Build Yourself a Great Career—Element One

Much is made these days about what it takes to build a great career. There are lots of ways to consider this question and engage in the conversation. Based on my 25 years of experience (my “10,000” hours) in working with professionals considering this question of “what it takes” to build a great career I have developed a framework to guide you in being intentional about what you do to achieve and maintain career success and satisfaction. It has been fun to refine and polish this model in the Professional Development class I am teaching at Seattle University.

The Framework includes six elements--Values & Growth, Ratios & Relationship, and Strengths & Contributions. This is the first in a series of publications examining each element and providing resources for you to use as you choose to be intentional in your career management.
 

VALUES. Start with a firm foundation.
What matters most to you?

core values puzzle pieces illustration design
  1. What are your core values? Begin with understanding your own values and how they influence your decisions. Connecting back to your values consistently will ensure that you remain aligned with what is most important to you. An exercise that I use is a Managing with Values worksheet that was adapted by my colleague Martha Duesterhoft and slightly modified by me. You are welcome to email me to ask for this worksheet if you are interested. There are also online Values assessments many of which are based on work originally done by Milton Rokeach
     
  2. How do your values inform your decisions? Sometimes the practical realities of life dictate where we work and the choices we make as we align with our values and choose what is accessible to us at given points in the life span of careers. Family relationships came first when I made the choice to leave IBM to stay home even though the practical reality meant changes from two incomes to one impacted our lifestyle. The flexibility to put the meaningful relationships first has been a primary decision driver for me. A decision support tool can be used to evaluate different choices. You name your decision drivers (like flexibility), give each a weight and then assess each option on each factor to come up with totals. This is a way to incorporate your “left brain” analytical resource, and then your “right brain” emotional/relational dimension will respond. This is another tool I am happy to share if you email your request.
     
  3. What is your career vision? How does your work support your vision? It has been consistent that the clients with the clearest vision are the most successful in achieving what matters to them--from the graphic designer whose vision 10 years ago was to illustrate children’s books and is now on his fourth publication to the local leader working for a global firm headquartered in Florida whose mantra was to “stay here and be VP”--your clarity and conviction will activate your vision. In the video clip below, Dan Pink suggests it is “your sentence” and your clarity about it makes all the difference. The most successful companies spend time refining their “mission, vision, and values.” it is worth your time to do the same.
     
  4. Other ways to tune in to your values would include reflecting on the cultures in which you have felt most aligned. Capture the essentials of what worked for you and look at the organization’s stated values. I still remember “Respect” on the wall at IBM, and how I felt “respect” in the way we were trained to listen to our customers and to honor each other as part of the corporate culture. Healthy relationships have always been most important (highest value) to me and treating others with respect aligned with that. How DO you name what matters most to you and keep it front and center as you are making career choices?
     
  5. How do your choices reflect your values? This begins with each day and the priorities you choose. What is your life--personal and professional--saying about what matters to you?

 

Some of the research/writing that I use
and find meaningful includes:

Dan Pink’s book “Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”
Following is a clip that I like to use and connects back to the idea of having your own personal vision statement. The clip from the book Drive by Dan Pink encourages you to consider what “your sentence” is. Your sentence can be inclusive of your values and your legacy. It is like your personal Vision Statement and is a powerful way to activate what you want in your career.

David Brooks' Ted Talk (watch here)
This is a great reminder of your lived values and to me it speaks to the importance of congruence. You can’t separate who you are at work from who you are in your life. Your life and your everyday behavior should speak to what you value most. When you align your choices with what you most value it may not always be the easiest path. It will consistently be the most authentic and you are more likely to remain peaceful and grounded.

Job Crafting
A recent discovery is the concept of Job Crafting outlined by Yale researcher Amy Wrzesniewski. She talks about the difference between a calling, a career, and a job. Her suggestions align with Pink and Brooks as she talks about the importance of having choice in crafting your tasks (autonomy), influence in who you work with and how you get your work done (mastery or relational crafting), and it is essential that we find meaning (purpose or cognitive crafting) in the work that we do.

Personal Branding in a Digital World

Much is written these days about Personal and/or Professional Branding. For many years this has been an implicit and explicit topic covered with clients—whether they are leaders considering how they are “showing up” in their role, or professionals choosing change. Over the last few years I have been invited to speak about branding, often oriented around practical instruction about LinkedIn. I call myself the “unlikely evangelist” for LinkedIn because of how it enables you to communicate your “brand” and to stay in touch with and/or connect with people in the professional world.

What is your “personal brand”?

My framework for considering this question has evolved since before the marketplace started naming it personal branding. It contains three dimensions:

  • How you show up in person in your work and your personal life. Congruence matters. Body language speaks volumes. Actions do indeed speak louder than words! It is no longer reasonable to try to completely separate your work person from your away from work person in our digital world. This includes your personality style, your image, your reputation, your values, and your background. What is the first and second and third impression people have when they interact with you?
  • What impact do you have with your communications? How does it align with what you value? You have so many choices today about how, when and where you use your words. Whether you text, email, skype, FaceTime, call, tweet, or any of the other ways you communicate, you are impacting your reader/listener with every communication.
  • How are you managing your digital presence? Whether you want it or not, you will make an impression by how you present yourself digitally—especially if you are a professional and you do NOT show up digitally. You WILL be searched. You can and should proactively manage what is found about you.

So what can you do to proactively manage your brand?

Certainly there are many things to consider since your brand includes all of the components in each of the dimensions above. Following are some tactical “must do’s” for professionals:

  1. Know your response to the “tell me about yourself” question that gets asked in networking events and interviews. Your response should align with your LinkedIn summary and your Executive Summary on your resume and include:
    • What you love to do, are best at doing, and/or value most in work.
    • Your depth and breadth of background or your interest as it relates to your credibility for the work you do or want to do.
    • The work you do or want to do and/or your perfect role, client or company.
  2. LinkedIn Absolutes! Leverage LinkedIn to manage your digital brand. You will be searched and this is what will come up first if you are an active user. It is the place professionals go first to check you out.
    • Get a good photo! Not having a photo or having a poor one may be the first impression you make.
    • Edit your headline and your url.
    • Include a summary.
    • Populate skills intentionally.
    • View the help webinars if you are new to LinkedIn or want to learn more.
  3. Resumes. What matters? They continue to be the professional “gold standard” for marketing collateral though that is beginning to shift.
    • Align with the norms of your industry.
    • Remember that it is the top half of the first page that captures your target audience…OR NOT.
    • Understand how your resume serves you, the importance of keeping it up to date with relevant accomplishments, and how it fits in pursuing possibilities.
    • Consider what type of marketing collateral is most useful to you in how you will communicate. It may not be a resume.

Because LinkedIn is the digital, professional “elephant” in the marketplace, your presence there will often define the first impression you make. You will present yourself most authentically and powerfully if you actually think about how you “show up” in your world and make a plan for it.

What’s Listening Got To Do With It?

What’s Listening Got To Do With It? Turns out it’s got a lot to do with it. “It” being the possibility of experiencing all we’re meant to experience – in our jobs, lives, and relationships. If listening, EQ, social skills, and emotional intelligence have an impact on the quality of our lives let’s give it some attention.  Companies and individuals benefit from learning how to more effectively communicate in their relationships – starting with strengthening our listening muscles.

Read More

Wisdom 2.0 Highlights

My husband and business partner Wally and I recently attended the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.  It was inspirational, engaging and motivating.  The conference itself was well done and included speakers who appealed to a broad range of people.  Speakers ranged from Pete Carroll and his sports psychologist, the former CEO of EBay, and CEO’s of Aetna and technology companies to mindfulness thought leaders like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield and Byron Katie to the designer Eileen Fisher and the founder of Indiegogo (fundamentally changed fundraising).  It included practical science and ideas for application for individuals and organizations in education, non-profits, and traditional businesses.

Following are some of my favorite content takeaways from the event followed by personal reflections…

Content TakeAways

Meng, the "Jolly Good Fellow" taught us that Joy is a highly trainable skill. 

  • The bare minimum for achieving healthy benefit from mindfulness is one minute.
  • Physiologically--you breath more slowly and more deeply--heart rate goes down.
  • Psychological--to experience regret you are thinking about the past; your worry is in the future; in the time you are focused on the breath you are in the present--you are free from worry and regret.
  • Kindness is intrinsically rewarding.  He offered the example of a person in his workshop who did the homework of each hour spending 10 seconds wishing joy for someone.  This person who previously hated her job emailed that she had the best day ever at work with 80 seconds of thinking kindly.

Mark Brackett was fun, funny and completely compelling in his discussion of emotional intelligence. He offered a simple 4 quadrant framework measuring energy on the vertical axis and pleasantness on the horizontal. He invited us to become an "emotion scientist".

Emotions matter for

  • Attention, memory and learning
  • Decision-making and judgment
  • Relationship quality--when we display emotions we telegraph
  • Physical and mental health--how we feel influences health
  • Everyday effectiveness--there is a focus on perseverance

He has proven that emotions matter as much or more than cognitive competence in student's ability to learn.

Trudy Goodman and Jack Kornfield.  Exploring the Shadow.

  • "People do things. And so do we."  This was her mindfulness teacher's response to her righteous indignation about the mistreatment she'd felt from her "wasband" (her ex-husband).
  • She talked about "scoreboard" people and our opportunity to respond to them and offered this quote "It never hurts to see the good in another.  They often act the better because of it."  Nelson Mandela
  • There was a discussion about the neuroscience of compassion with a distinction between empathy and compassion.  Empathy is the ability to feel with another which can just make us feel sad.  Compassion adds response or action and physiologically changes the brain.  It includes "how can I respond?" and leads to feeling empowered and refreshed.

John Donahoe, former CEO or EBay suggested that we “Presume Trust” and told his personal story of being compared to a Nazi prison guard in the heat of tough changes.  He used the phrase, ”in the tech crunch you are a hero or you are a zero.”  His message was compelling. 

Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna spoke on a panel with John Kabat-Zinn and Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio.  There were all kinds of juicy gems in this one like…

  • I believe in life BEFORE death
  • Re-define work--Instead of working for "the man" you work to help each other
  • To lead you have to trust; in order to get trust you have to give it
  • You can't be great unless you are vulnerable
  • Leadership comes from followership, not from being anointed
  • We don't need to go further left, we don't need to go further right, we need to go deeper--Pastor Jim Wallace
  • Ashanti had us all crying reading the letter that began his talk and ended it.  He has a non-profit that teaches boys of color how to engage with the education system through understanding emotions and the masks we are conditioned to wear.
  • I LOVED the videos at NatureRX.  These are playful looks at the importance and value of getting outside.
  • And if you like to laugh you need to watch the videos that playfully look at meditation, communication, and other life experiences at www.jasonheadley.com/

Personal reflections…

One of the less relevant personal takeaways was that I LOVED that the women on the stage in my demographic had wrinkles and smiles that looked completely natural and felt authentic and real.  I do believe it to be true that “happy girls are the prettiest!”

I appreciated the connection to spirit and all the ways that the conference confirmed and connected to the Jesuit tradition of the faith practice that I prefer.  The Jesuits have had this wisdom for their entire history.  So much of what was taught aligns with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

I laughed.  I cried.  I laughed until I cried.  I learned.  I got to share it with my best friend and the love of my life.  It was a perfect way to celebrate a milestone anniversary and to learn forward for the next 30 years.

Just Ask! Raises & Salary Negotiations

Negotiating is consistently one of the topics my business graduate students put at the top of their list of what they want to learn.  The mystery of how to navigate the sticky question about money is one that can unnerve even the most confident professional.

This piece from the Today Show quotes a statistic that 56% of employees have never asked for a raise and 49% of candidates accept what is offered.  My anecdotal experience is that well prepared professionals—whether they are asking for a raise or negotiating based on their value for a new job—most often get what they ask for.  The tenet “ask and you will receive” does apply here most often.

http://on.today.com/1VMcdUv

Key points in `preparing for negotiating include:

  • Know your worth.  Do your research to know what the salary norms are for professionals at your level in your industry.  Sites like Glassdoor, Salary.com, PayScale, and job search sites like Indeed and SimplyHired all have salary data.  The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics and GuideStar’s Non-Profit Compensation reports are also places to find relevant data.

  • Always start with your value.  List your accomplishments/contributions including the value to the business so that you are clear about your value proposition.  This is always the place to begin.  Know who you are talking to and start with them in mind and what you will add, or have added to their business or team.

  • Be prepared to negotiate for other things like working from home and adjusted schedules if you believe that higher compensation may not be an option in your company or situation.

  • Compare apples to apples when you look at total packages as the salary number is only part of the total compensation.

  • The time to negotiate an offer typically is between the time the offer is given and the time it is accepted.  Sometimes compensation conversations will happen before an offer is written to ensure the terms are acceptable on both sides.  Be prepared for these types of conversations.

  • DO ask and DO Negotiate!  If you have questions or concerns, get help from a professional or trusted colleague.

Professional Presence, Dress Codes & Ben Carson

Watching the recent Presidential debates punctuated the importance of how you “show up” in your professional world.  An important element of effective professional communication is aligning with the “style” norms of the organization or group you are a part of or working with. 

Recently I was asked by an executive client about “dress codes” and why there are implicit and sometimes explicit rules about how to dress.  Great question!  My answer is that you do not want your appearance to distract from your competence.  If I am busy noticing your blue hair or tattoo, or simply your jeans when everyone else is wearing more formal dress, I may be distracted into wondering about your motivation for those choices rather than being favorably impressed by your brilliance or competence.  Schools have dress codes to eliminate distraction and discrimination.  Companies and organizations also typically have norms for our professional appearance and it is in your best interest to follow them. 

Another great illustration of the importance of professional presence was the debate stage with Republican Candidates.  When I asked my class of business graduate students about the differences, one of them characterized Ben Carson’s presence as “NyQuil” which is often used to help put us sleep.  He is clearly brilliant and competent to have made it to that stage yet the cadence of his speech was significantly slower than his opponents in a noticeable way.  Matching the style and cadence speech norms is important in making positive impressions.

Your professional presence aka your body language speaks more loudly about you than the words that you choose.  Your emotional intelligence and ability to “read the room” and modify accordingly makes a big difference in how you are perceived.  Here is one of my favorite short TEDtalks with some useful suggestions on how to improve your communication. 

http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_how_to_speak_so_that_people_want_to_listen

 

Career Tune-up Tips--Ask for a Raise!

It is a New Year--how about including some Career Resolutions?  One that many ask about in all different ways is the big money question.  This clip has GREAT points--some that jump out include 56% of people never ask for a raise.  This is so true in my 20+ years of coaching experience, and it is also true that when people finally do ask for a raise in the right way--they get it!

If you don't ask, you won't get it--seems obvious and fear is often what holds people back--how about being bold in 2016?

Know your worth.  You have more access to salary data than ever before.  Use it to understand your market value.  Glassdoor, Salary.com, Payscale Indeed, Simplyhired...the list goes on for where you can find market data about your worth.

Prepare!  ALWAYS have a clear picture (including metrics) of your value.  List the outcomes you have produced for your organization and be clear about your contributions.  ALWAYS begin with these.

Know what you want.  If your organization is not in a position to give you more money, what are the other possibilities?

Be ready to explore other options.  One of the vital elements in professional development is growth.  How will you ensure your professional growth this year?

Most Meaningful & Useful Books of 2015

In no particular order, the books that have been the biggest part of my work and interest in the last year include

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

She includes science that proves that your beliefs about stress have a direct impact on how stress impacts your life and health.  See her great TEDtalk here.

Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heed

They were the authors of Difficult Conversations, a bestseller that I read in my master’s program about how to engage in healthier conflict.  The distinctions between triggers and different forms of feedback are helpful for building self-awareness and social awareness.  The triggers identified include truth, relationship and identity triggers, and different forms of feedback include appreciation, coaching and evaluation.  The following slide share gives a great overview.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert  

The best part of this book is where she talks about passion and our overblown cultural invitation to find your “passion” that can create inertia for some.  She encourages what I have consistently encouraged instead—follow your curiosity and let it inspire you to places that are resonant. See her Ted Talk here.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

My favorite part of Brene Brown’s latest book is the overview she included of her two other bestsellers, The Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.  Her work continues to resonate and no matter how many times I watch her “most viewed” TEDtalk on vulnerability, it still evokes that emotion about whether “I am enough.”  She is a gifted storyteller with a Texan drawl that makes it sassy and fun to read and/or listen to.  If you haven’t already viewed it, this one is a must see. 

Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

This one was published in 2013 and is one that I re-listened to recently and discovered some new insights.  The five strategies Achor suggests that will get you to “positive genius” include:

  • Choose the most valuable reality
  • Map paths to success by connecting to your meaning markers
  • Create boost with success accelerants--this is about making your goal seem closer
  • Cancel the noise—usually this is the internal noise of our limiting beliefs or fears
  • Positive inception—communicate your positive visions and viewpoints to get support

Achor’s TEDtalk is also one of the most viewed and one of my personal favorites because he is fun and funny.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Another one that I reread this year as I work on myself and with my clients to create and maintain healthy, vital habits and to rid myself of self-defeating behaviors.  One of the compelling messages in the book is that 40% of our actions are not based on decisions.  They are habits that happen automatically.  He offers the science that show how and why habits are created and techniques for building proactive behaviors.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Gawande looks at how the medical system treats the “problems” in healthcare as people face their own mortality, and misses some of the emotional/relational human elements.  It may help you consider conversations that you want to have with your loved ones.  He also has a TEDtalk here.

Two Glasses of Red Wine...A Story About Priority Management

Favorite glasses used to share with MANY favorite people--wine from great client!

Favorite glasses used to share with MANY favorite people--wine from great client!

Handle the BIG Rocks First!

Interesting illustration of Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Principle #3 Put First Things First

This is a common conversation with clients with a goal of creating balance in their lives.  With the recent political dialogue as well, this seems like a timely favorite story illustration about honoring priorities.   This came to me again recently in a daily inspiration email I receive from Roger Omholt.  Thank you Roger.  I am thinking about trying it with my class--our Monday class this week included exercises about the importance of anchoring your career in your values.

TWO GLASSES OF RED WINE

"When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of red wine... 

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. 

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. 

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.' 

The professor then produced two glasses of red wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed. 

Now, said the professor, as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.' 

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else; the small stuff.  If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'There is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.' 

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. Do one more run down the ski slope. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter.

Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.' 

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented.  The professor smiled. 'I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of glasses of red wine with a friend.”

The first time I heard this story the liquid used was beer--I especially like the red wine version:)!

BE Happy!

The science of happiness is a relatively new dimension of psychology and there are some great resources to help you boost your "happiness" quotient.  Following are a couple of my favorites—

Shawn Achor’s TEDtalk, The happy secret to better workis one of the most viewed talks because it is both entertaining and informative with story and science.  His books, The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness are great handbooks full of ideas for incorporating behaviors that will contribute to happiness in your work and life.


NPR is SUCH a great resource! The NPR TED Radio Hour is one of my all-time favorite resources.  There are so many TEDtalks now it is tough to sort through the ones that will be most interesting. Guy Roz does a great job of finding the great ones that are related and spending time talking to the speakers, incorporating the “best bits” of the talks, and distilling the juiciest parts of the talk into his program.  Following is a link to his radio show called “Simply Happy.”  I look forward to listening to the podcasts each week.

 

 

Leadership Lessons from Africa--I can do anything!

Lesson Two.  I can do anything!!  We are resilient and resourceful beyond what we know.

Kilimanjaro was not on my bucket list…AND I am so grateful it got on my daughters’ lists thanks to their amazing dad!

5 Climbers St. I Sign.jpg

There were many unexpected miracles in Africa.

The resilience and strength of the human spirit was evident and alive so many times and in so many ways.  First I experienced it in Rwanda most profoundly.  Witnessing and experiencing the growth and development in Kigali amazed me.  Seeing the images of destruction and reading the stories from 1994 and then driving through the city seeing all the new construction and being at the school with the children illustrated how resourceful we humans are on a large scale.

Joining my family after they summited the tallest free-standing mountain in the world illustrated resilience and strength at a very personal level.  Each of the five climbers had stories of “OMG, I had no idea about how hard it would actually be!!!”  They witnessed multiple climbers who didn’t make it, and they each had their own story of what made it hard for them.  Between altitude sickness that made them nauseous and a little woozy feeling in their head, the temperature that made it difficult to feel fingers and toes, hiking in the middle of the night and just wanting to be sleeping, and legs that didn’t want to take another step up---multiple factors contributed to powerful resistance to making it to the summit.

They all made it.  They each proved to themselves their own resilience and strength in a very tangible way.  My favorite comment following the climb was “I can do anything Mom.”  My heart sings thinking about it now.  Yes, you can!!!!  You can do anything you put your mind, heart and spirit into.  You can do anything with a little help from your friends (and family).  Without the support and encouragement from each other, they may not have all summited.  You can do anything you have the courage to commit yourself to do. 

Finally getting the text telling me that they had all summited while standing in the Ebola line in the Nairobi airport on my way to join the climbers, tears were running down my face.  I wanted to jump up and down and holler “yes, you CAN do anything!!!”  You just proved it.  You proved it to yourself.