Archives for November 2017

5 Ways to Give Joyfully During the Holidays, Even with Financial Shortcomings

Gifts by Jennifer C. on Flickr

The holidays aren’t so happy for us all. The idea that giving is receiving, and that we find our joy by giving can make us feel worse if we have very little to give.

I have been there, more than once. In college it’s supposed to be acceptable, but in my senior year I was also facing my mother’s re-marriage and responsibilities of being maid of honor which I knew little about. My brother also was married on New Year’s Day. That year I wanted so much to give them something special, but had only my talent to contribute. I wrote illustrated poems for my family. I realize that in some families the sentiment would have been appreciated, if not at least considered adequate. I was not reassured, especially with a new almost-sister-in-law.  My mom and dad, however, still have those on display in their homes.

Then after I was laid off in August of 2002 and still had not landed by Christmas (and in fact spent another 6 months unemployed after that) I was living on a meager unemployment check that didn’t even cover my student loan payments. I had no savings. I had no budget for Christmas. I used one of my unemployment checks to subscribe to Ancestry.com and did thorough genealogical research on both my mom’s and my dad’s family.

I found out a LOT that none of us knew before (like we’re Swiss!) I took the portion of another check and went to my local craft store and dollar store where I bought picture frames for a one-page family report I compiled on each side, and artful things I could color/frame for my boyfriend (at the time/now husband) who was supporting me financially.  Two of those pictures now hang in our daughters’ room. I felt bad giving so little at the time, even though I put a lot of time into those, because he had been giving me so much. I didn’t even appreciate my own gifts to him until years later when I realized that he had envisioned them there all along.

One of my best friends was having a baby during this time of unemployment. She asked me to make her a playlist for each stage of labor. She wound up not listening to each of them for her first (he came quickly) but she did listen to them all for her second. Then nearly 10 years later I listened to the same playlists during my births. That wound up being another gift that blessed me back.

Look, gifts aren’t always appreciated the way we want, and that’s true whether you spend $10 or $1,000.  Focus on putting thought and heart into your gifts, and find peace in your own gesture. Here are five ideas of ways you can give this holiday season if you don’t necessarily have the budget you want.

  1. Volunteer – I know you have heard this before, and that is because it is really one of the best ways to remember how valuable you can be for others, and at the same time helping others less fortunate than you will remind you of your own blessings. Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and will give you the energy to move forward and make greater efforts for yourself. Volunteering may not give you enough material wealth to give the people in your life presents, but it will make you a more uplifting person to be around. If you can’t give them something material, give them something they can feel.
  1. Upcycle – Make what’s old new again. Hometalk.com has a ton of ideas for taking things you might have around your house or obtainable from your local restore or thrift shop and turning them into masterpieces worthy of giving.
  1. Photo albums – Memories are priceless! Yes, we have become very accustomed to looking at pictures digitally, but let’s not underestimate the power of that physical photo album that you can open and look at with others to remember and honor how these people made your life so special.
  1. The new “mixed tape” – Make playlists on Pandora, iTunes, or even YouTube. Does someone have a road trip coming up? Do they do a lot of cleaning or project work? Do they love to run? A great playlist can be an awesome companion, and they’ll think of you every time they listen. Keep the other person’s musical tastes in mind; don’t impose your tastes upon them. Make it something that expresses how well you know them. Pick songs that have messages they will find meaningful.
  1. Coupons for services/experiences – Time is one of the most precious, finite resources on the planet. The thing I have found about these coupons, however, is that if you fail to deliver, you feel worse, not better. So give the coupons with an expiration date and specific days/times that you are available to deliver. Remember couth, too. For instance, if someone has a messy office, offering to clean and organize it for them may make them more self-conscious. Unless they specifically mentioned that this messy office is a problem for them and they WANT help, don’t be that specific. You could offer handyman services, babysitting services, or contribute a talent. Perhaps there is something you know how to do that the other person would like to learn. There are so many possibilities with this.

Something else that can help ease the pain of not having enough to give, devise a plan to improve your situation where YOU are the determining factor of success, not a plan in which you have to rely on someone else to give you an opportunity. Having a greater sense of possibility and control does wonders for your spirit. That is an area in which we can help – reach out for a free consultation.

While the feelings associated with not being able to give what you want to give can bring you down, we can also learn for ourselves a new value of gifts. If you have always been able to give materially before now, this new experience can provide unexpected blessings to your life. If you have struggled during this time before, hopefully you can use one of the above ideas to have a new experience of gift giving.

We are not our bank accounts. Our value is not dependent on our wealth. We are valuable just as we are, and part of the joy of this life is exploring all the ways that we can create value for others. Whether you have a lot or a little to give, may you feel blessed and be a blessing to others.

 

Happy holidays!

Sarah McLachlan – Fear [live] [HD]

From “Afterglow Live”. Buy the DVD!

Can Your Opinion Get You Fired or Keep You from Getting Hired?

Thought Bubble by Ian Burt on Flickr

If social media is a powder keg, traditional media is the gun powder. Bubbling to the top of daily trending news are new allegations of sexual harassment. A Wall Street Journal headline this weekend showed that concerned corporate leaders are initiating much deeper investigations into employee claims and are finding much more than credible complaints about sexual harassment, but also evidence of toxic behavior in the form of bullying. Political tensions at work are at historical highs.

Companies are now even more invested in hiring talent who will be able to operate effectively in a diverse climate, and that means that they are looking for potential biases that can signal intolerance that has the potential to constrain effective collaboration, productivity, and therefore profits. Companies concerned about their employment branding are now trying to institute and enforce clearer standards on exactly what opinions employees are allowed to express about at work AND publicly.

Remember this woman who was fired for giving Trump’s motorcade the finger?

Every company ultimately relies on people to operate and profit, so alienating people is a recipe for failure. This includes employees as well as clients or customers.

I rarely post anything political on my social media. Do I have opinions? Yes, but I also have no interest in battling with people opinion-to-opinion. I may, however, raise awareness on an issue of importance to me. For most issues that impact people, like healthcare, civil rights, taxes, etc., I usually let other people voice their opinions and support them with a “like” or “love,” maybe the occasional “fist bump.” Last week’s news about the potential overturning of the elephant tusk ban inspired my rare action, and it was intended to be very issue-based, just letting people know where to sign the petition. For me, this was about animals who cannot speak for themselves, and not about people.

I thought I was clear that I had no interest in politicizing this, and yet three people commented, and two of them made political comments representing opposing sides, while the 3rd  made sure it was known that the overturning of the ban was tabled, which I had also posted the day before.  She did not state anything political, but I see what she comments on frequently through my feed, and historically she tends to be very overt in her political views. I appreciated that she was subtle in her comments on my feed.

While I like her personally, I know there are certain subjects we should not broach in our interactions. I’m actually glad to know where she stands and what we shouldn’t talk about, though I’m discouraged that I feel we wouldn’t be able to have an intelligent discussion because of the emotional context of our opinions. I try not to let these differences of opinion separate me from people. I have vastly different political views from many in my family, but I have no intention of letting that interfere with our closeness.

She at least showed some restraint, whereas others seemed to completely disregard my desire to keep this at an issue-level post and keep party out of it. It seemed like a compulsion, and perhaps even a symptom of an addiction. I have grave concerns for many out there who seem to be in the habit of vocalizing their bias, even though it is within their legal right to do so, because employers have equal rights (as of now,) furthermore the responsibility, to hire people they feel will be contributors to, or at least compliant with, an environment free from all types of harassment.

If I was evaluating my friend as a candidate, she would not even be a contender, in spite of her skill level or performance. I would have serious concerns about how her opinion might influence interactions with my customers or other employees, and I am not alone.

Jobvite’s 2017 Social Recruiting Report states that 57% of recruiters see bias as a real problem in the American workforce. That may not seem like a large majority, but imagine that you are now precluding yourself from 57% of the positions for which you are qualified because you choose to exercise your 1st amendment rights and freely express your opinion. 51% of recruiters “gave pause” to consider a candidate who ranted about politics on social media.

Listen – I do not intent to discourage people from using their voice to stand up for what they believe. However, I want people to make an informed, well-evaluated decision to do so – to be aware of potential risks, and to evaluate the methods, as well.

 

Follow these tips:

  • We rarely influence people when we insult them. If you do decide that something is that important that you must use a public platform to make your point, focus on the issue and data.
  • Notice in yourself if you have a tendency to post before you think, and consider your habit could be harmful.
  • Think about your intention and if any part of it is to induce shame or pain, refrain!

Texas – Say What You Want

Watch the official video to Say What You Want by Texas

 

Top 5 Reasons Why All of Your Efforts to Land a Job Are Failing

Business woman working on laptop in her office by perzon seo on Flickr

This is going to sound backwards, and I don’t blame you if you find it hard to believe at first, but give me a chance and I will prove that there is a way to do LESS, have MORE FUN, and get the BEST job possible, in spite of the fact that you have been doing everything possible, perhaps even everything you have been advised to do, and have not enjoyed or sustained momentum in your job search.

There is a huge misconception out there that if you are out of work, you need to HUSTLE. And yet, so many job seekers feel as though they are doing everything right, but not being offered the jobs that they feel are the best suited for them. Some receive offers they know are not the best suited, but accept them anyway. This is the cause for the 69% disengagement rate that causes US companies to lose over $400B annually.

If you have applied to over 100, even 50 jobs, and have yet to receive an offer, one of the following, or a combination of the following, are most likely the reason:

  1. Your efforts are not the right efforts

It never fails when I speak to a group of job seekers. I ask the question, “How many of you have heard that networking is the #1 way to find a job?” and everyone raises their hands.  Then I ask, “How many of you are spending at least 50% of your job search on job board or filling out online applications?” and 75-100% of the room raise their hands.

Even when they know that networking is the most effective way to find a job, they spend a small percentage of their time networking and a majority of the time on resources that only have a 5-10% chance of turning into an opportunity. And, even if they are networking, most are doing that ineffectively, either meekly asking for favors instead of boldly articulating their value, or collecting and distributing cards to essentially spam people, instead of asking rapport-building questions, nurturing their networks by providing value, and then inspiring contacts to generate leads based on the value to the employer.

I also think that many people have an inflated idea of how much time effective networking takes and that it has to look a certain way, for instance like schmoozing with people you wouldn’t normally associate with, or sucking up to people for whom you don’t have any respect or admiration. While it is outside of many people’s comfort zone, it can look a lot more like you engaging in fun and/or purposeful activities, even unrelated to your profession, and in small groups versus big events.

Spend over 60% of your time on people, who will always be much more powerful advocates than technology. Also, be proactive in your pursuit of a job over 60% of the time rather than passively filling out online applications and hitting buttons. You get what you give.

  1. Your goal is not the right goal

People are not as good actors as they imagine themselves to be. People can also genuinely believe that they are pursuing a noble goal, even if it is not the right goal for them. If you experience challenges pursuing a particular position, ask yourself if you are targeting the right position. You may have decided that something else you really wanted to do wasn’t viable, it would take too long to land or wouldn’t pay enough, but it’s actually the right thing, the thing you will attract like a magnet, and your best chance of increasing your income trajectory in the long-term. A job that utilizes your strengths and allows you to pursue a passion represents your best chances at success, but also happiness and fulfillment. Sometimes things don’t just happen TO us, they happen FOR us.  No good company wants to hire you for a consolation career.

This applies not only for pursuing the wrong position, but also the wrong employer. You don’t need to appeal to all companies in an industry if only a few of them would recognize you as a fit for their culture. Decide ahead of time what cultures you fit into and be proactive in pursuing them.

  1. Your brand is stale

So many people stop short of distinguishing themselves from their competition, feeling as though their qualifications are strong enough to make them an obvious choice. If you were on the hiring end, though, you would realize that there are a good crop of people with the qualifications to do the job. The one that gets the furthest the fastest, and ultimately the offer, is the one who can create excitement and a sense of urgency based on what they bring above and beyond meeting the requirements of the job. Your brand needs to be genuine and distinct.

It can be challenging to be objective about whether you are distinguishing yourself or not. So many people think if they call themselves “driven,” “a team player,” “passionate,” “a leader,” or “creative” that this is adequate branding. It isn’t. It’s probably true, but it isn’t distinct.

I have found that there are 4-6 major distinctions every person has that will help them rise above the rest. It’s frequently not WHAT they do, but HOW or even WHY. Everyone has his or her own unique set of experiences. This is where you have to dig to find the artifacts and evidence of your unique value.

  1. You are being perceived as a risky candidate

How critical, skeptical, even cynical recruiters and hiring managers are is vastly underestimated by job seekers. There are often more risk signals between a job seeker’s résumé and social media than there are value signals. As soon as the scale tips more toward risk, the job seeker gets passed over. What also gets underestimated is how clued in recruiters are to the tactics people use to hide risk factors. Instead of sweeping a risk factor under a rug, they often put bright red tape right on it.

Look, no candidate is going to be perfect, but the riskier candidate is the one that can’t admit where the imperfections are/were. If you can’t admit it, you can’t demonstrate your ability to learn from mistakes and even help companies prevent them.

You want MOST of the focus on value, but if there is a risk factor, such as being fired, having a visible project fail, experiencing long-term unemployment, or even having personal events interfere with work, then you need to craft a simple, relatable story based on facts that is appropriate to tell in various media, such as in your résumé (perhaps), your LinkedIn profile, or when networking or interviewing.

While some risks are common, how you might address them is very particular to your circumstances and target employer. If you want specific advice, I recommend a complimentary 40-minute consultation and some one-on-one branding and campaign assistance.

  1. Your mindset is out of alignment

We give off vibes. We pick up vibes. Even the most scientific, empirical people among us will admit that we get vibes from people. In fact, as I demonstrated in a previous post, science can actually explain why this is.  Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Positive psychologist Shawn Achor proved that negativity and stress are contagious with an experiment at an airport. I don’t spend a lot of time talking to my clients about non-verbal communication tactics or things that they can do to manipulate the interviewer into alignment. None of these things has to be manufactured when there is real alignment, so that is what I coach my clients on. This is not “positive thinking,” which doesn’t fool anyone, including yourself. This is learning how to accept what is, truly appreciate yourself and know your own value, genuinely connect and empathize with the other person, trust in God (or the Universe, or whatever you believe is operating in your world,) and inspiring the support of others. You can’t put a band-aid on stress and anxiety and expect that no one will know it’s there. Others can feel it. And even if you walk in to an interview fully confident, there could be that one question you dread, and it can all go downhill from there. Your stress responses will take over and even if you learned how to tactically shift your non-verbal communication, you will forget or execute poorly.

If you network or interview without a fortified mindset, it can not only sabotage the results you want, but it can be a big waste of time and can make you feel worse, making it that much harder to get into a state of mind that lubricates your efforts and creates ease in getting results.

 

There are things that can be done just prior to an event or interview to help with mindset, but even the things you do behind a computer can be much more effective if you do them with a fortified mindset. Another Shawn Achor study proved that investing 10 minutes in meditation actually creates 62 minutes of productivity.  Exercising prior to doing work is another hack to improve your mindset, make you less vulnerable to getting thrown off your game, and boost your IQ.

Bananarama-It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)

The band’s 1982 release with Fun Boy Three

Playing Chess With a Bow and Arrows: Meaningful No-competition Marketing Campaigns

Final part of the MindValley Reunion = Mind Blown series

It has taken until November to cover all of the mind blowing teachings imparted to me in August at the MindValley Reunion in San Diego. While it’s hard to say that they saved the best for last, because I had many favorites throughout the weekend, the last outside speaker was rated highest among their speakers, and it was very easy to see why.

I had known Eric Edmeades as the “WildFit” guy. Wildfit is a nutritional program published by MindValley that has produced very impressive results. He wasn’t there to speak about WildFit, however, and it appears that is just one of many programs, businesses, and successes from which he could provide us with valuable lessons. He went through a list of possible topics, all of which appealed to me. What he chose was inception marketing.

What is inception marketing? If you consider yourself part of a tribe, than you have been incepted. If you are on any mailing lists, you have been incepted.

First let’s talk about what inception marketing isn’t: it isn’t tactical or transactional. It isn’t competing for people who are searching for what you sell. It isn’t guessing what will make your prospect buy. It’s not about modeling your competition.

If you are a job seeker reading this, you might be wondering how this applies to you. Firstly, I ALWAYS assume when learning something about marketing that there is an application for job seekers. That being said, not all methods are appropriate for all job seekers. Branding is the exception, in the 11 years that I have been advising and interviewing job seekers, all have or would have benefited from branding.

In this particular case, inception marketing is applicable to those actively or passively seeking an opportunity to increase their influence and impact, the byproduct of which is faster career growth and greater income.

Back to what inception marketing is: It is defining your target, understanding deeply what is important to them, identifying what they are thinking about, strategizing ahead of time the steps and stories that are going to create attraction, and providing them with engaging content that subtly moves them to realize and decide that they want and need your product.

This is about asking (a la Ryan Levesque’s ASK method) and listening. It’s about nudging and nurturing.

It is about appealing to your audience’s emotional reasons for wanting, and their logical reasons for feeling good about that (because sometimes we feel better justifying that in which we invest.) Then, they naturally sell for you.

If traditional marketing is darts, where you try to hit one little target, this is chess.

Before I share with you the steps, let me share with you the example that he gave, which demonstrated why he is such an in-demand speaker. Eric has had some enviable adventures, which give him a wide variety of intriguing experience from which he can compose compelling stories. The adventure he shared was hunting with an indigenous African tribe. This particular story took place during a second stay he had in their village, and it seemed the tribesmen were even more accepting of Eric as one of their own because he was able to hit the target on the first try with one of their bow and arrows. The pressure of these bow and arrows is much higher than one you might find at a sporting goods store here in the US. He showed us pictures of their more senior tribesmen, who you could definitely not identity as more senior based on their fitness, because they were ripped!

After hitting the target they invited Eric to go hunting with them, which he did a couple times. The second time it was an all-day event. Eric had been an avid runner until some time in his thirties when he had a knee injury. But these men were running…long distances…bow and arrow in hand…without making any sounds. This was something he noticed as he was struggling to keep up, his knee giving him pain. They were not running the same way as him. While he was putting his whole foot down, making a ruckus and probably scaring game away, he noticed the tribesmen were only using the front pads of their feet, and they seemed to spring off of them rather than stride. So, he started mimicking them, and he found that, not only was he now running without noise, he was running without knee pain. He was better able to keep up. He went home and considered taking up running again, but this time he was also considering something he never thought he would – buying a pair of those feet shoes. You know the ones – they look like feet.

Prior to starting this story, Eric demonstrated how at any given time, 3% of the population is actively seeking and shopping for something. He asked us to raise our hand if we were currently looking to buy a new phone, renovate our kitchen, looking to book a cruise, and buy running shoes. Time after time the number of hands raised represented roughly 3% of the room.

After that story, however, he asked how much of the room was now considering buying the feet shoes. Much more of us raised our hand – me included, and I totally made fun of my husband for buying those shoes. He even got a few bucks from the class action suit against the company for false advertising the health benefits.

At first, from a time and money perspective, it sounds very appealing to think that marketing doesn’t have to look like guessing about SEO, bidding on keywords, worrying about rankings, etc.

What you have to realize, however, is that the steps involved in a successful inception marketing campaign require quite a bit of legwork, and then, once you have incepted prospects, you have to continually keep them incepted by providing value and advice. This is not the easier way, so to speak, but it is a more meaningful way to build a customer base, and over time you will have less selling to do in order to increase your reach and continually grow your customer base.

It is a long-term strategy. This is where job seekers who seek to increase their influence and impact for greater career growth and income can apply this method: Start to notice where there are events in your life and at your job where a need for you is created. Tell the stories using the platforms available to you – LinkedIn posts/status updates, corporate wikis, industry publications, on stage at conferences, in a book, etc.

In the career management course that I teach at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, we share various kinds of stories with our students and introduce how they can frame a story in a compelling way wherein the story actually becomes their proof of unique value.

Here are some of them:

  • Romance
  • Drama
  • Fable
  • Mystery
  • Adventure

Wouldn’t it be great if you knew which kind of story appealed most to your audience, which would be the employer if you are a job seeker. But NOTE: one of the first steps is to really be intimately familiar with what drives your audience to take action.

Here are the steps of inception marketing:

  1. Identify an overall target market – This defies what most marketing gurus preach. They usually tell you to identify a niche, and qualify the demographics and buying behaviors. He used the example of being a wedding photographer and targeting anyone getting married or involved in the wedding.
  2. Then, he suggested that you ideal multiple target markets and pick one that your competition might not. Most wedding vendors focus on the bride, but what if you focused on grooms.
  3. Dig down to what drives them. What does a groom want? To make the bride happy, and give her the perfect day.
  4. Engage your audience with a promise. For example, 10 ways your wedding photographs can go horribly wrong and how you can make sure they are perfect.
  5. Then you incept them by telling them a story that allows them to conclude that they want your help. This made me remember my wedding, which was perfect except…we were supposed to get all family photos done in between the wedding and reception, but the damp conditions were causing some of the cameras to malfunction. We had an indoor alternative to use, but the photographer needed time to get that set up and let the cameras dry out. This meant that we were now using precious reception time to take photos, and we never did get around to visiting our 280 guests at their table, including the cousins who flew in from Amsterdam. I know he had a different example, but this was one that struck me as a personal experience that served as a better example for me.
  6. Advise them, and in advising them, establish that YOUR experience, expertise and skill will save them from such a fate, or move them toward a desired fate, and in turn, keep your promise.

Eric certainly offered us some very pragmatic content, and he did so with humor and humility. Considering that since language existed, storytelling has been how human beings teach, it seems logical to expect that it will never go out of vogue. The media we used to tell these stories will evolve, certainly.

If you need help understanding your audience and telling your story, well that is our specialty. We LOVE to help corporate influencers influence, because that is how meaningful change occurs.

 

What kind of action would you like your audience to take?

Survivor – The Search Is Over

Survivor’s official music video for ‘The Search Is Over’. Click to listen to Survivor on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/SurvSpot?IQid=SurvTSIO As featured on Ultimate Survivor.