Archives for life lessons

Never Forget, for Gen Z and Me

9/11 impacted me on a deeper level last year than it had in the past, thanks to my students.

You might think that 18 years later the impact of an event like 9/11 would fade. Actually, I realized in reflection that the trajectory of my life shifted significantly because of that day.

Last year, while planning the semester’s coursework and assignments, I saw that I had a class on 9/11. I didn’t think much about it. Even the weekend before when I saw that 9/11/19 was going to fall on a Wednesday, I made what seemed like an insignificant mental note and refocused on my to-do list.

Most days, my to-do list feels like a bunch of obligations I feel compelled to take care of, and the sense of responsibility outweighs the pride and joy I might otherwise take in my to-dos.

Class starts with 10-15 minutes of a mindfulness and/or self-awareness journaling exercise. When I lined up each exercise with each class during the summer, I was mostly thinking of progression and pairing with class topics.

On my way to class that morning, the DJs on the radio were recalling where they were when they heard the news. The female DJ shared that her mom woke her up with a call that morning and told her to turn on the news. She was annoyed, but once she realized the severity of the situation, she felt awful for being annoyed by her mom calling.

She was in college at the time and went to class because she didn’t know what else to do. She tried carrying on as though things were normal, but they were not. The professor told her to go home and call her mom. Then another student showed up and the professor told that student to do the same thing. “No one knows what to do right now.”

I had thought that I would let the day slide by without mentioning it, until I was on my way to class listening to the DJs recall their thoughts and emotions, forcing me to recall mine.

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No one knew what this meant, if we would ever feel safe again, or if we were just watching the beginning of the end of life as we knew it. We knew that civilians and first responders were dying in scary and awful ways.

Many of us thought about people we knew living or working in New York City, or those we knew were supposed to fly somewhere that day. My brother was flying to the west coast that day. I was frantic until I heard from him that his flight was grounded in Pittsburgh.

I was a young professional, finally having found my path in recruiting, eager to get to the next level, and interface with clients and candidates. But it was taking too long. I was starting to get bored. I was yearning for change, but I wasn’t doing much to actually change things, like looking for a different job.

I loved my boss and the other women in my office. I was sure I would eventually learn new skills from them if I stuck it out, but I was more excited by my lunch break run than by the work I was doing.

Then one seemingly average, beautiful day, a call came in for the managing director. I remember overhearing her voice as she was on the call. She sounded shocked. My first thought was that something terrible must have happened in her family, but then she shared the news with the rest of the office. Shaking with tears in her eyes, she told us that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center, and they think it was on purpose.

I can barely remember what happened next. I know that we dropped everything to search for news online. I might have found a live stream. The managing director went out to buy a TV to bring it into the office.

I had been working on a call list of management consultants in the DC area at that moment. There was no chance I would be reaching anyone now.

I remember calling my brother. I called my mom, dad, and boyfriend.

Another plane hit. We knew for certain now that it was a terroristic attack. Fear and shock left us bewildered.

What do we do? What can we do?

By 11 AM, we were told that we could go home if we needed to. I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to take my run in a national park. Who knew if they had other targets. Eventually, I went home and tried to process what was going on.

Returning to work felt strange. I had called candidates who were working on the exact floors where one plane hit. How could work ever seem important again for me or them?

There was a universal sentiment – what we had previously thought was important, may not actually be that important. Everyone thought twice about what they were doing with their time. Everyone assessed what was really most important in their lives.

Armed Forces enrollment spiked, as did the number of people quitting their jobs, even in the midst of impending economical impacts.

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By the time I got to campus that day last year, I was in tears struggling to compose myself. I thought for sure that I should make mention to my students of such a significant day in our country’s history, but also wondered how I could keep from ugly crying, which I felt like doing at the time.

As class began, I assessed my composure and decided I would introduce that day’s journal exercise by talking about 9/11. It wasn’t until I spoke that the synchronicity of the events, to me being there with them at that moment and what I was dedicating my career to, that the journal entry clicked. And the tears came, but I didn’t fight them.

This particular day, I challenged the students to think about Brules that they were following – BS rules made up by someone else about how to be successful and happy that are not authentic or in alignment with what would really make them successful and happy.

I told them how a good percentage of my clients come to me after or in the middle of successful careers because something is missing – some joy, some impact, some contribution that hasn’t been made after building their career, as meaningful as they thought it was at one time. I urged them to make sure they were defining their own happiness and success. What they were learning would help them make sure that at any point in the future, they could reinvent themselves and their definition of success.

These students were just kids when 9/11 happened. Some of them may have no memory of it because they were too young, and the older ones probably weren’t old enough to be told the truth of what had happened. Surely, at some point, as they got older, they learned about these events from a 3rd party observational perspective.

Today, though, I wanted them to tune into that universal sentiment – If it all, life as we know it, our financial model, our sense of safety and responsibility, changed today, what would really be important for you to do with your time? What beliefs that you adopted from others could you let go of now, and replace with what serves you and your own definitions of success and happiness?

My mission of making work a worthwhile way to spend time away from what’s really important was solidified by 9/11, both the day and the aftermath – the recession, my layoff, my struggle to land meaningful work again, and my realization that I no longer wanted to reject candidates – I wanted to help them.

I was only 27 when I started Epic Careering. Credibility was something I had to fight to establish, but I knew that I didn’t want to waste another year making a handful of placements while thousands of candidates stayed stuck and disempowered.

I knew that, like my parents, there were working parents everywhere coming home exhausted, overworked, and stressed out – wanting to have the energy to engage at home, but needing to disengage just to recover.

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Even the best work is going to present challenges. Innovation and progress can’t happen without those challenges. However, if people are going to spend their time away from their families and loved ones, at least that time can be meaningful, fulfilling, and well-compensated.

If 9/11 hadn’t happened, I would probably not have been laid off, and I may not have had the personal experience of long-term unemployment that made me understand and help people going through the emotions of that experience. In fact, I may have continued to go through the motions of a job I was growing bored of, waiting for a chance to learn and do something more.

And if it hadn’t happened:

  • Would I still feel called to this mission?
  • Would I have gained such insights about what great talent craves if I had not gotten to know them as clients, only candidates?
  • Would I be consulting to companies on how to be better employers for sustainable, conscious growth?
  • Would I be teaching emerging students how to navigate the job market and become conscious leaders?
  • Would I volunteer my time to nurturing young entrepreneurs in an effort to spark future economic growth and innovation?

Likely not.

My to-do lists are mostly things that I GET to do in support of my mission. I am seeing that now more clearly, and I am grateful that my time, energy, and efforts are making a meaningful difference to others.

Coincidentally, my students were awesome at sharing their realizations. They went deep. They brought their emotions to the surface and learned that this was okay.

I saw that for them, 9/11, a day when too many tragically died, had birthed a new vision of how they can apply what they are learning in college to craft careers that help make the world a better place.

This blog is dedicated to my students, Cabrini COM Cavaliers, social justice warriors!

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If you’re dedicated to making a meaningful impact in the world through your work, I invite you to join my LinkedIn group for conscious leaders. Join C3 now to be a part of future free events, like our next Answer the Call to Conscious Leadership event, taking place on Thursday, October 1st at 1:00 p.m. ET, where we will discuss Conversational Intelligence. By joining C3, you will also get to vote on upcoming training topics, watch replay recordings of our past events, interact with the conscious community, speakers, and experts, and have your chance to share your expertise by becoming a future guest panelist for upcoming events. Remember that without you, meaningful change is not possible.

Van Halen – Right Now HD.flv

one of the best videos eveR……..wud remain true for any decade i guess

Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days (bit.ly/GetFocusIn30). She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006. 

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. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, 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 in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) where some of her students won the 2018 national YEA competition, were named Ernst & Young’s America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

She is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly. 

5 of the Biggest Lessons I Learned in 10 Years as a Career Coach

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani Package by Trekking Rinjani of Flickr

Climbing Journal Mount Rinjani Package by Trekking Rinjani of Flickr

 

 

Last week an executive recruiter shared with me a really interesting position that she is trying to fill in the bleeding edge of biotechnology. We reveled at all of the amazing things that we were able to learn by spending quality time with subject matter experts and thought leaders. Then she asked me, “What is the biggest thing you learned when you switched from recruiting to career coaching?” Compassion is the first answer that came to the top of my mind because it was the first big lesson that made the biggest difference in my coaching practice and for my clients.

As I continue to reflect on the past ten years, there are a few more huge lessons among all of the small ones that have made the biggest difference in what and how I teach that have become staples of my brand. Allow me to share the top five lessons from my last ten years:

 

1. You get better results with compassion rather than with judgment

We followed this motto in recruiting, “screen out, not in.” It was meant to keep us looking for the right fit and not to force the fit. I’m a very trainable person and now I know that I can take things too literally. So I adopted this method of qualifying talent, but I did not enjoy the method. Yet, it became my way to be judgmental of candidates. I was always assessing if they were good enough and was always digging for skeletons in their closet. It is part of what made me realize I did not want to be a recruiter any longer. Although I switched sides to become an advisor and advocate for job seekers, I had taken a very “tough love” approach. I shared with them (for their own sake) all of the different and negative perceptions that they could be generating.

This is vital information for job seekers to understand, but what I did not understand at the time was how my role was really to be encouraging, to help them realize and articulate the tremendous value that they can present, and to help them see that they have so much more value to present than risk. For example, even when I was convincing a client that he should have been making double what he had been earning, I had been telling him from a place of judgment and intolerance rather than from a place of understanding and compassion. This is something that I needed coaching on, and I spent a year and then some working to restore and expand my compassion.

 

2Not only should I always be coached, but I should engage a coach who is an expert in each thing I want to master

Coaching had a profound impact on me, and that is why I found it a worthwhile career pursuit. I don’t know what made me think that once I became a coach I no longer needed coaching. In fact, what I discovered over the last ten years is that my capacity to learn new techniques, methodologies, and skills not only expands my abilities to accomplish goals my personal life, but it exponentially evolves the value that I offer my clients. This enables me to help them go further faster than ever before. It does not really matter what material I’m learning, there are always new applications for my clients.

 

3. Success is about 20% what you do, 30% how you do it, and 50% what you do it from

In college, I took a lot of communications courses for my major and I learned a lot about nonverbal communication and how much more influential it can be on people versus verbal communication. I certainly saw that in practice as a recruiter, as I became a human lie detector, but it was not until I underwent transformational training around communications that I had an epiphany: No matter what we say, or how we tactically manipulate our pitch, facial expressions, or body language, if we are coming from negative emotions, we will most likely have a negative communication outcome.

Do you have one of those friends that presses you a lot with, “no offense but…” and you know that what is likely going to come out of their mouth is going to be offensive? Did you know that we cannot possess negative emotion and positive emotion simultaneously, though we can easily switch back and forth? Physical and physiological changes in our pitch, tone, facial expressions, and body language occur naturally as results of our emotions. It makes a lot more sense to just be more conscious of which emotions we are communicating through, rather than to pay attention and manipulate the physical and physiological symptoms. Everyone has an internal lie detector, and although they do not recognize what they are picking up as a lie, they will get a general sense of being out of rapport with someone. If you are not in rapport with someone, you cannot be influential. Conclusion: if you want to be influential, communicate from a positive emotion, such as joy, possibility, love, and compassion.

 

4. When done right, technology makes us more productive, more efficient, and more effective, but it has to be done with discipline

I totally understand people who are resistant to using social media because there is a real risk that you will miss out on what and who is physically in front of you, and it can become an unhealthy escape from reality. However, there are ways to manage social media and technology usage that enable you to reap the benefits, such as being the person that people think of when a great opportunity comes around. That is, someone who can successfully manage and mitigate the potential risks that contribute to a loss of quality of life can use technological tools to be more productive with less effort. The learning, however, and the implementation, as well as tweaking the balance between using and abusing, will take time and effort (although a lot less time and effort if you do #2.)

 

5. Good habits are key to sustainable success, but accountability is only important to most, not all people

I am in love with learning, testing, and applying new techniques and technology that help us create better habits that support us in achieving our goals. Since first studying behavior modification through gamification in 2010, and trying to discover a panacea that would help everyone be successful, I discovered (I’m quoting Gretchen Rubin), “we are all more similar than we think, but our differences are important.” We all have the same brain composition, which operates according to some well-known and some newly discovered ways. Some of those ways help us learn and some impede our learning. However, we all come to the table with our own set of perceptions and beliefs about how the world and people operate.

That perception can greatly shape our tendencies when it comes to not just forming new habits, but the desire to do so. Some people do not need accountability because they hold themselves accountable and are very coachable. However, there are very few of these people. Others prefer to defy expectations and accountability, which makes them less likely to form a habit. Fortunately, this is also a small population of people and they deserve success as much as anyone else. Other coaches might find this population of people to be uncoachable, but I believe they are coachable. Furthermore, I’m enjoying the challenge of figuring out how to be a successful coach to the “rebel” population.

 

My six-year-old always wants to know how I know something. “How do you know the library is going to be closed tomorrow?” Sometimes I find myself explaining to her, “Well, the sign in the elevator said that the library would be closed on Sundays from May until September.” Other times I’ll just say, “Well, you think you know a lot at six years old. Imagine how much more you’ll have learned by the time you’re 12, then 24, and then 48.”

I’m sure if you thought about the last ten years of your career life, you would be equally in awe of how much you have evolved. You would be equally excited about what the next ten years holds in store, just from a learning and development perspective.

 

Please share with me some of the biggest lessons you have learned in the past ten years.