5 Ways to Make a Positive Impression

Skills are not always about specific capabilities like putting things together, typing so many words per minute or being able to write software code to solve the most complex Sudoku puzzles.  To succeed in this world(however you define success), you must build relationships through sincere based interactions with people.

Very few people can succeed without collaboration and partnership with others.   Before you can develop these relationships, you need to make a great first impression. This is a soft skill(one we do not take a college course to develop). Soft skills tend to focus on communication and interpersonal skills.

We know they are important. When is the last time you wanted to partner with someone who didn’t leave you with a positive impression. Martin Zwilling, CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc.; published a list of 7 things to avoid making a Poor Impression.  I summarized to 5.

* Dress appropriately from the perspective of the person you are trying to impress
  (Dress more conservatively than might be expected…if unsure, wear business attire – always)

* Find a common business link or friend to warm up the connection 
(Key — Research who the person/company you will be connecting with.  Leverage Google,
Facebook, LinkedIn 
…you can be sure the same will be done on you…what do you have
in common?)

* Be prepared to concisely state your key objective
(In communication circles, this is known as your elevator pitch…you have 1 minute to
clearly state what you want
and have questions prepared to continue the dialogue as
appropriate)

* Know a lot, but don’t flaunt it
(Remember, you are building a relationship….clearly do your homework and be prepared
to answer any question..
but don’t be arrogant…they need to not only respect you
but like you!!
)

* Be positive, courteous, on time, and attentive
  
(All those years of mother/father teaching you manners will pay off here…be polite, say
Hello
 and respect the other people’s time….Don’t be late for any reason!!)

Action:  Make a lunch, coffee or even a 15 minute catch up appointment with someone you know.  It can be with someone you meet with frequently or someone who you have not invested much time in the past to meet with. Pretend you haven’t met this person before.  Perform a virtual search on this individual and put together a picture of him/her strictly based on the information available online. What do you have in common?  Memorize the information and prepare some questions.  Create an elevator pitch where you have uncovered a common interest and would like to discuss their knowledge on the topic in more details.  Show up for the appointment 5 minutes earlier than the committed time. Work hard to make a great impression.  Take note of the experience. How did it go?  Were you able to further connect with the individual to establish or enhance a bond?

Quote of the Day: “Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.”
Dalai Lama

Picture : © Corwinsg | Dreamstime.com

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Make A Dream Come True – No College Degree Required

My first year of blogging will touch on various skills to manage not only your career but your life. The fundamental skill to address first is controlling your thoughts and letting your passion/energy outweight the naysayer inside of you. You need to be your biggest FAN.  If you do, nothing can stop you.

Here is an awesome story of two Canadian teenage boys who made the declaration of putting a man into space…ok..a LEGO man…but they did it…and they didn’t accept perceived limitations…lack of education..lack of money….See the article from the Toronto Star.

What can we learn from this?

* It doesn’t matter where you have been, you can make things happen no matter what people tell you

* Lack of education, lack of connections, lack of money are not show stoppers…you can do it!!

* Believe it or not, there are things you are doing today, that are inspiring others..You just don’t know it.

* Building your own self-confidence comes from taking risks and living your passion..one day at a time

* Let yourself feel inspired by others…if they can do it…you can do it.

Action: Pretend you are a teenager, if you are not so today.  Everything is possible and you ignore people who tell you otherwise. What two things would you do that would be inspiring and lift your spirits? Can you find a way to make it happen? If you can, you will feel higher than the Lego Man in Space!!!

Quote of the Day:   “Dream as if you will live forever, live as if you will die today”….James Dean

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To Do Lists….Don’t Forget Your Calendar!!

I have been committed to “To Do Lists” as a productivity tool ever since my busy days in high school.   It was right up there in importance over time with saving my pennies and being nice to a girl before asking her out on a date…  I must admit that this supplemental step has shown much merit.

Technology author Dave Johnson reported on a Harvard Business Review finding on an alternative to traditional “To Do Lists”…it is leveraging more aggressively your calendar tool i.e. Outlook. It is simple but very dramatic if implemented. Here is how it works.

 My top 3  prioritized activities due today:

* Complete work Project Plan
* Call Mom
* Build Financial Plan

Like most of you, I am extremely busy.  I would review this list regularly and update several times daily.  The risk here is that I need to ensure I convert the priorities to results. The how is discovered on a daily basis.  But the missing link here is actually scheduling specific times to complete everything you have prioritized.

Alternative Approach: Schedule the Priorities in Your Calendar (NOW)

* Complete Work Plan
(Slotted between 9:00-10:00 AM…reschedule a less critical meeting to later in the week)
* Call Mom
(Scheduled during lunch..moved lunch 1:1 out by 15 minutes…she’s retired with more flexibility than I have!!)
* Start Developing Personal Financial Plan
(Scheduled for 8:00-9:00 PM…Many people only schedule activities for work..add your personal requirements too!)

Don’t just list your priorities, calendar them in… To the best of your ability, do not schedule over these time slots. If you must,  review your calendar and adjust as needed to slot new times into it.  I have followed this approach and it has improved my productivity in quite a significant way.  If it is not on your calendar, your risk of closure increases dramatically.  You might have already experienced this pitfall of strict reliance on  “To Do” lists.

Action of the Day: Review your top 2 priorities over the next 24 hours. Go to your calendar(whether through a planner, outlook or other scheduling tool) and reserve  specific time slots to work on them. To the best of your ability, do not allow anything to conflict with those time slots or ensure you find alternative times that day when conflicts arise.  If you do not maintain a calendar to organize your time, now is the time to start (you can find free templates on the internet including one from Microsoft).

Quote of the Day:  “Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose”…Thomas Edison

Picture from © Chrisdorney | Dreamstime.com

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Top 10 Ways How Successful People Think

One of the most critical skills you will ever attain, are the ones that control the way you think.  Is there a correlation to what you think and how you perform?

YES     The mind is so strong that you can take hold of thoughts that can induce signs of illness. 

John Maxwell, a well established leadership expert and author of many books, released a book in 2011 titled “How Successful People Think”.   If you want to become an expert golfer, you need to think like one. If you wish to lose weight, you need to think like someone who weighs much less than you do today. You GET TO think like the person you wish to become.

I selected my Top 10 Ways Successful People think from John Maxwell, and they all have a common theme. It all starts upstairs in the mind.

I have added some quick translations in ().

  •  Get over negative self talk. Winners think in terms of “I will” and “I can”  
     (Negative thoughts = Negative results…”as you think so shall you be”)
  • Thinking is a discipline. If you want to be better at it, you’ve got to work at it.
     (Positive Thinking Practice makes perfect…you mind is like a muscle..keep working it!!!)
  • Figure out where you need to focus your energy, and then use the 80/20 rule
    (Prioritize Your Limited Time….80% of tasks can be ignored with minimal implications)
  • Smart thinkers expose themselves to different ideas and types of people
    (Meet new people and uncover new ideas from  your discussions – it’s amazing what you can learn just listening)
  • It’s one thing to have an idea, another to follow through 
     (An idea is like a seed…following through on it is like watering the seed…action is required)
  •  Smart people collaborate with other smart people  
    (You will never succeed alone. Seek mentors, partners, supporters)
  •  To think differently, do different things
     (To appreciate others’ ideas, you need to value other ideas)
  •  Have an agenda — for the day, and when you meet with people 
    (When you meet people, make it count, you need to collaborate with people to succeed)
  •  Creative people are dedicated to ideas  
    (ideas lead to creating value….we need to create value to be successful)
  •  Naturally optimistic people find it hard to be realistic thinkers         
    (Thinking out of the box still requires doing your homework)

ACTION: Pick one of the 10 recommendations and LIVE IT for the next 24 hours. What changed for you? Start the habits today towards positive thinking. If you found success, pick a 2nd recommendation to follow for the next day…you are on the road to a brand new perspective of yourself and where you take your career and life.

Quote of the Day: “You are the masterpiece of your own life; you are the Michelangelo of your experience. The David that you are sculpting is you. And you do it with your thoughts.”— Dr. Joe Vitale: Motivational author and speaker

Do you make $50M Career Decisions?

In 2011, a former law student at San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law sued the school for $50 million, after she couldn’t find a job while building up $150K in student loans. She claims the school falsified employment statistics without disputing the quality of her education.

This raises a fascinating question: Who is responsible for picking the right career path, right set of employment expectations and developing the right communication skills?

Your Parents : Probably not…parents want not only what is best for you…but they also want you to do what minimizes their own worst case fears. (you know,  on your being destitute, homeless, loveless, and all alone).

 
I have children and I can fully imagine this. But, honestly, parents can’t pick their kids’ interests, career pursuits or dreams.
 

Your Friends:   In the words of Macaulay Culkin in the movie Home Alone“I don’t think so”.  They want what is best for you…but their desires/values and issues are going to be different from yours. Like your parents, they care and they know you very well. But…they are not career experts.

Career Experts : They can help for sure. They are available online in blogs, in books, at schools, or people specializing in this area of consulting for fees. But, unlike your parents or friends, they don’t know you. So at the end of the day…it comes down to ……

YOU!!!

This conclusion is both scary and extremely liberating. It confirms that you are blessed with the freedom of choice.  This is very exciting. There are many processes/tools to support your decision process. We will explore these over time…together.

Question 1:  What was the basis for your past career path decisions? The answer to this can help confirm the source of your current set of skillsets and resolve if they are skills you wish to maintain long term for a career.

Question 2: If you could pretend that no matter what career  pursuit you picked, your parents, friends and people you highly respect would bless it, support it and be totally thrilled with decision, what 3 potential paths would you consider? 

Action: In the next 48 hours, investigate what skills are needed for this path and the ways you could learn this new career. Can you learn these skills at night and apply the new skills you want to build in your current job? You will be surprised how this could be a WIN/WIN for you and your employer or customers.

Quote of the Day:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”   Steve Jobs

Did you make a Career Mistake?

      Is your career where you want it to be?  If not, maybe you are reading this while slugging away at a boring 9-5 job or possibly combing over the various position openings de jour on Monster.com or Snagajob.com. The bottom line is that you are feeling dissatisfied. Did you make a career mistake somewhere that resulted in your current circumstance?

In an interesting article by Paul Schoemaker on Inc.com, titled “You Need to Make More Mistakes”, don’t even think twice on a making a regrettable mistake. In fact, you need to make significantly more of them to get to where you want to go. Is this great news?  Most definitely, YES.

 When going for my MBA, I was earning a very good income in the Finance Industry in sunny Los Angeles with good prospects of growth and career advancement. I had the yearning to get my MBA in my late 20s while most of my peers were starting their careers and earning growing incomes. I decided to go heavily into debt for an illusive MBA career; moving my new wife to a new city in Chicago.   My friends were earning income, buying homes, building wealth, while I was going into the hole on a monthly basis on living expenses. While the academic and “life” experience of the MBA degree was everything I could hope for, I started getting a gnawing pang in my gut.

Did I make a Career Mistake? 

NO…I took a risk, gained an incredible experience, and realized that no matter what happened, nobody can repossess the skills I learned. This was MY JOURNEY  to better myself and become more marketable.   It took me much longer than others to gain financial stability, own a house and build my career. However, if I didn’t risk making a “career mistake”,  I wouldn’t have the success and happiness I am enjoying today.

SO GO AHEAD, MAKE A MISTAKE…..

ACTION:

1) What were two of your biggest “Career Mistakes”?  Identify 3 things that ultimately benefitted you from making those mistakes. Every mistake is a stepping stone to learning.

2) What is your biggest career decision ahead of you right now that you are afraid of becoming a mistake? Are you unable to recover from a temporary setback? Is there any way you could move, if required, in a slower way to make it work?

Quote of the Day: “Always desire to learn something useful.” — Sophocles

Introducing – Upgrade Your Career – The Blog

Picture by Idea Go

Greetings everyone and welcome. With an eye on exploring ways to address your career concerns and issues, this new blog that will start to focus on various topics for those interested to “Upgrade Your Career”. This could mean one of the following to you:

1) You want to do something different and/or better than where you are today

2) You are not working and looking for a job to support yourself

3) You are questioning your life’s direction deeply and fundamentally

2) You enjoy what you are doing today but want to earn more $

3) You enjoy the area of your current career and earn enough money to meet your needs, but you want to explore different aspects of your current career focus

4) You enjoy what you are doing, but your significant other, parents,or dog hates it. What else is out there?

What’s the angle? The angle is practicality, with a focus on expediency. It combines guidance for action while building your “can do” thoughts and beliefs. Making changes in lives is work.  But, we can have fun and enjoy the ride. Consider this to be the start of our journey together.

Don’t ever lose faith in yourself. You are not only enough, but someone special with gifts waiting to be explored and appreciated and compensated. We all can make a clean start and make improvements in our career and in our lives. Starting today. The how will be explored. The “why” starts in the mirror.