Archives for September 2013

A quick poll: How is your JoMo (Job Momentum)?

  1. How would you rate your current momentum in your job transition on a scale of 1 (low) to 10FutUndBeidiMaze_Puzzle (high)?
  2. What was it at its peak? How many jobs were in play and how far along were you?
  3. How long did it last? In days, weeks, months?
  4. If your momentum slowed down at any point, what can you pinpoint as the cause?
  5. Do you know what to do to get it back up and keep it up?
  6. Have you ever thought, “I wish someone would tell me what I could do today that would have the greatest impact on my job search?” Y or N, comments?
  7. Most of the time, would you consider your job search:

A) Drudgery

B) Boring

C) Stagnant and discouraging

D) Kind of fun

E) Exhilarating

We are gathering this data in preparation to launch a product (a job search GAME) through our sister company, JoMo Rising, LLC, that will REVOLUTIONIZE careering!

We are familiar with the common causes of Slow JoMo and how to overcome them. This product will be available in the next couple weeks for anyone who has the goal of landing a great job by or in the new year.  If you have an interest in using this product to achieve your EPIC career, please e-mail us at karen@epiccareering.com ASAP. Seats will be limited to 100 for the first 2 months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me Inc. – How to get started with personal branding

 

Personal branding has been the “Buzz du Jour” lately on LinkedIn.  Numerous career coaches,

Chris Dag - Headshot-1-candid-square from Flickr

Chris Dag – Headshot-1-candid-square from Flickr

brand evangelists, etc. have been posting their content in discussion groups stressing the need for people to establish their credibility via various social networks comparable to a company/consumer brand.  Interesting given I first learned this concept back in 1997 when I picked up an issue of Fast Company at LAX and read an article by management guru Tom Peters.  The article was titled The Brand Called YouWhat has changed in the last sixteen years?  From my point of view, little!  The concept of personal branding remains the same.  We now have more touch points to manage thanks to the collaborative tools of Web 2.0.

May I share what I believe are the key components of personal branding or what I title the marketing of Me Inc.:

  1. Self-Analysis – Start by answering a basic question: Who am I?  Take out a piece of paper and jot down all the characteristics that make you, you!  Suggestion: Focus on what really makes you different.  An example: Analytical, keen sense of humor, extroverted, love sports, special interests, etc.
  2. Roadmap Development – Now that you know what you are all about, it is time to drill down and answer two tougher questions: What do I want to be when I grow up (a.k.a. vision statement)?  How am I going to get there (a.k.a. mission statement)?
  3. Reputation Management – The easy part.  Figure out both online and offline where you can increase your visibility based on what you learned via self-analysis and roadmap development.  Join LinkedIn Groups that will enable you to engage and aggregate information with other people who are analytical.  Read blogs written by market researchers (note: don’t forget to engage by leaving comments).  Join a local sports team in a sport that you enjoy.  Volunteer to captain or coach the team to hone your leadership skills.  In the process of reputation management you will develop persona.
  4. Commitment – The final component is to stay committed.  Too many things happen on one’s adventure that distracts people from achieving their roadmap.   That is why they call it life.  Be flexible, but remember, stay committed!  Commitment = Focus!

Are you ready to start Me Inc.?  Good luck!

Learning to look around.

Heidi, Karen, and Mary Kate

From left to right, Heidi, Karen, and Mary Kate on Heidi’s porch Thursday, Sept. 19,  2013.

In my last blog, I went on a limb and wrote about how I changed the way I was thinking about my stress. I talked about a ski mountain metaphor and the moments at the end of the slope where I can look back to see what I’ve accomplished to take pleasure in crazy busy days, i.e. “The pleasure that I can take from this, is that split second I have at the end of the trail, the end of the day, the end of the week, when I look back up the mountain and take pride in the steep, icy hill that I conquered.”.

Well, that’s really self-centered. Maybe I did need that intensively introspective time to get my head in order, but now that it is, I can’t help but notice the other people in my life who make my life happy. I see that there are moments throughout the day, times when perhaps instead of “bounding down the hill at full force”, as I put it in my last blog, I stop on the slope to talk to people, or times when the ice is too much and I start sliding and someone catches me. Maybe I should lay off the metaphors but I can’t help it :).

Let me tell you what I mean. Thursday morning, I woke up early to my friend telling me that she broke up with her girlfriend. My empathy was immediately called to action and I took her and her puffy eyes to the drive through of Dunkin Donuts, listening and doing my best to console her. We came back to the house and sat on my futon until 11:15.

Directly after she left, I got a text from Mary Kate saying that she was in the parking lot and would be coming to my front door in a minute. The plan was for Mary Kate and Karen to come to my house so that Mary Kate and I could start consulting the other for information about our experience to begin writing each other’s résumés. Mary Kate and I did this for a while and when Karen got here we all sat on the porch and continued. At a certain point, we needed a break and I said, “Who wants coffee?” We ended up sitting outside on my porch for three hours with coffee talking non-stop. We fluctuated between talking about Epic Careering, to Ursinus, to the mainstream media, to funny things that happen to us. I lost track of time being in such stimulating company and conversation.

Two weeks ago, in my last blog I was plowing down the mountain to cope. After doing this for a while, I began to realize that I need to look for the people who are skiing down with me and enjoy the interactions I have with them, like when Mary Kate and Karen came over. This, even more than that moment at the end of the slope to look back, is the pleasure I can take from this busy life. And isn’t it better to look back on what you accomplished with a group of people who all helped each other accomplish it?

Can this strange campaign advice land you work?

I had the privilege of driving a few local dignitaries in my dad’s antique Dodge convertible for our township’s 300th anniversary parade.

Pet's Day Out by Mosmon Council on Flickr

Pet’s Day Out by Mosmon Council on Flickr

One of those dignitaries happened to be one of my best friend’s fathers, Bob, a former School Board President. He and the two other distinguished gentleman who rode with me had proclaimed to be retired from campaigns and leadership positions. As we went 3 miles at 2 miles per hour, we had a lot of time to come up with pithy conversation to fill the awkward silence, so I took this campaign advice with a grain of salt; it was probably more for conversation’s sake, but it really made me think.

Bob said, after passing out compliments to many of the parade-watchers on their dogs, that the best way to ensure that a campaign is “in the bag” is to find out the constituents pets’ names and add their names to mailings.

Huh.

I know that from my education in journalism and my experience as an executive sourcer, personal information is not that hard to find, if you know where to look. I do this for my clients when I write their cover letters and I teach clients how to do that through my webinar, Insider Edge to Social Media: 3 Success Secrets to Getting Hired.  But I didn’t consider pets as a way to a decision-maker’s heart. Could he be right?

There was an episode of Modern Family in which the patriarch, Phil Dunphy, went to extremes to help a potential home buyer envision himself in the home. In the end, it was very creepy, and I think you risk that if you take it too far.

What is too far, though?

If you know a decision-maker owns a dog, and you can find a picture of said decision-maker and her dog (say through Google images), would it be too much if you commissioned an artist to paint said dog and owner as a gift?

Probably, in most cases. You would probably want to dig as deep as possible to determine how an individual feels about their privacy versus their pet pride, perhaps even by inquiring within a contact’s personal network.

The example that I use may seem a little over-the-top. Gestures like this can backfire, or they can have residual paybacks for years to come. If such a gesture would be appreciated, that decision-maker would probably show off that painting to all of her close friends and family. It might also get that artist additional work.

In employment climates like this, creativity can take you very far, especially if that is what you think buyers or employers need most.

 

Can you think of any other epic examples that stand produce epic results?

 

Are you promoting yourself as creative, but not using creativity to reach your audience?

How to fund a small business and when to launch it

Many think small business owners come out of the gate with money in hand and account payables ready to bill invoices.

d.light ! by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

d.light ! by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

For most small businesses, this is not the case.  For the prudent, conservative entrepreneur, launching a small business takes some considerable time.  So for those of you who are considering this, let me give you a few hints.  The classic “out of the garage” story of Apple computers or social media giant Facebook is more of the outlier then the norm. Most small business are birthed from a divisional break off from sales or consulting.  Small business owners usually have an expertise in the area of business in which they have work for several years. In fact, most small business owners will be in that profession for close to ten years before branching out on their own.

So how do they do it and where do they get the money?

If, for example, a person provides a service to clients that are specific and unique of that provider, there is an opportunity for a small business.

Many small business start by providing their product or service to a select few or high paying clients which are first to test the business model.  Being able to measure the demand for a service or product will go a long way in knowing if the business model will be able to scale.

If this can be done as a part time venture that does not compromise your day job, it would be ideal.  Having a source of income during the trial period of this new venture will allow you to make financial mistakes, which are inherited to small businesses. Once cash flow is produced and a trail client base is established, it is important to keep cost low and fixed.  In today’s virtual world this is more achievable than in the past.   Most small business can only get funding via an SBA loan, but others choose to self-fund their ventures with debt from personal credit cards, which are essentially unsecured loans. This has it own limits due to FICO scores and available money in credit lines.  Still, it remains a main source of funding for small business owners even today.

The most exciting prospects are the social funding websites or crowd funding.  INC magazine just did a review of the top 22 crowd sourcing websites for small business ventures.  We all have heard of Kickstarter, but for some this will not be doable based on the sector of the venture.  Others may choose Fundable, Earlyshares, Seedinvest, etc.  I believe these crowd funders will eventually change the public and private market going forward.

In the end, ideas and being able to produce them will always be in demand.  Working with an advisor who understand entrepreneurs will be a hugh asset in navigating the pitfalls and financial changes one faces in starting and growing a business.

The Brogan Group is a registered investment advisor which specializes in investment management for individuals and other financial intermediaries.

We believe in empowering our clients through financial education.  We educate our clients around budgeting for families and cash flow management for small companies.

We serve the full spectrum of clients in portfolio management and risk assessment to different asset classes.  We specialize in Behavioral Finance and use this as our core approach.  Allowing us to have a 360 degree approach money management

We are not your average financial advisors. We have produced a proprietary way or changing clients behavioral when it comes to money management and investing.

Our Money Memory System is our core product for clients looking to move to a great awareness their financial lives.  This with our custom client approach allows greater outcomes in reaching our clients set goals.

We are a fee based advisory who believes in our fiduciary role in putting our clients first.

To intervene or not to intervene

In my latest vlog, I divulged that I believe connectedness is why we are here. When I am suffering, however, I can tend to disconnect when I need connectedness the most.

Help Point by Mark Hillary from Flickr

Help Point by Mark Hillary from Flickr

In years past I have let readers in on how difficult this coming season is for me. My husband will be gone from sun up to midnight, often longer. We may see each other in passing for 10-15 minutes to exchange pertinent information, or we may go days without seeing each other. This particular season is already proving to be challenging; the girls and I have already come down with our first colds. What makes this year particularly tough is the impending one year anniversary of my sister-in-laws passing, as I recall the difficulties of last year, trying desperately in vain to save her.

All of this has made me think about how connectedness actually is supposed to manifest when our fellow human beings suffer. What do you do when you know somebody’s having a rough time and you have the ability to help them but they didn’t ask you for help? Do you intervene?

Do you let them figure it out by themselves?

Clearly if they wanted your help they would’ve asked for it right?

We all know that there have been times that we have needed someone’s help, yet we did not ask for it. We might’ve known that, while this person could help, they were clearly in the middle of dealing with their own issues. Maybe it was just too personal of a problem to divulge. Probably for most of us, we feared that we might change someone’s mind about us by sharing that we have this problem. So, people, like you and I, do not always reach out for help, even when they (we) know they (we) need it and want it.

On the other hand, there have been times when I have regretted sharing my problems, mostly because of all of the unsolicited advice. Unsolicited advice is one thing, but how many people give you advice without knowing the whole situation? And are they actually experts? Have they done any better for themselves?

In light of this, if you are a doctor and someone you love has not been taking care of themselves and have been putting themselves in serious risk, do you advise them?

If you are a mechanic and you know that someone Has been ripped off by their regular mechanic, do you speak up?

If you are a drug counselor and  you recognize signs of drug use in your friend’s child, do you tell them? What about if you are a law enforcement officer?

If you are the expert, are you the right expert to help them or is it better to refer them to someone who doesn’t have as high a stake in their success coming out of this problem?

What if you are not the expert, but you know a really great expert? Does that make it easier to intervene?  And how do you go about confronting someone you love about a problem that you can clearly see, but they have not acknowledged to you yet? Do you try to engage other people in the confrontation? You risk that your loved one will feel judged and perhaps ambushed or betrayed.

 

These are touchy subjects, right?

I have grappled with these decisions so many times throughout my life. I have different decisions in different situations and have regretted almost all of them, so I do not claim to have the right answer here. I would like to share an approach that I have found to work recently, and one I wish I had tried in the past when other approaches backfired or left me with regrets, as in the case of my sister-in-law.

DISCLAIMER: this is not backfire-proof AND I would like to know how you have handled it with your loved one, good or bad, or how it was handled with you in a way that was effective and appreciated.

 

  1. Schedule one-on-one, face-to-face time.

– This is NOT always easy or possible, and sometimes a problem is urgent and cannot wait until these conditions are possible.

  1. Open up the conversation by leveling the playing field.

– Divulge something personal about yourself, not to compete with them and their issue, but that would be hard to admit and for which it was difficult to accept help.

  1. Come from a place of compassion, not judgement.

– It can be very hard to check yourself here; you may not be able to tell the difference, but they will!

  1. Describe what you want for this person, using all of the senses.

– Tell them why they deserve it and why it is possible.

  1. Point out some facts (not opinions) about their situation that indicate that the problem does indeed exist.

– Try not to involve other people; let them speak for themselves.

  1. Express the desire to help, without attachment to what that looks like.

– Find out what they have tried already, and offer ideas.

  1. Let them know that you are going to check back in, and how and when.

– If this backfires, you can expect avoidance. It may be necessary to consider what you will do if they avoid you and let them know what that is.

 

Now your turn. What has worked for you?

Epic Careering Internship

Fireworks streak

My internship with Epic Careering re-framed my future.  I have new goals, new contacts, and new skills that melded with my previous knowledge in ways that continue to provide me with ideas and excitement.

Karen introduced me to her company in early June.  When I found out that she crafted her company from the bottom up according to her interest in helping people in a way she knew how, I lit up.  Immediately, I became fascinated by the idea of entrepreneurship.  It has become a seed in my head that has been pleasantly haunting me as I start my senior year.

As the weeks went on, I learned about Karen’s suite of services and watched her processes of building a résumé from start to finish.  I acquired many new skills not only by observing her, but by participating in the social media sites on behalf of Epic Careering.  I learned how to use Hootsuite, search engine optimize, and spin articles among many other social media practices.  Karen also let my creativity flourish in creating my own projects. One such project being that I created youtube playlists for motivation, doubt, success, leadership, and beginnings by compiling music videos, TED talks, and other inspirational content on youtube. My hope is that anyone who uses Epic Careering’s free resources on the web can view them and be inspired to action somehow in their lives.

As I take the first few steps into my last year at Ursinus College, I am grateful for my internship at Epic Careering.  It taught me a lot about my own career goals.  It made me realize that everything starts at a basic level and grows according to how you nurture it.  That includes entities in the professional and personal realms.  As I turn into the real world, I will try to nurture the entrepreneurial seed that Epic Careering put in my head as well as the professional relationships I made this summer.  Here’s to the future!

 

My Labor Day of Labor – I’ve Come Clean

This may still be cluttered to some, but it is zen-inspiring to me.

This may still be cluttered to some, but it is zen-inspiring to me.

No, I didn’t have another baby. I spent my holiday fighting dust balls and licking paper cuts.

After 3 years of compiling papers and collecting nonsense in my office, I “clean sweeped” (I know it’s swept, but it doesn’t sound right in this context.) There were literally 60 lbs. of paper and other junk purged from my house. I have two big boxes of great fall clothes to sell on e-bay, donate or turn into crafts. I know where everything is in my office. What is most important is most prevalent and within easy reach.

The adjustment to working from home with my babies, who are now grown up enough to know when the house is messy, happened very slowly.  While I expanded my roles as primary caretaker and entrepreneur, some of my other priorities and values were placed aside. I justified that it was what I had to do because of the choice I made to stay home and work, but in the meantime, crap accumulated and inhibited my growth. That’s where I was; I had no more room to grow because I had no room in my home and most sacred space.  The choice I made was no longer empowering; it was an abyss. While I continued to learn more and teach clients about efficiency, time management, resource management, etc., I was ignoring fundamental best practices of success – simplicity of organization and accessibility of information.

Especially because I do so much on my computer, where it seems everything is at my fingertips, these fundamentals were easy to ignore for so long. Until, enter financial advisor and partner Brian Brogan.

He asked, “Where is the space dedicated to managing the lifeblood of my family and business?”

“Oh, here and over there and I can even work outside…”

“STOP!,” he pleaded. “What are you saying about your priorities if you have no place dedicated to managing the very thing that allows your family to function?”

While he has been here at our house, he never new we had an office because the door stayed shut when there were visitors. We even kept the vent closed so as to not heat or air condition it. It was, essentially, a junk room.

After reading some of The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes, by Allyson Lewis, I had started to make a little progress on my office. I sorted unopened envelopes one day. Then another day I opened them. Then another day I took out any files older than 2009 to make room for the newer files. Then, I left the office alone for a week. I avoided it. What happened?

If my house were a factory, I think they would call it a bottleneck.

I needed to renew my car registration, but I couldn’t find the form. I had to make a return, but I couldn’t find a receipt. The CPRW (Certified Professional Résumé Writer) certification exams that I am supposed to grad within 2 weeks piled up for a month. ssential functions took 10 times longer than they should have. I was wasting time looking for things, feeling like a hot mess, and my temper and patience were getting short. Friday I had a gentleman tell me that I wasn’t able to listen to him. I didn’t even realize it, but I kept interrupting him. Instead of listening compassionately first, then advising appropriately, I was defensive and curt. This was impacting more than just tasks – my credibility with peers, my authority with my kids and my ability to effectively coach were hampered.

Enough – I had to do the work. The clutter had to be confronted, and so did my feelings about the clutter. With the exception of a break to have tea with my husband, make princess hats with my daughters, and hit up a local playground where we could all get a workout in, I pounded away – from breakfast to 2 or 3 in the morning. I finished at 4:30 Tuesday morning. The process, while tiring, was cathartic. What Brian said was reverberating in my brain and I thought very consciously about where I placed things based on how important I wanted them to be. Even choosing what size folder to attribute to a project made me process what amount of time I was committing to dedicate to that project.

Once it was done, I didn’t care anymore that I didn’t get to go the shore or the Poconos or that I didn’t see any concerts or even go out to eat. I had forgotten how much I value organization. For a while, I had been wishing I could just hire someone to find a place for everything, but I couldn’t wait for that to happen.

Now that I am in my office, and I can work in my office and find things in my office (and elsewhere,) I am able to think. I feel lighter and can breathe easier. Brian says that I have now made room for the harvest. Those books that I read, while portraying the importance of organization to taking action also echoed his sentiments: If you want something to show up, you have to make room for it. Now that I know I have room for growth and expansion, I have more confidence making strategic plans for my business. I want to spend time here. I want to show it off. Here. Have a look:

One thought leader I follow, I can’t remember which or perhaps it is all of them, says that people take action when they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Why is that? Why did I have to let it get to that point? Even though the disorganization was certainly having an impact on my family and me, I waited until other people were being impacted by my disorganized house before I resolved to get it cleaned up for good. I resolve now to be proactive in keeping order in my house, in my office and in my mind.

 

Have you ever been sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you waiting until to feel this way to take action?