Thinking Outside Of The Box To Propel Your Career Forward

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

If you want to take another step up the career ladder, then you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can in your current role to propel your career forward. One effective way to do this is by thinking outside of the box. You know what they say: life starts outside of your comfort zone. Here’s how you can begin thinking outside of the box to improve your career almost right away:

Start Making Little Changes To Your Routine

Every time you do something, whatever it may be, your brain is strengthening pathways to help you perform that task more effectively. This works for both negative and positive actions. So, if you procrastinate most days, you’re only going to feel inclined to do it more and the habit will be tough to break. Similarly, if you talk to the same people and do the very same things, you’re going to have the same thoughts. Thinking different thoughts is the key to bringing new and creative ideas to the table. It really can make a difference. These small changes could make big things happen.

Good Media Only

There’s all kinds of media out there, and for some reason, people choose to only absorb the negative stuff. Stop watching rubbish TV. You don’t even have to read a book on business, if you don’t want to. Choose a great story and relax by reading that instead. Maybe listen to a different genre of music to see how that resonates with you. Stimulating materials will help you to become more creative.

Make Sure You Have Time To Think

Being productive doesn’t mean moving or doing something all the time. You can be productive just by thinking productive thoughts. If you take time to yourself, to think in a situation where you don’t feel pressured, or even to meditate, you may find that you come up with effective solutions for things. You may come up with a lower friction solution for misaligned rotation that you’ve been looking for for weeks, or another great idea that you know will stand you in good stead with your boss. However, to do this you can’t be ‘busy’ all the time.

Focus – No Multitasking

Ban multitasking from your vocabulary. It can actually slow you down, rather than make you more productive, like many people think. Focus on one task without distractions – that means putting your phone in another room, and even stopping your email notifications.

Connect With Your Boss

If you can build a rapport with your boss, do it. Don’t be ‘bosses pet’ as this isn’t a good idea if you want to continue a relationship with fellow employees either. Simply develop a positive relationship, and you’ll feel more confident to present your unique ideas.

Using these ideas to make changes to your day to day life will definitely help you to switch things up and take your career further. Do you have any suggestions you think will help readers? Leave your own thoughts below!

3 Requests From Millennials To Managers

Millennials get a bad rap.

Sure, some of the stereotypes are true, but what about taking an empathetic viewpoint?

Technology has changed the game forever, therefore management needs to step up accordingly.

Here are 3 ways managers can maximize Millennials:

1. Show me, don’t tell me

Coaching works. Micromanaging doesn’t.

According to research, auditory learning is the least effective yet traditional education teaches us otherwise.

Modeling correct behavior is more efficient than any handbook, Powerpoint presentation or lecture can ever be.

Millennials need mentors, not bosses. The difference between a leader and a manager is how they deal with people. The one size fits all approach is dead.

Managers need to approach supervision like a tutor. How to show the content is more important than knowing it. Customizing a message to fit the receiver is more work, but it also gets better results.

2. Learning is more valuable than perks

Free food, remote work and ping-pong tables are nice amenities, but they don’t increase retention.

Millennials care more about developing their careers by learning new skills than being enticed by external rewards. In fact, companies who base their culture around perks are promoting fool’s gold.

If you want to retain your best young talent, you need to invest in them. Similar to teenagers, if you want to teach independence you have to give them responsibility then respond accordingly.

The reason semi-annual and annual reviews don’t work is there’s too much time in-between feedback. Daily to weekly feedback may sound overwhelming as manager, but without it you risk quality control.

Leadership is about making those around you better, not priding yourself on being the best. Look no further than team sports to know your value increases as your team wins.

3. Listen, before judging

Entitled. Lazy. Narcissistic. Millennials have heard it all.

Before you judge a book by it’s cover, open it.

As a manager if you don’t get to know your workers, you default to believing stereotypes. That’s called ignorance.

Millennials may struggle with interpersonal skills, but peel back the skin and you’ll get down to the root of the issue.

People are people. Sometimes we over-trivialize that. The most effective thing any manager can do is listen.

If you don’t know the story, you’ll never be able to positively impact it.

In the end it’s the connection between the manager and Millennial that determines results.

People don’t leave companies they leave managers.

Sincerely,

Millennials

Ways To Enrich Your Career

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

We all want to do well in life: whether that be in the traditional sense of getting married, buying a house and having children, or getting ahead in our careers. For many, a career is much more than just a way to make some extra income for their family; it’s a way of life. People choose jobs that they love, because they love to be doing a job and adding some value to society. We all want to be able to work at a place we care about doing something we love, and make the world that bit better in the process.

But how do you go about enriching your career? You might feel like you’ve hit the dreaded wall and cannot progress past the point you are at right now, but that isn’t the case at all. There are plenty of ways that you can make the most out of your job and make it work for you. Here are a few ways to improve and enrich your career this week.

Prioritize Your Tasks

The first step in improving the way you work is to learn how to manage your time in the most efficient way. If you have 10 tasks that need doing each day, make sure that you write them down in order of priority so that you do the most important things in the morning when you are fresh minded and have more time. It will mean that you won’t waste a huge chunk of your workday doing menial tasks which really aren’t that important.

Talk To Your Boss

Find out what your boss would prefer you to spend your time doing each day in order to make the most out of your working hours. It may also be useful to discuss different ways of completing certain tasks and exploring whether you could half the time it takes you to complete something specific.

If you feel like you aren’t progressing, talk to your manager and share your concerns. The likely outcome will be that your boss will offer you some sort of training or extra duties to broaden your knowledge and experience. This could open up doors for you in the future too and mean that you are able to climb up the career ladder or explore new avenues later down the line.

Find Ways To Automate Tasks

If you find that you spend half of your day just importing data into a spreadsheet to make a report, you might want to look into ways that this task can be completed automatically by using a piece of software, saving you from spending hours doing one thing, and freeing up time for other ventures.

There are often some great software applications that can handle things such as reporting, data input and even accounting to free up your time to focus on much more important tasks. By finding ways to automate tasks for the whole company, it will mean that you along with your team will be able to branch out into new areas and carry out more of the work that you love.

Enrich Yourself

Enriching your career isn’t just about what you do in the working day- it is also about going the extra mile with the rest of your life. To really push yourself in your life you can start a side project at home or even go on a course to widen your knowledge within your industry. It will not only be a great experience for you, but it will also open a lot of doors in your career path.

Alternatively, if you want to really challenge yourself and go above and beyond, you can take a few months out of work to travel. Travel not only broadens the mind and the soul, but it can also give you chance to see what it is that you really want in life. You could go and volunteer with endangered animals for a while and do some conservation work, or you could even go to a third world country and help give aid to poverty stricken people. There are always people in foreign countries who wish to learn English, so why not use your knowledge of your mother tongue and teach English to a group of children or foreign nationals? It will not only give you a lovely experience living and working in another culture, but you will bring back with you public speaking skills which are invaluable in any career path you want to explore.

Employee or Firm Owner: The Big Choice For Law Graduates

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

When you reach the stage of finally being able to say that you’re a lawyer, called to the bar and able to practice, then it can feel like the end of a long road. This is the result of years of work, effort, and sacrifice– and your legal career can now begin in earnest.

You will quickly discover that your years as an early associate will make your student experience seem like halcyon days. New lawyers work hard; law firms in all areas of law push and test new employees to see if they’re made of the “right stuff”.

Or at least, that’s how it used to be.

Outside of the occasional midlife career changer, the majority of new lawyers are millennials– a generation that values a good work/life balance. While it may once have been standard to work yourself into the ground in the early years of your career, that might not feel acceptable to you personally– and you’re not alone. Millennials are a generation of entrepreneurs, with a “why not try it?” attitude; for new lawyers, now more than ever, that means they may be tempted to run their own firm as a sole practitioner.

This might be an idea you have considered, too. After all, why should you dedicate your life to making money for other people? You’re not afraid of hard work, but you want to be able to enjoy the rewards of that hard work… so do new lawyers really need to join a firm at all?

YES: New lawyers are inexperienced; you need the guiding hand of a reputable firm. You’re still learning the law, never mind learning how to run a profitable small business as well.

NO: There’s no more guarantee of success working for a firm compared to starting your own. You’ve qualified, so you’re clearly capable, and any advice you need can be obtained from the legal community, friends, and even mentors.

YES: You may be a qualified lawyer, but that doesn’t mean you know what goes into running a law firm. Do you know how to find clients? How to choose between cloud computing solutions for businesses of your size? How will you obtain offices? How will you fund your startup? Knowing how to practice the law is one thing; running a business is something entirely different.

NO: Everyone has to learn sometime. If you’re business minded, then why not jump right in and do it for yourself? There’s plenty of advice available for new businesses, and there’s almost certainly a venture capitalist out there who will see the potential of a young lawyer trying to make a mark on the world.

YES: New lawyers have always joined established firms. They may want to branch off into their own practice in the future, but that’s just not the way things are done.

NO: Why not break the mold and branch out from day one?

Ultimately, the choice is all yours. However, it’s important to remember that you do have a choice, and you don’t have to just do what everyone has always done. The way we work is changing, and while the idea of going it alone might seem outlandish now, it might be the new-normal in the future. Why not be at the head of the curve?

The Easiest Methods For Launching Yourself Into Business

Collaborative post – may contain affiliate links

Are you one of those people who would love to get involved with the business world but doesn’t know where to start? Then you need to pay attention to some of the tips and advice from this article. Lots of ladies think they need to come up with a useful concept, develop a pitch for investment, and spend months working towards their goal of starting a company. However, there are some fast-track methods and strategies you might like to try if you don’t have any previous experience. The ideas below will assist you in getting things off the ground much faster than you would have done walking a traditional path.

Think about a franchise

Firstly, if you have some money to spend, you might think about investing in a franchise opportunity. Many websites list available offers, and so you just need to conduct some research. Maybe you’re an active person, and you might enjoy a fitness centers franchise or something similar? Perhaps you have a background in kitchen work, and you’d like to start a restaurant with a recognizable brand name? Play your cards right, and you could achieve either of those goals with ease. The best things about that idea include:

  • Using an established brand name
  • Getting a business plan that works
  • Getting support every step of the way

Start an online service company

If you want to launch a business but you want to keep things small, you might consider starting an online company. In most situations, you can do that from the comfort of your home while following your heart and without breaking the bank. Popular niches that you might want to think about at the moment include:

  • Freelance writing
  • Graphic design
  • Digital marketing
  • Web development
  • App development

You don’t need to understand how to do those things to make a profit. You just need to become an excellent middleman (or middle-woman as it were,) and link your clients with the right talent.

Create automated income streams

There are lots of ways in which it’s possible for anyone to create automated or passive income streams without working too hard. Some of the most widely-used ideas include:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • High-traffic website advertising
  • Ad revenue from viral videos
  • And lots more

The idea is to come up with income streams that don’t require too much maintenance or attention. That way, you can relax with your family, spend time with the kids, and go to bed in the evening while still making a profit.

Those three suggestions should help all readers to take a step in the right direction if they want to become involved in the business world. Of course, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and dive in head first. However, there is always a lot of risks involved if you launch a new brand from scratch. So, weigh all the pros and cons before rushing into anything, and make sure you only use the money you can afford to lose. 50% of new firms fail within the first twelve months, and you need to avoid that at all costs. Good luck!

3 Ways To Generate New Ideas

Most people are drawn to entrepreneurship because of the potential of new ideas, but what happens when you run out of them?

It doesn’t matter how creative you are, your mind becomes a blank canvas at some point (yes, it even happens to the best of them).

So when you’re looking for new ideas, but can’t find them what should you do?

1. Read

Most ideas are not original, so don’t put added pressure on yourself to be an inventor. My ideas tend to be inspired by what I read on platforms like Medium. Whether it’s an article, book or video tutorial, “bettering” an idea is much more efficient than creating one. Certain authors will resonate with you and you will follow them more because of their similar mindset. If it makes you feel better the most successful companies rarely create their own industry, they just dominate it with a differentiating point. When all else fails read…

2. Network

To build off reading, people are where ideas come from. Some of my best networking experiences focused less around trying to sell myself and more about just listening. True networking is simply connecting. A friend of mine said it best: “the people you keep in contact with are the ones whose point of views you find stimulating.” Networking can be the best way to learn about an industry you don’t know about. Understanding someone’s process can be a game changer. Also, if you’re a sole proprietor one of the worst things you can do is stay in isolation. No matter how introverted you are, make it a point to connect with others in person, on the phone or through the internet. Nothing great is accomplished alone so don’t be a hermit.

3. Do

People have asked me, “how do you know what to write about weekly?” My honest answer: I don’t. I just write about what I’m learning currently. I mean isn’t that what a blog is? It’s a public journal of your thoughts. Sure, I like hearing success stories and formulas that have worked before, but it’s as inspiring to hear people’s journeys. I like the idea that you’re never ready; the choice is whether you’re going to start or not. I admit I’m not a ready-aim-fire guy. It takes too long. I’m learning to get better at aiming, but my natural instinct is to stop talking about it and just do it (potentially at the core of my obsession with Nike). If you wait for the perfect idea, you may never act. Failing is what the most successful companies have embraced better than others, not success.

So the next time you’re struggling to come up with new ideas try reading, networking and taking action. Chances are the idea will come to you during the process, not prior to it.

The Best Manager I Ever Had

The criteria for “best manager” is quite subjective, but hopefully everyone’s had (at least) one by now.

As I mentioned in a previous article, managing people is a completely different skill set than technical job skills. Just like food, what you think is “best” can differ tremendously from someone else’s perspective.

For this post I’d like to share who my best manager was and how he treated me. It wouldn’t work for everyone, but besides being my own boss, I haven’t ever felt more free under someone’s care.

Back in 2002 on my first official day as Youth Director, my supervisor at the time gave me a job description, yet instead of saying look it over and sign it he said “edit what you like and don’t like about it.”

A bit dumbfounded I started reading over the bullet points, highlighting areas I wanted to tackle and crossed out tasks I felt were outside my wheelhouse. I remember giving it back to Keith and he was, “ok looks good, let’s get to work!”

Most people dread meetings, but because I’ve experienced some great ones, it really comes down to how the meeting is run. Keith and I differ in terms of our leaderships styles, but weekly check-in meetings usually consisted over lunch. As a guy, let me tell you, there’s no better way to talk business than over food. The meeting actually has a clear ending time (unlike most) when the check is signed.

I was given tons of autonomy which I appreciated. There was an excel sheet that I tracked all my hours in different categories. Programming was up to me as long as I explained what I was doing to the staff, parents and students. Office hours were at my discrepancy also, which was great because I believed the more I was out on the field with the youth, the more effective my work was.

Now Keith and I did have a friendship years before when he was my Youth Director and when he moved back to Arizona for many years I did visit him a couple of times and stayed with his family. That may sound soft, but I can’t emphasize how much “liking” someone outside of work makes a difference in how hard you work for that person (see my last boss).

Most managers scoff at the idea of giving away trust freely in fear they will get taken advantage of, but that’s completely tainted by your personal worldview. For example as a remote manager, you actually don’t have a choice when it comes to trust. You either give it and expect it back or withhold it and it’s never gained.

This experience of having almost complete autonomy faired extremely well for me, even influenced me to start my own business years later. Others may have preferred more hands-on leadership from their manager, but not me.

Like most things in life, you never fully appreciate things until they’re gone. Less than 2 years later Keith moved on and I was placed under his boss. Things were definitely not the same (including the relationship) to the point where I would often skip team staff lunches because of the awkwardness around the table. (Note: if I pass up free food, there’s a problem)

A manager’s job is to bring out the best in his/her team which usually takes a style adjustment for each individual to some degree. Leadership is truly an art and if you’ve ever experienced a masterpiece environment treasure it because it won’t last forever.

How to Diversify Your Career (Like Your Portfolio)

Financial advisors will tell you never put all your eggs into one basket.

Brilliant advice, but why does it need to stop there?

Having one source of income is risky.

If you’re working corporate and get laid off/fired you’re in trouble.

If you’re an entrepreneur/freelancer and lack predicable paychecks you’re screwed.

You and I have been told to choose something for your career then focus all your time and energy there, but what if that isn’t great advice?

What if I told you can have both? (have your cake and eat it too!)

There are pros and cons to choosing working for someone else vs. working for yourself, but if you manage your time right and stay organized there’s no reason you can’t sustain two or more options.

You may be hesitant to monetize your passion, which is fine, but is there another side project you can earn money from?

If working a salaried position within a company, “full-time” needs to be defined up front (ask in the interview process). The scary part is once you’re on salary you’re not being paid for the hours worked, but essentially based on the needs of the company (translation: overtime is not optional or compensated for).

Remember full-time is technically 30 hours and if you’re dealing with a startup you can negotiate this ahead of time. In fact it’s refreshing that most people working in startups actually encourage you to have side hustles.

Google made “side projects” cool by promoting 20% time. Employees get 20% of their work time to spend collaborating with others trying to create new products/services. Now everyone doesn’t work for Google or a company of that stature, but we all have the same amount of time in week to use accordingly.

For instance if you’re working a 9-6 job plus have a family, set aside a few hours a week after putting the kids down to draft out and test your ideas. If you’re single or dating, you really have no excuses.

Maybe you’re waiting for permission or inspiration, but like most things in life consistent practice brings results. Ask most successful entrepreneurs how many times they failed and the number is far greater than those who haven’t tried.

In the gig economy your “job” will change more frequently so if you’re not learning new skills or polishing your current ones, you’ll be left behind.

My point is don’t rely on one source of income to sustain you. In a fast-paced, changing world it’s better to have options in case something doesn’t pan out the way you anticipated it to. Life comes at you fast. Be ready.

Diversify your career. You have a better chance of succeeding that way.

The Best Job Site You’re Not On

In follow up to my previous post, finding jobs that are a good fit are easy. Getting in contact with a recruiter is hard.

LinkedIn is the preferred site for most recruiters and job seekers because professional profiles are easily accessible (plus more updated and better looking than resumes) and normally there’s a listed job poster you can send an invitation to connect with.

The challenge with LinkedIn is most people will accept your invitation to connect, but go silent. Back to the cat analogy, recruiters will contact you when they want something, but when you desire to reach them they’re nowhere to be found.

A month ago someone contacted me on AngelList about a role and I forgot I signed up on their site. It was a position I was interested in so I contacted them back. *Crickets* but this story has a happy ending…

Once I started browsing around I liked the company profiles, job listings, visible salaries/equity and most of all the application process. If you select the apply now button you can send an optional message to the person posting about why you are interested in the role.

After understanding the functionality, I updated my profile since that’s what companies see (not a resume or application questions). Once sent you wait until the poster contacts you to state there’s a “match” or mutual interest.

Now you’re in contact with the decision maker. The process is very similar to Instagram’s DM where you can contact a company without any prior connections made.

As someone without a technology background this site has been more helpful than any other job site I’ve used. So if you do have tech experience or making a career change into tech AngelList is where you want to be seen.

Most job sites have filters based on keywords so your application and resume may never make it to the intended destination. Let’s be honest, people don’t get hired for written applications/resumes. Interviews separate the men from the boys.

By lowering the barrier to entry AngelList minimizes the middleman and allows job seekers to contact employers directly. Removing gatekeepers makes it easier to connect the right people. AngelList may not be the most popular job site out there, but it’s the most efficient/effective.

Why Job Search Is A Vicious Cycle

Changing careers is not a trend, it’s the norm.

For skeptics or old timers, it doesn’t have much to do with loyalty, but more so with getting bored.

80% of college degrees don’t set you up for the job you want. Companies usually hire based on experience or skills that universities don’t provide.

Millennials are too inexperienced, Gen X are over qualified and Baby Boomers can’t compete.

Most likely the job you have currently is making you wonder if the grass is greener on the other side.

The problem is the most attractive candidates are passive, not active. Translation: similar to dating you’re more in demand when you’re with someone than not. Nothing screams “stay away” more than a desperate job seeker.

So once you’ve come to the conclusion you’re settling or realize paying bills has become more important than your happiness, here are your options:

Keep applying for jobs while you are working OR start your own (side) business.

Instead of choosing one, why not do both?

The gig economy is here to stay and with the majority of future work going to freelancers is reality.

The benefits of working for someone else is health insurance, perks and steady income. Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, provides autonomy, passion and the ability to network freely.

Until resumes completely disappear and job seekers have more power than recruiters, changing careers will continue to suck. The mental shift you need to make is looking at your career similar to success – as a journey, not a destination.

Regardless if you choose to go the corporate vs. freelance route, your network will always be your greatest resource.

It takes on average applying to 200 jobs to land one, yet only 10 connections to find new employment. If that stat doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what can.

The job search process will always be challenging so instead of waiting until you’re ready to move on, never stop looking for what’s next even if you’re in your perceived dream job.