What Does Success Mean to You?

“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!

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!

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

“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.

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.

What Does Your Body Language Say About You? Helpful Tips on Effective Communication

the office meetingDoes your mouth say the same thing as your body? The gestures we make during conversation often tell a very different story than the words coming out of our mouth. Even when we don’t use our words, our bodies still display some form of emotion.

For instance, have you ever had a conversation with someone who says yes while nodding their head no? Their mouths are saying one thing, but everything else about them is screaming the opposite. In conversation, we may even find ourselves making facial expressions similar to those we are talking to without even realizing it.

When interacting with people, it’s always important to be aware of your facial expressions. Although there is no exact science to body language many employers can still pick up on slouching, eye contact, folded arms and head tilts to determine how engaged or disengaged employees or candidates are during meetings or interviews.

Be aware. Of course we can’t walk around staring at ourselves in mirrors all day (even though some people do); we can definitely try to control our facial expressions by remembering our bodies naturally exude what we are thinking. When we feel pain, happiness or anger, our faces show it. In a professional setting, thinking positively will likely allow you to give off a positive facial expression without even trying.

Don’t jump to conclusions. It’s important not to jump to conclusions when you see a facial expression you believe to be related to nervousness, boredom or lying. Some expressions are often misunderstood and subject to negative reaction from others. I’ve been told I’m guilty of this. When I’m deep into thought, my face is so serious, I can look extremely unapproachable. Now while I know I’m not upset or unhappy about something in particular, others would have no way of knowing without asking. Body language is relative to perception and perceptions are open for interpretation depending on our own life experiences and moods.

Ask questions to clarify. If you are in conversation with someone and you are unsure or uncomfortable because their gestures are confusing, just ask. If workers seem disengaged, get their attention by asking them to elaborate more or share their thoughts. Who doesn’t like talking about themselves and giving their opinions anyway, right? There is no better way to resolve a misunderstanding than to be direct. You’ll avoid conflict and continue moving forward with ease.

The way we communicate with people will directly affect the way they will communicate with us. Someone may be in a terrible mood and you, being able to bring a positive vibe to the conversation; having the ability to look past the negative, could change the atmosphere for the better. Change begins with you! Things don’t always have to end how they begin.

The Key to Creating Valuable Relationships

Recently I was reminded of the importance in giving to receive. Naturally we tend to have an expectation of others to give to us without first considering how we can be of service to them. When we go about our daily routines, we expect to receive things like great customer service in a restaurant even though we’re on our cell phones, never making eye contact. Or perhaps landing a new account, while never uttering the words “what do you need?”; being too focused on what we want to get from a prospect.

Think about the people in your life within your closest circle; some very dear to your heart. They have, in one form or another proven deserving of your time and support.  Whether it’s through a display of affection, love, advice, finances or encouragement, they have impacted or influenced your life somehow, creating a lasting impression causing you to remain committed to maintaining your relationship with them.

While it’s easy to describe the things we value; the challenge is to find out how to create value for others. The solution may be easier than you think.

Creating value is personal.

There’s a saying: “It’s not personal, its business.” Every time I hear it, I think of my all time favorite movie, You’ve Got Mail where the remarkable Meg Ryan says to Tom Hanks, “……what’s so wrong with being personal anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin with being personal.” I couldn’t agree more.

Our jobs, our friends, our families, hobbies and interests are all personal. Before we interact with others, we must try to consider these things. Creating a personal connection plays a vital role in laying the foundation for valuable relationships to form.Person examines value

Here are some key ways to creating valuable relationships with others.

Make it Personal. Try to find a common area you are passionate about when meeting new people. Being able to relate to someone on a personal level can remove any added pressure or nervousness in making new contacts. Doing this will leave a lasting impression. People will always remember how you made them feel.

Be honest. A relationship built on dishonesty will not last. People do business with those they can trust. Likability isn’t everything. See The Honest Model.

Be reliable. Strive to be the person others can count on to come through in a time of need. Possessing this trait will prove to be an invaluable asset. You will create a closer bond leading to exposure and opportunity for you personally and professionally.

Be consistent. Consistency is key in developing trust. Unpredictable behavior does not provide the safety and security people need when committing to a relationship.

Value can only be determined by the receiver. What is valuable to you, may not be valuable to someone else. The key is to find out what others value and become a resource or provider for that.

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

5 Personal Branding Tips to Help Boost Your Career

BUILDING YOUR BRANDEverything you say either helps your brand or hurts it. When you post comments or thoughts on various social networking sites your connections get an idea of who you are. Through such communication people form an opinion about you and make a mental decision whether they want to further engage with you or distance themselves.

Your exposure doesn’t simply end with your approved connections. The internet is fair game.  Google your name to see what comes up. There may be more out there than you think!

About 2 in 5 employers look candidates up online before they make a decision about hiring them. Some employers even spend time reading content to observe how often candidates post so they can get learn more about their personality or character. Too many opinionated posts can be a negative. A hiring manager may assume you are easily distracted. Not enough posts could mean you are not tech-savvy enough (depending on the position you are needed for).

If you have any desire to further your career, you will need to be strategic about your online presence.

The best way to reinvent yourself and move full force towards building your brand is to attract the right audience. The only way to get people to take interest in what you’re doing is to get their attention by finding ways to connect with them personally. A great way to connect with like-minded professionals is to join groups within your industry on social media platforms such as LinkedIn. On other social sites like Twitter you’ll find chat sessions hosted daily or weekly by organizations looking to boost engagement with followers. Take advantage of these opportunities to engage with other professionals by sharing your thoughts and opinions as well.

Not sure where to start? Hire a professional to help you.

In the mean time, I encourage you to take these small steps in changing your image online:

Tip 1: Stay positive when you share your thoughts. Like the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

Tip 2: Remove/un-tag any unfavorable pictures of you that may be on the internet. The last thing you want a prospective employer to see is you downing drinks at a frat party.

Tip 3: Update your professional profile/web page at least once a month, even if it is an updated picture or a positive comment.

Tip 4: Consistency is key. Commit to regularly posting about industry hot topics and sharing articles posted by top influencers.

Tip 5: Revamp your LinkedIn profile to highlight your strengths and abilities; ensure your bio and experience is consistent on all social media platforms.

These tips should help you get on track and ensure you have a professional appearance online and boost your confidence in person.

Need help with your LinkedIn profile or bio? Hire a professional today!

MDD-160

Mary 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@honestleadership.org

4 Easy Steps to Writing a Professional Bio

Here’s how answering four simple questions can help you create a short-bio in a matter of minutes!

Professional Bio’s are your chance to share all your achievements and notable career accomplishments with your audience in a small paragraph or summary format.

  • Bio’s can be as short as one paragraph or as long as a whole page.
  • Bio’s are used for social media profiles, signatures for written blogs or articles, websites or scholarship applications.
  • Having a professional bio helps you stand out from the competition. It tells the audience what you want them to know about who you are vs. them assuming they know who you are by piecing information together found on the internet.

Here are four simple questions to help you create a short bio for your professional branding needs.

  1. What do you do now? (Where you work, your title and leadership position)
  2. Length of time in your field
  3. Describe your specialties in your field
  4. Your educational background and certifications

Need help with your LinkedIn profile or bio? Hire a professional today!

MDD-160

Mary 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. Mary also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. To connect with Mary, you can follow her on twitter @MVDavids or you can email her at maryd@honestleadership.org

Why Honesty in Business Equals Success Part 1

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Most people work under the assumption that doing business requires one to be “cut throat”, harsh or selfish. When we think of business, we don’t think of nice people doing great things. We think of competition, getting more customers, more profits and more growth; being honest just doesn’t fit into the category. Often honesty is considered a weakness or vulnerability in business. I once heard someone say the key to being a good business man: “never admit to anything”. Now what kind of way is that to do business?

I’ve learned the best way to diffuse a conflict is to apologize for the error; even if it wasn’t your fault directly. It’s simply not possible to remedy a problem if you fail to acknowledge it exists! Apologizing is not admitting you did anything wrong. Apologizing is saying you value your relationship with the customer more than your ego. Believe it or not, most people are actually open to forgiving if you simply acknowledge making a mistake, ask for their forgiveness and try to mend the fault.

Imagine how much time and money we would save if we just apologized for an error? Instead, most business people take it personal; as though a mistake is a personal defeat rather viewing a mistake as an opportunity to turn weaknesses into strengths. Honesty builds trust which creates a loyal relationship between you and your customer. Returning customers and client referrals are what keep a business afloat. In the midst of managing conflict, remember this: You are not just securing a relationship with one person, you are securing a relationship with them and the five other people they will potentially send your way depending on how you handle their problem.

Bottom line – people do business with those they can trust. If you can’t acknowledge your error, then consider the relationship broken. We can’t change the past, but what we can do is commit to being honest about it and move on.

“I don’t want you to be perfect, I want you to be honest.”Mary V. Davids

Mary V. DaviMDD-160ds is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC., and creator of the Honest Model™. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. Book Mary to speak at your next event or hire Mary for leadership & professional development consultation today. Follow Mary on twitter @MVDavids