Tag Archives: careeradvice

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.

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.

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?

What companies want from you…

Often clients come to me asking me for advice about what employers are looking for in candidates. Working in the UAE, I can touch on the demands of employers in the region; however, you can find this true in other regions as well. When it comes to GCC region one of the most important aspects of the interview is your personality and understanding the culture of the company. Aside from doing your homework about the company, preparing list of strengths, stating why you are a great candidate for the position, preparing excellent questions, and choosing what to wear, showing your personality in a positive light and showing that you understand the culture are on top of the list. When I meet with recruiters and HR teams, they often tell me how many great people don’t get the job because

a) they came unprepared and

b) their personality did not fit the culture of the company.

Understanding the company culture and how you might be a great fit is vital during an interview, so make sure to do your homework. You can even look up people who work at the company; what kind of work and education background they come from? Learn more about your potential, future co-workers. You can get a good general idea about the company culture about the kind of people that work there. Ask your network and friends about the company, they might know someone who works there or have worked there themselves.

Some things you should consider when it comes to company culture:

-does it fit my personality?

-am i going to be happy in this kind of culture?

-do i see myself staying with this company and growing?

-does this company/job fit my personal life and my future goals?

The worst thing you can do is pretend to be someone you are not. Many people have two personalities, one they have for work and one they have once they leave work. Eventually they get burned out and end up breaking down in either their personal life or professional. Now, i don’t mean you should show up at your job and play hard rock in your office and get too comfortable. But, you should be happy in the company and be able to be yourself and enjoy your co-workers and the work that you do. We spend more time at work then with our families and doing anything else, so make sure you are happy at your work. At the end you don’t want to look back and realize you spent all this time away from your family at a job that made you miserable. For example, don’t go into the corporate world if you don’t enjoy it. Don’t join a start up if you don’t like challenges and surprises in your work. Do your homework. Do informational interviews to learn more about the company you are interested in, it might not be what you expect it to be or it might reassure your interest. It is better to find out before you sign that contract. Informational interviews are also great for networking.

You can read more about informational interviews here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/12/11/how-to-land-and-ace-an-informational-interview/