CLOSED FOR LONG WEEKEND



Hello All!

I'm off to enjoy the long weekend with my family.  Your questions and requests are important to me, so please note that I will be returning all calls and emails on Monday, April 21st.

Take care and enjoy your weekend!

Anna


Image Credit - Luigi Diamanti

THE BANQUET OF LIFE



Life is a banquet and some poor suckers are starving to death! 
- Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame

It's an amazing thing, this banquet of life.  We live at a time that provides us with so much choice and freedom that it's both exhilarating and paralyzing. Funny.  You would think that so many options would make us happy. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case.  Many people come to see me because they are overwhelmed by too much choice.  More choice, leads to more options, more possibilities and that lovely feeling of "OMG - what if I pick the wrong thing?!"  This thinking leads to one thing:  inaction. Inaction is the breeding ground of regret.

I am guilty of this as much as anyone else.  I have many loves, many passions.  I sing.  I dance.  I do Zumba (I'm actually a certified instructor!).  I love to write, paint, collage.  I am obsessed with books - business, career development, marketing, psychology and wellness.  I'm taken with minimalism and simple living.  I crave fast-paced intellectual challenge, as well as, time to walk and daydream in nature.  I am both fiercely ambitious and overwhelmingly grateful.  I am a brazen careerist and a heart-on-my-sleeve philanthropist.   I struggle with the feelings of doing too much or not enough.  I want to do every delicious thing my heart desires while being a good partner, friend and parent.  I am, like you, a complex and multidimensional human being.  

So what do we do?  How do we ensure we make the right choice?  Sorry Amigos.  There is no magic plan or secret rule book.  There is, however, strength to be found by exercising your power of choice.  You have to honour your freedom by making a choice and then daring to make another and another.  Ditch perfect.  Go for awesome instead.  Consider each choice as a chance to learn and grow.  The beauty of it is that if you make the "wrong" choice, you're free to make another (more informed) choice. Take a chance.  See where it leads.  Be willing to embrace opportunity even if it arrives in a different package than imagined.  Try and try again.  Don't be the poor sucker standing at the banquet with an empty plate because you're afraid to make a move.  Get something on your plate and get out of the way!  If it sucks, you'll know better.  If it's great, your choice may be a bit easier next time.  Action builds momentum.  Action breeds confidence. Whatever you do:  JUST. DO. SOMETHING.    

Another option is to do it all!  While you may not be able to do it all at once you can certainly enjoy different things at different times of your life.  (Note:  if you have magazines that tell you it's possible to be a stay-at-home parent while you start a business, run the local food bank, take care of your aging parents, travel the world and adopt 12 children from Zambia - burn them now!) Also, please remember, not every passion has to be a paying job.  In fact, there are many people who use their day job to fund their passions. There is no right or wrong way to do this.  There is just you and your life.  

YOUR life.

For those of you would-be "Scanners" (Barbara Sher's loving way of describing those of us who want to do it all) I highly recommend her book:  Refuse to Choose.

Wishing you a life filled with exciting (not anxiety-inducing) choices!

Sharing the journey,
Anna


Image from defectiveGEEKS

5 WAYS TO BE A FEARLESS CAREER MANAGER


We must look for ways to be an active force in our own lives.  We must take charge of our own destinies, design a life of substance and truly begin to live our dreams. - Les Brown

Before I begin, let me be clear.  This advice applies to young and old. Experienced and inexperienced. Blue collar workers and white collar workers. Newbies, interns, counter clerks and executives. Everyone.  Plain and simple.

1 - Keep a Master Resume

A Fearless Career Manager is always prepared for opportunity. For that reason, a current and up-to-date resume is a must.  Be sure to include:

  • Formal and informal learning (courses, certifications, training, mentoring, etc.)
  • New challenges, roles and experiences (try to think outside the job description)
  • Fresh new action statements and key words that generate excitement about the work that you've done
Don't worry about formatting this copy of your resume.  The main goal is to collect and house data on an ongoing basis. That way, when an opportunity presents itself, you can simply save a copy and modify it according to your needs.  By doing this, you will eliminate a ton of unnecessary stress - employed or not.

2 - Lead your Learning

Fearless Career Managers know that lifelong learning, both formal and informal, is an important key to long-term success.  When you hold yourself resposible for your learning and development, it's far easier to navigate the ups and downs of your career.  When everything becomes a learning experience, you're free to enjoy the ride!

Push yourself. Put up your hand. Try new things. Volunteer. Talk to people with different perspectives. Take part in projects that allow you to learn from new and uncomfortable angles.  Become an enthusiastic and engaged student of life and the rewards will be many.

3 - Market Your Strengths & Understand Your Weaknesses

While you should definitely market your strengths, it may be even more important to develop a strategy to address your weaknesses.  By doing this, you avoid becoming a victim of them.  Self awareness is a huge advantage over those who would let their weaknesses and insecurities do them in.  Ask questions.  Seek to understand.  Gather support.  Tackle things head on.  Do this and your confidence will go through the roof.  

By the way:  Confidence = Awesome.

4 - Solve Problems

Regardless of what you do, from this day forward, consider yourself a professional problem solver. When people seek out a new product, service or team member, they are looking to solve a problem.  If you can remember this, and continue to solve problems for others, you're golden. Best part? Problem solving is an excellent way to flex those creativity muscles!


5 - Be a Legend

Our clients and colleagues already have enough negative surrounding them each and every day. That's why the best way to stand out from the crowd is to be a force for good. The "Negative Nellies" are boring, tired and going nowhere fast. It takes real courage to care about people, to do great work, to lead a positive revolution.

Don't become one of those people who just randomly gathers business cards and only contacts someone when you need help. It's lame and it's not good networking.  Share your ideas. Contribute to the greater good. Be of value. Invite good karma. Go out of your way to be good to people and they will be good to you. You might be surprised by who will come to your recommendation or rescue when you need it most.  When in doubt, choose to be a legend.


Wishing all you Fearless Career Managers, present and future, a kick-ass day!

Sharing the journey,
Anna


Image Credit:  StockImages

GUESS WHAT? YOU'RE A MARKETER. BE A GOOD ONE.



Early in my career, I attended a workshop with other Career Professionals to learn more about change and motivation. The thing I remember most was an icebreaker game we played at the beginning of the session.  We were asked to take a blank piece of paper, write down one thing we were good at and then mingle with others in the room with the lead in,  "I'm Anna, I'm good at...."  People wrote down things like "Playing Guitar" or "Cooking."  Me?  I wrote down "Self Marketing."  I admit, a was a bit shocked by the reaction.  I was asked, "what do you mean?" and "what is self marketing?" and "do you enjoy it?"  

HOLD THE PHONE!  What do I mean?  What is self marketing? Do I enjoy it?    

In my head I thought "how on earth could I effectively help people enter and navigate the job market and NOT be good at self marketing?"  If I was going to develop a skill that could benefit others, shouldn't I enjoy it?   Still a newbie in my career, I was surprised by the number of experienced professionals who confessed they were weak in this area.  While they felt pretty secure about helping others, many admitted that when it came to themselves they were lacking.  Some even admitted that they hadn't considered it a form of marketing.  One thing's for sure:  whether you're looking for a job, a promotion, a career change, a new venture or seeking to influence others in any way...


YOU ARE A MARKETER.  YOU ARE ALWAYS MARKETING.

Let's look a bit closer...

mar-ket-er (noun):  one that sells goods or services in or to a market, especially one that markets a specified commodity.

com-mod-i-ty (noun):  something useful or valued.  Goods or services produced to satisfy wants or needs.

By my definition, a person in the labour market is an individual who sells his or her valuable time and talents to satisfy the needs of others.

You may say, "...but Anna, I don't have a business.  I'm not selling anything. I'm just looking for a job."  Tisk. Tisk.  You are selling the most precious thing of all - your life.  Everyday, you go to work and exchange your time, your life energy, for money.  Plain and simple.

You need to get good at marketing because you want to be in charge of what you're selling your time and talents for.  You determine your value.  You determine your worth.  If you're not willing to manage your career, someone else will.  Either way, you are making a choice.

As you now ponder your life as a Marketer, here are 6 things to consider:

  1. Review Your Inventory.  Your inventory includes both hard (education, experience, etc.) and soft (how you relate to your work, to others and to the world around you) skills.  While hard skills are important, don't forget that soft skills can be just as, if not more, valuable when negotiating the terms of your career.  People not only want to know what you did but, even more compelling, how you did it and for what purpose.
  2. Consider Your Audience.  Who are the people in need of your talents?  A potential employer?  The clients of a company or organization?  Your own customers? What problem can you solve for them?  Once you determine who they are, where they are and how you can help, you're better equipped to develop an effective strategy to reach them.  (Note:  Your audience's needs can change over time, so be aware - complacency kills!)
  3. Messaging.  The best advice I can give?  Employed or not, make an effort to bring your best self to the table each and every day.  Don't try to be someone else.  If you have to pretend, it's probably not a good fit anyway.  If you find this is a common problem, go back and evaluate step 2.  Don't bring your baggage, your insecurities and your lack of preparedness.  Do bring your authentic self - your confidence, your enthusiasm and your desire to contribute.  Authenticity works because good marketing only takes place when the message is consistent.  To bring your best to an interview and then spend the rest of your time as a disengaged worker is inconsistent messaging that will harm you in the long run.
  4. Gather Your Promotional Tools.  Do you like your resume?  Is it current?  Do you have business cards?  Do you carry them with you?  Do you utilize social media?  If so, are you an active participant or do you have a series of dormant accounts?  Remember, you not only need promotional tools, but you need to use them appropriately.    
  5. Spread the Word.  Your network can be a powerful ally, but like any relationship it needs to be nurtured.  Do not wait until you are seeking employment to engage your network, as people begin to resent one-sided relationships.  Keep in touch, provide value and share resources whether you are currently employed or not.  You are a brand and your network can provide you with a strong endorsement.  In general, be good to people and they will be good to you.  
  6. Negotiate Payment. Please remember that you are not someone desperately seeking a job, handing your power over the the almighty employer.  Desperation is not attractive or empowering.  NO!  You are a business of one, negotiating and agreement between yourself and a prospective business partner. It is an exchange.  Give great value and expect to be sufficiently compensated in return.  Money is important, and you deserve to be paid well, but money is not the only currency.  Get creative when negotiating.  Flex time, professional development, volunteer opportunities, etc. are just a few alternative forms of currency that could be of value to you both personally and professionally.  A good agreement that satisfies the needs of both parties, will provide the foundation for great work and a strong partnership.

In summary, I strongly believe that work should not be drudgery from beginning to retirement.  Those who experience the most satisfaction aren't necessarily the wealthiest or highest ranking.  The people who savour the privilege of good work, do so because they are conscious contributors to the greater good no matter what they do.  The have decided to take the lead, exercise their power of choice and because of that can reinvent themselves again and again.  

Abraham Lincoln said, "Whatever you are, be a good one."  Since you now know that you're a Marketer, be a good one.

Wishing you a week filled with inspiration,
Anna


Image Credit:  David Castillo Dominici

44 SIMPLE DAILY ACTIVITIES TO ENJOY YOUR WORK

I have a confession. I was in the process of writing a post about how to enjoy your work, when I stumbled upon this fabulous infographic from Office Vibe. It is, quite simply, brilliant. I think I'm pretty darn clever but, since I believe in giving credit when credit is due, I thought I should share the good work of Dan Benoni and his team. Enjoy!


  44 Simple Daily Activities to Enjoy Your WorkInfographic crafted with love by Officevibe, the corporate team building and employee engagement platform.

WILL YOU CHOOSE TO LEAD HAPPINESS?



We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
Frederick Keonig


Since today is the International Day of Happiness I thought it would be fitting to say a few words about happiness in the workplace.  I know a TON of people that are miserable at work - still waiting for someone, a leader, to make a change.  Why wait?  Why not BE that leader?

Leadership does not require a title, a Mensa card or a degree  Leadership does not require a certain amount of money, status or connections to the elite.  Quite simply, leadership requires courage.  I'm not talking about the "jumping out of a plane" type of courage.  I'm talking about the kind of courage that pushes you to offer an idea that might be rejected.  The kind of courage that walks away from a negative conversation.  The courage to do those simple, yet uncomfortable, things that most people are unwilling to do.

Ready to take on the challenge?  Start by checking out Derek Sivers' fun and quick (it's only 3 minutes) Ted Talk on how to start a movement.





See...wasn't that easy?

Have a HAPPY day all!

Anna


Photo Credit - Renjith Krishnan

THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY

After yesterday's post, I thought a lot about the boxes, titles, labels, etc., we use to categorize each other and ourselves.  Since these are the types of things tend to rattle around my busy brain, it's no surprise that I "stumbled" upon this gem of a Ted Talk by the beautifully articulate Chimamanda Adichie.  Her eloquent words provide a thoughtful examination of the many biases we may hold due to the flat, singular world-view stories we are told.  



While there are many intense discussions that could be generated from this talk, if we apply it strictly to the realm of career development we may need to consider the following:

  • Do I judge a person's ability (including my own) to be successful based on age, education, gender, income, professional status, etc.?
  • Do I believe that there are some jobs that are more important than others?  Why or why not?
  • Who are the successful people in my life?  Why do I consider them to be successful?
  • What story does my environment and/or culture tell me about "success?"
  • Am I successful?  Why or why not? 

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts in the comment section.  Remember - ideas are for sharing!  

Now, go rock this day!

Anna





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