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Job Search Boot Camp

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“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” –Japanese proverb

I am in the final days of a six-week career track boot camp to help 25 people, who have been out of work for two years or more, get into a job-fit shape. We did a lot of mental muscle building around a range of key job seeking skills ranging from maintaining the right frame of mind to taking initiative once hired in a new job.

It was a powerful collaborative effort that involved several organizations including the Westchester County Association, The WorkPlace, Career Edge, my own firm and one of my colleagues, Melissa Schnapp.

My excitement and inspiration is at a very high level from how the boot camp went and how the people participated. These 25 people won’t give up. They just keep trying. Other people who have been out of work for that length of time make poorer decisions than these students who were at least bold enough to sign up for a six-week boot camp. Their enrollment is the first inspiration.

We went through some key components, both as a group and individually, including:

1. Career Direction - clarifying an objective statement in powerful language. Some folks rebranded themselves in this exercise.

2. Marketing – we took a deep look at applying neuroscience and marketing strategy to radically change the approach to writing resumes and cover letters.

3. Interviewing – dealing with the most difficult interview questions that many people botch, including answers to challenging behavioral questions employers are now asking. For example, “Talk about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.” The answer to a behavioral question like that must begin with “When I was (my title) at (company name),” and then must include a real specific example or paint a very specific picture. “When I was a Vice President at Google, at least 80 percent of my job was working closely with a staff of 12 that I managed and personalities were very diverse. One day …”

4. Taking initiative – when following up with a prospective employer, one must have done the homework when preparing to interview. With the information you have found in that preparation, you then follow up with relevant articles, invitations, insights and other value-added ways to be pleasantly persistent and engage your future employer to hire you. Then, when you are on the job, continue to find way to add value above and beyond your job description.

The feedback was fabulous. People were inspired. They gained a lot of practical knowledge and a strong sense of sustainable confidence. One participant wrote “Day by day I am feeling more and more empowered personally and professionally”

Another man came back to class midsession from an interview that was twice as long as any interview he had taken before. And he was, at that point so far, the only candidate to have met with the company’s C-level executives. This was an additional inspiration to everyone in the class.

Finally, I have to acknowledge the class for turning themselves into a collaborative community. People were bringing in job ads for each other, providing supportive feedback and role-playing mock interviews and even going out to a comedy club together. I’m moved by how they are being with each other and excited for their graduation.

More on this as it develops and on other career programs coming up. Watch this space or contact me if you’d like to know more.

For now, I ask, how about you? What’s next for you and your career?

How Can I Help

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My older son, Nathan, pleasantly reminded me of this inspiring thought when he quoted me on his radio program last week. He claims I told him, “If you doing good work, you are going to ask for help – if you’re doing great work, people are going to ask how they can help.”

In our day-to-day work and lives, we ordinarily have to do good things and do them as well as possible. There’s nothing wrong with being ordinary but this conversation is about being extraordinary in your career and in your leadership.

If you’re up to doing something extraordinary – something that you are willing to talk about that will make a difference for more people than you can imagine - you are likely to hear people say to you, “That’s exciting. How can I help?”

For example, in the summer of 2014, television anchor Matt Lauer and golf legend Greg Norman created the Ice Bucket Challenge as a way to raise awareness and money for the ALS Association. ALS, also known as “Lou Gherig’s Disease,” is a degenerative nervous condition that impacts mobility and breathing and is often fatal. While the Ice Bucket Challenge met with some cultural criticism, the “ALS association announced that at the end of August 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge had raised over $100 million, which is a 3,500% increase compared to the $2.8 million they had raised during the same period in 2013.” That’s 35 times more money!

Another example is the current Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, which among other points of political merit also highlights his resistance to super-PAC contributions. It’s outstanding that Mr. Sanders is only counting on a grass-roots effort of donations from individual supporters rather than go the route of other candidates who lean on big businesses and in today’s political environment have been cause of an erosion of trust in government among millennial voters.

With regard to your leadership, can you create a bigger mission and goal that will inspire people? The more you speak about an initiative that will make a difference for a lot people, the more people will become engaged and want to participate in seeing your vision fulfilled, and thereby it will make a greater difference. Can you see how you can inspire more energy, innovation and productivity from people if you play a bigger game that has a greater impact on more people’s lives?

This is one of the hallmarks of great leadership. In invite you to stay committed to being inspiring, developing yourself and others as great leaders and being a source of outstanding, fulfilling careers – including your own!

So, how about you? What are you up to that if you expand your goal and make it bigger, bolder and more impactful for a larger number of people, you will find that the people you need are going to get inspired to offer more help.

Being Shatterproof

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"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." Mark Twain

This weekend I am going to be rappelling down the side of a building for an organization called Shatterproof My sister, Lori, is involved in the Shatterproof’s mission of bringing attention and better treatment to a disease known as drug addiction. We are hopeful that if recognized as a disease that requires treatment, rather than a stigmatized weakness, many lives will be saved.

In 2013, Lori’s son, my nephew, Matthew, lost his girlfriend to a relapse and heroin overdose even as the two of them had built over 2 years of sobriety together. These were bright kids and they were doing well, but drug addiction is a powerful illness.

My sister’s friend Gary Mendell’s son, Brian, lost his battle with addiction in 2011, and Mendell felt that it was time that people addicted to drugs in America had the equivalent of an American Cancer Society. He founded Shatterproof in June 2012, the first national organization to protect children from addiction to alcohol or drugs, to spare others the tragedy suffered by his own family.

The name of the organization is based on the idea of not letting a shattering experience, such as the death of a loved one, shatter your commitment to a fulfilling and purposeful life. In any of your pursuits, you are likely to hit roadblocks, have breakdowns and sometimes simply lack the time, energy and resources you’d prefer to have in service to your goal.
I’m inspired to talk about being shatterproof and being unstoppable in your life. If you want to grow your business to the next level, take your career to new heights or reach high for anything you want in your life, you can get it by setting your sights to the goal and never giving up from making it happen. No matter what tries to break you, be unbreakable. Be unstoppable. Be shatterproof! Can you feel the energy that can be generated by that kind of commitment.

Our fund raising is centered around rappelling down the side of a 22-storey building in Landmark Square, Stamford, Connecticut. I will be among some one hundred people who will be raising money this way to bring attention to our cause in this all-day event on Saturday, Oct 10. While it is an exciting challenge to scale down the side of this building, the most rewarding aspect is doing this for a worthy cause. If the spirit moves you, please donate through my link. MY FUNDRAISING PAGE.

So what about you? In what way and toward what goal will you be shatterproof this week?

Kiva Empowers Women

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Empowering Women To End Poverty

“On virtually every global measure, women are more economically excluded than men.” – The World Bank 2014 Gender at Work.

I have been fascinated by micro-finance programs that lift societies out of poverty through lending to small businesses and entrepreneurs. There are several reasons they target women in particular. First, women are the most vulnerable and poorest segments of society. Second, they have proven themselves more reliable than men to repay promptly. Third, women are more likely to spend the money on their children and households while men have tended to spend it on alcohol and/or gambling.

The non-profit lendwithcare.org says, “Women are the change agents of the families because women spend a greater percentage of their income on the welfare of their household than men do. As a consequence, increases in women’s income improve the health, nutritional and educational status of other member of the household, particularly children.”

The non-profit notes that as women have become better organized, microfinance has formed a basis for addressing a range of other issues such as domestic violence, male alcohol abuse and in regions where women’s mobility is limited, women have become more visible and are better able to negotiate in a public sphere.

This also increases their self-esteem, their confidence, and their status both within the household as well as in the wider community. This is good for the women and for their children who are the next generation of income producers and pulls a community out of poverty.

A leading player and resource in the microfinance world is Kiva, an online portal at kiva.org. Individuals and companies lend to entrepreneurs through the kiva.org web site, which I have been using to support women business owners since 2011. Kiva has field partners in such places as Mongolio, Thailand, Cambodia, Paraguay, the Philippines, Ukraine, Dominican Republic and many other countries around the world. The statistics are staggering. Over $3 million of loans just last week were sponsored from regular people like you and me, giving from $25 and up, through Kiva’s website. Borrowers have paid these loans back at a rate of 98.6% which is less than 1 ½ percent default rate.

So, what about you? Will you take a visit to KIVA.org and choose a woman business owner to help be successful? When she pays you back, you get to recycle your donation and lend it to another woman entrepreneur.

I look forward to hearing about your successes lending through Kiva.

Transition and Change

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“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F Kennedy.

In your leadership career you will find it’s easy to keep the train on the tracks in the direction it is going. Leading people to keep doing what they are already doing is more in the category of management than leadership. Great leaders shine when they are agents of change; looking for where a market might be going and leading the way to capture that market, honing in on where improvements might make a business more profitable or identifying actions that would make a difference for people and the planet. Changes like these set you apart from the competition and make your business the place to be.

However, every individual in your environment has a different stomach for change. Everyone transitions differently. For example, research shows that men need to have more of a transition period and a framework for getting something new underway while women typically multitask and make changes more frequently.

While pain occurs with the breaking of connections and even the anticipation of it, pleasure is the making of and anticipation of making connections.

This is what you can do to take change from pain to pleasure:

1. Find the people that typically are more willing and more engaged in changes that are made. Gather input also from those who will be involved in implementing the change. Get these people involved in the process of creating the new direction. People are usually more willing to buy into something they had a say in creating.

2. Clarify a step-by-step process. Any time a giant step becomes too stressful, people might revert to their comfort zone. But if you break a big project into small baby steps, people would get accustomed to one manageable stage at a time and learn from each step along the way.

3. Celebrate each change and each day along the way with gratitude and appreciation for the people who are dealing with it.

So how about you? What is a new direction that you want to lead your team or your world toward, and how will you facilitate a smooth transition?

Moving with Momentum

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

I am currently going through both business and personal transformation, and I'm dealing with a great complexity of things to do, agreements to make, and plans to follow through on. At many times in recent weeks, I have found myself overwhelmed, stressed or bogged down. I’ve even been sluggish at times. People who know me well would be shocked to hear that, but alas, I’m certainly human. J

So one day last week, I declared that I was going to take on moving forward fast with confidence, harmony and joyfulness. That evening, I made a collage at a Course Work Party (an element of a Landmark Worldwide’s "Wisdom Unlimited" program).

The purpose of the collage is to create a visual recognition of habitual mindsets as well as new, inspirational thoughts. Take a look at what I pulled together relatively spontaneously while cogitating on the thoughts and feelings around moving forward fast with confidence, harmony and joyfulness. What do you see for yourself?

In your most meaningful pursuits you want to be thorough and focus on details, but you want to generate momentum, get things done and have exciting victories along the way. Yet, sometimes it's wise to also remember that slow and steady can win the race. With a balanced mindset, you can generate a lot of momentum towards the future you want to create – the future you plan to enjoy to the max. With that kind of mindfulness, you'll also enjoy every step of the way.

So how about you? What is the boldest, most meaningful pursuit towards which you will bring an intention of moving forward fast with confidence, harmony and joy?

The Grip of Gripes: Gossip

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941), from The Leaning Tower.

Gossip is not exclusively reserved for gossip girls or teenage boys. Employees gossip. C-suite level executives gossip. Board members gossip. People talk about other people. They can’t help it. But you can control what you say about other people, especially when you may have something less than positive to express.

Let’s define gossip as kind of talk that diminishes someone in other people’s eyes. It damages the person being spoken about, your relationship with them as it reinforces your negative view, and can have a negative impact on anyone that listens and then relates to the person being spoken about.

Today, I invite you to be rigorous about being powerful with what you say about other people.

Before you say something about anyone, ask yourself:

1. Is it true?
2. Is it kind?
3. Will it empower everyone or will it or diminish anyone?

If you have an issue, a concern or a situation that requires correction, always stay focused on getting people “out of trouble” rather than getting someone in trouble.

The best way to handle that is to speak directly to the person involved, unless it’s necessary for you to first consult with an outside professional, like a coach or therapist, who can give you perspective and support unconditionally constructive. If the situation truly requires a third party being informed, talk to the person who can do something constructive and positive to resolve the issue.

Here are a few tips to make such a conversation into a win for at least three people;

1. Declare your commitment to all people involved rising to be their true best selves. Hold true to commitments to release your own frustration, to forgive people for their flaws and to empower everyone and anyone around you. With intentions and language like that, you are speaking to and about the best in someone, rather than declaring that there is something wrong or bad. It will surely make a difference.

2. Be responsible for your view. Preface your comments with “This is my opinion and I could be wrong that such-and-such happened or that it’s even a problem.”

3. Only speak about what happened – don’t add interpretation. It’s powerful to only speak very clearly about facts and actions that are objective, measurable and would have been seen and heard by a fly on the wall. For example, “Joe told Steve’s team to wait until 3rd quarter earnings are announced” is better than “Joe’s is running end-games around Steve.” (maybe Steve wanted the team to wait!).

4. Speak about a person’s issue as a behavior in time, rather than anything wrong with their character – for example, “Diane is losing her temper a lot this week, and I’m sure she doesn’t intend to.” Add something positive whenever you can, for example, “Diane is a confident, powerful woman – this is not her true self at play.”

If you can, avoid all gossip at all cost. It is challenging for some people at first, but with practice can be perfected. If you catch yourself having gossiped, clean it up and make sure the people you have spoken about are presented as their true best selves so you, and others around you, flourish.

So what about you? With whom do you find yourself gossiping and how can you transform communication?

Managing Your Dream Career

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…yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.” Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”.

Managing one’s career is a long-term prospect. It starts with today and goes full circle.

Imagine if you started today to schedule some dedicated time - a few hours, a day or even a weekend retreat - to ponder these questions:

Where does your passion match your talent? And where do these overlap with market need? Where do you fit in society and meet a need in the world or in a market based on your passion and talent? This requires some thinking, perhaps even doing an assessment and talking to people.

Start to imagine 10 years from now what your career would look like. What would you be doing? What kind of environment will you be in and with what kind of people? What values would they have? If you had done that 10 years ago and followed that commitment along the way, today your dreams would have come true. And that's what we want for you - that your dreams come true.

Imagine a version of that 5 years from now. What would have to happen along the way? Or two years? Or this year? What are some of more of the short term steps that you have to take?

Write some paragraphs on this. Draw pictures. Allow yourself to immerse in the envisioning of your ideal career path. Then, come back to today and start planning, taking the action and sharing this plan with people close to you who will stay in a committed conversation with you to fulfill on your career direction.

In 10 years, and starting right away, you will be on the path of your dreams coming true.

So what about you? When and with whom will you schedule this soul searching for your career direction?

Powerful Declarations 2

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“The word is a force you cannot see, but you can see the manifestation of that force, the expression of the word, which is your own life.” -Miguel Angel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements.

Today’s theme is going to knock your socks off. The subject is declarations.

Declarations are often a beginning. They also sustain and provide momentum for the something new and powerful happening, something that might not otherwise happen.
A dictionary definition of a declaration is that it is something that is avowed or proclaimed. It’s important to understand and be aware of the power of declarations in your communication. All of your work and life accomplishments boil down to speaking and honoring your word - the things you say, promise and put at stake.

A tremendous example is the Declaration of Independence, which we celebrated this weekend - a statement that forged the United States of America into being an independent entity separate from Britain. In the 50’s Babe Ruth declared that he was going to hit a home run for a young boy who was sick in hospital and then did so. John F Kennedy’s famous declaration inspired people to rally “to put a man on the moon and return him home safely” within a decade. Wow!

More recently, President Obama declared that we would have health care reform which has been something that this country has struggled with for years. While not perfect, there is now a new health exchange.

The neuroscience on the subject is that the brain operates based on the programming we give it, primarily verbally. The more we speak with powerful declarations, the more our brains, and the brains of those who hear and believe in us, trigger behavior and commitment to fulfill on those declarations. There is biochemistry behind the notion that if you say it will be so, so it shall be.

I declared that this message would knock your socks off and it has or it will especially if you answer the next question powerfully and follow up with commitment.

So what about you? What’s a goal you are willing to declare will happen? What new actions and approach will you take this time to make it happen?

The Truly Strategic CFO

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"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational." - Stephen Hawking

I have recently been working with businesses to elevate their financial officers into a role I call the Truly Strategic CFO. This distinction is important because financial department professionals, who do a lot of accounting and financial modeling, primarily use the left hemisphere of the brain, which is typically oriented for that kind of number crunching work. Meanwhile the “right brain” provides the creative, interpersonal and strategic skills required in management, visioning and problem solving, and making colorful and meaningful presentations.

The true CFO is on the cusp of these two, capable of balanced, dual-hemisphere thinking, crunching and organizing numbers representing revenue, costs, cash flows and trends, while creating visual high level presentations and conversations so the Chief Executive Office, Chief Operating Officer and other management executives readily understand what the numbers mean to make decisions from that information.

A problem is that most CFO’s have come up through the financial operations of an organization and therefore are more left brain oriented. They get frustrated when they try and fail to communicate the cautionary trends or opportunities that they see in the numbers. They desire having, and are called on to be, a more respected voice in strategic, high level management meetings, but they spend too much time bogged down in managing the functions rather than delegating effectively and therefore don’t make enough time to provide powerful, clarifying presentations.

Building this capacity is like building a muscle – it takes planning, exercise and practice. Here are the top five things for a financial officer explore in developing the right side of his or her brain and become the well-rounded CFO needed by all businesses:

1. Recognize the functions of the two hemispheres of the brain and get familiar with the two different thinking styles so that you are able to move between them.

2. Identify what are the most important dashboard metrics to the CEO and COO, and how these senior executives want to access more detail if needed, rather than producing overwhelming pages of data.

3. Instead of using what some CFOs use to make a point, i.e. providing all the details that lead to a conclusion at the bottom of a page, communicate the message like newspaper report with the headline at the top and the details deeper down for reference as needed.

4. Have the right people with strong left-brain functioning to do the financial work that needs to be done in a timely fashion, and ensure that they have the tools they need to gather and synchronize the data.

5. As a manager, don’t just tell people what to do, or stop at just showing them how to do it. Go the extra mile to develop them as self-reliant leaders themselves capable of producing great results, and empowered to collaborate with outstanding team work to get the work done. That way you, the CFO, are freed up to engage in higher level, strategic thinking.

6. Do use that freed up time as the CFO to turn financial data into strategic advice that clearly represents what the numbers are pointing to and how these affect the company’s future.

So how about you? How will you start using these steps to enhance your value as your organization’s financial officer?

Welcome! The purpose of this blog-cast is to provide thoughtful perspectives on leadership, team dynamics and peak performance for leaders and top producers. You'll start every week with savvy, upbeat and focused insights every Monday (read and/or listen) to produce exciting results by Friday (and beyond). Enjoy!

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