God Bless America (Ain’t She Sweet?)

This weekend I had the privilege of teaching Social Media for Job Hunters in New York City. As always, my students inspired me. I have made this presentation to nearly 1,500 people so far, mostly here in Upstate New York and this group was different from a typical session here because:

  • It was multicultural – the group included many 1st generation Americans (Russia, Italy, England, Ireland and China).
  • It was multi-generational – the group spanned 4 generations from people in their 20’s to those in the 60’s.
  • They were really hungry for information. People in the group were eager to be exposed to new ideas. They had left their homelands to come to America for a new opportunity. Knowledge, to them, is empowering.
  • They were humble. Confident in their abilities but grateful for a chance to learn. Despite a language obstacle, they worked hard to communicate.

The people in this group were similar to any here because they had a:

  • Desire to build skills and share information
  • Pride in their family and community

It reminded me to be grateful to be living in this wonderful country. That despite our political problems and partisanships; it is our freedom to criticize, discuss and debate issues openly that is one of our greatest gifts. It also reminded me that a curious and open mind can accomplish great things when accompanied by hard work.  Please share with me your multicultural and multigenerational experiences.

The Bozo Explosion – How To Be an A+ Candidate

I just read a blog post from Guy Kawasaki called, “The Art of Recruiting” (2006).  In it, Guy talks about how the idea of  “A” players hiring other “A” players and “B” players hiring “C” players.  His conclusion is that “A” players actually need to hire “A+” players; candidates better than themselves. While “it takes self-confidence and self-awareness” to do this, “it’s the only way to build a great team.” The Bozo explosion, he notes, is the slippery slope of hiring “B” players who then hire all the way down to “Z” players.

So how do we get to be “A+” players? I’d like to suggest that while we may not all be “A+” players, we can learn to be “A+” versions of ourselves in our chosen field.

  1. Commit to learning how to manage yourself (Peter Drucker) and never stop. Find a mentor or co-mentor and tackle the hard work of self examination. What can I do better; how can I be more effective? What are my strengths and how can I build on them?
  2. Read books. Smart people write books.  I love to talk to people about the books that interest them.  Reading a book takes effort and it feels great when you finish.  Add the book and what you learned to your Linked In profile.
  3. Listen. This seems so elementary and yet, I’m always working on this.  Here’s a test.  The next time you meet someone new, sit down immediately after your conversation and write down the questions you asked them.  Think about how much time you spent listening versus talking. After you shake hands to part company, honestly assess how well you listened. What are the 5 things you learned about that person? What did you admire about them? If you can’t recall, you probably could have listened better.
  4. Demonstrate passion. Guy’s advice to recruiters is to hire passion not skills.  To job hunters he says, “Passion can overcome the lack of a ‘perfect’ educational background and work experience.

I learned to listen while raising my children. The more I talked, the less they listened. The more I listened, the more they talked. Pretty simple.  Let me know how you are growing to or maintaining your “A+” status. I need all the ideas I can get!

Are You a Dinosaur in the Making? Pay Attention to How You Learn.

“Show me a company that’s been in business for 50 years and I’ll show you a company on its way out of business,” said management guru Peter Drucker in the 1980’s. Twenty-five years and a host of Fortune 50 companies later, we see that Mr. Drucker was right. His theory was that big companies get arrogant,  stop listening to customers and fail to innovate. So how do we keep ourselves from becoming complacent? We do that by constantly learning.

I recently came across an article Drucker wrote called,”Managing Oneself”, in the June 20005 issue of the Harvard Business Review. In it, he says that each of us should understand how we learn. As a person who was trained as a teacher, I know that certain people learn by seeing and others by listening. But I had not heard about two other ways in which many people learn; by writing or reading.

This comes as some comfort to me as I am a reader. I take in everything and somehow digest it. If I attend a class or a lecture, I need to take notes and then go back and read them over.

His article talks about how President Kennedy was a reader and so he surrounded himself with writers. When President Johnson, a listener, took over the Presidency, he kept the writers, but did not learn from them the way Kennedy had. Lyndon Johnson “destroyed his presidency by not knowing that he was a listener,” Drucker observes.

He goes on to say that most knowledge workers don’t understand how they learn and therefore fail to perform well consistently over time. Our work and our personal relationships could improve if we know ourselves better. Please share with me about how you learn and work to avoid becoming a dinosaur.


How to Stand Out in Roomful of Ordinaries

I am always looking for inspiration and thankfully, I never have to look far to find it. Today, I came across this video. The guy’s name is Chris Bliss. He’s a juggler.

“Yawn,” you say, “a juggler. Does he jump on a trampoline and juggle chain saws? If not, I’ve probably already seen it.”

Chris is a simple juggler. He juggles 3 small balls. He’s wearing street clothes. There are no pretty girls, no backdrops, no fire, no chain saws. Just Chris, a beautiful song and his take on that song.

I’m not even sure what makes this video and Chris so compelling. I know I was inspired by it and the audience watching him gives him a standing ovation.

My take away is this. Chris brings his own ‘voice’ to his craft. Do you think Chris is being true to himself? Do you think he is letting his passion show?

I work to find my voice by doing the things I love, by connecting with passionate people and by believing in myself. Some of the happiest people I know are those who love what they do for a living.

Maybe losing that last job was a blessing in disguise. I’ll bet that Chris spent a lot of hours juggling and wondering if he was doing the right thing before he performed in that hall, to that song for those people.

Please tell me how you’re finding your voice, your passion… and what you think of Chris Bliss.