Archives for March 2014

Can 15 minutes change your future?

Perhaps we have all had those moments that changed our future [Red Light], but did we know it? How many times have you been told to give someone a call because they could really help you and you let the number sit around until, poof, it’s gone – lost or in the trash – and then, out of sight, out of mind, and still your problem persists or gets worse? What can you learn in a 15-minute call that could change your future for the better?

How about how to ace an interview and land a job?

Gotthejob

That’s precisely what happened when somebody who was referred to me took advantage of a free resume and campaign evaluation. This guy had the cards stacked against him and many big ways, including a police record and many recent short employment stints that ended badly. The friend that referred him knew that if anybody could help them, I could. While he never even needed to become my client, in that evaluation I was able identify strategies to help him authentically overcome these seemingly insurmountable challenges. My advice enabled him to walk into an interview a little taller, a little more confident, and a little more proud of the value he could offer. This is exactly why we say at Epic Careering that we unveil your brilliance. I’ve often quoted Tony Robbins, “It’s often a millimeter difference between success and failure.”  In this case that was absolutely the truth, but it’s not always that easy.

 

Yesterday I spoke with an old friend who needs to do quite a bit of internal work before he would be prepared to become my client. It’s been many years since we last spoke, and I could tell by his recent employment history on his LinkedIn profile that the years have not been treating him well. He, too, had many short employment stints in the last five years. When I called him up and I heard his story, I knew that he’d been battered by the consequences of unintentional career choices that wound up being poor choices for him. Upon deeper conversation, some of his personal issues surfaced, which he thought was a different story, but actually they have everything to do with how things have been going in his life in general. Our lives are not so compartmentalized that if we have an issue in one area it doesn’t manifest in every other area. That’s why they used to say, “dirty pots, dirty bottoms.”

 

He’s been experiencing trauma – not physical trauma, but emotional and psychological trauma. As a result, his internal compass is off. What happens when your internal compass is off? You easily go off-course. He was hoping that I could help them get back on course. While I do help people understand how they can apply their skills and talents to different careers when necessary or when wanted, my processes do require that people have an accurate internal compass. I am not the expert to help people calibrate their internal compasses, but I know of many resources that they can turn to, so that’s how my evaluation went for him. I didn’t give him the answer he wanted to hear, which was that I could help him identify what is next career step should be, but I gave him the truth and I told him what his next steps should be to calibrate his internal compass. I encouraged him he could come back to me at any point for guidance or resources, and I look forward to hearing from him in the near future to hear about any clarity he was able to gain through some internal work, and at that point I’d be happy to work with him.

 

This consultation is representative of the multipurpose evaluations that I provide to ANYONE who completes the needs assessment form and sends me their résumé. These two documents help me identify the scope of working with someone, or they help me qualify or disqualify potential clients based on where they are at in their career discovery or transition process.  Many times I have been able to give people the advice or resource that they needed to correct their course and land a job in a free evaluation.

 

I would love more people to take advantage of this, so at the bottom of this page is the form that gives you access to the one-page needs assessment document that provides me with the background information that I need to performance your free résumé, LinkedIn profile and campaign evaluation.

 

Please share it and help us further our mission of helping people unveiled their brilliance.

 

 

Executives: Downgrading your career? Consider…

Will your former executive title keep you from landing jobs with less responsibility?

 

Shelf Road Climbing by AMagill on Flickr

Shelf Road Climbing by AMagill on Flickr

In my winter newsletter one of the myths that I asked you to leave in 2013 was that you can accelerate your job transition by pursuing positions with requirements beneath your qualifications. (Subscribe below to receive our newsletter). The truth is…

  

…you can likely prolong your transition and create challenges that need not exist.

 

For some executives, however the pressure, travel, and hours of an executive position are no longer viable for their well-being. Genuinely, they would like to take a step back and just be a cog in the machine and maintain some value to a company, or for monetary reasons they must continue to work. In either case, they are not be ready to hang their hat and be put out to pasture, which does seem like a morbid way of looking at retirement. There are certainly better ways to look at retirement. However, people derive a lot of their self-worth from their job. It can be very difficult to define yourself after the prospect of any future potential career growth is eliminated. You might have good reasons to take the position that is beneath your qualifications, but you will face the same challenges in landing these jobs as the individuals who are pursuing jobs beneath their qualifications because I think it’s the faster way to get hired. Either of these types of candidates are huge potential risks for the employer.

 

Yes, age discrimination does happen, and many people assume that it has to do mostly with health care costs or the risk of short or long-term disability or a company doesn’t want to pay top dollar for experience when they can hire someone young and cheap.  Often, there is a lot more to it than that. Besides the fact that great companies want to give new employees positions that enable them to grow, the morale of a company can be depleted when you have a senior professional reporting to a more junior professional. You may expect that you will be okay with this, but too often senior folks do find themselves at odds with a supervisor they perceive as making rookie mistakes. Let’s face it; your years of experience certainly taught you things that this junior person has yet to learn. How do you NOT voice your opinion and can you possibly accept the wrong decision of your supervisor? This is another stressor in and of itself.

 

From a risk perspective, if an employer has been down that road before and experienced the repercussions of reverse generational reporting firsthand, they will be hard-pressed to be convinced that the reward is worth the risk, though it is possible. To do this, however, your brand and every encounter that you have has to consistently ooze humility. We all know that actions speak louder than words, so what is more humble than volunteering? Volunteering to help out a young company, not strategically, but with the administrative, customer service and execution details that sometimes get overlooked when a company is small and has few resources, is way to prove that you can simply do rather than lead, if in fact you can.

If, however, you have spent the majority of your career honing your leadership skills, it can be difficult to stifle. In fact, it can be so against the grain of your being that it, too, can cause more stress than it alleviates. You may want to consider lending your leadership or business acumen through an SBA, venture capital or startup incubation program instead where you are not accountable for results, but, rather, can enjoy being the impetus for a young company’s success. This, too, has a caveat that many consultants and coaches have to broach – when the client doesn’t follow through. You may be so accustomed to making things happen that it can be difficult to be compassionate to a young leader who has not yet found a way to change old habits, put in the effort, and deliver results. In fact, it can be frustrating.

 

A mistake people often make when they want to downgrade their careers is underestimating the amount of stress associated with a job. People often turn to retail or customer service positions, which really can require a lot of conflict resolution.  Stress is inherent in conflict. Sometimes they land in companies with high attrition, where stress is part of the culture. Another mistake is forgetting how under-appreciated these jobs can be. When you are the top, you are visible and your accomplishments are lauded. At the bottom, you can be practically invisible, and that can be a hard difference to reconcile.

 

At this time I really should introduce you to a new way of looking at stress as helpful. Kelly McGonigal, a Ted speaker and psychologist, has made a confession in a recent TED talk. She admitted that she might have been causing more harm than good by making stress the enemy. As it turns out, the belief that stress is harmful is more harmful than stress itself. She shares a way to look at stress that can save or prolong your life. This actually could mean that you can continue to work in the same capacity of your professional experience and talents, but with a more helpful, healthful perspective. It also suggests that extending compassion and comfort to others will make you healthier. So, perhaps if you were hesitant to end your career because of the self-worth you derived from your work, you can find new ways to be of service to others.

 

If you really need or want retire your brain but not your whole self, data entry, assembly line and inventory jobs still exist. It’s best for your well-being to be around things you love and enjoy. Look for companies aligned with your hobbies and interests in your favorite local trade magazine or niche publication. Check out what meetups exist to mingle among people who share your interests and can point you to companies associated with them. Of course, you can search trusty Google and enter the name of your town + the interest. Those sponsored ads are good for something!  Also, there are some niche recruiting firms that specialize in baby boomer placement. One such local (Philly) organization is The Carney Group. And, now more than ever before, there are legitimate remote, work-at-home positions where you can make your own hours.

 

Nothing you decide you want is wrong. That being said, we sometimes decide we want something without fully evaluating the reality of it. Hopefully with this insight you can make a fully educated decision that leads to greater fulfillment and quality of life, whether you chose to make this decision now or conditions outside of your control necessitated it.

 

How I saved myself from me

I beat myself up pretty bad sometimes. Last week was a doozy.  It seemed like anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Usually I know what to do to take myself out of a tailspin; I’ll plug my phone into the radio, and play some motivational, informational YouTube video try to find my center and gain a better perspective, perhaps Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Jim Rohn or Deepak Chopra, etc.  This was a futile effort, similar to when I try to meditate for just 15 minutes while I hope my kids play safely and quietly in another room, but I’ll hear them fight or get hurt or break something, and it’s as if I should never have tried to meditate in the first place. It’s as though I’m even more angry that I can’t just have 15 minutes to restore my energy and focus. Every attempt to find my center last week was interrupted by a variety of saboteurs: kids misbehaving, things breaking, technology not working, weather changes, unnecessary messes, plans being broken, sickness, infestations – you get the picture. I was looking forward to making progress on four major initiatives. There were client projects that I was excited to start or complete. I had administrative projects, like my taxes, that I was anxious to get done. On top of that, the dishes in the sink were piling up, the messes my kids were making were beginning to accumulate, and the cat box was in desperate need of changing. I was defeated and disappointed in myself. I felt swallowed by chaos. Been there?

 

Having shared with you before and knowing well that resilience is the number one quality of successful people, I garnered my grit. In spite of how I felt, I was somehow able to keep going.  Once I was over what I hoped to be the worst of it, I decided that I would make a list of everything that I was actually able to do that week in spite of the relentless kamikaze challenges.  After I made this list I felt powerful. Without my permission, Katy Perry’s Roar was playing loud in my head like an anthem. I was in awe of myself.

obstacles and achievementsobstacles and achievements p2

obstacles and achievements p3obstacles and achievements p4The next day, it was almost like I was challenging something to go wrong. I had my game face on, the one I learned to give pitchers when I finally gained confidence at the plate as a senior. I was like, “Go ahead and try me.” Coincidentally, it was one of the best days that I’ve had in a while. Things went pretty smoothly, until my throat became sore. I knew I was getting strep, because my girls just had it. I almost asked myself, “When will this ever end?” Then I laughed at myself – out loud.  The answer is: it won’t end. The good news is, I’m getting better at dealing with what comes while keeping my focus forward. I had no idea I was improving like this until I made that list.

 

We all beat ourselves up from time to time. That list of things we want to do does not seem to get shorter, and maybe it shouldn’t. The list of what we have to do will never be completely done as long as were alive. That’s just what’s so. I realize with magnified clarity that I am a warrior training to be able to handle bigger problems so that I can do bigger things in this world. That is how I choose to see it, and as long as I do, I have the power.  So, bring it!