Keys To Being Unsuccessful: 5 Skills You Don’t Have

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice. 2254 views.

The only thing standing in between you and success is yourself.  Chances are you’re comfortable in your current role at work.  You’re not happy, but you’re comfortable.   You get to do the same thing each day and work with the same people.  But you’re in a rut. 

The key to being successful to growing a little each day.  This requires you to add and enhance the skills you have.

Here are 5 skills you’ll need to develop if you want to be successful in life:

  1. Develop a Solid Network.  The need to network never stops.  Some of the best advice I could give a college student is to always be networking.  Networking will help you land that first internship.  It’ll help get your first job offer or help you branch out out from one industry into another.  It can never hurt to have more connections than the next guy.
  2. Take Calculated Risks.  The unknown is scary.  Thoughts of switching industries, starting a small business or giving up company provided healthcare can be down right paralyzing.  It’s taken a of couple years, but I’ve learned that the only thing that scares me more than taking risks is…. not taking them.  While meeting new people and starting new ventures can be intimidating, imagine a career of doing the same thing over and over with the same people!  Never learning, never advancing, never leaving your comfort zone.  Don’t let the fear of the unknown prevent you from branching out and taking risks.
  3. Able to Articulate.  Your greatest idea or suggestion may be wasted if you cannot effectively communicate with others.   The ability to deliver thoughts in a clear and concise manner conveys an appearance of efficiency and professionalism.  In the modern era we live in, this skill does not just pertain to your spoken word.   Articulation also includes maintaining a level of professionalism in your written delivery (email included), associations and even physical appearance.  All of these factors will affect how a recipient interprets and receives your message. 
  4. Identify Problem. Solve Problem.  Innovation is one of the buzz words that surround our industry.  The basis for innovation is the ability to identify a need or problem.  Those of us who can look around and envision better, more efficient, ways to do business will be the ones leading the future.  Stop accepting processes just because they’re the norm.  Instead, consider what could be done differently.
  5. Continuing Expertise.  The reality is that average people do not get promoted or hired away from their company.  Experts do.  Those of us who are experts at developing relationships, analyzing data or identifying opportunities are the ones who advance.  Current and potential employers want employees who excel, not blend in.  What could someone consider you an expert in?  7 Ways To Be Seen As An Expert In Your Industry.

What was missed?  Is there anything that you’ve changed or would like to change about yourself?  Leave us a comment.

The 8 Things That Must Be On Your Daily Work To Do List

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice. 7273 views.

Things that must be on your to do listRegardless of the industry you’re in or the tasks you’re facing, there are several universal goals that must be on your daily to-do list.

Interestingly enough, some of these things will increase your productivity but have nothing to do with work.  Complete each one of these things on your daily work to do list and you’ll have one hell of a productive day.

  1. Start with a focused task list.  Begin each day by physically writing down what you hope to accomplish.  A visual depiction of your tasks will serve to keep you both on track and productive.  I find that literally checking things off my list allows me to put completed matters to rest and more easily start focusing on the next one.
  2. Adhere to Google’s 70/20/10 Model.  Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Google, pioneered a 70/20/10 model of managing innovation.  This model details that 70% of your time should be dedicated to core business tasks,  20% of your time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business and the remaining  10% of your time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business.  Therefore, focus on your key tasks (so you don’t get fired) but also think outside your cubical toward higher aspirations and innovations.
  3. Expand your network.  Every day should consist of you starting a new relationship or deepening an existing relationship.   In “Corporate America” your network is your lifeline.  It’s your source of business, job leads and growth.   Nurture your external relationships like you nurture your internal ones.
  4. Become an Expert.  It’s critical that you make a point to learn something new each day.  Not only will experts in their industries make more money, they’re more intellectually stimulated and happier to go to work each day.  Here are some tips on How To Be Seen As An Expert In Your Industry.
  5. Make sure to laugh.  Work shouldn’t be a prison sentence.  Maintaining your sense of humor will decrease your stress levels and increase the chances that your customers/coworkers enjoy doing business with you.
  6. Keep things organized.  It’s easy for your desk to turn into a landfill of documents, fed-ex’s and clutter.  Implement an organizational structure that will minimize distractions and keep you on task.  Look around you now.  Are you organized for success?  A clean desk is a productive desk.
  7. Stay Nourished.  Avoid the 2:30 crash by staying properly nourished.  Did you have a salad or a cheeseburger for lunch today?  How do you feel now?  A healthy lunch with plenty of healthy snacks and water throughout the day will keep your brain from losing focus.  Avoid sodas, coffee and sugar!!!
  8. End your day.  I hate taking work home with me (figuratively – I guess literally as well actually).  Make it a point to end your workday by examining what you didn’t accomplish today and will therefore need to pickup tomorrow.  Once again, I prefer a physical list of matters to do the next day, thus allowing me to mentally leave work at the office.

These are the 8 must haves for my daily to-do list, what do you make a point to adhere to each day?  Feel free to share your comments and suggestions below.

5 Reasons Why You Won’t Reach Senior-Level Management

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 6306 views.

Businessmen Jumping Over Hurdles

Whether you’re a recent college graduate, a middle-manager or an aspiring executive, the odds are not in your favor to be a successful senior-level executive.  Why is that?  The reality is that the jump between middle-management and senior-level leadership requires an uncommon skill set not possessed by most. The good news is that after you’ve identified the obstacles you’re facing you’ll be in a better position to overcome them.

The following article was written from the standpoint of things that I should be doing better if I hope to succeed.  Maybe some of you will also agree that there’s always room for improvement.

Here are five reasons why you may not have what it takes to elevate from middle-management to your dream senior-level position:

  1. You’re not interacting like a leader.  How often do you leave your office and interact with those around you?  I’m not talking about your teammates or people who report directly do you.  I’m talking about the people who you have nothing to gain from.  Malcolm Forbes has a great quote:  “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him”.  Senior-level leaders are elevated by their peers (and their peer’s peers) – without their respect, you won’t go far.

    How you can fix this today:  Show your colleagues that you’re accessible by getting out there.  Make the rounds this morning and ask how they’re doing or how their project is going.

  2. You’re afraid of getting into the “trenches”.  All successful managers have at least one thing in common; they know the details of how their company runs.  When’s the last time you shadowed one of your employees?  What’s the last process you implemented to improve efficiency? Get yourself dirty and get down in the trenches – you’ll be a better manager for it.  Failing to learn the intricacies of your company is also one of the 25 Things to Stop Doing Today at Work.

    How you can fix this today:  Don’t be afraid to identify an aspect of your company that you’re not as informed about as you’d like to be.  Next, take a day to sit down with an employee in that department to listen and observe.  I guarantee this experience will be enlightening and filled with several “ah ha, that’s why we do this” moments for you.

  3. You’re not a “numbers person”.  Reaching senior-level leadership is equal parts business skills and finance skills.  You need to be able to read an income statement and a balance sheet.  Your excuse of “I’m just not good with numbers” is not going to cut it when you’re asked how to increase the bottom line.

    How you can fix this:  Step one is to get some form of training.  Even a basic “Financial Accounting For Dummies” book is a great start.  After you’ve grasped the key terms and concepts, take things further by taking a class at your local community college.

  4. You’re not identifying and cultivating talent.  The sooner you realize that the talent surrounding you is an asset, not a threat, the more likely you’ll achieve success.  Few individuals or companies fully embrace and maximize their talent within.  As a result, talent tends to flow outward to the companies that recognize talent.

    How you can fix this:  Involve those with talent and potential in your decision making process.  This applies if you’re asking those above you for help or teaching those below you.

6 Professional Tips on How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice. 10841 views.

I’ve conducted hundreds of job interviews in my time and have seen my fair share of what works and what doesn’t. While things like eye contact, appearance and personal hygiene are all important, they’ve been talked about before.  We’re going to get into some suggestions for those of us who are looking for a middle to higher level position.

Having reached the interview process your resume is most likely in order and your qualifications are already known.  Now it’s time to spend some time preparing for ways to differentiate yourself from other candidates who may have the same or better qualifications.

Here are 6 ways to increases your chances of getting hired:

  1. Do your homework.  Now that you’ve landed the interview, do your research.  Familiarize yourself with relevant company facts and recent company news. Be prepared to answer questions about the latest press release or the latest product.  Your interviewer will assume you’re familiar with the company – don’t fall into the “un” trap of looking uninterested and uninformed by being unprepared.
  2. Asking questions is the answer.  In doing your homework to prepare for any questions you may be asked, identify questions you’d like to ask yourself.  Who cares if you get your questions answered, simply asking the questions will set you apart as a more motivated candidate.
  3. I’ve never hired someone I didn’t like – be personable.  Chances are your interviewer is a regular person with a family, interests in sports or music.  Don’t be afraid to connect by answering or asking personal questions.  Showing a respectful sense of humor can also further your chances of being liked.  Identify some topics of conversation before hand that you could throw out there to start up a relaxed dialog.

21 Things To Start Doing To Be Happy At Work

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 9925 views.

Everyone would like to take steps to be happier at work. While “loving what you do” is important, it’s just as important to set goals and manage expectations. Happiness isn’t a given – it doesn’t happen overnight.

Happiness comes from realizing your potential and accomplishing the goals you set.

Here’s a list of things to start doing today to increase your happiness.

  1. Start focusing on what you can control.  Are you the type of person that gets worked-up and stressed out over the unknown?  Relax.  You’re not going to get fired, demoted, or transferred today – your boss doesn’t dislike you, your coworkers aren’t out to get you.  Rather than focusing on these negative what-ifs, put all of your energy into doing good today.  Avoid filling your head with variables you cannot control, instead take charge of your success by focusing on what you can control.
  2. Start believing in yourself.  Do you know what the difference between you and the person who is going to start the next big things is?  It’s not intelligence, it’s not money, it’s having the confidence to step out on that ledge.  Start believing that you don’t have to stay in the spot you’re currently in.   You have the ability do great things, but will you choose to do them?
  3. Start “putting hooks in the water”.  The only way you can catch a fish (achieve success) without having a hook in the water is by having the fish jump in your boat – and that isn’t easy.  Many of us don’t have any hooks in the water and are just waiting on dumb luck to strike.  Look into that investment property or small business – anything to get your feet wet and brain moving.
  4. Start getting uncomfortable.  That’s right, the more comfortable you are the less you’re growing as a person.  We all know how easy it is to maintain meritocracy by avoiding challenges and new things.  Snap out of this! Volunteer for the harder project to work on.  Challenge yourself today!
  5. Start becoming an expert in your industry.  What’s something you can do to start down the path toward becoming an expert?  Is it writing an eBook?  Volunteering to speak at your company’s next function?  Whatever it is….DO IT!  Experts get’s promoted and recognized (and feel higher levels of job satisfaction).  Here are 7 more ideas on how to become an expert in your industry.
  6. Start building better relationships with your clients.  Networking is essential to success in the business world.  Chances are you’re not fully connecting with your clients or coworkers.  Today, make a phone call, setup a lunch or even just shoot out an email in an effort to deepen a business relationship.
  7. Start organizing your resources.  On a scale of 1 to 10, how organized are you at work?  Do you have easily accessible (and backed up) electronic folders with all of your contacts, forms, projects, etc.?  How well archived are your bulletins, correspondence and emails?  Work on bettering your structure today…an organized desk is an efficient desk!
  8. Starting focusing on the interesting part of your job.  No where does it say that you have to be bored at work – even if you have a “boring” job.  Most of us are not supermodel photographers or record company executives, however, there are aspects of our jobs that are interesting.  Find the interesting in the ordinary and you’ll have a better outlook on your job and life in general.
  9. Start setting real goals.  Quick, what would you like to achieve today…next month….next year?  If your answer is to not get fired or if you’re still thinking about it, chances are you’re going to find yourself in the same spot then that you are now.  Entrepreneurs and executives don’t achieve success overnight, they first set goals and then spend the next day, week or year working toward reaching them.  What’s the first small step you can take today to achieve your goals?
  10. Start being looked at as an innovator.  What is something you could be doing differently today at your job?  Yesterday I created a PDF form for us to use – rather than printing out a form, filling it out and scanning it back in, now we just type it in on the PDF form.  This saved us time and money.  This small tasked gained the respect of my employer and coworkers (more so than any other day-to-day task would have).  Think for a minute about something in your processes that could be more efficient.

11 Communication Skills You Need To Be Successful

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice. 4781 views.

Being an effective communicator is essential in the business world.  Each communication session should have a goal.  For some the goal may be to establish a relationship, for others it will be to sell a product.  To increase our chance of achieving those goals we’re going to get into an important concept of “Establishing a Connection”.

Establish a Connection.  Within the first couple of seconds of interaction the person you’re communicating with will form an opinion of you that will influence their ability to react positively to your message – more simply, they’ll connect with you or they won’t.  This concept works whether your “audience” includes meeting someone the first time or pitching an idea to a large group.  Here are 11 skill’s you’ll need to possess to be a successful communicator:

  1. Start with eye contact.  Did I just start with the cliche first step of “Having good eye contact”?  Yes, but really the rule should be “Don’t have bad eye contact”.  People actually do, subconsciously, notice when you’re engaging the room by connecting visually with them, however, they more consciously realize when you’re avoiding eye contact by reading off your notes or relying on the screen.  Be remembered as the person trying to engage others in your message, not as the passive robot who didn’t realize there were other people in the room.
  2. Throw in some physical contact.  Of course you don’t want to be the creepy, touchy-feely, person, but physical contact can be a great of way connecting with the person and letting them know you’re relaxed.  A handshake with a pat on the arm, a hug instead of a handshake (if appropriate) or a pat on the back are all examples of acceptable forms contact which break down barriers of communication.
  3. Movement.  Effective communicators do not stand behind (or even use) a podium – they move around and establish an area presence.  Now that you’re moving, use hand gestures to point and interact.  I’m not telling you to tap dance around your lunch meeting, however, your body language can say a lot about both you and your message – if you’re passionate and have something to say, act like it.  Read:  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  4. Exude Confidence.  I love the phrase “exude confidence” – people listen to those who exude confidence.  The basis of confidence is preparation.  Whether it’s anticipating questions or researching the client you’re about to meet, the more information you have going into a communication scenario, the more successful you’ll be.
  5. Be Comfortable and Likeable.  You want people to be comfortable around you.  If you’re too intimidating or rigid they wont listen to your message.  Be humorous or self deprecating if appropriate, trick your audience into thinking you’re actually a likeable person.

The Biggest Thing to Change to Lower Work Stress

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 2200 views.

Work is usually your single biggest source of stress. Here are things to change at work, most importantly starting with…

Your Attitude.  Find yourself criticizing management and coworkers?  Depressed about the due date for your latest project?  Stressed that you could get laid-off today?  Well Stop it.  The sooner you realize that negative stress cannot help you, it can only hurt you, the happier you’ll be.  How do you fix this?  Dig deep to realize that staying positive and productive is the only path to happiness.  Remember that the only difference between a good day and bad day is your attitude.

Here are 5 other things that seem small but will add up to a lower-stress day:

  1. Start your day right.  Your drive to work sets the course for your day.  During the holidays, or on days that I know will be particularly stressful, I spend the couple extra bucks to stop and get a flavored coffee or healthy breakfast.  It works for me to start the day off in a positive manner.  Leaving yourself enough time, taking a less congested route to work or listening to relaxing music are all other ways to start your day off right.  Here’s how financially successful people start their day.
  2. Start-up the Exercise Habit.  The more you can move the better you’ll feel.  A lot of us are stuck in jail cell size cubicles, left to stare at a computer screen for 9 hours a day.  Make it a point to print from the farthest printer, walk to a coworker’s office (instead of emailing them) or take the stairs instead of the elevator.  This physical movement will help stimulate your mind and lower your feelings of stress.  Start right now!
  3. Lunch hour.  Stop eating “lunch” at your desk.  Lunch is a great opportunity to regroup and change your point of view.  If you’re not able to leave the office and interact with other coworkers, at least eat your lunch outside or somewhere more inspiring than your desk.
  4. Escape the “Learning Graveyard“.  Have you’ve quit learning at work and now you’re stuck in a cycle of monotony?  Not only can this be extremely stressful, it’s counter-productive to your career.  It doesn’t matter if it is work related or not, pursue a new hobby or certification.  A busy mind is a happy mind.  What’s something that you’ve been interested in learning about or a work related certification you’ve been pushing off getting?

20 Ways to Simplify Your Work Life

Written by Sam on . Posted in Career Advice, Inspiration. 3574 views.

Ways To Simplify Your Work LifeWe all get a little crazy on the job every now and then.  From moms at home to on-call response teams, there are ways to limit the craziness and typical work day stress.  Once you trade the temporary high of battle scars and constant adrenaline, you may find that you actually enjoy your job more than you realized.

Feeling overwhelmed at work today?  Try some of these 20 Ways to Simplify Your Work Life:

  1. Know what you’re capable of. If you’re confident in your ability to do your job, even emergency meetings can’t stress you out.
  2. Don’t repeat any gossip you hear. If you can detach yourself from the gossip chain, you cut the majority of the drama out of your work days.  This is also one of the 25 Things to Stop Doing Today at Work.
  3. Create an enjoyable lunchtime ritual. Listen to music, read a book, picnic on the grass, or just enjoy your leftovers.  Let your mind calm down and mark the day’s halfway point.
  4. Keep contact information easily accessible. Any phone numbers that could be urgent should be kept close at hand in a single location.  Day planner, cell phone, Outlook contacts, or index card: do whatever works for you, but keep that information available to avoid turning routine calls into desk-tossing panics.
  5. Clear your desk of anything that’s not necessary, like stacks of catalogs, outdated correspondence, and yesterday’s tea mug.  Keep a personal memento or two on your desk, but make sure the items add meaning to your life, like a family picture or an object that makes you smile or reflect.  Read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.
  6. Always have an update for your supervisor. Always.  Even if it’s something trivial, be ready to answer the “What’s new around here?” or “What’s going on in your department today?” question.  It’s a great way to build trust.
  7. Shorten your task list.  I like to keep two task lists, one for ongoing things that need to be handled at some point and one for what’s on the docket today.