Turning The Page Forward On A New Chapter In Life

If you were part of a 4 x 100 relay team which leg would you run?

I’d be first out of the gates. I love the start.

When running a relay it’s common sense to not look back or you risk getting passed up.

But how often do we look back on our lives and dwell on mistakes, misfortunes and plain ol’ bad luck?

At a certain point, asking “why” something happened is the wrong question to ask.

Instead turn the page and focus on what’s in front of you.

One of the reasons I chose coaching as a career was because I hired one earlier in life. I loved how my coach worked on my agenda, goals and pace. Experiencing that from the client’s seat made me want to switch chairs so I eventually did.

Coaching is about the future, finding solutions and asking “how.”

Any time making a career transition it’s going to be tough starting over from scratch, but your mentality towards that change will make or break you.

Did you know it takes 200 applications to land a job on average, but only 10 connections via networking to find something new?

That means you have 20x better chance networking than job hunting to start your new career! #stopapplyingstartnetworking

There’s always fear of the unknown, but it’s more invigorating to chase after that shiny object than chase your tail.

Imagine driving on the freeway. How much time is spent looking ahead vs. in the rear view mirror (mostly for cops)? That analogy works for life.

Don’t waste your time looking back when you can be moving forward.

Starting a new chapter in life is about attitude. It’s what you can control 100%.

Decoding The Corporate Perks Facade: What It Really Means

Google is the pioneer of offering perks to attract top talent and imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

A friend of mine works at Google HQ and describes his situation as “too good to walk away from” even when he gets bored. Free food, snacks, shuttle, laundry, etc will do that.

The startup scene has escalated to the point where if you don’t offer perks, you’re not relevant. But what if I told you it’s all a facade?

I love to eat. What makes food taste even better is when it’s free. But unlimited snacks and catered lunches are a nice bonus, but far from the mission of the company.

Now I’m not knocking perks as an enhancement to the employee experience, but what I am saying is how much does it affect your decision to stay?

Look at it from a financial standpoint: free food for the entire company is cheaper than giving a raise to one (of course you have to factor in size of staff though, but you get the drift).

My point is if perks are one of the highest ranking factors in retaining your services it’s putting your faith in fool’s gold. Perks are like purchasing the newest toy. After a while it gets old, you get bored and want more.

For example when I first started working for my current company the idea of catered lunches twice a week blew my mind. Now I still appreciate it, but I found myself getting pickier with selection of choices. If it happens to be a meal I love, free lunch is great! If not, I wish I didn’t have to sit through the company meeting during lunch.

Culture is a huge factor in retention, but perks shouldn’t be too high on your list of reasons to apply/stay. Times have changed where “what you get” is as important as “what you give,” yet ultimately what your company strives for and what role you play will always outshine any perk offered.

Work wisely.

How Bad Examples Fuel Change

Every moment is a learning opportunity, even the bad ones..

When I started as an entrepreneur I knew networking was crucial to success so without hesitation I joined my local Chamber of Commerce. The first event I attended was in the patio of a local eatery dressed with free food and drinks.

There were two types of people there: veteran members who stood on the sidelines talking to each and newbies like me introducing myself to anyone who wasn’t in conversation. Reciting an elevator pitch, handing out business cards and trying to sell myself was my approach. I remember it being quite loud there so 50 business cards later I left forgetting who was who and quite hoarse from the night’s interactions. After I got home, decompressed and evaluated the event I questioned the purpose of it.

A month later I figured maybe I just had a bad experience and went to the next event in an office space. Less food, quieter ambiance and more intimate. But the results were the same. As I introduced myself to members, I felt judged. Did I need to earn their respect immediately by telling a recent conquest? It seemed like it would take a while to penetrate the walls of folded arms, so I decided to leave.

I said to myself, “If this is what networking is, I don’t want to do it anymore!”

A few years later I was in a slow season of business and knew I had to drum up some new contacts, but didn’t know how. As someone who loves to organize events, I knew what components both needed to be present and absent for actual “connecting” to happen. I met with a friend and shared my vision for this new type of networking event and he encouraged me to try it…so I did.

Career Synergy was a 90-minute, monthly networking event hosted at a local coffee shop after hours on the first Tuesday of the month geared towards young professionals. How did I decide on these details? Surveys and market research.

What I wanted: speakers rich with life experiences they wanted to share, scheduled small groups times during the meeting and a dedicated informal “connecting” time after the event (not before).

What I didn’t want: loud music, free food/drinks and unstructured networking before the event.

How I measured success: 25 events total ranging from 10 – 45 people. 90% of attendees stayed 30 minutes after the events to mingle with each other. I made friends and partnered together in events to this day.

The shift for me happened when I stopped complaining about past examples and created my own solution.

Once networking became a lifestyle instead of an “event” the quality and quantity of my connections increased.

To this day I set a goal to connect with at least one person a week over the phone or in-person (that’s with a full-time job, plus email is too easy of an option).

Your career is more about who you know than what you know, but if you focus on improving bad experiences there might actually be a business idea waiting to be launched!

Bad examples will occur, but the question is: will it sour you or fuel you to change?

What I’m Learning, But Don’t Enjoy It

I like to move fast. I hate waiting.

In an instant gratification world I’ll take the hare over the turtle any day.

If patience is a virtue, I don’t have it…yet.

Since no job or business is perfect, when things go wrong jumping ship is a regular thought, but rarely more than an emotional reaction.

Whatever obstacle you’re facing at work could be worse. #truth

A wise leader once said, “Don’t come to me with your problems, only come to me with solutions.”

That’s it: love the process.

When there’s a problem at work it’s easy to complain and blame others. You may be 100% justified too, but even if you’re right it won’t change much.

Instead, focus on what you are learning.

If you are being micromanaged, think about how you will lead differently given the opportunity.

If you are treated unfairly, do your best to take the higher road and respond with integrity.

If you’re given a task outside of your job description, develop a skill you can use in the future.

Loving the process doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. In fact you may NEVER love the process, but you can still learn from it.

If life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it, then there’s plenty of opportunities to learn from the process.

I get so focused on what’s next I forget to enjoy the present. What’s going on may not be fun, but there’s always something you can learn from in any situation.

In the past 6 months I’ve fired someone, put someone on probation and called out my boss.

Were they uncomfortable experiences? Yes.

But am I thankful I have them under my belt now? Yes.

What you go through prepares you for what’s next. It’s like collecting little nuggets along the way that will help you pave the road in the future.

Growth doesn’t feel good. It’s not supposed to be comfortable, but the opposite is being stagnant and slowly dying over time.

You may never love the process and that’s ok.

But at the very least learn from it and you’ll be better off for it.

What’s At The Core Of A Micromanager?

If you work under a micromanager (most do) it’s a matter of time before you leave your job.

But in order to cope and make the best of your current situation, it’s helpful to understand what makes a micromanager tick. To help lengthen your present tenure learning to manage your boss is key.

Micromanagers rarely ever change, but knowing how to deal with them provides some daily sanity.

Micromanagers have trust issues. Requesting autonomy from them as an employee is purely a nuisance. Micromanagers view freedom as a threat. Releasing power is a micromanager’s kryptonite. They want to know, communicate and oversee everything. Don’t expect praise, support or early information. Micromanagers view that as weak.

If you view micromanagers as bulldozers it’s because they are. Micromanagers see people as the vehicle to accomplish their tasks. If you’ve ever felt “talked-down to” or with a condescending tone that’s the voice of a micromanager. Remove them from formal conversations at work and their lack of social skills are evident. Position is said to be weakest form of leadership and in social situations micromanagers feel inadequate. Micromanagers overcompensate so heavily in the areas they feel competent in it’s glaring. Micromanagers will never be referred to as leaders, only as your boss.

Chances are your micromanager’s life is work. It’s their identity. They scoff at work-life balance because they see no need for it. Some will ask occasionally how you are doing, but they get uncomfortable talking about their own personal life since it’s basically non-existent. Who has time for hobbies, family, friends or fun when you’re working 80 hours a week? Usually micromanagers will hound you for staying on top of things, while they’re quite disorganized in their role. Do as I say, not as I do – that’s classic micromanager talk. It’s hard for micromanagers to show empathy because they don’t value it. Work comes first, second and third in terms of priorities.

Being under a micromanager feels like you’re walking on egg shells. Every time there’s an interaction, request or meeting you anticipate critical feedback (because it usually happens). Micromanagers have serious control issues. Don’t expect to grow or develop under their rule. Any hint of development is seen as a threat. Micromanagers are stingy with their praise because it signals a chance you might overtake their position. Micromanagers remind you frequently who’s in charge and crush your soul while they’re at it. Surround yourself with a strong support system to vent to or else you’ll go crazy.

At the core of micromanagers lie deep insecurities. Secure leaders don’t have to stomp on others to feel good about themselves. Even when something’s not your fault, they’ll still find a way to place the blame on you. One indicator of a true micromanager is the absence of apologies. They are quick to point fingers, but don’t take responsibility when they screw up. Leaders set their people up to succeed, micromanagers set their people up to fail. The unfortunate part of micromanagers is they are rarely equipped for the role. Most managers are vaulted into the position because of technical prowess or seniority. Little do they know what got you here won’t help you as a manager. Instead of trying to learn a different skill set, micromanagers choose the path of least resistance: do it my way or take the highway.

Micromanagement isn’t a disease, but a choice. And a choice you have to make is how long will you put up with it before leaving.

3 Signs It’s Time To Quit Your Job

In today’s job market securing a position before leaving is crucial and job-hopping is the new norm.

But how do you know it’s time to start looking elsewhere when the grass isn’t always greener on the other side?

Financial need should be one of the main criteria, but logic aside, here are some telltale signs the end is near:

1. You Dread Going To Work

Emotions are like the check engine light on your car dashboard. They indicate when something is wrong. For some lack of alignment with the vision of the company can be the deal breaker, while passion is the widely used qualitative measurement (on a scale of 1 – 10 how much do you love the company you work for?) As I wrote in an earlier post, you either drink the Kool-Aid or you don’t. If you score a 6 or below it may be a matter of when, not if you leave.

2. You Don’t Feel Valued

Value comes in different forms: respect, appreciation, compensation, etc. Being fairly paid is self-explanatory (and normally tied to your self-worth), but the “feeling” is tied to your direct manager. People leave managers, not companies. True story.

You may interact with your co-workers more frequently, but how you are treated by your boss is the thermometer. Feeling respected is being heard. Don’t expect all your ideas to be implemented, but if they’re all discarded you simply stop caring. Using the car analogy, value is the emotional fuel you run on at work.

When full, it’s easy to brush off apparent challenges.

When running on empty, minor offenses can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Value determines longevity.

3. No Growth Opportunities 

Professional development ranked higher than pay for Millennials in job surveys. That’s because the corporate ladder has been turned sideways where lateral movement to another company can be more attractive than promotion.

Culture is the driver for individual growth. Using Zappos as an example, it’s the core values that shape behaviors, not mission statements. Investment in employees can be risky because they can leave, but without it you have little chance of people staying past a year. Smart companies use both internal and external resources to champion this cause. If Human Resources is overloaded, hiring an outside trainer or consultant who specializes in learning and development can be the better route. Establishing a connection then challenging comfort zones is the intersection of growth.

Moving on has more to do with how you feel treated than it does anything rational. Life is too short to settle for mediocrity. If you care about making an impact you’ll look outside your current organization for more attractive options. Remember, the best candidates are employed and there’s never anything wrong with looking for something better.

Why You Should Systemize Your Next Idea

Having a side hustle isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity.

Today’s middle class is barely making it. Therefore thinking about your next business idea should be reality (like yesterday).

The main reason 80% of businesses fail within 5 years is because of its faulty foundation: you.

That’s not a knock of your skills or ideas, but your focus. After finishing reading The E Myth Revisited, Gerber emphasizes working on your business, not in it. Simply put, any business dependent on you to run it is destined to fail.

The only way to monetize your next idea is to systemize it. This is something I’m working on. I like being involved. I prefer to individualize customer interactions. I want to cater to people’s needs.

The problem there is the lack of a consistent experience. As much as we may loathe sales pitches, they are measurable. Standardizing a product or service provides branded expectations. When you think about it the best companies present clearly.

When an explanation is simple and easy to understand, a customer can decide whether to buy or not.

When an explanation is unclear, a customer leaves confused which results in a no.

The best example for systemizing your next idea are franchises. Starting at the model concept, processes and details are hammered out to a tee so it can be replicable at another location. Customers who visit any spot should experience a very similar encounter.

Another key factor in systemization is hiring others to help. This means people or outside systems (automation). Essentially this means delegating all the pieces you aren’t great at in order to grow the business.

It starts with the right mentality. Focus on developing the business to run itself. You won’t be able to afford all the help you need right away, but you should never defer from that plan. Most small business owners take shortcuts early on by doing everything which produces short-term gains, but in the long-run it’s not sustainable.

Ironically I’ve experienced this at a program level before where I put the right people in place and let it run like a well-oiled machine. It felt like everything was on “auto-pilot.” My goal is to implement this strategy with my next idea and where I’m finding it most helpful so far is in the early stages of discerning which ideas to pursue.

Some people’s goal is never to scale or sell a business and that’s ok. But what I’m learning is when you systemize your idea correctly, at least you’ll have that option because others see value in a predictable money making machine.

Why Kool Aid Determines Your Career Path

Your career situation lies on one question: do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

kool_aid_man_wavingThere are two groups of people at every company: those who drink the Kool and those who don’t.

Translation: you’re either “sold out” (all-in) or not.

There are exceptions; those who may not fully engage in the vision, but are satisfied enough to take the good with the bad. To me, that sounds like complacency, but to everyone their own.

In order to stay at a company for a long period of time you have to believe in the mission. Purpose is still a magnetic trait that companies have. If you don’t bleed for what a company stands for it’s not a matter of if, but when you exit.

For those who reject the Kool Aid, it’s revealed in the language they use.

Mainly “I” vs. “We.” Subtle, but very powerful.

“I” statements separate from the greater whole, while “we” statements identify with the organization.

It’s not as simple as making a language change…

The determining factor is how much you buy-in. That doesn’t mean you agree with every detail or decision made, but you’re willing to associate with the team more than your opinion.

Some say entrepreneurs escape Corporate America for freedom, but most do it for a dream.

Business comes down to two types of dreams: yours and others.

Owning a business supports yours and working for a company supports theirs.

Your job is to choose whose dream you’re on board with.

Millennials in particular live for making a greater impact. Job hopping is as much about identifying with a greater mission as it is about getting bored. Adding value is as much feeling valued as it is contributing to it.

In your current role, you will eventually have to make the same decision sooner or later: do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

It may not be as simple as “yes” and “no” when it becomes part of your financial livelihood, but the bigger question is how long can you deny it?

Life is too short to support a dream you’re not in agreement with. Social impact draws new followers daily because of alignment of personal and corporate values.

If a company has a high turnover rate it’s probably a Kool Aid issue.

So in your current position do you drink the Kool Aid or not?

The answer to that question shapes your career path.

Are Great Managers Truly Unicorns?

The number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they feel unappreciated or under-valued. Translation: lousy boss.

One of the main reasons I’ve left all my past jobs is a terrible boss (best boss I had was as an entrepreneur – he was great, but the pay was inconsistent).

At the core is a skill problem. Let’s start at the bottom:

As a technical worker you are paid to produce results quickly. Once you prove yourself you move up to leadership. The issue here is what made you a great technical worker won’t help you be a good leader.

At the leadership (management) level your job is to bring out the best in your team. It doesn’t matter how well you performed at your previous role because the job description is completely different.

This is rampant in Corporate America because seniority normally equates to promotion. But most managers don’t know the first thing about motivating/treating people. Managers talk to their employees as if they’re stupid or incompetent. The disrespect is tolerated at first, but over time disengagement and morale drops.

Productivity keeps a business running, but poor leadership can halt growth. Companies with high turnover are similar to below par rated restaurants on Yelp. Even if you have a great product, customer service is what you’re ultimately judged on.

Most businesses believe treating the customer with the utmost respect is good enough, but when employees feel the cold shoulder of management internal strife starts to build. When the work environment becomes sheerly political the internal trust deteriorates and your best talent already has one foot out of the door.

I understand the argument from the company’s perspective that hard, objective decisions need to be made in order to scale, but you can still treat people well and get great results. People filter their perception of leadership through interactions. Once you feel unsafe as a worker, it’s time to start applying for jobs elsewhere.

That’s why when you do find a manager who cares about you, brings out the best in you and ultimately looks at his position as service treasure him/her. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience it once in my career and during that tenure I felt I could do anything.

For some complete autonomy may feel like macro-management, so it’s important to understand what type of boss you thrive under. Culture is viewed as the thermometer, but core behaviors are the true temperature.

These days companies can pay you lip service about their environment, but only the employee experience truly defines what the culture is.

So if you have a great manager think twice about the grass being greener on the other side. Like grass most of the time if you turn it over it’s actually brown.

The 1 Thing You Have To Give Up To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

thing-1

Your relationships.

Anyone who has been a successful business owner has sacrificed their personal life at some point.

I’m not against working hard, but at what expense?

I hear a lot of 20 somethings say they want to focus on their career then get married and start a family in their 30’s. Well guess what: relationships don’t grow on trees nor come without a cost – mainly time.

It’s the same reason why most celebrities and professional athletes aren’t able to maintain a strong family unit because they’ve chosen to put their careers in the forefront and their relationships outside of work on the back burner. If you’re fortunate enough to have a selfless spouse who can hold the house down while you’re away then it can work, but that takes a special individual to put your needs before theirs.

When I look back on my career as a full-time entrepreneur I realize why I never met my own lofty expectations: I put people before profit. It’s your choice which one you choose, but rarely can you pick both.

I had too many boundaries in place to go “all-in,” therefore I would work up to a certain point, but cared about my lifestyle more than my possessions.

This post isn’t to mock those who have made it big nor is it putting those who are relationally-focused on a pedestal. It’s my observation of over 10+ years of reading, hearing and witnessing first-hand what it really takes to live the American Dream.

If there’s an understanding in terms of priorities that your career is first then those associated with you have to abide by it. Of course hard work alone doesn’t guarantee anything, but without it you don’t stand a chance.

The realization I came to is: people are most important to me.

When I first started my business I had financial goals in mind that I hit quickly, but over time I realized to reach the next tier I’d have to sacrifice the relationships around me. Since I wasn’t willing to do that, the numbers of hours I dedicated reflected in the amount of the paycheck (or lack thereof).

Fortunately I married someone who shares my values. I love that she is raising our two kids at home until they are full-time at school. We can make it on a single income because we live lean and value our time together the most. You don’t need a lot of money to be happy, but you do need to allocate a great amount of time to others.

It’s up to you to decide what currency is most important: time or money. Once you do, it’s easy to know where you should spend your energy.