Friday, December 27, 2013

Why You Need to Dump Your Sales Pitch

Estimates are that we get something like 5,000 marketing and sales messages a day, and with the holiday shopping season in full swing, that number probably has increased.
But many of the sales pitches we receive may not come from those trying to get us to buy a new toaster or vacation in an exotic locale. Some come from those we work with, whether a colleague or a vendor.
Do you pay attention when you feel a team member is trying to "sell" you something? Or do you tune that person out?
If you're not receptive to the message, you're not alone.
"People get defensive when they detect the pitch. They feel like something is being forced on them," says Steve Yastrow, author of the upcoming Ditch the Pitch: The Art of Improvised Persuasion
While we may ignore a sales pitch from our colleagues, the problem is that they're doing the same to us. If you're trying to sell an idea in a meeting to your team or boss, that means they may be unreceptive.
Or if you're trying to sell yourself to an employer during a job interview, that person automatically might reject what you're saying.
A better way to break down the resistance to a sales pitch is to use improvised conversations instead, Yastrow says.
Using this method, your sales pitch becomes a conversation that focuses on the needs of the other person. Unlike a sales pitch, the other person is doing most of the talking, which automatically puts that person more at ease and not on guard against a sales push, he says.
"Everybody feels like they need to be selling themselves and persuading people," Yastrow says. "But then we fall into the trap of thinking that our job is to explain, cajole and convince, and that's not how you get people to do what you want."
An Ipsos Public Affairs survey commissioned by Sandler Training finds that 62% of 1,000 working Americans say that they spend an hour or less a day selling (read more here)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to Fix Chaotic Teams

Many companies find that teams are important because the collective intelligence of the group can drive more innovative, creative and strategic results.
Unfortunately, sometimes a team’s collective intelligence seems to go awry and instead leads to chaos, back-biting, failure and threats of bodily harm.
Such results are not desirable, of course, but that’s what can happen when teams don’t keep things simple. By reducing complexity, teams are better positioned to achieve desired results with greater efficiency (and less bloodshed).
Here are some ways that teams can reduce complexity:
  1. Establish clear goals. Teams need to avoid the kitchen-sink approach of trying to be everything to everyone. Christopher Avery, author of “Teamwork is an Individual Skill,” advocates that each team member must agree on the shared purpose of why the team exists and what it wants to accomplish. “When groups pursue a direction determined by majority or authority, those who dissent (either vocally or silently) can lose energy,” he says. He suggests asking, “How can we change this proposal so that it works for you?” as a way to reach a clear goal that gets the buy-in of everyone.
Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith have written about what makes good teams work, and they note in the Harvard Business Review that the best operating teams “also translate their common purpose into specific performance goals, such as reducing the reject rate from suppliers by 50% or increasing the math scores of graduates from 40% to 95%.”
  1. Get rid of a wish list.  If it’s key, keep it. If not, get rid of it. Having too many things on a team’s plate can be demoralizing when all the objectives can’t be achieved.
  2. Don’t make assumptions. Just because a team worked well one time in one situation does not mean that team will be similarly successful the (read more here)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why Your Co-Workers May Not Trust You

Earlier this year, the Gallup Organization asked Americans about the trust they had in various institutions, including Congress.
Congress received its lowest rating ever since Gallup began the poll in 1973. Only 10% of respondents said they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress.
Those results may not really surprise many Americans, but they might be taken aback to learn in their own work life, their colleagues, bosses or employees may not trust them, either.
Another Gallup survey finds that only 30% of the 100 million full-time workers are actively engaged in their work. That lack of engagement stems from a lack of trust in an organization or a boss, says Nan S. Russell, author of Trust Inc.
Just as a lack of trust among lawmakers slows down business, so does a lack of trust and engagement in the workplace. Gallup estimates that the 70% of workers who are not engaged cost $450 billion to $550 billion a year in lost productivity.
In addition, disengaged and distrustful workers are less collaborative and innovative, Russell says.
"Part of the problem is that we always believe the lack of trust is someone else's problem," she says. "But the answer to developing better trust comes person to person."
That means that a boss who wants to develop more trust within his team doesn't wait for human resources or a corporate training program but instead moves ahead on his own to improve team members' confidence in one another.
"I think the biggest mistake people make when they think about trust is that they get it backwards," she says. "We look for people we can trust, instead of thinking about whether we are worthy of their trust. It's a mindset."
In her book, Russell addresses several issues, such as the kinds of behaviors that diminish trust. If you want to have more people trust you, she suggests you stop behaviors such as these:
1. Piling on the hype. If you over promise and under deliver, it shows you don't take your words seriously — so no one trusts them.
2. Broadcasting distrust. Dictating to others and micromanaging can convey loudly and clearly that you don't trust others to do what needs to be done.
3. Avoiding responsibility. Maybe you wimp out, make excuses or blame others (read more here)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why Top Companies are Killling the Traditional Performance Review

Hear that whooshing sound? That’s the collective sigh of relief from Microsoft employees who won’t be subjected anymore to the company’s despised stack rankings.
Under that system, employees were essentially forced to compete against one another to receive excellent performance rankings. The rankings were supposed to cull the weakest from the herd, but instead it led to employees feeling helpless and somehow encouraged to backstab colleagues to get a better ranking.
It’s estimated that at least 30% of Fortune 500 companies use such rankings that rate employees along a curve. For example, an employer might state that a manager can only put 10% of employees in a top category, while 2% must be in the bottom group.
But Microsoft was often criticized for using the “yank and rank” process made popular at General Electric in the 1980s. Motorola CEO Greg Brown has referred to its ranking system that it eventually tossed as “demoralizing” and creating a “culture of infighting.”
But Samuel A. Culbert has argued for years against that even annual performance reviews are horrible, calling them “one of the most insidious, most damaging and yet most ubiquitous of corporate practices.”
“Everybody does it, and almost everyone who’s evaluated hates it. It’s a pretentious, bogus practice that produces absolutely nothing that any thinking executive should call a corporate plus,” Culbert says.
Culbert, a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, argues that companies should instead use what he calls “performance previews.”
Under that scenario, an employee outlines what kind of supervision helps him or her operate most effectively and what kinds of past management practices cause a problem in getting work done. The manager then shares with the worker what is needed for the manager to be most effective.
Ongoing discussions about how to best combine their talents would then help them communicate better and deliver better results together, he argues, and puts an end to performance reviews that he says are nothing more than “intimidation.”
Employers are clearly re-thinking performance management, but what will evolve is under debate. Will all companies eventually abandon rankings? Will the annual performance review be scrapped as well? While experts debate the merits of how best to manage their employees to achieve results, here are what some other employers are trying:
  • Motorola. The company scrapped its employee rating system because CEO  Brown worried about how employees might feel being called a “valued performer” rather than “excellent” or “outstanding,” he told Crain’s Chicago Business. Managers and employees now have ongoing communications about performance in addition to the annual reviews that ensure employees met their goals. Pay discussions are (read more here)

Monday, December 9, 2013

The 1 Thing You Must Know to Survive Workplace Violence

When we hear about incidents of workplace violence, it often seems like something that never could happen in our workplaces.
Until it does.
Statistics from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration show that homicide is the fourth leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that of 4,547 fatal workplace injuries reported in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides.
Further, homicides are the leading cause of death for women in the workplace.
On Sept. 16, a lone gunman fatally shot 12 people and injured three others at the Washington Navy Yard in our nation's capital, spurring more conversation about workplace safety.
Bad people are out there who want to harm good people, so we must admit that we need to be prepared for violence at work, a former Navy SEAL says. Just as workers may practice cardiopulmonary resuscitation or a fire drill, they also should practice how to evade or stop someone bent on hurting others.
Larry Yatch, chief executive of Minneapolis-based Sealed Mindset, provides programs on personal protection, defensive firearms and self-defense programs.
One mistake that people make is believing that if they're kind, moral and trusting, other people will be the same, he says. Unfortunately, bad people have proven that they have none of those qualities.
Another mistake some people make is thinking that they somehow will attract violence if they think about it, he says.
But if companies and their employees don't think about violence and how they will respond to it, they won't be ready to react properly when it happens.
And a lack of training could get them hurt or killed, Yatch says.
A workplace's risk level may rise if it has high turnover, a highly negative culture, disagreements or employees facing domestic violence. If a company were to respond more proactively to such risks — such as posting a security guard near an worker experiencing violence at home — it can reduce risks.
While some may balk at the idea of planning for violence, he points out that fear often paralyzes workers during a shooting or causes them to make bad decisions that can risk their lives.
Once employees are trained on the best ways to react to threats, Yatch says their fear dissipates because they feel more in control.
Employees can learn how to:
• Identify threats. Processes need to be in place that help employees ID potential problems and communicate them to bosses or human resources staffers.
• Fight for their lives. "We tell people to not only lock the door against an intruder but to barricade it with anything they can find, whether it's desks or file cabinets or chairs," he says. Even if an intruder manages (read more here)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why it Pays to Be More Popular at Work

Does any of this sound familiar?
  • You have to introduce yourself to the security guard every day to gain entrance to your office, and you’ve worked at the company for three years.
  • At last year’s holiday gathering, the office manager mistakenly thought you were the Federal Express driver and handed you two packages instead of a glass of wine.
  • You were out sick for nearly a week before anyone noticed you were gone.
Such treatment may frustrate you, or you may care less. But unless you’ve been wearing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, you need to be concerned with such a lack of popularity.
While being unpopular in school may not have mattered to you, being unpopular at work can mean you earn less money, aren’t considered for promotions and may be thought of only when the company is putting together a layoff list.
Toiling in obscurity may seem ideal to you, but it can be devastating to your career. It also can lead to less satisfaction at work, as research shows that strong social connections on the job can improve productivity, make you more passionate about what you do and less likely to quit your job. A Gallup Organization survey found that having close friendships at work can boost employee satisfaction by as much as 50%.
So how do you boost your popularity at work? Think about:
  • Listening better. When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who wasn’t tapping away on a smartphone, glancing at email or appearing distracted? If you offer your undivided attention to someone, you convey the message that you think they’re important.  If you become a good sounding board, others are more likely to seek you out more often.
  • Using good manners.  Teenager Maya Van Wagenen was new to her Brownsville, Texas , school and wanted to be more popular. So using a 1950s etiquette book called “Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide,” Van Wagenen began to follow advice such as being yourself, not putting on “airs” and treating everyone with the same kindness.  The advice not only helped the teen become more popular, but the chronicling of her efforts garnered her a $300,000 book deal. DreamWorks has optioned movie rights to the book. If being nice and polite can make a teenager popular and successful, why not you?
  • Offering compliments.  Compliments are a great way to make others feel good about themselves, and that can help them feel good about you. Just be careful of what you choose to compliment. For example, “You look sexy in that sweater” isn’t (read more here)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why Your Employer Wants You to Be Healthy

Stress can mean different things to different people, but the American worker clearly has plenty.
• Interruptions ruin our day. A survey by AtTask finds that 37% of workers say interruptions lead to "work hell."
• We work too much. Some 57% of workers put in more than 40 hours a week while 8% work more than 60 hours a week, the AtTask survey finds.
• Financial worries abound. "High" or "overwhelming" is how 19% of those surveyed by Financial Finesse describe their financial stress in the third quarter of this year, compared to 13% for the same time last year. 43% worry how the U.S. economy and the stock market will affect their financial future.
• We don't take enough downtime. A recent Expedia survey finds that while the average American worker gets 14 days of vacation time a year, they take only 10. That's two more unused vacation days than the previous year, Expedia reports.
"No one retires wishing they'd spent more time at their desk," says John Morrey, vice president and general manager of Expedia. "There are countless reasons that vacation days go unused — failure to plan, worry, forgetfulness, you name it."
Companies are beginning to become concerned with the workers who don't take better care of themselves. Stress increases health risks, unhealthy workers are less productive and engaged, and they drive up health-care costs, experts say.
Many workers know they need to take better care of themselves but find it difficult to start living healthier or maintaining healthy habits.
That's why more employers are encouraging healthier behavior. Workers aren't taking the necessary steps.
That can mean employers take the "carrot" approach and provide cash incentives for employees achieving certain health goals. Or, employers may adopt a "stick" approach, punishing workers with higher insurance deductibles iif they are overweight or smoke.
Other employers are looking for ways to encourage not just employees to become healthier but also their workers' families and network of friends. Wellness experts say an employee can become healthier more easily if his family also eats the right food or friends agree to exercise, too.
One program that takes this social approach to health is Keas, an employer health and engagement company.
Josh Stevens, Keas chief executive, says that his company offers a Facebook-like program that allows workers, their friends and families to communicate online about their exercise and diet. He contends that this socialization is key to driving good health since most workers already are operating under information overload and don't want to be inundated with health information from their employer.
But if a friend or family member talks about a fun way to exercise or brags about losing weight by eating healthier, that can help spur the employee into also adopting better habits, he says.
Many workplaces don't like workers using Facebook on the job, but the truth is that many employees rely on this connection to help them relieve the stress of their day. So, taking a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" approach, he says employers can let workers enjoy the social aspect of online connections and learn ways to become healthier.
Workers are aware that they need to be healthier, and may be looking for the approach that works for them, Stevens says. His company's recent survey found that 86% of those surveyed believe that exercise boosts happiness.
As more employers understand that healthier employees help drive bottom-line results, Stevens believes that more help will become available (read more here)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why Failure Can Be a Really Good Thing

“I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.” — Bill Gates

Failure is often a difficult pill to swallow. We feel angry, humiliated and defeated when we don’t succeed, especially in a culture that seems to shove other people’s success in our face on an hourly basis.
But what we don’t consider is that failing is often a signal of great things to come. Consider this proof that failure may be the best thing that ever happened to you:
  • Walt Disney was told a giant mouse – aka Mickey Mouse – would never work because it would scare women.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired at age 22 as a television reporter and deemed “unfit for TV.”
  • Dr. Seuss’s  first book, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street” was turned down by 27 publishing houses and was such a flop he thought about burning it.
  • Edgar Allen Poe was kicked out of West Point and his early poems were unsuccessful.
Many people who have experienced failure such as Bill Gates say that failure tests you. It forces you to rethink your strategies and ideas and develop resilience and persistence in the face of adversity or opposition.  It is those qualities that often help lead you to greater success, just as when Steven Spielberg didn’t give up when he was rejected twice from the University of Southern California or Jay-Z couldn’t get a record deal.
Psychologists Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz teach a popular Stanford University course called “Fail Fast, Fail Often,” and will release a book of the same name in December.
They contend that we need to fight the notion that is instilled in us as children that we need to be cautious and careful – and not fail. Their research shows that happy and successful people spend less time planning and more time trying things – and even failing. Trying new things, they argue, is what exposes you to new and unexpected opportunities.
One part of their advice is that if you’re going to fail, do it quickly. The more things you try – and fail at – the more quickly you will find the solution that works.
That means that if you’re trying to write a book, for example,  don’t agonize (read more here)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Learn to Say "No" and Preserve Your Sanity

The holidays are right around and the corner, year-end reports are due, co-workers are asking you to cover for them on vacation and the boss wants everything done yesterday.
It's no wonder you may be feeling a bit stressed.
But could the stress be generated not from outside forces but your own actions?
At a recent Families and Work Institute conference, President Ellen Galinsky says that many employers are noticing a growing problem of employees being always "on." They answer e-mails at night and on weekends and work outside of regular hours when they're supposed to be off.
Employers are worried about worker burnout, she says.
One of the biggest problems for many workers today is that they can't say "no," says says Preston Ni, a professor of communications studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif.; a career coach; and trainer.
"There's always the concern in the workplace of social rejection or career consequences for saying no," Ni says. "Maybe you don't want to hurt someone's feelings by saying no, or doing so makes you feel guilty."
The problem is that by not learning to say "no," you then become a victim and risk burnout, he says.
The most successful people learn how to manage their own time effectively and aren't buffeted with demands from various sources, Ni says. They are still busy, just not overwhelmed.
With all the year-end activities and deadlines many of us are facing, Ni has advice to let you say "no," take control of your life, and be happier and more successful:
• Set boundaries. If a colleague approaches you about covering for her while she's taking some time off, you can say "no" diplomatically by saying something like, "Unfortunately, I have a lot on my plate as well."
Or "it is important to me that I finish this project, so I need to focus on these tasks." Another option: Say you're "uncomfortable" taking on the other tasks at this time.
• Learn to engage and disengage. Instead of turning down a colleague's request for help, you can offer to take a specific piece of the task, and then (read more here)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why Having Talent Isn't Always Enough

Let’s say one day you and your co-workers decide to form a basketball team to get a little exercise after work and maybe form a tighter workplace bond.
But then one day LeBron James shows up and offers to play for the team. That’s a no-brainer, right? You grab the chance to catapult your team to a winning season, led by the Miami Heat star.
Once he’s on the team, you don’t say much other than “great job!” and get out of the way.
But then let’s imagine James begins to show up late for games. He can’t get along with any of the team members,  and he begins to make the game a whole lot less fun. But you don’t do anything.
Because it’s  LEBRON JAMES.
Enough said.
The problem with such stellar talent, whether it’s a professional basketball player or a whiz kid from Harvard who could be the next Mark Zuckerberg, is that they are human. So even though they’re crazy good at what they do, they can still do dumb things.
That’s why even the most talented employees need to be careful they don’t make boneheaded moves that can hurt their career in ways their brilliant minds never imagined. (Oh, and in case these brilliant minds think they can always stay one step ahead of the boss, just consider Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer’s checking VPN logs and discovering how telecommuting workers were slacking.)
Here are some ways talented employees can derail their careers:
  • Whining.  Just because you’re smart and make the company a lot of money doesn’t mean you have a special pass that allows you to openly criticize others in a demeaning manner and whine until you get your way. You still have to do the work to present the hard facts about why your way is better. You still have to collaborate and not drag your feet like a 5-year-old about to be sent to bed early.
  • Not accepting feedback. Super-talented employees often believe they should be providing the feedback, not accepting it.  Give-and-take in the workplace is expected, and if you don’t want to accept comments that others have to offer, go live in a cave somewhere.
  • Running a sideline on company time. Reports were that Yahoo employees working from home were spending much of their time and energies launching their own enterprises.  It’s not unheard of that talented employees may have some independent works on the side, but don’t use company resources or do it on company time.  In addition, syphoning off customers for your own business is a good way to get yourself fired before the end of the day.
  • Ignoring the boss.  Gifted workers often feel they have the best ideas and they often do. That doesn’t mean they can treat the boss as if he or she is a potted plant. Bosses do not take kindly to being ignored and can make your life miserable no matter how much talent you have if you ignore their instructions or input.  You have (read more here)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to Cope With Distractions in a Noisy Office

The popularity of open offices is growing as more companies want workers to be able to collaborate and communicate with ease.
The problem is that such open floor plans can at times resemble a frat party, Grand Central Station and the Dr. Phil show. Workers are sharing and collaborating all right – but also annoying the heck out of colleagues who are trying to get stuff done or don’t want to discuss ad nauseam the season finale of “Breaking Bad.”
Open offices also are found to be unhealthier for those who work there, bring less job satisfaction and make workers less productive. Consider this research:
  • Hong Kong Polytechnic University researchers say that sound is one of the most significant factors hurting office productivity, especially ringing phones, machines and conversation.
  • A study by The Sound Agency finds that workers are 66% less productive in open-plan offices than when left on their own to work.
  • The sound level of a noisy office with people sitting closely together can reach 80 decibels, which is bad news since a German study finds that 65 decibels is the threshold that triggers heart rate increases to heart-attack levels.
  • The Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health finds that workers in open offices had 62% more sick days reported annually than those in more cellular offices.
  • Workers can also become more stressed by constantly being called upon to help nearby colleagues. A study published in “Applied Psychology” finds that while those getting the help do perform better, those supplying the aid perform worse because they go through a cognitive overload being constantly distracted to help others and then trying to get back on task to do their own work.
So what can you do when you must function in an open office? The best way to boost your job satisfaction, health and production includes:
  • Using headphones. This is the most common strategy, but it’s more effective if you listen to instrumental music without lyrics since words can tax your brain. You can also consider a software like ChatterBlocker by The Sound Guy Inc.  that claims to block the distraction of nearby conversations by blurring recognizable speech “with a soothing blend of nature sounds, music and background chatter.”
  • Scheduling quiet blocks.  Aim for a couple of hours every day where you take your work and move to a quieter area. Let your colleagues and boss know what you’re doing and that you’re available for emergencies, but are taking (read more here)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gain Confidence by Writing Down Your Ambitions

The next time you're feeling a bit down on yourself, you can regain your confidence — and make a good impression on others — if you take time to write down your aspirations and ambitions, a new study reveals.
Writing about two paragraphs outlining your goals will help you feel more confident and energetic, Gavin Kilduff, an assistant professor of management and organization at New York University, says his research shows. That can be especially critical before entering a new group.
Individuals who used such an exercise to pump themselves up showed greater initiative during initial group discussions and appeared more competent to teammates, experiments with Adam Galinsky, a psychologist and professor at Columbia Business School, showed. In addition, that competence gave them a higher rank within the group.
Once you project confidence to the group and its members perceive you well, the effect can be lasting, they found.
Specifically, individuals who initially acted more confidently with the group set up patterns of assertive communications that continued and became self-reinforcing, they say.
"We thought the effect would be more fleeting," Kilduff says. "I was a bit surprised that it worked consistently."
Piera Palazzolo, senior vice president of Dale Carnegie Training, says that the experiment demonstrates how critical it is to show confidence when communicating if you want to be successful in your career.
"No one wants to admit that they're not confident," she says. "But you can improve it by mentally talking to yourself."
If you don't have time to write down your ambitions before going before a group, then mentally review your achievements and goals. That should help to boost your confidence level and help you not appear timid, she says.
Palazzolo has other tips to show off your confidence:
• Be prepared. "Confidence comes from knowing you've done your homework. You have to come into a group like you own it," she says.
That means whether you're networking for a new job or entering a weekly meeting, make sure you have done research so you're up on the latest news and prepared to discuss the issues thoroughly.
• Look the part. Keep your back straight, make eye contact and dress appropriately so others see you're confident before you say your first "hello."
• Show interest. "People love to talk about themselves, so ask questions," she says.
You can use the office break room as a chance to interact (read more here)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What We Can Learn From the Miami Dolphins Debacle

The story surrounding the Miami Dolphins and whether Richie Incognito bullied rookie teammate Jonathan Martin has more drama than seven years of “Sex and the City” and may drag out in the tabloid magazines for just as long.
But underlying all the accusations, rumors, opinions and jokes about the Miami Dolphins is a leadership lesson that all organizations should heed: When leadership loses control of the culture, it erodes trust, commitment and positive results.
Sounds fairly simple, but the Dolphins aren’t the only ones to get it wrong. So, it’s time for another play-by-play of how such debacles can be avoided at other organizations:
  1. Don’t hand off the culture. “If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening,” says Edgar Schein, professor at MIT Sloan School of Management. Former Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith skewered the “toxic culture” of the company in the New York Times, calling it “destructive” and saying he could “no longer in good conscience say that I identify with what it stands for.” Martin reportedly sent Incognito a text after the controversy erupted that said, “It’s insane bro but just know I don’t blame you guys at all. It’s just the culture around football and the locker room got to me a little.”  As former IBM CEO Louis Gerstner said, “The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.” This may be something the Dolphin’s leadership needs to think long and hard about.
  2. Deliver a consistent message. There are reports that other football teams didn’t believe Incognito to be leadership material, but that’s not really important at this point. What is important is that once leaders choose someone to help them deliver the cultural and leadership message, they must always ensure that the message is (read the rest here)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tips for Vets Re-Entering the Civilian Workforce

Joe Kearney retired from the Army in May after 23 years and has two words of advice for fellow veterans who will be looking for a job in the private sector: "Start early."
Kearney, who now works as a project manager for Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson in Plano, Texas, says jobs are out there for veterans, but finding them takes a lot of planning and hard work.
Sitting by a scenic lake near his Ericsson office, Kearney recalls a brief stint as a government contractor after leaving the military and uses the lake as an analogy for his job-hunting strategy.
"Instead of wading in the shallow end and continuing to work as a contractor, I decided I wanted to jump in the deep end and do a cannonball into the corporate world," he says.
Despite Kearney's enthusiasm for a new career, he admits, "I spun a lot of wheels initially" by applying for jobs online.
The move turned out to be a dead end for several reasons. One of them was that Kearney, like thousands of other veterans looking for work, didn't know how to translate his military experience into civilian language that can attract employers.
Hiring managers cite veterans' ability to show how their skills can be used in the private sector as a top negative, according to the Center for a New American Security.
Kearney says he began tapping into sites like Afterburner to help educate himself more about the business world and began using LinkedIn's resources aimed at helping veterans.
Another source he found helpful was RallyPoint, a professional military network launched by former Special Forces Capt. Yinon Weiss and former Army Battalion Logistics Officer Aaron Kletzing, who first met in Baghdad and reunited at Harvard Business School.
"We had this idea that we literally wrote on the back of a napkin," Weiss says. Just completing its first year, RallyPoint is often touted as a LinkedIn for troops.
It asks users to share their permanent change of station dates from their current position, which helps others know when a position might be opening up in the armed services. But the network also allows military members to explore job options with employers such as Amazon, General Electric and Lockheed-Martin.
Employers are vetted carefully to ensure that vets will get the support they need from a designated veteran advocate with the company, Weiss says.
"A lot of companies don't understand the military language, and they may feel intimidated about hiring vets," he says. "Someone with the company that is former military can help advise and guide."
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines leaving for private industry also may not realize the value of networking and may think the only thing they need to do is send their resume with their qualifications, Weiss says.
Kearney says he often used networking to get desired positions within the military, so he was convinced of the value of networking and quickly saw the potential of a site like RallyPoint.
"You don't want to call a former member of the military and say, 'Can you get me a job?' But you can call them and say, 'Can you tell me how you made the transition?' " Kearney says. "They can help you understand how not to (read more here)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Little Things You Can Do to Make Life Better

Tom Rath is a bestselling author of books such as “StrengthsFinder 2.0” with more than 5 million books sold.
But what many people don’t know about Rath is that in addition to being one of the most influential voices today in human behavior, he also suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Von Hippel-Lindau that leads to what he describes as “rampant cancerous growth throughout the body.”
When he received the diagnosis as a teenager, Rath was told that he could stay ahead of his condition with annual medical scans so that tumors could be caught early and dealt with before they could spread. To further tackle his condition, Rath voraciously began collecting information on what he could do to stay healthier based on the best, most reliable evidence.
Rath is well suited for such research after working for 13 years for the Gallup Organization, leading the work on employee engagement, strengths and well-being. Now serving as a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup, Rath has written another book based on his own health practices, the science behind it and how others can benefit from it.
Eat Move Sleep,” is a book that promotes a way to make small choices that can lead to big changes in your health and well-being.
“I started working on this book because I was tired of seeing so many people I care about suffer from poor health,” Rath says. “There is an extraordinary amount of high quality research about how we can prevent everything from heart disease to cancer. But somehow this research is not translating into what simple things people can do differently on a daily basis to improve their overall health and longevity.”
Rath says that many of the poor health choices made by savvy career professionals are rooted in a “good-natured and dedicated work ethic,” that has them grabbing a packaged snack to eat on the go or skipping a workout when pressed for time – or forgoing sleep to complete a project.
But all those small things can cause big problems, he says.
“If you look at any of these little decision points in a day, investing in healthy food, a brief walk, or an extra 30 minutes of sleep can make or break a day,” he says. “The challenge for all of us is to think about how making better decisions in the moment can actually increase our productivity, energy, and well-being throughout the day.”
For example, some of the tips in the book include:
  • Getting off your keester. As soon as you sit down, electrical activity in your leg muscles shuts off and the number of calories you burn drops to one per minute. Enzyme production, which helps break down fat, plunges by 90%. After two hours of sitting, your good cholesterol drops by 20%. Rath suggests taking short walks throughout your day, which can also help jumpstart creativity and make you more focused.
  • Forgetting the snooze button. If you’re hitting the snooze button every morning trying to get more sleep, you’re making a mistake because studies show those broken chunks of sleep don’t count toward the total amount of restorative sleep. One simple way to stop such a bad habit is putting the clock across the room, he says.
  • Being smarter when dining out.  Studies show that when dining out with a group of four or more people, you increase your consumption by 75%. The first person ordering sets the tone, which means that a colleague who orders fried chicken, for example, will prompt (read more here)