7 Ways to Innovate and Prove You’re Worthy

February 25th, 2015

job search, nance rosen, soft skillsThe terrible truth of work is that almost anyone can do anything. I don’t want to make you paranoid, but open up the UCLA Extension course catalog, a MOOC or watch a few “how-to” YouTube videos, and you get my drift. Education and skills are the easiest things to acquire.

Leaving out advanced neurosurgery, the super-tasking executive producer of major live sports events on television, and maybe engineering stem cell regeneration of body parts: it doesn’t take long to come up to speed on most job requirements. That’s why this quote from Carnegie Institute of Technology rings so true:

85% of your financial success is due to your personal traits and ability to communicate, negotiate and lead. Shockingly, only 15% is due to technical ability.

When you consider how you are spending your time in preparation for a career or the advancement of your career, do your priorities make sense?

It may occur to you that you know less about your excellent personal traits than you know how to use Excel. You probably have spent more time setting margins of documents and unjamming your printer than you have working on the type of traits that actually matter to success.

You never regret a day of education; it’s simply the type of education that I am cautioning you about. Communication, negotiation and leadership flow from personal intelligence, which is the ability to self-regulate. That is, manage yourself and manage your interactions with others.

Part of self-management is gaining or polishing the one-of-a-kind traits you possess, so you can express them to the people around you. Of course, that is largely what personal branding is, although there’s a bit more to it.

Visibility and promotions largely come from being more of yourself, or as I said to Claire my teaching assistant: get bigger. You be you, just be more of the best of yourself. Become formidable, a force, and a monument to what your most valuable traits are. She is an elegant and intelligent person with a sharp wit, on her way to becoming a commander-in-charge.

That is the extraordinary magnitude of expression that you must exert for us to see you and respect you; then feel compelled to ask you to ascend over others in an area of your expertise, function, or team. That outsized version of yourself is what puts our trust into you. That’s how you create a positive reputation, really an uproar about how valuable you are to our organization.

If you know nothing else about yourself, consider that anyone can be a force of innovative ideas. Innovation is a process, more than it is an ability or knack. It takes external stimuli, which isn’t hard to get given the world at your fingertips via the web. Harvard Business Review recently added its seven ways to innovate, and any one of them will set you apart from your co-workers or other job candidates.

  1. Look for differences. Before you interview or attend a meeting, contrast what a competitor’s product does that is remarkably different from the company’s offering.
  2. Trend spot. Look at Instagram or Pinterest and see what colors, images, words, attitudes and photos are beginning to dominate the consciousness of the people who matter.
  3. Assess angry words. Read the hashtags, comments, and blogs for what is going wrong. In every problem of reasonable size, there are great opportunities.
  4. Question everything. Most businesses are way past the NIH (not-invented-here) mentality, and are actively seeking ways to modify the way people work, the way products are developed or distributed and the way messages are crafted.
  5. Look at the deviants. There are always “outliers,” as Malcolm Gladwell calls the fringe elements. What workarounds, avoidance behavior or personalized adjustments are people making?
  6. Go away. Take a field trip or informational interview to a place that does nothing like anything you are familiar with. The natural history museum, planetarium, or Bloomingdales can refresh your brain and ignite your creativity.
  7. See what’s working in other industries. Are hardware companies selling spare parts with new machines, so there can be on-the-spot repairs? Is deflating a football by the weight of a paperclip the key to winning the big game? How can you apply that in your field?

If you have not a thing to offer that is so much more magnificent than other candidates or competitors: these are seven ways to use your brain in a novel way. Think new. Think innovation. Think for yourself.

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24 Life Questions To Answer Before It’s Too Late

February 18th, 2015

 job search, nance rosen, successAs a career coach and business communications expert, I often surprise people by knowing something about them that they have never told me – and maybe never told anyone else. I am not psychic. I am empathetic.

When I ask you a question, and your brain re-routes it to give me an unrelated answer: I know you’ve got a lot on your mind, and lots of it is sad, frustrated and filled with regrets. Sometimes your answers – and even your questions – are touched by bitterness, jealousy and fear.

I know this, and so do most people around you. The difference between them and me is simple. My job is to help you find your authentic self, and then help you represent yourself. By that I mean, structuring a way for you to show us the real you, the person we want to hire, fund or choose as our business consultant or favorite company to patronize.

I help you find your inner wisdom, self-acceptance, and clear-eyed optimism.

My job is to tell you how you are coming across. Then, help you make the genuine transition to the person who stops losing, who stops failing, and who is never again less than your potential or desire. In other words, I help you get what you want, what you really, really want.

Nothing I do is magic. I don’t do hypnosis. I have a process that helps you unsheathe your truth, your power and your future. That means, I have to listen for the pain, and sometimes the confusion that has created a fractured self-image, rotting career, failing business or stunted ambition.

What’s going wrong today for you at work or even in your life, flows from what I call your “ocean of negativity.” That’s the toxic soup of criticism, lack of validation and neglect that’s been brewing since childhood.

My work is showing you how to be what I call “self-positive.” How to find your valuable, shiny self that’s been tarnished, simply by being overlooked. And match your really wonderful qualities with authentic opportunities for your business or career.

I’m putting together a distance-learning course, so you’ll have more access to this process as soon as I can get it completed. If you want to know when the course is ready, just email me at Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Authentic.

In the meantime, here are some questions to get you started cleaning up that ocean of negativity. If you send me your answers to a few questions – the ones that mean the most to you: I’ll be sure to keep them in confidence, and get back to you with a personal message.

  1. Your most fearful moment?
  2. What people first meet you, what are you afraid they will think?
  3. A period of time in your life when you felt unprotected?
  4. A person who made you miserable for a long time?
  5. Something on your mind you are afraid to share?
  6. A plan or projects you worry may fail?
  7. The greatest amount of emotional pain you have ever endured?
  8. Your greatest fear?
  9. The most important thing in life?
  10. A piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child?
  11. Three words that describe how others view you?
  12. If you could change anything about the world?
  13. A smell that makes you pause?
  14. List of professions you’d like to try?
  15. How you plan to spend the last years of your life?
  16. Your current philosophy is?
  17. You would shout with joy right now if someone told you this?
  18. A list of your proudest accomplishments?
  19. A newspaper headline you would like to read about yourself?
  20. Your biggest acts of kindness?
  21. The best piece of advice a friend gave you?
  22. Your proudest moment? Someone who shared this moment with you?
  23. You are far better than most people you know at doing what?
  24. Three things for which you are often complimented?

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Did You Win a Grammy? Why Not?

February 13th, 2015

success, career, nance rosenCongratulations to everyone who won. And, congratulations to Kanye West who, persists in believing he is: “The One Who Decides What Is Sufficiently Creative to Win for Album of the Year.”

Per the Huffington Post: “Kanye West nearly interrupted Beck after the rock star won Album of the Year over Beyonce. Many outlets including HuffPost Entertainment, assumed West’s improve was a joking reference to when he cut off Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs.”

It wasn’t an act of mirth. Kanye ranted on in all seriousness about his decision-making powers being superior to the voters (who are the majority of all the recording artists in the academy). If you didn’t know, “The GRAMMYs are the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position,” per the Grammy.org.

All Kanye hijinks aside, why didn’t YOU win?

Well, it could be many things.

  1. Maybe you didn’t record anything this year.
  2. Maybe you did, but you didn’t promote it.
  3. Maybe you did, but it was not your best effort.
  4. Maybe you did, but no one else thought it was good.

I’m not talking to just you musicians.

Joan Rivers, God rest her soul, won. She earned her Grammy for “Best Spoken Word Album (includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling.)”

So why didn’t you win? Undoubtedly you did some speaking this year. You told some stories. Maybe you wrote a line or two of prose. Technology couldn’t make it any easier to record and upload to everywhere music or any other sound is heard.

So you didn’t win because you didn’t do the work, and you didn’t enter.

What is a Grammy anyway?

It’s just recognition. So, I’m talking to you about a Grammy as a metaphor for what you should be going for, at this point in your career or business. Recognition for you might be a promotion, a salary increase, an investment in your venture, or a new position at a new company. It might be a comment on your blog or post. It might be more followers, friends or fans.

However you measure your “Grammy,” you’ve got to be in it, to win it.

You probably don’t have an official awards night or two or ten each year, in your company, industry, sport, family or any other sector of your life.

But, you’re missing out if you don’t have an awards ceremony every day, for you, by you and with you. Every day, you’ve got to set aside some time, when you are the focus of your consciousness and congratulation. Put a time on your daily calendar, when you review your accomplishments, your progress, your earnest hard work, or stretch toward a goal.

So get yourself a little Kanye going, and be “The One Who Decides You Are The Best Decision-Maker of What is Great. Do it everyday. And let winning becoming a habit.

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What Would Tom Brady Say About You?

February 4th, 2015

Brand Attributes, nance rosen, successLast Sunday, my favorite comment by any of the many sportscasters was this: “Brady was unstoppable when the pressure was strongest.”

What if we said that about you?

Are you unstoppable when the pressure is the strongest?

The strongest stress is when it all comes down to one action you must take in one moment, under whatever conditions are present, in front of whatever crowd has gathered (or not). Brady threw the touchdowns. Butler made the game-stopping interception, with 20 seconds to go. The players on both sides played against the odds, because they were all great players.

Sometimes the battle is just you and a deadline. Sometimes it’s you and a blank piece of paper. Sometimes it’s you and people waiting for you to say something profound that will advance their business or solve their problem. Sometimes it’s having the presence of mind to do the deal that can be done, rather than the deal you imagined you would have.

Sometimes you are out of money, out of time and out of patience. Your adversary or obstacle appears strong and unmovable. Sometimes the only options you have are the ones you can conjure up on your own. Sometimes the only option is to simply bear the anxiety, and trust your teammates.

Any of those moments could be the moment when the pressure is the strongest.

I like that kind of stress. Tom Brady does, too. Do you?

I call that good stress, versus bad stress.

The only difference between good and bad stress is what the stress means for you. Or perhaps better said, what does the stress do FOR you, rather than TO you?

“Every team has a journey and a lot of people lost faith in us … but we held strong, we held together, and it’s a great feeling.” Tom Brady said.

“I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play and it came true,” Malcolm Butler said of his goal-line interception that gave the Patriots its Super Bowl XLIX title. “Butler was kicked out of school early in his freshman season. He spent 2010 out of football, working at a Popeye’s and taking classes at Alcorn State,” per AL.com.

If your life has been more like Butler’s than MVP Brady – you have Brady’s respect and gratitude. What you may not know is pretty much all of us are rooting for you, to do what you do best under the stress you find yourself in.

Do what you do, the way you do, under whatever conditions you’re in. Save the day. Win the game. Get that report in on time. Sign the deal. And when you do, imagine the crowd roars for you!

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You, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, and Seth Rogen?

January 28th, 2015

 

interviewing, nance rosen, Personal Branding“We made up all our lines,” Seth Rogen remembered of Apatow’s 2005 flick, “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.” A lot of the stuff was just us talking to each other and trying to make each other laugh, knowing that we had the freedom to say whatever we wanted. It looks very natural, because we honestly didn’t know what we were saying until we were saying it,” per MTV.com.

I particularly admire Drew Carey for getting just the right mix of players together for his Improvaganza shows, because it’s not just professional comedians provoking each other.

The kind of improv I really like – in part because it’s so scary – is when the audience is asked to shout out topics and without any script or rehearsal, the players begin to act out the scene. You hear people yell out: “Men in top hats and tutus choosing apples in the grocery produce section.” “Family under attack by giant cans of Diet Coke while they eat Thanksgiving dinner.”

Of course, improvisation is more than just getting laughs or evoking strong feelings in an audience. You need to generate a coherent, compelling story line.

You’d think only really experienced actors or those naturally gifted to think on their feet, believe they possess the magical talent called for in improv. But, well, no. You probably attempt it much more frequently than the best improvisational actors do.

Really, I bet you Steve Carrell, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen and of course, the late and great Robin Williams have a lot in common. You all do improv. You just do it much more often than the pros.

You do improv when there’s nothing funny on the line. You do improv when it concerns your career or business.

Did you know that’s what you do? Have you considered there’s one commonality among nearly every question you get asked in a job interview, in the workplace, at a networking event, by coworkers in so-called casual conversation, or by potential referral sources and investors?

Questions in a job interview or in business transactions, negotiations and conversation are all predictable.

The really interesting questions, that the biggest and most important bosses ask, are published each week in the New York Times. Just read its “Corner Office” column. There’s a treasure trove on nytimes.com. But really, the questions you can expect to get on the average day or the average interview? You just haven’t yet considered them to be the worthwhile opportunities they really are.

How are you? What did you do this weekend? Why did you choose this career? What would you consider to be the perfect job opportunity? How did you decide to leave your current job or occupation, and take a risk in a new industry? What are you looking for exactly?

All these predictable questions have crisp, clear, compelling and memorable answers. Those answers all transmit your personal brand. They say everything about your values, your traits, your qualities, your aspirations, your interests, and your level of preparation for the life you want.

Yes, even really simple answers to questions like, “How are you?” present an opportunity for you to communicate who you are, often to the most important people. Those are the real opportunities for elevator pitches you get – when you meet eyes with a stranger or your CEO, and get some air-time.

Here’s what shocks me. Until I meet and coach or teach them,  95% of my career coaching clients and 98% of the students I teach: do not have answers for even the most basic questions. There are one hundred once-in-a-lifetime encounters you have in any given time period – a massive association meeting, a month of job-seeking, a year of meeting people in the city you’ve just moved to, or a couple of years at work. And, you very likely have no really good answers – no clear, crisp, compelling and memorable answers to these potentially life-changing questions.

That’s why I train my personal branders on trigger talk. Have all your answers prepared and memorized, so they come out like you really are the brilliant, hard-working, inventive, attractive, interesting person you are. Not like you’ve been caught streaking across campus when the police show up. That’s typically the look in your eyes, when we ask you these questions.

Do this: Make a stack of frequently asked questions of you. You could make the list by writing down every question you get over a month – or you can just reflect on conversations you have. Then, get down your answers on paper. Yes, use a pen and paper – so you inscribe the right refrains in your brain. Handwriting or printing works much better to rewire your brain, than typing or thumbing on a device.

If you do way more improv than you think you should or your career is evidence that you are: send me an email. In just a few weeks: I will send you my new ebook on how to avoid improv and the nine other career killing mistakes you are making. Email: Nance@NanceRosen.com. Subject line: Killer ebook.

 

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The #1 Relationship Problem That Stalls Your Career

January 21st, 2015

 

nance rosen, Productivity Skills, relationships, successAll of us have experienced “relationship” problems. You might have a problem with your girlfriend or boyfriend, life partner, parent, sibling, business partner, best friend, roommate, boss, coworker or even a neighbor. Really, given the number of people in your life, especially when you add your FB fame or any other cyber group you’re in: it’s amazing you have any ability to focus on anything in your career or business.

Focus is the greatest predictor of progress. Relationship problems get in the way of your ability to focus.

The worst relationship problem you have is with yourself.

It seems odd to think of yourself being in a relationship with yourself. But, you are. You reject yourself. Criticize yourself. Feel guilty about abusing your body. Feel out-of-control about your impulsive behavior. And, occasionally you feel good about yourself, even great – often because you’ve kept a resolution or promise you made to yourself.

Did you make resolutions this year? Like:

1. I will go to bed before midnight because experts say it’s good for my liver. FYI, depression experts say that staying up all night is an immediate and wildly effective intervention if you are suffering. Keep in mind, all-nighters are not part of a long term strategy because sleep deprivation is used for torture, as we found out in the last peek into CIA documents. But being depressed might be more important than your liver on any given day. And one night does not approach the torture threshold.

2. I will drop or add 10 pounds so I can look a lot more like Bradley Cooper, or like Bradley Cooper’s girlfriend. BGF: Thank you for posting those selfie bikini photos because apparently Bradley is incapable of giving you enough attention, so why not get more from random strangers? It’s clear your being photographed by the paparazzi when you’re with Bradley really isn’t as fulfilling as being photographed by yourself, by yourself.

3. I will stop smoking, biting my nails, yelling at my kids, drinking Diet Coke, texting while driving, using my finger nails as tools to scrape stuff off my desk, eating gluten, being a glutton or doing anything that in any way reduces my anxiety in ways that work in the moment, but make me feel bad later in the day, week, year or any period of time that I feel anxious. That time period would be called my life.

In other words: you make promises to yourself and break them all the time. Then you feel remorse, guilt, misery, and out-of-control.

Given that you probably don’t give yourself a time-out and sit in the corner, you probably push the self-recrimination under the proverbial rug and keep living your life. In other words: you don’t actually figure out the root of the problem or goal. You declare tomorrow is the day when you will really make progress on this goal.

That promise is a trance you put yourself in. It’s what I call a “stalling trance.” You delay your progress by a) making the promise and breaking it, and then b) making the promise again.

Because you don’t figure out what’s wrong with the promise or how to set up your environment so you will succeed: you are actually giving yourself the “silent treatment.”

Now, most people in relationships with others use the “silent treatment” to punish the offender. If you tell your romantic partner to bring home some milk, be nice to your parents, stop telling jokes in public or never again sing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head at karaoke: and that demand is denied: what is the number one most common response?

The silent treatment. You simply stop talking to the offender, maybe for a day. More if it’s not the first offense, or whatever you decide as prosecutor, judge, jury and probation officer.

In psychology the silent treatment is called: the Demand/Withdraw dance. Actually, they don’t call it a dance, I do. It’s an awkward dance because you’re with this person, often sharing the same space, and you have to weirdly move around them, not talking. You withdraw from engaging in the relationship, by withholding communication. At least about the gross violation of your direct order.

You do the same thing with yourself. You demand certain behaviors of yourself that are not natural – at least not at first. You demanded that you stop over-eating. Or my favorite: stop procrastinating.

When you fail to follow your demands, a bunch of feelings roll in like a thick pea soup fog. No words. Just a sickening stomach churning, cheek burning embarrassment that you failed yourself. Again.

Disappointment and a sense of powerlessness over not just this failure, but all your past failures leave you speechless at how little self-control you have. Hence, the silent treatment. After all, what could you say?

How about speaking up with the best new resolutions you could have. “I will stop ordering myself around. I will catch myself doing things right. I will make a huge deal about anything that could be considered even the tiniest triumph.”

Or more simply: “I will like myself today.”

Repeat each day until it sticks.

That’s progress.

 

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About Our Fight To Be Free of Fear

January 14th, 2015

shutterstock_241659253-300x199Be relentless. Be resilient. Be able to repair.

Be ready to play hurt. Play tired. Play even with despair.

Everything can change in one moment.

Every thing passes. Every thing that is good and every thing that is bad does not last.

What have we learned from the latest terror campaign acted out on Paris and Nigeria? What have we learned from Boko Haram and other followers of religious or political texts that preach the elimination of anyone who does not follow those “teachings?” What have we learned from Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Russia, the US and every other territory on the planet?

What have we learned that is so valuable that it should inform the way you live and work, and the way you express your personal brand?

We have learned not to be afraid. Being afraid makes you a resident of a permanent state of instability and some would say its neighbor: insanity. Afraid is not a place where you can reside if you believe that your freedom to make decisions for yourself is the best way to live. If you are among my tribe of intentional personal branders, you believe that freedom opens all doors and all possibilities. Of course that includes the best and the worst of times.

Although you may be in a heightened state of grief right now, in fact no place is absolutely safe nor has it been at any time. We have learned there is no safety if you shelter in place. If you try to remain quiet with the door shut.

We have learned if you are armed with a pencil, with the talent of a cartoonist and the intellectual capacity of a pundit, you are not safe. That if you shop in a market, you are not safe. We have even learned that a young girl may come into a town square, probably unknowingly carrying a bomb that kills and injures as many people as possible.

The actions of states or individuals can result in such tragedy. You cannot actually hold all the possibilities in your brain and stay calm. That does not mean you should look away from the truth, or act in spite of, or in any way fail to acknowledge it.

You should just take in what you can, when you can. Then do your best to live the best life you can. Remember to kiss the ones you love good-bye or tell them that you love them before you get off the phone or text. Support strangers in times of grief and in times of celebration, and do not be surprised that those occur quite close to each other.

We are mourning and celebrating. We are in despair and yet our faith in humanity has deepened.

Je vous suis. Nous sommes une.

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A Hot Tip To Advance Quickly in Your Career

January 7th, 2015

shutterstock_192030872-300x200What is it so hard to believe you should be the best you can be, and work for someone else? Why do so few people genuinely want to be employees? Why is it impossible to believe you can be a person with great self-worth who also respects the opportunity to work?

Apparently, most Millennials believe that going to the office looks like The Office, the television show that makes working for someone else look ridiculous. I thought The Office was a really good comedy, with high quality writing and amazing actors. The show used an office setting much like I Love Lucy used marriage. The relationship problems made us laugh, primarily because marriage seemed like a bunch of pranks that husbands and wives played on each other.

In New York magazine, Richard Greenwald, a labor scholar at Brooklyn College, “says he’ s struck by how many of his students chafe at the notion of traditional office jobs.”

How could that be? How could a generation of educated people come to think that working for an organization is ridiculous? How could earning a living cause “chafing?”

As an educator, I wonder what curriculum we are teaching that would make working for Unilever, Zara, Nestle, Coke, Apple, Google, and so on, look ridiculous. Have we somehow run down the reputation of organizations? Have we diminished the idea that you are lucky when you are chosen for an opportunity in a business that someone else has built?

I am most concerned that abject disrespect that has become a meme. I’m also concerned that watching a comedy show would actually convince anyone that it’s depicting real life.

My daughter has a cat. We never mistake him for Grumpy Cat on YouTube. We don’t think that Esther the Wonder Pig is the average pig.

Where is the genesis of the respect problem? As an employer and a career coach, I see exactly what Greenwald is purporting. There are a lot of people who treat working like it’s a joke. Bosses have to prod, push, demand, become vexed and bent out of shape in order for work to get done. They have to have a cruise ship mentality – making sure there are plenty of snacks, fun activities and a morale officer, formerly known as a human resources director. In between all that, some small amount of work needs to be accomplished.

I’m sorry to seem like the Grinch right now. I know you are just kicking off your year. You hopefully have grand plans for your personal brand as well as your career. I want you to have all that – and more.

So here’s a hot tip. If you want to be a real stand out, it’s pretty easy. Bring your respect for the organization, proof that you take work seriously, and have your high jinx on your own time.

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of employers everywhere.

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