Tag Archives: career strategies

Top 10 Tips for Surviving Anything

I’ve learned a lot of lessons having survived 10 years in business plus 30 years in Corporate America. I’m sure you have too. Here are some of the top tips that come to mind as I reflect back on my happy and not-so-happy days.

10. Admit your mistakes

This can be hard to do, especially if you’re the boss. However, people will respect you more when you show the courage to own up to your humanity. You will endear yourself to them in ways you can’t if you present yourself as infallible.

9. Make people feel important

I know there are a lot of egos out there and it’s tempting to not ‘fan the (already- inflated ego) flame’. However, it really doesn’t cost you much to be appreciative. People will love you all the more when you place them on what feels like a pedestal to them. I’m not saying to undervalue yourself nor ignore your own needs. Just put a little love in your heart and share it.

8. Take control of your own career

Time was, when you took a job, your future seemed to be controlled by the bosses. The employment ‘deal’ changed a few years ago. Career ladders aren’t what they used to be. Nothing is a given. Set your sights on where you want to be, experience and learn what you need to in order to best prepare yourself. Stretch yourself. Try new things.

Don’t blame ‘the system’ for your lack of progress. Take aim and steadily move forward (whether sideways or out). My husband, Karl has sometimes said ‘That person doesn’t have 20 years of experience. (S)he’s had 1 year of experience 20 times.’ Don’t be one of those people.

7. Ask for help

People are often afraid to admit they need help because they think it will make them appear weak. If you whine all of the time, that definitely won’t reflect on you well. But when working on something critical, in an emergency or when you just don’t know what to do, asking for advice or help could save your company or business a lot of money. The key is to ask the right person/people and to ask in a way that they see the benefit to them for honoring your request. Don’t make it about you. Make it about them and the business.

6. Have fun

If you’re not having fun, you’re in the wrong job or business. I realized decades ago that I spent too much time working not to enjoy it. So I’ve left a couple of ‘good’ jobs that I hated and let my personality out at work in the jobs I stayed in. (Encourage your team/staff to do the same.)

5. Stand up for what you believe in

Your perspective is important. What makes teams produce incredible results is harvesting the wisdom of everyone in the group. If you tend to be quiet, speak up more. Your voice needs to be heard. If you’re one of the ‘loud mouths’ your perspective is still important. Just don’t cry ‘wolf’ too much or you’ll lose your credibility.

4. Ask your clients / bosses / employees what they need, then give it to them

I fundamentally believe that most people are doing the best they can with what they have. If you want to be successful, the people around you have to be succeeding too. It’s hard to be a rock star with no fans or roadies. When you invest in others, you’ll gain dividends and rewards you were never expecting.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize

This presumes that you have a ‘prize’ – the reason you’re working or in business in the first place. When you’re clear about your purpose in being there, you’ll make better choices, set stronger boundaries about what you’ll tolerate or not and be less affected by the little things that don’t go the way you’d like them to.

2. Remember, this too shall pass

Whether it’s a bad economy, an intolerable boss or a project from Hades, it won’t last forever. Someone once said to me “Never take or leave a job because of the boss. They won’t be there forever”. (That may be less comforting in the public domain where I hear people can stay in jobs a really long time.) In any event, take heed of the earlier tips, do your best and remember you’re in charge of your life.

And the #1 tip for surviving anything…

1. To thine own self be true

I harp on this a lot. You have a purpose. You’re on the planet for a particular reason. You may not be entirely clear about your purpose just yet. If that’s the case, stay true to your values. They will point you in the right direction. (I presume you know what’s important to you. If not, take some time to figure that out.) Don’t engage in behaviors that compromise your integrity.

If something feels inherently wrong, don’t stand by and suffer in silence. Express yourself or extract yourself.

Your life is too important to waste your talents, time or passion.

Time is Money: Use 1 Well, Make More 2

You’ve heard the phrase ‘time is money’  When you invest your time on the right activities, it makes sense that you (and your department or company) make more money.  Problem is, we often spend our time on what’s comfortable or what’s urgent.

Here are some quick tips to leverage your time so you can make more mon’ey.

New-Years-Clock-7164031. Track your time to see where you’re flushing it down the toilet.

Create a log that allows you to track your time in 15-minute increments.  You’ll be shocked at how much time you’re spending on non-revenue or non-goal attaining activities.  I did this for three days and got recommitted to delegating and outsourcing.  I realized how much time I was losing on things that began with the thought “This will just take a couple of minutes.”

2. Create systems that allow you to delegate.

Having made that observation, I made a list of things I was committed to getting off my plate.  I hired a recent college grad who spend a Friday afternoon getting me caught up in data entry (from all those speaking engagements) that I hadn’t sent to anyone else on my team.  She registered my company with a number of corporations looking for vendors whose flyers had been sitting on my desk for way too long.

I drafted a script and set up another assistant to contact people who wanted to explore coaching with me.

3. Exhibit the courage to do the right things.

We are often reluctant to pick up the phone and call prospects.  We feel we’re intruding, begging or annoying people.  Yet the key to closing deals (especially high -ticket ones) is generally having one-on-one conversations.  That’s where the money is, folks.  Get on the phone.  Set appointments and see how you can offer value to your clients and prospects.

If you concentrate on just those three things, I promise you’ll open the doors to more productivity and profitability.

5 Fatal Flaws that Can Halt Your Career ‘Flow’

This week has been filled with serendipity.  Yesterday, I spoke with a prospect who found me on the internet and created a new friendship. I invited her to join me last night at an incredibly fun ‘girlfriend’ clothing swap party where we all ‘shopped’ with discarded but wonderful ‘treasurers’ from each others closets.

I ended up having conversations with some of the women about a business opportunity with someone else they knew and that woman called me first thing this morning!  We had been scheduled to talk next month, but her business timeline has been escalated and she needed to talk with me sooner.  It’s really exciting!

While I’m all about driving for results, sometimes I have to remember to just ‘go with the flow’.

When we go with the flow and ‘allow’ (rather than force) life to unfold, amazing things happen.

There are however, some things we do that stop the upward flow of our careers.  Make sure you’re not doing these.

1. Complaining about your boss or colleagues at work
First of all, complaining about anything to anyone who isn’t in a position to fix the issue is a huge waste of time and energy. Key #4 in my book, 6 Keys to Dissolving Disputes: When ‘Off with their Heads!’ Won’t Work is “Convert complaints to requests”. This means if you have an issue about something, rather than whine about what you don’t want, figure out specifically what you do need that would correct the situation.  Then identify the person who has enough power to grant your request. Framing it terms of how giving you what you want will help them will dramatically increase the odds that they say ‘yes’.

If the complaints are about your boss or co-workers, talk directly to them!  Gossiping behind their back might give you some temporary relief and even help you ‘bond’ with other people who are similarly suffering, but in the long-run, it won’t do a darn bit of good.  And in fact can completely backfire on you.  You don’t always know who’s friends with whom and how quickly word could get back to the person you’re complaining about.  Best to nip it at the bud and talk with them directly before they hear about how you lambasted them with someone who didn’t need to know you even had an issue with them.

Offer the person constructive feedback (there’ll be an article about this in the future) and ask directly for what you want.

2. Blaming other people or circumstances for your short-comings
Nothing makes you look like a loser more than not taking responsibility for your actions.  People who are unable to make things happen because someone else or something else got in their way have completely abdicated their power.  None of us is perfect.  We’re not equally skilled in every behavior, talent, competency.  Know what you’re good and and what you’re not.  Be honest with people about where you shine and where you don’t.

Flip Wilson’s comment (for those of you old enough to remember) “The devil made me do it” was funny but at work, it just makes you pathetic.  Don’t be a victim of anything.

3. Covering up your mistakes
Worse than blaming others is hiding and lying about mistakes when you make them.  It takes courage to admit that you messed up, especially if you messed up in a big way.  You might be afraid that if you own up to your mistakes, you’ll suffer severe consequences, get reprimanded, maybe even fired. And that is a risk you run.

However recognize that it’s likely that your mistake will be discovered anyway.  It will be so much better if you bring it to the table yourself rather than sweeping it under the rug.  Fall on your own sword rather than having one thrust in you by the person who discovered the gaffaw.  Honesty about your big blunder may actually save your job not lose it.

4. Underestimating your talents
Some people are good at promoting their skills, abilities and results.  Some are actually obnoxious about it. So I’m not suggesting you be one of the obnoxious ones but I am encouraging you to make sure you’re getting proper credit when you do something good.

Women are especially humble about this and need to get over it.  While you may think that if something comes easily to you (whether man or woman) that it must be unimportant or easy for everyone, you’re dead wrong.  Recognize and appreciate your gifts.  Make sure you’re in a job, company and culture that appreciates them as well.  If they don’t, they don’t deserve you.  Find another job.

Keep a list of the things you’ve accomplished along with the positive impact those accomplishments created for your department, boss, company, community and industry. Quantify the impact if you can (increased sales, decreased processing time, increase in pipeline/prospects, etc.)  Allow yourself to let in the contribution you make to the world around you.  Remind your boss at review time just how valuable you are by providing your list of this year’s big wins.

5. Reminding your boss you’re smarter than they are.
While smart bosses do hire people that are smarter than them, few of us want to be reminded of that on a regular basis.  While it’s important to communicate your value to your boss, you must do so in a supportive, not holier-than-thou way.

If your boss asks you for something and you have a better idea, tell him or her you’ll get it for them right away.  Say ‘oh by the way, what if we did it this way?’ and then let them decide. They are the boss.

Works the same for clients.  Several years ago, when I was working in HR, an internal client asked me for some information.  I thought I had a better way to present it and so gave it to her in that ‘better’ form.  She didn’t say anything to me but later went to my boss to ask for what she had originally wanted.  My boss suggested that in the future when I have a better idea, to give the client what they ask for and also give them my better idea.  It gives them a choice and leaves them feeling valued while still showing your value.

In a recent call during my Leaders without Limits group coaching program, almost all of the participants were dealing with bosses that were in some way, paralyzed and not taking the necessary action to move their organizations forward.

My suggestions to each of them were to:

  • pledge to the boss their complete support and commitment to making the boss look good,
  • engage the boss by asking what’s most important to them,
  • ask what the boss’s biggest concerns are about the project and
  • find out what the boss would most like to see happen.

Then go forth and make it happen.

If you avoid these career limiting moves I’ve identfied here, your career will soar and you will not end up looking like a…donkey.