Check Out My Inaugural Article on BIZCATALYST 360

My inaugural article Why Business Leaders Should Care About Research has just been published on BIZCATALYST 360!  I’m happy to be a Featured Contributor there, along with a number of other inspiring professionals, writing on a wide variety of business topics. Check out my article here. Thanks for your interest and support!

P.S. I also was profiled in the Central Florida Lifestyle magazine this week in an article about changing careers, both in the print and online editions. Fun week!

CWC #2

Do you have a good relationship with your leader?  Take my quick Career Wellness Checkup poll:

Your direct leader is in the best position to tout you or torpedo you. They will generally be perceived as the most credible source when it comes to your performance. If you don’t have a good relationship, how realistic is it to expect that they will advocate for you? For that project you really want to participate in, for that promotion, for that bonus?

You don’t have to be their best friend, but if you are talking smack behind their back, the negativity is coming through somewhere, trust me.  Recognize that your leader is an important part of your network. They may become a mentor, a sponsor. Don’t neglect that relationship or but develop it.

CWC #1

Do you know who your internal clients are?  Take my quick Career Wellness Checkup poll:

Unless you are the CEO, you absolutely have internal clients of some sort. These may or may not be the actual recipients of your services. They are the individuals who have the ability to control or strongly influence whether or not the services provided by you, your team or your department will be “purchased”/utilized.  For example, if you are in IT, every person who has a budget which they can allocate to technology if they choose is a client or potential client.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore the recipients of your services when they don’t hold the purse-strings. They may have influence on the decisionmakers even if they, themselves, aren’t actually making the purchasing decision. But it’s important to know who actually makes the cost/value judgement at the end of the day.

How to advance your…career

This post from another blog caught my eye today, due to my interest in nurturing those exploring creative careers, so I’m sharing it here. However, it struck me that this advice really applies to any career. Great post, Robert W. Oliver!


train+tracksBlogger Hisham Dahud maintains that it’s important keep revisiting the basics to keep your music career on track. Doing so allows you to think like a beginner again, back to when you could see clearly what you wanted. Unsuprisingly, the first tip regards revisiting and restating your original goals. Others include:

  • It’s all about sales. Make sure you’re fairly compensated for your entertainment value.
  • Network. Meet people that you can help, not just those who can help you.
  • Avoid people who bring you down. This would include so-called friends who try to dissuade you from a music career.
  • Keep learning about the business. Consider how music has changed within 20 years: home recording, internet distribution, the decline of the major labels. You can’t afford to stop learning.
  • Don’t be afraid of risks.

These suggestions will help you move your career in the music business…

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Give yourself a gift this holiday season

Yeah, that’s right, I said it: give yourself a gift this holiday season. Sounds selfish? Maybe. But waaaay too many people are too unselfish all year long when it comes to their professional care and feeding.  They put themselves last and somehow never rise to first on their priority list.

Have you gone to a conference this year? Taken a class? Obtained a certification? Attended a professional association meeting? If not, what’s your excuse?

No time? Your company didn’t pay for it?  It’s not required to do your job?

I hate to be too blunt, but how are those excuses going to help you down the road?  You and I both know they won’t.

What will help you, whether you want to move up or across in your organization or move on to a new organization, is the most up-to-date skills and knowledge in your field. And the evidence that you are constantly learning, and you take the initiative rather than sitting back,  waiting for someone else to drive your growth.

So, get out there and find a class or a seminar. Take the time to attend year-end professional events. Buy the latest business book or two and read them. There are many things you can do.  Today!

Don’t wait for someone else – give yourself a gift this holiday season by investing in your future,

Your most important asset: your reputation

What do people say about you when you’re not there?

If you are in a job search, or looking to move up in your career, it makes all the difference.  I speak regularly with professionals who are looking to move up or move on in their careers.  Some rake in referrals to new contacts, informational interviews, and job leads like leaves in the Fall.  For others, it’s like they are walking through a Winter wasteland.

Even though the job market is rebounding and there are about 4 million jobs filled each month in the US, it can take time for that just right opportunity to appear and for the offer to come.  But job seekers who are not getting referrals or warm introductions or never make it past the first interview need to carefully assess the reasons.  In particular, they need to be brutally honest with themselves about their reputation. Here are some of the issues I’ve seen poison reputations:

  • Talking at people rather than with them.  You can’t build a relationship on a one-way street. When you don’t listen to others, they feel you don’t care.  Plus, this is just annoying, and people don’t like to help or hire those who annoy them.  Remedy: listen twice as much as you talk. The old adage about having two ears and only one mouth is an old adage for a reason.
  • Being a user.  If you only reach out when you need something and never have anything to offer in return, even something as simple as information, you may get what you ask for, but you’ll never get more than that.  It is okay to ask for what you need, but you also need to show willingness to give.  Remedy: Ask “How can I help you?”
  • All talk and no action.  If you have a habit of overpromising and underdelivering, or contributing tons of ideas and leaving others to do the work, they may be only too glad to leave you out of the loop now. Remedy: Roll up your shirt sleeves and start making good on your promises. Consistently.
  • A Debbie Downer attitude.  Wah-waaah.  You know the old Saturday Night Live skit.  Debbie is the person who can find the rain in every rainbow.  Who tells you all their personal problems. People find this draining and are only too glad to get away when they have the chance. Yes, sometimes critical analysis and worst-case-scenario thinking is needed.  But it’s not needed all the time, everywhere. Remedy: Outside of your sacred circle of trust, only communicate the negative when it will actually add value. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.
  • Instability. This one is tough but it’s real whether we talk about it or not. If you drink too much, use illegal drugs or abuse prescription medication, and think it doesn’t show, stop fooling yourself. Not everyone may be able to identify what the exact issue is, but drug and alcohol abuse causes behaviors that tell people something is “off”.  Things like absenteeism, emotional outbursts (this includes anger), or poor memory.  Others will be very reluctant to stick their neck out for you when they see these behaviors. Remedy: Seek professional help. Now. You will need to act differently for people to see you differently. Others have done it and you can too.

If none of these describe you, your reputation is probably working for you, just like a good investment. However, if any of these sound uncomfortably familiar, it may be time for a course correction. The good news is, you have the power to change, starting today. The bad news is, reputation repair takes time.  Just because your intentions change and even your behavior, it will take time to show – like a Polaroid picture slowly becoming clear.  Keep at it.

Investing in your reputation is like saving for tomorrow – it compounds and can pay amazing dividends down the road.

Fall is a time of renewal

There are seasons.  There are tides.  There is a natural ebb and flow to life, and we often think of Spring as the time when everything begins anew.  But for as long as I can remember, Fall – not Spring – has felt like a time of renewal to me.  Maybe because Fall is when school starts, and that means so many new things – new classes, new teachers, new school supplies and sometimes new friends.

As much as I love Summer, and the respite it (sometimes) brings, or New Year’s with all the celebration, the Fall is when I feel energized to re-evaluate my goals and adjust my compass.  How about you?

Where are you going?  If you don’t know, carve out time for a meeting with yourself, maybe in a cozy spot on the back porch with a nice cup of something, and give yourself permission to really ponder.  It’s like Fall cleaning for the brain.

If you do know where you want to go, look back: have you been on the right path this year, or have you veered off?  What adjustments can you make?  Even the smallest adjustments can make a big difference in the long run.

Take advantage of this new season, as a time of renewal.  I’ll be doing the same.

We’re asking the wrong question

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Early career planning

Did anyone ever ask you that?  Certainly, when you were a child.  Maybe even last week.  The problem is, when we ask the question that way — “what do you want to be?”– we are forcing a choice defined by title only.

As children and adults alike, we are generally very limited in our knowledge of all the roles available to us.  So, we pick from those of which we are already aware: teacher, computer programmer, accountant, firefighter.  Our interest in them is generally based on what we can see from the outside.  The superficial.  Perceived status, financial reward, glamour and more.  Unfortunately, these things do not guarantee happiness in our work.

When we work, we are in the act of doing.  When we are doing something we enjoy, it can be quite delightful.  When we do something we are good at and we enjoy?  That’s a recipe for success.  On the other hand, I know plenty of attorneys who invested a lot years and a lot of dollars preparing for a career with a certain title, only to find that they don’t enjoy actually doing the work.  What would they be doing now and how satisfied would they be if they had instead focused on what they liked to do?

Titles come and go.  Twenty years ago, there was no such thing as a Search Engine Optimization Specialist.  But there were plenty of Secretaries.  By tying ourselves too closely to one title, we can spend years preparing ourselves for a role that is becoming obsolete, or entirely miss another role that could have been a perfect fit.

By focusing on what we like to do, it leads to exposure to other things we’ll like too, and if we are constantly pushing forward, we can end up with quite a portfolio of skills and knowledge which enable us to make a living doing what we enjoy.

So, the next time you’re talking to a child about their career interests, don’t ask them “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Ask them, “what do you like to do?” And, as you’re thinking about your next career step, ask yourself the same question.

Change is good

Yes, I’ve changed the appearance of this blog.  Once again.  What can I say?   I like change.   At least, change that I’ve initiated. 

Sound familiar?  Yes, over the past few years many of us have been through change that was not in our plan.   Our paradigm was shifted for us.  Our cheese was moved.  A natural response can be to hunker down and resist any further change.  However, this does not carry us forward. 

Rather, we can use the energy released by the initial change and channel it into further changes – changes we steer into taking us down the path we wish to go.  The vaccuum created by the loss of one thing is an opportunity for something else to rush in and fill it.  We can influence that process.  We do not have to be victims, sitting idly by. Instead we can take a moment, think about what we are really striving for and then take specific, productive action to fill the gaps. 

Change can give us a fresh perspective and help us to actually think differently.  The next time you want to think differently, change something – your environment, your schedule, your actions.   That’s what I did.  And I hope you like it!

Career resolutions 2011

As promised, I am making some career resolutions this year.  To be honest, I reassess and make new goals throughout each year, and usually ignore the January 1 milestone.  This year, though, it provides a needed opportunity to reflect and plan.  So, here are my resolutions for 2011:

  • To consciously connect – it’s essential in my work to stay connected with a wide variety of people, from business leaders to job seekers to thought partners and mentors; I will consciously guide my outreach during the year to ensure I connect with those that I should
  • To write more – because it’s something I love, a skill I want to keep building, and it allows me to connect with people more, which, besides providing enjoyment, provides more work opportunity
  • To give myself a pay raise – yes, that’s right, only not in the way you think.  I’m not on salary, but I can influence my pay in a number of ways.  Though I will work to increase my overall revenue this year, my primary focus here is on what I make per unit of time.  So, I can do a number of things including: raise my rates, schedule more efficiently so that I have less “downtime” in between paid work, work faster on fee-based projects, and focus on higher rate work.  I will actually employ all of these to some degree
  • To maintain balance – I know, “balance” has almost become a dirty word it’s so cliche’, but one of the reasons I love what I do is that it provides an opportunity for balance that was almost impossible in my former life.  Looking back over last year, I did pretty well.  I need to keep it on my radar and I know I can do it again this year.  My key tools are: aggressive prioritization and the willingness to say “no” at the right times

Sounds like a pretty heavy load, huh?  Not really.  All these are essential to my continued career and personal well-being, so I need to be doing them anyway. 

Now, to be really effective, resolutions must have some detail or they lose their bite.  Though I haven’t laid out the details here, I am doing this for myself.  I hope you are too, and I wish you the very best in achieving all that you resolve to this year!