March 27, 2011

Life After College Book by Jenny Blake

So you've graduated from college and ready to enter the real what?!

Jenny Blake, Career Development Program Manager & Life Coach at Google, points out how at each level through college we have an adviser to help us succeed. Yet "life after college" we're officially on our own.   

In her book, she shares her own journey and challenges of going through a "quarter life crisis" and gives practical suggestions in the following areas: life, work, money, home, organization, friends/family, dating/relationships, health, fun/relaxation & personal growth. (What doesn't she cover?!)

Jenny's book is refreshing because it's written as a journal of stories and recommendations. Ultimately, there's no road map for the real world, but this is as close as it's going to get.

As a coach myself, I appreciate how Jenny has opened herself up and shared a great resource that you can actually write in and use to track your own progress. When reading her book, it feels very personal, like having a life coach talk you through the steps.

Besides writing a great book, I've had the chance to speak with Jenny before and she's an even nicer person. For all you people in L.A., she's actually coming to speak at Career Synergy in Santa Monica on June 14 @ 7 PM. If you want to be on the invitee list, shoot me an e-mail at: 

March 25, 2011

Reid Hoffman's (Owner of Linked-In) 10 Rules for Entrepreneurial Success

1. Be disruptive. Ask yourself: "Is this massive and different? It's got to be ten-times different. It's got to be something that changes an industry." Hoffman uses Skype as an example, calling it a disruptive company because, "it removes these very expensive cross barrier phone charges."

2. Aim big. You'll probably wind up plowing the same amount of time into a small business as you will a big one. So, don't be intimidated by your own big ideas, as there are multiple ways of realizing them.

3. Grow your network. Your network includes investors, advisers, employees and customers. With a broad network, you have the ability to make important, global-sized changes.

4. Plan for better or worse. Part of planning is that you might come across something you weren't expecting and you pivot. And if something doesn't work, you must ask yourself: "What is my Plan B?"

5. Maintain flexible persistence. On one hand, the goal is to have a vision and be persistent. On the other hand, flexibility and being able to change based on what your customers want is paramount. "The art is knowing when to be persistent and when to be flexible and how to blend them."

6. Launch early. "Unless you're Steve Jobs, you're most likely partially wrong about what your theory was." So launch early and often. Launching early attracts customer engagement, and it's the customer who's going to tell you what's wrong so you can correct it.

7. Seek honesty. You need friends who will tell you that you have an ugly baby. Keep your aspirations high, but don't drink your own Kool-Aid -- all the while leveraging the advice of your friends.

8. Be everywhere. It's important to have a great idea for a product, but it's downright vital to have a wide distribution of it. "You can have a kickass product, but if it doesn't get to millions of people, it's irrelevant."

9. Culture is key. You must get hiring right the first time. While experience is impressive, you'll need people who can adapt and thrive amid volatility -- especially in the beginning.

10. Break these rules. The rules of entrepreneurship are not laws of nature. You can break them. What's more, don't listen to all of the rules all of the time.

March 21, 2011

Is Favoritism at Work a Good Thing?

Yes. Let me explain myself, before you judge me. 

There's not enough time in the day to invest in everyone. The higher you move up in position, the less time you have to spend with people. As a leader, you have to make a choice. Spend your time wisely on those you trust and see potential in.

Be fair when it comes to how you treat people. Follow the same policy that applies to your entire workforce, but don't confuse fairness with productivity. In sports, coaches make decisions based on players' abilities and urgency within the situation. Why should it be any different in the workplace? 

Ultimately, as a worker, it comes back to you. Have you given your supervisor a reason to look your way? How are you standing out from the crowd? As a manager, would you want to invest time in yourself?

Don't confuse favoritism with nepotism. It's not the same. Earn your "favor" with others by your work ethic, professionalism and how you treat others.  

March 15, 2011

Entreprenuers, please take this survey!

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My Fave 5: Books

Charles Barkley has his fave 5 numbers in his cell phone. This week I thought I'd share my fave 5 books based on categories. This list should change in the future, because personal development is essential to growing as a leader:

This is a must read for college students. Relationship marketing is the way of business. It's about who you know, not what you know. Your personal network = your personal net worth.

Rock coined the term "Neuroleadership." He studies leadership from a scientific point of view. Understanding how the brain works will help you be a more effective leader.

It's one thing to self-initiate change, but to get others to change is an entire skill in itself. Kotter focuses on one aspect of his change model to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Change isn't talking about it. Change is about doing it.

Have you ever challenged the myths of starting a business? Jason and David do. Less academic, more practical. Ultimately, there are no formulas for success. Yet, it's nice to know there are several ways to make it big.

As a graduate of a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, I've taken a multitude of psychological tests in my lifetime. The power of the StrengthsFinder is the application. Each person has their top 5 natural talents. The most successful people in the world (in any industry) maximize theirs on a daily basis.

Leadership starts with you. You can't take anyone where you haven't been yourself. Make personal growth a priority and teach others what you are learning. Leaders are readers. 

What are your top 5? 

March 7, 2011

Sticks & Stones WILL break your bones...

Words are powerful. 
Did you know that your behavior is a direct result of your thoughts and feelings?

Thoughts = Feelings = Action(s)

Everything can be traced back to your thoughts. How you manage your thoughts determines how successful you are. The majority of your thoughts come from self-talk
What are you saying to yourself?

Confidence is sensed through observation. It's in the way you walk. The way you talk. It's even in your body language. Why is that? It's because your behaviors link directly to your thoughts. Sure there are exceptions. For example, a narcissist overcompensates for his insecurity. Yet in most cases what your hear influences how you act. 

If you are told at work, you are lazy, you'll probably act lazy. 
If you're praised for working hard, most likely you'll continue to work hard.

Whether you're an entrepreneur, worker or student, what you fill your brain with will eventually ooze out in your behavior. Studies show that it takes a 5 to 1 positive to negative comment ratio to view yourself in a favorable light. Sounds like you better start caring about work environment and who you surround yourself with!  

Today, make the choice to focus on your strengths. 
Better yet, positively affirm someone else.

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March 2, 2011

Guest Post on Branding Yourself by Josh Allan Dykstra

In order to craft our personal brand and begin designing a successful and fulfilling life we start with three things: 
We need to discover our strengths. To do this, use the Strengths Triangle. Our area for strength is where our Life Experience (stuff we've learned and stuff we've lived) intersects with our Passions (things that make us jump out of bed in the morning) and our Talents (innate abilities that can be done almost perfectly every time). For most of us, talents are hard to figure out through reflection so I recommend an assessment like the Clifton StrengthsFinder.

Having the time to discover our strengths doesn't come easy, however. We need to carve out enough space so we can conduct a search into ourselves. Unfortunately, no one in our lives is good at giving us this space -- our jobs don't give it, most bosses don't give it, and life in general makes it tough to find. It's something we have to carve out for ourselves. Furthermore, there's the challenge of money; we can't focus on learning about what fulfills us if we're worrying about where the rent check is going to come from. Unless we're independently wealthy, we must find a way to manage our money and live as lean as possible during the process of discovery.
No one ever becomes successful on their own. To truly thrive we need to find a sensei. "Sensei" is a Japanese word made from two characters meaning "born before" and "one who teaches based on wisdom from age and experience" -- much like our concept of "mentor." The greatest leaders in the world all do this: they are mentored by someone and they mentor someone. We need a sensei to help us see our selves clearly--we can't do this accurately alone.