Most people don’t return calls. And if they do, they pick a time when it’s impossible for you to answer them (I think they strategically pick these times).
I came upon a great quote from the Dalai Lama — "There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly live."
How often do we feel disappointed/guilty about yesterday and anxious/fearful about tomorrow? Probably a lot.
How do we live in 'today' increments? How do we focus on what needs to happen right now without letting the past and future hold us back?
I use a simple acronym - P M R:
P = Plan — Take 5 minutes to Plan your day. Get real, assess exactly what needs to get accomplished, and write it down. Just the stuff that needs to be done today. Add time increments to estimate how long each will take, prioritize each one, and then plug them into your day calendar.
M = Meditate — Take 5 minutes to Meditate. Clean the cobwebs! Sit back, close your eyes, and clear your thoughts. Start by taking a few deep breaths then use the exhalation to sigh and release the tension. Do it again. And again. I promise you will feel better and energized.
R = Reflect — Take 5 minutes to Reflect on all the good things in your life. Gratitude is an important part of staying in the present. We tend to focus and think of all the bad things, worry, forget, and then start the whole process again. Try to focus on the positive this time — your accomplishments, your family, etc.
Take the rest of the time and get stuff done! Don't be afraid of diving in and accomplishing your action items — in fact, you will feel invigorated. Trust me!
*Just found out there is a disease with the same acronym (there always is) - I do not have it nor am I at all using the acronym lightly.
Ever have a REALLY bad day? Here's how to get up and get GOING.
Most of the time we think small. It's normal. Why do we think small? We're usually trying to closely track many of the details of our work.
The phone calls, the email follow-ups, the elements of the project, or cleaning up after other people.
The nature of our position makes us forget to see the ENTIRE forest because we are focused on every single tree.
The problem is — if we don't start thinking BIG, we usually get used to thinking small. Not that it's a bad thing — but thinking BIG is a prerequisite for GROWING.
Growing your position, growing your business, getting the RIGHT people to stand up and notice you and what you can really do.
Of course, you can just go along and do what you've always been doing — you make the cash, you have the stability, you get comfortable with that reality.
But someday, reality is going to come knocking at your door. And you're going to have to answer it.
So here are three ways to start thinking BIG:
1. What is your COMPETITION doing?
If you work for an organization, think of your best performing peers. If you run your own business, who is the best in your industry?
Big thinking organizations make strategic decisions that take them out of their comfort zone — Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Google — sometimes they fail, but if it takes hold, they're going to upset many industries along the way.
2. Where is your INDUSTRY going?
Again, we tend to never step back and see where our industry is headed — sometimes we are working too hard and forget — sometimes we stick our head in the sand and try not to look. Whichever one you are, you need to keep your eye on the prize. Is it growing or shrinking? Is it changing — for the better or worse? Can you chart a course for your career along that new trajectory? Or should you start making your way to the lifeboats and don your lifejacket?
Thinking big is staying current with what is happening to your industry. And taking 1-2 steps ahead — anticipate the curve.
3. What would your 'BEST YOU' do?
This is a great practice to get you out of your safe, fuzzy and warm bubble and to start thinking BIG. Don't think of your current self or your current situation. Begin to think of an alternate universe where your 'best self' lives — what would they be doing right now? What is their position? What projects would they be working on? Who would they be talking to, accessing, and leveraging to get things done.
This is a great exercise for you to start thinking about YOUR abilities — how far you can push yourself.
If you want to be BIG — you have to start thinking BIG — Right Now.
P.S. Got this idea from my good friend Margo Meeker, therapist/life coach extrodinarire - her motto is 'be your best self'. Thank you Margo!
Most businesses today have a fatal flaw that will take down their entire client base. It’s the fear of doing something . . . anything . . . NEW. They know it ‘might’ fail — so they do nothing.
I’m here to tell you that doing nothing (most of the time) is worse than failing. Why?
Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you’re quite sick. Now many people will disregard the symptoms, say they are not sick — because they feel that the diagnosis or the treatment will be worse or possibly hurt them more than the illness. So they do nothing. What they don’t understand is that the initial reason why they are sick is not being addressed — and it will slowly grow to infect other parts of their body.
Now if they just tried one type of treatment or just went to the doctor and asked for a complete work-up, they would at least make a positive move forward in treating their sickness. Let’s say it failed – they should try something else. And something else — ad infinitum — until they felt better.
I did this with a recurring allergy. I first went to my general practitioner who gave me LOTS of pills. Nothing happened. So I went to a specialist. They took tests (63 pokes of a needle) and also gave me LOTS of pills. I got a little better, but then it came back. I then finally tried an old, but simple cure (a Neti Pot). Guess what? It worked. And I feel GREAT.
It’s like business. People will just act like nothing is wrong and “stay the course” while they see their clients and profits drain away. The problem is that they are afraid of taking any action — it might be wrong — it might worsen the situation — they might lose the business.
But at the end of the day, they need to understand that what is making their business sick can be cured. Here’s the simple process:
- Realize that you’re sick. You might get better, but you’re probably going to get sicker. And sicker. And then die.
- Understand why you’re sick. Get a good diagnosis. Find out what the causal elements are — Get the facts. Work with a partner or coach.
- Take action. Make a list of possible treatments — list them by how much effort (time, money, resources) they will take and what impact they will make.
- Pick one and take action . . . NOW. Accountability is key.
It’s that simple. As Nike says: “Just Do It.”
Once a month, I go to an incredible meeting of 100+ successful executives who get together to talk business. The person who runs the show is an incredible personality — full of vigor, experience, and knowledge. His ability to speak in front of the group each month is a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, his ability to put together a professional looking presentation is clearly missing and he also doesn’t know how to work his own laptop for the presentation (he consistently runs into mishaps and problems).
This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. There’s a lot of competent professionals and executives out there with ugly, cheesy, and just plain awful logos, images, and presentations. And to top it off, they have no technical experience to operate their own machines.
Their excuse is they’re not competent with the tools at their disposal, they ‘just don’t have the eye’ for design, or they don’t have the money to hire someone who has the ability to make their stuff great.
Guess what? You Are In Business. Everything about your business needs to not only be great, but look great too. It also needs the ability to communicate effectively to your audience. Stop hiding behind the old and antiquated belief ‘you’re above all that mundane stuff’ — you’re too important/elevated to have to know/understand your own technology. Or the phrase I love, "It's worked for me for many years."
Here are some excuses I run into:
“I don’t need to know how to run my laptop...” — Yes you do. It’s your business. If you look like an idiot in front of an audience because you don’t pre-plan and ensure everything is working fine, it’s YOUR fault. Grow up and learn your tools inside out. It’s not an overhead projector, it’s a laptop.
“I know we need to make our website look better...” — Yes you do. You should have done it YEARS ago. It’s almost 2011, not 1998. Your site is the first location most people encounter your image and information. Screw this up and you cut your sales dramatically.
“I have to have my logo/business cards redone...” — Yes, they suck. You look like a hobbyist, unprofessional, and you are wandering through business with an unprofessional image for all of us to endure. Hire a competent creative to redo your entire look. Today. See this post.
“It’s the best I can do or I was too busy to get it done right...” — Are you an idiot? Would you say that to a client? I’m giving my time and energy to meet, greet or go to your presentation — hire someone who can do it for you or take the time to do it. Stop acting like a child.
I know I’ve been a little harsh about this topic, but I meet/greet many people in my day-to-day business. Many have their act together. But there is a wide swath of professionals and executives who are damaging their image and business (and hurting my eyes) when they don’t fix what is clearly and apparently wrong with their image and business. And their attitude is they are ‘too above’ this issue to worry about it — bottom line, YOU’RE NOT.
This is not rocket science folks. Hire a competent creative or designer (I know many great ones) who can help you look INCREDIBLE. Don’t hinder or hurt your message with bad design, tools or planning.
- Making a lot of money.
- Work/life is in balance.
- Loving what you're doing.
- Moving up or getting clients at a nice pace.
That's great! You're in the fast lane on the career highway and you can click it into cruise control.Now if you're:
- Not making a lot of money.
- Work/life is out of balance.
- Not loving what you're doing.
- Not moving up or getting clients at a nice pace.
It's time to turn that cruise control off and start shifting gears to go faster or slow down and reassess your situation. When this happens, I tell colleagues, friends, and prospects to read one of these two books:
Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success by Rory Vaden (200 pages)
No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy (300 pages)
These books will help you move from a passive career focus to a more active career path. Check them out and read them this weekend — they're a quick read!
I had a great session with one of my favorite clients the other day. We covered an area on making decisions and I brought up a way I teach people to think about their careers and owners to think about their businesses. There are three ways to make decisions in business:
- Sure Things - These are the easy decisions we make that take little or no thought. They're easy to quantify, foresee, and usually called 'no-brainers'.
- Calculated Risk - A little more work is involved here — we need to weigh many options and outcomes. Many things are measured and tracked along the way to ensure that we don't fall flat on our face. This is the biggest slice of the pie - from easy risk calculation to highly complex analysis.
- Hail Mary's - Not so much a blind throw into the end zone, but there is the reality that this is a decision into the unknown. You can just measure so much and have to rely on gut feel in your industry or marketplace.
Successful executives and business owners tap into all three decision states frequently. If I had to hazard a guess, the typical business/executive builds their decision base with 20-30% Sure Thing, 60-70% Calculated Risk, and 10-20% Hail Mary.
Many things in business were Hail Mary's — the iPhone, Tesla, Amazon, etc. Most startups are highly analyzed calculated risks but they start out as a Hail Mary — 'let's try it' or 'it can't hurt' are frequently mentioned. Venturing into unknown territories where you're not comfortable is not only healthy, but required for many businesses to grow and mature.
Opening up a second location, hiring your first employee, pitching that premier client, spending big bucks on your website/SEO/PPC are just a few areas where we tend to feel quite nervous when we're pushing the envelope. You should feel anxiety in your gut when you make these decisions. That's why they're Hail Mary's — you're throwing it as far as you can subtly hoping for someone to catch it.
Sometimes we make Hail Mary decisions when our back is against the wall — and sometimes it's too late. It's better to regularly make Hail Mary decisions 2-3 times a year to stretch your company, yourself, and your people.
I have this problem. When I wake up Monday morning (around 4:15 AM), I don’t feel the happy, energized, and focused self most of my clients, colleagues, and friends see when they encounter me later in the morning. At least not until I’ve taken my meds. : ) A lot of people I know feel this way in the morning and unfortunately, it extends into most of the day and it is especially more intense on a Monday.
It could be for many reasons, you had too much fun on the weekend, you hate your job, you hate your commute . . . a myriad of rationales.
Mondays suck. So what do I do to immediately turn them around?
1. I Say To Myself: “It’s not going to last.” Usually when I am up and taking a shower in the morning, I start thinking of all the BAD things about my business, career and life.
For me, I call it the ‘Morning Seritonin Slump’. It’s my initial body chemistry starting to rev up and it’s going to take a little while to get my car into 5th gear. So I let the bad thoughts wash over me and say “It’s not going to last.” — and guess what — it goes away as fast as it came.
2. I Plan Ahead. I usually make a list of things I need to get done the night before. Not a huge checklist which would choke a horse, but a simple list of 3-5 items I know need to be attacked first thing in the morning. This immediately give me purpose and focus, two things I desperately need in the morning.
Also — dive right into work. Take action and stop obsessing how bad the day is or will be. Once you start attacking your to-do list, you begin to feel better immediately.
3. I Stretch and Smile. The physical affects the mental. If you are feeling down, don’t focus on the stinking thinking zipping in your head, get physical. Even if it’s five minutes of stretching in your bedroom, a run outside, or a quick trip to the gym, physical activity gets the blood flowing and the mental malaise changing.
In addition, make yourself smile — we tend to go through life with a flat or angry look on our face and candidly, it affects our mood. Try to make yourself smile, hum, move your head to music, sing in the shower! You’ll feel a major sea-change in your mood immediately.
How do you make your Monday ROCK?
I drove to my networking meeting this morning and I take the Merritt Parkway (one of the more beautiful highways in the U.S.). I got off at the North Street exit and next thing I know, I'm on the Post Road. 10 minutes evaporated from my life — it's like those X-Files episodes where people lose time when abducted by aliens. One second I'm exiting onto North Street and the next, I'm on the Post Road. I was on mental cruise control.
Is you business or career on cruise control? One second you're celebrating the start of 2016 and the next, it's June 23 — half the year has gone by. All those amazing plans you had in store for growing your business or getting that promotion are almost gone. We all know during July and August everyone's away — and next thing we know it's September — almost the end of the year.
Why does this happen? We get TOO caught up into the 'maintenance' of our business/career — servicing clients, making the donuts, etc. — and not enough time in 'development' — investing in new products, delivering a new project, etc.
We spend ALL our time on running our business/career and not enough time planning/developing/launching new improvements. This happens frequently in the IT and Manufacturing industries — too much maintenance and you're going out of business because a competitor has beaten you with a better/faster entry.
Step back and spend 1 hour a day on developing and executing future plans for your business or career. Where does your business need to go in the next 5 years? Where does you career need to go — up at your current company or out?
Don't get caught on cruise control — you might drive right into a tree.
I love Reddit. Many years ago, a retained recruiter hosted a huge 'AMA' (Ask Me Anything) post. They delivered great responses which were spot on. Here are some of the best (please disregard the grammar - I wanted to preserve the questions asked):
Many of my clients frequently ask me for my opinion on the do's and don't's of a good résumé. Let me begin by saying résumé advice is highly subjective. Everyone has an opinion and everyone will find fault in your advice. I am going to go out on a limb and let you in on what I think is a basic, generalized format (IMHO):
Contact Info: Name, Cell, Email, Address, LinkedIn URL (this is new - make it like www.linkedin.com/in/richgee)
Summary Statement: 1-2 sentences that clearly define who you are and what you're looking for. Feel free to add a few bulleted items - not a lot. It needs to be powerful and slightly provacative.
Education: Keep it short and sweet. Add in any related experience, workshops, seminars, etc. That's learning.
Activities: One line, make them interesting. A good hiring manager is looking for enthusiasm and fit - give it to them.
Optional: If you have room - add a testimonial or two from important people you've worked with. You can grab them from LinkedIn. I have a client who had two testimonials from the presidents of both companies they worked for - I told her to showcase them!
Length: 1 Page - New to the workforce - 1-2 years out of school. 2 Pages - Normal - 3-10 years in the workforce. 3 Pages - Experienced - 11-30 years in the workforce. 4+ Pages - C-Level Executive.
Format: Font: Helvetica - don't play with serif fonts (my opinion) Columns: 1 inch either side - give it space Leading (space between lines): 1.2 - give it space Size: 10-12 point - normal reading font size Footer: Your name and 'Page 1 of 3 Pages' (it helps) Delivery: PDF (Word attachment if asked) - it keeps the format
Again - this is my opinion and can be seen on most résumés. Remember, most recruiters and hiring managers are going to initially spend 8-10 seconds scanning your résumé. The more you make your résumé unique, the harder it will be to absorb key info and they'll toss it into the circular file cabinet. Keep it simple, concise, and easy to read/scan.
If you are in a specialized industry, you will (of course) modify what I've listed above.
- Creative - add a bit more color, font use, even a subtle graphic (photo).
- IT/Engineer - add more areas for tools/software etc.
If you have any more questions, call me anytime. - Rich
Frequently, I am asked questions from people within the website Quora — I try my best to answer most — but candidly, there are too many. Here are some of my best answers to great questions concerning people's careers:
What is more difficult in the long run, working for a company or running your own business?
Both are difficult and rewarding in their own ways:
- Company - you have a boss to keep happy, you have set work hours, you get a regular paycheck, you get a paid location to work at, you get benefits, and you also get jerk bosses, the chance to lose your job instantly, cancelled projects, and frequently depressed coworkers.
- Business - you have a clients to keep happy, you have flexible work hours, your paycheck is based on how hard your work and hustle, you get to work at home, you get to pay for your own benefits, and you also get no jerk bosses (but jerk clients), the chance to lose your clients at the drop of a hat, cancelled projects, and you might be frequently depressed.
All kidding aside (but I was telling the truth) - both have their ups and downs, sometimes you feel in control with both, and sometimes you feel out of control with both.
I've done both - 20 years in corporate - 14 years coaching - and both are hard/easy, rewarding/frustrating, but all in all - it's a great ride.
My suggestion? Start a company.
How long does it take to settle in at a new job?
On average - 3-6 months. Not only do you need to meet, develop and hone relationships with key people, you need to learn the whole business - how it works, what are the levers/movers, what are the clients like, etc.
You also need to see how the company reacts to emergencies, slow-time, reactive decisions from management, and industry shifts.
I hate to say 'settle in', because when I'm settled, I'm bored. You need to constantly challenge yourself - do new things, meet new people, etc.
Where on their resumes might long-term unemployed job candidates address their current career gaps?
Are you not getting traction with your current résumé? (a lot of opportunities/recruiters/
If not, don't do anything. If so, and if the gaps are frequent and wide, you might want to fill in those gaps. Some suggestions:
- You didn't sit on the couch all day and watch Jerry Springer. You probably did something - volunteered, side job, etc. Let them know.
- Did you try to start a business? Did you do side work (consulting) that you were paid for? Let them know.
- If you really didn't do anything for a LONG time and your résumé isn't getting traction, you might say you helped out a sick family member at home - most of the time recruiters might ask a small question, but it's happening more and more every day as our population ages. I know this might be a 'white lie' and a fireable offense - but if you are consistently striking out, you have to do something to change the dynamic.
#3 might rankle some readers — but there are a lot of people who are lost right now looking for a replacement job and they've gone YEARS without employment.
What kind of advice would you give to a 40-something starting a new job where she'll be working alongside 20-somethings?
- Listen more than preach. You are not their 'sensei' right now, you just work with them. Also, be patient.
- Ask questions. They might know more than you do. And they probably do.
- Don't talk about your kids, your injuries, your parents, or any other 40+ year-old concern. 20 year-olds don't care.
- Don't try to 'be cool'. Be yourself. Be interested, but be yourself.
- Let them make their own mistakes. If they ask you for advice, then you give it to them. Ultimately, they will look to you as their 'sensei' if you do it right.
- Try to do things that they do. If they invite you out for drinks, go. If they mention a band, listen to them. If they talk about a movie, check it out.
- Compliment them. We tend to forget to do that with our younger counterparts.
- Work out, stay in shape, eat healthy, and keep a close eye on your wardrobe style. You don't want to dress like Lou in MadMen. Also keep an eye on your hairstyle.
- Look at your glasses style. Too many guys and gals wear really old frames they wore in high school. Get with the program and style up.
- Grow an interest in some of the things they might be interested in - music, movies, books, theater, etc. If you show a sincere interest in their passions, they might ask you about yours.
Extra-Credit: Keep up with TECHNOLOGY. I'm 52 and get so angry at people my age who have problems, disregard or disparage simple technology I use easily. YOU LOOK OLD immediately if you have frequent problems with email, the web, your phone (get a smartphone), etc.
Do you know how to radically elevate your career or business? Here's how.
How has Jerry Maguire influenced your business career?
How much can you learn from The Godfather to help your career?
Shhh. It's a secret. Don't tell anyone.
And I realized, we all can do with a little more GRACE in our lives in how we treat other people. Honestly, when was the last time you used the word GRACE in conversation?
As you know, this is a business and career blog — so how do I incorporate GRACE into that?
The definition of GRACE is:
As a noun — simple elegance or refinement of movement or conversation.
As a verb — to do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one's presence.
So here goes:
- When dealing with a direct report, add a bit more grace to the conversation. Show them a bit more refinement in your words. Even if they've done something wrong, try to credit them in some way.
- At a meeting, comport yourself with a little more grace than usual. Listen to what other people say without barging in and giving them your perspective.
- Be grateful you have a business or career and let others know it. Tell your boss or clients how much they mean to you. Honor them.
- When meeting someone for the first time, show them how refined you really are. Don't be pushy, brazen, or assertive — simple elegance will take you far.
- It does matter for any gender: If you're a woman, elegance and refinement come easily to you — use them frequently. People will be impressed and call you a 'sharp' executive. If you're a man, spend a bit more time giving credit or honor to people — they will start calling you a 'true' gentleman.
TAKE ACTION: Over the next week (or two), take a Post-It note and write GRACE on it. Whenever you have an opportunity to interact with another person, add a bit more of YOUR GRACE to the conversation.
You might not only surprise yourself — others will be surprisingly impressed.
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