“I could while away the hours conferring with the flowers consulting with the rain, I could dance and be merry life would be a dingle darry…if I only had a brain.” C’mon y’all know the song. Dorothy Gale’s best friend from OZ who guides, protects and consistently places himself in harms way to keep her safe..and constantly claims he knows nothing because his maker did not invest him with a brain. What we come to discover, rather quickly, is our friend the Scarecrow has common sense oozing through every pore of his being. No, he does not have a formal education or as the Wizard himself bestows a diploma; however when the going got tough it was the Scarecrow who had the answers, the plans and the gumption to get Dorothy’s rag tag band of compatriots through the tough times.
Ok Betsy get to the point! Well here goes, I was talking recently with the CEO of a mid-sized company that I work with (yes he has a brain and no he is not a scarecrow). We somehow got into a long discussion about how to break out of the rut so many similar businesses seem to be stuck in (unable to address challenges or move at all). I asked what he’s been doing to encourage staff to innovate and push the limits of current business practices. First he looked at me like I had a third eye then he informed me that he’d hired a business consultant to come and observe, research and provide feedback into what he could do differently to move his business ahead.
Now for the record, this is a very intelligent and successful business man who has worked hard to grow his enterprise into what it is. That being said I wanted to scream “Please Use Your Brain!”. He is overlooking his single most valuable asset to experience incredible innovation and growth… his current employee brain trust. They may not have a formal education or be Bill Gates, Nikola Tesla or Thomas Edison; however they know your business, sometimes better than you do. Why wouldn’t you engage them?
As leaders we are constantly looking for the next big idea, what can we do differently that will catapult us ahead of the competition? So we read books, articles and blog posts on the next big idea, industry trends and we chase unicorns across rainbows only to end up in OZ with no idea how to get back. Do you know where most great new ideas come from? They come from the last place most managers look, your current employees… your employee brain trust. Remember Dorothy’s famous line, “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home“. She didn’t need to go looking any further than her own back yard to find all the answers.
If you are looking for industry trends, talk to the people who live it every day. If you want customer feedback, talk to the people who talk to your customers. If you want to tap into institutional knowledge and find out what is possible, impossible, too hard, too easy or will have a real impact ask the people who live it every day. Inside of your current organization are your disruptors, game changers, and generally brilliant people. Talk to them, pose the questions to them…you may just be surprised at what you find.
yes change is scary and hard and often expensive however, never as expensive as staying still while everyone else passes you by. Not as scary as watching your hard built dreams unraveling before your eyes cause you didn’t anticipate future trends and certainly not as hard as telling your entire workforce that your business is closing and they are losing their jobs.
Really, what do you have to lose by engaging those who already work for you and have a vested interest in your success? I’ll tell you…nothing, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.
This has been one of those weeks that leaves me thinking about a lot. Now thinking generally is not something I have trouble with, unfortunately I’m one of those people who has a very difficult time turning off my brain…even when I want to.
This week I hosted a luncheon of women leaders who’ve I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with. I wanted to give us an opportunity to hear an incredible speaker, enjoy a healthy lunch and forge a deeper understanding of one another. Yes it was quite the women’s power hour and I LOVED it! Hearing their stories of adversity, challenges, struggles, success and set-backs inspired me; however, there was one question that I’m still pondering? What is my purpose and am I happy where I am right now?
I spent a good part of the evening and the next day with those questions still in my head. What IS my purpose and AM I happy where I am right now? My answer at the time was, “Yes I’m happy with where I am right now however, I’m not done yet.” As for my purpose, well that’s a harder one. I have always been an incredibly mission driven person, I want to make the world better. How I have lived that out through the years has morphed; whether its working in education, non-profit organizations of all sizes, employment services or in the media; if I don’t feel like I’m making a difference I am not happy.
Today I attended a panel discussion composed of female leaders from across different industries. They shared their trials, tribulations and successes, what got them there, what lessons they’ve learned and the pitfalls they wished they had avoided. Again the topic came up…live your purpose. I was sitting with a friend of mine who is a source of inspiration, she lives her purpose every day. She knows exactly what impact she wants to make and how she’s going to make it, she has laser focus in her career choices.
Now I am the first to admit that my career path has not be planned. In each of my career moves, I was scared to death that I might not be able to do the job, which is ultimately what inspired me to make the jump, I LOVE a challenge.
The BIG question is, what do I want to do now? Is it time to have a more purposeful direction? Is it time for me to pick a career field and stick to it? Do I finally need to decide what I want to do when I grow up? Answer: NO! Not just no but heck NO!
I’ve had a wonderful roller coaster ride of a career path. In each of my fields I learned new skills, honed my talents and grew exponentially. I grew in ways needed to take my next leap. Not only that, but as I have been promoted, I look to hire people with similar paths. Individuals who have a varied background that bring new perspectives to what we do, challenge the norms and me. I love where I am and what I’ve become both personally and professionally, which wouldn’t have happened without my roller coaster career path. No I’m not done, I have LOTS left to do and I’m not the type of person to confine myself to one box, one purpose or one direction, where’s the fun in that?
My mother and father both worked for the same employer for 35+ years. I’ve seen their ups and downs and I’ll admit there were times that I actually thought, “that will not be me.” Don’t get me wrong they loved what they did, my parents taught me professional & familial responsibility, extremely high work ethic and integrity. All of which are incredibly important but, you don’t need to stay in the same job to exemplify those traits.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I don’t have to decide what I want to do when I grow up. Only time, opportunity, bravery and passion will tell. One thing I know for sure, it’s going to be fun and I will make the world better in whatever way i’m able.
I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.
For a highly motivated and driven individual, not hitting a goal hard and leaving it dying in the dust is never an option. However, sometimes it is a very painful reality. Finding a way through the complex range of emotions can be difficult…the key is not to be defeated. Yes, this sounds like the opening few sentences of the next “How To” business book or motivational “You Can Do Anything” article. Well it’s not. I missed a goal for the very first time in my professional career and it totally SUCKS.
I have felt defeated, bruised, my confidence is shaken and I have a hard time looking people in the face when they ask me how work is going. Especially those who have been friends for years and often talk of our various professional successes as if they are badges of honor. No, we don’t ever compare our successes like others do their cars, kids or paychecks. Believe it or not we do revel in each other’s triumphs.
Over the past weeks, it became painfully clear that although we had a bang-up year (in the best sense), my team was not going to achieve what we set out to achieve. I have been uncertain how to accept my defeat. In my mountaintop moments I often looked to my mentors, heroes and idols; could that be me some day? I want to make that kind of impact. How can I follow in their footsteps? Well the truth of the matter…I am.
Before Nelson Mandela united a nation, he was in prison for over two decades. How many setbacks did Abraham Lincoln suffer before he achieved the level of success that captures our imagination over one hundred and fifty years later. Did Steve Jobs achieve total world domination after building his first Mac…NO! Our leaders, heroes and idols are so often defined by their successes, it is after all, what they are remembered for. We strive to be like them, read books and articles about them listen to endless TED Talks and quote them whenever we can. We don’t sit around thinking, “gosh I sure hope that I have to suffer the failures, humiliation, and persecution that they did“. GET REAL!!! Who wants to go through that, isn’t there a fast track, a short cut, a pill or “Get Out of Jail Free Card“, that can alleviate all that nastiness? No, my friend, there is not.
Yes, thinking through this, I do have a slightly better perspective. No, I am not back on my mountaintop, I’m still frustrated and a bit disillusioned. What I can say is this, knowing that the incredible people that I have looked up to all these years are indeed human and have also suffered failures and defeat does give me hope. I choose to move forward, learn where I need to adjust, how can I approach differently, rethink my box (not that I ever really worked in one) and go at it again.
We are not defined by our circumstances or what happens to us, anything that happens to us. We are defined by how we respond to, and through those circumstances. I may never change the world in the way some of my heroes have, but I will change it, and I will change it for the better. I will change it because I know I can and I will get up each day, no matter how difficult it may be, and go at it again.
Humility is a key characteristic of successful people. They have been knocked down, walked in others shoes and chosen to lead through that experience. Without humility, we can never truly understand or appreciate what we have and how hard we had to work to get there.
I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.
You never know the effect a smile can have on those around you.
I was reminded this week of a time, early on in my career, where I was asked to fill in for a colleague with our CEO. He had a terrible reputation within the administrative pool. In fact it was not unusual for a newer admin or a temp to leave his office crying. Unfortunately, it was a regular occurrence.
When I was asked to fill in for a whole week while someone was on vacation, I was terrified… but determined. No one could be that mean…right?
I showed up my first day and was quickly (very quickly) shown the ropes and left on my own. I sat in my chair and thought…what do I do now? I stood up, put on my best smile and went to his door. I knocked and was quickly reprimanded with a “What?” Entering the room still wearing my smile, I asked if there was anything he needed or if I could do anything for him. Slowly, he looked up from his computer. I think the unfamiliar voice threw him, (he may have actually forgotten his assistant was out for the week). Looking at me he thanked me and stated he would let me know if he needed anything. I wished him a good morning and went back to my desk. I made sure to repeat this every time he called me on the intercom (which was VERY often), and asked me into his office to take his dictated communication.
When it was time for me to leave for the day, I smiled and asked if there was anything he needed before I left, wished him a good evening, and let him know I’d see him in the morning.
Here’s where it gets good. The next morning I was in the office before him and as he walked by my desk he stopped to wish me a good morning, politely asking if I would get his coffee. I fixed it, per his request, brought it in along with his paper and periodicals, pages marked with tabs where I thought there was something that related to the business or might be of interest to him.
I spent the week exceeding expectations with my work, but more importantly, with my behavior. Yes he was old school, I mean taking dictation…who does that?! However, he started including me in conversations, meetings and asking my opinion. He joked with me and taught me. Within one week, his demeanor had changed to the point that others noticed.
I spent the next several years working for this organization and I can say that each time there was a life event, he noted it. When my daughter was diagnosed with Cancer, he gave me his personal guarantee that my job was secure no matter what and that I should reach out to him if my family needed anything.
You can be assured that each time he needed someone to fill in, it was my line he called. If there was a project, new initiative or opportunity, I was included. He helped to shape my young career in ways others could not. This brilliant, stern, dry humored, generous man passed this week. I am sad that the world lost him, perhaps without really knowing or understanding him. I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend with him.
I remember those years working for and with him with a smile on my face. The same smile I greeted him with each day. Do I think that this will always happen when we put our best selves forward? No. Unfortunately the world is still full of people who have to make others feel less, for them to feel more. However, there are also those who have goodness inside of them and might just need someone help them bring it back out.
I’d love to hear from you. Come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.
Recently a friend of mine (Kris) from the Recruitment industry decided it was time to make a career change. It didn’t come as a surprise as she had risen through the ranks of her current organization as high as she could and was looking for a new challenge. She came to me for some assistance with revising her resume, updating her social media profiles and as a sounding board to talk about potential new opportunities. Needless to say as a Recruitment professional her resume was perfect (I made a few little tweaks), and her social media was up to date and professional (we added a few recent achievements). Kris was set and no sooner had she started to network and apply for positions, then her phone ringing off the hook with potential opportunities.
Slowly we began the process of weeding through the sea of potential opportunities to winnow the list down to those which she found truly intriguing. Truth be told she was in the best possible position. She is currently employed and for the most part enjoys her work. She doesn’t need to jump at the first offer or even apply for every opportunity that comes along. I think this mind set of being “selective” was where the process began to go a little awry.
It is great when you are in the position to take your time and be selective; however don’t let that make you cocky! You still have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else.
We narrowed the field down to two contenders. Both are global organizations with unlimited potential and currently in a high growth mode. Both had more of a start-up feel than that of longstanding solid organizations; which appealed to Kris’ desire for challenge and growth opportunity.
Kris soared through the first round of phone interviews, completely nailed the second round of leadership assessments and in both instances was asked to come in for a formal interview with the hiring managers. Things seemed to be going swimmingly…isn’t that always how things seem before they go south?
Kris, confident in her skills and experience opted to very superficially prepare for her interviews. She is a professional when it comes to behavioral interviewing so she thought, “I got this, what can they possibly ask I don’t have a response for?” These are large well known global organizations so she assumed, “I know what questions to ask.” In her head, all her years of experience, knowledge, and training would help her easily sail through this last round of interviews and on to the decision of which offer to accept.
Bad, bad, bad…never, ever assume!
I’m sure by now you are guessing what happened. Her lack of preparedness showed through the whole process. Oh, don’t get me wrong, she answered the questions asked…more like fumbled through because she didn’t identify the experiences she wanted to highlight before the interview. She hadn’t prepared her introduction of who she is, her professional background, and why the company should hire her. If that wasn’t bad enough, when asked why she wanted to work for their organization, she went blank.
She knows who she is, she knows her strengths, and the value she would bring. She knew why she chose those organizations and why she was looking for a change; but because she didn’t spend time thinking through how she wanted to highlight and express those thoughts, she sounded more like an amateur than an executive.
You know the old Spanish proverb “ The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”? It’s roughly the same as “doctor’s make the worst patients”. Often we are so wrapped up in helping others with our highly honed skills; prescribing remedies, and repairing damage done, that when it’s our turn to take advice, direction, and apply fixes we can’t see the forest for the trees.
When it comes to your job search, preparation and research is not a maybe…it’s a MUST! Take the time to think about how you want to be viewed, what skills and accomplishments you want to highlight, why you want to work for this organization and why they should hire you.
Prepare, prepare, prepare and then execute. Don’t start counting your offers before they hatch.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.
We all know those folks who seem to feel the need to let others know they know more than they should, or at least more than you. In an effort to seem important or in the know, they have to tell someone around them. Here’s the problem, they never know the whole truth. The whole truth never gets spread cause the whole truth is never as interesting as their interpretation of it.
Yes lots of big ambiguous words, I did that on purpose to prove a point. Interpretation, perception, misdirection, confusion and chaos this is what happens when folks decide to share what they shouldn’t.
According to an article by Mary Abbajay of the “ The CareerStone Group”, “ The Danger of Workplace Gossip” “Gossip is the death of teamwork as the group breaks up into cliques and employees start refusing to work with others.” What may seem like harmless sharing, posturing or chit chat; can quickly turn into a culture killing disease.
Recently, I experienced a situation where a colleague felt they had information about an individual that was ‘juicy’. They also felt they had the right to share this ‘factual’ nugget of information with everyone and anyone who would listen. Truth be told this tid bit was no more than an observation made by someone else and their personal interpretation of the events, having nothing to do with fact. The results were so damaging that the individual felt that leaving the organization was a better option than staying and trying to overcome the damage done to their reputation.
Yes this is an extreme case, but not that uncommon. So for just a minute I’m going to get on my soap box. My Mom, who is one of the most amazing women I know, raised me to “Do No Harm”. Seems simple enough, I know, but so often not observed. So instead I’ll bring it in a bit closer. Remember the movie “Bambi”, yes the animated Disney version! There is a line in the movie stated by my favorite character. Thumper is scolded by his mother for something he said. She asks a simple question, “What did your father say?” To which Thumper humbly replies, “ If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Very good advice.
In the professional world you will always encounter people you don’t enjoy working with. There will be cliques, mean girls, Heathers and people who just rub you the wrong way. Don’t become one of them. Put a smile on your face, try not to misinterpret what you hear, see, experience and keep your observations to yourself. Don’t go to a co-worker with the, “I saw something and I just don’t know what to do”, comment excusing your gossipy behavior. If you see something legitimately not right, follow the chain of command, be objective and state the facts. When all else fails seek out your HR professional and talk with them. Do no harm.
If you are the person with integrity, you don’t start those conversations, you don’t participate in those conversations, and you don’t even allow them to happen around you, then it won’t take long before your behavior is not only noticed but emulated.
There is a quote by Gandhi which is often truncated, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” You frequently see this as “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Truer words have never been spoken. He is proof that one man, one person can make a difference.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search and career advice come back again to; “Connectthedotblog”.
What do you believe are the key characteristics of a successful leader? How important are these characteristics to you as you look to move into a new position? Will having a manage or supervisor with these characteristics help you to be more successful? Do you want to work for someone who inspires you to do better, to grow and reach for higher goals?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I have one more for you. How do you identify these characteristics during an interview or hiring process? Better yet, how do you know the person you may be working for in the position you’re considering demonstrates these characteristics?
There is so much more to the work experience than schedule, salary, benefits and environment. There is the big ‘C’. Culture is often created and defined by the leaders in an organization; so how do you find out if you will be working for a leader or for a manager, because there is a big difference.
Navigating these waters can make you feel like Dory trying to find Nemo in the middle of the Ocean. Needle in a haystack doesn’t quite cut it. Where do you start? Who should you ask for help? Or do you, just keep swimming just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, hoping you don’t run into sharks, jellyfish or worse, humans!
Seeking a little assistance is never a bad thing. Here are a few questions you should stop and ask yourself and your interviewer/hiring manager before saying accepting any offer.
- What is the management style of the person this position reports to?
- What is their communication style?
- What training and development programs are available to help someone new to this position be successful?
- What does your new hire orientation consist of?
- How does this position play a part in overall mission of the organization?
- How frequently do individual reviews take place?
Yes this is a long list of questions and I could actually add a few more, but for the sake of brevity let me make my point.
- Does the company care about your success?
- Are they investing in human capital?
- Do they value ongoing training and performance management?
- Do you personally identify with the mission/vision of the organization?
- Can you see yourself spending 70% of your waking hours working with and for these individuals?
If you can positively answer those questions, then you can feel confident you are making an informed decision. If you find that they either don’t know the answers to the above questions or are unwilling to answer them; then I say again you can feel confident you are making an informed decision.
An interview is a two way street. It has to be a good fit for everyone, that’s when the magic really happens. When it’s a one sided relationship or when you are unclear as to the value of your role, expectations or performance, then back away slowly and carefully consider the steps you are about to take and if they will align with your longer term goals.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help or job search advice check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
I think one of the reasons we love Star Trek isn’t because we get to see one of our favorite actors do what they do to save the world. We watch to see how this amazing group of misfits conquers the universe together.
We’ve all had co-workers, supervisors, department heads, or CEO’s that resembled Captain Kirk (whether you’re a Chris Pine or William Shatner fan). All they have to do is walk into a room, and you want to load up your gear and follow on whatever hair brained adventure they have in mind.
Why? Because it seems like whatever they do, whatever they touch, turns to pure gold. How do they do it, you ask? Well, I believe it’s because they don’t. They do. Of course by they I mean the ensemble. Captain Kirk, like all great leaders, knows they aren’t an island, although their ego may want to believe it’s all about them sometimes. It takes a team of skilled specialists and a few misfits to save the universe.
Don’t believe me? Please name one episode or movie where the mighty Captain alone on the bridge of his flagship saved the Universe. Planet? Person? Anyone? You can’t because he didn’t.
He needs the data/information (Spock) to understand all his options. He needs is moral compass (Bones) to keep him from doing more harm than good, and he needs his miracle worker (Scotty) to develop, implement, innovate, or when all else fails, use bubble gum and bailing wire to ingeniously limp the Enterprise out of harm’s way.
Every high performing team needs their key players. The group looks towards these people to mobilize the resources to get things done. Can you imagine an Enterprise full of James Kirks? What could possibly get done between the ego trips, skirt chasing, fist fights, and distractions? NOTHING!
Teams need diversity of talents, ideas, perspectives, and experiences if they are going to be able to fully understand a challenge, obtain the needed resources to overcome it, and have the wherewithal to get things done.
So, back to the original question; who would you choose?
My answer, none; any one without the other, although an exceptional individual, could not get done by 1/4 what the whole crew could. In the end, one by themself might cause more harm than good.
For more interviewing tips, resume writing help, job search advice, or developing high performing teams, check back again to; “Connectthedotblog”
How much time do you spend getting ready for an interview? When I ask my students this question, the normal answer is a tirade upon how long it took for them to pick out an outfit (the winner thus far is two weeks), picking the right hair style and make up, and coordinating shoes and lip gloss. For my male students, it’s the Shakespearian, “To iron or not to iron” conundrum.
What many people fail to realize is that an interview, believe it or not, is a smorgasbord of sensory experiences. The interview encompasses all of your senses and after taking a minute to review them, you may be surprised how missing just one can cost you the job.
This is the first part of a series regarding the five senses of an interview.
Let’s take these one at a time…
Sight – This, of course, is the most obvious; it takes into consideration… your clothes, shoes, jewelry, make up, hair, etc. It also takes into consideration your walk, your smile, your cell phone, your watch, eye contact, etc. One of the things that novice and professional job candidates alike fail to recognize is that sight encompasses ALOT!
- Are you talking on your cell phone when you walk in the door? BAD
- Do you keep checking your cell phone or watch? BAD
- Are you standing up straight and presenting a professional confident demeanor? GOOD
- Do you look people in the eye when you introduce yourself and shake their hand? GOOD
- When you are sitting waiting for the interview to begin, are you sitting up straight? GOOD
When I’m working with students to hone in on their soft skills, especially their interview skills, I tell them the purpose of the interview is to make sure that the hiring manager can actually visualize them doing the job. You never know what kind of prejudices the employer may have, so you want to present a clean, professional slate that they can see fitting into their culture. If you have tattoos, facial piercings, stiletto heels, low cut tops, high cut skirts, wrinkled clothes, and messy hair…what does that say about you and the image their organization is trying to present? Yes you may look great, for Friday night, but not for Monday morning.
Remember to think of the job you want and dress for it: not too much, not too little, but just right. Give yourself the best foot forward to get the job, and then let YOU shine through. An interview is not the time to make a social political statement; it’s the time to show the employer you are the best fit in skills, culture, and professionalism.
- When in doubt, look in the mirror. If you think your skirt may be too short or your top too low…it probably is. Change it.
- If you’re wondering, “Iron or not to iron,” throw it in the dryer till it’s flat.
- Is your make up Friday night fresh or Monday morning professional? Fix it.
- Can you hear your shoes or jewelry coming down the hall? Change them.
- If you are expecting a call that’s so important you have to take your cell in with you…Reschedule the interview.
- Take a look in the mirror, and ask one simple question: “Would I hire me?”
Take a deep breath, walk into the office, smile, introduce yourself with confidence, look them in the eye, and let them know you are the best person for the job.
Check back on Tuesday, August 13th where I’ll discuss how it’s not your nose but theirs that matters.
Believe it or not my friends, the days of your degree or the mere mention of your Ivy League education landing you a job are over or at the very least in extreme jeopardy. Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, and many more of the Elite Tier 1 schools have been announcing the expansion (and at some creation) of their Career Services centers. “Why?” you ask. Because employers are becoming less and less concerned about where you went to school, your GPA, or how you landed the most sought after internship. They are concerned with how you will perform in the career they have to offer; are you dedicated, determined, and innovative? Do you have integrity and reliability? How have you performed in your past positions, and how likely are you to be successful in your future endeavors, lending your personal skills to add value to their organization? Those questions can rarely be accurately described on your resume.
I know it may sound corny, but “times they are a changing;” the days of no muss, no fuss job searching are quickly coming to a close, and those individuals who don’t have the skill set to master an interview, regardless of education, background, and work history, are going to be left in the cold.
Recently, while meeting with a group of employers regarding our graduate performance, one of the employers made the comment, “Technical skills may get graduates hired, but a lack of soft skills will get them fired.”
The purpose of an interview isn’t to reiterate the information on your resume (although some of that may happen for the purposes of clarification); it is to uncover the real YOU and to discover if that YOU is going to be a good match for the position, department, and organization.
Why do you need to interview? Because your education does not entitle you to a job! Employers are looking for candidates who want to work, bring all their cards to the table, and add value to their organization. They are not looking for a faceless name with a long list of accomplishments. You need to bring the whole package to the table, and an interview is the only way (for now) to showcase what and who you really are.
For more information on interviewing and resume skills check out A Better Interview