Leadership Blog

How to help your friends job search

Superpower_Booklet
Photo Credit: https://madeby.sypartners.com/products/superpowers-handbook?variant=29500514829

 

In 2017 I had the good fortune of doing my first ever job search.

While I’ve been professionally employed for more than twenty [mumble] years, my past job acquisition process can be most accurately described as: occasionally agreeing to go work for someone else.

Before I start my next big opportunity (more on that later), I want to take a moment to reflect on what I learned and share one big idea that anyone can do to help with a friends job search.

For context, here are some stats and observations on my funployment

  • 14 months to find a fit that both excited me and wanted to hire me — this probably shouldn’t have been a surprise… but it was.
  • I met/called/connected/engaged about 400 people
  • I had coffee/meetings 2-3 times a week
  • I pursued about 40 awesome jobs
  • Bias is alive and well and shows up in very subtle ways
  • My network is amazing — I had more than 75% response with LinkedIn messages I sent out asking for leads
  • Many people went way above and beyond with helpfulness — brainstorming, connecting and recommending me

In retrospect, the smartest thing I did was to create structure, community and accomplishment into this unstructured time.  I shifted my energy to improving my positivity and health, and as a result, I came through both mentally and physically stronger.  Huge shoutout to Angie at I Am Fitness and all my Sweatheart friends at DanceSweatSmile for making this fun.

Of course, every kind of help is appreciated in a job search: encouragement, coffee, lunch, brainstorming, job leads, etc.   But I learned that one thing a few people did had an outsized impact, reminding me of my unique strengths.  

This helped in two ways

  1. Gave me words to describe my work.
  2. Helped me stay positive in a time of waiting, rejection and extraversion overload.

Some amazing things people took the time to say:

  • you were tough, intelligent and had vision – I miss that
  • you have a great understanding of dependencies and how they are designed and deployed
  • you are such a bright, dynamic and interesting person
  • transformational leadership is your strength
  • you are always looking at how to create, disrupt and build the most effective organizations and teams
  • I am a huge fan and I would love to work for you again
  • Superpowers include pioneering new things, thriving amidst uncertainty, taking risks and building great teams

It is with great gratitude and humility that I wrap up this chapter, and extreme excitement that I begin my new impactful journey.

To all my friends, associates and colleagues, I am blessed to know you. I  would be honored to have a chance to share my observations of your uniquely awesome superpowers.  Put me on your list of people to alert when you are searching for your next job.

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Word for 2018 — Impactful

jackierobinson1-2x

Last year I was inspired by Melinda Gates New Year tradition of picking a word and building a deliberate practice around it, to focus the year.

Taking a full year to focus my thoughts and energy around generosity was not easy, but it was very rewarding. I found myself much more resilient, with higher levels of positivity, and that was both needed and helpful in 2017.

In 2018 I’m turning up the heat on action. I believe that now more than ever, the world needs us all to do our part, to show up and do the work.

2018 is about getting sh*t done, personally, professionally and most importantly, in service of others.

Generosity in action = impact

Watch out 2018, you have no idea what amazing things you are in for, because words are powerful.

 

Cross Post: LinkedIn

Making Work Better.

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy
Photo Credit: QuoteFancy

 

The single biggest theme I get asked about, [at any organized panel, one-on-one coaching conversation, formal Q&A or random mentoring interaction] is work life balance. This isn’t really surprising, we are working more hours and feeling more squeezed in our lives, so searching for life hacks, or empathy makes sense.

While I don’t really like the work life balance framing, I do have a make work betterstrategy that helps keep me in balance. At some point, I’ll organize my journey here into a TED-worthy story, but, for today, I will focus on sharing the strategy I use to manage my energy. This is key to my belief that I am not balancing work and life, instead, I’m balancing energy to help me thrive.

My strategy is really simple — I use the scientific method — try something, analyze, adjust, repeat. The trick is that every one of the conditions in my experiment is evolving, so the value is less in the solution and more in the a practice. A bit like life.

What does that look like?

Important to note, that theses lists will be different for each of us, there is no one size fits all here. The more you learn about yourself, the better results you will get. Here is my framework:

First, I inventory things that add energyThese include things like sleep, massage, yoga, meditation, learning something new, applying a new learning to a current problem, deep connection with people, helping others thrive and reading for pleasure.

Then I look at things that give energy when I complete them (but maybe not while I’m doing them). These include things like checking items off a to-do list, de-cluttering (email inbox, desk, calendar, etc.), exercise, finishing a big project.

Then I look at things that drain me of energy. These include negative people, uncertainty, minor physical discomfort (vitamin deficiencies, migraines, vertigo, etc. ), low blood sugar, extroversion overload, small talk, telephones, teenager drama, avoidable chaos, etc.

Lastly I look at my personal daily energy cycle. What times of day am I at my best and when am I more sluggish. Is that hard wired or environmental?

Now that I have my variables, I start to think about my rhythm within a day and a week. I look to tune the order of the kinds of tasks I need to get done, against the types of energy I have at a given time of day. I look to optimize both daily and weekly since I often can’t win this game every day, but over a week I have reasonable odds.

An example of what this looks like for me

  • Prioritize getting to sleep early as often as I can, to make sure I have enough fuel to get shit done the next day. I reinforce this habit with the reward of reading for pleasure at the end of the night.
  • Get up early to enjoy quiet, chaos free house and do low-effort tasks that build energy on completion (e.g., clear out my inbox, declutter my desk and drink all the coffee).
  • After I’m organized [and awake], do the bigger items — either exercise to build for a longer day, or some important work meetings and tasks [ideally both].
  • Be thoughtful about my propensity for low blood sugar. Have a reliable strategy for breakfast, lunch and mid-day snack and, if available, schedule a walking meeting in the afternoon to re-charge and connect with someone I care about.
  • Think about who and how many meetings I have back to back. Build in recovery time if I have too much required extraversion or negativity. I am at my best if I have a “work quietly” break after 3 meetings. If I can’t, I need a recovery plan. This might involve staying late to get some work done when the office quiets down.

I use my calendar to manage execution, being mindful of what personal commitments are hardest for me to keep, and making sure I build that into my weekly default template (e.g., I struggle to keep exercise commitments, so I add a few kickers — first, I put an extra prep 1/2 hour before, to remind myself to wrap stuff up and get my clothes changed. Then, I schedule a class that has a hard start time, so my responsibility gene kicks in and gets me there).

As I mentioned above, these are not universal, they are my truths [today]. Having teenage girls has increased my needs for quiet recovery options (reading, yoga, massage, etc), pre-kids that was not as important. Life and professional transitions increase my need for exercise and mindfulness to keep me open, positive and creative. Things like seasons (number of hours of daylight) and crunch times (e.g., school holidays, theater tech week, kids finals, end of quarter, and key work deadlines) add additional variables to work into my plan.

Most importantly, I check in frequently to this framework, especially when I notice my energy and positivity waning, this helps me maximize for flow and avoid burnout. I feel more in control, and more at peace with my choices, since, embedded in this framework is making purposeful choices about what not to do at all.

What about you? What are your life hacks for making work better?

 

Cross Post: LinkedIn

Word for 2017 – Generous

albertcamus1

I was inspired by Melinda Gates New Year tradition of picking a word and building a deliberate practice around it, to focus the year.

Unlike Melinda, I’m far from ready to focus on “gentle” but I am all in with generous in 2017.

Generous

Per Merriam-Webster*

a : characterized by a noble or kindly spirit

b : liberal in giving

c : marked by abundance

You will remember, in 2010 I had decided to focus on giving back which is one type of generosity. That single goal was transformational to my personal and professional growth. Seven years later, I’m still reaping benefits from that single intention.

In 2017, I hope to continue to be generous with my time and talents, while adding more generosity of thought. I must admit, that it’s often hard for me to have true empathy and to subscribe the best possible intention to the actions of others.

I feel that it would be a noble goal to practice this more. I intend to focus on making 2017 a year of unparalleled generosity. I look forward to seeing where this journey will take me.

Like Melinda, I’ll be happy to lend you my word, if you find yourself in need. How about you, what word are you bringing into focus for 2017?

*beautiful metaphor that I had to look up how to spell that (…twice)

 

Cross Post: LinkedIn

Insanely great

quote-if-i-had-asked-people-what-they-wanted-they-would-have-said-faster-horses-henry-ford-34-79-88

I’ve been listening to the audiobook The Innovators by Walter Isaacson and pondering Digital Disruption.

While great companies require customer centricity — great innovations often get hamstrung when the only input is customer feedback. What you need for innovation to thrive in the disruptive digital age, is a combination of deep customer empathy and a healthy paranoia that you are probably wrong.

Checking your biases, purposefully breaking your filter bubbles and diversifying your team can help you more easily find the path to insanely great disruptive innovations. The important thing to recognize is that your expertise can work against you.

We live in an age where the ability to recognize and process patterns has never been better. We have more analysis tools and more data points than ever before. We also have faster innovation cycles, that shorten the window of opportunity for great ideas to impact the market at large.

When you know that timing is the most critical component for startup [disruptive] success, you begin to realize that the best thing you can do to prepare yourself, is to create the conditions that help you succeed before you need them.

Building good habits into your ideation framework, can help you avoid missing an opportunity.

So the next time you are tempted to just end a customer feedback session with the what (or how) and not the why — check yourself. The next time you look around the room and notice that everyone thinks, acts and looks the same — check yourself. The next time you find yourself overly confident of your analysis — check yourself.

Insanely great is rarely incremental, and disruption is inevitable. Making it work for you is the hard bit.

Cross Post: LinkedIn

 

Standing up #WomenEqualityDay

Maya Angelou

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.”

Maya Angelou

In the past, I’ve brought forward the importance of being a visible role model.  How each of us standing up and being seen, can help make it easier for others around us to do the same.

I’d like to add a few more thoughts on how we can all #StandUp.

I believe it’s important to celebrate progress of others.  Every time we see progress for women, wherever that progress might come —  corporate, nonprofit or individual, society benefits.

I also, believe we should all lend our voice of dissent to important social, human and legal events that happen around us.  From the scourge of rape culture, to the embarrassment of sexism in Olympic coverage, not being a silent bystander, is a critical part of standing up.   We are the authors of our lives and a positive example for others.

Lately I’ve been thinking more deeply about the most difficult barrier that remains for women — power.  In the boardrooms, executive suites, and in our representative democracy, women are a stubbornly stuck minority.

I want to give a shout out to Cindy Gallop for connecting an important point to this topic for me.  The reason #EqualPay is important, is not just about you getting what is fair. In a work context, equal pay makes sure you are compared properly against the rightful peer group.

If you allow yourself to be paid less than your male counterparts, you not only hold back your own earning potential, you diminish your overall perceived value [against the scorecard measured in US dollars].  When you overlay this against the behavioral economic principle of relativity you begin to see how this can become a recursive problem.

All respect to Archie’s “Rib Theory,” I think a compelling case can be made that we all need to do our part.  I’m not suggesting that we need to all be motivated exclusively by money or power but, we must not allow ourselves to give permission to others to diminish the value of our work.  We must do our part to find and fix this for others when we are in a situation where we can.

Happy #WomensEqualityDay with sincere gratitude for all that you do, to stand up for all women.

Fortune favors the prepared

imagesxI’ve been thinking a lot lately about careers and luck.

I do believe there is a healthy element of luck in most career success stories.  I also believe, that many people misinterpret luck as their own capabilities (perception and data are often misaligned).

If we agree that luck is important, then we should learn to invite luck into our lives.

I believe you can absolutely attract or repulse good luck with your focus and your actions.  I’m not saying it’s magical, I’m just saying it’s logical.  The more you engage and work toward an outcome, the more likely that outcome will happen.

Or in internet meme form

opportunity-is-missed-by-most-people-because-it-is-dressed-in-overalls-and-looks-like-work-thomas-edison

So what are some practical tips i have seen that work to bring professional luck your way?

  • Share your goals – the more you talk about your goals with others, the better your odds of finding someone who can help you achieve them. Warning: if you only share to feel good about yourself, you miss the point (and the results) of this one.
  • Keep your head up –pay attention to what is going on around you.   You are likely to see opportunities that bring luck your way, if you you are actively looking.
  • Embrace failureMindset matters here — knowing that “yet” is the vocabulary of progress.  We all have a CV of failures critical to our visible career success.
  • Invest in your network – Having a strong network is the most common source of career luck.  You build a strong network by giving (not taking), so invest in your luck karma, by being generous and helpful to your network.
  • Practice saying yes – Give yourself permission to get outside of your comfort zone, saying yes to things that stretch you toward your goal.

Preparing for success invites success.  Not overnight of course, but taking steps in the right direction, consistently, purposefully, intentionally moving yourself toward your goal.

More on the topic here.

Authors note: After a blogging break of more than a year, I began a blog today I titled “Creating luck” only to find I had an unsaved draft of the above titled blog from 4 years ago.  Note sure if this is an observation on the importance of this topic to me, or how long it takes to complete a thought.