June 30, 2009

How to Spot a Young Professional

What to look for...
There are countless stereotypes about the Gen Y/Millennial Worker, but let's focus on three qualities that you should look for to recruit and retain the best Young Professionals for your company!

1) Appearance.
Don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want.

A rule of thumb is determine what the dress code is, then present yourself a step above. Your appearance is the first impression you give people get when they see you. The next time you meet someone for the first time, observe their eyes as they scan what you are wearing. Their initial read forms a perception of you. It's not a fair assessment, but reality. If you want to leave a good impression, dress to impress!

2) Communication.

Effective communication is becoming a lost art.

This includes interpersonal skills, writing e-mails, face-to-face communication, phone conversations, body language and oral presentation. How you interact with people tells a lot about you. If you are an effective communicator, people remember you. Think about the last great speaker you heard. He/she clarifies concepts and delivers information in a way that the audience understands. Effective communication carries over to the interview process. Anyone can exaggerate on a job application or resume. The real test is how you handle yourself in an interview (especially past behavior-based questions). The only way to improve your communication skills is to practice.

3) Performance.
Performing is about getting results.

High achievers separate themselves from the rest because of their productivity. Performance is an objective measurement. Performance also includes the ability to adapt to change and learning from your mistakes. Plan A rarely goes as planned, so learn to be resilient and flexible when it comes to implementing Plan B. After all the subjective criteria is examined, we look at the numbers...they don't lie.

Excellence is about standing above the crowd. The cream rises to the top and separates itself from the rest. If you don't give people a reason to look, they won't. Be a valuable contributor to society. If you commit to work hard, results will eventually follow. Dress for success, communicate effectively and perform at a high level. If you do those things well, people will notice. In this economy you have to differentiate yourself in order to thrive. Stand up, stand out and choose a better future for yourself NOW!

June 23, 2009


Last week the NBA Finals concluded and a new champion was crowned. In sports, each team has a MVP. This player gets the most out of his teammates and leads by example. In the business world, we all have the ability to be MVP's. Here are three ways to help you become your team's MVP:

1) Motivation.
Nowadays we look to "outside forces" to keep us motivated, yet to be a MVP you need to be self-motivated. You can't depend on others to keep you driven; that's your responsibility. You have a choice: to be a catalyst or an antagonist. Being motivated means developing a sense of urgency. It says, "there's no time to waste, we must start now!" MVP's don't wait to get motivated, they inspire others to move with their passion. MVP's have an internal fire within them burning with excitement.

2) Vision.

What are you motivated towards? Every MVP has a goal they are chasing. Having a vision means you have chosen a direction. MVP's are focused because they know where they are headed. They set their sights on the prize and become relentless in their pursuit. Every great vision has tremendous obstacles along the way, yet overcoming those barriers builds character and resilience. Every great leader starts his/her day with their vision in mind. Vision provides us the motivation to keep fighting.

3) Progress.
Being motivated and having a vision is essential, but results are achieved through making progress. It's helpful to start at the end and work you way backwards. Start with your vision in mind, then create markers to measure your forward progress. Breaking your larger goal into smaller steps creates attainable momentum. Along the way, make sure you enroll others to join you on your journey. Nothing great has ever been accomplished alone. MVP's need other strong contributors to fill in their "gaps."

Being a MVP starts today. Get motivated and act with urgency. Picture your vision being accomplished. Achieve your desired results through daily progress. Focus on being the best of who you are. A MVP creates their own momentum, then is smart enough to surround him/herself with others to cheer them on along the way. Start applying these principles to your life and listen to the chants: MVP! MVP! MVP!

June 16, 2009

When 2nd's BEST!

When is being second better than coming in first? Try business - it's hard to be first and successful. Pioneers have no one to learn from and everything is based on trial and error. Nike, Apple and Starbucks were not the first in their industries, but they capitalized on their predecessors' mistakes to win big. Look at these three steps that prove sometimes second really is best!

1) Study your Competition. Don't reinvent the wheel if you don't have to. Look at an established industry leader and follow what they are doing. Most likely they are catering to the same target market as you are. Notice their trends in marketing, customer service and profits. In today's market, we put value on transparency. Take advantage of this by visiting your competitor's website, blog and location (if they have one). Know what you are up against and plan accordingly.

2) Learn from their Mistakes.
All the information you gathered from above is only valuable if you apply it. See what's working for them and try it. Simultaneously, assess what isn't working and create a solution for it. Most success stories are not original ideas, but improvements on existing products/services. Use the data that you've collected from your competitor to differentiate what you offer. Learning does not happen in a vacuum, so get out there and attempt various ways to solve a need!

3) Do it Better. Many people have great vision, but poor implementation. We can analyze a situation thoroughly, but action is what creates results! This is where feedback and test marketing works well. Share your ideas with others and see what they think. Don't hide your invention, offer it in return for personal opinions. Collaboration ignites innovation. Nothing great is accomplished alone. You are only as great as the team that surrounds you. There's nothing fool-proof, but the more open you are towards taking constructive feedback, the greater chance to avoid complacency and succeed. When you do something at a level of excellence you get recognized. Who cares what "place" you started in?

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best, but be smart and learn from those who came before you. The best have a great appreciation and knowledge about their industry leaders. They study what their competitors do, then make improvements. The next time you make a significant leap, look back at those who came first and realize sometimes second really is best!

June 9, 2009

What are you scared of?

Fear is...Perception, not reality. We live in a fear-driven society that scares us into purchasing products we can't use and services we don't need. The media constantly highlights negative stories that prevent us from feeling safe. What if we took an above reproach towards fear? How would that change our outlook and behaviors? Here are three proactive ways to be victorious over fear:

1) Look at it Objectively. If the perception of fear is bigger than reality, then there is minimal danger. Our minds exaggerate negative thoughts to where they can almost be paralyzing. If we look at our fears objectively, we realize it's completely mental. We are the most susceptible when we analyze our fears alone. Ask a trusted friend to shed a new perspective on your fears. Don't let something "fake," trick you into being real when it's not.

2) Take Ownership.
Now that you've identified your fear, what can you do about it? What steps can be taken to overcome it? Fear is something you have to prioritize and work on. Don't let your fear be an excuse for moving forward. Once you strategize a game plan, implement it! Objectively identify it, own it, then get past it!

3) Have Faith. Believe you can get past your fear. It starts in your mind. Once you transform your thoughts concerning fear, your feelings and actions will follow. What would your life look like if you eliminated your fear(s)? How much more successful would you be? I'm not saying you won't face new fears, but when you do, apply these same principles. Our imaginations are powerful enough to believe things are true when they actually aren't. Remember if you believe, you can achieve!

Fear won't disappear on it's own. You have to work on it to make it go away. For example, if public speaking is a fear of yours, the only way to overcome it is by speaking in front of people! Fear can be a huge roadblock if you let it be. Fear can become failure when you don't try. Practice getting over your fears. Start removing the obstacles in your way and experience more success and fulfillment today!

June 2, 2009

Be a Lifelong Learner

I've never let my fear of academic settings be an excuse to halt my progress as a learner. Try thinking of yourself as a business. What would be the result of ceasing to grow as a company? Bankruptcy or extinction. Learning works the same way. The reality is if you're not growing forward, you're going backwards! Try these 3 steps towards becoming a lifelong learner:

1) Read.
Readers are leaders. Books are packed with rich information. Industry magazines stay up to date on the latest news. Internet articles and blogs are full of insight and trends. Whenever I have "down time" I try to read so I can learn more and get inspired with new ideas. No one is too "busy" to read. You just have to put a priority on it and stay disciplined. Take advantage of this age of information and fill your brain with new knowledge!

2) Research.
Let's focus on online research. The power of the internet is at your fingertips. With all the search engines available, it makes looking for statistics, expert interviews and data on your industry competitors simple. Leaders of every industry do research to stay ahead of the trends. All you need to do is turn on your computer, punch in your desired keywords and read!

3) Reach Out.
There's only so much you can learn on your own. To be the best, stay connected to others. Learning does not happen in a vacuum. Set time aside for networking and meeting with people. As a sole proprietor, I reach out to multiple contacts per week. Don't focus on trying to "sell" yourself, instead offer your help and collaborate with others. Eventually opportunities will arise. You can learn so much from others who have a different perspective and experience than you do. With an open mind, you can always learn from others.

Being a lifelong learner is journey. There is no "finish line." Self-motivation, discipline and focus are necessary to succeed. If you have a hard time staying consistent, hire a coach to create a strategy and keep you accountable. At times you won't feel driven to learn because it's hard. Just remember the most successful people don't depend on "feeling" motivated to learn, they just do it. Start your journey of being a lifelong learner today!