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In celebration of the holiday weekend, we've decided to bring back one of our favorite videos from the past year. Barbara Corcoran of ABC's Shark Tank (previously seen here, here, and here) shares the lessons she learned from her late mother, her hopes for her young daughter, and what she's discovered to be her purpose in life. Enjoy time with your friends, family, and loved ones this weekend.
—Video by Nina Giordano
I read a quote the other day by Neale Donald Walsh: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I reflected on my life journey and noticed that the times when amazing things happened were when I was living on the edge of my seat. I was taking a risk – a leap of faith.
When I was 19, I took a gap year from college and lived in Switzerland with a family for two months and spent another two traveling Europe alone. I discovered wonderful people wherever I went and had exciting experiences I couldn’t have predicted. This laid a foundation with an understanding that if I could do enough planning to mitigate risks in pursuit of an outcome, I could take a leap of faith that would bring learning, adventures, and unexpected rewards.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be healthy, illuminating, and invigorating. There’s no room for adventures and excitement in your comfort zone. They need not be huge risks – take a rotational assignment in a different department, learn a new skill from a certification program, or accept that promotion – even if you don’t feel fully prepared. Here are some ways to stretch your limits.
Break a routine. Some of us are hardwired to be conservative, ensuring our road ahead is predictable. There is comfort in routine. Do something impromptu that you normally would never do to break it up. Think of it as a baby step. Whatever your routine is today, take a simple alternate action. For example, if it’s market day, shop at a different store instead of the one in your neighborhood. When out for your walk or run, take a different route. This is stretching your risk-taking muscle.
Face a fear about what others may think. We get concerned about being viewed as weird, rude, or annoying. But if you consider the most charismatic, exciting, and enjoyable people you’ve come across in your life, odds are they weren’t meek, agreeable, and pleasant folks – they were a little crazy, adventuresome, and charming. I call this the eccentricity ratio. You can be as different in balance with how credible you are in the eyes of others. Notice how people forgave those lovable characters for being less than perfect, and in fact, liked them for their charm.
Practice non-attachment. When you decide to do something new, generate a goal – an outcome you are after, but also, don’t get attached to it. Pursue an action for its own sake. Give yourself room to have fun and experience exhilaration. Focus on the joy of doing whatever you’re doing. Practice mindful attention to the process of getting to the outcome. Live in the moment so you enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
Say “yes” to what is. This is a lesson from improvisation. One of the most important rules is to “always say yes.” Accept the way things go. When things don’t go your way, and they won’t, shrug it off. When is the last time you felt excited about not knowing what was going to happen next? If you’re deep in your comfort zone, it’s probably been a while. In my career, I took a promotion that was offered to me unexpectedly. I wasn’t ready at all. I got someone to mentor me, I took a class, collected feedback – these all helped me as I grew and stretched.
There are wonderful benefits to taking risks in our career and our personal life: growth, developing strength, gaining confidence, acquiring new skills, obtaining wisdom, renewing our energy, picking up new ideas, and becoming more aware of the world around us. Sometimes we need to be reminded to step out – or as Sheryl Sandberg says in her new book, lean in. If it’s been a while since you’ve tried something new, give it a whirl and see what happens. It might be the change you have been looking for.
—Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner. So what if you couldn't plan a quick weekend getaway. You have a whole extra 24 hours to yourself! Here are some simple but sure ways to ensure you make the most of your day off.
Get Moving. You're stuck sitting in an office all week long—take advantage of this time to enjoy the beautiful weather. Look for local trails and go for a hike, bicycle ride, or jog. Revisit memorable spots within your town or check out MapMyRun.com to search for recommended routes. You may stumble upon places in your neighborhood you never knew existed.
Crack a Book. We rarely have time to sit down and enjoy a good book for fun. Lay on the SPF and plant yourself in a lounge chair while you catch up on the latest bestsellers. Recently released books include Isabel Allende's Maya's Notebook and Eve Ensler's inspiring memoir, In the Body of the World.
Rewind and Refresh.It's hard to keep up with our favorite television on a weekly basis. This weekend, curl up and catch up! Popular shows such as Dexter, The Newsroom, Arrested Development, and True Blood return this summer. Check out Netflix or websites to watch old seasons in preparation for the episodes ahead.
Treat yourself. Memorial Day Weekend often serves as the grand opening for seasonal food stands. Get that rocky road ice cream cone you've been craving since September—it will be doubly delicious on a hot, humid day. If you live by the water, hit up your local seafood shack and enjoy fresh fish while taking in the salty ocean air.
Get grillin'. A barbecue is a great way to catch up with friends and family and kick off the summer season. Serve your guests simple foods you can quickly whip up on the grill, such as our recipe for flavorful lamb burgers. Ask guests to bring their favorite side dishes, drinks, and desserts to complete the occasion.
“I want to win at this game.” That’s the phrase that Tami Roman lives by. The actress and entrepreneur brings determination and tenacity to all of her ventures – but it took years to build her confidence and get to this point.
When Tami was just 16 years old, her mother lost her job and the two were homeless for several months. “I realized how much I took the little things for granted, like waking up and taking a shower or brushing my teeth in my own bathroom. That experience taught me that I should always be satisfied in the moment.”
Several years later, Tami was introduced to the television program, The Real World. She recorded her own audition tape and hand-delivered it to the MTV studios in Los Angeles. “They told me I was too late and the show was already cast, but I said, ‘No, you need to watch this! You need to see who I am!’ The casting director agreed to watch the tape, and the rest is history.”
The show premiered in 1993 and launched Tami into the national spotlight. “Nobody understood what reality television was at the time, or how big it would grow to be. People really thought that we were acting; they couldn’t grasp the fact that we were just being ourselves in front of the camera.” The next year she married professional basketball player Kenny Anderson, and the couple had two daughters.
When Tami and Kenny divorced in 2001, she channeled her energy into an acting career. She has appeared on Married with Children, J.A.G., Summerland, and more. “My favorite part is being able to play different characters. I get to be someone else.”
But her appearances weren’t bringing in enough money to support her family, and one day she realized all of her savings were gone. “I remembered what it was like to be homeless, and I did not want my daughters to experience that.” With few options left, Tami signed on for the second season of Vh1’s Basketball Wives.
“After the Real World, I wanted to be taken seriously as an actor. I felt I was taking a risk by affiliating myself with reality television again, but it was a risk out of need. The challenge has been finding my way back to an acting career. It has been difficult.”
Always looking to take things to the next level, Tami has used her celebrity to launch several successful businesses, including her own makeup, jewelry, and hair extension collections. “No one can stay in front of the camera forever. I get involved in projects that are important to me, and I’m a part of the process from start to finish.”
At the end of the day, Tami enjoys unwinding with her two daughters over a meal. She has lots of ideas for future projects. “When there’s something that I want to do, I do it. I don’t wait for opportunities to come to me; I reach out to people and make things happen.”
How Tami Finds Her Entrepreneurial Inspiration:
Cosmetics. “When I fell on hardship, to show self-love I would get a mani-pedi and buy a lip gloss here and there. I had to keep myself looking good on a small budget. My nail polishes are named after my favorite sayings, while my lip glosses are named after the women who have inspired me.”
Jewelry. “My jewelry line is TR LOVE Jewelry, and they feature sayings and symbols that have gotten me through tough times. Love, infinity, hope…I want to inspire people and incorporate these themes into my products.”
Hair extensions. “I know a lot about hair weaves, I have been wearing them for a long time. I decided to start a hair line because I know a lot about the product.”
I love style! I have always distinguished myself as authentic by what I choose to wear to see clients. I dress for appropriateness, the occasion, the weather, and what message I want my clothing and style to convey. When I came up the ranks in my corporate career, we had a very conservative dress code. Today, business casual or just plain casual dress codes reign supreme.
We’ve all taken it as common sense that our clothing is important to the impact we have with others. Now, a study confirms it. In a survey from OfficeTeam, an independent research firm who conducted telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees, 80 percent of executives said clothing choices affect an employee’s chances of earning a promotion – and some respondents gave some pretty hilarious examples of outfits that missed the mark. Here are some choice examples, arranged from least offensive to the most extreme:
To avoid seeing your attire added to this list, follow these office-apparel tips and keep your advancement plans on track.
Don’t dress too suggestively. Showing cleavage or too much leg can be distracting. Summer is a season that opens the door to a slew of potential fashion landmines for working women, including spaghetti-strap tops and gladiator sandals. Avoid this unless the dress code is so laid back that everyone, including executives, wears flip-flops. Dressing too sexy can also have psychological effects on your peers. Peter Glick, a professor of psychology at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, conducted a study that indicates that women in high-level positions who dress in too-sexy attire are viewed as less competent, regardless of their skill sets.
Wear clothes that fit properly. Clothing that is too big or not tailored properly is a fashion snafu that can be easily avoided by buying clothes at department stores with on-site tailors or finding one of your own. Get a second opinion from a friend or colleague you trust if you can’t judge for yourself.
Assess your work environment. Look around to see what is and what is not appropriate to wear in your office. Are the female VP’s wearing stockings in the summer months? Does your manager rarely take off her blazer or does she favor skirts and skinny jeans? As a consultant, I always stick to the rule of dressing more conservatively than required. This raises your credibility and keeps you from being under-estimated.
With the proper attitude, you can match your company’s fashion culture without having to dress “boring.” Find stylish yet appropriate items that assert your individuality and personal style to boost your confidence to demonstrate that you are the whole package – smarts, skills, knowledge, attitude, and impact.
–Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
It's a bad habit, but sometimes we can't help but look back on past decisions and consider what we would have done differently if we had the chance to do it all over again. We asked our followers what they wish they had known when they first started their career that they know now. Read what they shared and see how you can grow from their wisdom.
Suzanne Millership: Never get stressed about work problems. In a month's time there will be a whole new set of problems and you won't even remember today's. If no one's dying, the company isn't folding, and you're not about to lose your job – relax. Deal with the issues to the best of your ability but don't let them ruin your precious time at home with loved ones.
Jessica Kawecki Miller: I'd tell myself if your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough. Shoot high.
Pina Palumbieri: Networking is more important than hard work
Cynthia Canteen Harbor: Ask for what you want. That "no" is not the end, it's an opportunity.
Janel Korhonen-Goff: Change happens. No matter what.
Rowena Fenlon: It's all going to work out just fine.
Latex Mattresses Natural Mattresses Organic Mattresses: Do what you really really really want to do.
While celebrating a special occasion earlier this month, I wanted a dessert that included all four of my favorite sweet-inspired things: chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, and strawberries. The final result? A chocolate lava cake with strawberries inside, topped with peanut butter and salted caramel sauce. Save this recipe for when you really need a pick-me-up.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Serves 6
10 TBSP butter
1 cup chocolate chips (a combination of bittersweet and semi-sweet works best)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 medium-sized strawberries, finely chopped
-Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease ramekin or cupcake cups.
-In a medium microwavable bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter in 30 second increments until smooth, stirring in between. Add flour and sugar to mixture, mix until smooth.
-Stir in eggs, yolks, and vanilla until incorporated. Fill each ramekin or cupcake cup halfway full. Evenly distribute strawberry pieces amongst the six cakes. Top with remaining batter.
-Place cups on top of cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Edges should be firm but the center will be runny. Loosen and place inverted on plates to serve. Top with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar.
Peanut Butter Sauce
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
2 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
-Combine heavy whipping cream, sugar, Karo syrup, butter, and vanilla in a saucepan and stir over medium-high meat until all ingredients are dissolved and combined. Remove from heat.
-Let the mixture cool completely, and then add peanut butter and combine thoroughly.
Salted Caramel Sauce
2 cups granulated sugar
12 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
1 TBSP sea salt flakes
-Heat the sugar over medium-high heat until it starts to melt. Begin whisking sugar (it will clump, keep whisking). Don’t stop until the sugar is completely melted.
-Cook the sugar until it reaches a dark amber color. If you are new to making caramel, use a thermometer – you don’t want it to heat past 350°F.
-Add the butter. Whisk until it is melted. Remove the pan from heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Stir in the salt, and let caramel cool for about 10 minutes in pan before serving. Can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for one month.
In my work as a leadership development consultant and coach, I constantly see the powerful ways that reflection enhances one’s thinking, health, and effectiveness. In our busy lives, it isn’t easy to create space for this. We usually only realize the benefit of reflection when we accidentally stumble upon it while taking a shower or driving the car. But it’s worth purposefully scheduling into your day.
What are some of the benefits?
How can you plan reflection into your daily life?
Taking a 15 minute break from what you’re doing, sitting in silence or taking a short walk, can help you build reflection habits that strengthen your brain and physical resilience. It’s the most powerful practice leaders can use to move from being “caught up in the trees” to “seeing the whole forest.”
–Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
I interviewed the top production leader at Bravo recently, Shari Levine, and was impressed by her candor and powerful insights. Her career path has evolved and she's been flexible along the way to take advantage of the opportunities before her.
This single mom of two daughters has struggled like all of us to juggle between a career and a rewarding home life. Heed Shari's wisdom – there are lessons in it for all of us.
–Video by Elena Havas
If you’re ready to take your career up a notch, look into your company’s mentoring programs. They can provide a significant benefit to mentees and mentors alike. The value of learning from someone who has “been there, done that” can’t be overstated, especially since the best mentors are creative individuals who are well-suited to serve in this role as models, sounding boards, and guides.
These programs match people with a good deal of experience to those who are less acquainted with the industry, and typically offer mentees the opportunity to become familiar with the organization, develop their skills, and learn how to navigate office politics. If you are in such a program, choosing someone who you feel you can learn from and develop a rapport with is important. In particular, the mentor must like and feel invested in your growth and success.
The best corporate mentoring programs provide some structure for the relationship by offering mentor and mentee training. For mentees, these orientations help you understand how to appropriately use your mentor and get the most from the experience. Here are some tips from programs I’ve conducted:
Own your career growth and personal/professional development plan. It’s not your mentor’s job to set your goals or ensure you have a strategy. You must be in charge and be proactive, with your mentor simply supporting you on your behalf.
Venture outside your comfort zone to explore and grow. You won’t grow if you don’t stretch yourself. Take some risks and seek guidance and support from your mentor.
Create a clear goal and objective. The clearer the objective, the better your mentor can focus his/her efforts to support you. Make them SMART: Specific, Aggressive or Attainable (your choice), Relevant, and Time-bound. Be prepared for all of your meetings.
Take the lead with new relationships. You should reach out first and get time on your mentor’s calendar. But don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to one mentor. Research has proven that developmental networks are the most powerful way to ensure quality support of your career goals and action plan.
Most corporate mentoring programs have a finite timeline, anywhere from six months to a year, but their effect can be ongoing. In many cases, the mentor-mentee relationship will convert to informal status once the program has concluded, with “graduates” adding their former mentors to their developmental networks and continuing to benefit from their guidance and valuable connections.
–Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
You may be asking yourself: What is executive presence? Typically, this is how we describe someone who has it – she sets a vision and inspires action; she’s comfortable in her skin; she is aware of what others in the organization think and feel; she has the ability to be direct in a nonconfrontational way; she has grace under pressure.
Would you like to have colleagues and clients say these things about you? It’s about more than just the clothes you wear, the words you speak, or how you think. It requires alignment between your mind, body, and words. Your executive presence is an interconnected system of your beliefs and assumptions, your communication skills, and your physical energy.
“Own The Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence” is a new book from the Harvard Business Review Press. The authors, Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins, share that no matter what level you’re at in an organization, you can own the room by demonstrating your authentic value and connecting to others in a positive way.
This is a message we can get behind. Women at all levels need to step up and claim their power.
There are many reasons why we may shed tears in the office – a close friend or family member passed, a big project went under, or maybe it's just one of those days where nothing seems to go right. In any case, it's important to bounce back and regain control of the situation. We asked our followers what they would say to a friend who cried at work, and have included some of their answers below.
Helene Jackson: Crying is an emotional reaction to something. Sometimes you need to cry because if you didn't you would beat the heck out of the person. It isn't always a sign of weakness.
Tabitha Naomi: "Congratulations. You're human."
Sonja Flye Oliver: To me, that's a loaded question because it would largely depend on the circumstances. I just might be inclined to speak to them both! There's always room for words of encouragement.
Christina Interiano: I wouldn't know what to say, but once they stepped away, I would hug them privately.
Camille Favale: Tell her to wash up and retain herself in the bathroom, then take her out to lunch for a shot of whiskey and a pep talk.
Peggy Noe Stevens & Associates: Listen and encourage the person to step back and consider the issue. Sometimes, you need space and time to reassess a situation in order to handle it better.
Laura Newberry: Actually, it takes both courage and confidence to cry or FEEL anything at work. I'd say, keep it moving girlfriend. You're the best of the best. Growing takes both grieving and celebration. Tears can express both. I'd thank her for her candor.
Process Psychology. Sydney Process Therapy: Yes, having emotions is part of being a human being. I would say that there was a valid reason for the tears and support the person to realize it may be a good thing that happened. It is a strength, not a weakness. It may also help the boss think more about how they impact their staff.
In recent years, there has been a move from traditional mentoring – hierarchical, single-pair relationships inside an organization – to that of the developmental network – multi-level, several relationships, inside and outside your organization. Developmental networking is a very powerful way for you to establish a support group for your professional goals and development. This practice expands the traditional mentor/mentee relationship to an awareness of the many people that have guiding roles in your life – one may offer career support, another psycho-social support.
Developmental networking works because the people in your support-circle are providing help in the areas where they have the best expertise, strength, and comfort level. Some might be good listeners, while others might give honest and valuable feedback. Some may provide sponsorship for positions or special projects that will build your skills.
Here are some ways that you can start building your own network:
Write down your goals. They may be career-oriented or focus on personal development. It may be a career, position, or department to which you aspire to work in or a personal strength you wish to develop.
Pick your people. For each objective you listed above, make a list of people with whom you have a relationship – or have the opportunity to build one – who can offer some help in that area. Choose a variety of people who can provide something of value based on your knowledge of their strengths and expertise.
Take action. Generate a list of ways that you can approach each person for assistance. Respect their time and limit the meeting to no more than 30 minutes with a clear objective in mind. Let them know why you are seeing them and ask for the help. Do not ask them to be your mentor. This can be a turn-off. If they become your mentor as a result of strong rapport and mutual satisfaction, this is great.
I have benefited more from my developmental network than any single mentoring relationship. Here’s how:
–Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
Last week, I shared how you can make a great impression at a new job – by getting oriented with the company, building relationships with colleagues and clients, and proving your credibility. While keeping these tips in mind, also realize that your new position comes with several advantages and pitfalls, and you should know how to make these work in your favor.
Advantage #1: No Affiliations. When you are new, you have no allegiances to anyone within or outside of the company. You are not beholden to particular people, causes, or factions. All organizations – commercial, non-profit, or otherwise – have politics, and it’s critical for new entrants to stay above them. It’s liberating to be new, and you can ask all sorts of “clueless” questions during your orientation phase, which typically lasts for 90 days.
Advantage #2: Objectivity. The upside of “cluelessness” is objectivity. Your clients will be reaching out to you to push their own agendas, but for a short period you will be able to take an unbiased view of everything you’re told and weigh the merits of all viewpoints. You will be able to see things that others who have been “inside” too long can no longer see because of the norms and values within the organization. This is useful because as a new employee, you don’t know which solutions were tried before and failed, nor do you know where the black holes are that nobody wants to reveal.
Advantage #3: Everyone Wants to Talk to You. You need to learn what happened in the past, why some problems never got solved, and who is who in the organization – a snapshot of what’s going on and how it got to where it is now. The good news is that at the outset, everyone will want to talk to you. As an outsider, you carry a different perspective on how their organization appears to those who aren’t inside. This gives you a unique opportunity to get a fresh point of view. You can take all of these perspectives to craft your own theories and hypotheses.
Pitfall #1: The Outsider Advantage is Short Lived. Once you form your own views, people will align with them or against them, and then you have lost your outsider perspective. That’s when the real work will start. Be careful of the words, “At my former company, we…” People will be curious for about five minutes, and then will become irritated by your frequent comparisons to your previous employer.
Pitfall #2: Don’t Become Judgmental. Be compassionate and descriptive about the issues you see and be even-handed in your recommendations for changes. Use some of the people with whom you developed rapport during your interview process as sounding boards, advisors, and mentors. Ask for feedback and challenges to your thinking. Remain curious. This is your best strategy for getting support for your new ideas as you seek to implement them.
–Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
Many of us have come from homes that are less than perfect and have mixed feelings with the people who raised us. Mothers are no exception. Exercising our power involves forgiving those who have let us down. There’s a great release of energy and resources as we forgive people from our past who have hurt us. This spills over into all of our relationships at home and on the job. Instead of trying to prove how “right” we are by fighting an old battle that has not been resolved, we have the opportunity to get closer to the people who are in our life now.
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.” —Oprah Winfrey
“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising.” —Maya Angelou
“Everything is just as it needs to be. And if we would forgive, our minds and hearts would open and we could see another possibility.” —Iyanla Vanzant
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” —Marianne Willamson
We will all undoubtedly face challenges in our lives. What truly matters is how we react to those challenges. Will you let one obstacle throw you off track, or will you get back up and try again? It takes strength, determination, and resilience, but we are all capable of setting the goals we achieve for ourselves. See what some of these notable figures have to say about perseverance, and how you can find it too.
–Video by Nicolena Basso
Julie Smolyanksy knows what it takes to make a business work. When her father, the former head of Lifeway Foods, suddenly passed away in 2002, she came on board as the CEO at just 27 years old. The company – known for its production of Kefir, a cultured dairy drink popular in Eastern Europe – has grown into a multimillion dollar business under her leadership. We caught up with Julie and asked her a few questions about her path to success, and how her daughters inspire her to do more.
Q. Who early on saw in you something you might not have seen in yourself?
A. My father was the one who saw leadership qualities in me early on. He pointed out strong female role models to me when I was a child – everyone from female CEOs to politicians. He told me I could do anything I wanted, except be the President of the United States, and that was only because I wasn’t born in the U.S.
Q. What strategies have grown your business into the multi-millions?
A. During the economic downturn we invested in talent, scooped up competitors, and implemented social media early on in our communication strategy. We value cutting-edge innovation, new product development, and quick execution. ProBugs, our organic kefir for kids, offers time-crunched parents healthy eating options for their children and has been one of our most successful innovations.
Q. What risks have you taken in your career?
A. One of the biggest risks we took was changing the packaging on kefir. We went from a 3”x5” sticker to a full-sleeve label with bright graphics and space to describe product attributes. It required the purchase of an expensive machine and we had no idea if customers would even like the new packaging. The CEO of one of the largest dairy companies in the country told us the style was “quirky” and “unique” and that we should reconsider the change – and for a moment, we second-guessed ourselves. We questioned our decision until the day the new packaging hit the shelves. Our product sales sky rocketed and we are now the leading kefir manufacturer.
Q. How do you navigate between work and family?
A. I schedule everything from time for self-care and workouts to time with my family and friends. Otherwise it’s easy to get into a “work-only” rut, which I find is stressful and self-defeating. If I’ve been traveling for work, I try to schedule extra reintegration time at home. Even taking a walk and playing in the park with the kids for an hour can help us reconnect.
Q. Guilt serves no one. How do you shed feelings of guilt that are holding you down?
A. When we’re with the kids we feel guilty we’re not working on that big project; when we’re working on that big project, we feel guilty we’re not with the kids. We can all drive ourselves crazy with this. I try to only work on things I am really passionate about, and I try to find greater purpose to what I’m doing. When I realize what I’m doing will benefit others, it’s easier to shed those unwanted feelings.
Q. You have two young daughters. How do you build confidence in them?
A. I always applaud them for attributes other than how beautiful they are. I compliment them on their creativity, their kindness, what good friends they are, their bravery in trying new things, their intelligence, and their artistry. I hope to instill in them an idea to live with passion, to be of service to others, to be generous, and to have the confidence to take on any challenge.
Jessica was both excited and anxious about her new position. A talented woman and an engineer by profession, she had over 10 years of experience in her career. For the past two years she had successfully managed a complex project at a non-profit organization, but was now moving into a management role inside a for-profit corporation where she would have to lead and influence many people. Her challenge was to quickly build relationships with peers, new employees, key stakeholders, get oriented with the company, and prove her credibility in the first 90 days.
Jessica was feeling anxious. How could she quickly build the traction that her new manager expected? All eyes were on her, and she knew the time was short to make a great impression and generate results. Here’s how she did it.
Build relationships. The most important factor in successfully establishing credibility in a new position is developing meaningful interpersonal relationships. This includes the ability to collaborate with various departments in the organization, the ability to influence others, and the ability to “crack the company culture.” A lack of technical or business skills is rarely a cause for failure, as these can be strengthened along the way.
Get others on your side. Jessica already knew her strengths included diligence, detail-orientation, and an eagerness to please. The areas she needed to strengthen included her tendency to over-worry – when she worried, she tended to keep her distance and close her office door, which lead others to perceive her as distant and uninvolved. Jessica resolved to spend her first six weeks building strong relationships with her peers to ensure she would be successful moving forward.
Make a plan. Detail all of the relationships you need to cultivate. For Jessica, this meant using her project planning skills and attention to detail to create a comprehensive spreadsheet, where she tasked herself with learning stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities, and their current and emerging challenges. She even created columns for listing their spouse and children’s names and any outside interests, so she could deepen these relationships. She then asked each stakeholder these four questions:
The result? Jessica exceeded her – and her manager’s – expectations for building credibility quickly. Now think: as you move into new jobs and meet unfamiliar challenges, what plan can you put into place to lay the foundation for successful relationships with your most important stakeholders? What has worked best for you in the past?
–Andrea Zintz, Career Coach
Millennials. They’re confident, self-expressive, and on-track to be the most educated generation in our nation’s history. They’re also a bit misunderstood, especially in the workplace, where their affinity for technology and distaste for traditional hierarchies can lead to intergenerational tension on your team. How can you best leverage Millennials’ boundless talent and ingenuity, while promoting productive relationships?
“Generation Y” tends to approach the workplace with a different mindset. They crave constant feedback, and see their ideal boss as someone who plays the role of coach/mentor. They have a strong “intrapreneurial” streak, meaning that they are innovative and want to launch new ventures – but they want to do it with the support and resources of a major company rather than strike out on their own. They’re fluent in technology and believe it helps them do their jobs better. They see themselves more as “free agents” in the work world, and 25 percent expect to have at least six employers in their lifetime.
If you’re managing or trying to recruit Millennials at your business, here are some ways you can bring them on board for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Listen and learn about their generation. Don’t buy into what you read in the paper or see on television. Get to know the young people on your staff before dismissing them as self-absorbed or privileged. If possible, integrate what Millennials want from their workplace into your company culture. For example, instead of trying to force more face-to-face communication, create a pro-technology environment that uses a range of methods – email, text, instant messenger, telephone – to best accommodate everyone’s working style.
Provide feedback and manage expectations. Millennials crave real-time coaching. They are trying to move up the corporate ladder as quickly as possible, and will absorb any information you have that will help get them there. Try to provide honest feedback in essential areas, such as communication and public speaking, while helping them set realistic expectations for performance and work-life balance.
Help them grow. As mentioned above, young employees are on the move. In one survey, “opportunity for progression” was the number one factor that attracted Millennials to a company. They don’t necessarily want to take over the company in five years – they just want to be assured that when they work hard, it won’t go unnoticed. Consider structured ways to mentor and sponsor your brightest young staffers to help them advance quickly. This can be done simply through adjusted job titles; for example, assistant account executive to account executive to senior account executive.
Unleash their potential. Employees rarely stay with one company these days. In fact, it’s common to change jobs every two or three years – so prepare to have a revolving staff. But just because young workers may not be at your company for the long haul doesn’t mean you can skimp on nurturing them. Help them explore their creativity, innovation, and talent through long-term projects and “hot” assignments.
“What could you achieve if you were more courageous?”
That’s the question asked by Margie Warrell, author of the recently released book, Stop Playing Safe: Rethink Risk. Unlock the Power of Courage. Achieve Outstanding Success. In her book, she shares powerful tools and techniques for helping women overcome fear and achieve greater success and fulfillment. Here are a few good points that Margie makes about effective communication:
Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, Stop Playing Safe: Rethink Risk. Unlock the Power of Courage. Achieve Outstanding Success by Margie Warrell. Copyright (c) 2013 by Margie Warrell Global Pty Ltd.