A friend sent me an invitation recently that not only was a welcome surprise, but it also made me smile. She’s sponsoring an “AH SO” get together. What does AH SO mean? How about this….ANOTHER HOLIDAY SEASON OVER! The best part is “you make the rules” and just enjoy yourself. Tired of cooking?… Make it Potluck! Have you run out of booze…Make it BYO! Want to get rid of a ghastly gift while enjoying a few laughs?… Host a Round Robin Grab Bag! You get the point. During Winter, especially while we’re enjoying this “snow free zone,” take advantage of holiday free preparation, camaraderie, and good times in an easy to manage way. P.S. It’s also a guilt free way of sharing the “extra desserts” that may still be in your midst. Most of all, have fun, enjoy friends, family, colleagues, neighbors and let us know what special “tweaks” you add to the idea.
Note from Joyce: During this Veteran’s Day weekend, I’d like to feature a colleague, Dr. Diane Sukiennik, as guest blogger. She focuses on an important and worthy consideration that makes a lot of sense. I’ll follow up with additional ideas in weeks leading to Thanksgiving and all the December celebrations.
Birth of a New Tradition
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
• Everyone gets their hair cut now and then. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
• Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
• Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
• Are you one of those givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a foreign made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like their driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or enjoy a few rounds at the local golf course.
• There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast diner. This isn’t about big box stores or National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
• How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by an American worker?
• Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? She’d probably LOVE services of a local cleaner for a day.
• My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some person struggling to get his or her repair business up and running.
• OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
• Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or show at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
• Do you REALLY need to buy another thousand lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mail carrier, trash hauler, or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so other countries can build their economies. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
Forward this concept to folks on your mailing list — post it to discussion groups — send it to the editor of your local paper or radio stations. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what holidays are about? Blessings to everyone for a safe and joyous holiday season.
NOTE: Diane Sukiennik is a career counselor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and an internationally recognized lecturer and workshop facilitator. She holds advanced degrees from Columbia University and Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Sukiennik was faculty at Moorpark College in CA for 37 years. Her expertise is around career development, presentation, and managerial effectiveness. She is a consultant, has a private practice, has contributed to the development of a nationally distributed telecourse on career and life development called “Career Advantage” distributed by PBS. She also turned a lifelong passion into a popular website, www.foodandwineaccess.com
The Grass May Be Greener….Do your research first!
A couple requests were sent by readers inquiring about green industries and green technology. What are green jobs and how can one prepare for a career shift in these fields? The field is devoted to producing renewable energy or products and providing environmentally sound products and services. It’s not solely about science and research although they encompass many of the jobs found when making this career choice. Currently, green industry careers are for all backgrounds and skill sets. Jobs can be found as customer service reps, accountants, business managers, engineers, service providers and multiple types of entrepreneurs.
There are 8.5 million jobs currently, according to the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). Specialties within the green industry that are doing well include energy efficiency, recycling, water, solar, and wind conservation, clean technology, and all efforts to create products and services that improve performance, productivity, and efficiency while at the same time reducing cost and pollution
Still interested? Try visiting a few green technology sites, conduct an informational interview (discussed more fully in prior blogs), get introduced to basic concepts of green technology, energy innovation, and clean tech trends. The more awareness you gain, the more opportunities you can tap. Online provides a great place to start. Go to Google and scan topics, blogs, articles, trade journals and visit specific chat rooms on linkedin. In 2010, the top green jobs were comprised of Land use planning, Environmental Law, Solar Panel Installation, Environmental design building and construction, environmental engineering, Green venture capital, green building management and ecotour operations.
A good website to launch your inquiry is www.eere.energy-gov, the U.S. Gov’t.’s Dept. of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Green technology is not just for adults. Check out options like www.teensturninggreen.org This is a student led movement devoted to education and advocacy around environmentally and socially responsible choices for individuals, schools and communities. See particulars like Project Green Clean at elementary schools, Dirty Thirty (toxic products we use all the time), Safe Cosmetics ,and Safe Cell Phone Use. Get knowledgeable; get everyone involved. The cause is sound!
Setting goals in your job search is important for many reasons and moreso today with so many people out of work. The competition is more qualified and the general level of preparation has risen to new heights…higher skills, more technically prepared and better educated. Once your goals are set, stay focused, consider all your options and don’t shut down as opportunities may be around the corner.
Multiple goal setting is a valuable tip that can pay off dividends in your favor. It means to simultaneously establish goals to achieve different results. Here’s an example. While Bette seeks more responsibility and a higher paying position in her current company, an UPWARD stretch, she also seeks to learn new technology and enhanced public speaking skills which both represent JOB ENRICHMENT. The combination of her multiple goals will put Bette on a fast track in her current company who eagerly embraces competence, self motivation, technical ability and confident, strong work ethic.
Don’t write yourself out of the job picture. As Beverly Kaye discusses in her book, Up Is Not The Only Way by Berrett Koehler Press, explore diverse options that appeal to you. The more creative and flexible you are, the more successful you’ll become. Learning and growing (often in place) is at the core of career development these days.
Think about multiple options for YOU at this time:
JOB ENRICHMENT… How might you develop yourself and your skills on your current job?_____________
UPWARD MOVEMENT …What position(s), if any, appeal to you at higher levels of responsibility? ______
LATERAL…what different skills appeal to you working in the same or similar work setting? ____________
EXPLORATORY…whether it’s at your current job, a downward position, or in a new field, what new options appeal to you and what skills would you need for success?_______ _______________________
Once you have concrete ideas for one or more of the above options, create an action plan to help you realize your goals and “stick with your plan.”
Note from Joyce: If you get stuck along the way, post a comment or ask a question.
Do you find yourself in situations where you want to be knowledgeable, succinct, and confident all at the same time? Here’s a simple proven technique you can use based on the STAR concept. It’s made up of four components: SITUATION, TASKS, ACTIONS and RESULT. First identify the big picture (Situation), describe what needs to be accomplished (Tasks), to do’s that you personally undertake (Actions) and the final outcome (Results). With that framework in mind, you can apply this technique to numerous situations such as a fielding behavioral type questions at job interviews like “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a situation where…” The technique itself guides you to keep it short and engaging.
Here’s an example of using a STAR STORY at a job interview:
“ I see from your resume you worked in regional sales for five years. Tell me about that experience.”
SITUATION: “I’m glad you asked. My job was to penetrate new markets within a six state region, build relationships, expand sales and increase repeat business. I also wanted to create a presence in the region for our product line, company brand and myself as one point of contact.”
TASKS: First, it was important to learn from internal colleagues who know the ropes about product lines, problems and opportunities. I traveled with seasoned colleagues to learn tricks of the trade, ways to deal with difficult issues, problems that emerge regularly. I learned all I could about our emerging product lines from peers, training and written materials. I studied regional strategies so I could create solutions that would work best for the problems I might encounter in my region. I studied past sales history and learned names of key customers and company reps.
ACTIONS: With a detailed plan in place, I worked the territory daily and when I ran into glitches, I revised my thinking with new strategies. Rapport and relationship building was key. It led to learning about new players in communities and hosting informational breakfasts. Once customers knew I had their best interest in mind, sales increased and word of mouth spread. Within six months, repeat business escalated which meant I could deepen customer bonds vs. continual cold calling.
RESULTS: After creating a cost effective travel and work schedule, I learned from my mistakes and found new ways of handling recurring problems. Within 6 months, I created 14% increase in requests for presentations over the prior three years. In 1 year, I escalated sales 26% in the region from the previous three years and within 24 months I achieved regional sales targets as top company producer.
Note from Joyce: Now it’s your turn. What does it take to build results like this? Awareness of STAR and practice, practice, practice. If you’ve had experience using the STAR concept, let us know what happened (good or bad) and we’ll brainstorm together ways to use the concept in the future.
I was in Los Angeles at a company annual meeting at a time when those red buttons were introduced from Staples that, when pressed, say “THAT WAS EASY!“ It was novel the first day, and then for 3 days I heard “That was easy” a few times too often.
After the meeting, I experienced a grueling cross country trip to the next client site. I found a cheap flight from LA to Raleigh, NC on a preferred air carrier, so initially I felt proud of my good find…until details unfolded. I hastily printed out the schedule when reality set in…LA – Raleigh flight time 10+ hrs. Being in a hurry, I never checked to see how many interim stops were included, I only saw the day, price and hastily confirmed travel plans.
As it turned out, the odyssey puddle jumped across the U.S.: LA, Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans,Tampa, Orlando, Raleigh, leaving LAX 8 A.M. arriving Raleigh after 11 P.M. amid monsoon rain. With only peanuts, pretzels and drinks enroute all day, and not enough time between flights to find airport food, I was cranky and “out of sorts.” You know the routine when you arrive at your destination: gather luggage, rent a car, find the hotel. On this night, well after midnight and getting lost a Beeline Highway, I finally got directions at a gas station and even succumbed to a tired looking sandwich at a gas station vending machine. Finally around 1 A.M., I pulled into the soggy hotel parking lot and took my suitcase out. As I anchored it with my knee against the car, so it didn’t fall over into mud puddles below me, I heard the familiar sound “THAT WAS EASY” come from the outside compartment of the suitcase. Yelling in the midnight sky “NOT!” with rain drenching me, I fleetingly saw the humor in the scene. That was a choice point as I screamed skyward. I could carry my soggy, tired mood to the person who awaited my arrival at the front desk or “CHOOSE” to see the humor in my travel weary day. Fortunately, I chose the latter. I hastily ran into the hotel lobby, shared my story briefly while checking in and the hotel clerk and I both enjoyed a sorely needed laugh. Best news…the client site, where I needed to be at 7 A.M., was across the parking lot.
Why share this story? Everyone of us need to develop and advertise our own personal BRAND of who we are and how we want others to see us. Think about where you’re most vulnerable (ex: do you get nervous while public speaking, does technology frustrate you , does writing stump you, is networking hard, to name a few common ones). Find ways to harness your vulnerability and take resilient action.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back, utilize your own brand of uniqueness and see the positive side or “what can I learn from situation?” Inevitably, life happens to us all from daily frustrations at work or home. The real secret is “how can I regularly practice bouncing back?”
NOTE FROM JOYCE…Everyone has great stories about your own resiliency and how you bounced back from a situation that happened to you. Share one of yours so we can learn from each other. Meanwhile, enjoy a fun filled, resilient day.
Greg got through the first interview and all seemed ”green light.” He thought, “I may be the perfect candidate for this job!” He was asked back to meet more senior employees, and here he was confronted with an objection about his lack of direct sales experience. The best way to deal with that situation is to anticipate by asking yourself or people who know you and want you to be successful, “What could someone object to about me?” (EX:don’t have specific experience, under or over qualified; concerned about age).
Practice responding to these potential objections or others that may apply. The easier it is to respond comfortably, the more likely the topic won’t throw you off guard. And, if it does, you’ll be armed with specific replies that often wash away the concern. Here’s how it works:
1. ANTICIPATE EMPLOYER OBJECTION or CONCERN
EMPLOYER: It appears you have no experience in direct sales and that concerns me. I have other applicants with direct sales background and experience in this industry.
YOU: Think about it ahead of time and how you’d handle the question. Have a couple replies in mind if it comes up.
2. REPEAT THE OBJECTION
YOU: When you hear the objection that you feared they may raise, stay calm and repeat it back.
“I heard your concern about my assumed lack of experience in sales and…..”
3. STICK TO YOUR GOAL and FORGE AHEAD
Weave the employer’s concern into your reply and continue on confidently.
YOU: ” For many years, I worked in sales and marketing listening to reps frustrations and coaching them on how to maneuver a broad variety of situations. Regardless of the product being sold, the important foundation is building trust, relationship and establishing rapport. The rest can be learned quickly. I’ve invested many years honing those skills and this is a product line and an industry which I thoroughly enjoy. I’m prepared to learn quickly, apply my experience and I welcome the challenge.”
Hold eye contact, maintain confidence and you might have just washed away his or her concern.
Review the 3 steps:
(1) What objection could an employer have about you?
(2) How will you let him or her know you heard the concern?
(3) How will you wash the concern away.
Remember the road to Carnegie Hall…PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Have you ever talked about someone and then realized they were in the adjacent cubicle and heard every word you said? Or, have you ever spoke inappropriately at a meeting? It happens to everyone at some point. The secret is “How do you respond in those potentially embarrassing moments?”
If you’ve been in those situations, you know how difficult it can be. Now, excellent help is available in the form of a book entitled FYI…For Your Improvement by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger of the Center For Creative Leadership located in North Carolina. The book is published by Lominger. Be sure to get the most recent edition. It is filled with great ideas in dealing with MANY management/employee issues including problem employees, difficult bosses, and development issues of all types. Name the situation and you’ll find multiple solutions as well as skills that are used if the person handles the situation well and behaviors that take over when an issue isn’t dealt with professionally.
For many managers and employees, FYI has become the preferred source for responding to delicate situations in a respectful and professional manner.
Note from Joyce: If you’ve experienced a tough situation lately and wish you had more tools to respond adequately, share your experience by writing a comment. We’ll tap the rich reservoir in FYI and offer a few solutions.