Learn to Adapt

The only constant is change.

This philosophy dates back to the ancient greeks and has never been more true than it is today.

As a professional, you MUST be able to adapt to change.  Organizations expand and downsize, markets gyrate wildly, partnerships emerge and dissolve.  Adaptability is a key success factor in your career and it is a skill you can practice and develop. Read more

Downsides of Digital Conflict Resolution

In his recent HBR blog post, Anthony Tjan,  CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball and vice chairman of the advisory firm Parthenon, discusses the downside of using email for “digital conflict resolution” and highlights three of the problems that often result from pressing <SEND>.
1. It is hard to get the EQ (emotional intelligence) right in email.
2. Email and text often promote reactive responses.
3. Email prolongs debate. Read more

Do You Have Executive Presence?

Executive presence refers to one’s ability to look and act like an executive or a leader.  Think of an actor auditioning for the leading role in a movie– he has to look like and act like the character in order to be credible and convince the director.  Even if you are not an executive today, this is an important skill to master.

“Executive presence” is a broad term that includes your body language, personal appearance and dress, your mannerisms and gestures, the way you speak and the way you shake hands when greeting someone.  If you are not convinced that having an executive presence is important, you should consider that companies such as Intel and Morgan Stanley have launched training programs focused on these skills for their employees.  And these days, large companies don’t invest money in teaching their employees skills unless it is important.

Executive coaches can be helpful by providing a non-biased assessment of your executive presence and methods to improve these skills.  Start by observing your co-workers, managers and other business leaders in your organization.  Can you identify a few people with an executive presence that you admire and want to imitate?

Read “How to Look and Act Like a Leader” by Joann S. Lublin on the WSJ.com for additional resources.

Career-ology Publishes Free Tools

Today, Career-ology published two free resource available.

The first tool, Overview-LinkedIn, provides an overview of the key features and functions of LinkedIn, tips on getting started and a list of additional resources for training.  LinkedIn is most popular professional social media site with more than 100 million members.  Are you on LinkedIn?  If not, you should be.

The second tool, Interview & Meeting Prep, can be used to prepare for an interview, a business meeting or networking situation with colleagues, customers or clients using popular social media tools and websites.  The information you collect will help you to establish a meaningful connection with the people you meet.  By learning more about the person with whom you are meeting, you can increase the likelihood of finding points of common interest.

To download these free tools (.pdf) from Career-ology, click on the Resources page.

Competition vs. Self-motivation

Seth Godin’s advice on this issue is to “run your own race.”  Godin continues, “the rear view mirror is one of the most effective motivational tools ever created.”

I would say that it is also one of the most seductive sources of motivation. If you listen to interviews with elite athletes– especially those who participate in individual rather than team sports– you’ll hear phrases such as: “playing my own game,” “staying focused,” or “performing at my level.”  It is common for people (or athletes) to perform better with competition, however, you will be subject to your competition showing up in their best form.

Self motivation is and always will be the most important form of motivation. Driving with your eyes on the rear view mirror is exhausting. It’s easier than ever to measure your performance against others, but if it’s not helping you with your mission, stop.  Read Seth’s post here.

Run your own race.

Increased Focus on ‘Soft Skills’ at Top MBA Programs

Many top MBA programs are increasing their focus on ‘soft skills.’  Why?

These are critical skills for all professional.  Whether you currently manage a team of 2, 20 or 200 people, skills such as speaking respectfully to subordinates, teamwork, and managing your own stress are all very important and will have a major impact on your success as a manager and a leader.

Traditionally, MBA programs have focused on the technical or ‘hard skills’ such as economics, finance and accounting.  There are a number of reasons for this including the fact that grading students in these subjects is more straightforward and lack of respect for ‘soft skills’ courses on the part of students and employers.  Also, many of the jobs that are filled by new MBAs do require these technical skills, so it becomes a Catch-22.  How far one advances beyond that first job will be largely determined by the ‘soft skills’ or ‘people skills.’

There is good news here for professionals without a business school background. . . many of the interpersonal skills needed to be a successful business manager and a leader of people are not learned in the classroom.

Read the full WSJ.com article by Mellissa Korn and Joe Light.

Thank You Notes Increase Your Chance of Success

This is from a national survey of more than 2,800 U.S. employers, conducted by CareerBuilder.

  • More than one-in-five (22 percent) hiring managers say they are less likely to hire a candidate if they don’t send a thank-you note after an interview;
  • 86 percent say it shows a lack of follow-through;
  • 56 percent say it sends the message that they aren’t really serious about the opportunity;
  • 89 percent of hiring managers say it is OK to send a thank-you note in the form of an e-mail, with half saying it is actually the way they prefer to receive them;
  • IT hiring managers are the most eager to receive e-mail, rather than written thank you notes;
  • The majority of those in the financial services like hand-written and USPS delivered notes better, but say that e-mail is still acceptable.

Thank you notes are not just for interviews.  Invest 5 minutes to stand out from the crowd after meeting a customer, prospect, mentor or business partner.  If speed is critical (i.e., timing is an issue) such as an interview or a competitive sales situation, send an email and a hand written note.  If speed is not critical, always opt for the hand written note.

So what should be included in a thank you note? . . .  Read the full CareerBuilder post here.