How to Love Your Job and Your Salary

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Negotiating your compensation package does not have to be an arm wrestling match, but it does require you to think strategically and fully understand how to communicate your value. While you may be great at what you do, if you cannot find a way to communicate that to a future employer they will not be able to determine your value.

One of my favorite quotes:

We work not only to produce; but, to give value to time. -Eugene Delacroix

To be truly satisfied with a new position you have to get what you need coming into the job. Compensation isn’t just about money;it’s about the trade-off – how much you can get for what you are giving.

I have had many clients, colleagues and friends tell me stories about how they don’t get paid enough money in comparison to all the work they do. My response is simple: “Well, that is what you agreed to!” Or as my kids always say, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset”.

If you are stuck in a situation where you don’t see growth potential in terms of compensation, it’s time to make a life choice. Either you are willing to tough it out because you love the work or you need to find a company that will pay you what you’ve considered to be sufficient enough to support your lifestyle. Compensation is a personal choice. It’s the bare minimum terms and conditions you are willing to accept before you take on a new position.

So what should you consider when negotiating a compensation package?

I cannot tell you what is best for you; only you can decide that. Things that may be a priority in your life may not be a priority for someone else. However, here are many things to consider while negotiating your compensation package.

Remember, compensation is not just about money and I believe most everything is negotiable (maybe that’s because I try to negotiate everything), especially when starting a new job so here are my picks:

Minimum desired salary (of course!).What you absolutely must have to meet your financial obligations, retirement, and leisurely spending. This should consider the work you are expected to do and your anticipated duties (you know, the stuff they will add on without paying you for it!).

Retirement benefits. Find out what the retirement package looks like and how much your employer contributions are. Ask about when you will be eligible to participate in the plan. These areas can often be negotiated and can also supplement your desired salary.

Health benefits.Your health is essential to your happiness at work. Find out details and terms of the health provider and when your benefits will start after your hire date. Again, this can be negotiated.

Vacation time/Sick leave. You need to know how much time will you receive and when can you begin to accrue or use it. To negotiate, try asking if they can bump you up a week or two in paid vacation time if you can’t get your desired monetary salary. You may be a person who likes to travel a lot, so think about adding that into your package.

Social responsibility. Does the company give back to any charitable organizations? Are they involved in the local community? Does this matter to you? If yes, add it in! Consider the image of the company you will work for. If their reputation is negative, that’s leverage to consider when negotiating. Their brand affects your brand and vice versa.

Flexibility. Is the company respectful of your family time requirements? Do they respect family commitments outside of work? Basically, can you leave work at 5pm (or whatever time works for you) to go pick up your kids, rush to class, etc., without feeling like you are going to be fired? Do they care more about the hours you work or about the work being done and the quality of work delivered? Can you work from home or are you required to finish your work only during working hours at the office? This flexibility could be just what you need to secure happiness in your new workplace.

Expense/Reimbursement requirements.Ask about the corporate expense policy and reimbursement for business related travel expenses. Find out the reimbursement schedule and requirements.

You may want a corner office or dry cleaning services instead of a big retirement package or vacation time. The key is to find what is important to you and consider that when negotiating your compensation package.

What should you do during your interview to help with the offer?

Be confident.There’s no reason to ever feel like the company you are interviewing with is doing you any favors. It’s a two-way street! They need you just as much as you need them; otherwise, they wouldn’t be advertising the position and you wouldn’t be interviewing for it.

Keep your confidence level up when interviewing. Reiterate to the interviewer how valuable you are and continue to describe the quality work you are capable of delivering. The goal is to make it clear that you are worth the investment. Discuss big projects you’ve closed which caused significant profits for your previous employer(s). You want the employer to look at you and say “I’ve got to have this person work for me!

Ask about growth opportunities.Find out what, if any potential career development programs are in place. Asking this tells the employer you’re not a fly by night kind of worker. You want to continue to build a career with them. This matters in terms of return on investment (ROI).

The most important part of negotiating salary is being reasonable.

You can’t expect an employer to pay you what you want after you are hired. It’s a done deal! Once you sign that dotted line, negotiating time is over. What you get is pretty much what you will get paid unless you happen to get a raise/promotion after your first year. And even IF that raise/promotion is significant, you may be simply catching up to what you actually needed when you started rather than reaping the benefits of the increase.

Bottom line. Don’t expect an employer to pay you an outrageous sum of money if you have never made anywhere near that amount in your previous work history. Remember, your employer knows the industry and knows what the going rate is, even though they may consider your experience and work history as well. It’s important to remain respectful, confident, yet stern in your negotiations.

At the end of the day, if you are not happy with your compensation then you are not helping the employer and you are certainly not helping yourself.

Final thought: If you don’t know how to communicate your value it cannot be measured in compensation.

*This post is also featured on LinkedIn Pulse. You can find it here

Going to Work? Please Wipe Your Feet at the Door!

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Too many times we bring our life-baggage to work. Our frustrations tend to infuse their way into our daily work-load slowly draining our positive energy, engagement and productivity. We are human and I truly believe we should make no apology for it; but we can however, choose to create an atmosphere of positivity and energetic behavior to get the most out of our workday. Here’s how:

Take back control!

Before you go into work take at least one-minute to decompress before you walk through that door. Even if you are running late, stop and take a moment for youbecause that small moment can either make or break your entire day. It’s worth it and you’re worth it. Think of it as your gift to you. It’s your moment of peace, your chance to collect your thoughts and move towards the future. You deserve it! You need it and you should own it.

Imagine rushing all morning, frustrated because nothing is going your way and then rushing into work just to hear someone sarcastically say “Glad you could join us.” or overhearing colleagues make a snide comment about your tardiness. Taking that minute not only prepares you to face the day; it allows you to take back control over the day and all events forthcoming. In that minute you will have made a choice – a choice to either prepare for the challenges ahead or allow them to consume your thoughts, mold your behavior and control your emotions in a negative way.

Start fresh.

Each day is a new opportunity to become a greater you. Think of every day as a new beginning and an opportunity to leave yesterday’s mistakes behind. Don’t allow the negative events from yesterday or even moments before work to consume your thoughts, preventing you from moving forward. Studies show people having positive mind-sets at work make them more creative, productive and engaged. Here’s your chance to have a “do-over” so take it!

Fix it.

This is the hardest step for many of my clients. Let’s face it, when you’ve experienced conflict in your personal or professional life, making the choice to turn things around for the better is not your first instinct. But solving a problem at work will help you to lessen those stressors. Try going into work with an attitude of change. Be the solution, not the problem. It’s easy to point the finger and deflect attention away from you when you are having conflict either in your personal life or within the workplace. Instead turn that natural reaction off and turn the problem-solver attitude on. When you play a role in making something better, you feel better and those around you will pick up on your positive attitude, creating a healthy work environment.

So the next time you face your workplace entry, take a moment to yourself. Leave your baggage behind and enter prepared, renewed and more powerful than before.

You can either run the day or let the day run you!

**This post was originally shared on LinkedIn. See it here

7 Reasons Why People Will Always Choose Apple

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Normally I don’t write on Technology, but today as Apple did it’s product launch, once again the nation became fascinated about what Apple had to offer. Here are my thoughts, also featured in LinkedIn Pulse Technology Channel Find it here and on Inc42.com Click here

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1. People trust Apple. When people trust your brand, they will continue to support it. Apple has extremely loyal customers. Even when people venture off to try other things, they eventually come right back to Apple, their first love. Sure, you may try an Andriod or Samsung device for a while as place fillers due to Apple’s immediate limitations but once Apple delivers, you’ll go back.
 
2. They show true leadership. What we experience when we buy an Apple product is the result of committed employees who believe in the Apple brand; employees who have pledged to achieve Apple’s mission. Apple users have had the benefit of experiencing a product created by committed employees who have worked hard to make the Apple product better. They have invested their time in trust to deliver a work of art; one we refer to as the iPhone. Apple has a following like no other. Even when others jump in the game to compete, Apple tends to consistently take the lead. I attribute this largely to its support system inclusive of its employees and customers.
 
3. It just keeps getting better. Every new product they offer creates a stir that no other electronic brand has been able to compete with. They not only meet the demand, they exceed expectations. Launching features such as the “Apple Pay” where you can make payments by holding your thumb down on your phone. They launched a new product – the Apple Watch – which is freakin’ beautiful by the way, (I must have the red one with the gold face). Even though you have to have the iPhone to use the Apple Watch, a sacrifice I am absolutely willing to make, it was never a real consideration for me, but now it is because Apple did it and I know it will be great. You see, Apple doesn’t just think about what people need now. They think about what people will need later and other industries help Apple to meet that need.
 
4. It’s pricing. Apple pricing is all about aspiration. Higher priced items are not attainable for everyone and that is what makes people desire Apple. Having an Apple brand product is a luxury. A luxury not many people can afford, but one that many people will sacrifice to get a piece of. There is incomparable value in an Apple product and people will always pay for what they consider to be of great value.
 
5. The Apple Experience. When using an Apple product, you experience a variety of things at your fingertips that you didn’t even think you needed but Apple thought of it first! They appeal to your subconscious, things in the back of your mind labeled under the maybe section now move to the forefront as must haves. If you want to be a part of the elite status of iPhone users, you have the option to get different styles, sizes and higher luxury add-ons with the product. Apple is magnificent in meeting the need you didn’t even know you had.
 
6. It’s simple. Anyone and everyone can understand how to use an Apple iPhone. The models are not so confusing that representatives have a hard time explaining the features to customers. The simplicity of the Apple phone is phenomenal.
 
7. Their product launch is KILLER! The transformative business moments they include in their performance. People rush to find out “what’s apple doing now” they want to be a part of something great. People just can’t take the suspense; they become consumed with “having to know”. The buzz alone makes you want to experience why everyone is so impressed. It’s genius!
Now granted, Apple is not perfect, but they are very close to meeting the majority of customer demands. They need to convince consumers they have improved their security, especially with new features such as the Apple Pay. But I have no doubt they will meet that demand too.
 
Apple may not always be first in line, but when they get there every one notices. Apple doesn’t just do it, they do it right. Resilience has always been in the bones of Apple and that’s why people want Apple to win.
 
At the end of the day everyone wants a piece of Apple pie.
 
What do you think about the new Apple launch? Write a comment to share your thoughts.

5 Things Your Future Employer Won’t Tell You During An Interview

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I bet you can remember nailing your interview. After you left, you felt great. Birds were singing, violins were playing and you…..smiling. Soon after, you received that phone call: “you’re hired!” I bet you were jumping around with joy, calling all your friends and family running around screaming Yes! Yes! Yes! (well, maybe that part is just me). Anyway, you remember the excitement you felt when you started; you were ready to conquer the world. You get to work on your first day and…..….SURPRISE! You see what you’ll actually be doing. You look around, hoping its April Fool’s Day, but soon realize it’s not. Then it hits you – the job is not all what you thought it would be.

It’s inevitable, there are things your future employer will not tell you voluntarily during an interview and unless you ask, you won’t find out until you start. By then, it could be too late.

Over the years my clients have given me numerous reasons why they’ve felt frustrated in their current roles and I’ve consistently discovered the common denominator is a breakdown in communication between the employer and the employee; the giving and receiving of job expectations and career goals, many of which can be traced back to the interview. I’ve put together my top fiveinterview secrets” and tips on combatting these issues before you accept an offer.

Employers won’t tell you:

  1. How they will measure success for this position. First they want to see if you have the personality, skill or knowledge it takes to do the job and then they’ll make a decision. The problem with this is their expectations may be unrealistic, but you will never know unless you ask.
  2. That you’ll eventually end up doing more than your job description. Look, we know this always happens, but they don’t want you to run for the hills so it’s conveniently left out of the interview.
  3. Why the last employee left. This is a crucial area of concern. Knowing why the last employee left tells you more about the position you may be stepping into. Maybe the last employee felt overwhelmed. There could have been a conflict with management. Maybe they retired (which could suggest the position is a long-term role). Maybe they were fired for underperforming. The list goes on, but unless you ask they won’t tell you.
  4. Company weaknesses. No one wants to talk about the bad when they are trying to get good workers to come on board. Would you?
  5. The long-term goal for your position. They may not have even thought about it. They could be simply trying to fill the position because work is piling up and their employees are getting tired of carrying the load.

To some extent, it’s understandable why an employer wouldn’t share everything with you during the interview. I doubt you would share everything either. Some things you will only find out along the way and maybe that’s better. Maybe, if you had known all these things you wouldn’t have had the opportunities you’ve had to make a difference.

So what can you do on your next interview to make sure you get the information you need to make an informed decision? Ask the hiring manager these questions to find out if the workplace is a good fit for you:

  • How will you measure success for this position? This gets them talking. You want to engage the hiring manager in a conversation, not a boring ask and answered interview they probably won’t remember.
  • How would you describe communication strategies used between leadership and staff? This will tell you if they are open to hearing from their employees and if the environment is welcoming to new ideas and change.
  • What are the long-term goals for this position? Asking this will tell you if they are just looking to get a warm body in the seat or if they want you to build a career with them.
  • What would you say is most challenging within this department or company? This probing question lets the interviewer know you are serious about your career and are a problem solver.
  • Are there growth opportunities for this position? Asking this infers you desire a long-term tenure and not just a dead end job.
  • What do you enjoy most about working here? Get the interviewer to talk about the company and how they view it. Just as you strive to express your value you must require the same from them.

A good employer will appreciate these questions, they may even stumble a bit…that’s a good thing and it wakes them up! Going through the motions and sticking to a script can become a boring routine for an interviewer. Don’t become consumed with giving the “right” answers during an interview. Remember, it’s a two-way street. They need you and you need them. Asking questions encourages authentic conversation. It makes the experience memorable which puts you a step ahead of other candidates. It also gives you what you need to make a conscious decision before you accept.

If you accept, I suggest you walk into your new workplace with an expectancy of greatness and if by chance you find nothing great happening, create it. Choose to be better than the last employee. Embrace challenges, fix problems and create solutions.

“Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

The truth is we never know what we’re walking into until we get there. Good leaders aren’t known for accepting circumstances for what they are, they are known for thinking outside the box, changing what doesn’t work and offering solutions over blame.

Post originally shared on LinkedIn Pulse (Find it here)

Leadership: Can you Really Handle the Truth?

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handle the truthAs leaders we often tell our staff and colleagues to “be open” “tell me how you are really feeling”, but what if they actually did? What if you didn’t like or agree with what they had to say about you? Would you be able to handle it? It’s easy to look at others and form opinions about their work style, how they communicate with others and the quality of their work product, but what about us? Are we so grandiose that our colleagues and subordinates should adulate our mere presence?
We all have our way of doing things and maybe many of those ways are the “right” way, but sometimes we do crazy things as humans – we make mistakes. We may overlook and underestimate the uniqueness of people and their contributions to the workplace. When you are good at what you do, it’s easy to get comfortable.  There may be instances where you shut people out of decision-making or refuse to listen to fresh ideas and new perspectives. In business, change is crucial to organizational sustainability and without it, a company will not survive.
Leadership is an ongoing learning process. Successful leaders understand the best way to lead is to have people in your circle and on your leadership team who are not afraid to have open candid conversations with you. I call these people “the realist”. They bring you back down to earth when you get ahead of yourself and balance you when you need it. Good leaders are humble. They believe in the overall good and are not focused on how good they look.  If you don’t have people on your team willing to disagree with you without being afraid, then you need to make some adjustments. Leading to a bunch of yessers is a foolish mistake.
Jack Welch on Leaders at the top: “You’ve got to look in the mirror every morning and be totally self-effacing,” he says. “Give yourself a critical review.” – New York’s World Business Forum – 2012
Ask yourself these questions to get back on the right track.
1. Do you always have an answer/response when someone criticizes your decisions? The “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude?
2. Are you willing to take suggestions or recommendations from subordinates? Are you an ego-maniac?
3. When clients are not pleased with a service or work product, do you think they are being unreasonable or picky?
4. Do you find yourself debating and defending your position when in meetings, often attempting to convince others to agree with your viewpoint?
Good leaders understand and accept their imperfections. They embrace the fact that every decision made will not be the right one, but most importantly they appreciate the learning experience. There is almost always something we can improve on in our behavior and communication. If you don’t believe you need to improve on any area, you are sadly mistaken and I implore you to take action now.

What Does Success Mean to You?

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“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela

 

I’ve heard people define success in many ways. Some look at it as possession of luxurious cars, homes, clothes, etc. Some view success as hierarchy, social status among peers, positions of power or authority. It could be something simple as waking up early, being able to pay a bill, having a great first date, marriage, landing a job, having a child or finishing a degree. There are many ways people view success, some great, some small but there is one thing I’ve found that is consistent about success – it is defined by the achievers. Whatever it is that makes you feel that you have reached a goal, small or big……that’s your success.

Success is not defined by someone else, it is defined by each of us. Just as beauty or taste is determined, success is a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact.

The point is, you shouldn’t allow anyone to discourage you because you haven’t achieved what they believe you should be achieving. Their definition of success doesn’t have to be your definition of success. Often we allow society to tell us how to live our lives. How to make ourselves happy and secure. The truth is, we are all unique in our own right and our happiness , goals and feelings of success are defined by us, not anyone else.

So I’m asking you, what does success mean to you? What passions drive you to achieve your goals and what will it take for you to achieve them?

Try to create little successful moments each day and every day you will have succeeded in getting one step closer to the “big time”- whatever that may be.

Success is found in you. What you believe you are capable of doing and how much you are willing to sacrifice to get it done. Success is found in the process. Knowing how much you’ve fought to get to the point of reaching the finish line.

You can do it big or you can do it small. Whatever your pick – Just Do It.

There is Greatness in You!

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world-greatnessEach one of us is equipped with something special, something that cannot be duplicated by another. I’ve found many people somehow overlook their uniqueness and fall into the pattern developed for the “normal” people. Robotic work, doing the same thing, over and over again. Giving the same results, over and over again. Now some people may be comfortable with that, but not you. You see, you are reading this post because you believe the title. You know you have something spectacular brewing inside and you are hoping this post will shed some light on that rough where the diamond lies. I will certainly try.

My mother was very strict. She taught me many things without saying one word. I watched her. How she remained silent when I felt she should speak up. How she just hummed when I knew she had a lot on her mind. How she continuously gave her last for people I felt had no appreciation for her generosity nor did they deserve it. When she passed away, it became clear. Her gift to the world was not simply being a great mother to children she didn’t birth, it was her heart. Her desire to make a difference and having the audacity to see it through. Somewhere along the way she grasped the importance of her uniqueness and how she could impact the world, even when it seemed there was no one else willing to do the same. You can too.

Naturally, there will be times when pursuing your goals can become overwhelming and uncertainty tends to seep in, giving rise to doubt and discouragement. Keep going. These are natural hurdles to face. Don’t let them get the best of you. You see, challenges are opportunities to show your strengths, not excuses to make it easier to give up.  Each one of us was born with a certain set of qualities and skill that cannot be duplicated by another. There is only one you. One heart like yours, one idea like yours, one strategy only you can think of. Just one.

Don’t let fear get in the way of reaching your full potential. It’s easy to find yourself pushed into a box, meeting the demands of others who understand their potential. And maybe that’s your purpose. But what if there’s something greater in you, being suppressed by doubt and fear? You know exactly what I mean. That itch. That desire to do greater things; to make your stamp on the world. Don’t let that sparkle dim. Never allow others to overshadow your uniqueness with their negativity. Remember, there is only one you. There is no competition, there is only opportunity for you to highlight your strengths, leading to enhanced visibility proving necessary to make your mark.

You don’t need a parade or a stadium of followers to believe in your dream. The truth is, some people won’t get it until you’ve done it. How can they when only you can think of such a thing? Purpose is designed to be measured through impact. Until you execute the vision inside you, you cannot impact the lives of others. The greatest creations began with just a thought. A thought someone had the nerve to make into a reality.

In the end, people won’t so much remember the jewels, luxuries and material treasures. They will remember you. The impression you made in their lives, what you taught them – maybe without even saying a word. You see, greatness is found in what you do, not in what you say. The crazy thing about greatness is, it’s only deserving of the title once it’s impacted the life of someone else. So what great wonder will you produce today? What will your legacy be?

I’ll leave you with these great words:

If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

See you at the top!

20140717-133139-48699513.jpgMary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing workplace performance, career coaching, leadership coaching and training & development. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@dm-professional.com

Are you Ready for a Webcam Interview? 3 Reasons Why you Should be!

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This post was inspired by @BenefitsMyke

video-interview-manToday I was reminded of how important it is to keep up with the times. It seems as though technology is moving faster than we can process change. One moment we are all using pagers and pay phones, Dewey Decimal Systems, memorizing addresses and phone numbers and the next we are on the World Wide Web tweeting, face-booking, video chatting and linking-in with just about anyone and everyone who will entertain our connections. Through technology, we have extended our reach to end of the earth without having to barely move from our homes. Even the dictionary now defines “friend” as a verb: to add (a person) to one’s list of contacts on a social-networking website (dictionary.com). Nevertheless, I find myself refocusing my attention on how greatly the internet and social media has impacted hiring. If you want to enhance your career and increase your advantage, I suggest you become more familiar and to some degree, skilled in webcam and video interviews.

Here’s why:

1. The World is Round. There’s more to the workforce than your city, county or even your state. Branching out to other states and working overseas is always a great way to boost your career; however employers want tech-savvy workers. You will need to become skilled in video conferencing and interviewing to remain competitive. Having variety of work experience and travel makes you well-rounded and your experience and exposure to a variety of diversified groups gives you an advantage. If you don’t understand the logistics and etiquette of video interviewing or conferencing, there’s a chance your career highlights and experience will get lost in its delivery. Don’t take that risk.

2. Money Money Money. It costs little these days to hop online and have a chat with someone. Lowering expenses is a priority for any business; however employers still want to hire good people. The best way to interview someone with great potential is to do it via Skype or Webcam without having to incur the cost of a plane ticket. Naturally, if they really like you after your great Web-Interview they will surely fly you in. The key….get the Webcam and rehearse.

3. Convenience. Many employers are now asking for short video resumes from applicants to make a decision on interviewing rather than sifting through mounds of paperwork trying to locate emails and re-print what they lost or mistakenly deleted. It’s easier to remember a name once you pair it with a face and it also gives you an opportunity to display more of your personality, which is a limitation with paper resumes.

Now you know why it’s important, so here is how you do it.

1. Eliminate distractions. Try to record or interview in a quiet place, free of distracting noises or inappropriate backgrounds (take down that poster and put away those clothes!).

2. Smile & look directly into the camera. Always make extra effort to smile during a web-interview or recording. I call this the “likability factor”. Many hiring decisions are based on likability, whether hiring managers want to admit it or not. You can have everything wonderfully presented on your resume, but without making that personal connection you’ve lost an opportunity. Try not to take your eyes off the camera. You don’t want to appear uninterested or worse, insecure.

3. Remain direct and confident. If you are doing a video-resume focus on your accomplishments and directly state why you would be a good fit and include key accomplishments about the organization as well. Re-play, re-record and ask for an opinion before you submit. During an interview, behave just as you would in a normal setting but also remain aware and cautious of your facial expressions and posture. There is a record/re-play button here. Don’t forget that.

4. Arrive early. For web-cam/Skype interviews, arrive at least 10 minutes early. Check your internet connection and get ready to click the button as soon as you can. You don’t want it to appear you are not tech-savvy enough to operate a computer.

5. Practice makes perfect! Record yourself, over and over again to see how many times you say “um” “because” “well”….etc. Send it to a trusted source and ask for feedback. You can’t predict the future but you can prepare yourself for some hiccups on your special day. Don’t panic – have a back-up plan. All you can do is ensure the connection is good on your end. If it fails, immediately call in to see when you can re-schedule or if appropriate, do a telephone interview instead. If they don’t have a video resume of you, send one.

I implore you not to overlook this area. The internet is just another way our lines of communication have evolved. Failing to learn better ways to communicate is detrimental to your career.

If you find you’ve become routine within your career, it’s time to move on.

Good Leaders Have the Guts to Make Hard Decisions

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“Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

FEAR is the reason most people don’t act using their gut instincts. They wrestle internally with themselves because they are afraid of what others may think. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of embarrassment. Afraid of success. Ultimately, success is what you are sacrificing when you do not act on your instinct to make tough decisions. You see, we all have a uniqueness about ourselves. Our uniqueness allows us to differentiate ourselves from others, giving us an advantage in every situation.

“When you’re living by instinct, then you will naturally enhance everything and everyone around you. In other words, success will come naturally! When both your intellect and instincts are aligned, then producing the fruits of your labors brings satisfaction beyond measure.” ― T.D. Jakes, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn DrivePUSH THE BUTTON

If you are driven by a genuine desire for growth you must make decisions based on the greater good. You cannot be influenced by other people who try to project their fears onto you.

Now don’t misunderstand me here. I do believe making serious decisions requires one to strategically lay out the pros and cons; however, good leaders are not afraid to push the button and they are not afraid to take the blame if it all goes wrong. Because a good leader appreciates the process either way. There is no failure. There is winning and then there is learning. Which circumstance will you face today?

Conquering the Handshake: The Peanut Butter and Jelly of it all.

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Mastering the handshake is a crucial element to connecting with others. Some never get the hang of it, and those who do end up making great connections; nailing it every time. So let’s get down to the peanut butter and jelly of it all.

Did you know when you shake hands with someone, you awaken three out of your five senses? This is a big deal! Think about it. You touch, see and hear during this activity. Of course, the touch is the actual handshake; the physical contact you have with someone else. Sight is what you do while shaking hands – your facial expression and eye contact. And then there’s hearing; the words coming out of your mouth during this millisecond of an event.

Make no mistake about it, conquering these three senses take practice and discipline. But once you get it….you’ll get it! Here are some things you need to know about these senses:

Touch. It begins with the offer. Extending your reach while remaining inviting and interested is the key. I’ve experienced many handshakes over the years, but here are the ones I find having more impact than others.

1. water handsThe sweaty palm. This gives the impression you are a nervous wreck. Not to mention, it’s….well, disgusting. Being nervous is natural, but if you can’t help it and your hands get sweaty, take precaution before going into a situation. Focus on the good possibilities, not the negative. Try going to the restroom before entering the meeting, wash your hands and keep a spare napkin in your pocket or purse. If you are going on an interview, arrive early and bring a newspaper. This is a great way to take your mind off the meeting and also sneak a wipe at a moments notice. If you are wearing pants, try having your right hand in your pocket to wipe just before the handshake. No one will know the difference.

Fingertip Handshake2. Light-no grip. This can either mean you are unsure of yourself, not interested or germ phobic.  Either way, it questions your character. I’ve had some barely touching handshakes that drive me wild! The one’s where people use only two or three fingers, seriously? I find this rather offensive. It gives the impression you are not interested in connecting. Now who wants to be on the receiving end of that? Stop it.bone crusher

3. Bone crusher. This screams, please someone help me! A forceful shake can go either way. You can end up close to arm-wrestling or actually hurting someone. Neither of these are good. If your muscles are bulging and veins popping when you are handshaking, it’s too rough. Some view a harsh handshake as overcompensation for some sort of insecurity or attempting to intimidate. Is that the message you want to send?

firm shake4. Firm. I believe a firm handshake is great for every situation. It shows you are confident. Not too much and not too little. It also says a lot about your character. Firm shakes let the receiver know you are serious about your personal brand, you are present in the moment and you are interested in making the connection. Even when the receiver’s handshake is light, sweaty or bone-cracking, the firm handshake creates the balance.

Sight. Eye contact is how you make an emotional connection. It’s how you capture someone’s attention from the very start. Not doing so is hard to overcome. When you look someone in the eyes you are showing them they have your full attention, even if it’s for half of a second. It matters. They matter. Looking anywhere else but directly in their eyes is an insult. You hold the power here. You can either direct their attention to you or send them elsewhere, wondering what you are thinking.Don’t leave room for guessing. Be direct.

Hearing. If it’s your first time meeting someone and you haven’t been introduced, say your name first, then ask them theirs. Follow up with a polite comment such as  “Nice to meet you.” or “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”. These are great starts when meeting new people. When engaging with someone you already know, try using words like  “How are you?” (remember to actually wait for a response) and “nice to see you again”. These words are respectful and courteous.  Polite words give reassurance. If your handshake or eye contact are lacking, what you say will re-focus their attention back to you.woman reaching handshake

In sum, never approach handshaking as a formality. People can sense that. Look your contact directly in the eyes, smile and say something pleasant. Yes, you need to do this at the same time, every time.