Be A Father First…

02/25/15 0 COMMENTS

Or, of course, a mother….

There are very few situations in life where you only have one chance.

If you fail your driving test, you try again. If you get fired, the next job always offers potential salvation. Even marriage is sadly not so sacred these days, for some unhappy souls a “new model” is always a temptation (although I have been happily married for 13 years). For many people the thought of “ah well, I’ll try harder next time” is always a fall back position in most cases.

However, there is one situation where “I’ll try harder next time” is not an option….

I sat in that delivery room eight years ago with my first-born daughter in my arms, looked into her eyes and made her a promise. “I will do my best to give you everything that I can in life. I will make you the meaning of everything that I do.” My wife had gone to get cleaned up, and I was alone with this little bundle of joy.

I was over the moon, but at the same time slightly worried. Could I really deliver on this promise? She stared back at me with “my” eyes, and I resolved that, no matter what, I would make sure to put her first.

If you are a follower of my blogs, you will have read that I have had a bit of a roller-coaster for the past eight years. Running a successful Retail search business while she was in nappies (tick for the Daddy box), hardly seeing her for a year while I commuted Mon-Thu from St. Petersburg to Moscow in Russia (huge cross for the Daddy box), up to the last two years when I have been building my own writing business at home in sunny Leigh-On-Sea (enormous tick for the Daddy box).

However, I have only recently realized what “putting her first” means…. It is not about the amount of money in the bank, it is not about buying her toys or doing loads of interesting stuff on the weekend, it is not even about her going to the best schools…. It is just about being there for her and her brother, being “present.”

So, even though I work at home and I need my time and space for my writing, I work around their needs. I work early in the morning and late at night. If they are sick from school, I make sure that I spend as much time as possible with them. If a client rings up while we are playing Monopoly, I won’t leave my kids in the lurch mid-game. I’ll ask to call the client back. I never, EVER turn down a game of table football or a chance to murder some song on karaoke.

I am lucky to work at home, I know that not everyone has that option, but I would just like to say one thing…. In all the distractions of life, with all the gadgets and apps in the world to make our lives better, there is only one real “fuel” for your life – your loved ones, and if you are lucky enough, your children…. so be there for them.

To amend a quote from Dirty Dancing, “don’t put your kids in the corner.”

Put them first, in whatever you do. You won’t get another chance.

Paul Drury

Hey Leaders; Don’t Ignore the Baby Elephants

02/17/15 0 COMMENTS

You are no doubt familiar with the expression, “ignoring the elephant in the room.” It refers to a big issue that no one in the organization talks about, but everyone knows exists.

Some elephants are thrust upon an organization by external forces (e.g., economy, regulatory issues, etc.); however, many are the direct result of allowing baby elephants to mature in front of everyone’s eyes.

Perhaps it’s a project that is doomed, but so much energy and political cache has been invested in the effort that no one is willing to scrap it – so, good money is thrown after bad.
Maybe it’s an unhealthy or unprofitable customer relationship that was so difficult to acquire in the first place that termination is unspeakable.
Possibly a manager who treats everyone poorly, but delivers results – he needs to go before a lawsuit arrives; however, we choose to ignore the bad behavior in hopes that it will stop on its own.

Here are four things for you to consider about the baby elephants in your midst:

Little Things Become Big Things: A few years ago New York City authorities put sizeable effort behind graffiti removal and stopping subway riders from jumping turnstiles. Many credit the decision to focus on small infractions as key to the precipitous decline citywide of more serious crimes. Small things matter – sweeping them under the rug typically leads to a bigger mess that will need to be cleaned up by someone.
You’re Not Too Busy, It’s Your Job: Many leaders spend their days rushing from meeting to meeting or digging through a virtual email pile. These activities may be important, and certainly keep one busy, but they also cause distraction from more critical issues. Consider the restaurant manager who walks past trash on the floor because he has paperwork to attend to or the production supervisor who sees a minor safety issue but says nothing because she is racing to a meeting. They may rationalize their lack of action or be so preoccupied that they failed to notice the problems – either way, they are feeding baby elephants.
Know What Right Looks Like: A leader can’t address a baby elephant if he or she doesn’t know what right looks like. Leaders must invest time in learning standard procedures. They need to understand how jobs should be done or how something works. Stepping out of the comfort zone might be required, but we learn nothing when we are comfortable.
Learn How to Give Feedback: Another reason that people ignore baby elephants is because they aren’t comfortable giving feedback to employees much less peers or supervisors. An organization will spend significant money installing a performance management system yet fail to invest time teaching people how to give open, candid feedback. Sure, a talent management system s important, but it doesn’t outweigh the ability to directly address issues.

Are you caring and feeding for a baby elephant?

Have you even stopped to consider if any are wandering around the office?

Take time to address them now before one grows into a 13-foot tall, 15,000 pound pachyderm that no one can ignore.

Patrick Leddin

If I Could Start Over – Here Is What I Would Do Differently

02/10/15 0 COMMENTS

When you talk to someone in his golden years, you’re likely to hear about things he would do more of, less of, or just better if he had the chance to do it all over again. I’m generally happy with life, so can’t complain that a tortuous route got me to this point. But if I could do it again with hindsight, the second time around I’d make sure to live by the following guidelines:

I’d be a cheerleader – not a policeman – for my kids. I’d hug them every time I see them and tell them I love them, I am proud of them and I miss them when we’re apart. And I’d never skip a day of telling and showing my wife how much I appreciate her.

I’d celebrate others’ good fortune more often; I’d recognize and thank those in my life every time they do something noteworthy.

I’d take the long view on reversals and disappointments, confident that most of them turn out to be great learning experiences. I’d make sure I like who I’m working with. More than that, I’d be certain I respect them and embrace their values. Most of all, I’d make sure I’m worthy of their respect. Finally, I’d get out of business with the “takers” sooner, and faster still with any who lack integrity.

I’d hire slowly and fire quickly – but gently. I’d hire more for brains, heart and judgment – and less for experience.

I’d put taking classes with great professors above picking the perfect major.

I’d leave any job where I couldn’t find happiness and meaning, always making sure I’m moving toward something I want rather than away from something I don’t.

I’d look for patterns. Few things are so unique and unusual that you can’t generalize from them.

I’d write down my goals and share them with significant others – but I’d put them down in pencil and not let anyone punish me for changing them.

I’d make sure to say good-bye to my parents when their time has come and give them the gift of knowing of my gratitude as they leave me behind.

I’d “re-pot” every decade, seeing life as a book with decade-long chapters, writing each one with its chapter end in mind.

I’d turn off the voice in my head that comes from others’ expectations. I’d re-write the “operating system” I inherited from my upbringing, my DNA and my experiences to date, replacing it line-by-line with self-talk I choose.

I’d write my eulogy – then do something about the gap between what I wish could be said and what could honestly be said.

Those items on this list that I’ve followed have brought me to a good place. Those that I’ve failed to do have set me further back on the trail than I might have been. Writing out what I’d do if I could start over helps me start where I am and move on from there. It’s the same for all of us. Starting from wherever we are, we really can begin anew and do better.

Joel Peterson

The Worst Thing You Can Do Is Nothing

02/03/15 0 COMMENTS

People assume that hard work alone is all they need to succeed. I would argue that’s not quite true. My success in business, and in particular at Herjavec Group, has been achieved with a mix of careful preparation, calculated risks, the development of a world-class team and, of course, a dose of good luck. It has NOT by any means been achieved by idleness.

Time and time again we hear the analogy between climbing a mountain and the road to success: Life is a lot like climbing a mountain, with the ultimate prize of success (whether it be monetary, career, or interpersonal) waiting at the top.

Assuming you want success badly enough, you start climbing, taking risks along the way. You plot each step, consider each handhold, and measure each crevasse to make sure you can leap safely to the other side. Each step you take brings you closer either to success or failure.

There comes a time when climbers on their way to the top reach a critical juncture and are faced with three options.

Retreat: If you decide that a barrier can’t be overcome, you can abandon it entirely. Retreating does not always mean failure. Quite often we should return to ground level to reassess the situation and come up with a better plan of attack.
Take a Calculated Risk: Accept that there is a chance you will fail to make the leap across a chasm, or the rock you are about to step on may crumble, but understand that the rewards far outweigh the risk.
Do Nothing: This is all too common among those who are not fully committed to success — in a word, you freeze. Unable or unwilling to back down, and unable to take the risk that will keep you moving upward, you remain somewhere in the limbo between total success and ultimate failure. One is inaccessible, the other intolerable.

Michael Jordan had his own way of making the same point. “Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.” When I quoted this to someone once, they replied, “And some people stand around and ask ‘What the hell just happened?’”

Similarly, Mark Udall once said, “You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared, and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain by accident — it has to be intentional.”

Action is better than inaction. If you stay on the mountain and do nothing, you will freeze to death. You have to try, fail, learn, do it over in order to grow. You have one life to live and it’s time to stop making excusing and start making progress. The best advice I’ve ever received, and the advice I’ll share with you:

Get out there and do something. Take action.

Robert Herjavee

4 Essential Truths To Boost Employee Motivation

01/27/15 0 COMMENTS

With January Blues kicking in following the festive Christmas period, we recognize that employees can often experience a slump in motivation at this time of year. With that in mind, we have developed our 4 essential truths to boost employee motivation and revitalize your workforce.

Communication is King
According to a survey from TINYpulse, one key factor that greatly impacts employee satisfaction is effective communication from management. Effective communication also builds trust, loyalty and relationships, which in turn fosters more dedication and productivity. This costs nothing and can make a huge difference to the motivation of your employees.

Empower your Employees
Empowered employees are often the most engaged, innovative and productive members of your team. Include, ask, challenge and listen to employees to give them a sense of purpose. Give credit where credit is due, offer new levels of responsibility and welcome new ideas, to motivate your staff and get the most out of your employees.

Bring back the Fun Factor
It’s well-documented that satisfied employees deliver a higher quality of work. However, within the hustle and bustle of the working day, with deadlines, multiple projects and tough objectives, it’s easy to forget to cultivate a positive work environment. Find ways to bring the fun factor to your team and give your staff a reason to excel at their job every day.

Strengthen your Employee Value Proposition
An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is the experience offered by an employer in exchange for the productivity and performance of an employee (Towers Watson). Successful employee/ employer relationships offer an equal balance between employee benefits and performance at work. Ensure your EVP is balanced to maintain fulfilled, dedicated and motivated employees.

Adam Buck

How To Explain Those Gaps In Your Resume and Impress Employers

01/20/15 0 COMMENTS

As we already know, the purpose of the cover letter is to work in conjunction with your resume to impress employers and elevate your application to interview stage.

If you have obvious gaps between employment on your resume, you needn’t fall into a vortex of panic, fearing it will hinder your chances of ever getting an interview. You just need to know how to position your application to highlight the positives of your time off.

A gap of only months between jobs can easily be disguised by indicating only years worked in your resume. But if the length of unemployment expands the stretch of years, this is something that cannot be hidden and is best to address this in your cover letter.

The key here is communicating the positives of all that you did do in your time out of work to keep up and grow your skills. Vivian Steir Rabin, co-author of Back on the Career Track gives us a good example of how this can be written:

Although I focused on my family these last five years and have not worked for pay, I kept up with development in my field by reading Business Woman Magazine and attending conferences hosted by Business Daily.

As well as keeping in the know, volunteer work, fundraising and being part of committees during your time off can also be used to highlight proficiencies that are equally as important in the corporate world. Never underestimate anything that you have contributed to while not working for pay, your time and contributions are valuable.

Ask yourself how you actually helped the organization you volunteered for – your contributions may have made the organization money, or run more efficiently. For the sake of your application, treat any volunteer work the same you would a paying job. Bring to light in your cover letter all your positive contributions and their outcomes.

Conveying the skills you have gained in your past experience and your time off will help employers to see that you come from a position of loving what you do, you’re proactive and your application is strong despite having time out of work. Framing your application the right way will impress employers to successfully land you more interviews.

Naomi Seselja

What Really Matters In Life

01/13/15 0 COMMENTS

Most people don’t want to “do nothing” all day. We have hopes and dreams, goals and ambitions. We want to contribute to the world, make it a better place, not “retire” from it to a life of “leisure”. For most of us, the prospects of sleeping in late, lounging on the beach, improving our golf scores, living on cruise ships, and lazing about all day may sound good for a short time, but they hold little allure for us in the long-term.
So, what really matters in life? I can boil the answer to this question down to six major themes:

Wealth
Health
Relationships
Contribution/Achievement
Meaning
Happiness

First a little discussion on the themes.

Wealth – some have more than others, some have less, but most of the people I run across agree that while it can be used to pay for nice homes, fast cars, and fine dining, it can’t purchase meaning. Beyond a middle-income level, the amount of money you have bears little correlation to how happy you are.

Health – is critically important to enjoying life. Good health is a combination of luck, a healthy lifestyle, and medical care.

Relationships – are very important. Everyone I meet clearly values their relationships with friends and family members and sees that these relationships are key to their emotional well-being.

Contribution/Achievement – for most of us reading this blog we are fortunate in life and seek to give back, make a positive contribution, even leave a legacy. Helping others as we’ve been helped is important to us.

Meaning – work that has meaning is important to our sense of well being. We want to feel that we are making a real difference in the world.

Happiness – everyone I’ve ever met wants to be happy. True happiness can’t be bought – it has to be lived!

As you contemplate these themes and set your goals for 2015, you might choose to volunteer or work on projects that make the world a better place. You might choose to change to a job or a career where you have more opportunity to serve. For me, I still teach and give classes, but I focus more on advising people how they can have a great rest of their lives rather than just work harder and “make more money.”

Reflecting on life’s purpose should start when you’re young—and never stop. I served on the board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for 10 years, so I had a chance to observe Peter personally. He worked until his death at age 95! He was never interested in retiring. He was interested in working to make the world a better place. Through his example, I learned that making a difference means more than, and is very different from, making a living.

Think about your life. Now’s a great time to start planning the rest of it. How can you make a contribution? How can you find meaning? What will make you happy? How can you make this time count—for yourself, the people around you, and the world?

Marshall Goldsmith

New Year, New You? Your Personal Style

01/06/15 0 COMMENTS

I always find that at the beginning of the year I reflect on what I achieved last year and what I plan to do differently this year. One thing we often avoid considering is our personal style (and the impact our choices have on people around us).

Does how you present yourself reflect who you are planning to be this year?

There’s a lot of information available to help you to consider what is right for you. You will want to dress to create an image that reflects your circumstances as well as your aspirations. Your best party outfit is not your best outfit for work!

Ask yourself:

• How do you dress for work? For comfort, according to what everyone else wears, or to stand out?

• How do your customers, colleagues and peers dress? Do you reflect that?

• What is the occasion or circumstance you are dressing for?

• What sort of dress do you feel comfortable in?

You do want to be yourself. Don’t wear clothes that are uncomfortable or don’t fit properly. (I have bought too many shoes in the wrong size. I never wear them. There is nothing worse than seeing someone almost crippled by shoes too small or too high to walk powerfully in. And while I’m on the subject of feet, I can tell a lot about a person by the state of the heels of their shoes, no matter whether they’re male or female.)

Rather than developing your ‘personal brand’ — because brand really relates to your reputation — at this point I would like you to consider your personal style. By this I mean your style in everything (which will reflect your passion). Start from the top down — hairstyle (and men, also consider facial hair), make-up and perfume.

Do not let what you wear be a distraction to the people you are with. Even glittery jewelry can distract an audience if they look at what’s around your neck or dangling from your ears rather than listening to your content and being inspired by your words. Don’t let your physical presentation get in the way of your authentic self or dominate who you are. Don’t hide in a lackluster color (this goes for men too). Express yourself without offending who you are.

Take the time to work out the appropriate ‘fit’ — for what you do and who you want to be. How do you see yourself? How do you want others to see you? You want people to hear your pas­sion and remember you because your style matches that passion.

Naomi Simson

Five Things To Do Every Day In 2015 To Be A Better You!

12/30/14 0 COMMENTS

Thinking about setting some New Years Resolutions? Don’t pretend like your hungover self is going to all of the sudden become Mr/Mrs Productivity on New Years Day.
Use these reminders to get a boost on building a better you starting now.

1. Remember to be productive today.

Once the day gets started, it can be difficult to slow down and actually focus on what you need to accomplish. The real trick is to learn how to get into work mode, stay in work mode and finish the work in front of you to complete some of your goals for the day!

2. Review your goals of the day.

It’s too easy for your day to take control of you instead of the other way around. Manage your daily goals with an app called 5 Min Journal, it allows you to share a few gratitudes, make a few intentions, and set a few goals. If you don’t have goals set up, then how will you know when you’ve accomplished anything?

3. Stay up to date on your industry.

If you don’t stay up-to-date with industry trends and new tools available, you will be buried alive. Today, you can’t be a passive marketer, entrepreneur, or manager, or you may miss the next opportunity that will take you, your product, or your company to the next level.

4. Use social media.

While you may not agree that your influence can be strictly determined by Klout.com, there is merit to having influence on social media. Being active and engaged on LinkedIn (for example) has given many the opportunities to speak, work, and live the lifestyle that they want. However, the most important thing to remember is that you continue to build that base each and every day.

5. Connect and reconnect to your network.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it can’t be mentioned enough. Your network is like a muscle, and atrophy will take place if you don’t stay active.

 

Spend Time on Labors of Love

12/02/14 0 COMMENTS

I have a confession. I’m pathologically persnickety when it comes to how I spend my time in my professional life.

Over the course of the last decade (or so), I’ve removed activities from my professional life that I do not enjoy. I don’t enjoy phone calls, so I have http://SorryNoCalls.com. I don’t enjoy managing people — so I don’t (despite the fact that my company, HubSpot [NYSE:HUBS], has over 700 employees).

Don’t get me wrong, as founder of the company I will move mountains to help the company and my team grow. But, over many, many years I’ve discovered that the best thing I can do for the company in the long-term is to allow myself to focus on the things I love doing.

I attribute much of my modest success to the fact that I have allowed myself the luxury to spend time on labors of love.

I love teaching both in written form and otherwise — so I do.

I love learning — and so I do.

I love building things — and so I do.

Here’s a concrete example: For the past year or so, my primary labor of love at HubSpot has been inbound.org. As part of that effort, today, I launched a new tool/service that provides a dynamic list of the top marketing blogs in the world. Now, some might ask: Why would you do this? My answer: Because I thought it needed to exist, it fits into my larger mission of helping marketers connect and grow and because it makes me joyful.

Another example: Despite being Chief Technology Officer for the company, I still write code. Some might argue that there are probably better uses of my time. In the short-run, that’s probably true. But in the long-run, it keeps me plugged in, helps me recruit better and it makes me joyful.

The “makes me joyful” is the most important part. Because I allow myself to do the things that bring me joy, I’m still having a great time at HubSpot. Candidly, I’m having more fun now when the company is 700+ people than I had when we were 70 people — and even 7 people. And in the long run, especially for start-ups, I think founder happiness matters. Some of the best tech companies in the world still have their founders involved. Google. Facebook. Dropbox. The list goes on and on. What founders bring to the table is not just some domain expertise and talent. They bring love. To lose that is to lose something important.

So, some closing advice for entrepreneurs:

The most important things to do are the things that will keep you in love.

Of course, in the early years, you may not have the luxury to spend all/most of the time on things you love. That’s OK. Just start somewhere and afford yourself even the small luxuries and take it from there.

 

Dharmesh Shah

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