Posts tagged: employment

The Return on Investment of Reading

My summer reading pile. From top to bottom: "Rhode Island Notebook" - Gabe Gudding "Freakonomics" - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner "How to be Alone" - Jonathan Frazen "A Handbook of ...

Why Should I Read Books?

In the age of Twitter (and I love Twitter), the time and energy for reading books is shrinking. Especially the kind of books that help us grow our businesses. Isn’t it easier to read ‘articles’, blog posts (yeah, like this one!) or your favorite business news source?

Here’s what goes on in my head…. Reading a book… ugh. It’ll take a long time. Not only do I not have a couple of hours to read a book, I don’t have the mental energy it takes to concentrate on a business book. My days are just too busy.

But often, the smartest person in the room, the one with a good perspective and ideas,  is the one who reads books. If you ask them what is the most recent business book they read, they’ll have a ready answer. We read books in school, but once we get out, we think it’s either not necessary or a luxury we can’t afford.

Skill Building

“In medical school, an ongoing lesson is that there will be ongoing lessons. You’re never done. Surgeons and internists are expected to keep studying for their entire career—in fact, it’s required to keep a license valid.” He continues, “knowledge workers, though, the people who” manage, market, and do accounting— “often act as if they’re fully baked, that more training and learning is not just unnecessary but a distraction. The average knowledge worker reads fewer than one business book a year.”  Seth Godin

When I read a book, one that requires me to actually think, as opposed to my favorite mysteries, I have to focus 100% on the page. It’s one of the few times during the day (or evening) that I do only one thing at a time. I get to concentrate on just one thing and I build skills, knowledge, and perspective.

Finding The “Right” Investment

One of the hardest things for me is to figure out is ‘what’ to read. There are so many books! A quick search indicates there are some 11,000 business books published every year. How in the world can I sift through all that noise to find something that will actually give me some return for my precious time?

Here’s how I try to figure out what to read. I think about:

  1. An author, is this someone who has written something that I learned from before?
  2. A general business book that brings a big picture into focus (as opposed to ‘marketing’ or ‘finance’ or some other sub topic.)
  3. Bigger ideas or technology trends… not just specific companies or individual technologies.
  4. Books where the author has done research. The research means that the author had a hypothesis and then tested it.

Some of My  Favorites

  1. Anything by Chris Anderson, Amy Cuddy, Brene Brown, Daniel Gilbert, Josh Bernoff, Charlene Li, Seth Godin.
  2. Traditional favorites like: Warren Bennis on Leadership, Michael Gerber on Entrepreneurship and my all time favorite – Peter Drucker on anything he ever wrote about.

I’d love to hear how you select what books you will read and who your favorite authors are. Thanks!

Photo Credit: Summer reading list

 

Patience is an Action

This guy gets me almost all the time. It seems like there's someone sitting there at the bus atop but nope, it's a statue.

“Patience is also a form of action.”―Auguste Rodin

Modern Living

I don’t know about you, but patience isn’t my long suit. I think I know best, I think other people should do what I think they should do and then I get antsy when they don’t do it. Pretty insane. And yet, I keep doing it because… I’m a type A, know-it-all, fancy pants.

Many decisions in life seem really important:

  • What courses to take in high school that will lead to what college I attend that will lead to what I do for a living that will lead to who I meet and marry… OMG. The pressure that teen feels to ‘figure out’ their “whole life” by 15 or 16 is overwhelming.
  • What do I wear to the job interview? What should I put on my resume? What if I’m not “good enough” to work there.
  • Do I make my kids go to church/synagogue/temple?

The list goes on and on.

Why Patience?

Now that I’m old… I see the benefit in focusing more on the ‘little’ decisions. Did I exercise today? Am I getting enough rest? Am I feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired? If I am, then I think it’s a good idea to tend to those needs right now.

I can see that focusing on this moment, right here, serves larger goals. If I make a decision under duress, because others want me to, then I’ll likely have my priorities mixed up.

Patience is the gift of waiting. Waiting to make the decision. Being quiet until I ‘hear’ the right answer from inside my own head. It takes a lot to know that the time isn’t right to make the decision.

Parents are the Worst

I’m lucky. My kids are grown, healthy and have people that love them. I don’t need to try to influence them anymore. But parents of today’s teens have lots to worry about. You may make it worse when you insist that you know best, in every situation. Maybe your kid knows best in this situation. Once they reach a certain age … the consequences of those decisions will be theirs. If they have proved trustworthy, trust them.

If you believe in yourself, then trust yourself. Just for today, have patience with yourself and those around you. Take a deep breath.

Image credit: Bus Stop Statue  JDNX

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

I Hate Being A Grown Up, Maturity is Overrated

Maturity means:
Be Strong not Stubborn
Firm not Harsh
Flexible not Fickle
Humble not Proud
Helpful not Showy
Affectionate not Hurtful
Annoyed not Resentful
The Glue and not the Crack
Being You yet Accepting others
Brave yet Grateful
Helpful yet Modest
Right yet Wrong
Successful yet Grounded
Angry yet Composed
There are a lot of benefits to being a grown up and there’s a bunch of sh*t too. In reading this ‘definition’ of maturity, I was struck by the list of ‘opposites. “be the glue, not the crack.” The reality is that sometimes we are the crack. No matter how hard we try NOT to be. It’s complicated to be right yet wrong, successful and grounded, firm and not harsh.
The reality is that some of us will mature more fully. Lots of things get in the way of being mature… #1 is ego and I equate a big ego to someone who isn’t confident. They push and pull their way through life. The sharp edges never wear off. No. Matter. What.
My favorite saying on this list and the one I’ve worked hard on is “angry yet composed.” Being raised a ‘girl,’ I was taught, shown and constantly reinforced – girls don’t get angry. It’s ok for boys, after all, they’re boys. (Yeah, I feel sick too). Growing up in a very dysfunctional home, it was easy to be angry. I was good at it. I had a lot of practice. so what was I supposed to do with it. Channel it into new lipsticks and hairdos?
Remember, I was born before the legislation that changed the lives of American women forever, Title IX (pros and cons article). The law that sports had to be equal for men and women. Prior to Title IX, sports were not available to women. Hell, we’ve only had the right to vote since August 26, 1920. 95 years! There are women alive today who couldn’t vote in the early part of their lives. It’s hard for me to imagine.
So now that traditional outlets for learning, growing, understanding winning and losing, choosing our own destiny, etc. are available to us, finding a way to be angry and composed is easier. Not easy, but at least today, I’ve got a clue.

Finding a job: 1930 vs. 2015

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In 1930, many people found themselves without work; without a way to support their families. Have things changed?  Some have; some haven’t.

Take a closer look at the picture. This man, probably dressed in his good clothes, is walking the streets, advertising, ON HIS BACK, that he needs work. Imagine if you had to do this. That you were so desperate to work that you  literally had to walk the streets with a sign.

Humbling isn’t it?

Just for today, think about how fortunate you are. Whether you have a job or not. If you have a place to live, food to eat, a family, good health or any combination of these, you are one of the lucky people. For today, I choose gratitude for what I have.

(If you need a little help finding a job… check out, “What’s Different About Job Search in 2015?”)

Photo credit: I know 3 trades

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

Why We Work?

Palmer, Alfred T.,, photographer.</p><br /><br /><br />
<p>Operating a hand drill at North American Aviation, Inc., [a] woman is working in the control surface department assembling a section of the leading edge for the horizontal stabilizer of a plane, Inglewood, Calif....

The Buddhist point of view is that work has 3 purposes, to:

  1. give a man a chance to utilize and develop his faculties
  2. enable him to overcome his ego-centeredness by joining with other people in a common task
  3. bring forth needed goods and services

To simplify, we work to:

  1. Develop our unique skills (Do you know what these are? Do you work to develop them?)
  2. Think about other people (get over ourselves) (Many people say they do but… WOW it’s still all about them.)
  3. Make/provide stuff of value to others  (This one is the easiest)
  4. There is an obvious #4. The reason most of us would say we work… to make money to live.

Just for today, When you are working, how about thinking about 1-2 instead of 3-4?  In the photo, the woman probably had never used a drill before the war. Then suddenly, she had to become proficient for a greater good. What ways does your work help you develop your unique gifts and help others instead of yourself?

Photo credit: Operating a Hand Drill   Library of Congress

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