Believe you are an exception

I often work with people who don’t believe in themselves. It is partly my job to help them see the best of their abilities and recognize their strengths, as well as improve on their weaknesses. One of the most common sentences I hear is “But, I have a friend and she was not able to do this or that” or “My friends say it is impossible to achieve this” or “No one I know has ever accomplished this” and etc. You get my point. It is a statement after statement about why he or she cannot do something and it is based purely on what others around them are doing or not doing. It is important to hear people’s stories and points of view/opinions, but that does not mean you should directly apply them to your situation in life. Believe you are an exception! Just because something did not work for someone, it doesn’t mean that it will not work for you. If someone tries to tell you that your dreams or goals are unrealistic, that is fine. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Respect it but don’t accept it to be your truth and reality. Give it your best shot and if it doesn’t work then learn from the experience, apply it for next time, and do better. As Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better.”

Your thoughts today will ultimately create your future. Be careful about you allow yourself to think and dream about. Protect your thoughts from self doubt, lack of confidence, and negative remarks from others. It is okay to listen to people, but do not let those negative thoughts or actions get inside of you. Keep guard of your sacred place where your dreams and goals live and flourish. You have the power of what you let inside. Dream as big as you wish and always stay positive. Affirmation is half the work of getting to where you want to be; therefore, being positive and believing in yourself is vital to your future success, whatever that success looks like to you. So, go on and start dreaming!

I am curious to know, what is success to you? Please share.

How bad do you want it?

What do you do in your free time? Specifically that time before and after work? Do you come home and watch tv? Or maybe go meet friends for dinner or coffee every night? Do you wake up late with just enough time to make it to work?

Take some time and review how you spend your mornings and evenings and other times that you are not at work.

Now, I want you to think about your goals and dreams for the future. What are you doing in your free time to get you closer to those goals and dreams? During your regular work schedule you should be focusing on your work at hand so you can do your job well and be successful in your company; thus, you need to make time when you are not at work to pursue your other personal goals. And, maybe your goals include getting promoted within the same company or to improve in your career, in which case doing your regular 9-5 work will help but there is more work to be done. Even if you are looking to get promoted within the same company, there are still plenty of things you can do to aid that process before and after work. For example, reading related materials or writing about related topics will benefit you in your learning and it can build your expertise in front of management and stakeholders of the company. Attending networking events or educational seminars after work or on weekends can also benefit you in your particular field or any field for that matter. Networking goes a long way. You can read more about networking in my previous post here: Don’t network, build relationships! See what goes on in your industry, are there workshops or conferences coming up that might be beneficial for your learning and exposure? Are there committees, associations, or memberships you can join to gain more insights and expertise in your area?

Waking up early and exercising or meditating will help you start your day on a positive note and starting your day with any sort of exercise will give you energy for the whole day. I will not go into the abundance of benefits that morning exercise, meditation, yoga, or any physical activity can bring to your life, but if you want to learn more, you can check out this article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/15/morning-workout-benefits_n_1900889.html

Now, let’s say, you are not planning on staying within your current role or company , but instead looking to venture out on your own or join a new company. Similar rules will apply in terms of attending workshops, networking events, and reading related materials as stated above; however, you have to be even more proactive. If you are looking to start a business on your own, then you need to work on your business plan, understand the market, do the research, and potentially look for investors. When starting a business, you need to be an expert in your business and surround yourself with people who will help you get there. Thus, spending time with potential partners, clients and other stakeholders is important. In this case, you need to build relationships with people. People do business with others they like and trust. In order for someone to like you and trust they need to know you and spend time with you.

If you are looking to move to another company, then you should meet colleagues in that particular industry or company, network with them, learn more about the companies you are interested in. Do your homework, understand the culture of the company and what value you can bring to your next employer. Companies hire people to cut cost or increase revenue. Can you do one or both? Do you need to get further education to get that next role? Do you need a certification or a particular set of skills that you have yet to develop? Do you need to be exposed to certain business environments? You should start thinking about these things and work towards making the next move. Here is a helpful article about changing careers to help you explore this topic further: https://www.themuse.com/advice/8-steps-to-an-utterly-successful-career-change

To conclude, what you do in your free time is vital to your future success. If you spend your evenings attached to the TV or sitting in a coffee shop with friends talking about miscellaneous topics, you will not achieve desired results. If you wake up in the morning with just enough time to make it work and don’t make time to exercise and prepare for the day you will not be as focused or energized. The only question remains is ” How bad do you want to achieve your goals?” It comes to down to discipline, determination, and persistence.

If you need any assistance or would like to discuss the topic further, feel free to reach out! I am happy to help!

 

How do others view you? Ask them..

I am a huge fan of self reflection. I believe we should all take time to reflect on our lives, our career, and whatever else you choose to reflect on regularly. It is a way for us to stop and take a moment to review the past, improve on it, get in tune with ourselves, and ultimately make sure we are on the right path in our lives, careers, etc. It is very important to have a clear understanding of who you are, what your goals are, where you want to go, as well as be comfortable with the person that you are.

Another thing I believe that is beneficial to do is to understand how others view you. This can be valuable when trying to understand your expertise/strengths areas, when changing careers and not sure which one to pursue, and also beneficial for managers to understand how their staff might view them. You can create a simple survey which asks your staff, family, and friends various questions in regards to your working style, personality, leadership style, and whatever other areas you want to explore. Below are some sample questions you can ask in your survey:

  • When you observe me at work or life, what is always true? What do you always see?
  • What is my manner of communicating?
  • What am I an expert in?
  • How do I relate to others at work? What do I give? What do I expect?
  • How do my personality and values affect what I offer?
  • What outcomes do you associate with my being involved in something?
  • Comments/suggestions for improvements.

After a few answers, you will see a pattern or themes in relation to how others view you which can be very beneficial for reflection. Often we don’t recognize in ourselves the trends that other people see in us. We can be our own worst critique and hearing from others might be an eye opening experience to see what we reflect onto others and the world. It can be good or bad, but the point is it will be a way to better understand yourself and how others view you.

Don’t be intimated by what the answers might be, just got for it. You might be surprised!

Don’t network, build relationships!

How often do you hear the word ‘networking’? Often enough I am sure. How do you feel about networking? What does networking mean to you?

I am huge fan of networking, but I feel networking has lost its value in a sense that many people don’t know how to network or evolve their networking skills accordingly. So I would like to change the idea of “networking” to “building relationships”. In today’s tough job market, anywhere in the world, one needs to go beyond the basic networking. Have you ever come across people who just simply start a conversation by giving you their business card at an event? Or they introduce themselves as their job role? I don’t recommend networking in this manner for 2 reasons (although there are more):

  1. First impressions matter. And, unless you are Steve Jobs, the chances are people will not be impressed with your business card or job title. Typically, at such events, there are plenty of people with fancy title who work for great companies. How will you stand out?
  2. You eliminate the social aspect of the conversation when you bring business as the first discussion topic. It makes it harder to get social and personal when someone starts with such an introduction. It’s a turnoff.

Instead, try introducing yourself as you would to anyone you meet. Why do people get so formal and business-like just because they are at a professional event? We are all still human and we enjoy a light conversation about something besides work. You are more likely to connect with people if you are not there to simply get their business card. Most often, people will not respond to you or stay in touch with you if you approach them in this manner. You would be surprised how often I meet people who ask me to get them a job or ask me for a career advice before they even tell me their name.

Connect with people on a social level. Talk about the food at the event, talk about the weather, talk about anything else, but don’t start with your work unless it is initiated by the other person (and even then keep it short and try to connect on a more personal level). Make sure people remember you and excited to stay in touch with you after the event. How can you do that if you are just a business card? Connect on a personal level whenever appropriate and stand out from the dozens of people that person might meet that day.

People don’t refer people and definitely don’t do business with people unless they know them, like them, and trust them. In order for someone to know,like, and trust you you must build a relationship with them. Meeting them at a networking event is only a small step in that direction. The biggest task comes after the event and that is called a ‘follow up’. That is you staying in touch and asking this person out for a coffee or a lunch to catch up and ultimately build a relationship with them. And, it doesn’t stop there. You want to stay in touch with them and keep them in your network from that point on. I know we are all very busy and it is hard to find time to build relationships but it is necessary. Here are a few tips on how to stay in touch with people:

  • Send holiday cards/call people/congratulate on big events, etc.
  • Organize dinners/host dinners at your house and bring together a small group of people
  • If you are traveling and you know someone in a city where you will be, reach out to them and schedule a coffee while you are in town
  • Catch up with people over coffee as often as you can
  • Stay in touch on social media and share updates on your industry/work
  • Pick up the phone and catch up that way whenever appropriate, share news from your end
  • Refer others to do business with people you know. This is very powerful as giving is a huge part of one’s success in the long run
  • Give, give, give whenever you can. You get what you give.

The goal here is to stay in touch and remain on people’s minds. I guarantee that if you put your efforts into building relationships with people you are more likely to find success and make great new friends than just doing basic networking at an event and keeping the relationships strictly limited to office email/phone.

So, put down your business cards and go connect as humans!

Get out of your own way!

If you didn’t have any obstacles in your career/life, what would you want to be doing?

This is the question I pose with many of my students/clients who are unsure of their next career move. You would be surprised how many people get stuck on that question. Not because they don’t know what they want (in some cases this is true but not all), but because most plan to pursue a career path that they have been on because it makes sense. Many people think they should keep going in their particular field of work because they have been in this field/role for many years and it makes sense to keep going. But, why? If you enjoy the career that you are in, then perfect. Keep going. However, many people don’t enjoy their jobs (as per many researches and studies that have been done on this topic), so how come we don’t stop and ask ourselves this question? For many that I speak with, they don’t event put that as an option, it often gets left behind as a dream they will never achieve. Why not? I understand that are many uncertainties that comes with such change. Maybe one doesn’t the necessary qualifications or background. Or maybe it will take longer for one to change careers vs staying in the comfortable one he or she has now. There is a possibility of demotion or salary cut as well. All of these are trade offs that one must consider when changing careers, absolutely. Nonetheless, what would you be willing to trade off to pursue your true passion instead being in a job you don’t enjoy? Why don’t we just get out of our own way and go for what we really love doing? I believe we are our biggest obstacles to success and we need to get on our own side instead of being the blocker. I don’t mean you should quit your day job and go for a pursue a start up company (or do! depending on your situation, of course), but what I mean is start taking small steps towards what it is that you really want to in this life. If you are missing qualifications, then maybe look into getting those; if you are missing experience, then get experience in that field (volunteer if needed). Do what you need to do but just start!

Don’t limit yourself because you feel you should stay in a particular field just because you have been in this field for many years. I understand that there responsibilities that all of us have; however, changing careers and pursuing your passion doesn’t necessarily mean a pay cut or a struggle. Often enough you are able to use your past experiences/education and transferable skills in your dream career. I don’t know about you, but I have never met anyone who regretted pursuing their passion. However, I meet plenty of people who regret staying in a job they don’t enjoy for longer than they should have.

 

 

Women in the workplace

In celebration of International Women’s Day, which is just around the corner on March 8th, many companies and institutions around the world are hosting series of events discussing various topics in regards to women, particularly women in the workplace. Dubai is also one of the cities who is hosting several events around this particular topic.

Today I attended a presentation by a speaker from McKinsey & Company (in Dubai) where she discussed different factors affecting women in the work force. She brought up some excellent points about various factors from a study that McKinsey conducted, this is focused a lot on the GCC region, but can be seen in different parts of the world. For example, the study found women tend to be less cocky compare to their male counterparts. Women spark debate and discussion when they are part of the management team, meaning that when it is all men in the room, they tend to agree very quickly and follow whatever the leader of the group says. Women on the other hand, tend to ask more questions and really debate on which strategy is best for a specific situation. Women also tend to be better leaders in terms of human development and tend to support their staff more in professional development opportunities. Now, I realize there are lots of points that can be argued here and I am not by any means trying to say that women are better or smarter, I am just stating facts and points that were discussed at this event, and I think we can all agree that they are probably true.

Nonetheless, the most important factor which was discussed is that a disturbingly high percentage of women do not believe they can be successful, while their male counterparts believe they will  be successful and deserve to be successful. It is interesting that women do not think they can be successful or have everything as men can. That being said, I can also admit that there are times when I do not feel confident enough to reach a certain level in my career or I am afraid of sacrificing family life to pursue a career. It is almost as if I was conditioned to feel guilty about the desire to be successful and reach my goals. The study also finds that women often feel guilty for leaving their children with a caretaker or leaving the house uncleaned. We, as women, want to make sure every aspect of our lives is taken cared of, while men are okay with just focusing on their careers. It seems that women get in a way of themselves. I believe we need to give ourselves more credit and take every opportunity that comes our way, even if we are not ready for it. Frankly, you may never be ready for some things, so just jump in and learn as you go. And, most importantly, believe in yourself, believe that you can and will be successful. You are, after all, the mother of generations to come! Young women need to have strong role models so we can start changing the way we think about ourselves and our success.

The society has conditioned women and men to behave in a particular way that if this trend is to be changed, it raises eyebrows. On the other hand, men also fall in the same trap. More and more men are becoming house husbands, with more women reaching top positions and making more than their partners. There is nothing wrong with this scenario, but once again this is something that the general public does not want to accept. There is plenty of work and further discussion that needs to take place for both genders.

Needless to say, this was a very interesting event and lots of sub sections to discuss here, but that is for another time. I would like to hear your thoughts about women in the work place. Do many women make it to the top at your company? Why or why not? If you are a man, would you consider being a house husband and taking care of the children and letting your wife bring the bread? Would your wife accept that? How do you feel about working for a woman in your workplace?

The magic of lists

I am a huge fan of lists. I have lists for daily tasks, short term and long term goals, list of ways to continue my education, list of dreams, etc. Benefits of creating lists:

  • declutter your mind-you put it all on paper and out of your mind
  • help you stay organized
  • make you more productive
  • keep you accountable
  • rewarding-feels great when you cross off things off your list and you want to keep doing it
  • reduce stress and anxiety-you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do something
  • help you plan and reach your goals
  • keep you motivated-you are more likely to do something if you write it down (writing it down is half the work)
  • keep you motivated to keep achieving and accomplishing your goals

The more busy we get at work or in life, the harder it is to stay organized. Lists help you stay on track with your daily activities, as well as help you create a vision for your future by writing down short and long term goals. The key with short and long term goals and dreams is to keep looking at them every day/week which works best. Keep reminding yourself of your ultimate goals and your destination.

If you are not using lists, give it a try now. Start with list of things to do for the day, the week, and the month. Write down your long term goals and keep them somewhere where you can always see them (on a fridge or your desk for example). I guarantee you will find it useful and you will be more successful as a result.

Recommended book: Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo.

So you want to apply for a job…

The people I meet with to discuss career goals are often looking to change jobs/move to another company. The first question they ask me is “How can I improve my CV?” To which I come back with “It depends.” What does it depend on? The following:

  • What role are you applying for and why?
  • What skills can you highlight to help you get your CV recognized for a specific role?
  • What company are you interested in?
  • What industry? (every industry has a different way to present CVs)
  • Are you changing career paths or staying within the same field?
  • What is your motivation for changing jobs?
Before you even begin creating a CV, you should start with doing research about the roles/companies you are interested in, reaching out to people (to be covered in another post) who are doing the hiring to conduct informational interviews, using your network to get information and connect, and gathering related information. Only after understanding what you want and why, what you have to offer to companies, and a strategy of how to do it, can you proceed with adjusting your CV. Otherwise, even if I get you in front of an employer of your choice, unless you know what they need and what you can offer to them, you will not get the job.
Feel free to reach out to me for any guidance or questions.

Steve Dalton does a great job summarizing the job search and how it do it effectively in his book “2 Hour Job Search.” I highly recommend you read his book if you are looking for a job. He provides a step by step process on how to conduct a successful job search.

Recommended book: 2 Hour Book Search by Steve Dalton

Have you hit a plateau in your career?

Have you hit a plateau in your career? Has your job become something you can do without thinking? Are you losing motivation as a result? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is time to think about how to make a necessary move to progress your career. Explore where you want your next move to be. Consider the following questions:

Is it a higher level role within your company that you wish to move to?

Have you expressed interest to management in your company?
Do you want to move to another company? (hint: use your network)
Does a new role require a certification or another relevant degree or experience?
Will your current skills/job role be relevant in the next 5, 10 years?
Is there a professional development program within your current company that you can join?
Does your company offer scholarships for any MBA or other professional programs which might be beneficial for your career progression?
Have you attended any conferences or seminars lately related to your industry?

It is never too late to progress your career, but you have to be very open with yourself about where you are professionally and where you want to go, and what you need to acquire to get there. Understand your valuable skills and how you can leverage them in your career progression. Use your network and friends. Start today!

Feel free to reach out for any guidance.
Check out a great article about how to stay ahead of the crowd by future proofing your career:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/future-proof-your-career-developing-skills-well-today-erik-laimon

What’s your legacy?

We are so busy living our lives, we often forget to stop and ask ourselves: What is the legacy I want to leave behind? What do I want people to remember about me?  These are questions we should ask ourselves from time to time. The more we check in with ourselves, the more in touch we will be with our goals and the ultimate legacy we wish to leave behind. Look at the big picture. Don’t let small challenges along the way stop you from achieving your ultimate dream. I see many people taking jobs purely because it pays well, even when it has nothing to do with their life goals. If possible, it might be better to take a job with a smaller paycheck but higher future rewards, especially if this job will aid you in living out your legacy. If you are going for a job purely for financial gain, you are likely to end up stressed and unhappy, because money tends to take your focus off the really important goals in your life. Don’t go after the money, go after your dreams and life goals. Money will come and I truly believe that. The more you put out in this world from a pure heart and positive intentions, the more you will get back. I know many people who are very wealthy and they are extremely miserable because money took over their lives and they lost touch with what is important-such as family, health, and overall well being-and now they are wondering how to make things right again. Don’t fall into that trap. You cannot take money with you; instead, think of what you will leave behind for others to remember you by.

What is your legacy?