Posts tagged: career

The Sweetest Sound: My Name

Some people make jokes about their terrible memories and their inability to remember people’s names. Like it’s a big joke. It’s not.

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound” Dale Carnegie

Recently I recounted a story about the CEO of a national company with 2,000 employees. When I visited his office, the walls were covered with photos of the company’s employees. Some had check marks next to them. The check marks indicated those employees that the CEO had met in their hometown (all over the country) and with whom he had spoken about their family. His goal was to know the face, name and family members of each employee no matter where he met them. Imagine the energy it took to work on this.

Why did this CEO think this was so important? Well, first of all it meant that he was focused on employees. Next, it gave him a way to connect to people who were not at ‘headquarters’ and a way to make them feel that he cared about them, which, he obviously did.

I work hard to remember people’s names. I learned a trick many years ago; when I meet someone new, I say their name as I shake their hand. Then I try to use it at least one more time before we part company. It’s a small thing but it leaves a positive impression. Check out these tips for remembering names.

Photo credit: Whisper

Job Interview Magic: I and We

I recently had an opportunity to do help graduate students work through mock job interviews. I had 4 international students, all with impeccable credentials. The first young man was charming and humble. A musician by avocation, he’s looking to help the world be a better place. He was a sharp contrast to one of my other interviewees.

When I asked this next young man what he wanted to accomplish from his ‘mock’ interview, he said that he needed direct feedback about how he could improve. I started by asking him about his strengths. He mentioned that he felt that working with people and getting things done were his strengths.

When he described how he led teams, he mentioned that when an employee did something wrong, he would tell them, “You made a mistake,” and then he would tell them how to fix it.

While I didn’t like how he described his supervisory style, I couldn’t argue with directness in employee coaching.

In giving him feedback, I pointed out that the way he spoke about subordinates was different than the way I would do it. That didn’t make it wrong but I wondered if he was being too direct, and perhaps it was cultural.

When I read this post, “The 2 Most Important Words in a Job Interview,” I realized that perhaps what I sensed was too much “I”  in the discussion of his success and not enough “we.”

The entire experience was, for me, uplifting, as is all my work with young people. I get the feeling that the world is going to be in good hands.

Swearing and Spelling

wonderful story, curious spelling

I find it surprising and disturbing that recruiters are still holding two things against job seekers in their social media posts:

Swearing and spelling.

Really?

In the infographic, “Watch What You Post on Social Media,”  when recruiters were asked, “what are the biggest red flags in job applicants’ social profiles?, the answer is, well, old fashioned … and perhaps not helpful to the potential employer.

In this survey, swearing and spelling have nearly the same negative impact as illegal drugs and sexual posts.

Really?

Look, I completely understand that we need standards and differentiators. But eliminating a candidate because they use an ‘F’ bomb vs. using drugs? This makes no sense. I am 100% for everyone paying attention to what they post. I am a well-known ‘hater’ of Face Book for many reasons (mainly they have continually shown open contempt for privacy), but I understand that it is an important part of many people’s daily lives. So just eliminating a candidate for a spelling error doesn’t make sense. In a tight job market, I can see why recruiters use any tool to distinguish between applicants. But spelling errors? We teach the whole language approach to reading and writing in school (vs. phonetics). When you look at the picture… at this kid’s notebook… you see “samwichis” and “lemminad” are early attempts to wrangle language.  When you realize kids today probably are not even learning cursive… perhaps it’s time to think of the ‘context.’

I realize hiring is complex and keeping up with trends in social media is difficult. But especially in the coming, ‘war for talent’ – it will be helpful to think broadly about the changing mores in social media and expression.

Photo Credit: Extra Credit  Woodleywonderworks

The Irreverent Resume

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Yes to irreverent, NO to  idiotic.

When I saw this article, “Resume Blasphemy” I thought, how great! I love this idea.

Instead of listing… where you went to school and worked… the author suggests you write how you would do the job including:

  • “A clear picture of the business of the employer you want to work for.
  • Proof of your understanding of the problems and challenges the employer faces.
  • A plan describing how you would do the work the employer needs done.
  • An estimate of what/how much you think you could add to the bottom line.”

Imagine you are the hiring manager and instead of skimming boring resumes, you get to read through descriptions of various approaches to the advertised job. This is at the heart of behavioral interviews but it goes farther because it requires the applicant to do all the work.

My suggestion… whether you send the irreverent resume or not… write it! Imagine how prepared you will be for that interview.

Photo Credit: How to…

The Creative Journey… What About the Money?

“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” Hugh MacLeod

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Jenna aka Jenna Marbles, the YouTuber. (If you know a girl between the ages of 13 and 20, they probably know her.)  Here’s a  NY Times article about her.

Jenna has always been a free spirit who found a way to cope with ‘regular’ life. She made some videos in high school, but she wasn’t a ‘theater kid’ and never had aspirations of ‘fame’ that I know of. So when her video, “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” (warning language) got 5 million views in its first week, you could say she ‘stumbled’ into making videos for a living.

The fact that she single handedly writes, films, stars in, edits and uploads a new video every week (and has for 4+ year) is amazing. SHE HAS NEVER MISSED A WEEK — that’s 215 video in 215 weeks! 1.5 Billion views. Many people think what she does is easy. Try producing original content every week for 215 weeks. But there’s a story beyond that, that’s even more impressive (besides how much she cares about the people who support her.)

She understands who she is and what she wants. In the quote above, MacLeod talks about how money influences art. Jenna wants creative control and isn’t willing to let the bullshit run her life.

I am immensely proud of her for that.

Life and Death as a Frog

On our rainforest block we have many litoria infrafrenata frogs.  Boy are they loud during the monsoon!

When we think about survival of the fittest, we may not get inspiration from frogs. I’m hoping to change that.

When I mow the lawn, creatures run when they hear the lawn mower coming.  Rabbits, butterflies, large bugs; the vibration and noise from the mower send them scurrying. But I notice that the frogs are not that swift.

I don’t see them in the tall grass but, in theory, they ought to see, hear and feel the mower. And yet, I have run over two frogs in the past two weeks. No matter how careful I am; these frogs do not seem to get the message. In fairness, frogs have limited brain power/access to resources but we don’t. We have access to lots of resources. Do we pay attention?

The frog dilemma got me thinking about times in my life when I saw the warning signs, felt the warning signs and HEARD the warning signs and yet, I still didn’t scurry (read: change my behavior). Instead I carried on about how unfair it was, how upset I was, why did things have to change, etc.

Some of this is a completely normal part of loss and grieving. (see Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief) Things are changing at home, at work, my kids are growing up, my company is downsizing, I’m getting older and so we need time to process these changes and adapt. I’m not talking about this.

I’m talking about the little frog or me, when I hear the roar of the mower engine, I smell the cut grass, I feel the earth shake as the mower passes by and I still don’t do anything. I am stuck.

Truth is, that mower has run me over a few times. I could have gotten out of the way, but I didn’t. When was the last time you heard the mower coming and didn’t ‘get out of the way?” I know it’s hard. We all procrastinate. Maybe this time, I’ll scurry a little, then rest, then scurry a little more and hope I avoid the blades.

Photo credit: White Lipped Green Tree Frog   maggie p 

Building Your Business

When I say your ‘business’ I mean whether you HAVE a business or whether you ARE the business. Today, being prepared for changes is what required.

I work with several entrepreneurs and meet with new ones regularly. It is such a joy because each one is excited about their business. They have energy and a hunger to learn and grow. It is infectious and wonderful.

Many of them, like me, have had plenty of ups and downs. In fact, most of them will experience more downturns that they believe they can stand! What separates a successful ‘business owners’ from the unsuccessful, is flexibility. The ability to pivot.

So how do each of us, whether we starting a business, reinventing ourselves or invigorating our career, take the “just do it” train?

Ideas are easy to come by, in fact, very easy. What’s not easy is making that idea into a business (or career) that works. Here are some rules for navigating the terrain:

  1. Build skills. In my corporate years, I looked for assignments that would allow me to learn new, specific skills.
  2. Try on different roles. Find ways to test out various roles, tasks, assignments. Volunteer, talk to your boss, be specific about what you want.
  3. Fail fast. This one sounds the worst. Most of us don’t want to ‘fail’ at all. What we don’t realize is that we learn the most from our failures. It is what propels us to do new and better. It is what helps us learn quickly and meaningfully.

Are  you excited about your work? Do you wake up ready to learn? If not, perhaps it’s time to pivot.

Photo Credit: Empowering Startup 

You’re A Genius … In Your Own Way

File:Albert Einstein Head.jpg

Everyone is gifted, but some people never open their package...” Anonymous

Albert Einstein (the inventor of the bed head hairdo) is a recognized worldwide as a genius. Reading through his life story, you will see that he was pretty “flaky.” But in his field, there was no one more advanced. Did he know he was a genius? Did he fret about all the things he couldn’t do?

Each of us is a bit like him. It’s always easier to see the ‘spark of genius’ in others. He’s such a leader, she’s so athletic, he’s a great cook, etc.

In the Nine Different Types of Intelligence, I see myself in a couple of categories. I look forward to using this list to remind myself of ‘where I shine.’

Some are better known:

  • Logical//Mathematical – Beep… I missed this train although I do pride myself on my common sense. Math.. not so much.
  • Spatial – Yeah, you know, people who can see things in pictures when the rest of us are standing there going huh?
  • Linguistic – Ok, now we’re talking… cross word puzzles, writing, reading… yeah, I finally get one!
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic – Also known as athletic, you know that person… they are graceful on land, on sea, in the air. (Nope not me)
  • Musical – I think this is the most interesting one because music is cultural. What sounds like music to Tibetan or Japanese might sound odd to Western ears. I think this one deserves wide application. (I know a lot of song lyrics… does that count?)

Here are a few less common ones that I like:

  • Naturalistic – people who connect with animals… my daughter Jenna is one of those people. Animals, any animal, gravitate to her like she’s bacon.
  • Interpersonal – people who ‘get’ other people… and can sense the mood and temperament of others and adjust.

Here are some I just made up (but are probably on other lists):

  • Mechanical – yeah, I missed this train
  • Geo-spatial – my gyroscope is and always has been broken
  • Cooking/gardening- this might sound funny and maybe it’s baked into one of these others but don’t you know someone who just does these things naturally and always has? -This doesn’t mean gourmet or fancy. It’s just that they shine.
  • Color – My brother is a color expert.

I’m sure the list could go on and on. My point is that’s not important which of these you have, only that you recognize which ones and celebrate them, Just for today, pick one, even if you’re not 100% sure you’re a genius in it, and praise yourself.

False modesty serves no one. Enjoy your gifts, whether society appreciates them or not. They are what make you, you. The world needs you just the way you are.

Photo credit: Albert Einstein

Single Best Piece of Career Advice

People at all stages of their careers look for work that ‘fits’. But most of us don’t know how to find it. This is as good an assessment tool as I have seen. The intersection of these 4 things is probably where you’ll be productive and happy.

1. What you’re good at (Ability)
2. What makes money (Financial security)
3. What helps others/society (Altruism)
4. What you enjoy

This is why when you go to a career counselor, they give you some tests and talk to you about your goals, what you like to do in general, etc. They don’t start with… what do you want to do for a living?

For many of us, we’re pretty good at #4. We’re sketchy on #1 and pretty clueless where the intersection of #1 and #4 meet #2.

This is why we need to try new things. But most of us get hung up at a very young age on #2 and then end up miserable. Sometimes this is our own fault. We don’t live within our means so we get used to spending and having ‘stuff’. If you want to make money — great. But finding the intersection of all of these is not easy for most of us.

Also, we are very quick to judge others (and ourselves) when it comes to careers (and lots of other stuff). Just for today, try to look at a career path in new way. Which of these 4 are you working on?

Reminder of my 3 criteria for how I spend my time: 1) am I having fun? 2) am I learning? 3) am I appreciated?

 

The basis of this post came from: Yermie Cohen’s dad (med student, engineer, start up founder) Quora.com

Photo Credit: 42 to Know about 42

 

 

Creating Work You Love (Sounds Scary or Ridiculous)

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Why am I an entrepreneur? “We’ve made the decision to let you go,” my boss said over the telephone.  I was shocked and upset.That was, the first time.

The second time I was let go, not so much. By the third time I said to myself, “Never again.” I am not going to put myself in a position where how I earn my living is dictated by someone else’s priorities.

I learned to work hard when I was young and frankly, since I’m a Baby Boomer, being a workaholic is normal and I always wanted my own business. I remember more than one person saying to me, you can’t start a company (you girl, you), what could you possibly do? As angry as I was at them, I used the anger to motivate me.

Assessing the possibilities I had a bunch of skills, foreign languages, marketing, healthcare, blah, blah, blah. They didn’t really fit together into a solid plan for earning a living being an entrepreneur. So I devised a three pronged strategy for creating income.

1) Teaching

2) Speaking and workshops

3) Consulting

Getting started I met with a lot of people and talked about my idea. Some nodded, “Hmmmm, I could see them thinking, she’ll never make this work.”  Some tried to discourage me, “Get a job,” and a few encouraged me, “You can do it!”

I can report that 5 years in, I am doing better than I ever hoped. It isn’t what I expected and that’s not only good, it’s fun.

You can do it too.  So if you are wondering where your next job is going to come from… I will ask you this; what will it take for you to say, “Enough. I’m gonna try something different?  I can guarantee you will learn more in 1 year on your own path than you will in 5 years working for someone else. If, at any point,  you decide to go work for someone else, you’ll be even more valuable to that employer. You will be a better problem solver, see the big picture and actually empathize more with your boss in a different way.

But I can’t…. I have responsibilities   The first time I co-founded a start up I was the single mother of 2 kids, 14 and 12 with no family to help me. That start up only lasted 2 years, thanks to 9/11, but I learned so much and my actions showed my children how to go for what they want and to not be afraid.

Just Do It. Join millions of others who are finding a way to create meaningful, interesting work.

Photo credit: You Can Do It