I have a hard stop at 4pm because of a personal engagement" than to fidget through the meeting, hoping it actually ends on time so you can make it to your daughter's recital.” Tony Rudie Systems Architect at Fidelity Investments
A long walk, or a bike ride. I also meditate each day which helps to center and ground me. Also I make a conscious effort to leave work at work and enjoy my life the rest of the time. Taylor Ellwood Technical editor United Information Technologies

Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and owner of PermanTech, which specializes in recruiting technology executives, managers and engineers in Portland and Seattle. He also hosts a technology employment blog. Contact Gary at


Are You Prepared for a Career Crash?

Are You Prepared for a Career Crash?
-by Gary Perman

Do you remember the last time your hard drive crashed? Last month mine did. When I discovered I no longer had a working computer, I could feel my blood pressure begin to rise. Then anger set it. Then the fear of lost data overcame my mind. Then panic set in. The question, “Why me?” repeated over and over in my mind as I frantically went through my BlackBerry searching for the number of my engineering guru and PC Savior, Dan, who hopefully would be able to resurrect my hard drive.

“Please, save my data, get my PC back up and running. I’ll do anything.” I begged Dan over the phone. I think I even said a little prayer promising to give more to charity, if only Dan could save my computer. Dan arrived and went right to work. Minutes seemed like hours, hours seemed like days until finally, Dan came out of my office. His eyes were cast down and I knew the prognosis was not going to be good. “The hard drive is gone and your data is lost,” Dan said. A feeling of helplessness and loss overcame me. Was I prepared for it? Not as prepared as I should have been.

The emotional roller coaster ride I experienced is common among people who have experienced a hard drive crash. Talking with computer pros since my experience, I’ve heard the same truth about hard drives repeated over and over; it is not a question of if it will crash, it is simply a question of when.

My personal experience and this insider adage reminded me of the same advice I give employees; it is not a question of if you will lose your job, it is simply a question of when.

Mergers, terminations, Dot Com busts or layoffs; whatever the reason or cause, we have all lost a job and have experienced the same emotions that I experienced when my hard drive crashed, only worse. When a person loses a job we all experience shock, anger, disappointment, fear and the feeling of loss. We eventually dust ourselves off and begin to rebuild by searching for another job. Through networking, submitting resumes, interviewing and selling ourselves to perspective employers, we eventually land a new job.

Finding a new job can be difficult. How well you are prepared for it can mean the difference between days and months as well. Unfortunately, most of us are more prepared for a computer crash than we are prepared for a career crash.

Be Prepared for a Career Crash

Lay offs and terminations can come quickly and often without warning.
John Burk a manager with first-rate qualifications and more than ten years of professional experience at this Portland software developer was suddenly downsized during a recent acquisition of his company. He saw the downsizing as a blessing and a curse. After experiencing the emotional feelings of loss, disappointment and anger from having the ten years of his life he had given to his company tossed aside, he soon came to the realization that it was time to stop wallowing in self pity and find a new job. He thought finding a new job would be easy. He figured he would land a new position quickly by surfing a few internet job boards and sending out his résumé. After months of applying for open positions, “I never got a single interview from a posting on the net”, he declared. “Applying for all those jobs was a complete waste of my time.” His job search began to turn around when he realized that the missing element in his job search was the human factor.

Even though he had lived in Portland, he says, “I had almost no contacts, so I was relying on postings and ads to find out about available jobs. But by the time I saw the ad, so had hundreds of other people, and one of them was always just a little more qualified than me.”
So Burk set about rebuilding his network. He joined two networking groups made up of others who shared some of his personal interests and hobbies, and began to meet new people. When he let his new friends know about his job search, all of a sudden, he began to hear about jobs before they were advertised, and interviews started to materialize. When he finally did land a new job, it was the direct result of a referral.
You may not recognize what Burk did as business networking, but that’s exactly what it was. Many people think of business networking as circulating around a room and exchanging business cards. A broader view of business and social networking is that it creates a pool of contacts from which you can draw leads, referrals, ideas, and information for your job search. You can network without ever attending an official business or social networking event, although attending events can be useful in networking.
I met Ariane through a business networking group called PdxMindshare, which meets monthly at a local Portland bar and grill. Ariane relocated from the East Coast and began networking throughout the Portland, Oregon area with an interest in the software industry. She had exceptional internet product marketing skills and I had a client in need of the same skills and experience Ariane possessed. Introductions were made and she got the job. It was a great fit. She loves the culture, people and her ability to contribute to the success of her new company.
Others have found their next job as a result of working as a community volunteer. “I was volunteering at a local soup kitchen, and I found myself flipping burgers side-by-side with an executive of a local internet company," Janell Cooper remembers. "He asked me if I had ever been involved in on-line marketing, and when I said I had, he asked for my résumé. He forwarded it to the Marketing Director with his personal recommendation, and three weeks later I was hired as their on-line marketing manager”.

Networking Prepares You for a Career Crash
Building your network when you have a job is critical in today’s fast paced environment. Your career network can and should contain current and former co-workers, alumni from your school, a wide range of people in your industry, volunteer organizations, church members and personal friends. Making time for lunch or coffee with these people can be much more productive for a solid network than reading the want ads or surfing the web when you don’t have a job. In fact, surveys consistently show that 80-85% of job-seekers find work as the result of a referral from a friend or colleague, and only 2-4% land jobs from internet job boards.
Bret Overbaugh of Oregon State University, makes a good point about networking “I believe that there is value in networking far beyond the potential employment opportunity. A person can use their network to enhance their knowledge, create ties to others within the industry or outside of it, create potential customers, be informative”. Networking can also allow you to be a resource for others, including being a mentor to subordinates or people in areas of related interests.

If you have been out of touch for awhile with people you already know, don’t let that stop you from re-establishing contact. Everyone you speak to can be a network contact or a lead to someone you can help and someone who can help you. To spread your business and social networking net even wider, you will want to start making the acquaintance of new people as well. Every time you talk to a friend or colleague, ask for suggestions of others you might speak to, and follow up on their referrals.

Todd Graves, CTO at GE Security says, “Networking within your company is vitally important and should start the first day on the job. You never know when you will be able to use a co-workers assistance,” Todd adds. ”Networking in your industry can provide benefits by giving you early warnings of industry trends, health of competitors and customers, availability of potential employees, while also providing the longer term benefits of a ready-made network in the event you are looking for a job change. Many of the same benefits can be achieved by networking more broadly in your local community”.

Use Organized Events for Business Networking
Attending organized events may also play a role in your business networking and job search, since this can be an easy way to expand your business network quickly. Here are some popular choices for business and social networking events:
• Trade industry mixers.
• Service clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions.
• Trade and professional association meetings in your industry including dinner/speaker events of industry related topics.
• Lectures, workshops, conferences, and fundraisers hosted by educational institutions, community organizations, and affinity groups.
• Social, cultural, and sporting events that include receptions or other mix-and-mingle time.
• Private gatherings organized for the purpose of meeting new people and schmoozing.
• Job clubs such as The Breakfast Club, and Job Finders Support Group.
• Involvement in non-profit groups such as Friends of the Gorge, Bikers Associations, Young Republicans, or Mercy Corp.
You will have more success at this kind of business and social networking if you go back to the same groups over and over than if you keep going to new groups all the time. Find two or three that seem to have the right mix of people, and keep going back.
Follow-up is the key to business networking
If you don't follow up with the people you meet, you are wasting your time meeting them in the first place. You might think that once you have told someone what you do or what type of job you are looking for, that they will call you if they hear of something. The truth is that if they have met you only once, they probably will not even remember you, and it's even less likely that they will remember where they put your number.
After meeting someone new, send them a “nice-to-meet-you” note and invite them to attend another event with you or make a date for lunch or coffee. Find out what the two of you have in common, and see if there is an activity you could share.
Building relationships like this takes time and effort, but relationships are the core of networking. The people in your network should be people you truly enjoy interacting with, because if you’re doing it right, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them.
Don't limit yourself to just networking in your industry. Everyone is interconnected. Getting to know a pastor or Rabbi makes sense even if you don't want a job in religion, because he knows so many people. Waiters and hairdressers are often the first to hear about coming changes that lead to open positions. As long as you have your antennae out and listen, you can connect with anyone.
Don’t expect business and social networking to be a quick fix if you find yourself in a job search. It can take time for your relationship-building efforts to pay off. You need to put in the effort to get to know people, and trust that you will see results from it. But the best time to begin building your business and social network is while you are still employed. It is vital to your career that you continue to maintain your existing network as well as expand it. Then, when that fateful day comes that you receive the proverbial ‘pink slip’, you can easily transition into full-time networking mode to land your next position. You’ll be less stressed, more productive and shorten the gap between losing a job and contributing to a new company.
Larry Shepard, a VP in the call center industry makes the point that “Networking should never cease. Having gone through several instances of downsizing and not networking prior to this, it makes it more difficult to start over. You lose sight of your previous contacts and then have to track them down. In addition, if you continue to keep your contacts active, I think they are more willing to help you. They realize their friendship is not just for your benefit. Stay active in the networking groups you belong to, whether employed or not. Also, continue to be involved in volunteering, which will help to develop new contacts. As we know, the business world is constantly changing and we do not know when we will be in the job market again.”
10 Tips to “Back Up” Your Career
1. Keep your resume current and updated.
2. Network. This simply means meet people in your industry.
3. Make a point to attend at least one industry networking event per month such as The Software Association of Oregon or the American Marketing Association. Other options are networking groups such as pdxMindshare ( and Welldiggers, as well as Special Interest Groups (SIGs) within trade associations. A complete list of networking events can be found on “Doug’s List.” If you don’t have a copy of “Doug’s List” contact me and I’ll send you a copy.
4. Join professional networks such as Linked-In Where you can post your professional profile and background. It is a great place to position yourself as a professional and a great place to network with other like minded professionals. I was amazed to see how many engineers find other engineers to connect with for collaborative projects using Linked-In.
5. Join a social network such as the Software Association of Oregon Social Network Not only do you network with over 1200 software related people, you also receive instant information on upcoming area technology events to increase your skills or just network and meet more people. There are social networks for about every industry and specialty now. Find yours at
6. Twitter. Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users (also known as twits) to send updates (otherwise known as tweets) which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length. Twittering is another great way to meet industry people. To learn more on Twitter including instructions, go to
7. Get involved with your industry Special Interest Groups (SIGS) such as pdxphp group, product marketing SIG, java developers group, CIO SIG, engineering SIG, sales and marketing SIG. Not only do SIGS allow you to share your expertise, they also allow you to meet more people – an invaluable asset if you suddenly find yourself a professional “free agent”.
8. Become involved on your industry trade association. Consider joining the board.
9. Follow blogs to learn what is going on in your industry. In the Portland software industry there are blogs such as Silicon Florist, Silicon Forest, and Technical
10. Take a headhunter’s call and refer others to them. In effect, network with good headhunters. They will remember you and return the favor when you call looking for a new situation yourself. The worst time to start a relationship with a headhunter is when you are unemployed, so find one you like and keep in contact with him or her.
Jan Simpson, Director at Sun Microsystems shares this advice,; “Networking isn't seasonal, it isn't sometimes, it isn't whenever I need them, it is everyday. You build better and deeper relationships within your network and you add to you network everyday. Everyday I wake up, and I figure out which four people I am going to help in my network. I decide who I need to follow up with, and I ensure I get those things done. EVERYDAY - I do this – everyday.” She summarizes “Your network is your bloodline – It is your life - ignore it and it will die - abuse it and it will die - feed it and it will grow”.
Most of us spend more time preparing for a computer crash by backing up our hard drive than we do preparing for a career crash. Both are inevitable. If you prepare for a career crash now, not only will you have a little fun, make new friends and new acquaintances; your next career crash will be less traumatic and you’ll be up in running again in no time.

Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and a twelve-year veteran in the recruiting industry. He owns PermanTech, specializing in recruiting technology executives, managers and engineers. PermanTech was recently ranked among the top 7 Executive Search Firms in Washington by CEO Magazine. Gary is also a member of the SAO and IEEE, and hosts a technology blog at Contact Gary at or visit his Linked-In profile at or his Web site at