Archives for passion

Step 4 to Career Happiness: Allow, Accept, and Architect

The Architect’s Hands by Steve Grant of Flickr

When you visualize yourself in your ideal future, is there dissonance that makes you resentful, fearful, or even guilty?

Does it make sense that if you experience these emotions, you are not able to fully go for it?

Actually, you can, but you have to acknowledge these emotions, confront them, and overcome them first. You have to dis-empower them, or they stand to call the shots without you even realizing it.

  • They may prevent you from reaching out to a VIP.
  • They could make other things more important than attending that event or filling out that application (which, as you know by now is your last resort, Plan D, but still sometimes necessary).
  • They could keep you from articulately and powerfully promoting yourself when you do get the chance to interact with potential game-changing contacts.
  • They could stop you from stepping up in a meeting to share your idea.
  • They can keep you from trying at all, even just doing online research.

How do you dis-empower them?

The first step you did last week. You noticed them. You have no chance of stopping them if you do not even realize they are there, and tuning in to how you feel when you really put yourself in the place of having your ideal future is a great way to initially notice them. However, the next step is to catch them while they are operating in your life.

Mel Robbins talks about this phenomenon called activation energy – it is a natural occurrence when you have an inkling to take action, but it dissipates after five seconds if you do nothing (what she calls the five-second rule).

She is pretty clear about this – fail to take advantage of activation energy, and you are sabotaging yourself. Why do we do that? These automatic thoughts that manifest as negative emotions are the reason.

So, next time you have an idea to do something that could potentially bring you closer to your future, be mindful of your decision.

Do you decide that you’ll do it later? Do you really ever do it later?

Do you not only add it to your list of things to do, do you add it to your calendar?

Or, do you take care of it right away?

According to Mel, you do not have to necessarily take care of it right away, but you if you take a baby step, you will experience all the good feelings, such as pride and optimism, that can lead you to forming good action-taking habits faster. You can become addicted to these good feelings, and that will lead you to take immediate action more frequently. This immediate action will compound toward momentum that gets you ever closer to your ideal situation.

If, however, you do none of these things, really look at why. By really, I do not mean what was your excuse. In most cases your excuse is just how you justified it to yourself to ease the negative feelings of inaction – further guilt, shame, etc. that can compound instead toward depression and anxiety, which further hampers your ability to take action on your own behalf. By really look at why I mean, what was the automatic thought and corresponding emotion that led you to do nothing.  Allow these thoughts to surface. You could have been suppressing them so long you have tuned them out. It could take some time for you to fully take notice of them.

I am NOT intending for you to feel bad about your inaction. As I explained, this is of little value and can actually be a hindrance. The intention is for you to find the lesson; identify the thought, acknowledge it, listen to it. Give it a chance to make a case for truth. Act as the judge and jury, weighing the veracity of this thought.

Will your friends and family really ostracize you for achieving something great in your life?

Will you change for the worse by being successful?

Will you be a hypocrite?

You may find, actually, that there is truth to these statements, in which case you now have to make an empowered choice to either accept mediocrity for the sake of integrity, love, and acceptance, or you can decide that achieving a more ideal version of your life is worth risking love and acceptance. You may also decide that it is ultimately up to you whether you maintain good character or not (which it is). Perhaps your ideal future is not as ideal as you thought, and you can create a new vision of an ideal future that would not have you risking so much.

On the other hand, you may adopt a “make it work” attitude. If your neighbors, friends, or families really cannot accept a more successful you, they will learn to. You can reassure them. Love is stronger than judgment.

You may also find none of these things are truth – just fears, perhaps even fears that were someone else’s originally – not yours. You adopted them, but you can now reject them.

Before you do, though, thank them. Be grateful for your new awareness of these thoughts. Either accept them or release them, and then feel the sense of peace that you have with your decision.

 

Whether you decide that your ideal vision of the future is not worth what you think you could lose, or you decide to adopt a new way of thinking about having an ideal future, you get to be the architect of change in your own life.

 

Step 3 to a Happy Career: Freedom!

Soaring Bald Eagle by David Lewis of Flickr

Are the people you deem as successful really free?

The answer may surprise you.

Freedom, by definition, means unrestrained, able to do as one chooses.

Some of the most successful people are severely accountable to many people, and while they may have power to make decisions, they have to make them under heavy constraints with serious consequences.

Success, as in career achievement, does not equal happiness.

Do you look at other people and think they have it easier than you? Do you resent them, even just a little bit?

Not everyone strives for success. Few people strive for a simple life – just enough to get by. Are they happier? Not always. Do they have fewer problems? Not necessarily.

So if you aren’t striving for success, but you aren’t striving for simplicity, are you striving for balance? Is it working? Are you happy?

While happiness and striving are contradictory forces, freedom is elusive to most of us. Some may enjoy certain kinds of freedom, such as the ability to work from anywhere, or to be able to afford travelling to exotic places, but still are on some level enslaved by the need to please others, to be accepted, to be understood, or to be loved, even.

Before you reject this, think about what you learned at a young age about what it took to be loved and accepted.

Many people spend their lives pursuing achievement because at some level they feel that it is what they need to do to feel like they are worthy of love.  Many others gave up a long time ago and settled for that which they felt was worthy. Some were taught that successful people were unethical, and therefore being successful was undesirable.

Are you resisting success, even though it is what you “want?” You’ve heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for.”

One of my Facebook friends who recently graduated law school shared that one of her professors taught her a theory that all millionaires – every single one on the planet – at some time took advantage of someone else, and that is how they were able to become millionaires.

“No one ever *earned* a million dollars… Someone, somewhere was taken advantage of. Someone, somewhere lost in order for the millionaire to gain.”

Wow!  This post caused much debate on both sides, and revealed how differently we can think about financial success, corporate success, and what is fair, especially when it comes to compensation. What did I think? I thought the poster was sure to never become a millionaire with that belief, or if she did she would feel such shame and guilt that she could not enjoy it, though I hope she proves me very wrong and, therefore, proves the theory wrong and obliterates the belief that wealth equals greed for all who hold that as truth.

Last week, I challenged you to vividly visualize the career circumstances that you consider to be ideal. This week, I want you to dig deep into your feelings to see if, upon achieving this ideal future, you will be free from experiencing anything negative that could keep these circumstances from really making you happy.

It may be easy to say, “Of course, I’ll be happy!”  However, if you need circumstances to change in order to be happy, you are not really free. You are enslaved to those circumstances. You would be dependent on those circumstances to make you happy.

You may also notice that there are resistant thoughts – the dissonance between your current world and that future world is too extreme, and, therefore the feat is overwhelming; you would be resented by your family/friends/neighbors/community; you would become someone you don’t like; you will contradict things that you have said and believed.

These are real obstacles to your ideal vision. You will ultimately find at some point the efforts to achieve your ideal future will cease, and you will lose momentum because these thoughts are essentially inertia.

 

Exercise your freedom by choosing to make decisions without the restrictions of these beliefs.

 

Get in the Game

Baseball by PaulMLocke of Flickr

 

Was it hard to tell this Monday from any other Monday at work?

Can you remember the last time you felt triumphant at work?

Has it been more than three years since your last big professional growth spurt?

Your answers may reveal that you have been coasting. Sometimes we need to coast, like when we are going through big personal challenges. The impacts of these challenges can last a year or two (caring for an ailing elderly relative can take much longer). It can take us out of contention for professional growth and opportunity. There is only so long you can coast before ultimately running out of gas.

It may not be your fault; bad companies and bosses can kill your motivation and inhibit your desire to do more than a job requires.

Regardless, it is against our nature to stay stagnant too long and it can be detrimental to our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Ambition is something that we naturally generate. We can get into situations where we are re-trained to kill our own ambitions, and it can start at a very early age.

Pretty soon we are convincing ourselves that we are fine; the status quo is comfortable; change is unwanted and scary.

My friend since middle school ended a marriage she was unhappy in after she found evidence on Facebook that he was cheating. A couple years later she is very grateful for that evidence, because she may have stayed unhappy even longer without it. She is currently engaged to my brother’s friend, a man I have known since he was a boy, who I know is making her happy, will make her happy, and will be the loyal and affectionate spouse she wanted her ex to be. She said, “You don’t know how unhappy you were until you are happy.”

I do my monthly Epic Career Tales podcast so that people can be inspired by the level of success and happiness that other people have achieved. I know it is not always good to compare yourself with other people, but if you aren’t getting back from a job what you put into it, then you already know that you’re not as happy as you could be. But how do you know how happy you could be unless you compare yourself to how happy other people are?

A lot of you reading this right now have an automatic thought coming through saying, “Yeah, but those people aren’t me. They are [enter any one of the following: smarter, luckier, more privileged, prettier, wealthier, not as busy, more educated, better connected, etc.]”

If you don’t, that is great for you, because you have few reasons not to take action and become happy.

However, if you recognize that thought, that is also great for you, because recognizing it is the first step in taking its power away.

This post is not meant to put you on a path to extreme change in your life so that you can have happiness. I realize that if you have this thought then you also perceive the effort of becoming happy as potentially futile.

You may want to take action, and I encourage it, but effort is something I want you to save until you have a clear vision of what you being happy in your job could look like.

Tony Robbins has said, “Activity without a high-level of purpose is the drain of your fortune.”

So many of my clients are hesitant to picture what it could look like to be happy because they think that it will lead to greater disappointment.

Tony Robbins has also said that our expectations of what our reality should look like can cause our misery.

I just want to leave you with one distinction that might help clear up what seems to be a contradiction.

Be mindful of how you define happiness. The change you think might be necessary in order to achieve this may not be anything external.

Instead of thinking in terms of what you get when better conditions exist, think about you and your current conditions. Picture yourself in the flow, knowing you are at your utmost best and not needing anyone else to notice or recognize you for it.

This is a baby step to get your head back in the game of your career. For now, do not worry about winning the game, and certainly do not think about the championship – just play.

 

If you can generate a sense of happiness even in unfavorable conditions, you can become unstoppable.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: The Last 2 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

Graduation Day by MD Saad Andalib of Flickr

The big day is arriving soon, dear graduates.  You will be a full-fledged member of the “real world.”

Some of you are ready, while others are scared to death. The difference between the two groups is outlook. The ones who are ready perceive the real world will be able to offer them more than childhood or college life, such as independence and self-reliance.

I considered myself in the other group – the scared group. I perceived that the real world was harsh, and success was not necessarily dependent on my effort and talent, but on my aggressiveness, competitiveness, and self-preservation.

This was so unappealing to me, and I did not feel very powerful or self-reliant. As the youngest child and only girl, I was taught to be afraid of the world, that there are situations and places I should avoid, like the city. At nearly 40-years-old, my father still worries about me going to the city. He thinks I’m naïve. I’m not – I receive alerts of assaults where I go to work in the city every week. I grew in my awareness of a self-limiting belief that was formed by this conditioning and decided it was not truthful. I did not have to let other people take opportunities that the city offered so that I could stay safe in my suburb – which is equally untruthful.

There were a number of things I perceived about the real world that limited my early career growth, and one that I did not realize, but got lucky and unlucky in how things worked out.  Here are two things that I want to share with you that might have made a big difference to me, had I known them.

  1. The demands of life will become greater; enjoy yourself, but put in the effort to be a reliable performer.

It is very hard to help you form a realistic expectation of how limited your freedom will be once you settle in to family life, if that is the life you choose. Some may express resentment, in fact, for how free you are. As long as your personal activities do not interfere with your professional obligations, take advantage of this time in your life – travel, socialize, be civically engaged, volunteer, delve into your passions – whatever they are.

Attend conferences and make great new contacts. Maintaining relationships will become more challenging, even if you do not choose a family life, because OTHER people will, and that will limit their availability and freedom to connect. The more you connect and engage with people now, the stronger your bonds will be, and the easier it will be to reconnect with people after some time passes. You may not see some of your best friends more than once a year. This is okay, but do not give up on people because they become busy. In fact, it will take more effort as you age, but it is just as necessary, maybe even more so, to maintain these relationships.

Keep your word – it is your key to long-term success. If you say you are going to do something, deliver. Last week I shared how as you grow older it will seem harder to procure the help of others, because people generally grow more skeptical, if not cynical. However, if you have impressed people as a person of your word, and you come through for people (if they are given proper direction and inspiration), they will be more apt to come through for you, too. Making an extra effort on someone else’s behalf requires time. Many perceive time as a resource they already lack. To make it an effort they are willing to make, you have to be WORTH the effort. Use your youth to establish yourself as a person worthy of the effort of others. Remember to express gratitude to those who invest their time helping you grow and develop. Look for ways to give that value back and pay it forward.

  1. It will become less acceptable for you to not know what you want as years pass.

As you gain professional experience, it is expected that you will discover what you like and do not like in terms of role, culture, boss, structure, and environment. As you gain valuable skills and experience, the investment of hiring you increases, and the stakes for your employer become higher. Retention and engagement determine if a company receives a return on their investment in talent, so they will want to ensure that your intended career path coincide with the current AND future opportunities that they can offer you.

Though it was relatively early in my career when I discovered a field that lit my proverbial fire (coaching), I was also too early to have enough experience to be credible and effective. I had to spend several years learning more about how to make success more likely and failure less likely. Because I knew my ultimate goal and my reasons for staying in recruiting, I was able to ask for greater opportunities to interface with the clients (employers), and ask questions that helped me do my job better, but also learn more about how hiring managers in diverse organizations qualified top contenders and chose which one received the offer.

Then, when I started coaching at age 28, it was challenging to convey that I was senior, mature, experienced, knowledgeable, and credible enough to attract the volume of clients I expected. If I had not been so sure, however, that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, that I had found the career where I could make an optimal contribution, I would have struggled (even more) to survive, and would likely NOT have survived to be celebrating 11 years in business in a couple of weeks.  By the way – I had a coach that helped me maintain my “true north” when challenges threatened to sway me wayward.

I had a nephew that died at 28. I have lost over a dozen classmates. You may feel like you have your whole career to figure out what you want to do, but I urge you to invest time EARLY and OFTEN assessing where you can be the most successful, happy, and effective.

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is NOW.  If you are NOT a soon-to-be graduate and you are just now learning these lessons, there is still time to have them make a difference for you.

What lessons would you share with future business rock stars?

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 5 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To, Part 2

Respect – Undergrad Graduation by m00by of Flickr

 

It probably sounds a bit condescending, this, “Take it from me; this is how the world works” post. You are probably sick of that, huh?

Well, don’t tune out, because this is just what I wish I knew, and if I had, I might be much further along in my mission, which would actually mean that the fixes to what is broken in careering and hiring would be available and applied already. When I put it that way, can you see the butterfly effect of NOT knowing this?

So, here are two more things that, if I would have known then, I would have been much more prepared and confident to confront the “real world,” instead of wasting time avoiding it. And, yes, there are two more tidbits of advice that I will share next week. (Be sure to read the first part of this series, if you missed it.)

 

  1. At this moment, if you make a humble yet concerted attempt, you will find it easy to get advice, find a mentor, get inside information on the workings of companies that can help you get hired and succeed.

When I was advised that networking was the number one way to get a job, I was very discouraged. I did not come from a well-connected family. I did not perceive my inner circle to be influential, and I also did not feel confident that I was anyone who could make a strong enough impression to impress a stranger. That is what I thought networking was, and it seemed so inauthentic to me – shaking hands, schmoozing, BSing, bragging… I was more content to avoid corporate jobs, politics, and bureaucracy. I thought pursuing a career in radio was a way to do that.

I was NAÏVE.

Here is what I wish I had known – People LOVE helping other people! If I had seen it more as asking for advice and mentorship, I would have found that, whether I asked a stranger or an acquaintance, the percentage of the time I asked for help, I would have received it.

See, I thought most people were getting it all WRONG! I thought they were foolish to play along with this “dog and pony show” (the actual words of one of my former interns) only to get STUCK in corporate servitude for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. So, I did not bother asking for advice.

I was POMPOUS and STUBBORN.

I just had not known many people who were fulfilled and happy in their corporate jobs, but that did not mean they did not exist. I did not know at the time I would even want that someday, but if I had taken the opportunity to sit down with someone in human resources or recruiting (the corporate kind, not the MLM kind – I did that!) to learn about skills required, the challenges, and the triumphs, it would have altered my past, present, and future.

Though I do feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be and believe that all things happen in their own good time, my curiosity will always lead me to wonder where I would be if…

When you are in college or beginning your career, people see you as very moldable, and will want to help you now more than ever.  As you grow in your career, it’s strange, but not as many people will make the time to help you – some still will, and it is worth asking, but there seems to be a more worthwhile endeavor in helping a young person. Perhaps it seems too hard to change a more experienced person, or perhaps there is an increased perception that you are competition. Either way, obtain as much support and advice as you can right now, and furthermore, FOLLOW UP on that advice. The more you reward people for taking the time by making it pay off, the more people will be willing to help you in the future. Also, pay it forward. In fact, the fastest way to learn is to teach. You do not have to be in a position of power to be in a position to help.

 

  1. No one expects you to know it all, but be prepared to PROVE what you do know.

As I have mentioned before, those that hire a lot tend to be skeptical, if not cynical. If you genuinely do not know an answer, it is best to admit it. There is the famous saying, “fake it till you make it,” and that has paid off for some people, but you should also note that many well-respected leaders do not know the ins and outs of the jobs underneath them, but they know how to hire, trust, nurture and support experts, and can get answers when they are needed. Being resourceful is much more valuable than being all-knowing, and easier to believe, too.

As far as what you do know, that will have to be proven. If you merely state that you have X skill, without a clear demonstration of how you used that skill to add value, you are leaving much to be guessed, and you want them CERTAIN of your skills. So, make sure you explain what you are capable of DOING with that skill to clearly convey your strength.

 

Next week I will share two more wisdom bombs to help graduates accelerate their professional growth. By the time you are 30, the “cool kids” are the ones who are rock stars at their jobs and can afford a great lifestyle.  It is okay to be a late bloomer like I was, but trial and error in your career can have a cost you will NEVER know.

Please share what you want today’s graduates to know.

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: 3 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

The Graduates by Luftphilia of Flickr

 

I went back to college this weekend. It was horrifying to discover that these girls were born the year I pledged. My sorority invited alumnae back to campus to say farewell to the house that has been ours since my senior year. It was a time to reflect on some of the most impactful years of my life, but also to remember the fear, uncertainty, and sadness that accompanied leaving college, where your best friends were often just a door away. I had no grand plan, like some of my friends, and no full-time salaried job as an aspiring radio personality. I was under the impression that if I could not make it in radio, I would be living in a ditch begging for change to buy a meal.

That never happened, though hard times did follow. When asked, “What’s life like after graduation?” I had to remember that some of the best things in my life happened after college – my band, my husband, my company, my kids, and teaching, in that order.  As my friends now turn 40, (I’m the youngest, so I get to watch them all get there first) I see that for some of them, it means it is all downhill from here. That was an exact quote from a 40th birthday party I went to last night. (Happy 40th, Neal!) Looking back at the last decade, at what I have learned, how I have grown, what I’ve been able to accomplish and contribute, I am excited for the next decade.  I’m looking forward to it, and I think there are amazing things yet to come.

BUT, there are some things that I would have wanted my younger self to know, which I felt compelled to pass on to the graduating seniors in my sorority, and my students, as well as ALL soon-to-be graduates. I feel these things would have potentially catapulted me so much further so much faster if I had known and applied them.

Before I get into the hard truths, I most want ALL people, but particularly young people, to know that there IS a formula for success, and no matter what family structure, social or economic status, education, circumstance, or hardships you are from, they DO NOT limit your future at all. At any time you can improve your life. The tools, technology, and teaching exist – all you have to do is harness them.

Okay, now on with what you may not want to hear, but need to know if you want to make your 30s onward the best years of your life.

  1. Unless you land at Google, Apple, Disney, a Big 4 consulting firm, or a company with a similar colossal reputation, it will not be as easy as it is right now to land a job.

The co-op program where I teach is world-renowned. The biggest, most admired companies want these graduates badly. They come out of school not as entry-level workers who were getting coffee and observing leadership, but as junior business stars who have already solved real business problems. By the time they take my mandatory career management class, many of them already have jobs lined up from campus recruitment efforts and co-ops that led to offers. While you may be recruited aggressively if you work for a company with clout for hiring and developing the best talent, the legwork to find your next gig, even internally, if you don’t is on you.  AND, furthermore, even if you are aggressively recruited, you are not necessarily managing your career optimally by being reactive to recruiters’ sales pitches. This is why the class that I teach is not “Get a Job 101,” but Career Management and Professional Development. See your career growth as a trajectory and learn how to course correct early. Learn and master the life skills of personal branding, networking, and career management.

  1. The bottom is often the best place to start if you want to be a great leader.

Many of my clients are influential leaders today because they were once in the trenches. Isn’t that the point of Undercover Boss? Making well-informed business decisions can be easier when you have first-hand knowledge of business from the front-line to the executive office. Those that have been successful in implementing massive change say that they were able to rally the troops because they were once the troops. Empathy, as we have stated before, is quickly gaining popularity as one of the most effective leadership tools.

Also, even for those students who were solving real business problems in their co-ops or internships, it might be worth considering starting even lower if the target role or company is worth it. I can speak from experience here.

While I was on air, reporting news, DJing, producing live talk shows, and operating the board for remote broadcasts at a small community radio station, my fellow Communications majors were putting up flyers at concerts, dressing up in costumes, and handing out chotchkes for the major media radio stations. I figured I had the advantage, but I was wrong. I moved to the Jersey Shore and did get to work producing talk shows for an AM station, while digging into commercial production and more part-time work. I temped to pay the bills. Meanwhile, my fellow classmates went on to full-time jobs eventually at the major media stations. Granted, some of their jobs involved much less glamorous, even undignified tasks, like getting shot from a cannon. Guess what – they are STILL THERE, loving their jobs and making what is probably good money. Casey is the Executive Producer of a VERY popular morning show that is streamed worldwide.  Matt is a Regional Director for Advertising for the conglomerate and Joann is Traffic Manager for a radio station in the same company.

When it came down to it, I had recognized after a year in radio that I was not really willing to continue working awful hours, get paid peanuts, do the boring parts of the work OR keep moving from market to market in order to achieve my ultimate position, but that was what I had learned was necessary from the people who were more senior than I at the station where I worked. At the larger station I would have had a completely different experience, and even though I might not have started out on the air, perhaps I would have found a different niche in radio and stayed there until today, too. Not that I have regrets – I think things worked out just as they were supposed to. However, I’ll always wonder.

  1. In time, you will earn the right to demand certain accommodations IF you are a top performer. But for now, you have to play their game.

Older generations will tell you that they had no illusions – work hard, get a job, work your butt off, save your money, and you’ll be fine. That is not what the younger generations have seen, though, so it is not what they will believe. With diminishing financial security for employees came resentment to employers for taking more than they give. This is what has led to a perceived sense of entitlement.

Even though there are talent gaps, and certain skill sets are very high in demand, most are not. Yes, talent is hard to find, but that does not mean companies are willing to bend over backwards to hire you. Ultimately, there has to be mutual respect and value in the deal.  Many things ARE negotiable, but that depends highly on the company, their policies, their culture and what you have PROVEN you can do to make it worth giving you more than they have given to employees before you.

If you are really that good, get in and prove your worth. You may earn the right to ask for more flexibility, more money, extra vacations, or perks. In the meantime, understand that though your package should remain confidential, IF anyone were to learn of you getting preferential treatment, you would not like the climate that breeds.

 

As graduation month ramps up, I hope this food for thought is helpful, even if it may not be encouraging. In a way, your adult life does not really begin until after college. Adulting is not always fun, but being armed with wisdom and systems for success will make it much more enjoyable.

Follow me and stay tuned for more things you need to know, but may not want to hear.

Share this with graduates you know.

 

Pro Hacks to Get In Front of Your Future Boss

arsp-064 by Anthony Ryan of Flickr

 

Last week I laid out plans A through D for getting noticed by your future employer, but one of those plans deserves its own post, as it requires some ingenuity, investigative skills, and GUTS.

Did that just discourage you?  We will talk in the coming weeks about what caused that and how it can sabotage your success beyond your job search.

Back to Plan C – Find out what other media, social media, professional events, or social events enable you to capture an executive’s attention where few others will be vying for it.

Some executives are inaccessible. Can you presume that they are “ivory tower” types, making decisions from far above the front lines, making you schedule an appointment through their assistant, deeming the lower rungs of the career ladder less important and influential to success? Not really, and they probably are completely unaware that they give off that vibe. I have had to point out to many of my clients through the years just how unapproachable they have made themselves by failing to give themselves a presence.

Their top real reasons?

They are just too busy tending to the people and business that make their success possible. They sometimes even don’t have time to hire the talent that they desperately need!

OR…

They have valid reasons to be concerned about privacy.  They have had access to highly privileged and sought after information. They worked in industries targeted by zealots who bordered on dangerous. Some also worked in highly regulated industries that had not yet discovered how to navigate marketing while staying in compliance.

I have helped my clients overcome these challenges while remaining sensitive to them. But for the executives who remain “invisible,” but who still need YOUR value on their team to support organizational success, how do you make sure you become visible to them?

Have you tried googling their name in quotes? This sounds so common sense in today’s world where our first instinct to find any answer appears to be Google (or YouTube). However, I have been recruiting and finding people on the internet since 2000, and it may not be common sense to everyone.

  • Perhaps if it is a common name, google it with a location or company name.
  • Select the images menu of Google search. Sometimes, your future boss is tagged in photos at events by other people.
  • Check the executive’s LinkedIn Groups and recent activity, if any.
  • Check the company’s press releases (perhaps through your local business journal).
  • Facebook search their name in quotes. Even if they do not have a Facebook profile, you may find them mentioned as part of someone’s post.
  • Join a Meetup related to their industry in their vicinity and see if they are members, then also see what other Meetups they are in.

What clues are you looking for?

  • Places they go.
  • Organizations that they belong to.
  • Events that they attend.
  • Hobbies and interests that they spend time on.
  • Who they hang out with.
  • Causes that are important to them.
  • Other social media that they might use more often, such as Twitter, Instagram or even SnapChat– seriously! You would be surprised!
  • How they view a significant industry problem, company initiative, even their preferences on finding TALENT, aka YOU!

WHY?

This can help you determine:

  • The best way to approach them.
  • Whether to be casual or formal.
  • A place that they might go where you will not have any gatekeepers (except your fear, but we will cover that in a future post).
  • What to talk about when you have a chance to approach them that would be of interest or importance to them.
  • People you may not have known you mutually know because someone wasn’t actively using their LinkedIn account.
  • Maybe you might find that there is a path of even less resistance building rapport with their parent, spouse, child, or assistant.

Does this sound “stalkerish?” Is it Overkill?

That is most likely your fear talking. This is where the GUTS come in.

You may not be driven to try this if you are generating a lot of interest in your top companies by tapping the shoulders of the people you know in order to make powerful introductions that get you interviews. That is Plan A, remember.

However, before you go spend the same amount of time filling out a frustrating online application with redundant or irrelevant questions only to drop into an abyss of résumés that will never even get seen, let alone get a response, muster up some guts to try this experiment with two of your TOP target companies.

If you find yourself unwilling, scared, or thinking any of the following:

“I don’t want to bother anyone.”

“I don’t have time for that; I need a J-O-B!”

“They’re not going to like me.”

“What if I fail?”

“What if I embarrass myself?”

Then we have a post coming up that you need to read, because no matter what you do, you will STOP yourself from getting what you want every time if you do not address the REAL cause.

 

Do you have a story where you boldness was rewarded? Please share the results of your experiments!

 

The Secret to Influencing Corporate Change Revealed

Foxx Discusses Local Economic Issues with NC Business by Virginia Foxx

 

Many of my clients over the past ten years have either developed thought leaders for their organization, leveraged thought leaders, or have been thought leaders themselves.

It seems like common sense that if change in an organization is going to be adopted, it needs to happen from the top down, but my clients have been able to manage upward. Executive leaders have to be able to recognize a problem and the pain that it’s causing to have any desire for change.

When you cannot bring the executive leader to the problem, like in Undercover Boss, sometimes you have to bring the problem to the executive leader, but how you do you do that? Through storytelling. Who does it? A person with influence.

I’m referring to authentic influence. I’m not talking about leaders who are talking heads and attempt to assert their influence using authoritarianism. People with authentic influence, who I refer to as influence leaders, earn trust and loyalty by listening first and foremost. This is also referred to as caring.

At first you may think that they are inaccessible because they seem like Mr. or Mrs. Important, but they genuinely want to be of service. They also want to invest their time improving situations that impact the most people or cause the most pain, so if you want them to give you their ear, be a curator and deliverer of people’s pain stories.

It does not always work. Unfortunately, sometimes executive leadership is more influenced by ego. That is usually how these thought leaders, and the developers of thought leaders found their way to me. They were usually hired because there was an intention and planned initiative for change, but they found interference coming from the top and felt stifled. They are driven by their desire to realize change and they lose their motivation quickly if unnecessary obstacles are created at the top. An influence leader can only inspire change if they are inspired.

In order to retain these valuable people for your organization, executive leaders have to be open and receptive, and to be willing to stand up for change and go to bat for their people.

Otherwise, I will help them find and be found by organizations with leaders who will stand up for change, and that organization will benefit from their influence.

 

Whether you are the thought leader, you develop thought leaders, or you leverage the thought leaders, you are an influence leader. Only work for an organization that demonstrates its willingness to be influenced. If that does not apply to where you are at, let’s have a consultation. It is highly important to me that you, who have such potential to make things better for others, are in a position that enables you to embrace and use your power. That is the influence that I am driven to have.

 

Good News or Bad: Longer life > Longer career?

group of happy business people clapping by Tec Estromberg of Flickr

 

Trend alert: Employment for workers 55-74 is rising faster than any other age group.

Are you alarmed or encouraged by this news?

You might be alarmed if you were thinking that retirement was on the horizon. On the other hand, you could be encouraged if you already realized that retirement is years away and were concerned that you could face age discrimination.

I say, either way, if you are in either camp and no matter what age you are, it is time to decide. You are going to live a longer life. Are you going to live it led by passion or are you going to continue on with a career that pays your bills, but leaves you wanting more?

There are many great examples of people who have reinvented themselves late in life to achieve greatness.

Here are just a few:

Colonel Sanders, 65, was motivated to hone his recipe and franchise his restaurant by a new highway that had drawn customers away from his single store.

Laura Ingles Wilder, 65, put pen to paper and published Little House on the Prairie.

Grandma Moses, 76, created her first canvas painting when her arthritis prevented her from enjoying embroidery.

 

Consider this:

  • A majority of people dedicate their youth to careers that offer financial security.
  • 70% of these workers are disengaged in their work.
  • Having had dedicated decades to building a life and supposedly saving for retirement, they are finding that the lifestyle they imagined when they signed up for “corporate servitude” is not actually attainable with what they were able to save, if anything.

Or we could imagine a different scenario.

After retiring from the career that they dedicated decades and their youth to, they find they are still able-bodied and able-minded and want to spend the rest of those years, with kids grown and hopefully living life well for themselves, delving into their passions and finding new ways to make money pursuing those passions.

Some of them are finding more passion driven careers than they did as a corporate servant. That makes them wonder, “Why did I spend so many years consumed by consumerism?”

I’m not suggesting that having a corporate career is a waste of your life. I have many clients who feel completely fulfilled, are at the top of their game, enjoy going to work and get to enjoy their lives outside of work as well.

What I am saying is, if you are biding your time in a corporate career that you do not feel fully engaged in, why aren’t you reaching for something better? Better is possible.

In fact, my experience teaches me that so many do not reach for something better because there is so much doubt that something better is possible, or if something better is possible for THEM.

Before you can go from impossible to actual, you have to realize that what you suspect is impossible is possible. So, I am providing evidence to you that it is possible. If it was possible for some, than why would it not be possible for you?

Are you thinking it could be possible yet?

Okay. The next step is to make what is possible probable.  That is where we come in. This takes more than just influential content and a pragmatic plan of action. You may be in the “possible zone” now, but you have been in the “impossible” zone for quite some time, if not all your life.

You need tools, tricks and techniques, aka HACKS, to shift yourself to where you are in the possible/probable zone MORE of the time, and then MOST of the time. This is why our coaching, group coaching, and one-on-one programs are so much more than how-to-job-search programs. If you have been reading up on the best ways to find a job, attending seminars, watching videos, etc., and still have not been able to see a big difference in what you do and/or what results you get, or you have not been able to sustain those results, we know exactly how to help you!

You may inquire as to one-on-one coaching programs at any time, but why wait? Fill out a Needs Assessment form and have a free 30-minute consultation with us.

Or, RIGHT NOW you can still get into our six-week Epic Career Fast Track group coaching program. We’re getting started soon, though, so don’t wait!

 

Refuse the Box: The Perils of Vanilla Branding

Checked Tick by Oliver Tacke of Flickr

 

Are you dynamic? What does that even mean?

Very few people who have had that word in their resume have been able to tell me what it really means. Most of them just thought it sounded good.

It is true for most people, however. I could definitely say it has been true of all my clients. To me dynamic means multi-dimensional, having a diverse set of interests and skills, and having a certain intrigue.

While some companies are investing millions of dollars and allocating work hours into creativity boosting exercises, other companies seem to stifle individuality and expression.

It certainly does take all kinds of people to make the world go around, and so you could conclude that the same could be true about businesses.

My friend who works at a very conservative financial services company shared a story that in a conference a report was distributed that misspelled “assess” very prominently and in several places. She would not dare laugh. I know she loves her job and her company, but I could not personally work somewhere where we all couldn’t get a good laugh out of that mistake.

Most of my clients agree with me. For my clients’ sake, I am willing to take a risk early on in the writing process. We have an initial 90-minute branding consultation in which I use my intuition and investigative skills to uncover what makes my clients so special, and by that I mean really unique. I craft four-to-six branding points and then provide them with a request letter that they sent to their trusted inner circle for feedback. This is risky for me because often these branding points represent the softer, qualitative aspects of my clients and I have found many people consider these to be “nice and true, but not necessarily relevant.”

I beg to differ.

The other risk is that these branding points tend to be quite wordy, and not really representative of the kind of concise, quantitative content that I would write for a résumé. Often these branding points portray multiple aspects. It is challenging and excessive to explain how these branding points are used for my internal writing process. Basically, they help me make sure that all of the content has a “so what” feel and that every piece of content I write for my clients presents a clear and consistent brand.

The feedback that my client receives from his or her inner circle usually has a fair amount of commentary on the complexity of the bullet points and skepticism on the relevance. The feedback that I dislike the most, however, is when someone takes a strength, like forthrightness, and advises that we either hide this strength because it is not appreciated by some companies. Or they advise we make it sound more vanilla, aka generic, such as to say “effective communicator.”

The intention is good – they want my client to be marketable and attractive to as many companies as possible, thinking that is the best way to succeed. However, then this forthright client finds himself in a company that values passive-aggressive communication, bureaucracy, and pardon my language, ass-kissing. Not only is he miserable, but he sees how the company’s culture is strangling its own progress and he can’t be as successful as he could be were his honest input valued.

I do not mind sorting through the feedback, good or bad, because I get to reinforce for my clients that they do not need to fit someone else’s idea of who they should be.

You do not need to check all the boxes, or fit inside a box in order to be successful.

Certainly we do not step into a job interview spilling our guts about our failures and weaknesses, but no one would believe us if we were perfect anyway. There is quite a sense of freedom in believing that you can be authentic and be valued.

At this point in the process, they have to take a leap of faith that they actually can be accepted and successful, that the job exists, and the offer will come.

This process also uncovers pure gold. The aspects of my clients that I may have missed, the things about them only someone who worked side-by-side with them would be able to notice, or even what their spouses admire about them.

With a renewed appreciation of who they are, a résumé that substantiates their skills and validates their value, and a new hope that they will be compelling and attractive to the right company and the right boss, they actually become excited to be in action. They feel ready to take on whatever challenges present themselves in the transition process. And of course, I will be there to make sure they know exactly what to do when challenges arise.

If the thought of having to check boxes or fit your dynamic self into a box saps any energy you could possibly muster up to conduct a job search, please know that there is another way and we would love to help you discover and execute it. Our six-week Epic Careering Fast Track Program is starting soon!

The more people we help realize a new idea of authentic careering, more people believe it is possible, and the more companies may realize that a “dynamic” culture is in demand.