Ask the Question.

It's been a long while since I last wrote. I am glad that the reason was because I was busy, very busy. A lot of travel and a lot of speaking to business leaders, in SEAsia no less. Happy me. The weather here on the East Coast hasn't quite warmed up yet and I was glad to be out of here to enjoy the warmer climes.

After I gave my talk, naturally there were Q&A sessions. What I found was that regardless of level of manager, there are always those questions that you get that don't necessarily need technical skill development in order to find a solution. The answers were simple and common sensical. My answers came in the form of a question back at first -- have you asked your supervisor? have you asked your direct reports?

It was common that the answer to my questions was, no.

If you need to know something, don't be afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is you get a no. But what if you don't and you get a yes? Again, common sense. If you get a no, you are at the same place you were at, status quo. Nothing to lose. So ask the question.

I know it is Friday and no one wants to read a long piece so I am keeping this brief. Don't hold yourself back and keep things to yourself. If you need help or need an answer, then by all means ASK THE QUESTION. It is the only way you will get to move forward. If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board and figure out another way to get what you want. If the answer is yes, then hey ... imagine if you never opened your mouth. Have a great weekend and enjoy the warmer weather coming up! I know I will.

WILLPOWER.

I’ve been working on my speaking presentation these past few days and every now and then I would hit a wall. I’ve had to think really hard on how to get past it. Should I just stop and wait till tomorrow? But then tomorrow comes and there’s the same wall. Goodness. My presentation is on leadership, by the way and I’m hoping to inspire and encourage business people that are a bit besieged at the moment. Can I do it? Of course I can. But right now, that I CAN DO IT feeling feels a bit used up.

What to do?

I can’t watch/listen to another youtube video out there and TRY to be inspired. I am just worn out from all of it and it all sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher after a while. Mind you, the people I watch/listen to make sense, it is just not inspiring me anymore. I have reached the point of overload. I’m sure you’ve been there; saturated with whatever it is that is in front of you.
I ask again, what to do?

The book Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister defines what willpower is and it discusses why there are times when you can keep going and why you cannot.

It isn’t a list based on how to gain more willpower but discusses this strength scientifically. The general conclusion is that willpower is finite and relative. If you have to exercise your willpower all day, for example, resisting the temptation to get some candy at the candy machine stationed right next to your desk AND you have to drag yourself to the gym after work in the middle of a very cold and snowy day AND you have to do this every day (you know – because you alternate between lifting and cardio) at some point, you are going to fail. You may fail sooner than you think.

So knowing this, what exactly do I do? I’ve been using my willpower for a while now for various things in my life (not eating that candy, being diligent on doing the work for some courses I have signed up for, being present for my clients, and working on my presentations and my book) and it is all starting to feel like overwhelm.

Simple solution. Get up and take advantage of today’s sunshine. Go for a walk. Do something that I have not done in a while. All work and no play make Jill a dull girl – that isn’t just a childhood throwaway saying. It actually is true (those old timers were real smart in their simplicity). Sometimes you just need a mental and physical break from the daily grind. So get it for yourself. You deserve it. I deserve it. See you in a while, going for a walk now. Ciao.

Cooperation.

I listened to a TED talk this weekend. It was by Yves Morieux. He spoke on smart simplicity; too many rules and layers get in the way of being effective. I agree. But what struck me about his talk and his conclusions was that he spoke about cooperation. It was fantastic, not revolutionary in the sense that anyone would say all business, teams, need cooperation to succeed. But that in reality, how many actually practice this value on a daily basis?

A former co-worker is having issues at her current workplace. What issues:

  • she asks too many questions,
  • she escalates too many times, etc., etc

The bane of her existence, a newly hired director for client relationships that:

  • doesn't want to participate in meetings,
  • doesn't want to answer questions,
  • and really, doesn't want to work.

How do I know? I've worked with both at different agencies. I know these personalities firsthand.

There is a huge gap around cooperation when it comes to my former co-worker who is having a difficult time right now. This newly hired director does not value coooperation. They happen to be good-looking, very good at managing up, and even greater at smoke and mirrors. The right way to go about figuring out how to fix this situation is to stand back and analyze if business is doing better and expanding under the influence of the new hire or is it shrinking. Sadly, everyone is looking the other way. Easier to let go of a less senior person than it is one that is supposedly more senior.

If someone on the team has a question and it is relevant to the project, as a leader, be available to answer it. Cooperate.

If the team is struggling with client requirements, help them find solutions that will support the work being done day-to-day and ensure the client is happy. Cooperate.

A really simple but overlooked leadership quality, be available. That is your job; make sure that when people reporting to you or working with the team you are heading up, make sure you are there for them. Leadership means knowing what to do and when to do it. Cooperate.

As Yves Morieux said in his TED talk,

"you need to reward those who cooperate and blame those who don't cooperate. The CEO of The Lego Group, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, has a great way to use it. He says, blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask for help. It changes everything."

And so it does.

Customer-Centric. What that Means to Me.

When you hear that buzzword, what is it that you think of? I bet you, you feel that it means that customer is KING. Yes, you are right but wait, HOW do you define KING?

If you are of the mindset that customer is king and you must jump when he says so and ask "how high?" I am sorry my friend but you are on the wrong track. This doesn't set up a beneficial collaborative relationship between you and your clients. It just set up the environment for disaster.

When I hear customer-centric, it reminds me of what Joshua Spodek stated in his article How to Pivot Like a Pro

Joshua says: "... People don't buy products and services because you think they solve their problems. They pay for things because they think you'll solve their problems."

And that is what customer-centricity is all about. Making sure that you are listening to your customer/client and hearing what it is that they really need and positioning yourself to deliver the solution. Let me add, in a manner that is honest and true to yourself and to the client.

That last statement reminds me of a conversation I had with a client awhile back. I asked him, to the consternation of client services, to tell me what he wanted to hear and that is what I would tell him. These were his options:

A. I would tell him what he wanted to hear (launch everything on their list by x date) and he can smile now and cry later (when we could not deliver because the ask was too much,

OR

B. I would tell him what the reality was on what we could deliver and how and he could be miffed now and really happy later when what we had promised is exactly what we delivered, bug-free and ON TIME; continuing to back-fill the rest of the content through phases 2 and 3.

With a sigh, he said to me, "Trish, tell me how this needs to proceed."

So, I told him in no uncertain terms what we would deliver and when and how we were going to move through the phases of his projects. All out in the open and just plain honest. I wanted to deliver quality work that would meet his highest priority objectives. He agreed We delivered. On time. Like I outlined. He was over the moon. Home run for our team.

Had I not positioned it as us solving his immediate issues and continuing to deliver ON TIME on the rest of the work in a fashion that would not kill our teams or have us deliver subpar work, this client partnership would have broken down and future business would not have been possible.

I understand that for many this is a change in mindset, a stepping out of your "comfort zone" if I may use that overused term. This 180 degree change from "YES-ING" a client's every whim to talking to them like adults; expecting them to react like adults creates collaboration beyond what you think is even possible. All it really takes is honesty, integrity, and maturity (Is that too much to ask? I think not). It might mean you practice some courage but you’ll get there.

The next time you go to talk to a client, listen very carefully to what they are saying, provide a prioritized solution that works for both of you, and move in the direction of creating TRUE customer-centric relationships not “bratty, whiny, agency will eventually fire client” ones. See this possibility, create the environment that will nurture this mindset. Trust you can do it and you will.

If you feel you need some support on creating this change in the way you think about client relationships or you feel your team needs assistance with this, don't hesitate to reach out. I am always glad to help (info at invivoclarity.com).

The Non-Working Co-Worker

Most of us have had one of those and if you haven't worked with or around one, consider yourself lucky. The non-working co-worker. They exist and you are not sure how they get away with not working but they do.

The main reason they get away with what they do is that they are very good with managing up. They talk the talk with senior executives, the people they report to, and other people at their supervisor's level. Working WITH or reporting to them is not such a great deal. It is frustrating, PERIOD.

I have had my own experiences with the non-working co-worker and have had a lot of people approach me asking me how to deal in this environment. Every situation is different and requires a different way of handling but here are some tips that I can give you that might (might) make life a little easier.

If you work WITH them as an equal:

  • Go about your business as usual
  • Keep them in the loop
  • Do your best to keep your head in your work and not pay attention to what they are not doing, in other words, accept that there are things you are going to have to do yourself in lieu of them taking on the task.

If you work with them but do not report directly to them:

  • Keep them in the loop
  • Do not engage them directly, if you can help it. Talk to your supervisor (that is at the non-working co-worker's level), who is hopefully an ally, and discuss the situation.  As your manager they should have your best interest at heart and help you find a solution to the situation

If you work with them AND report to them directly:

  • Keep them in the loop
  • Make sure that when you have time with them ask ALL THE QUESTIONS you have that would need their input
  • There is some risk, but speak to HR or someone at your company that is more senior and is your ally -- ask them for advice on how to manage the situation.

There are many other options including asking to move to another account or area of your business and the big one -- quitting.

As I said in the beginning, most of us have encountered this type of person at some point in our career. These people are masters at being able to make themselves look good in the eyes of executive management and therefore keep their jobs (a lot of times get promoted even). Any co-worker that gets away with this behavior is definitely frustrating but even more demoralizing is leadership that doesn't truly lead.

Try your best not to let these types get under your skin. They don't want to do the work so figure out a way to play nice, get your job done, and ask for help from other people that are in a position to get you the support and answers you need.

What I Learned When I was Away.

I took a long leave at the end of the year to, you know, spend time with my family for the holidays. 2016 was, well it was a YEAR for sure and the break was much needed.

You know that paper that you are asked to write when you get back from summer vacation, well this is something like that but hopefully a little more than just an entry to get a grade in class. Aside from seeing old friends and having more time to exercise the physical instead of the mental, I came away with a lot more.

You Can Go Back.

Today it is called a course correction. The New Year always brings about resolutions or even reflection on what we have been doing and what we are hopefully going to do next. There are those of us that go from year to year, doing the same old thing, hoping that something will change. How about revisiting the time slightly beyond a year, two years? More? Where were you then, what were your goals? Did you have any? Are you developing any goals now? An action plan to make sure you know how to get there?

Yes, sometimes we find ourselves down a road we didn't expect to take when we took the first new steps we did back then. If you don't like where you are now, what correction are you going to make?

You have Learned Quite a Bit.

You may not have realized it but every day spent at work (and at life), you have learned something. Question is, is it something that you wanted to learn? Something more or less? Is there something you need to understand in order to be more effective at work? at life? What is it? It is your life, your job, to identify exactly what you need to know to move yourself forward ... or not. Your choice. What is it that you are learning right now?

Relationships are Fluid.

Some relationships grow with you, make you grow or keep you back. Is there someone that keeps challenging you in a good way and you want to nurture that personal or work relationship? Is there someone that was good before and not so now? How are you going to handle those relationships this year? What boundaries are you going to set for those that need boundaries? What can you do to give back because much has been given to you?

I don't necessarily believe in New Year’s resolutions but I'm not you. You need to do what works for you. I just hope I have given you something to reflect upon. Yes, we are at the end of January and though late -- Happy New Year!

Serve First.

A friend of mine, who is extremely good at what he does, left his job recently. His supervisor was not a very nice person and he reached his limit when his supervisor told him that his paid time off was no longer going to be given to him and whatever time off he had, that was approved, was revoked. Needless to say, he was ticked off.  To reiterate, not only was his supervisor not nice (he used stronger descriptive terms) but she just decided to take away his vacation time.

Whenever I hear stories like this, it makes me wonder two things:

  • How did this person achieve a leadership position, and
  • WHY are they still in that leadership position?
Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period.    —  Tom Peters     

I have always believed that and always will. I believe that I have many times, through my blog reiterated this sentiment. The higher up you go, the more you are there to help those that report to you achieve their goals and help them achieve the goals of the organization. You are not in a position of leadership to throw your weight around and treat people like they do not matter.  Who cares what titles you have under your name on your business card, be it CEO, EVP, MD, whatever? Who cares? If you do not treat the people in your organization in a way that spells out that you are a leader, a role model, then why are you in that position?  Was it more about WHO YOU KNEW? If that is the case, then what does that say about the organization as a whole?  Reflect on that.

So many people are disillusioned with corporate because a great number of times promotions are based on who you rub elbows with more than whether or not you are deserving.  One agency I worked for had people in leadership positions that knew nothing about the department they were leading. In addition to this, they gave the plum assignments or coddled the direct reports that were part of their clique.  As a leader, being fair and impartial are part and parcel of your job description and if you cannot live up to that, then you need to step aside. 

As human beings, we will always have people that we tend to gravitate to but we have to be able to separate that when we are making judgment calls on people's performance.  

Back to leaders and serving. In this past year we have seen several C-Suite leaders negotiated out of their positions because of the horrible behavior they have exhibited towards their people and the opinions they expressed in the media. Thank goodness is all I can say.  But this advice doesn't just go for those at the very very top, it goes out to all of us.  Sometimes we have to make hard decisions, sometimes the people who report to us don't necessarily like the decisions we make but if you were looking out for your team's best interests from the beginning, if you were serving them as you led them, these hard to swallow decisions would have been a lot more palatable because you served them in the right way.

Confucius Says.

Someone I know posted a list that had to do with Confucius and his 10 life changing lessons. Ok, I like Bruce Lee and his “be water, my friend,” philosophy, so I bite.  I get to #4 and there it is.

"When it is obvious that goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, but adjust the action steps."

Wait, what?

Sorry, Confucius.  I know you are recognized as a sage for the ages but I respectfully beg to disagree. It plainly states, the goal CANNOT be reached, so what do you mean adjust the action steps?

If you have tried to climb it, go around it, go under it or even to blast through it and the danged "IT" is still there, I think you need to re-think your goal.  Not all goals are attainable so instead of changing your action steps, change your goal. Learn from your mistakes and change your course; nothing wrong with that.

Maybe the person that wrote this and I are not using certain terms in the same manner? That is a possibility.

I cannot really equate what "Confucius" was saying to failure because it is saying something different altogether, at least to my understanding. What I can equate it to is not recognizing failure.  The quicker you are to understand and accept that "IT" is is not feasible, the closer you will be to something that may be achieved.  Happy trails!

Client, Please Stay.

Are you a business, large or small, that has some client situations you wish you could learn how to deal with better? Do you wish your client would stay (as the title says). You seem to be able to acquire them but you don't seem to be able to upsell them or worse, retain them?

Sometimes the project work that you are doing with a client is a one and done so the expectation is that they will leave when the project is complete. Or should they? Wouldn't it be nice if you can keep them around longer by upselling them?

Research states that a lot of clients leave the companies they are working with because they don't feel that they are being provided with enough information around how the work is being done or even what is being done, in a timely manner.  Is this one of your problems? Why is transparency about the work that is being done an issue?  Do you feel that opening up this conversation with the client may open up a can of worms?  There are ways that you can do this without actually showing your hand, you just have to know how to communicate.

Another issue clients have with with the companies they work with is that they were made to feel like they were gold when they were being courted but after they had signed on, they turned to brass. Does this happen at your agency?  Why would that be? Are you stretched too thin to be able to properly maintain the client relationship? Are there other issues in your way?

We all know it is less costly to retain the clients that we have than to acquire new ones. So how do we do that?

I have a free webinar coming up that will help with these issues.

Come join me and see if the solutions that are provided here will help move the client needle for you -- in the RIGHT direction.

Talk soon!

The Thing.

I have been working on a project for a while now and let’s just say OVERWHELM has hit me hard. I am sure you can empathize. When you have a project with a ton of moving parts sometimes you don’t know where to start, what ends and what begins. All over the places, that is where everything is.

I had a short conversation with someone and they said three MAGIC words, “Make A List.”  Wow!  Really?  I was flabbergasted. Of course, MAKE A LIST.  See the flow of the work, check off what is done and fill in the rest. Simple!

Sometimes when you are too close to the work, it ends up that you forget the basics; you forget “101.” Make that list. Make that checklist. Then go from there.

I made that list and not only do I now understand that I am way ahead of the game but now it feels like there is a larger light at the end of the tunnel.

Whenever you feel overwhelm, sit down and write that list. See what it is that you have already accomplished and what your next steps are. Not only will you feel better, it will definitely help you keep moving forward! Sometimes the simple things that are the best things. Good luck!

Narrow Your Focus.

Summer is in full force so I know you don't want to read a novel of a blog post.  Let me just give you this to ponder.

A quick piece on focus, specifically entrepreneurial focus. When we start our businesses we want to conquer the world.  Issue is the world is a large place and our message usually gets lost.  I had the pleasure of attending a workshop recently that schooled us into NARROWING our focus.  This way our offering, our service, made more sense and therefore, made more money.  Ultimately, this is what we want. More money for our services.

Just a reminder for us out there that want to be everything to the world. We cannot be. We have to know who we appeal to the most, with whom our message will resonate with the most, how what we teach will be most useful, what value we deliver, what pain point we are going to alleviate?  Ask yourself, drilling down, who do we really need to be talking to, who needs you the most? Then go after them. Happy hunting!  Happy landing!

Solving Problems.

We all run into problems. Everyone does regardless of whether you have a personal problem, a problem at home with another or a problem at work, we all have some situation at one time or another that we would rather not have to deal with or wish would go away.  Sometimes this is possible – having someone else deal with the problem.  How, you ask?  Read on, read on!

Experts agree that the best way to come to a solution to an issue is have the person closest to the issue to come up with the solution.  Yes, delegate the solution to someone else.  Doesn’t mean that as a manager you are not involved but think about it, the person closest to the issue will probably understand a lot more of the detail around the issue and what caused it.  You, being a bit more removed, might have an objective view but not a nuanced one.  Objectivity is great when you are not dealing with people and it may have its uses but in the game of business (and sometimes in life), being objective does not take into consideration the interpersonal relationships that have developed between the team (and possibly the client) that is working on the project.

So yes, bring in the players and ask them for their thoughts on how to solve the issue that is at hand.  Don’t be the proverbial bull in a china shop that stomps around and snorts and ends up creating more of a mess than there was to begin with.  Don’t be the egomaniac that thinks that all you have to do is come down from the mountain and everything is going to be ok. Your smooth soothing style might work most of the time but truth is that other people know things too; these other people might report to you.  Giving ownership of the situations to the people that are closest to it in the first place builds morale and makes them more willing to step up and offer solutions for other issues that they see.

Being a leader doesn’t always mean YOU are the king problem solver.  Sometimes you do have to step in and make the changes, smooth the egos, and rally the troops but for the most part, allow others the room to think for themselves. Doing this gives you more time to go out and develop new business knowing that the home fires are being stoked by capable hands (minds).

Revisiting Goals.

Half the year is over and for most of us, the resolutions that we started the year with are not even a memory.  Just how hard do you have to think to even remember what those goals were?

The issue with goal setting is that we usually choose goals that inevitably set us up for failure. The goals are too lofty.  They are too big.  When goals are too challenging for us, eventually we give up.

The way to ensure a greater chance of success is to make sure that you set two goals.  The first one will help you expand your world in the way that you are choosing but this goal needs to be paired with a goal that will help you get started.

Ok, that might be a little confusing so here is an example:  For example, one would like to run a 3K.  Instead of setting out to run that distance straight away a good goal to pair with this one that would help you stay on track.  It would be a smaller goal that may sound something like this: every day I will put on my sneakers and go for a (30 minute) walk.  If you can make this even smaller, you can frame it this way: I will put on my sneakers and walk down the street.  This is a must do. If you start walking down the street, the chances are greater that you will continue to walk for at least 30 minutes and build up from there.

Another example would be if you had the goal of writing a book, which isn’t easy by the way.  Completing a book is a huge goal and takes time.  But if you pair this larger goal with a support goal of: every day, I will write for 15 minutes.  Writing for 15 minutes every day is pretty bite-sized.  It is doable and you will most likely do it.

Go back to how you look at goals or even the goals you have now.  Are there large goals in there that would be achievable if you paired them with a smaller support goal?  Try it.  You just might be surprised at what the end of this year looks like!

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT.

I was listening to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Primuzic’s talk last evening on the Art of Talent and was struck by the statistics on employee engagement.  In 2014, studies by Gallup showed that 51% of employees were disengaged (Adkins, 2015)

This article also mentioned that the highest rate of engagement was at the managerial level.  Reading that, I had to ask, why are the managers engaged? What is it that they are not doing to support the proper commitment from those that report to them?

From a Dale Carnegie report, it appeared that there were three things that drove employee engagement.  They are: the perceived relationship with their managers, belief in senior leadership, and pride in working for the company (Dale Carnegie, 2016).

If the two top reasons given were the relationship with their managers and belief in senior leadership then we need to consider where leaders are failing. Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic made mention of a steady uptick in spending on leadership training but a sad downturn in actual belief in leadership. So what are we to do?

Do we need more testing in order to understand whether or not the people we are promoting are good managers or do we need to pay more attention to HOW we are training the leaders we have chosen?  OR better yet, do we have to have a better grasp on measuring talent?  Likability, actual ability, and willingness to work are the three factors that measure talent.  While each aspect, depending on the job, should have somewhat equal weight, how does your agency weigh these characteristics?

If we lean too heavily on likability as a reason for promotion and find justifications in actual ability and willingness to work as less than secondary motives, then human resources needs to take a good hard look at what is happening in the organization in order to create one that is not only fair but also one that creates an environment of engagement for not just a few but for (almost) all.

 

If you are interested in learning a short cut in how to get to start your first step towards your goals, click here.

 

References

Adkins, A. (2015, January 28). Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from Gallup.com: http://www.gallup.com/poll/181289/majority-employees-not-engaged-despite-gains-2014.aspx

Dale Carnegie. (2016). Importance of Employee Engagement. Retrieved from dalecarnegie.com: http://www.dalecarnegie.com/employee-engagement/engaged-employees-infographic/

 

THE SIGNS.

I was attending a seminar recently and the speaker started to talk about body language.  Ok … let me guess …. yes, she did it.  She brought up the myth of the “defensive folded arms.” This myth has been around for eons.  It is one of those things that you cannot seem to get away from.

    Folding your arms across your body is defensive, not open.

Is that so?  No.  It is not so.

Studies have suggested that the entire context of the “folded arms” needs to be taken into consideration.  People fold their arms for various reasons.  Could it be defensive?  Could it be a physical barrier?  Yes, but not always.  So, enough already.

The one-dimensional view of posture is just that, one-dimensional. If anything, holding this view means you are not open and have not explored recent thought about body language. 

If I am talking to someone I know well and they are slouching in a chair, does this mean that they are not paying attention or are uncaring about what I am saying? No.  It could mean they are tired.  Someone could be sitting up straight in the chair and staring right at you but it is a pose. It is pretend.  They are acutely aware of the old-school idea regarding body language and are using it to their advantage, they are not paying attention though.  Granted, if you are in the company of people that don’t really know you and they are talking to you seriously or in a business situation, slouching may not be the best thing you can do. But with folding your arms – how many of us have been thoroughly and thoughtfully engaged in the conversation that we were having and all the while had our arms crossed over our bodies?  I bet a number of us.

The best thing is – make sure that you don’t fall back on “traditional” thought that may be outdated and be smarter about how you look at situations.  Taking the whole context into consideration instead of just taking ONE aspect and drawing the wrong conclusions may be the better option.

And don't get me started on the "it just takes 21 days to form a new habit," idea. Oh boy.

Money

We all want it, no – need it AND hope that when the time comes to retire, we pray that we still have enough of it.  So, why is it that I come across so many clients that are mid to sr. level that don’t have a plan in place; making sure that they are invested in their future? From the reasons I have heard, it is from the mistaken believe that it takes a lot of money to start the investing process. I am here to tell you that that not true.  Second, there is a lack of awareness for the products or offerings that are available. 

Fear is the greatest barrier in getting people to start talking about investing but fear is also the greatest motivator when one realizes that a plan of action to secure your future isn't a luxury, it is a necessity. Hopefully, your fear will lead you down the second path. 

As you have heard the time to start investing in your future is as soon as you can. A great time is when you start your first job!  Hey, you are earning some money, yes, you have bills to pay but you know what, there is a way to tuck a few dollars away for that time when you don’t have a job, become disabled (hopefully no one reading this will go through this experience) or for whatever life event that comes to you that is unexpected.

While people that are parents should really think about investing for the future simply because they have children they are responsible for, those that don’t have kids have an equal responsibility to themselves to make sure that they can provide for themselves and don’t turn into a burden on their families when they can no longer work.

While my efforts as a coach are mainly focused on supporting you through your decision to make a life of career change, making your work process more efficient, helping you round out a company culture that retains good employees, equipping your very best with leadership skills, or deciding how your idea of self affects the way you react to the world, it can also include making sure that whatever decisions are made, include an eye to the future.  I would not be worth my salt if I didn’t approach your goals helping you look further down the road.

Yes folks, there is light at the end of the tunnel and all it takes is an easy conversation.

We are all living longer and even if we decide to walk off into the sunset after we have called Ecuador home, it still takes dinero to live there;  same thing in Costa Rica.  Make sure that you have some (money) before you say adios, pack up, and go.

If you feel that this post speaks to you – reach out to me by PM or by email. Let me make THIS clear, I do not derive any benefit from any introductions I make. The value I derive is knowing that I have connected people who may form a mutually advantageous professional relationship. I do know these professionals personally and have recommended them to a number of clients.  Yes, folks a selfless act. I will connect you to individuals that you can talk to, to help you reach your financial goals. For real.

If one of your resolutions for 2016 is to invest in your future, take my offer, reach out to me and I can help start the conversation for you through an e-intro (after the introduction, the conversation is  between you and the advisor, I am out).

If you don’t find my appeal to you about planning for your future helpful -- how about some wise words from Warren Buffet?  They are put together like this: “someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Could that shade be from a money tree? Let’s get you some money trees.

Questions.

I have always believed that asking questions are important.  Recently, I found a more elegant way to say what I believe:

“What shapes our lives are the questions we ask, refuse to ask, and never think to ask”  -   Sam Keene

It is true that if there is something new that we are doing, we need to ask question, no matter how we believe other people will perceive us for asking the question. You need information, ask for it.  And then there are questions that we cannot start to ask because we don’t know that there is a gap in our knowledge.

How do we know what that gap is?  Reading is one way but another way is to look to our supervisors for some mentorship.  The least you can do for yourself is ask humbly, what is it that I need to know/read/do to apply myself more effectively?  In the best case, our supervisors would demonstrate and role model for us so we can learn by exposure and watching but there are things that we don’t see or we don’t even know about.  So, ask.  Ask questions.  Engage senior level people, get them to talk to you about how they got to where they are, ask them what it is that drives them; ask them questions that will lead you to the how they feel about things instead of just WHAT made them do what they did (assuming you are asking for a GOOD situation and wondering about motivation).

“How” questions help people open up and share their stories.  “What” questions, provides a factual statement, then it ends.  Ask for stories of how they overcame obstacles – maybe something similar to what you are facing now. 

There are two types of supervisors, those that initiate the mentorship role by setting up at least monthly meetings with you and those that expect you to set up time with them.  I am more of the former because I have always believed that the higher up you go, the more you are there to serve; the greater your responsibility to reach out and coach/mentor your people.  Not everyone shares my philosophy.

If you have a supervisor that isn’t proactive about reaching out to you – reach out to them.  Ask the questions.  At this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain; increase your profile at work by being the one that is willing to learn and be the one that learns through others experiences; as much as possible make sure you don’t have any blind spots.  A possible shorter line to moving up, at the very least to learning.  Good luck.

image by: Matthias Ripp

Purpose.

No, not another find your passion/purpose piece. I am talking about determination, being resolute, intention.   Whatever it is that you do, do you do it with purpose?  It doesn’t matter what you do, do you do it with purpose?

When I first came to NY, there were no jobs to be had so I was a temp.  I had an MBA but I filled in while the real assistants was on vacation.  That was fine, I didn’t mind. I knew what the job entailed and I was getting paid so, ok! 

Did I give the impression that I was MORE than the job that I was doing, did I act snide and snooty? No. I applied, I was hired to do the job, I accepted, and I did it all with purpose. I did everything to the best of my abilities.  When that gig ended, I became an assistant elsewhere. 

At one place, there were STACKS of paper everywhere.  EACH PIECE should have been filed away but well, they were not filed away; they were sitting all over the place, about 14 stacks, about a foot high.   By the end of the week, in between getting memos out and other things, I filed all the papers that were sitting around.  I did the job I accepted with purpose.  Each place that I had an assistant position, I went to work each day with purpose.  I approach life with purpose. If not, what would be the point? 

Each place I worked as a temporary assistant offered me a job. Each. Place.  One sr. executive offered me the position, name my salary, and promise to say with him for one year and then he would support my moving into a department and a position that I decided I wanted.  One director even teared up on my last day.  She didn’t want me to leave but I was moving onto something else where I was going to apply myself as I always had. This time it was something of my own.

When you accept an assignment, a responsibility, an obligation – you must accept it with purpose.  If you cannot muster that, then move on.  You are not doing anyone any favors, much less yourself.  You will be miserable.  If you do not live life with purpose you will be palpably dejected; people will notice. These people will most likely you not consider you for better positions or better anything.  This doesn’t just apply to work but to life itself.

We don’t always get exactly what we want the first time around but living with purpose will make life so much easier.  Make sure you choose a purposeful attitude before you say yes to your next “thing.” Then … be happy.

 

image by:  Steve Wilson / portland-climbing-131

Where is Your Happiness?

I have a lot of posts that relate to business and leadership.  It is time to write another post but talking about business isn’t what is really on my mind.  I was looking for inspiration for what to discuss and came across this:

https://youtu.be/BDgCRaKq-zQ

And therefore the question: where is your happiness? 

Has life gotten so complicated for most of us that we haven’t taken a step back to appreciate the things in life that are simple and bring us joy? Yes, I understand that we have responsibilities we need to take care of and life isn’t always a frolic on the beach but can you even answer the question posed?  Do you have to scour your soul and still find nothing?

What is it that makes you happy? And I am not talking about that “finding your passion” theme that seems to be everywhere.  No.  What I am talking about is the simple joy that you may find knowing that it is going to be 45 degrees today (well not today if you live in the North East). Turning to look at your child and having them spontaneously smile at you.  Sharing an inside joke with your significant other that creates a belly laugh, one that you have not had in a long time. 

Life isn’t easy. No one ever said it was going to be.  It is not easy and it is not fair.  But life can be good and it often is, if you let it.  So, if you are having a hard time answering this question, maybe dig deeper than you have or maybe stop and don’t dig. Sometimes the things bring us joy don’t need much thinking about at all. We just need to allow the moment and acknowledge it has come.

This Time it is Not You.

Yep.  This isn’t an “it’s me, not you” relationship thing it is more than that.  This has more to do with life or business in general when you need to recognize that you don’t have the answers and you need to lean on or let someone else take the lead.

I was in a situation recently where I was and had been too close to the situation just due to circumstance.  I didn’t have the answers, I didn’t have the right thing to say.  Imagine that – a coach, not having the right questions to ask, interesting.  But it was true.  This was not a coaching situation but a life one.  Had I been dealing with people that were strangers to me, I might have been able to take an objective view but no, these were people I cared for deeply.

In any case, someone else has taken the lead and in as much as the situation has not resolved itself and may never resolve itself in a way that I would hope, I am glad that someone has stepped in. I have been given the insiders view of what is being said and the advice that is being given and I am so glad that they are being objective and straightforward.  Sometimes, it really just isn’t you (as in this time it isn’t me).

In business and in life, we have to be able to recognize that we don’t always have the answers or the right questions.  Sometimes, someone else does. Leaders in business and people with some degree of maturity understand that, they step aside, and let resolution and hopefully progress happen.