Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How to Stand Out When it Comes to Your Career

What makes you unique? If you ask your nana, it’s the fact that you have the cutest little dimples ever. Your friends might say you’re special because you can burp the alphabet. But do those things really mean anything to an employer?
Probably not. The key to success in your career often comes down to how you’re able to bring that special “something” to an employer — some unique ability or skill that will help them beat the competition.
But coming up with that unique value proposition — or your personal brand story — can be daunting. Thousands of people may say they have many of the same skills as you (project management, copywriting, leadership, etc.), so the key is figuring out how you can differentiate yourself in a positive way.
“You’re not an ‘employee’ of General Motors, you’re (read more here)

Monday, November 26, 2018

10 Great Gift Ideas for Coworkers

While it seems like everyone should be in a jolly mood around the office because it's the holiday season, there is also a lot of stress.

And here's some reasons why: Do you buy the boss a gift? What should you get your "work spouse"? Should you get something goofy or something nice for the office gift exchange?

While most agree that you don't have to give the boss something, you really need to follow the norm in your office. If everyone else gives the boss a gift, you don't want to be the lone holdout. As for your "work spouse" -- the person who is your emotional and professional support on the job -- you want to give something appropriate that shows your appreciation. Same thing for the office gift exchange -- it can be fun but should not be something that couldn't be put on someone's desk. (This will keep you from gifting sexy underwear, liquor or an illegal download of "A Star is Born.")

To help alleviate some of your gift-buying anxiety, I'm offering some appropriate gift ideas in a range of prices. While I will include links, I am not endorsing a particular retailer or product -- and will leave it to you to find the best deal should you choose to purchase anything on the list.

Here goes....

1. Lexo tumbler.  This mug includes smart phase change technology that keeps your coffee or tea at the perfect drinking temperature for hours and hours and hours....(Full disclosure: A family member works for the company that makes these mugs, but that doesn't change the fact that this tumbler gets rave reviews.)

Image result for lexo smart mug
2. Packing cubes. I tried these for the first time last year and they're a game-changer, especially if you're taking one suitcase to several locations. 
Image result for packing cubes
3. Umbrella. This is not the kind you buy off a street vendor when it's pouring rain. The Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella is the one that other people will try to borrow -- don't let them. Guard it with your life.
4. Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.  This game is selling out fast -- all the Millennials are going bonkers for it, willing to throw some elbows to get  in front of kids who also want the game.

5. Swiss Army Knife. While you probably can't get past the TSA with it, it's a gem to have in your office desk drawer for a multitude of things, from fixing your glasses to opening boxes.
Victorinox Forester in red - 0.8363
6. Travel charger. Anyone who has ever left a phone charger on their desk knows the frustration of having a phone die in the middle of a conversation while on the go. The TravelCard is the size of a credit card, which makes it light and convenient.
Image result for travelcard charger
7. Jelly Belly Rogue One Bean Machine.  Just the name alone is awesome. Who doesn't need one at work for those jelly bean emergencies?
STAR WARS̢㢠Rogue One Bean Machine
8. Fun bluetooth speaker. There are lots of options for bluetooth speakers these days, but this Jamoji speaker would be appropriate for work -- and it gets great reviews.

9. Socks. Why not keep feet warm and do some good for the world? Proceeds from sales of these socks and other products like t-shirts, hats and posters help fund more than 30 park conservancies across the U.S.

10. Keyboard stickers.  If you know someone who is tired of a boring keyboard, try these Van Gogh Starry Night or comic book decals.
Van Gogh Starry Night MacBook Keyboard Decal
Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Here's a Radical Idea: Be Grateful at Work

In my house, we have the Thanksgiving tradition of revealing what we're thankful for (we agree that family is a given and you have to name something else).

Depending on the age of the person, common mentions include "good health," "all-day football" and "the pecan pie in the kitchen."

Personally, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's about being, well, thankful. (No, it's not actually about plotting your strategy for Black Friday sales.) I think it's important to stop for a moment and realize that despite all the hand-wringing and vile rhetoric we sometimes experience, we all have something in our lives for which to be grateful.

The same it true at work. We spend a lot of time griping and stressing about customers, colleagues and the boss. But is it really so horrible? Every bit of it?

Or, do you have a colleague who always greets you with a smile and a cheerful "Good morning!" Did a customer tell you a funny joke? Did the boss let you leave early to attend a child's soccer game even though it's a busy season?

Those may seem like small things, but they're really not. Neither is the paycheck you receive from your employer. Without that paycheck, what would your life be like?

I'm not trying to be Pollyanna, but I do think we can change our mindset a bit about work and use Thanksgiving as a way to jumpstart a new way of thinking.

Recently, Stacey Engle, executive vice president at Fierce Conversations, sent me a list of ideas to practice more gratitude. So, as you ready yourself (and your stomach) for Thanksgiving, think about trying to:

  • Start a gratitude journal: Not all gratitude needs to be expressed outwardly, and recognizing personally what you are grateful for can be very powerful. You may want a journal that encompasses all aspects of your life, or one just for the office. Perhaps every Monday morning you take 10 minutes to write down what work-related people and things you are grateful for. Over time, you can look back and reflect in a meaningful way.
  • Write thank-you notes.  When we are used to email and texting, writing a note can be magical. There is something powerful about taking the time to thank someone with a physical note, whether it's your boss, the intern or even the security guard in your building.
  • Incorporate gratitude into you conversations. During one-on-one meetings, make a habit of highlighting something you appreciate about the person. These conversations can have a lasting impact, and will serve to strengthen the relationship. 
What are some ways to show more gratitude at work?

Monday, November 19, 2018

Why We Need More Fights at Work

There's no shortage of fighting these days -- whether it's the WWE or a cable news show.

In real life, many people avoid fighting. They will turn their backs on a fuming co-worker or not respond to snarky emails at work. Or, they may simply hold up their hands in surrender during a contentious team meeting and back away from a disagreement simply because they don't want to fight.

You may take such action because you hate fighting -- it's bad enough to have a 15-minute argument every morning with your child because she doesn't want to wear shoes to school. You feel like there's enough disagreement in the world, and you just don't want to add to it.

But what if you're making everything worse by not fighting? What if you could make your life -- and those of your colleagues -- better by fighting?

Adam Kahane is author of "How to fight in a Productive Way." He has plenty of experience in some serious battles -- he works with Mexican leaders to help them develop solutions to the country's issues such as a lack of security and equality. As director of Reos Partners, an international consultancy that helps people work together on their most contentious issues, he says that avoiding conflict and differences isn't a good strategy.

The reason: Those differences will just "fester and erupt later with greater violence."

While we probably won't see violence erupt in the workplace with most spats, Kahane's point is still valid: That we need to be ready to challenge others and be open to being challenged right back. When we avoid challenges, we stagnate. We don't learn anything new.

Here are some ways he suggests we can embrace "useful" fighting:

  • Diversify. Teams need to have members of different strengths and perspectives. An IT team, for example, shouldn't just be IT people. Throw in some marketing or human resource people and vise versa. More teams need to have members willing to say: "I think that's a mistake," or "I don't think that makes sense because....."
  • Slow down. Many workplace decisions are made because a team is under deadline pressure or feels compelled to mark something off the "to do" list and move on. But Kahane points out that the workshops of Mexican leaders always included a "get to know you" activity such as having dinner together or two people with differing opinions taking a walk. Spending that time together can lessen anxieties and lead to a shifting of thoughts so that people are more open to one another and perhaps change their positions a bit.
  • Understand that you're not the boss of me. The best way to get people to work together to reach a decision is that you cannot allow any of them to have more decision-making control than someone else. The only way to get change is that each team member must change himself or herself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

This is How LinkedIn Can Help You Find a Job

It’s estimated that 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent, which means ignoring the site during a job search is sort of like tossing your resume in a shredder and hoping someone finds it and pieces it back together.
That’s not likely to happen, and neither are you likely to find the most available jobs or contacts if you’re ignoring LinkedIn. While you may think you shouldn’t use LinkedIn because you’re still in school or don’t have much experience, you’re wrong. LinkedIn is an incredible tool for catching the eyes of a recruiters; it’s also one of the best professional networking tools online. Your lack of a LinkedIn presence not only makes you invisible to recruiters, it (read more here)

Monday, November 12, 2018

How to Get Ahead When Working Remotely

Working from home is no longer a rarity – IWG reports that 70 percent of professionals work remotely at least one day a week. And 53 percent of professionals work remotely for at least half the week! The arrangement has many advantages, such as providing better work/life balance or a much shorter commute. Still, being “out of sight” poses a real challenge to your career. Your contributions may go unnoticed by others and jeopardize your chances of getting a promotion.
(Read more here)


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Do These 5 Things When You Get a New Boss

There's nothing quite as disconcerting as getting a new boss. Even if you hated the old boss, at least you knew all her weird habits and devious tricks and could counteract them before they did much harm.

But a new boss? This means a lot of changes, even if the new boss says there won't be changes. The new boss may only like to communicate via email, even if he's sitting across the table from you. Or, he may not understand that he really shouldn't talk to you before you've had a cup of coffee -- not because you're crabby but because you literally can't form full sentences until the caffeine hits your bloodstream.

There are some ways to ensure a smoother transition with a new boss, and also help him understand your value to the organization -- and to him. You need to:

1. Step up. Be ready to introduce yourself to the new boss like a real grown-up professional. No slouching behind your computer and hoping he won't see you. You can send him your LinkedIn profile or even a short email outlining what you're working on and any areas of development you're tackling (attending night classes, taking an online certification course). 

2. Eliminate "but" from your answers. There's nothing more frustrating to a new boss that always hearing employees say "but that's not how we've always done it" or "but that won't work" or something equally negative. Listen with an open mind to his ideas. Try to expand on them and instead of saying "No, but..." try to find times to say, "Yes, and..."

3. Take notes. When the new boss is giving directives -- from how to ask for time off to who is taking on which project -- write it down. New bosses have a lot on their plates, and employees who pay attention the first time will be seen as assets that are part of his plan when moving forward. Don't risk getting left behind because you're always asking "What was that again?"

4. Offer help. You don't have to be Billy Brownoser with the new boss, but be willing to offer resources or information that can make the new boss's life easier. "I can send you the report I did on that competitor last year. You might find some helpful information in it or perhaps I can answer some questions," you offer.

5. Don't badmouth anyone. In the beginning, the new boss is trying to get the lay of the land -- who does good work and who does not. Badmouthing a colleague -- or even your former boss -- is very unprofessional and will get you labeled a gossip. The boss may find your information helpful, but he will forever see you as a disloyal person -- and that means you'll never be trusted by him. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

The 3 People You Want to Meet at Work

If you want to see where you career is going, look at who you hang out with at work.

Is it the guy who plays on his phone during meetings? Is it the woman who is short-tempered and can be snarky to the intern?

There's an old proverb that says you are known by the company you keep. (Your Mom probably quoted it to you once a day when you were a teenager.) While you don't want to isolate yourself at work or avoid having a diverse group of contacts, you do want to consider what you're getting from those relationships.

For example, you may think the guy who plays on his phone during meetings is also pretty funny. You like going to lunch with him and watching him do impersonations of various people in the office. Or, the woman who is snarky to interns usually isn't rude to you, so you don't have a problem hanging out with her for a drink after work.

But how do you really feel about interacting all the time with such colleagues? Do you find yourself thinking up new ideas, wanting to try and match their passion for their work or appreciate learning something new from them? Or, are you becoming caught in their endless cycle of disengagement, snarkiness and laziness?

I'm not suggesting you cut these people completely. What I am suggesting is that you need to assess whether such relationships inspire you or provide encouragement. If not, it's time to spend less time with them and instead look for colleagues who can help you develop professionally because they model the right behavior.

Look for people who are:

  • Curious. These colleagues are intrigued by information. They read widely -- they may be able to tell you 10 facts about lemurs or discuss the latest industry acquisition. When you interact with those who are always expanding their minds, you will start to do the same -- and that's always a plus for any career.
  • Good listeners. The colleagues who put their phones away during a meeting, turn away from their computers when your're talking to them and let others complete their sentences without interrupting are the kind of co-workers who go far in their careers. They're seen as great negotiators, leaders and team members and have the kind of skills you should emulate.
  • Are not perfect. You want to be around people who are not afraid -- or too pompous -- to admit when they make a mistake. These are the kind of colleagues who learn from their goofs and become even better in their jobs. They don't become focused on fixing the blame, and instead want to fix the problem. You will learn a lot from such team members and you career will benefit from learning how they move on from mistakes and thrive.