Archives for bias

7 Qualities to Weave Into Your Brand to Overcome Ageism

 

I have covered ageism before, as it directly relevant and impactful to the demographic of talent I most often work with as clients – baby boomers. Sometimes perspective clients, even after walking them through the outcomes that they can expect by working with me, doubt that those results are possible for them because of their age.

Let me be clear – Age has stopped NONE of my clients in the past 12+ years from landing an epic job. Most of my previous content about ageism was aimed at helping people shift your thinking, refocus your energy, and inspire a greater sense of hope that landing a great job where their years of experience are appreciated is not just possible, but probable with the right brand, plan and execution.

Do companies sometimes discriminate? YES! They do. It happens, but it doesn’t have to stop you from landing a great job where you will be valued. You don’t have to work for @IBM, or any other company where age has seemed to impact employment.

It is absolutely important to make sure that your mindset serves you, but you do also have to have the substance that gets you hired.

Also, let me make it clear that I cam NOT condoning ageism, “or any ism, for that matter. Isms in my opinion are not good.”

This topic was specifically requested by someone in my network who responded to my previous blog requesting people to tell me what topics they want most. (This one’s for you, @BillGutches!)

So, I’d like to go into a few more specifics about the qualities that, if weaved into your brand and proven by your content and experience, will help you put age at the bottom of a list of reasons you might not get a job and inform you of some reasons that actually trump age as reasons you might not get a job.

While at the same time, I have to inform you of a caveat – your brand needs to be authentic. You can land a job by faking it, sometimes, but you won’t set yourself up for success by faking it. The good news is that, even if some of these qualities don’t come naturally to you, they can be developed, some of them more quickly than others.

Prove your brand is authentic by telling stories. When I say “tell stories,” I mean introduce them in your résumé succinctly by identifying the results, the outcomes that were possible because of those results and the skills you applied to achieve them. In your LinkedIn profile, you have more freedom in telling your story as you would, though you still have character limits and brevity is still valuable. Then there is telling your story to people with you network, and then also people with whom you interview. Each of these story formats have different requirements for being optimally effective. Contact us for custom-crafted content and coaching on how to do this.

  1. Value/ROI

A company’s budget is a company’s budget. Any company starting out or rebuilding is going to have to stretch what they have, and they may believe that hiring younger talent and training them enables them to get further faster. As a company starts to gain traction, growing and scaling, however, it becomes very clear that expertise is needed. This is a perfect time to strike.

I am NOT advising you to lower your salary expectations. Some of my former clients were willing to do this in order to step down from stressful positions. This created challenges they had to overcome in order to prevent being dismissed as “overqualified”. Too many believe that this will be the fastest way to land a job, and find that even after they decide to pursue something lower.

I am also NOT advising you to do this. Don’t apply for jobs that ask for someone with 3-5 years or less of experience when you have 15+ and expect someone to have an open mind. More about that here.

This particular article is about promoting your experience as something that will create value above and beyond what someone less experienced can offer. If you try to promote your value, but then ask for a low salary than what you are proving you can offer, you inspire doubt in your value.

Walk a fine line between promoting yourself as an expert and as someone who knows it all.

Tell stories that not only demonstrate that because you have “been there and done that” you can save the company money and accelerate their initiatives, but you have to also demonstrate how you listened, how you made mistakes, and how you trusted the expertise of your team members.

Disqualify employers who care about age as well as bosses whose egos will not appreciate when your experience can help them course-correct. That’s not to say that they will go with whatever you advise. You have to be able to articulate your case in business terms, and the first test of whether or not you can do this is how you promote your own value and fitness for a job.

Some employers have steered away from hiring more experienced workers who would report to less experienced managers because it didn’t work out in the past. You can’t refute people’s life experience. If you say “Believe me!” when their past experiences have proven the opposite, you won’t be influential. You can say, “I’m not the person who burned you, and I can prove it if you give me a chance.”

You can say, “I know how you feel; I’ve seen and experienced a lot, too, enough to know that one bad experience can change your mind, but that you also have to keep an open mind because sometimes going the opposite way isn’t always the right decision, either.”

Prove that you recognize that someone who has fewer years of experience than you, perhaps even a LOT fewer, can still effectively leverage and coordinate the expertise of his or her team, by telling a story like this. When have you yielded your years of experience to someone less experienced?

  1. Health

By promoting a commitment to your health, you can overcome stereotypes that more experienced workers are health risks. This is obviously another area where it’s illegal to discriminate, but hard to prove unless the person applying presents physical evidence of illness or unhealthy habits. However, if you come in NOT smelling like booze or cigarettes and share your passion for biking, hiking, yoga, martial arts, intramural sports or healthy eating/cooking, etc. on social media (yes, they are checking that!) then you can promote yourself as having a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle means fewer sick days, more resilience to stress, and better emotional stability.

On the other hand, you might be promoting a high-risk lifestyle if you are a rock climber, mountain biker, motorcyclist, etc. Companies might perceive that you are at high risk for long-term disability with that kind of lifestyle. Other companies might perceive these as signs that you fit the adventure-seeking culture they are promoting. If you refuse to be anything less than yourself, just make sure you are targeting companies who will appreciate someone who lives life on the edge.

  1. Energy

Companies who have a 24×7 critical operation or high volume need people who can operate at a high level for a sustained period of time. Tell stories that demonstrate your ability to do this.

Demonstrating energy in an interview is a slippery slope. While some cultures are full of extroverted people who feed off of the high energy level of everyone there, most companies prefer a balance. Coming across as too energetic can cause just as many concerns as lacking energy.

Passion usually naturally expresses itself in greater animation in verbal and non-verbal communication. To many bosses, energy = passion. Passion is what will carry you through challenges when natural energy subsides. If you are not naturally high-energy, leverage your passion.

If you’re not someone who naturally comes across as high-energy, then promote yourself as the grounding influence. Every company needs this, but some fear that someone who will bring over-zealous visions down to earth might also be a stick in the mud, naysayer or even worse, a bottleneck to innovation. You have to be able to demonstrate that you can raise awareness around potential obstacles and limits in a non-threatening way and can also support viable solutions that overcome them.

  1. Agility

Here’s a direct quote from a comment left just today on a LinkedIn news article about former employees suing IBM:

“I don’t know to many folks over 40 interested in anything new related to technology. They change because they have too, leaving companies in an interesting position.”

If I had to guess how old she was, I’d say just shy of 40 – old enough to be a hiring manager, even an executive, though she’s not, thankfully – with that kind of bias.

Agility is not just the ability to pivot a project when new intelligence justifies that a different direction will produce a better outcome, but also your ability to change with the times and technology.

IBM claims that they didn’t let go of the workers for age-related reasons, but because they needed to hire workers with different skills. Except that the company could have just trained its workers with updated skills. However, the consulting arm of IBM released a paper in 2006 calling its boomers “gray hairs” and “old heads,” concluding that younger generations were more innovative and open to new technologies. This bias is why they didn’t just train their older workers.

Besides avoiding companies who allow bias to be so influential in decisions on talent, you can overcome this bias by proactively learning technologies that are coming down the pike. Being savvy with social media and how to present data in modern formats, such as in infographics, is a great way to demonstrate this.

Additionally, there was a day when making a 10-year plan made sense, and 18-24 month projects were commonplace. Now we are finding that the market and technology change too fast to make investments in these projects pay off. Everything has to be done faster, and this is why automation is a necessity. If you are in a job that stands to be replaced by automation, it’s time to re-skill NOW. Learn something that will still be needed – leadership (we teach that), strategy, communication, liaising, auditing, compliance, etc. If you insist on promoting the value of a function that in time will be automated, you will soon find yourself unemployable, while also demonstrating that you are the opposite of agile. You may also be inclined to advise based on your need for job security rather than advising based on what is best for the customers/clients. This puts you squarely in the category that creates bottlenecks to innovation.

Resistance to change is a natural, unconscious reaction. Become more self-aware and override the fear. If you can’t help steer the change, at least learn how to surrender to it.

Tell stories that demonstrate how you pivoted for the sake of the company or customer/client, even if a large investment of time and money was made.

  1. Optimism

I was accused of being an idealist by a former boss because I believed (and still do) that people could afford to pass over opportunities that didn’t fit them or pay them what they were worth, because great jobs were out there and with the right tools and campaign, they could land them. This was what my experience taught me after a few years as a career coach, and my clients’ success still affirms this 10 years later. However, he believed that with more wisdom and maturity, I would come to be more “realistic.” That’s what he considered himself. Had I continued recruiting, I might have grown to believe that people should take what’s offered to them, because from my point of view, offers wouldn’t have come along for everyone. The one who got the offer was one in thousands.

First, we have to admit that our views of reality are completely subjective. What one sees as possible, another will have determined is impossible. When we default to assuming things are not possible, we become cynical. This is deadly to innovation. An optimist will assume things are possible and see challenges as opportunities to provide solutions.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston S. Churchill

Which force do you think will propel us toward a better future?

Demonstrate your optimism by telling a story about a time when you were faced with a challenge and designed a solution, even if that solution ultimately failed, but especially if it worked and others doubted it.

  1. Future-thinking

This closely relates to being agile and staying up-to-date, but is better demonstrated by how you make plans. Are you accommodating future trends with plan Bs, or are you waiting for the future trends to become current trends? Are you able to complete a current project while lining up a future pipeline (that, of course, will remain flexible)?

This is the whole purpose behind the interview question, “What is your 5-10 year plan?” Though, as I stated earlier, a 10-year plan is hardly something that can be considered viable without knowing what industry, technology, politics, etc. are going to be like. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their benefits. A vision is a biological tool to activate the motivational centers of the brain. Having something bigger to reach for is exactly what makes being future-thinking valuable. Big-picture thinking, it can also be considered. These are the disruptors and visionaries. Many of these from the last few decades have come from the millennial generation, but most of them have achieved this status after earning their chops (and credibility) and gaining deep industry experience, by being able to see problems from various perspectives and vantage points to be able to better identify a breakthrough solution.

Tell stories about previous pitches you have made while still delivering on current initiatives to demonstrate your ability to be a future thinker. Even if you don’t feel like you know enough about the future to know if your 10-year plan is viable, have one.

  1. In Tune

Yes, this can apply to trends and technology, but it also means being in tune with people and younger generations. Having emotional intelligence is a key need for employers everywhere of all kinds, as I have certainly covered in depth in previous articles. There is such a thing as reverse ageism, and I have heard some people, the same people who assume they are being discriminated against for being a senior professional, say some biased things against younger generations. I understand the hurt of being discriminated against because of your age. An emotionally intelligent person would empathize and not inflict that on another. Instead, they would give each person a chance to be appreciated for their individual strengths. The best innovations will transpire when all generations contribute their value and benefits as a collaborative force. Each generation has its strength. Ideally, younger generations would be able to learn from the past experience and trial and error of senior generations to avoid certain pitfalls while older generations can learn how to use technology to get more done with less.

Transcend biases, no matter what direction they are turned. Increase your self-awareness of your biases. Aim to understand and appreciate. Bring people together of all ages, races, genders, and credos. Tell stories about how you built a sense of community among a diverse group of people for a common purpose, while still allowing people to bring to the table what the do well naturally.

 

I realize that some of the content in this article may have struck a raw nerve. It just doesn’t feel good to expect that you won’t be considered good enough just being who you are. I’ve always been committed to crafting and campaigning authentic brands for my clients. You may be at a place where you plain and simple feel as though the years you put in, the previous value you’ve delivered, and the expertise you curated should make you good enough to earn the job. You’re not wrong.

The thing is, the job doesn’t always go do the most qualified. People get interviewed for their qualifications, but so many managers would rather train and develop up and coming talent, considering it something noble to create opportunity for future leaders. They’re also not wrong.

Ultimately, the offer goes to someone who demonstrates they have the aptitude to learn, develop and grow with the organization, the passion to endure growing pains, and the personality and values to thrive in the culture.

This is true for all professionals, even if the person being hired is expected to be the expert and authority.

Most people have some kind of challenge to optimizing their career transition. Age can be one of them. But, like all of them, with a strategic, authentic, powerfully demonstrated brand and campaign, they can be overcome.

Contact us if you want more help on crafting your authentic brand and executing a strategy that enables you to work smart instead of hard and landing an optimal job with optimal pay.

certainly covered in depth in previous articles. There is such a thing as reverse ageism, and I have heard some people, the same people who assume they are being discriminated against, say some biased things against younger generations. I understand the hurt of being discriminated against because of your age. An emotionally intelligent person would empathize and not inflict that on another. Instead, they would give each person a chance to be appreciated for their individual strengths. The best innovations will transpire when all generations contribute their value and benefits as a collaborative force.

Transcend biases, no matter what direction they are turned. Increase your self-awareness of your biases. Aim to understand and appreciate. Bring people together of all ages, races, genders, and credos. Tell stories about how you built a sense of community among a diverse group of people for a common purpose, while still allowing people to bring to the table what the do well naturally.

 

I realize that some of the content in this article may have struck a raw nerve. It just doesn’t feel good to feel like you won’t be considered good enough just being who you are. I’ve always been committed to crafting and campaigning authentic brands for my clients. You may be at a place where you plain and simple feel as though the years you put in, the previous value you’ve delivered, and the expertise you curated should make you good enough to earn the job. You’re not wrong.

The thing is, the job doesn’t always go do the most qualified. People get interviewed for their qualifications, but so many managers would rather train and develop up and coming talent, considering it something noble to create opportunity for future leaders. They’re also not wrong. The offer goes to someone who demonstrates they have the aptitude to learn, develop and grow with the organization, the passion to endure growing pains, and the personality and values to thrive in the culture.

This is true for ALL professionals. Most people have some kind of challenge to optimizing their career transition. Age can be one of them, but like all of them, with a strategic, authentic, powerfully demonstrated brand and campaign, they can be overcome.

Contact us if you want more help on crafting your authentic brand and executing a strategy that enables you to work smart instead of hard and landing an optimal job with optimal pay.

Bon Jovi – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Seven days of Saturday Is all that I need Got no use for Sunday Couse I don’t rest in peace Don’t need no Mondays Or the rest of the week I spend a lot of time in bed But baby I don’t like to sleep no I won’t lie to

 

Karen Huller, author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30), is founder of Epic Careering, a corporate consulting and career management firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, as well as JoMo Rising, LLC, a workflow gamification company that turns work into productive play.

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales.

Karen was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends in hiring and careering. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Consultant and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot.

She was an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business and recently instructed for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at Cabrini College, where her students won the national competition and were named America’s Top Young Entrepreneurs.

 

What Do We Really Need More of?

Love by Mayberry Health and Home on Flickr

Sing it with me…”What the world…needs now…is…”

Before you go labeling me as a “snowflake,” or “airy-fairy” or an idealist, all of which I have been accused of and may or may not be true, let me ask you this…. What do you prefer? Love or Rules?

In all the corporate disciplines that exist to help companies become better at cultivating a culture that keeps valuable talent and optimizes engagement (Organizational Development, Human Resources, Training and Development, Talent Management, Change Management, Human Capital Management, etc.,) it seems the best a company can do as of right now is to engage an emotional intelligence trainer, train their managers to be better coaches (I will distinguish between these things below), and re-employ someone who turns out to be suited for their intended role or should their role be eliminated.

Even in these best practices, there are shortcomings, and most companies are just trying to cover their butts with more extensive sexual harassment awareness training and instituting more clear expectations of respectful behavior as well as clear and fair consequences for infractions. Is this adequate? Are these companies treating the symptoms instead of the causes?

Not all managers are coaches. Most managers focus mainly on the pragmatic components of performance. Some, for liability reasons or simply because they don’t feel work is the time or place or because they don’t feel adept at addressing it, ignore the emotional side of their human resources. At what cost?

On the morning I was interviewed by KQTH radio in Tucson last week, I awoke and read a page of Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer. Reading an inspiring passage to start my day was a ritual that I adopted with the Miracle Morning in 2016. I was going to be interviewed on recruiter blacklists by Mike Rapp, and this particular passage was of serendipitous significance.

Think about the problems that would disappear if people were actually kind, instead of being forced to be kind:

  • The negatives of black lists
  • Harassment (sexual or otherwise)
  • Bullying
  • Bias/discrimination

A long time ago I stopped teaching my clients how to act confident and focused more on helping them be confident. If I find that my clients are hurting or resentful about their employment past, I know that they will get much further much faster if they acknowledge that pain, process it, and release it rather than if they ignore it or pretend it isn’t there.

What would happen if instead of creating rules and guidelines to attempt to avoid offensive behaviors, we address why people treat other people poorly in the first place?

“Hurt people hurt people.” (This quote has been attributed to Will Bowen, Yehuda Berg, and Rick Warren)

Regardless of who said it, can you see how this is true?

I’m not suggesting traditional therapy is the answer. I spent years in therapy myself during my youth through my parent’s divorce, and while I did gain some validation for why I acted out as I did, and it was nice to have someone to talk to during that time, I only felt more emboldened and justified in acting out toward my parents. I felt justified in my resentment. I didn’t heal. The healing began when I started to take more accountability, learned how to forgive, and how to be compassionate. This was coaching, not therapy.

It’s not like flicking a switch. I’m not cured of my pain, and I still may tend to react in my old ways rather than respond in a conscious way, but my awareness improves with continued coaching and I continue to add tools to my toolbox to come from a place of love and compassion rather than pain, and the outcomes of my interactions with people are infinitely better when I do.

Coaching is a way of providing an objective perspective on what can hold back peak performance, and what can be done to attain and maintain peak performance. Coaches do not shy away from the nitty gritty of feelings. They create a safe space for a person to be flawed, give feedback without judgment, and provide techniques, drills, exercises. They provide support and accountability in creating new habits.

Some might say that the workplace is no place for:

  • Love
  • Crying
  • Feelings
  • Personal problems
  • Games

Except, science is proving that positive psychology techniques in the workplace are already:

  • Transforming how a company collaborates
  • Feeding innovation
  • Improving workforce health
  • Improving productivity
  • Increasing profits

Shawn Achor proved in his work with Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries that the byproducts of a more positive workforce are well worth the investments and the investments don’t even have to be monetary or require a lot of time.

I am keenly aware that people in pain don’t usually just make a simple choice to be more positive. Personal transformation is much more complex. There are patterns of thinking reinforced over a lifetime that need to be identified and reversed. Yes, you can apply some simple happiness techniques to become more positive, and that WILL trickle down to various elements of your professional and personal life, and maybe that would be adequate to cultivate respect and tolerance.

But what could work look like if there was a focus on healing and helping employees reach potential in areas of their lives besides work?

One thing I can say with confidence – As hard as you can try to compartmentalize an area of your life, it will surely bleed into the others. This goes for both good and bad things. If you form a good habit in your health, it will have a cascading effect on other areas of your life. If you are having problems at home, or are dealing with health issues, you will find your productivity and engagement go down. Even those who escape their personal problems and dive into their work will find that there is a burn out point, or they are just a little less than their best selves when they are at work. There is even greater pressure to make that part of their lives go well.

Your emotions impact your brain chemistry and your brain chemistry impacts your physical body, communication, and cognition (obviously).

What I am suggesting is that companies consider a truly holistic, even “alternative” approach to the very current initiatives of ridding the workplace from bias, harassment of all kinds, bullying, discrimination, toxicity and stifled growth.

Yes, employees will always benefit from being able to relate better with one another, but they also need to relate better to themselves.

We are less able to give when we feel we don’t have enough. If we don’t feel like we have enough of our basic human emotional needs: connectedness, acceptance, love, we won’t be apt or able to offer it. What companies are asking their employees to do is to put other people’s feelings first. I foresee there being much resistance and inadequate execution with this method.

 

In 2018 Epic Careering is launching a program that will help companies create a conscious culture. It will come with assessments, live workshops, online courses, interactive communities, and management and executive consciousness coaching training. If you recognize that your company is experiencing conflicts and breakdowns that require an alternative solution to the traditional corporate approach, e-mail Karen at Karen@epiccareering.com. Confidentiality is guaranteed. Take the first step in transforming your company for everyone’s sake. There could be a day when you feel as good about going to work as you do about coming home.

What The World Needs Now Is Love / Dionne Warwick

Please skip CM. I am sorry to mistake some spellings. Dionne Warwick ディオンヌ・ワーウィック Burt Bacharach バート・バカラック

How Can Anybody Get Anything Done These Days?

Social Media by Magicatwork of Flickr

 

It has been an interesting past few months on social media. I can personally say it has been much more of a distraction now than it has ever been.

My usual tricks for limiting the amount of time that I spend engaging in non-work related activities on social media have had much less of an impact, and in a lot of cases it’s like I’ve forgotten all about them.

(I will share them in a bit.)

I do not post or comment a lot on political subjects, but I do feel a need to stay informed. This leads to observing very heated discourse between people on both sides of various topics.

I do not seek to persuade anyone, but I do seek to understand both sides. Unfortunately, in most cases I don’t find understanding. Instead, I noticed that I’ve just wasted an extra 15 minutes, sometimes even longer, reading commentary that upsets me. Then I spend another 15 minutes trying to find content that will help me get back into a healthier, more positive, more productive mindset.

Generally, I have noticed that I feel a little more powerless and that has led to a lot more anxiety. I have noticed that people I like to spend time with, I avoid now, knowing that they are very vocal on the opposite side of my beliefs. This makes me sad and I do not feel as connected to these people who used to bring such joy to my life.

I have a given an exception for invitations to meet new network contacts, and favor shorter get-to-know-you phone calls to avoid topics that usually tend to emerge when you sit down with someone for longer than a half hour.

My practice of being happy has required a lot more diligence to overcome these obstacles. I tend to want to immerse myself in more positive content just to normalize myself into a state where I can get done what is on my agenda to fulfill my mission.

Then I wonder about all of these people who are engaging in heated discourse. Some of them seem to go back-and-forth all day defending their original statement and refuting others. I’m seeing referencing data, which may not have just been at their fingertips. It is clear that they have taken the time to search and find this data simply to prove to a stranger that they are right and the other is wrong.

The upsetting thing for me is not that people disagree. I believe that is part of the beauty of our country. The upsetting thing is the name-calling and the dismissing other people’s opinion as being a product of ignorance, lack of morals, or low intelligence.

As a human being prone to bias just like anyone else, as per my previous post, I may make the same initial assumptions, but I know logically that even if there is a different belief system driving people to reside on an opposite side than me, my beliefs are not better than theirs, nor are they worse. It is just very difficult using the medium of social media and a venue like emotionally-charged sound bites, to really get down to the understanding that would enable me to draw a more accurate conclusion.

This desire to understand, however, is not only unsatisfying but unproductive. Especially while my first quarter initiatives have been riddled with technical setbacks and difficulties, it has been even easier for me to justify the distraction of so called informing myself and seeking understanding. I’m at a crossroads and I have to make a change.

No, this isn’t my usual “insight, expertise and practical tips” post. This is something I am still in the middle of figuring out, and I know that I’m not alone. I am hoping we can help each other figure it out. Here are some things that I have done in the past that have been successful in helping me curb succumbing to the siren of social media:

 

Lists on post-its

I cannot always opt to just to avoid social media; it is part of my job. Not only do I market myself on social media, but I also help others leverage it to increase opportunity. That means staying in tune with changes, staying up on navigation and future updates, and listening and observing to help others effectively use social media. Lists may not seem like that ingenious of an idea, but the key is keeping them visible. I write a sticker for whatever I am there on social media to accomplish and stick it to my screen. It serves as a constant reminder that I am there for a purpose.

 

A timer

It is a best practice to decide the night before what I really need to accomplish the next day and break my day up into segments. If you are someone who experiences high-level anxiety when things don’t go as planned, this may actually increase your stress. The purpose is not to be rigid, but to be intentional. If something happens to take longer than anticipated, I know that I have to adjust the rest of the day and the activities, perhaps making some sacrifices to make sure that the most important things get done.

In The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris, I learned that we will tend to take as long as we give ourselves to complete a project. This is why some people wait until the last minute to finish a project– they feel it will ultimately take them less time than if they started early. Of course, waiting until the last minute can cause problems when unexpected events and challenges occur. Tim Ferris does not recommend waiting until the last minute, but he does recommend giving yourself and others an early fake deadline. In applying his advice, not only will I manage a larger project like this, but also milestones, mini-projects and tasks.

When it comes to things like writing and social media, I know my tendencies are to get sucked in and take too much time. These are the things that I time. I might give myself an hour to write a blog, but when it comes to social media I will keep the time very short, I favor multiple short visits versus blocking a significant amount of time to get everything done. For instance, I will avoid social media until I have gotten the most impactful things out of the way. I will have already have meditated, and I certainly will have already broken my day down. Then I will schedule three 10 minute time slots intended for short postings that I will write outside of social media first. The next day I will allocate an hour to posting a client’s LinkedIn profile content. Then I plan when I will engage in social media for personal pleasure and interaction. I usually do this during a meal, unless I am eating with someone. I may slip in again while my kids brush their teeth at night. This is ideally where it would stop.

 

Turn off notifications

Social media designers know what they’re doing, and their intention is to make you come back over and over again. They want you addicted. Turning off notifications can be tough when potential clients and customers reach you through these venues and their needs are immediate, for instance if you’re a plumber and you deal with a lot of plumbing emergencies. Realistically, you would want to have someone else handling any incoming inquiries, because most of your time would ideally be spent helping customers. When you have a different quandary – make sure whoever is assisting you with incoming leads isn’t wasting their time on social media.

If these strategies alone do not help you minimize the amount of time that you spend not getting closer to your goals, there are some apps that can help you block websites for periods of time. SelfControl, StayFocsd, and Cold Turkey may help. If your job requires you to be on social media, these tools maybe too inhibitive for you.

If you have noticed a decrease in your quality of life and relationships, and you believe there might be a correlation between this and your social media usage, I encourage you to try these tricks.

However, if these tricks do not work and you sense that your social media habits will continue to have a cost to your life, consider that you might be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out). While this legitimate syndrome recognized by psychologists is not just limited to social media and users thereof, you may be able to look at your social media usage as either a symptom or a cause, and reach out for help.

 

As I am committed to relieving myself from the potential costs that social media has been imposing on my own life, I would love to hear others strategies and tactics.

 

Bias is Human, Yet Harmful

Interview by Alan Cleaver of Flickr

 

In my recruiting days I had a Vice President who advised repeatedly, “Refute your bias.”

Obviously there are biases that could get us in legal trouble, but she was more so referring to the more subtle biases that can make us dismiss or favor certain candidates. This advice was not in contradiction to using your intuition, but it was just a way to check ourselves before we make decisions that impact our candidates or clients.

Bias is not always bad or wrong; it is a built-in safety mechanism in which we make associations to decide if we are in any harm. It is automatic and it is human. However, now that our brain has evolved higher intelligence beyond our reptilian, instinctual brain, we can take into consideration much different input and make decisions that are more based on logic. The tricky part is recognizing which part of your brain has made the determination.

How much does bias really interfere, though? Why can it be detrimental?

Last week we talked about how critical EQ and empathy have become to corporate success. Bias, on the other hand, when not accurately and promptly assessed will impose unnecessary limits to what you can achieve with other people. This is because you are, by nature, actually limiting the population with whom you can successfully create or limiting the success that you can have with people for whom you have a bias.

It is easy to see that from a recruiting and hiring perspective, a bias will slant what the right candidate looks like, causing you to overlook someone who does not fit that image, but is the better candidate for the job.

As a job seeker, you may think that your intuition is telling you that a potential boss or co-worker is not someone with whom you could work successfully, and you may either decide to not pursue that opportunity or not to give that opportunity 100% of your effort in expectation that it will not work. This, then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Biases against the wealthy keep poor people poor. Biases against the poor have the same effect. You may have biases against generations, religions, races, genders, status, roles, opposing teams’ fans, people from a certain area, where people shop, etc.

If I continue to list these, I will eventually hit upon a bias you possess. The question is, will you recognize it? The ability to recognize and evaluate your own bias is absolutely essential to your EQ.

Here are three questions to ask yourself to determine if bias is impacting your perceptions, beliefs and actions, and potentially limiting your success and happiness:

  1. What HARD, TRUE evidence do I have to support my opinion?
  2. What do I still need to know and understand in order to know if I am accurately assessing this person?
  3. Could I be wrong?

Only someone with a high EQ would be willing to accurately answer #3, but just asking these questions in the first place are a great way to raise your EQ.

I would like to disclaim that I believe strongly in developing and using your intuition. I distinguish my bias from my intuition by asking these questions. However, once I acknowledge and remove bias, I lean on my intuition, which is a completely different exercise – one that I’ll save for another time.

 

How has bias impacted you?