Posts Tagged ‘careers’

Why Cheating is the Secret to Success

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

CheatingSquareA whole lot of people are making resolutions right now, and not one of those goals is: “I will master the art of cheating.” Yet the truth is, all high achievers are expert at cheating, because cheating is the secret to success.

When you shadow leading entrepreneurs, CEOs of Global 2000 companies, world class athletes, master mechanics, and prolific inventors: you see them cheat constantly. That is, they spare themselves any extra work, when less will do.

They spare themselves the stress of winning popularity contests, unless the prize is big enough. They often ask forgiveness rather than permission, because it’s faster that way.

This doesn’t mean they cheat on their taxes, partners or exams.

Psychologist Albert Ellis calls their systems “elegant.” They are free of unnecessary psychological or physical strain, as it relates to the process of getting things done. Their actions are streamlined, and wherever possible, they have ritualized what works best into a set of procedures or criteria.

They avoid revisiting old drama, feeling stuck, and negativity.

They constantly listen to their own insights, rather than the opinions or judgments thrown their way. They’re not addicted to positive regard and they’re not deterred by unconstructive criticism.

Consistently high achievers look like they are cheating, because they work faster and produce more and better outcomes. That’s because they observe and measure themselves at the same time they take action, which takes incredible stillness of the mind while the body is at work.

Surfers, extreme downhill mountain bikers, and other successful athletes have this mind-body synchronization down pat. That’s why when we watch them perform feats beyond what most of us believe is possible, we often say: “he cheated death.”

In fact, these elite athletes make corrections in flight, because they are so deeply in flow they somehow bend the rules of physics a bit. After staying in control of a bad trip, you might hear them say, “I cheated the landing.” They may pull up short or come down with their equipment and body in a less than picture perfect pose, but they continue to devour the course, get big air or tail whip with as much speed as a body can bear (and then some).

Successful people in business do the same kind of cheating. They avoid perfection, they go even when they don’t know all the right answers and they don’t strike poses.

Do you need help with your resolutions? Do they need to be more adventurous or less conventional? Whether it’s your weight, career or relationship, let me mentor you. Send me your top three resolutions and I’ll give you some guidance. Email: [email protected]. Subject line: Resolutions.

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Job Interview: Are You Willing to Run Errands?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

InterviewErrandsCropped2You’re in a job interview for a higher-level position, and the recruiter asks you whether you’re willing to run errands, cover the phones or stock shelves. The right answer is really simple. Be truthful.

If the idea of performing menial chores outside your job description makes you sick to your stomach and tears at the very fiber of your self-esteem, then say:

Outside of work, I run errands. I answer my phone pretty much whenever it rings. I put away stuff I buy from the grocery store. But the thought of doing that at work makes me sick to my stomach and tears at the very fiber of my self-esteem. What other stupid questions do I need to answer in this job interview?

That isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds right now.

CNBC calls me, “America’s job coach.” On television, I have coached people who can’t land a position or a promotion, but are offended in a job interview when the recruiter asks if they might do something outside of the job description. They protest that these chores are “below” them.

Wow, they must have quite a staff at home!

I believe I got my first promotion in advertising because when my account executive asked me if I would swab his phone with alcohol pads whenever he was out of the office, I responded:

Do you want me to bring the swabs from home or do we have a supply here?

One week later, I was elevated from account coordinator to account executive, and doubled my salary. Was it my swabbing? Or was it that I was willing to swab?

I watched with sympathy as his next coordinator swabbed. But, I knew her future was bright.

The way to handle these work chores is to frame them as human kindness, which turns out to be good for your mental health as well as your career. Kindness is not an overflowing characteristic of most current or potential employees. Thus, communicating that you’ll always be happy to help out gives you a huge competitive edge.

Therefore, if you want a position because it largely includes the type of work you desire, when the recruiter asks the dreaded “run errands” question during the job interview, your answer will be more like:

Of course. I am always happy to pitch in.

Say this with a smile and a quick nod of your head.

And, when you do those errands, here’s a mantra from my mentor: “It’s the role, not my soul.

What’s the toughest job interview question you’ve been asked – or are afraid you’ll have to answer? Let me know, and I’ll coach you through it, for free. Email me:[email protected] Subject line: Tough.

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Why Have You Changed Jobs So Frequently?

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

iStock_000005359781XSmall1This is another awful question brought to you by the same folks who invented: “What is your greatest weakness?” There’s a litany of these tough questions, so be prepared.

You might be surprised that no matter what is on your resume, a recruiter can put you on the spot. Remember, perception is reality. One recruiter might be uneasy with a few six-month stints on your work history, while another looks askance at a few two-year terms.

Don’t get defensive. When the interview gets to why you’ve job hopped, the question is NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about them and the consequences to them if they hire you and you don’t stick. Recruiters and hiring managers have batting averages to protect. They don’t want to on-board you and have you quit, before enough time elapses so they get credit for making a great hire. Their job is like a sports scout who works for a professional athletic team. Scouts and recruiters don’t make money because they can play the game. They make money because they know how to pick talent that can play the game.

Your past history is one of the few inviolable clues to your future performance. However, recruiters know that your work history is like reviewing last year’s earnings from an investment. Past performance is not a perfect indicator of what might happen under different conditions. Listen to the ads for Fidelity, Charles Schwab, or any financial advisory firm, mutual fund or commodity. The disclaimer about risk tells their whole story.

That’s why you’re in the interview: to tell YOUR whole story. So, be prepared with a good account of what was going on at the time, and be honest. Tip: Write out what you’re going to say and practice it beforehand, so it’s coherent.

Sometimes, it’s painful to let a stranger into a private part of your life that influenced your ability to stay at a job. You’ve got to trust that a compassionate person is listening; someone who wants to help you get this job. Frame that relationship in your mind, so you can talk to the recruiter without being overly self-conscious.

For example, Ronan is one of my career coaching clients who had several jobs over five years. Some of them were part-time, a few were full time, and none lasted longer than eight months. On top of that, he had not finished college. However, he had kept up a personal blog and podcast on fashion for over two years, which showed real commitment because his audience probably didn’t amount to more than ten people. On the strength of that demonstrated interest in fashion, he reached out to a fashion magazine with a web content producer job open. We knew in the interview, he’d be called out for job-hopping.

Clearly, a recruiter would see him as a flight risk, maybe not worth the investment of on-boarding and missing out on another candidate who had a better work history. The truth of Ronan’s situation involved his increasingly ill grandmother. As an only child and only grandchild, he shared the care-giving role with his mother. He was traveling home on the weekends to spell his mom and get time with Nana.  The care-giving and traveling were emotionally and physically exhausting.  Six months before the interview, Nana passed away.

What she had in common with Ronan, beyond their deep personal bond, was her history as a fashion designer for a women’s sportswear company, back in the day. Ronan not only loved fashion, now he felt he was carrying on Nana’s legacy. As he and his mom were going through her things, Ronan only wanted her drawings, photos and the ads featuring her apparel. In his blog, he had done a good job of featuring some of them in a retrospective way. He even had some audio of an interview he did with her before she got really ill.

Your story might not be so heart wrenching. Maybe you were working just to store up enough cash to travel, and you left to explore the world every time you could buy a plane ticket. Maybe you were trying to find your purpose, your industry, or your heart’s desire. Maybe you weren’t sure where you wanted to live. The point is: tell the story that’s behind why you kept moving. Share the reason that you are no longer peripatetic.

Ronan just landed the job of his dreams. He’s being paid three times what he made last year, plus he got a relocation bonus, laptop, and expense account. What success story will you be able to tell, despite your past history?

For a worksheet on how to tell your job-hopping story, email me at [email protected]. Subject line: job hop.

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Employment Odds Favor Social Media Addicts

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Job Market is Sweet if You Can Tweet

(As of today, a bounty of tweets have appeared on my latest article, carried by numerous online and conventional media. Lots came from, linked here, in case you’d like to see it there. Forgive the third person reference to myself in this blog post – it’s taken directly from an article.)

It pays to be a regular user of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Employers are searching for people who are “addicted” to these sites, because social media is the cheapest and most effective way for brands to build their reputations. Your odds of getting a job simply because you can use Twitter are fantastic: 69% of Americans don’t even know what Twitter is, according to a new LinkedIn/Harris poll. That cuts down the number of people you’re competing with.

Just this morning on a popular job board, a search for “twitter” popped up over 7,500 social media openings, with annual salaries ranging from $30,000 to $110,000. “Career coaches have always counseled job-hunters to improve their communication skills, but now we’re training people to how to tell a story in 140 characters or less,” reports Nance Rosen, a social media expert who coaches companies and employees on business communication.

Rosen is adamant that even if spending your day making friends and gaining followers is not your idea of a dream job, social media prowess may still be the critical factor in your winning or losing a job. Employers want every employee to do more than the job they’re assigned.

“Accounting, technology and administrative people are human assets, that must be multi-functional in order to be attractive right now. Like a photocopier that also faxes and scans, an employee who can talk up the company favorably on blogs or forums is more desirable than one who can’t,” Rosen says.

By using keywords to search any social media site, it’s easy for employers to see who’s talking about the topics that matter to them. As Rosen says, successful job hunters don’t fritter away the opportunity to make a good impression. They use Twitter to get ahead.

Tips for job hunters on Twitter

1. Identify the companies you’d like to work for, and tweet news about them.
2. Quote the companies’ CEOs or respond to their tweets, using the @ sign along with the CEOs’ Twitter.
3. Re-tweet news about the company or industry.

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