Reading List: Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy

Why read this book? Written by the international best-selling author and leader in professional development, Eat That Frog will help you jump- start your professional development (or any other task in your work) with twenty-one proven methods and techniques. These methods are integral to accelerating your career: #7 Focus on Key Result Areas, #10 Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time, #11 Upgrade Your Skills, #13 Identify Your Key Constraints, #21 Single Hand Every Task.g your career: #7 Focus on Key Result Areas, #10 Take It One Oil Barrel at a Time, #11 Upgrade Your Skills, #13 Identify Your Key Constraints, #21 Single Hand Every Task.

Adapted from my new book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of A Successful Career, Chapter 2: Accelerate Your Career Experience. Click here to download two chapters of the book for free!

How I Emptied My Email Inbox?

In the first part of the this blog post, I discussed the very real and growing problems that are a result of the increasing volume of email.  In this post, I will tell outline the simple process that I use to empty my email box each week.

The important thing to remember is that there is not one method that will work for everyone.  The way you use email for your work is a function of many things including your job function, your colleagues, your managers and customers or clients, therefore, the solution for emptying your email box on a regular basis will vary.

This is how I approach the task. Read more

Reading List: Who Moved My Cheese?

This book tells the story of 4 characters– Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw– and the different ways they interpret and ultimately deal with change in their environment.  This story of adaptability is parable which makes the story fun and easy to read.  The characters in the story include two mice named Sniff and Scurry and two mice-sized people named Hem and Haw with all of the human traits and flaws (human characteristics).  The four characters live in a maze and search for cheese which represents food and happiness– the ultimate prize.

The story is woven around several key lessons about change: Read more

Have you checked your smart phone in the last 5 minutes?

If you did, STOP IT NOW!'Psst!  Buddy  you wanna check your email?' - An Andertoons Cartoon

Each generation of professionals is faced with new technologies as they enter the workforce.  Telex, fax machines and desktop computers were all “new” technologies for earlier generations.  One of the features of these ancient modes of communication is that they were reserved for the office– no one would dream of powering off their fax machine and tucking it into their backpack to bring home for the evening.

Teletype

Next. . . enter the more mobile devices such as pagers and 1st gen cell phones.  While you could bring these devises home or wear them on your belt, you were not compelled to constantly check these devices– when someone called or paged you, your device would ring, buzz, beep or vibrate.  You wouldn’t dial in to your voice mail box every 5 minutes– you wouldn’t even consider it. What’s more, could imagine what someone would look like if they did do that?  It is not that much different than looking at your smart phone every 5 minutes.

Cell Phone circa 1984

With today’s smart phone, part of the obsessive checking comes from that fact that there might always be an email, text or voice mail waiting.

Does the possibility that someone attempted to communicate with you require this behavior? 

If we were obsessed in the same way with an object other than a smart phone, it is likely that medication would be prescribed.

Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent for CNN.com wrote a article highlighting some of the recent findings in a study in the journal Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Here is a snapshot of the article:

  • On average, study subjects checked phones 34 times a day out of habit or compulsion
  • Once the brain gets used to positive feedback, reaching for the phone is automatic
  • Urge to check lives in striatum, the brain area that governs habitual actions
  • Habitually checking can also become a way to avoid interacting with people

According to CNN.com. . .

How to know if you’re a habitual checker

1. You check your e-mail more than you need to.
2. You’re annoying other people.
3. The thought of not checking makes you break out in a cold sweat.

How to get rid of your checking habit

1. Acknowledge you have a problem.
2. Have smartphone-free times.
3. Have smartphone-free places.

Don’t Forget the “Why” on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for building and maintaining your professional network. I’ve blogged about LinkedIn often.  Check out Getting Started on LinkedIn for College Students and LinkedIn Maps to Visualize Your Network.

I currently have 500+ people in my LinkedIn network. I did not add these people randomly, but instead chose to add them to my network. For the LinkedIn requests I receive, I use my own LinkedIn protocol to determine with whom I will connect. My guidelines are not complicated, are infinitely flexible and work for me very well.

For everyone on LinkedIn considering a “Connect” request, the most important question is: Read more

Teamwork – There is no “I”

In November of 2012, I wrote a blog post about the culture associated with Tough Mudder– the obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie (see A Muddy Corporate Culture). I also discussed the need to understand the culture of your organization.

This past November, I participated in my first GORUCK Light. Fellow Georgetown alumnus, Jason McCarthy is a Special Forces veteran and launched GORUCK events to prove the quality and durability of the rucksacks he was selling. The story of how Jason built this company is very interesting, especially for entrepreneurs (or entrepreneur-in-training). Read more

Keys to Career Advancement

Kaplan University and LinkedIn recently published the results of a survey of 1,000 individuals about their views on career development. The headline is:

Nearly eight-in-ten survey respondents agree they need to obtain new skills to advance their careers

This is Career-ology’s core belief.  Career advancement is based on continuing skills training and development. Don’t wait for your company to provide the training you want– find it and complete the training on your own. YOU are responsible for building YOUR skills set.

Here is a brief summary of the survey’s key findings:

  • 78% respondents agree or strongly agree that they need to obtain new skills to advance their careers.
  • 64% agree or strongly agree that continuing their education will play an important role in their career advancement.
  • 53% agree or strongly agree that they need a more systematic process for planning and tracking their career journey.
  • 68% respondents indicate that they would like a better method for finding opportunities to be mentored or to serve as mentors for others.

It doesn’t take a survey to tell you what you already know.  The question is . . . what will you do about it?  You can read the full press release at Kaplan University’s website.

Best Advice from Leading Executives

Business Insider compiled a list of “best advice” from 22 top executives. I’ve pulled the top 10 bits of advice that apply to new professionals and summarized it here.  The full Business Insider post will provide the context for each quote and reveal who the wise sage is behind each pearl of wisdom.

  1. There’s a finite amount of time you’re going to be doing this. Do this really, really well. – Terry J. Lundgren, CEO, Macy’s
  2. Never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. – Richard Branson, founder and chairman, Virgin Group
  3. I see a bunch of good choices, and there’s the one that you pick and make great. – Marissa Mayer, VP, Google
  4. First, it’s good to solicit your people’s opinions before you give them yours. And second, your people will be very influenced by how you carry yourself under stress. – Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO, Goldman Sachs
  5. You’ve gotta learn to listen!” – Maureen Chiquet, Global CEO, Chanel
  6. Follow my instincts and take the risk. I wanted to create a new way of looking at retail – Tory Burch, co-founder and creative director, Tory Burch
  7. Never forget Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow — you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow. – Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
  8. Just remember, it’s a small business and a long life. You’re going to see all these people again. – Richard Parsons, former chairman, Citigroup
  9. Always have the courage of your convictions. Always state what’s on your mind. Follow your gut. And observe what other people are doing around you. – Joe Uva, former CEO, Univision
  10. Remember—you’ve got to make your deposits before you can make a withdrawal! – Steve Schwartzman, chairman and CEO, Blackstone Group

Inner Confidence

Last week, I attended several networking events with current college students.  Each student’s level of confidence varied.  I believe that some of them could be more confident based on their accomplishments to date.  Others– just a few– were a little more confident than their resumes could support.

Confidence as a professional often comes with experience (i.e., years on the job).  At Career-ology, we believe that you can acquire, practice and develop most of the critical professional skills in a proactive way.  Very simply, instead of simply waiting for the passage of time, adopt a mindset or way of thinking about inner confidence.

John Keyser, a highly accomplished leadership coach in Washington, D.C., has a great blog post today.  John writes, “When we have inner confidence, we:

  • Realize that asking for help is a sign of strength
  • Allow ourselves to help others learn, grow and succeed
  • Want our colleagues to do great work
  • Are comfortable sharing credit for success
  • Shine the spotlight on others

Read John’s post, “Inner Confidence Coupled with Humility,” to learn how to become a more effective leader, a more successful professional and a better person.

 

Imitation and Your Professional Development

IMG_0977 IMG_0978When it comes to your professional development, you can practice and acquire many skills that you need to be successful.  Some of these skills include public speaking, networking and business writing.  These skills along with the resources and methods for acquiring them are the subject of my book, Career-ology 101 which will be published later this fall.

You can acquire many other skills by observing other professionals and practice those skills using imitation. These skills are often referred to as “soft-skills” and some examples include: teamwork, conflict resolution, decision making and time management.    Read more