Category: job search

Banana Management

I've been ignoring you for too long

Banana Management Is Serious Business

If you have a baby at home, you likely know about banana management. This is the art and science of making sure you have enough ripe bananas on hand for your baby (without running to the store everyday to get new ones). When my kids were little, they loved bananas. It was a job to make sure that I had enough bananas, at all stages of “ripeness” to satisfy their banana needs, not too green (tasteless and too hard) or too brown (too mushy, not to mention the fruit flies). Add to that the fact that my kids went to day care part time so that meant that I couldn’t just keep bananas for home, they had to be ready to go into lunch bag. Are you snickering at this “silly” topic? Then you’ve never had to get kids packed up and out the door!

Bananas Are Just The Start

I haven’t had to deal with banana management for a long time, but it struck me that the business of managing a commodity in everyday life probably takes more time than we imagine. If you run a household, you spend a lot of time juggling all kinds of ‘bananas.’ Toilet paper. Dish washing soap. Milk. If you add children to that, now the ‘banana management’ theory extents to all kinds of stuff like paperwork, homework, lessons, sports, etc. If I don’t sign the permission slip (for my kid’s field trip) today, it might disappear and then what?

If you see someone who has a boring wardrobe? Maybe they are managing a lot of bananas and trying to figure out what to wear in the morning isn’t that important. The stories about Steve Jobs and his black turtle neck or Mark Zuckerberg’s tee shirt tell part of this story. Managing the puts and takes of daily life, especially if you have a family, is a lot of work. If you can simplify any parts of the work, then do it.

Just Say No

There’s always someone who wants you to do one more thing. Can you help here? Can you do this? Would you mind? For today, just say no, I have bananas to manage. They’ll probably never ask you for anything again.

Image credit: CRW_2419  30 cent yellow banana

Be Coachable — At Any Age

But I Haven’t Got the Talent

Sometimes I hear people giving up on their goal. That can be ok. Sometimes surrender is the right thing to do. But sometimes, giving up is a very bad thing. We act as if changing ourselves or working harder wouldn’t make a difference. In our hearts, we know changing could make the difference, but we’re lazy.

Be Coachable

Because I can be stubborn, I think I missed a lot of opportunities. One of the most important was, that I didn’t take advantage of finding mentors who could guide me. I didn’t know how important they can be. I did have one. He met me, helped me get out of a dead end job and move into a job that opened a lot of doors for me. He was a very smart but difficult person. Many people didn’t like him. That was because he, unwittingly, tested people and if they couldn’t stand up to him, he would lose respect for them. People didn’t like that.

I had my chance to stand up to him. One day he snapped at me. I looked him in the eye and said, “Bob, do you have a problem with me?” He stammered, “No, why?” I replied, “Well, you just spoke harshly to me and it made me uncomfortable. I’d like to avoid exchanges like that in the future.” He apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. And it didn’t.

I think what would happen with others, although I never saw it, was that he would snap or challenge them and because he was abrasive (not tactful), they would shrink from him. If someone is trying to toughen you up, so you can face the world… then they need to challenge you. Instead of taking it personally, see it as an opportunity. If you are an entrepreneur, this is even more important because you’ll need multiple mentors and coaches to succeed.

The Coachable Mentee

I wish I had been more open, less dogmatic. Now that I’m in my sixties, I still work to be a more approachable and “influenceable” person. What does it look like? Here are few keys:

  • Good listener
  • Able to summarize and feedback the other person’s point of view
  • Strong but pliable

Being coachable doesn’t require talent… it requires awareness… and work. Got a story about being coachable?

Image credit: Banksy on Twitter

Just Connecting Isn’t Enough

http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/165357/file-18288507-jpg/images/linkedin.jpg

Me Likey/Me Don’t Likey

Most of us have good work relationships. We get along with people, we know how to help colleagues, we enjoy building our business. In 2016, we know we need to have a strong network so when we need to change jobs (either our choice or our company’s), we’re ready. The part most of don’t like is the meeting strangers, making small talk, finding common ground and then figuring out whether this connection is worthwhile or an annoying person I want to avoid.

5 Ways to Make It Easier

When you watch a really great networker… what do you see? Someone who smiles easily, makes small talk like a champ and instinctively knows how to make friends. There are a few people who really can do all this well. But most of us, need to work on it. We need ideas, tools and support. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Set a numerical goal for the number of new connections you want to gain every month. Why? Because if we set a goal, we’re likely to reach it. I recommend 5-10. LinkedIn is a convenient place reach out and ask for the connection.
  2. Write down 5 places where you might meet new connections. Does your church/place of worship have a social group? If you belong already, it could be a good place to make connections. If you don’t belong, maybe you could join. The point is to think of places where you are already comfortable and go from there.
  3. Reach out to 10 contacts a month.  Look through your business cards, LinkedIn connections or address book. At the end of each month, find people  to connect to in the coming month. Jot down the following:  name, contact information (phone/email/mailing address), what you might say. If you take a few minutes to do this preparation, you will reap many benefits.
  4. Say thank you to 5 connections a month. Again, I recommend you jot down the names, contact info and what you might say. These people could be customers, old work connections, volunteer contacts.
  5. Review your contacts for people YOU can help. It’s amazing what happens when you give.

Connecting Isn’t Enough

Connecting isn’t enough because if all you do is meet more people and your association never goes any deeper, then you haven’t built a relationship. Engaging with others, thinking about how you can help them and consciously building relationships is the key to thriving in a changing business world. Got something that works for you? Please share.

Image credit: Social Media

The Power of Asking

Sales Stinks

When I work with entrepreneurs, the most significant skill they lack is very often in sales. And sales is all about understanding the customer’s need and then asking for their business. It’s that simple. Ask good questions, listen to the answer, match their need with what you have to offer. If you can’t give them value with your offering, then offer to help them in some other way. A contact, a resource, a smile and an open mind. You’d be surprised what you have to offer.

What If They Say No

The down side of asking is… what if they say, the dreaded, “NO.” Well, it’s likely that they will. Not every person you ask to help you, buy something, share something, etc. will be willing. But you will get nothing if you don’t ask.

Be Yourself. But Ask.

The other down side is that people often feel that there’s a formula for asking. That pushy people get ‘better’ results than the more mild mannered. This is simply not true. The person who offers value, is the one who wins the business or the relationship. There is no one way to ask. I can guarantee though that if you are authentic to your own style… you will do significantly better than if you act like you think you should. The difference between the successful entrepreneur and those that are not, is that one learned to ask, the other didn’t.

How do you ask? Try something like this. “I’m trying to grow my business and I’m wondering if you would have any need for ‘xyz'”.  If they say “No, thanks.” You could try, “I appreciate your time. If you know of someone else who might benefit from my xyz. I hope you’ll pass along my name.”

Simple. No one is offended. No one was pushy or aggressive. Just a simple ask. Practice in your personal life. Let me know how it goes.

 

Image credit: Jules Renard

Perfectionism Is Slow Death

“ If everything were to turn out just like i would want it to, just like i would plan for it to, then i would never experience anything new; my life would be an endless repetition of stale successes. When i make a mistake, i experience something unexpected…. when i have listened to my mistakes i have grown.Hugh Prather

When I was a young professional, someone gave me this Hugh Prather quote. I didn’t think of myself as a perfectionist but apparently I needed to learn the difference between striving for and insisting upon. The striving is good, the insisting is not. The reality is that if don’t strive for ‘our best’ (perfection?) then we are settling for something less than. Striving is good, freaking out when we’re not ‘perfect’ is not.

I’m not sure what made me think that being perfect was a requirement. That somehow if I weren’t perfect, I would be let go, fired, disliked, not respected. Worst of all, that I would myself and others down. It took me a long time to let go of control. I finally saw the correlation between wanting to control things and thinking things had to be perfect (hmm, in my case that meant it had to be done my way.)

Fortunately for me, I found wonderful mentors who helped me to lighten up and let go. To work to let other people learn and grow. Perfectionism (and wanting to control everything) is slow death… of your spirit and your joy. Let it go.

Image credit: Hugh Prather Quotes

Job at Google? No Thanks.

Google, The Holy Grail of Employers

A lot has been written about interviewing and working at Google. William Poundstone has a book. Here’s an article from the NY Times, and there are probably hundreds more. My question is, what do you give up when you work at a big (50k + employees) company? (I worked 17 years at Eastman Kodak, 120K employees.)

Free food, dry cleaning,  onsite child care, convenient transportation, gyms etc.  The free sushi may flow, in some offices you can bring your dog and when you tell people you work at Google, they say wow, good for you. The list of benefits is long and generous. Only a company with huge margins could afford to offer all these.

Do Perks and Prestige Kill Innovation?

But my question is, what can you really accomplish (vs. working at a smaller company)? I know first hand the benefit of all the training and rubbing elbows with really bright people. I also know how much inertia a large corporation generates. The very thing that builds the company, is what holds it back.

Besides search, where has Google, with all it’s billions, really innovated? (I’ll give them Google Earth/Maps). They have tried in vain to create a Face Book competitor (think of Google Friend Connect, Google Wave, Google +, etc.) They have spent years trying to crack the way ‘people’ connect… and they haven’t succeeded yet.

What About YouTube?

One could make a case for YouTube. It brings people together to share, but I would suggest that YouTube’s ‘socialness’  is purely technical.

There have been almost no improvement in the interaction/social aspects of YouTube. Commenting is just as linear and lame as it’s always been. There’s no way to see comments in the context of the where it might be relevant in the video. Every time they come out with an “upgrade”, I think oh, good, they’re finally going to improve the viewers experience. But no, the upgrades make things easier for YouTube.

Look, if you want to work at Google, great. I wish you well and I know you’ll meet lots of smart, interesting people. If you want to really use all parts of your brain and general capacity… then I hope you aim for a smaller company. Let me know how it’s going, wherever you work.

Photo Credit: William Poundstone

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

Image result for getting fired

Oh, Oh… I Got Fired

If you’ve been fired in the past year or two and it was your first time, you might still feel bad about it. I was fired 3 times (well, technically fired twice and laid off once). The first time, I worked in a shoe store in high school. They wanted me to recommend other stuff when people bought shoes. Couldn’t do it. So, I was fired. The next time,  I had been promised by my boss’s boss that things would change in the workplace…they didn’t change, I was insubordinate. The third time, I had pre-negotiated a leave date so technically it was a lay off. (I was never fired for cause!)

The first time I was devastated. The second time I thought the world would end. The third time was, no big deal. Every time I left a job involuntarily, something better turned up next.

I’m In Good Company

For inspiration, glance at this article, “21 Great Successes Who Got Fired.” The list is pretty impressive …

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Walt Disney
  • Truman Capote
  • Lady Gaga

The list of athletes who failed is long but one stands out… Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Think about Jennifer Hudson. An American Idol loser who went on to win Oscar.

Whatever is happening with you right now, know that good things are going to happen for you. Hold on for one more day. I believe in you.

Image credit: Getting Fired: A Blessing

I’ll Do It Myself – Independence Is Overrated

I Hate Asking for Help

I HATE asking for help. In my world, asking for help is not only a sign of weakness, but, as I learned from an early age,  asking for help often means I won’t get any. My family tried, but they just were not in a position to be there for me. So as a result, I’m lousy at figuring out what I need and then asking other people to help me.

Independence Is Overrated

The problem with thinking that I have to do everything myself is that:

  • It’s tiring
  • I’m not that good at a lot of stuff
  • It’s lonely
  • Other people resent it
  • I don’t give people a chance to show their support and love for me

Is It My Ego Talking?

There’s also an element of ego in “not asking.” As if, when I reveal a need and someone helps me, I might owe them something and then I can’t do whatever I want. Ego is very bad reason not to ask for help and tricky to recognize.

Balance Is The Goal

Being too dependent is equally bad. Not stepping up, getting too comfortable, manipulating others to do my work, etc. This is very bad also. This, however, isn’t my problem. I try to solve my problems and everyone else’s. Even if people don’t want my help. So now I work on paying attention to what I need and help others in a way that I can (when asked).

While it’s painful for me to ask for help, I have to keep trying. It takes more confidence to request help than it does to ‘go it alone.’ Arrggghhh. I hate it!

Image credit: Asking for help

No Is A Complete Sentence

What I Learned

My grandmother used to say, if someone offers you something and you don’t want it… say, “not today, try me tomorrow.” I thought she was nuts (well, she was, but not for saying that.) Women are taught to say yes. We are rewarded for saying yes… “Yes, I’ll make dinner and do the dishes.” Yes, I’ll volunteer at the school. Yes, I’ll run those errands, put a band aid on that cut, work that extra shift and on and on. I never learned to say no. I learned to try to please people, even at the expense of my own well being.

 Why I Can’t Just Say Yes All The Time

So I had to learn to say no. One “no” at a time. It was hard. Every time I said no, I felt like I was disappointing everyone. Then it began to dawn on me. I’m not the only person who can do whatever needs to get done. Often, I wasn’t even the best person to do it. When I said no, it gave someone else a chance to give, to help, to learn, to show they cared. Who knew?

The Power of No

Who knew I could say no, feel better about myself and provide someone else with an opportunity? I didn’t know it then but I know it now.  If you are one of the lucky people who learned to say no early in life, I envy you. I’m going to be watching you, to see how you do it.

Image Credit: No is a complete sentence

Want to Be a Success, Be Nice

Dog Eat Dog

It may seem counter intuitive in this dog eat dog world, that being nice could help a person’s career. People think being cut throat and having a competitive fire is needed to get ahead — and to get ahead we must step on and over people.

There IS a place in business for a seriously competitive attitude. Specifically, when customers or products are involved, being better and stronger can benefit all. Imagine the world of personal computers, for instance, if there were no competition? Where would that industry be? Would our lives be better or worse?

Nice Guys Finish – First

Being kind, generous, thoughtful and interested in those around us takes effort. And that is largely the problem.

As we rush through our days, we get so focused on “doing”… that we forget to just “be.”

So, just for today, stop, breathe, see the person standing next to you and smile. Listen when they talk. You may be surprised at their reaction — and how you feel.

Photo credit: Jessica Hagy